Lake Cumberland in perfect shape for summer
The sudden turn to summer-like weather triggers thoughts of fun on Lake Cumberland and the 101-mile-long body of water is expected to be in perfect shape for the Ohio Navy and other visitors.
U.S. 127 will be paved atop Wolf Creek Dam this summer, but absolutely “ … nothing is occurring at the dam that would keep Lake Cumberland from being at a normal level,” said Bill Peoples, chief of public affairs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Nashville District.
“Except for precipitation,” Peoples added. “Lack of rain might keep the lake from reaching summer pool by May 15,” he said.
The level of Lake Cumberland is governed by what is called a “SEPA (Southeast Power Administration) curve, a lake water elevation guide that rises in the spring with spring rainfall and reaches elevation 723 on May 15. The water then is slowly drawn down through the summer and fall. The SEPA curve is designed to ensure an adequate level of water for continued hydropower production throughout the year.
“We are a little below the (SEPA) curve and whether the lake rises to summer pool by May 15 depends on sufficient rainfall,” Peoples said this week. Lake Cumberland is currently just above 713 feet above sea level, and spring rainfall currently is nearly 2 inches below normal. Very little precipitation is expected within the next week or so, according to latest weather forecasts.
Doug DeLong, project manager at Wolf Creek Dam, said some road realignment and paving of U.S. 127 across the dam will be done this summer and lane closures and traffic delays in vicinity of the dam can be expected.
Traffic along U.S. 127 from Albany will be stopped before reaching the concrete structure, and there will be a traffic-stop point on the north side of the dam. However, DeLong said on the Jamestown side of the dam entranceway to Halcomb’s Landing hopefully won’t be impeded and an auxiliary ramp at Halcomb’s Landing will be ready for use by the Memorial Day weekend.
The paving project includes a new overlook on the south side of the dam where motorists may park and view the lake. Also, a new road is being constructed from U.S. 127 down to Kendall Recreation Area and Wolf Creek Dam National Fish Hatchery. DeLong said this project will be done by Memorial Day.
Scheduled to open April 29 is a newly created Hatchery Creek, a mile-long extension of existing Hatchery Creek below Wolf Creek Dam. Designed as a mountain trout stream, it is a part of a mitigation project that creates a high quality aquatic habitat, enhances more than 5 acres of forest and wetland, as well as provides a unique fishing opportunity for anglers.
Summer 2016 is the third vacation season since Lake Cumberland returned to normal operation after an 8-year, $594 million rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam. The water level was kept about 40 feet below normal for seven years and about 20 feet below normal during Summer 2013 while repairs were made to the dam.
Both Peoples and DeLong emphasized the rehabilitated dam is stable and the 4,000-foot-long barrier wall inserted in the dam apparently has stopped uncontrolled seepage.
By BILL MARDIS