TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) Tennessee Valley Authority leaders plan to give an update regarding the status of the Boone Dam Project in a meeting on Tuesday, June 16.
A virtual media conference will be held with Principal Project Manager Sam Vinson at 1 p.m. TVA is expected to give new information regarding the status of construction at the dam, an updated timeline and also how they are managing vegetation overgrowth at Boone Lake.
Major problems at Boone Dam would require Boone Lake to be lowered for years to come and would result in a repair project worth $450 million dollars.
In 2014 a sinkhole was discovered at the dam, which caused water to slowly start moving underneath it. This dangerous seepage promised an eventual host of issues and could have ultimately caused the dam to fail.
TVA launched the Boone Dam Project to repair the dam, and the biggest piece of the project is underway right now. TVA is building a “cut off wall” to stop the water flow under the dam. This is the bulk of the repair project and will be the final major phase.
The wall is expected at this time be to be completed by summer of 2021. TVA will then start working on final repairs, testing and refilling Boone Lake.
Right now, according to a June TVA newsletter update, the project remains on budget and on schedule for completion in July of 2022.
The project has no doubt had a huge impact on businesses and homes along the water.
Jon Wireman with the Boone Lake Association says the group is pleased that the status of the project is reported to be on time. However, they have a host of concerns.
One of the biggest problems the association sees is related to the vegetation that is growing up on the exposed lake bottom, where water levels were lowered. Wireman is concerned with how that will effect the lake as the water rises at the conclusion of the repairs.
“TVA started a large project last summer that involved mowing and mulching much of the new growth and they have outlined plans to clear more this summer. However, there are significant areas that are not accessible by the equipment used in the first phase and although there is a spraying program planned, we are concerned that some previously navigable areas may require a crew on the ground or more versatile equipment to get them safe for navigation when the water returns,” said Wireman.
Another concern is the debris and trash that could be washed to the shoreline as water rises. This causes a big mess for property owners along the water.
BLA purchased a trash-skimming boat with funding from Johnson City and Washington County. That boat will clean along the Watauga River arm of the lake; it is currently at Boone Lake Marina being rigged for duty.
In addition, TVA has committed another $10,000 to purchase equipment to empty the skimmer basket.
“We need help motivating Sullivan County, Bristol and Kingsport to contribute to cleaning their side of the lake as well and we have petitioned them to fund similar equipment,” said Wireman.
TVA is expected to touch on these issues in Tuesday’s meeting. News Channel 11 will bring you all the latest updates on the Boone Dam Project as they are announced.