March 9 Newsletter on Lake Cumberland/Wolf Creek Dam
Friends of Lake Cumberland –
STATE APPROVES EMERGENCY MODIFICATIONS FOR SOMERSET WATER PLANT
Quick response to Corps of Engineers’ lowering of Lake Cumberland
FRANKFORT, Ky. – In a quick response to a water emergency created by the lowering of Lake Cumberland, Governor Ernie Fletcher announced today that the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) has approved plans by Somerset Water Service to modify its water intakes.
The municipal system supplies water to about 100,000 people in the Lake Cumberland region. The Army Corps of Engineers lowered the lake to 680 feet above sea level – 43 feet below normal and perilously close to water intake levels for Somerset and six other water systems that collectively supply 203,000 people in nine counties – Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, Lincoln, McCreary, Monroe, Pulaski, Russell and Wayne.
The modification will enable Somerset to continue to draw raw water if the Corps of Engineers decides to lower the lake even further during repairs to its impoundment, Wolf Creek Dam. The Corps has advised local water systems that a lowering to 650 feet is a “real possibility.”
Somerset’s plans were submitted to DOW for review on Feb. 21 and were approved March 5. Somerset Water Service Manager Charles Dick estimates the project will cost $1.2 million.
Governor Fletcher said the Governor’s Office for Local Development (GOLD) is working on a state grant to repay Somerset for some of the project costs.
“The Governor’s Office for Local Development, along with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, is working diligently to locate available funding resources to address concerns related to the relocation of water intakes that serve more than 200,000 Kentucky citizens,” said Governor Fletcher.
“I commend the city of Somerset and the Division of Water for moving quickly to meet this emergency,” the Governor said.
The Somerset plant provides water to a total population of 100,700. In addition to the 29,218 residents of the city of Somerset, the plant sells water to the Southeast Water Association -Tatesville, the Southeast Water Association-Nelson Valley, Science Hill, the Western Pulaski Water District and the city of Eubank. Eubank in turns sells water to a portion of the McKinney Water District.
Somerset Water Service’s engineers devised a modification in which three to four barges will serve as floating platforms for pipes that will extend 1,000 feet from the shore into the lake pool. Each barge will carry a pump to force lake water through the pipes to existing intakes. From that point the water treatment procedure will continue as usual.
Charles Dick said in-house preparation of the modification plan saved the city money and time.
“We are fortunate to have the technical expertise in our city engineer, Alex Godsey, and our plant superintendent, Kenneth Brinson, to put this plan together,” Dick said. “We saved a lot of money doing this whole thing ourselves and we’ve learned a lot along the way. I also appreciate all the help we’ve gotten from the Division of Water and Governor Fletcher’s administration. They’ve been very helpful working with us and the whole thing has gone smoothly.”
DOW Director David Morgan said Somerset is to be commended for its proactive approach to the issues facing the water plant as a result of the Corps of Engineers’ Wolf Creek Dam project.
“Thousands of residents in the Lake Cumberland area depend on the drinking water provided by the Somerset Water Service,” said Morgan. “Their engineers and public officials have worked hard to come up with a practical plan that will allow them to continue to provide plentiful clean water well into the future.”
The Corps of Engineers anticipates the project to repair the leaking dam could take up to seven years. Governor Fletcher has directed his administration to do everything possible to help communities in the Lake Cumberland area with issues related to the drawdown. The Division of Water continues to lend technical assistance to all the area municipal water systems.
LAKE CUMBERLAND/WOLF CREEK DAM ACTIONS TAKEN BY FLETCHER ADMINISTRATION
When it was learned that the Army Corps of Engineers was going to drastically lower the level of Lake Cumberland, Governor Fletcher recognized a mandate to act promptly and decisively.
He mobilized ALL state government agencies and collectively gave us a simple marching order: Do everything possible to help people in the Lake Cumberland area adapt to this emergency.
Our No. 1 priority is to protect health and safety.
The Corps of Engineers says the dam is in no danger of imminent failure, but the prudent approach is to plan and prepare for a worst-case scenario.
These are some of the steps Governor Fletcher has taken:
- He has directed the Office of Homeland Security to install a reverse-911 system, upgrade the region’s 911 system from basic to enhanced, and distribute weather radios for households and businesses near the dam.
- He has directed the Division of Emergency Management to complete emergency planning for potentially affected areas, including identifying every road that would be affected by a breach.
- The boat ramp at General Burnside Island State Park – a ramp critical to the region’s renowned and irreplaceable houseboat manufacturing industry – has been extended to reach the new water level.
- And he has opened an office in Somerset and appointed a liaison – Hilda Legg – to gather information, dispense information, and to generally be responsive to people in the Lake Cumberland area.
The lake has been lowered to 680 feet above sea level. This is very close to the level at which public water intakes and discharges would be out of the water.
Some private wells already are dry or nearly dry.
The KY Division of Water has been lending technical assistance to the municipal water systems, all of which are actively planning to move or extend their intakes.
The division also is offering technical assistance to private well owners.
The Public Service Commission is working with power plant engineers to assess the need to extend water intakes.
It also is consulting with the TVA about how to handle any power loss to the region.
The Governor has asked the General Assembly for $45 million in bonding authority to assist local communities cope with the effects of the lake drawdown.
The drawdown has affected boating access to Lake Cumberland.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Transportation Cabinet are working together to extend other impacted boat ramps in addition to the very important ramp at General Burnside Island.
While the lower lake level will cause some inconvenience, Lake Cumberland remains an outstanding tourism resource. Even at 680 feet, there is plenty of water in this large, deep lake to entice boaters and anglers.
To minimize the tourism impact of the dam project, the Department of Tourism has launched an ad campaign promoting Lake Cumberland in major out of state markets.
The Fletcher Administration will stay with this situation to its conclusion.
EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION PUBLIC MEETINGS
TO BE HELD IN RUSSELL AND CUMBERLAND COUNTIES
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS) will be hosting public meetings to discuss the public safety emergency notification projects being implemented in Clinton, Cumberland, Monroe and Russell Counties, next Thursday and Friday, March 16 and 17, 2007. The public is invited to attend.
March 15, 2007, at 6:00 p.m. CT
Union Chapel Elementary School
March 16, 2007, at 6:30 p.m. CT
Veterans Memorial Community Center
213 Upper River St.
The Army Corps of Engineers held a media day (tour) of Wolf Creek Dam. About a dozen different media outlets attended. Links to several stories appear below in the news section.
The documentary “The Story of Lake Cumberland” is available for purchase through the Somerset-Pulaski County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
$20 for DVD or VHS, in addition to the manufacturer.
The lake level was 685.52’ as of noon on March 9, 2007. The Corps’ goal is to have it back down to 680’ on/by March 21, 2007.
UPDATED RAMP CONDITIONS ACCORDING TO THE CORPS:
The following Corps operated and Commercial Marina boat ramps are usable at or near the target elevation 680” (* Due to recent heavy rainfall, lake elevations have been higher than the targeted 680 elevation and many ramps not shown on this list may be currently usable. However, lake levels are on the fall and these ramps are expected to change to the status of unusable again. Ramps are monitored on a daily basis and conditions are subject to change.) Lake predictions for March 9, 2007 are in the range of 685 elevation and by March 21, 2007 the 680 elevation range.
Burnside Island State Park
Cave Creek (approx. 15' of concrete left, then mud)
Conley Bottom Marina (campground ramp, boats less 20'approx.)
Halcomb's Landing (small boats less 20'approx.)
Lee's Ford Marina
Waitsboro (small boats less 20'approx.)
We are looking for photos of Lake Cumberland at the 680’ level. We want photos taken since the lake settled at 680’ on 2/12 or after. When sending your photo please acknowledge you are letting us use the photos free of charge and we have your permission to do so.
If you have any questions, please e-mail them to me at: email@example.com.
Past newsletters are available at www.commerce.ky.gov. Click on the “News” icon on the left side of the page to view them.
WEB SITES OF INTEREST
LIVE WEBCAMS OF LAKE CUMBERLAND –
Jamestown Resort Marina, from the motel island looking ESE out to the main lake.
15 March,-Burkesville, Ky.,
Cumberland County High School, gym,
912 North Main, 6:30-8 p.m.,
maps available at 5:00 p.m. (School has open house until 6:00 p.m.)
22 March,-Celina, TN.,
Clay County High School, gym,
1102 Clay County Highway, 6:30-8 p.m.,
maps available at 4:30(NOTE: Gym holds 800 people unless we provide additional chairs on the gym floor)
27 March,-Gainesboro, TN.,
Jackson County High School High School Gym,
190 Blue Devil Lane, 6:30-8p.m.,
maps available at 3 p.m.
2 April,-Carthage, TN., Smith County High School, Auditorium,
312 Fite Avenue, 6:30-8p.m.,
maps available at 3:30 p.m.
12-April, - Hartsville, TN., Trousdale County High School, gym,
off HWY 25 on McMurray Blvd, 6:30-8p.m.,
maps available at 3:30 p.m.
19-April, - Mt. Juliet, TN., Mt. Juliet High School, gym,
3565 N. Mount Juliet Road, 6:30-8p.m.,
maps available at 4 p.m.
(Includes a link to a photo gallery featuring 14 photos from the tour.)
Tour shows repairs at Wolf Creek Dam - Corps' effort seeks to build trust with public
Officials: No danger from dam - Media shown workings at Wolf Creek,
County officials seeking repair funds for ramps
Letter to the Editor in the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Lake Cumberland will always survive
Despite the negative press Lake Cumberland is receiving, it will survive! Last Saturday, friends and I went to see the lake and several marinas. The low water is causing problems; this is true. Alligator 1 Marina must move to deeper water, but, it was in a bad spot to begin with. With the Corps financial assistance, it's a blessing in disguise. Other marinas, such as Conley Bottoms, are building docks and adding to ramps; it is business as usual. This is normal winter depth!
The news media are going to cripple the economy for the region with bad press to scare off visitors. Even with lower water, Cumberland remains a massive, deep, beautiful lake which will thrive again this summer.