Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
State issues Lake Cumberland report
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 1, 2008) – A report detailing state activities as a result of the lowering of the water level at Lake Cumberland has been released by the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced one year ago Wolf Creek Dam was classified as a “high risk of failure” and the lake level would be lowered to 680 feet. State agencies immediately began activities to address emergency notification, water supply, and electricity and tourism issues for the area.
The report was prepared by the Governor’s Office on Interagency Services, in Somerset, which has been headed by Hilda Legg. The office closed yesterday following the release of the report.
The report highlights the cooperative effort among state agencies including EPPC, the Transportation Cabinet, the Commerce Cabinet, the Office of Homeland Security, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (DFWR) and the Economic Development Cabinet.
“This is an example of state government responding quickly, decisively and cooperatively to protect the lives and well-being of the citizens in the Lake Cumberland area,” said Legg. “This experience should serve as a model for future, similar situations.”
The report notes an outdoor siren system is being installed, emergency radios have been distributed and water intake structures have been moved to protect the citizens of the area. Lake Cumberland supplies the drinking water for 200,000 Kentuckians.
The Commerce Cabinet has developed aggressive marketing campaigns to protect the tourism industry dependent upon visitors to the lake. The economic impact to four counties with access to the lake is more than $150 million annually.
The Transportation Cabinet and DFWR worked cooperatively to extend boat ramps surrounding the lake to give visitors access to the water. When the Corps first announced the lowering of the level, only 11 access points were available. Today, 50 ramps are open and two more are under construction.
Local governments, most affected by the Corps’ action, are appreciative of the work performed by the Governor’s Office on Interagency Services.
“The cooperation initiated by the Governor's Office between state, federal and local government officials was unprecedented and without it the completion of projects may not have been a possibility,” said Greg Rankin, Wayne County judge-executive.
“From marketing to expediting permits to identifying funding dollars, the office was always on the move, pushing and working tirelessly on behalf of the residents impacted,” said Roger Bates, mayor of Jamestown. “I can't think of one thing additionally that they could have done.”
“We saw the tremendous economic impact the lower lake level had on small businesses firsthand,” said Bill Magruder, Duo County Telephone Co. president. “The aggressive action on behalf of these businesses and residents by the Governor's Office and the appeal to the federal government for their assistance sent the message that the residents and businesses of the Lake Cumberland region were not alone and their unfortunate circumstances were being addressed.”
State funding, $25 million, was provided for improvements to water intakes for communities that withdraw drinking water from Lake Cumberland. More than $2.7 million was allocated for upgrading or constructing boat ramps to the lake.
The report can be viewed on the Web at www.eppc.ky.gov.