Mile wide Kentucky dam at High Risk of Breaking

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Should Lake Cumberland be lowered to reduce break risk, even if 1/3 of fish die as a result?
Poll ended at 14 May 2007, 7:31 pm
Yes 33%  33%  [ 1 ]
No 67%  67%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 3

Pileated woodpecker
Pileated woodpecker

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03 Feb 2007, 7:26 pm

AP- SOMERSET - A catastrophic failure at the dam that impounds Lake Cumberland would cause at least $3.6 billion in damages stretching far below the dam and could kill more than 200 people, the Army Corps of Engineers has estimated.

However, it's doubtful the death toll would be nearly that high because the estimate is based on a failure scenario that is unlikely to happen, the corps said in a document made public this week.

The risk of a breach at Wolf Creek Dam could aid in getting warning sirens installed downriver from the ailing structure.

Emergency planners and local officials had discussed installing sirens to warn of threats such as tornadoes even before the corps announced last week that the dam had been rated at high risk of failure. That sobering news could add urgency to the effort to get sirens.

"It's another situation where people need early warning," said Don Franklin, Area 12 manager for the Kentucky Department of Emergency Management.

The new document helps make clear the potential devastation if the dam failed. It would torpedo Lake Cumberland, the centerpiece of the regional tourism economy; end the corps' ability to generate electricity at the dam; and cause significant flooding as far away as Clarksville, Tenn., perhaps toppling other dams, according to the document.

The corps called the $3.6 billion damage estimate "extremely conservative," meaning it could be much more.

It said between 56 and 237 people in areas closest to the dam could die in the flood.

But the corps said there was little chance there would be so many deaths. That estimate was based on a situation in which a 200-foot-wide breach developed fully in five hours, and there was no warning of the impending failure and no chance to notify people to evacuate.

SOURCE: ... 585340.htm

--- Guess I'm not going to tour the fish hatchery any time soon! I used to have field trips to the dam when I was a young child

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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03 Feb 2007, 11:28 pm

Depending on the engineering of the dam, simply lowering the water will not solve the problem. In essence, dams are like a single big block that is wedged between two walls. If there is a split n the rock or along the sides, you risk a breach.

You can try to lower the water beneath the point at which the damage exists but the failing integrity of the overall block and/or the sides remains, thereby keeping the structure weak.

Repairs can be made, but if the structure is so disasterously weak in the first place, or if the sides are failing to such an extent that the water has to be lowered so much, one questions how much repair would be needed, at what cost, and at what result.

Dams, while good for generating "clean" power and controling river traffic, really do harm the environment in a number of different ways. One cannot expect that there will be no resulting effects from changing the entire ecology of the area downstream from a dam.

If this dam is failing, the only way I'd say the water should be lowered is if the goal would be to remove the dam entirely.

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