Whitesburg KY
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Asking for the Governor’s help

To the Editor:

Dear Governor Beshear:

The City of Jenkins is in dire need of help concerning our dam and lake. For three plus years the City has worked on assistance from any and all sources to help with this problem.

The Consolidation Coal Company began construction of the Elkhorn Lake Dam in 1911 and completed the structure in 1912.

The Elkhorn Lake served as a source of water for generation of steam in the coalburning power plant located immediately downstream of the dam. The water from the lake was recycled to the headwaters of the reservoir after being used at the power plant.

In 1946 Consolidation sold the dam to the Kentucky Water Company. Following this change of ownership, Elkhorn Lake began serving the community as a water supply source. The dam and lake were later sold to the City, which owns this facility today.

The only known modification to the dam was performed around 1963 by the Mattingly Bridge Company from Louisville, Ky. A concrete cap was added to prevent the concrete from weathering on the original surface, and to provide an additional one foot of reservoir tonnage capacity. The overflow spillway in the center of the dam was also lined with a new layer of concrete.

On June 22, 1976 members of the Division of Water completed an inspection of the dam. Based on their inspection report, the problems mentioned were seepage on the downstream face and weathering of the concrete surface on the downstream face.

On September 18, 1982, a Division of Water engineer led an investigation of the dam after floodwater overtopped the structure. The Division of Water engineer advised the structure foundation should be explored for stability and proper maintenance be performed.

On September 12, 1983, the Division of Water engineers completed a study of the dam. Additional findings beyond the Phase I inspection included a seepage at the valve stem near the toe of the dam.

On October 12, 1983, Burge, Wagonner, Summer, and Carroll, Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., completed an emergency repairs and long range water system improvement program for the City of Jenkins. The report made the following recommendations pertaining to the dam. (1) Reservoir storage capacity has been greatly reduced by siltation and needs to be dredged to increase the storage capacity.

(2) The concrete face of the dam and wings have sloughed off and need to be repaired.

(3) There are several minor leaks in the dam that need to be repaired.

(4) The gates to allow the reservoir to be drained to bypass flow in high water conditions are totally inoperable and need to be replaced.

(5) Methods need to be devised to help control the silt and sand that are carried into the reservoir by runoff from the drainage basin.

The dam is classified as a Class C – High Hazard structure by the DOW Dam Safety Division, which means that a failure will probably cause loss of life or serious damage downstream.

In a study by Nesbitt Engineering Inc. in 2009, there were a total of 136 affected structures within the limit of the study. The study went beyond the sewer plant at the lower end of Burdine.

The affected structure breakdown is: 57 residences (houses or trailers), 33 other structures (sheds or large detached structures), 45 public buildings (businesses, churches, or other public buildings) and one school.

The Nesbitt Engineering Inc. study with models estimates that a failure of the dam would release 32,400 cubic feet per second (CFS) of water directly into the City of Jenkins.

The surface area of the lake is 15.1 acres. The dam on Elkhorn Lake is approximately 40 feet high and 300 feet wide with an overflow weir principle spillway at elevation of 1578.1.

In the study of Nesbitt Engineering Inc., the bridges were included. It was determined that an increase of water depth would be localized around each of the bridges, but also there was a good possibility that a submerged bridge would collapse under these flow conditions. This was especially true with the older railroad bridges.

Beside the problems with the dam and silt coming into the lake are the water lilies. The water lilies are a nonnative invasive fresh water plant. The water lilies have taken over almost threefourths of the lake. They grow to a depth of ten (10) feet.

The true problem with this infestation occurs in the fall of each year when the plants die and decay. The dead and decomposing plants enter the flow of water treatment plant and create water treatment issues.

The surest way to deal with this issue is to dredge the shallow areas of the lake. This will also increase the water storage area of the lake by approximately 26 acre feet (AC-FT).

To make a long story short, the lake must be dredged to get rid of the water lilies and the dam repaired to prevent a disaster.

The City has a quote from July 2009 of $12,525,000 to repair the face of the dam. Also a quote of $2 million to dredge the lake.

I cannot think of a project that is needed more than the lake and dam project at Jenkins. I have written, called, e-mailed, begged to anyone who will listen. My term is up in three months, but I live here and care for those people who could lose their lives if the dam was to break.

Please consider this project when funds become available before is too late.

For a copy of Nesbitt Engineering Inc. report, contact Paul Nesbitt, 227 North Upper Street, Lexington, KY 40507-7016. There is a toll free number, 800-637-2481.

D. CHARLES DIXON Mayor City of Jenkins

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