Worst-case flood risk has TVA weighing higher dams - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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Worst-case flood risk has TVA weighing higher dams

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Penny Garrison paces her 22-mile run on along the Riverwalk near Chickamauga Dam, where some of the flood gates are open. Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press Penny Garrison paces her 22-mile run on along the Riverwalk near Chickamauga Dam, where some of the flood gates are open. Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press

CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -- It has never happened. A wall of flood water so high that it topped dams on the upper Tennessee River and swamped emergency equipment at two nuclear plants just upriver of Chattanooga.

But government officials say recent history -- including Nashville's devastating 2010 flood and Fukushima's 2011 tsunami, as well as changing technology and past calculation errors -- make it clear TVA must plan for the worst.

Mike Eiffe, TVA program manager for hydrology and hydraulics, said preparing for a "probable maximum flood" means raising the levels of the dams and the earthen berms that flank them.

"The drainage area for Chattanooga is a little over 20,000 square miles, and for the type of flood events that we're talking about, we would be looking at an average of 15 to 16 inches of rainfall over that entire 20,000-square-mile drainage area," he said.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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