Commonwealth Journal

Local News

July 20, 2007

Legg: Frankfort wants early assessment of 2008 lake levels

Corps should be able to make projection in fall

A representative from Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s office said state government wants information as early as possible about the level of Lake Cumberland next year.

Hilda Legg, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Interagency Services in the Lake Cumberland Region, said if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “... can give us something firm early in the fall ...” marinas can make plans and the area can be marketed for next summer. Legg made the remarks Wednesday while accompanying top Corps officials on a tour of Lake Cumberland.

Legg said state government “... would like to have assurance” from the Corps that the level of the lake won’t be lowered another 30 feet. She emphasized, however, that safety is top priority.

The Corps earlier this year directed municipalities and other water users to lower intakes to the 650-foot level in case the lake has to be dropped lower to facilitate repairs at Wolf Creek Dam. The level currently is being maintained at 680 feet above sea level, about 40 feet lower than normal during the vacation season.

Corps officials have insisted there are no plans to lower the lake another 30 feet unless there is a new crisis at Wolf Creek Dam. The dam has been classified by an outside panel of experts as in high risk of failure.

Bill Peoples, public information officer for the Corps’ Nashville District, said Wednesday that rumors making the round that the lake will be raised to 700 feet next year are “purely rumors.” He said the rumors are being fired by people wearing buttons proclaiming a 700-foot level for the lake.

An intense grouting program is under way at the dam and an assessment of the grouting’s effect will be made in the fall. Peoples said a determination will be made late this fall about what level the lake will be next year.

The $309 million rehabilitation of the unstable Wolf Creek Dam is under way and the project is scheduled to take seven years. However, Gen. Bruce Berwick, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River District of the Corps, said this week that if a way can be found to expedite the project, additional money will be requested to complete the dam work sooner.

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