Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chilhowee Lake to be lowered? Fact or Fiction?

Mike Wood paddling Chilhowee
Chilhowee Reservoir has been pulled down a total of 26 ' as of today (9-22-08). Normal pool is 874'...today is is at 848'. Several vehicles have already been located at two ramps and divers indicate several more are seen and will be recovered later. The advertised lowest pool level will be +/- 855-850' (20-25') lower than normal through next summer.

ITS A FACT! Here are three articles..

From the Associated Press:

"MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The level of Chilhowee Lake will be lowered so the dam that impounds it can be repaired. ALCOA Inc., which owns the dam in Blount County and uses it to generate electricity for its aluminum plant, expects repairs to cost up to $8 million.
if The Daily Times reported that a depression was found in the dam in 2000 and has been monitored by Alcoa Power Generating Inc., which determined the hole didn't threaten the immediate integrity of the dam. Beginning Sept. 2, the water level will be drawn down about two feet per day until it is reduced by 20 to 25 feet.The repairs should be completed by early next year.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)"


"ALCOA to repair Chilhowee Dam; reservoir drawdown starts Sept. 2
From Staff Reports
On Sept. 2, ALCOA Inc. will begin lowering the water level of Chilhowee Lake so repairs can be made to the dam. A depression or sinkhole-like area -- called by the company a settlement or subsidence -- was discovered in 2000 on the south embankment of the dam. It is generally in the shape of an upside down ice cream cone 5 or 6 feet in diameter at its top and extends down about 20 feet to bedrock.Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI), Tapoco Division, has been monitoring the depression and reported no "safety or integrity" issues were identified.The reservoir will be lowered one to two feet per day until the water level reaches a maximum drawdown of about 20-25 feet in mid- to late-September. The repairs should be complete by late 2008 or early 2009, according to APGI. Cost is estimated at $6 million to $8 million. Tapoco will be able generate electricity at the dam during the project at a reduced capacity.The work will consist of repairing the subsidence and stabilizing the shoreline to prevent erosion. APGI will also take advantage of the drawdown to install artificial fish attractors to improve aquatic habitat. Ray Barham, Tapoco Technical Manager for APGI, said the area to be repaired will be excavated down to the bedrock. The bedrock will be regrouted and the clay core will be built back up. As the core is rebuilt, the lake level will be gradually raised.Barham said the condition of the dam could have resulted from construction techniques used at the time it was built in 1957. The depression is still settling and the company has done what it can with nondestructive techniques to deal with the problem, according to Barham, so APGI has decided to fix it now rather than wait and make more expensive repairs later. "It continues to settle. Long-term it could result in more extensive settlement that could result in a safety issue," he said. Multi-agency involvement APGI worked with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to develop the corrective action plan and solicited help from several agencies in an effort to lessen the impact of the planned repair and reservoir drawdown. Together, these agencies and APGI have implemented plans to avoid or minimize adverse effects to historic properties, fish and wildlife, infrastructure and the residents of neighboring communities, the company said in a statement."We appreciate the valuable input and collaboration received from the Tennessee Historical Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Historic Preservation Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and we look forward to continuing to work with them throughout the duration of this project," Barham said. Some access to close during the drawdown and construction period, some public access areas boat ramps and roads will be closed. These closures include: The Chilhowee Reservoir public access area; Boat ramps at Pear Tree, Calderwood Village, Tabcat Creek, Gravel Pile and Happy Valley; Mt. Pleasant Road at Chilhowee Dam (closed starting Aug. 29). Other recreational facilities will remain open, including Highway 129 day use areas, Chigger Beach and Pear Tree facilities for camping or picnicking. Recreational areas at Tapoco's other reservoirs -- Calderwood, Cheoah and Santeetlah -- will remain open. "We apologize, in advance, for any inconvenience this may cause residents or recreationalists," said Barham. "Our goal is to safely repair the embankment and then bring reservoir back to normal water level as quickly as possible."In the interest of safety and resource protection, officers with APGI, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the National Park Service and the Blount County and Monroe County Sheriff's offices will be patrolling and monitoring Chilhowee Reservoir frequently during the drawdown.The main section of Chilhowee Dam is concrete. It stands 65 feet high and forms the 1,734-acre reservoir.On each side of the concrete dam are embankment dams made of clay, sand, dirt and rock. The embankment dams connect the concrete structure to the shoreline and hold back water on both sides of the dam.Chilhowee Lake is located within Blount and Monroe counties along Calderwood Highway (U.S. 129). The reservoir is maintained by APGI. Tapoco is a division of APGI, a wholly owned subsidiary of ALCOA Inc. The Tapoco Division of APGI supplies electric power to the aluminum smelting and rolling mill at Alcoa's Tennessee Operations.Throughout the repair project, updates will be provided at
Originally published: August 22. 2008 3:01AMLast modified: August 22. 2008 1:17PM "
"The Tapoco Division of Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) owns and operates the Tapoco Project. The Tapoco Project is a four-development hydroelectric project located in the western portion of the Little Tennessee Watershed on the Little Tennessee and Cheoah Rivers in Graham, Swain, Blount, and Monroe Counties in North Carolina and Tennessee. The Tapoco Project is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as Project No. 2169. The Tapoco Division operates the Project to provide power for Alcoa’s aluminum smelting and rolling operations in Alcoa, TN. The Tapoco Project includes four reservoirs —Santeetlah, Cheoah, Calderwood, and Chilhowee— that offer a variety of recreation opportunities and provide important habitat for plants, fish and wildlife. This website provides information about the Project’s developments, news, regulatory issues, shoreline management, and other environmental information. "

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