Last year was the wettest year on record in the Tennessee Valley.
While the numbers are high, the rainfall in Tullahoma didn’t reach unprecedented numbers.
Tennessee Valley Authority Spokesman Scott Brooks said the utility measured a basin average of 67.1 inches of rain across the valley in 2018, beating the previous record of 65.1 inches in 1973.
According to Brooks, the Tennessee Valley region normally averages 51 inches of rain a year. In addition to providing power for nearly 10 million people, the wide-spanning utility’s other duties include managing the 652-mile Tennessee River and its tributaries with a series of 49 dams.
The TVA rain gauge in Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, measured 118.8 inches last year.
While rainfall totals in Tullahoma are high, the city did not set a new record in 2018, according to Scott Young, vice president of water and waste water systems for Tullahoma Utilities Authority (TUA).
“It’s been a really wet year,” Young said. “It’s been a lot of rain – it has not been a record for us, but it’s been close.”
The total rainfall for 2018 was 71.95 inches in Tullahoma. The record was set in 1973, when the rainfall was 76.79 inches, according to Young.
The wet year has not caused any major problems for TUA, said Young.
“It’s affected our projects in the sense we didn’t have as many days to work,” Young said. “But it doesn’t affect the sewer system – we get a lot more flow when we have a lot of rain, but, really, that’s the extent of it.”
No specific projects have been negatively impacted.
“We haven’t had any big projects going on, so the [rainfall] has just affected the general workload, things like fixing leaks and cleanup. After we do some work, we have to go back and clean up yards. And the ground has to dry out before we do [any work], and the ground hasn’t been dry.”
As far as impacting the sewer system, the high rainfall has made the system work a little harder than usual.
“It puts more stress on the system,” Young said. “We have a lot of pump stations, and they have to operate a lot more, so it really puts a lot of stress on the system. The treatment plant gets a lot more water than it’s used to getting, and, again, it stresses the equipment there.”
The system can handle the pressure though, said Young.
“We make it through it, but it does put more stress on the equipment,” Young said.
The wastewater treatment plant is located at 1012 S. Franklin St. in Tullahoma, with the plant discharging into Rock Creek.
Elena Cawley may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.