Contractor finishes concrete barrier at Lake Cumberland dam

bestep@herald-leader.comMarch 6, 2013 

Construction of a giant concrete barrier to seal off leaks in the dam that impounds Lake Cumberland is done, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday.

A contractor drilled holes into the ground beneath the earthen section of Wolf Creek Dam and then installed 3-foot-thick concrete piles in the holes to create the wall. The 1,197 interlocking piles, extend up to 275 feet into the bedrock below the dam, are designed to block seepage through caves and fissures under the dam that had threatened to undermine the structure.

The last pile was put in place Wednesday, according to a news release. The $594 million project to fix the dam started in 2007.

The Corps announced earlier that after the wall was finished, engineers would analyze how well the wall has stabilized the dam.

If the project has been successful, the Corps plans to raise the level of the lake this summer to 700 or 705 feet above sea level this summer. The usual summer level is 723 feet, but the Corps has held the lake at 680 feet since early 1997 to take pressure off the dam during repairs.

Tourism interests have welcomed the potential for more water this summer.

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