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Buoy maintenance necessitates lowering of lake water levels

By Rebecca Barnhart-Allan
If you live on or near Lake Watauga, you may have been noticing that the water levels seem extremely low. Because we are experiencing a very dry November, some are wondering if the cause may be due to lack of rainfall. Not to worry, says TVA spokesman, Travis Brickey, who also said that they are a little low for this time of year, but not drastically low. The lake is currently at about the 1946 level and will continue to lower to the level of about 1944 due to maintenance by the TVA, who has purposely lowered the lake in order to get to the anchoring systems on the navigation buoys.
Because the public can go to the TVA website and check on water levels, many people become worried when the levels seem to be too low, and that is when the TVA starts to get phone calls questioning the reasons for the lower levels. Rumors have been circulating recently that the lake is in some kind of deep draw down, when in fact, it is not. He explained that, for example, hazard buoys which might warn boaters of a submerged rock outcropping may have a damaged or missing anchor line below the water’s surface. In order for the TVA maintenance crew to check on, reach or replace these anchor lines, the water level needs to be low enough for these anchoring points to be exposed. Because the water is normally lower in the cooler months, it is the easiest time of year to draw down the water levels to allow for this maintenance. The TVA hopes to have the maintenance completed by the latter end of December. By early January, the lake should have returned to its normal January levels.