Dam 10 slated for renovations

Since taking ownership of the majority of locks and dams along the Kentucky River, the Kentucky River Authority has been gradually rehabilitating them.

The mission statement of KRA is to “maintain and manage water resources of the Kentucky River to provide a clean and reliable water supply for the citizens of the basin.”

Now the organization’s top priority is Dam 10, which serves Clark County.

According to KRA board member and Winchester Municipal Utilities Executive Director Mike Flynn, as much as 22 percent of the state’s population — including Winchester — draws its drinking water from the Kentucky River and its tributaries.

That fact makes it all the more important that the aging dams along the river be kept in good working condition.

If Dam 10 — which was built in 1904 — were to fail and the pool of water WMU uses to take in drinking water were to disappear, Flynn said it could take weeks to get the materials and resources lined up to offer a substitute. During that time, the utility’s 30,000 customers would only have water from the reservoir to draw from.

“Kentucky Emergency Management has told me that if (Dam 10) were to fail, it would take them seven to 10 days to begin the process and to mobilize on site,” Flynn said.

He added that talk of updating the dam has been going on for eight to 10 years now, but other dams have been given priority for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that Dam 10 is the largest on the river.

The project will not be cheap — estimates given to KRA from consultants place the total cost to renovate the dam between $26 million and $28 million, with another $11 million to $12.5 million added on to that if KRA decided to renovate the sealed lock in the structure as well.

At dams 1 through 4, the locks had been renovated and opened to allow boater traffic from the Ohio River access, a move that was heavily supported by tourism agencies in the area.

However, Flynn said currently KRA has no plans to open the other locks, meaning if the lock at Dam 10 were opened, boaters in the area would still be stuck on a small stretch of the river.

No matter what decision KRA makes, the cost of the project to renovate the dam will be carried by the customers who use the water supplied by the pools the dams create, including WMU customers.

Flynn said KRA charges 13 cents per 1,000 gallons drawn from the river, and WMU draws on average between 4 and 4.2 million gallons a day.

“That’s a pass through,” Flynn said. “WMU doesn’t upcharge that in any way.”

Flynn said the project will be put out to bid at KRA’s next meeting, and he expects final designs for the project to be ready in April, with construction beginning in either the summer or fall of this year.