Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 24, 2013

Methodology of raising lake levels depends on several factors

Somerset —  

If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gets a “green light” on April 1 to raise Lake Cumberland by 20 feet, historically there is a 70 percent chance spring rains will be sufficient to allow the lake to reach that level (700 to 705 feet above sea level) by June 1, the traditional start of the summer vacation season.
“It all depends on Mother Nature,” said Don Getty, manager of the Wolf Creek Dam Remediation Project. The lake will be higher than now, but it might not be 20 feet higher, Getty added.
The Corps announced late last week the contractor making repairs to Wolf Creek Dam is running ahead of schedule and there is “high probability” the lake will be raised 20 feet this coming summer. This is almost a year ahead of the previously projected December 2013 completion date and a rise in the lake for Summer 2014. Now, the Corps says its goal is to have the lake at pool stage (723 feet above sea level) summer after next.
But the higher lake level this summer “is not guaranteed,” Getty cautioned. The expected “green light” to raise the level of the lake depends on several factors: 
• Completion of the permanent barrier wall in the cavernous Critical Area 1, a 600-foot-long part of the dam near the wraparound of the earthen and concrete sections.
• Recommendation of a panel of safety experts.
• OK from the commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
As of last Saturday (January 19) there were less than 30 holes remaining to be drilled to finish the wall in the critical area, Getty said. Three drills are working in the area and averaging seven or eight holes a week.
The permanent wall is being created by drilling 50-inch diameter holes 275 feet deep from the work platform on the upstream side of the dam to about 100 feet into the limestone bedrock. Each hole, filled with 140 cubic yards of concrete, is called a pile. About 1,200 piles have formed the wall outside Critical Area 1. The wall inside the critical area is formed with 232 piles, 30 of which remain to be drilled.

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