Concerns grow among Boone Lake business owners as TVA dam investigation continues

BOONE LAKE (WJHL) – A month after Tennessee Valley Authority announced an aggressive plan to lower Boone Lake to find the source of seepage near Boone Dam, TVA still hasn’t said what is causing the problem.

“We’re going to hold it there between 1350-1355, and that’s feet above sea level, as the investigation continues,” said Travis Brickey, Spokesperson for TVA.

Doug Sams, owner of Rockingham Marina, said TVA invited marina owners around Boone Lake to the dam to discuss the issue.

“They had all the marina owners to the dam to show us the problem, and we literally could not see the problem, the seepage they were talking about. They pointed to where it was at, but we could not, it wasn’t visible,” Sams said. “So our question was well why are you guys dropping the lake? They didn’t really have a good answer; they seemed to repeat, ‘an overabundance of caution.’”

Sams said while many folks on Boone Lake trust the TVA to find the problem and make speedy repairs, others are worried the problem will persist into the spring and summer seasons.

“He said, ‘Doug I don’t know where you’re at, but if I lose a season’s worth of revenue I’ll go under.’ He said his business would fail,” Sams told News Channel 11 about a conversation he had with another marina owner.

And he said while that’s not a concern for Rockingham Marina, he does have other worries. “Several of the other marinas have already sustained damage, and I know a lot of property owners have already sustained damage… I’ve heard the fishermen say if they drop the lake much further, there could be a fish kill or something like that.”

Brickey said it’s too early to worry about next summer, since they usually don’t begin raising the water levels again until mid- to late March.

“So we have some time still to continue our investigation look into what’s causing the seepage and where the seepage may be coming from and start developing plans to repair that so we have some time,” he told us.

Marina owners, though, can’t help but worry.

“There is truly an environmental and economic catastrophe waiting to happen if they drop the lake levels lower, or they don’t get them back up by next summer,” Sams said.

Copyright WJHL 2014. All rights reserved.

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