TVA to adjust water levels to help refloat riverfront barge
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Workers are hoping to refloat a sinking barge on Chattanooga's riverfront. They're getting some help from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
"It's the backdrop of our community, and it would be nice to have it either on its legs, or out of the water," said Chip Baker, with Friends of the Festival.
Another Riverbend is in the books. The eyesore that served as the festival's backdrop is still hanging on, barely. "It could be something great, but it sure needs to change from what it is right now," said Baker.
Allen Casey of River City Resorts owns the sinking barge. Seven months ago he told Channel 3 he planned to turn it into a restaurant. Casey hired a barge recovery company after the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers threatened to fine him.
Giant water pumps now sit on the deck. They've done some good, but there's still a long way to go.
"They are actually putting divers inside the barge and pumping down water levels in the barge," explained Tom Barnett, with TVA, "and with lower water levels they can pump it down farther."
The company hired to refloat the barge is getting a hand from the utility. "We are going to conduct special releases from Chickamauga Dam on Saturday to try to help out on the recovery of the barge," he told Channel 3 in a phone interview.
It's the fourth time the TVA will lower water levels to help.
Barnett says the favor comes at no extra cost, under the right conditions .
He says it's a common thing for the utility to do. "We do a total of about 200 a year," said Barnett, "private, I would say constitutes about a quarter to half of that."
Barnett says any further help with water levels will depend on conditions.
By lowering the water levels, divers may be able to repair holes in the barge. "I hope they are able to do as they think they are able to do," said Barnett, "and bring it back to life and put a thriving business there."
TVA will restrict water flow from the Chickamauga Dam from midnight to 7 am Saturday.
Meanwhile, TVA continues to hear complaints from residents and business owners about the eyesore.