Alert reader Ricky Martin said the water level on Lake Guntersville has been low for two years now, lower than he has ever seen it, and he wonders why.

“We’ve lived at Turtle Rock for 5 years now,” he said. “The first 3 years were fine. But it has been so low the last 2, we couldn’t even get our wakeboard boat out. What’s going on? We couldn’t get our wakeboard out for the 4th of July.”

We relayed the question to TVA spokesman Scott Fielder. He said TVA keeps the lake level within what is considered the "normal" range for Guntersville. But they do lower the level to aid in flood control when a large rain is expected. 

The is was his response:

"Normal operating range for summer pool on Guntersville reservoir is 594.0’-595.0’. The one foot of fluctuation is less than other main river reservoirs that may fluctuate up to two feet. The Tennessee Valley has had record setting rainfall over the last three years with 2020 being the wettest year on record of the 131 years of rainfall data. 2020 also had a record year in tropical storm events and many were forecasted to have impacts on the Tennessee Valley.

"TVA has maintained normal operating range at Guntersville over the last three years except in lowering the elevation to near the bottom of the operating range in anticipation of a significant rain event to maximize flood control operations. In some cases, those rain events did not materialize as forecasted and lake levels might have been at or below normal operating range for a short time, generally lasting a day.

"Our hourly lake level data indicates that we did get below normal operating range the first week of May as heavy rain was forecasted and did not materialize as forecasted. We were within normal operating range on July 4 of this year with the water elevation around 594.33’. In contrast, during significant rain events and flood control operations, lake levels might get above normal operating range to minimize flooding impacts downstream. With record setting rainfall over the last 3 years, Guntersville reservoir has been above normal operating range several times throughout the time period.

"Lake levels will fluctuate in the normal operating range for a variety of reason that include flood control, navigation, hydroelectric generation, water quality, water supply and recreation. The Tennessee River is managed as an integrated system to maximize the benefits across the entire Tennessee Valley. While a particular area along the river system may be experiencing normal weather conditions, locations upstream may not and therefore the system is being managed to maximize the benefits to the entire system and Valley.

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