Commonwealth Journal

Local News

September 8, 2007

Laurel Lake to share water with Lake Cumberland

Somerset — Laurel Lake is sharing its water with Lake Cumberland.

Starting this week, more water is being released from Laurel Lake into Lake Cumberland in an effort to balance the two lakes in a drought-stricken area.

Lake Cumberland is already more than 40 feet below normal because of seepage problems at Wolf Creek Dam. Laurel Lake is not full, but “in pretty good shape,” according to Hershel Whitworth, hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Very little rainfall this summer and extremely hot weather have warmed water in Lake Cumberland and forced derated generation at John Sherman Cooper Power Station at Burnside. The five operational generators at Wolf Creek Dam are not in use because of the low lake level.

Cooper Station has extended four pumps on a barge to get water deeper in the lake, but the warmer water doesn’t cool the two generators efficiently.

Whitworth said water from Laurel Lake is being released into the Laurel River that runs into Lake Cumberland. “We’re trying to redistribute what little water we have,” said Whitworth.

The engineer predicts the situation will get better about November when cooler weather lowers the temperature of the water in the lake. He indicated this should temporarily solve the generator-cooling problem at Cooper Station.

Whitworth said generators at Wolf Creek Dam would be activated to control the lake level if there is significant rainfall. “I mean significant rainfall, not a shower,” he emphasized. Water is being released on a schedule through a sluice gate at Wolf Creek Dam to maintain a flow in the Cumberland River below the dam and try to save trout in the tailwater and river.

Lake Cumberland on Thursday was at 679.70 feet above sea level, about three-hundreths of a foot below the targeted 680 feet. The level of Laurel Lake was 1008.1 feet.

Whitworth said there will be a temporary interruption of the water release from Laurel Lake next week to make repairs to equipment.

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