“It’s difficult to see why this is an issue,” concluded Hamilton.
As aforementioned, worries abound because the lake level continues to drop even below the 690-foot level maintained since last fall to complete work on the face of the dam. The level Tuesday morning was just above 687 feet and water was being released at a rate of more than 21,000 cubic feet per second.
Getty explained the current level is the result of work being done on the upstream side of the dam. Shotrock on the face of the dam during the construction period has been removed and riprap is being put in place.
“We may be delayed some by heavy rains forecast for (Tuesday) night,” said Getty. Current target is to complete putting down riprap during the next two weeks. At that time the level of the lake is expected to rise to 705 feet, same as last summer, Getty said.
Meanwhile, Getty said the last concrete was poured Friday to complete the extension of a wall to protect the electrical switchyard at the base of the dam. This project has nothing to do with the dam, he noted.
Lee Andrews, field supervisor for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kentucky Field Office, explains the problem with duskytail darters. He said the endangered minnows have been found in five miles of stream habitat in headwaters of Lake Cumberland where the Big South Fork enters Lake Cumberland near Burnside.
Simply put, duskytail darters live in flowing water, preferably over a rocky, boulder-strewn river bed. While the lake was kept low for seven years to repair Wolf Creek Dam, a five-mile stretch of the Big South Fork, no longer backed up by the lake, returned to normal and the endangered darters moved in that part of the river.
That’s the problem now. You can’t kill ‘em, you can’t catch ‘em, you can’t touch ‘em and you can’t raise the lake back to normal without destroying the darter’s new habitat, according to the Endangered Species Act.