Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 23, 2014

Lake isn’t cleared to go back to normal levels

Somerset — Lake Cumberland may soon be allowed to rise about 15 feet, to 705 feet above sea level, same as last summer. However, a green light has not been given for the lake to return to normal operation.

“It is our goal to return the lake to historical operation by this spring, but whether it returns to 723 feet (pool stage) this summer will depend on Mother Nature (sufficient rainfall),” said Don B. Getty, manager of the $594 million rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam.

The green light for normal operation, when it comes, will be given by Brigadier General Margaret W. Burcham, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the Corps. Getty emphasizes there are hurdles and challenges ahead before official OK is given for normal operation.

 Apparently all is well. Instrument readings and visual observations of Wolf Creek Dam continue to indicate the recently completed rehabilitation of the mile-long structure is a quality job, Getty indicated.

The Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently has permission to raise the lake to 705 feet above sea level, Getty noted. “We expect to allow the lake to rise to this level soon,” he said Tuesday.

The lake has been kept as closely as possible to 690 feet since last fall to facilitate mop-up work on the face of the dam. The level Thursday morning was 690.08.

Getty said the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, headquartered in Cincinnati, is working with the Nashville District but Commander Burcham does not yet have the full package of information on which she will base her decision.

During the second week of December a panel of experts, called a Vertical Team, held a two-day final review of the rehabilitation project and took a field trip to the dam. Getty said the review by the Vertical Team went “really well.” However, he strongly emphasizes a lot of challenges remain.

Alluding to Getty’s references to hurdles and challenges, a reporter asked Getty: “Has anything happened to make you worry? Has anything happened to make you happy?”

“By nature, I’m a worrier,” Getty laughed. However, Getty said there is nothing to indicate rehabilitation of the dam is not a success.

Wolf Creek Dam is probably the most instrumented dam in the world. About 250 piezometers -- instruments to measure static liquid pressure –– are installed in the dam. Getty says none of these instruments has given readings to cause concern since the permanent concrete barrier wall was completed last March.

Engineers walk the dam five days a week, eight hours a day, visually inspecting the structure. Prior to completion of the barrier wall, visual inspections were done around the clock, seven days a week.

The barrier wall inserted during the last seven years is touted as a permanent fix for the dam. The wall, created by drilling overlapping 50-inch-diameter holes filled with concrete, extends about 100 feet in bedrock below the dam. Engineers said enough concrete was put in the dam during the recent rehabilitation project to build a sidewalk 5 feet wide from the dam site to Washington, D.C.

 Work is continuing on the face of the dam to remove shotrock and replace it with riprap, Getty noted. He said this project was held up about a month by a high lake level but is expected to be finished by early February.

 Also, a cutoff wall is being extended to protect the electrical switchyard immediately below the dam. This project is ahead of schedule, Getty said.

  Other current work at the dam site includes narrowing the work platform, created to accommodate heavy equipment, from 75 feet wide to a permanent passage 30 feet wide, and redesigning the intersection with U.S. 127 and the road leading below the dam.

Lake Cumberland has been plagued with uncontrolled seepage since the gates were closed at Wolf Creek Dam in December 1950. A major crisis during the late 1960s was temporarily fixed with grouting (pumping liquid concrete into the dam) and insertion of a not-deep-enough and not-long-enough barrier wall during the 1970s.

 The dam in 2005 was declared in high risk of failure. Beginning in 2007, another barrier wall, 4,000 feet long and 275 feet deep, was inserted in the earthen section of the structure. The lake was kept about 40 feet below normal for six years to facilitate the repairs. Last summer, with the concrete barrier wall in place, the lake was allowed to rise to between 700 and 705 feet above sea level during the recreational season.


Text Only
Local News
  • Rift over firefighter pay finally history

    Somerset officials are closing the books on a years-long disagreement between the city and the state labor cabinet over overtime pay and other benefits for firefighters and EMS workers. 

    July 31, 2014

  • eubank school1.jt.jpg New cafeteria coming soon to Eubank Elementary

    Students at one elementary school in northern Pulaski County will be taking their lunches in the classroom for a bit while construction to its cafeteria continues. 

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • BURNSIDE LODGE-TURNER FOTO.jpg Turner to meet with commissioner on Burnside Island

    A state representative unhappy over secrecy surrounding possible privatization of General Burnside Island State Park said he will respond positively to an invitation to meet with Elaine Walker, commissioner of Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Ca

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Derek Kissee.jpg Science Hill man charged in Rockcastle County beating

    A Science Hill man has been accused of beating and leaving another Pulaski County man for dead in an abandoned Rockcastle County rock qu

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Kingsford Fire 07-29-2014 KS 09.jpg No injuries, minimal damage at Kingsford Plant

    A normal production day at the Kingsford Charcoal Plant in southern Pulaski County was halted for a few hours while firefighters worked to put out a small blaze at the plant. 

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 020313 SCC Rogers BLdg-0286.jpg SCC tabbed as one of top places to work

    A national publication dedicated to all things secondary education has named Somerset Community College one of the best in the nation to work for. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Warning: Robo phone scam targeting local residents

    Authorities are warning local residents of a possible phone scam.

    July 28, 2014

  • Baskin Robbins Reopens 07-29-2014 JT 17.jpg Baskin Robbins is back in Somerset

    Even with two Dairy Queens, a new Orange Leaf and an ice cream truck, Somerset residents have still been screaming for more ice cream.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DOWNTOWN SIDEWALK FOTO.JPG Heated sidewalks provide sparks for workers
    A heated sidewalk to melt snow and ice was “quite the thing” a half century ago in a small town like Somerset. This town’s first and only electrically warmed sidewalk was installed facing Fountain Square alongside First and Farmers National Bank when the bank’s downtown headquarters building was constructed in 1963-64.
    As snow fell, the warm sidewalk melted a walkway about 2 feet wide alongside the bank. It was the talk of the town; quite a gimmick.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 021614 Citizens 11 Boyd randolph.jpg Somerset Schools will fight ruling

    The recent hearing regarding the conflict with county schools over non-resident students might not have gone Somerset’s way, but that doesn’t mean they’re done fighting.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

News Live
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide