Sullivan County

Boone Lake to drop to record low

Boone Lake to drop to record low level

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Boone Lake will be lowered to record levels as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) upgrades the dam.   

The lake will fall an extra 14 feet for the first time since it was built about 60 years ago.

Local marinas told us this could hurt them as their docks become surrounded by sand and mud.

Tonya Hawkins is already seeing water go down around the dock at Davis Marina.

"As you can see I need to push my dock out and I don't know if we'll still be floating at all," Hawkins said, pointing to the dock next to her.

Hawkins works at the marina.

She told us TVA called the marina on Thursday to tell them water levels will be lower than usual this winter.

Hawkins said as lake levels drop, so does their business.

"Usually this is the only ramp on this side of the lake in the winter for the wintertime fisherman and there are a lot of wintertime fishermen and that will effect our business," she told News5.

The light colored rocks exposed along the lake show that the water has already dropped about seven feet.

TVA told us it still needs to go down three times that depth, or about 23 more feet, before they can start working on the dam.

"The chains and wire at Boone have been here for 60 years so we feel its important to go ahead and replace those," said Chuck Bach, TVA's general manager of River Scheduling.

Bach told us wires operate the spillway gates, controlling how much water goes through the dam, which helps prevent the area on the other side of the dam from flooding.

The rusted chains will also be replaced.

"They play a very important role," said Bach. "The intake gates are what we drop down so that people can work inside the dams safely."

TVA told us the new chains measures 282 feet each and that it took two tractor trailer loads to bring them in.

The chains weigh 70,000 pounds and can hoist 280,000 pounds.

They were purchased from the company Renold Jeffrey in Morristown, Tenn.

Bach tells us boaters and marinas can expect to see the most drastic drop in water levels in mid-December.

"If it goes down that far I don't know where she's going to put her boat," said Tonya Hawkins.

Hawkins told us if her neighbor has to take the boats out of the water, she knows their profits will sink.

TVA told us lake levels will begin to go back up at the end of January.

The project will cost TVA about $600,000 to complete, said Bach.

Artifacts may be uncovered

Archaeological specialist Erin Pritchard told us we could see historical artifacts as the water recedes.

"The Tennessee valley has a very rich cultural history and as a result of that a lot of folks came and settled along the waterways and when TVA built their dams they inundated a lot of these archaeological sites," Pritchard said.

She told us there might be remnants of Native American societies, such as arrowheads, glass, or pottery.

Pritchard warns that if you walk down to the lake while the water levels are lowered, don't touch any of the artifacts.

She told News5 that it is a federal offense to remove them from the lake.

If you do find something interesting you can take a picture of it and e-mail it to TVA at

They ask that anyone who sees someone taking an object from the lake bed, call TVA at 1-855-476-2489.

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