Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 13, 2007

Fletcher disappointed with House’s indecision on Wolf Creek Dam crisis

The governor’s office is looking into funding options to help counties in the Lake Cumberland region scrambling to get out-of-water boat ramps ready for the tourist season and water intake pipes extended in case additional drawdowns are necessary.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who was in town earlier this week for the grand opening of Somerset Rail Park, said after the ceremony his staff is evaluating the situation and trying to come up with possible solutions.

Major repairs at Wolf Creek Dam have caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to lower the lake to 680 feet above sea level — 43 feet below the tree line — for the summer tourist season. The lower water level is intended to ease the pressure on the earthen section of the dam, which has been classified at a “high risk” of failure.

Fletcher said he was “disappointed” when the General Assembly adjourned earlier this year without funding projects associated with Wolf Creek Dam repairs.

“The House didn’t do anything ... and that was disappointing,” he said.

The Republican governor promised to help, but said his immediate priorities are making sure residents who live below the dam are safe and communities have adequate water supplies. Recreational needs are next on his list.

Water treatment systems in Somerset and Burnside have been notified by the Corps to extend their water intake pipes by the end of the calendar year. This is a precautionary measure in the event the Corps has to draw down the lake an additional 30 feet, to 650 feet, which is not in their immediate plans.

The recommended summer pool level is 680 feet, to be maintained at least through the summer months, until the situation can be reviewed in the fall.

Normal pool levels are 723 feet in the summer and 690 feet in the winter.

Mark York, chief of staff for the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, said Somerset Water Service has made a request to GOLD (Governor’s Office for Local Development) for $565,000 of a $1.17 million project to extend its water intake pipe at Waitsboro.

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