US Rep. Hal Rogers pulls funding for Lake Cumberland study
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers has pulled funding for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer study of Lake Cumberland.
The Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/1T1K9sK) reports Rogers inserted a provision into a $37.4 billion spending bill his committee approved last week that would cut funding for the project.
The move comes as the corps looks to bring municipalities and others using Lake Cumberland’s water supply in line with federal law, which requires those drawing the water to pay for storage and the cost of operating and maintaining dams.
Other corps-managed reservoirs already collect those fees, but those using Lake Cumberland have gotten water for free since the completion of Wolf Creek Dam in 1951. Eleven users, including Somerset, other smaller cities around the lake, a state park, a fish hatchery, a charcoal factory and a power plant draw their water supply from the lake.
Corps of Engineers Nashville District project manager Loren McDonald said the corps needs another $200,000 to finish the $569,000 study.
“Without being able to complete the study,” she said, “we’re kind of at a standstill.”
Rogers’ spokeswoman, Danielle Smoot, said the congressman opposes changes unless there are additional communities interested in using the reservoir as a water source.
“Congressman Rogers included language in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill to prevent the corps from moving forward with an unnecessary study to impose additional fees without providing water to any new communities,” she said.
McDonald said the corps can’t officially renew access for Somerset and 10 others who use Lake Cumberland as a water source without the study, but has no plans to cut off intakes. She said if the cities continue to draw water, they would be trespassing on federal property.
“How we would choose to handle that situation, if at all, is yet to be determined,” she said. “We are committed to finding solutions.”