Kentucky Utilities opened three floodgates at Dix Dam on Monday morning to drain water from Herrington Lake into the Dix and Kentucky rivers.
Officials have been watching the lake levels since last week's heavy rains. The lake level was already going down by Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
The decision to open the floodgates came after KU, which owns Dix Dam and Herrington Lake, conferred with state and local emergency-management officials.
"The river was at about 10 feet below flood stage at the time, and our water flow from the lake shouldn't add much height to the river level," wrote KU spokesman Cliff Feltham in an email.
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"The forecast for later this week does call for more rain, so we (meaning everyone concerned) felt like we had a window of opportunity to drain some of the water from the lake so we could get ready for what's coming later," Feltham wrote in the email.
Recent rains caused a 14-foot rise in Herrington, the man-made, 1,860-acre lake bordered by Boyle, Garrard and Mercer counties. The construction of Dix Dam, a rock-filled dam with a hydroelectric plant built in the 1920s, created the 35-mile long lake.
The state Division of Emergency Management issued a news release Friday to alert Frankfort residents and others who live downstream about the possible controlled release of water from Herrington into the Dix River. The Dix empties into the Kentucky River near High Bridge.
In the past, some downstream residents have complained that they were not made aware of any release of water from the dam, said Buddy Rogers, spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management.
A couple of Frankfort residents sued KU after a 1978 flood routed 2,000 residents and caused $50 million in damage. The lawsuit claimed that KU had aggravated the flood by releasing Herrington Lake water 50 miles upstream from Frankfort.
KU argued that it didn't cause the flood — heavy rains did — and the suit was dismissed.
Rain is forecast for the rest of this week. There is a 50 percent chance of rain on Tuesday and Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said.
More of the same is anticipated for Wednesday. That's followed by a 20 percent chance of rain Thursday; a 30 percent chance Thursday night; a 40 percent chance Friday; and a 50 percent chance Saturday.