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For many planning purposes, it is important to remember that Douglas Dam/Douglas Lake has varying water levels throughout the seasons and times of day. In this blog post, we’re sharing some collected information on how the big Douglas waterbody that is our claim-to-fame variates in levels for your planning convenience. Sources for this information are listed at the end.
The Annual Drawdown Cycle
“At the end of each summer, the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) begins the annual drawdown of upstream reservoirs to make room for the rains and snows of winter and spring. All of TVAs reservoirs are part of a single system managed to fulfill seperate but intertwined missions – navigation, flood control, power supply, water quality, recreation and land use. The annual drawdown of upstream reservoirs in North Carolina, East Tennessee, and North Georgia is central to the way the system works. It is important to understand that reservoirs in the TVA system look like natural lakes, but unlike lakes thier water levels change by design not chance. Read on to learn why reservoir levels rise and fall and how they affect the overall working of the Tennessee River System.”
How the Annual Drawdown Cycle Works
“Water in the Tennessee River System rises and falls in annual cycles. For the reservoirs on the Tennessee Rivers this change is relatively minor. These reservoirs are designed to provide for navigation and must have enough water for barge traffic to get through. Reservoirs on the tributary river, such as Douglas Lake, which branch off the main channel upstream serve a different purpose. They serve as an emergency storage system to prevent flooding downstream. They do this by holding an enormous amount of winter and spring precipitation that often falls in higher elevations. To make room for this water, the reservoirs are typically emptied to 3/4 of thier depth by January 1st of each year. Thats why levels of tributary reservoirs may rise and fall from 35 to 90 feet over the course of a year. The diagram below shows how the flood control system works.”
Daily Water Release Schedules
“Water release schedules are updated periodically throughout the day. Next-day release schedules are usually available by 6 p.m. of the current day.
Observed water levels also are updated periodically throughout the day. Predicted water levels are updated at least once a day, by 1 p.m. Eastern time, and may be updated more frequently when conditions warrant.
Water release schedules can change without notice due to unanticipated weather changes or power system requirements. Large amounts of water could be discharged at any time. Use caution! Obey all posted safety regulations and precautions!”
See current lake levels at https://www.tva.com/environment/lake-levels/douglas.