KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Tennessee Valley Authority is gradually raising Boone Lake water levels back to normal. Property owners are asked to clear any debris that has gathered in their portion of the lakebed before a target date of March 15.

Portions of the lake have been drained since 2014 as part of a seepage repair project at Boone Dam.

The TVA has already raised water levels by eight feet since October. They’re holding the current level over the winter while testing parts of the new Boone Dam.

“We’ve had the equivalent of 2,600 concrete truckloads, full of concrete, underneath the dam. That’s how much concrete is underneath the earthen embankment here,” said TVA spokesperson Mary Ellen Miller.

Miller said a final concrete element of the dam’s underground cutoff wall was poured in January. The project is scheduled to be complete by July 2022. Meanwhile, the public could see normal summer pool levels this July as the TVA starts raising the lake by two feet per week on March 15.

“It’s really important for the neighbors around Boone Lake to be sure that if they have anything along the shoreline, such as an old dock or debris, to be sure to move that away prior to March 15th when this lake will start to come up,” said Miller.

The message is also urged by Val Kosmider, president of the Boone Lake Association. He says the group has been extremely busy hauling away debris.

Part of the TVA’s temporary beach is already submerged as water rises. Miller said it will be underwater by summer. The lake’s former beach will be restored for July 2022

“Literally, we’re cleaning out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of boatloads, barge loads, truckloads, of stuff. There are old rotted docks, chairs, junk. We’re certainly working with the community in every respect that’s possible,” said Kosmider.

The extra labor comes as water returns to parts of the lakebed that have been dry and gathered debris for years.

“You can expect that there will be very large slicks out on the lake where the stuff coagulates. It bunches up in areas bigger than a couple of football fields,” said Kosmider.

(Photo courtesy of the Boone Lake Association)

Kosmider suggested property owners contact the Boone Lake Association or Boone Dam Repair Coalition for assistance.

“If a bunch of neighbors get together, they clean up their respective portion of the lakebed, they can pile the stuff and we’ll remove it. We’ll provide bags for the incidental trash, bottles, cans, we’ll remove those as well,” he said.

To prevent hazards, officials want property owners to clean out their parts of the lakebed, and boaters to be careful on the returning water.

“We urge people to be very, very cautious when they start using the lake again actively,” said Kosmider.

Kosmider also said the Boone Lake Association has scheduled its annual cleanup event for April 24 this year. More information can be found here.