U.S. Water News Online
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- The Rochester dam on the Green River
has been eroding for years, leaving officials worried about the water
supply for 46,000 people in western Kentucky.
Butler County Judge-Executive David Fields said heavy rain, which
washed debris down the river, could put too much pressure on the dam
and cause it to break. That would flush out the pool of water it
holds to serve Butler, Muhlenberg and Ohio counties.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2004 recommended the locks at
the dam be filled with rock and concrete. Federal funding for that
proposal has not been appropriated.
The center of the dam is a combination of boulders on top of a
wooden structure. The dam has eroded to the point that, the pool of
available water has dropped several feet during the recent droughts
because of leaks and no falling water to replace it, Fields said.
The Corps of Engineers didn't see that during its review, Fields
"They really didn't look at the structure of the dam itself,"
Butler County Judge-Executive David Fields said.
If the dam breaks, there would probably be little property damage,
Fields said. But, it would take nearly a year to provide a temporary
water source to the residents served by the water.
Barren River Area Development District executive director Rodney
Kirtley said a major industry, the Purdue poultry processing plant in
Ohio County, relies on water from the pool being held back by the
Kirtley has started meeting with officials from the three counties
and hopes to get the force of three area development districts
Kirtley and Fields said they have discussed with federal lawmakers
and the Corps of Engineers the need to look at the dam's safety.
Fields said repairs to the Wolf Creek Dam at Lake Cumberland,
which holds back the largest reservoir east of the Mississippi, are
Officials have said the dam could flood towns and cities down the
Cumberland River in Kentucky and Tennessee, including parts of
"I understand that there are bigger needs elsewhere, right now,"
But Fields said it is important to get a complete engineering
study done of the dam to see how immediate its repair needs are.
"So we can know if this is something that we need to take care of
right away or if there is a few years to get the needed funding," he
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