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Center Hill Dam Water Reallocation Study Gets Federal Funding

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Center Hill Dam Water Reallocation Study Gets Federal Funding

President Joe Biden’s budget for this fiscal year includes funding for a Water Reallocation Study at Center Hill Dam.

Natural Resources Program Manager Kevin Salvilla said the study is a planning tool. He said it would let the Corps of Engineers know how much water Center Hill Lake has available and what that water should be used for. He said the lake has not had a study done since the early 2000s, so getting a sense of trends in demand will allow the engineers to prioritize.

“It gives the Corps of Engineer Water Managers an idea, more of a solid footing to be able to plan and to prepare for what the next requirement’s going to be,” Salvilla said. “So, they’re going to come away from this knowing more specific data based on all of the factors that are involved.”

He said utilities from places like Cookeville and Smithville have permits to pull water from the lake and need the accurate amount to have been allocated for them. He said this study will show how much water should be made available to those utilities and how much is available to use for other purposes.

“There’s been a series of conversations regarding the amount of available water that’s available for certain uses,” Salvilla said. “So, one of those, obviously, is drinking water. I mean, clearly, Tennessee is one of the fastest-growing states in the union and so a lot of people are moving into the Middle Tennessee area, so we’re always looking to see, how much water can the area support?”

He said water is also allocated for things like recreation, a conservation pool, and fish and wildlife. He said with a limited water supply to provide these many competing causes, this study will create a clear picture of what users get the most water and why.

“It does solve a lot of issues,” Salvilla said. “Water’s going to be, clearly, one of the challenges that we have going forward because of the development that we’re seeing. Cookeville just requested, I think, several more million gallons a day they need to be able to provide for the growth that they’re seeing.”

He said much smaller groups have permits to pull water, as do some individuals who do not have access to clean water pumped into their homes. He said the president’s appropriation will fund the study and the Corps of Engineers will then begin plans for environmental implementation.


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