Congressman, home & business owners react to news about Boone Dam repair


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – The Tennessee Valley Authority hosted an open meeting Thursday evening to give homeowners and other members of the public the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns about the remediation plan.

Many of the people in attendance said this is not the plan they were hoping for.

“You guys can’t fix a water leak in 5 to 7 years, unacceptable!”

“How can it take 5 to 7 years to fix a dam that only took 2 years to build.”

“The main skepticism, not surprisingly, is around the timeline, why does it take 5 years to do anything to a dam that took a little over 2 years to build,” said Doug Sams, owner of Rockingham Marina.

But officials with TVA said they are confident this is the safest and best long-term fix for the dam.

“Is it something that is primarily for recreation, or is it something that is going to pay off when you’re talking about $300 million, is that really going to pay off in the long run with the amount of energy that it produces,” one man asked TVA officials during the meeting.

TVA’s Vice President said Boone Dam does not produce enough energy to cover the cost of the repair, but the economic impact to the surrounding area would be too great if they tore the dam down.

Meanwhile, business owners are worried about losing their livelihood.

“There’s no grants, there’s no relief money, there’s no help,” Sams told News Channel 11.

News Channel 11 reached out to Congressman Phil Roe. He had this to say: “I am glad TVA has identified the source of the problem and is taking immediate action to remedy the situation. Safety must be the number one priority, but I realize many property owners and businesses will be affected by the timeline.  During a phone call Thursday, I shared directly with TVA CEO Bill Johnson the concerns of the stakeholders around Boone Dam and urged him to do all that is possible to help these individuals, marina owners, and businesses. I will continue an open dialogue with TVA and constituents of the First District as this process moves forward.”

TVA is offering marina owners low interest loans to help them survive the next few years.

“My business plan just changed dramatically, because now if i take their money over the next 5 years, and best case scenario I’ve got 15 years to pay it back, my cash flow from this incident has been impacted over 20 years instead of just 5,” Sams said.

However, Washington County’s mayor is relieved.

“Its good to me, it Is a relief to know that TVA is willing to invest this money and allow us to maintain the value of the dam and boone lake in the community,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said.

He said 5 years is not a long time in the grand scheme of things, and is far better than losing the lake all together.

From the standpoint of being able to measure and say ‘well without it its going to cost us “X” amount of dollars’ I couldn’t begin to estimate that number, but I promise you, if Boone Lake went away, we would miss it drastically,” he said.

And in the meantime, TVA says the lake will at least remain at current levels, with enough water for some recreation. They are also planning to add new boat ramps, and create a new beach so folks can enjoy the water that is still there.Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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