Commonwealth Journal

Local News

December 11, 2013

Team completes inspection of Wolf Creek Dam repairs

Lake level will depend upon report results

Jamestown —

A panel of experts, called a Vertical Team, will make a recommendation to Brigadier General Margaret W. Burcham, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the Corps, following a two-day final safety review and field trip to Wolf Creek Dam this week.
Burcham, hopefully, will allow Lake Cumberland to return to normal operation next year. She did not take part in the Nashville meeting but apparently will base her decision on recommendations from the Vertical Team.
The lake level has been lower than normal for the past seven years while a permanent concrete barrier wall, 4,000 feet long, at least 2 feet thick and 275 feet deep, was inserted in the earthen section of the dam to stop uncontrolled seepage. The dam was declared in high risk of failure in 2005 and the lake was lowered for repairs to the mile-long structure in January 2007. The barrier wall, a project unprecedented in the world, was completed in March and wrap-up work continues at the dam.
Don B. Getty, manager of the rehabilitation project, said a decision from Burcham probably won’t be made for a couple of months. Recommen-dations to the division commander will be based on technical, environmental and water management issues among other considerations, he noted. 
A decision by the middle of February will be sufficiently early for normal operation next summer if, in fact, the commander gives the go-ahead, Getty indicated.
The lake is currently rising due to flooding on the Cumberland River. The water level at 6 a.m. Wednesday was 703.70 feet above sea level, almost 14 feet above the Corps’ target of 690 feet. An effort is being made to keep the lake at about 33 feet below the tree line to facilitate continued work at the dam site. The lake is normally lower during fall and winter.

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