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Lower water levels caused by unauthorized opening of Old Stone Fort dam

Anyone driving over the US Highway 41 bridge near Old Stone Fort State Park and Morton’s Lake Subdivision near Fredonia Rd. over the past few days may have noticed a significant drop in water levels.

Thunder Radio news has learned that an unauthorized opening of a small weir dam at Old Stone Fort State Park has led to the drop in water levels.

Officials with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation told Thunder Radio news that the dam, which is controlled by a chain and pulley system, was opened on Sunday (July 24, 2022) by “non-park personnel.” This unauthorized action emptied the backed up water for approximately a mile upriver.

Some residents in the Morton’s Lake subdivision have complained about smell and dead fish on the banks.

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TDEC officials said “park staff have not observed any dead aquatic life, but we cannot confirm if there have been any impacts to fish.”

TDEC went on to say that the dam is opened by park staff every few years to lower the water level and inhibit the spread of invasive plants. Now that the water has been lowered an invasive plants are dying off as a result, park staff have decided to wait and close the dam in several weeks once that process ends.

Officials said they will be installing signage directing the public to not touch controls at the park.

Water levels upriver from Old Stone Fort State Park have fallen significantly since non-park personnel opened a weir dam on Sunday. –Thunder Radio photo.

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