KINGSPORT, Tenn. – Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, residents across the Tri-Cities region will once again enjoy summer recreation activities at Boone Dam.
After seven years and 2 million hours of dam remediation work, TVA and the community are celebrating the re-opening of the historic recreation area. The agency hosted an event on Wednesday to offer the public a glimpse into the work that was completed.
“Boone Lake is a local treasure, and I want to thank everyone for their patience as we completed the important dam safety work,” TVA Chief Operating Officer Don Moul said. “The recreation area provides the community with opportunities for summer fun – and the improvements we made will enhance the experience for our neighbors.”
In 2014, TVA discovered seepage below the dam and immediately lowered the lake’s water level to ensure public safety. Remediation work starting in 2015.
The $326 million project involved construction of a composite seepage barrier created in several phases – which included the highly visible, two-year, round-the-clock construction of an underground cutoff wall. Following completion of the underground work, TVA restored the crest of the dam to its previous elevation and constructed a floodwall. Paving and fencing, along with site restoration, round out the project.
Moul said the project is a major geotechnical engineering feat.
“TVA has delivered on its promise to the Tri-Cities region,” he said. “At the onset of this project, we made a commitment that we would complete this effort safely within seven years and we would do it right the first time with a high-quality repair. We are here today to celebrate that accomplishment and to turn over Boone Dam back to the public.”
TVA was founded to serve the region with reliable, low-cost energy, protect and enhance the environment and drive economic development and growth. This was a clear topic of discussion during Wednesday’s celebration event.
“The Boone Dam project exemplifies all three aspects of TVA’s mission of service,” Jeff Lyash, TVA president and chief executive officer shared. “Environmental stewardship by providing a beautiful recreational area for families to picnic, swim and relax this summer; economic development with a lake that helps communities in the Tri-Cities region prosper from fishing tournaments to boating activities and much more; and electricity that is clean, reliable and generated right here at the Boone Dam hydropower facility.”
Energy generation from Boone Unit 1, which was shut down during construction, will return to normal operations this summer.
Lake lovers will be glad to know Boone Lake is once again able to fill to its normal seasonal levels. The lake began gaining volume in late February and will eventually rise to its normal peak level of 1,382 feet. A lack of rainfall, which is in Mother Nature’s hands, is the only factor that could impact projected levels.
At the ceremony, TVA recognized three partner groups: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association (TWRA), Boone Lake Association and Boone Dam Repair Coalition. TWRA partnered by planting grasses and shrubs, creating nurseries for fish, and stocking the lake with F1 largemouth bass. TVA worked closely with its neighbors in the Boone Lake Association and Boone Dam Repair Coalition on community outreach efforts throughout the project. Together, they reached more than 25,000 people at various events.
Mary Ellen Miller
Boone Dam Project Community Relations
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