Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 24, 2013

Robinson: Higher lake levels hide dangers

Somerset —

Twenty feet makes a big difference.
Visitors to Lake Cumberland have by now grown accustomed to a lake level of about 680 feet about sea level, about 40 feet less than what was normal before repairs started on the ailing Wolf Creek Dam.
However, just in time for this weekend’s Memorial Day throng — sort of the annual kick-off to the summer tourism season — things are back a little closer to normal. The waters are about 20 feet higher than they have been for the last six years, and while that means a fuller, more fun Lake Cumberland, it does also present certain problems for lakegoers.
Tiger Robinson, Pulaski County Public Safety Director, warns that what’s grown up while the lake was down is something to watch for all around.
“Lots of people used to jump (their boats), but we have trees growing in the water now,” said Robinson, who pointed out that areas left uncovered by water over the last few years have seen trees sprout up.
“Now that the water’s up, the trees are covered up,” said Robinson. “You can’t see them (right away).”
Robinson advised lakegoers to “swim around a little bit” before just jumping into the water, not knowing for sure what’s underneath the surface. A surprise landing on tree branches or sharp limbs could cause significant physical harm.
“When you pull up into the cover, you think the water’s 20 feet deep, but there may be a tree in the middle of it,” he said. “Be conscious about these things when you’re jumping in and diving in.”
It’s not just whole trees that can cause problems either. The rising waters have caused stray pieces of wood and other items that were on shore to float out into the middle of the lake.

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