About three times more water than normal was passing through Wheeler Dam and Wilson Dam today, a Tennessee Valley Authority official said.

James Everett, manager of TVA’s River Forecast Center in Knoxville, said 145,000 cubic feet of water per second was passing through Wheeler Dam.

The flow at Wilson Dam was 178,000 cubic feet per second. Normal flow at each dam this time of year is 50,000 to 60,000 cubic feet per second.

Everett said the flow at Wheeler Dam was equivalent to 1.1 million gallons per second.

He said rains have been heavier than normal the first 12 days of February across the 41,000 square miles of the Tennessee River drainage basin.

“We’ve seen on average probably about 5 inches of rain, which is what we normally get for the entire month,” he said.

He said Wheeler Lake was 2 to 3 feet higher than its normal winter level of 551 feet above sea level.

TVA’s priority when rainfall is heavy in the drainage basin is to manage water flow to prevent flooding, Everett said. However, increased waterflow through dams’ turbines could have a side benefit for TVA customers on their power bills as rate adjustments are passed down to local utilities.

“Certainly anytime you get increased rainfall, you’ll be able to boost hydro generation, and hydro generation is one of TVA’s most economical sources of power,” he said.

— Bruce McLellan

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