JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Tennessee Valley Authority said it plans to extend three boat ramps on Boone Lake to improve access to the low lake levels.
In October, TVA discovered a sinkhole near the base of the Boone Dam embankment
Shortly after that, engineers uncovered seepage below the dam, and lowered Boone Lake to 10 feet below normal winter levels to investigate.
“I grew up on the lake my grandparents have a house out here,” Fulton Leonard, who frequents the lake said.
Many like Leonard have called this lake home for decades. They know every twist and turn but now, “There’s islands everywhere, there’s stuff in the middle of the water just floating,” Leonard said. “It’s pretty rough and dangerous.”
Leonard said he still goes fishing in the lake but has to drive to Pickens Bridge, the only boat ramp that can still access the water.
He said he would welcome TVA extending more ramps.
“I think that’d be really good instead of driving all over the place to get here,” Leonard said.
But he said it could be a sign these low levels will be a reality for longer.
“I think if they’re going to put more ramps and stuff in then it’s going to be down for a little bit more than likely, hate to see it like that,” Leonard said.
TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson said TVA is applying for permits to extend three boat ramps at Pickens Bridge access area, Devault Bridge Road, and south of Minga Road.
He said TVA would also expand parking and access roads at each. Hopson said the project will cost thousands.
So why invest this money if the TVA president has said the dam will be fixed?
“Earlier this year we had said we were pursuing some options in order to provide people with access even this summer, so this is really a part of that and it’s not necessarily tied to the ultimate fix which we are still investigating,” Hopson said.
He said improving access is something they have planned all along.
“Obviously we’re wanting to do what we can in the short term to ensure that people can still enjoy the reservoir,” Hopson said.
In the area south of Minga Road, TVA is also looking at expanding a beach area.
TVA is applying for a permit through the state to start building the extensions as early as next month. Hopson TVA’s goal is for the ramp and road expansion projects to be done by Labor Day.
A public comment period is underway through July 6th, after that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation may approve the permit.
The Tennessee Valley Authority submitted a permit application to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to extend three boat ramps to give access to the low levels at Boone Lake.
In October 2014, TVA officials discovered a sinkhole near the base of the Boone Dam embankment.
Engineers then uncovered seepage below the dam and lowered Boone Lake to 10-feet below normal winter levels to investigate.
Below is the full release issued by TVA:
The Tennessee Valley Authority has submitted a permit application to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for boat ramp extension projects and a new swim beach recreational area at Boone Reservoir. TDEC announced today a public comment period for members of the public to comment on TVA’s request. This comment period will be open through July 6.
Boone Reservoir remains at a lower level to ensure public safety while TVA investigates the cause of seepage and erosion issues at the Boone Dam earthen embankment. TVA and industry experts are working to determine a permanent fix for the problem.
The boat ramp extension projects are located at Devault Bridge, Pickens Bridge and TVA-owned property near Boone Dam known as Tract 22R. These additional ramps will improve lake access for boaters while the reservoir is at lower water levels. The 22R project also includes plans for a new swim beach recreational area.
Specific details on the proposed projects and the process for the public to submit comments can be found at http://www.state.tn.us/environment/ppo/#water.
If the permits are approved, TVA will work with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to begin construction on all three projects by the end of July. The boat ramp extensions are expected to be completed this summer while the swim beach improvements may take longer.
Since October 2014, TVA has investigated seepage and erosion issues at Boone Dam. To help ensure the safety of downstream residents, TVA continues to hold the reservoir about 10 feet below normal winter pool levels. TVA is working with the community to implement several actions to help mitigate impacts on affected upstream marinas, property owners and local economies.
For updates on work at Boone Dam, ramp access locations and other information, please visit http://public.tva.gov:8161/boonedrawdown/.
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