Flood Information From Hugh Nystrom

Flood Information – Please share.
This morning Knox County will be installing a high capacity water pump to assist in maintaining water levels on Bluegrass Lake. Bruce Giles at First Utility District has been very helpful in loaning this equipment to Knox County to help manage the water levels. I am grateful to have this being installed today, but want to be clear that this is a short term step, not a longterm fix. I spent most of Thursday in the flood area, fixing it is a high priority.
(Additional information – 2/10/20 at 10:21 am – The pump location is at Hunter Valley and Keller Bend – We have a second pump and should have two running shortly )

For additional information please review this note I sent to a constituent yesterday:

Good afternoon and thank you for your note.

I spent all of this past Thursday afternoon in the area around Bluegrass Lake. The flooding has been horrible and unacceptable. Most of the time I spent with Bart Carey who has a commercial building on the side of Bluegrass Lake adjacent to Nancy Barger’s Hunter Valley Farm. I also drove through your neighborhood and called TDOT about the area on Northshore where the water was starting to get into the road.

The most obvious problem is the drainage culvert that connects from the Bluegrass Lake into Fort Loudon Lake. There are other areas that have connected to the drainage culvert in addition to Bluegrass lake. Considering that the opening to the culvert was fully underwater and that there are other areas connecting to the culvert right before it connects to Fort Loudon, I would have expected a much higher flow exiting the culvert into Fort Loudon. From Bluegrass lake, the Culvert is 600 feet long and has a 1% grade that makes the drainage very slow. We hired a Geosystem consultant last year to evaluate the culvert. While I am not an engineer, I can say that it obviously is not draining at a level it should. I have a video on my phone from both ends of the pipe from Thursday that I shared with Knox County engineering.

As a solution, Knox County Engineering is looking at increasing the size of the culvert or adding a secondary pipe. Both of these potential solutions could help drain the lake better.

As someone who grew up in the area, I can tell you that a bigger challenge is the fact that Bluegrass Lake does not appear to be draining down to a winter level like it used to do. Historically it would drop down in a manner similar to Fort Loudoun Lake when TVA lowered the lake. Bluegrass Lake used to have the resulting muddy areas around the shoreline that reflected additional winter capacity for rains and weather events. This is not happening. I am not sure if this is because drainage holes under the lake have filled up in recent years since the lake was originally formed. A potential solution could be a pump station that would kick in to facilitate lowering the lake level to winter levels so there is the capacity to handle rain events.

Back in June, we pulled together a team to review and prepare a longterm fix for this problem. Myself, Knox County Engineering, Knoxville Engineering, TVA, Rural Metro, and First Utility District, representatives from the Knox County Mayor’s office and the City of Knoxville Mayor’s office and several property owners are part of the team. The engineering firm Robert Campbell and associates were also part of this team and have completed a LIDAR ( Laser scan by a drone ) scan of the culvert. Everyone is committed to fixing this, but know that they don’t want to do a rush job and not fix it correctly. I will make sure you know how the progress is going.

The best way to reach me on this or any other matter is my cell phone – 308-3565.

Thank you,


Hugh B. Nystrom

Knox County Commissioner

Chairman – Knox County Commission