Carter County

Watauga Lake reaches record levels

Record breaking water levels at local lake

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - Heavy spring rains have created record-breaking water levels at Watauga Lake.

That surge in water is spilling into local campsites and recreation areas.

Albert Thomas is proud of his camper on Watauga Lake. The only problem is, right now, he can't even get to it. It's become an island barely on top of the water. "About three to four inches, and it'll be in my front door. That's how close I am," Thomas told News 5.

A few miles away at Fish Springs Marina, we found several campers not quite as lucky. Some were submerged in a few feet of water. "[Camper owners are] calling. Everyone's concerned, but if they haven't gotten a call, their camper's fine," said Thomas White, the owner of Fish Springs Marina.

TVA officials gave us a breakdown of the numbers: Watauga Lake is sitting at 1,966.5 feet as of Tuesday. That's about three feet over the last highest level set in April of 1987.

We found locals who wanted to make sure they witness a piece of history. Some were taking pictures; others simply dropped by recreation areas to take a look. "I've never seen it this high before," said Lois Long, one of the people checking out the situation.

And they are shocked at what they don't see -- a fishing pier and boat ramp that are supposed to be there. Lois Long's husband, H. Long, said his reaction was "disbelief."

We discovered TVA officials are working around the clock to make sure these levels don't stick around long. "We are moving a lot of water up through the generating turbine and through a low level water outlet, called a sluice, so the river down below the dam is running high and fast," explained Travis Brickey, a TVA public relations official.

That way, folks like Albert Thomas can get back the lake life he loves. "I'm just hoping it goes down," said Thomas. "I'm hoping and praying it does."

Here's an interesting fact we found out: the TVA is releasing over 22,000 gallons of water every second from the Watauga Dam.

Officials told us they are keeping a close eye on the rivers that flow out of the lake to keep all that excess water inside those banks.

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