Government wants Opry flood lawsuit dismissed

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm •  Published: February 13, 2013
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He argued that uncontrolled rain runoff was the cause of the flooding and the Old Hickory dam was designed to allow water to pass through.

Patterson, who represents both A.O. Smith and Gaylord, said the dam was not a flood control project, but instead functioned as a "flood causing project." He said the corps didn't lower water levels behind the dam when forecasts were predicting several inches of rain, which he said was required of them as operators of the dam.

"When you build a dam, you have a duty to protect those downstream of the dam," he said.

He said that the flooding that created the property damage actually came after the corps started releasing large amounts of water from its reservoir that threatened to overtop the dam.

Patterson also said the corps and the National Weather Service used incorrect data in their prediction models to forecast how high the river would rise.

But another government attorney, Philip MacWilliams, said that the operating manual doesn't specify what the water level behind the dam should be at certain times and that operators had to rely on their judgment and discretion while making decisions during the flood.

"The corps' one and only priority was to prevent the overtopping of the dam," MacWilliams said.

Judge Campbell did not say when he would rule on the motion to dismiss the lawsuits.