Commonwealth Journal

Local News

August 3, 2007

Burnside set to lower water intake

Lowered intake will assure water supply in the event of a crisis at Wolf Creek Dam

Burnside Municipal Water Works is getting ready to lower its water intake 23 feet deeper into Lake Cumberland to assure a plentiful supply in the event of a crisis at troubled Wolf Creek Dam.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last February advised 11 communities that use water from the lake to lower intakes to 650 feet above sea level. The advisory was given in case the lake has to be lowered further during a seven-year, $309 million rehabilitation of the dam.

However, several communities took a second look when the Corps announced last week that the lake will remain at 680 feet throughout next year. With the announcement came advice from the Corps and Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s office that water intake systems should be lowered. They cautioned that the repair project is risky and a situation could develop that would require a lower lake level to ease pressure on the dam.

Somerset, after talking with its engineers and the Corps, decided to proceed with plans to lower its intake to the 610-foot level (see story, Wednesday, Aug. 1).

Burnside is taking basically the same route.

“We’ll go ahead as planned,” said Mayor Chuck Fourman. “Funding is in place and we are preparing paper work (for Corps approval).” The state is paying the entire $676,000 cost to lower the intake system, the Burnside mayor said.

The intake for Burnside Municipal Water Works currently is at the 673-foot level, about seven feet below the current level of the lake. Fourman said the modification will take the intake down to 650 feet.

(The Corps measures the level of bodies of water in feet above sea level. Normal summer pool elevation is 723 feet. Because the dam has been classified in high risk of failure, the lake was lowered in January to 680 feet. According to the most recent announcement, the level will remain at 680 feet next year unless a crisis develops at Wolf Creek Dam).

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