Cumberland River levels remain high, flooding low-lying areas as reservoirs release

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Monitoring Cumberland River levels as more rain comes

The Cumberland River system has been high for about a month now, and many low lying areas remain flooded. Wednesday, we took a look at the Shelby Park area in East Nashville.

The Cumberland River at Omohundro Dr. is running a little over 42 feet.

At this level flooding along the river begins from the Cumberland River Greenway bridge in Shelby Bottoms Park to the I-24 bridge near downtown. This includes the ballfields and other areas in Shelby Bottoms Park, and properties adjacent to the river on Davidson St., Nestor St., and Visco Dr. 

Across the river from Shelby Park is the Omohundro Water Plant run by Metro Water Services.  That is where back in the 2010 flood, there were fears that the plant would be flooded, knocking out its capability to supply water to the city.  

The levels are some eight feet lower than that right now, but they are monitoring the situation.

The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers plays a delicate “balancing act” with the Cumberland River before, during, and after rainfall events.

The true “reservoirs”, Percy Priest Lake, Center Hill Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, and Lake Cumberland (Wolf Creek Dam) can hold back water during heavy rains. Note that the Cumberland River itself is not a reservoir, and its much smaller dams only hold back enough water for navigation (Cordell Hull, Old Hickory, Cheatham).

Once the Cumberland River has had a chance to go down somewhat, they can release water from those reservoirs. That is what they are doing now that the rains have temporarily ended.

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