Commonwealth Journal

Local News

July 4, 2007

McConnell: Dam repair a priority

Senator says he's aware of economic impact of situation

Kentucky’s senior United States senator has vowed to make as much money available as necessary to repair Wolf Creek Dam as quickly as possible.

“We are working with the governor’s office, Congressman (Hal) Rogers and the Congress to get the job finished as rapidly as possible,” Sen. Mitch McConnell told the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking Tuesday during the chamber’s July membership meeting, McConnell said “... we are acutely aware of the economic impact with the situation at Wolf Creek Dam. If the water level is taken down too far, it will have further impact.

“We’re trying to help you get through this as rapidly as possible with as little economic impact as possible,” assured McConnell. He said money requested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair the dam is included in the 2008 national budget.

The Corps announced in August 2005 that Wolf Creek Dam was leaking again. It detailed a seven-year rehabilitation program at a cost of $309 million.

The level of Lake Cumberland was lowered 43 feet this past January to ease pressure on the ailing dam. An accelerated grouting program is under way to reduce seepage, mostly through the earthen section of the dam.

A contract is scheduled to be let in December for a concrete diaphragm. The wall would be four or five feet thick and extend 100 feet into the bedrock below the dam. Lt. Col. Steven J. Roemhildt, commander of the Corps’ Nashville District, told the Commonwealth Journal that the concrete wall should make the dam safe for the remainder of this century.

A concrete roller-compacted dam, essentially to replace the earthen section of the structure, is being studied. However, Corps engineers have said this type of dam is unlikely because of the time involved and the possibility that the lake would be lowered further while this new-type dam was being built. McConnell apparently alluded to this study during his speech but did not elaborate.

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