In May 15-21 issue
By Greg Wells
Times Journal Managing EditorABOVE: Chase Carpenter, Shalyn Collins and Auburn Butler slide at the Kendall Campground below Wolf Creek Dam as they were rewarded for reading 10 books in 6 weeks in a Jamestown Elementary school program.
WOLF CREEK DAM - Work stopped on grouting of Wolf Creek Dam last weekend because of ecological problems, and bore holes into the dam continue to drink in grout, meaning there is still no answer on if or when the level of Lake Cumberland may be increased.
Jory Becker, Environmental Engineering Branch Manager of the Kentucky Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Branch in the Kentucky Division of Water said his agency has not ordered that grouting activities be stopped at Wolf Creek Dam.
"The division has, however, issued a Notice of Violation to the contractor performing the work for the Corps of Engineers," Becker said.
He explained that the notice was issued for discharging wastewater into the Cumberland River without a permit.
He added that that discharge was too high in pH to be acceptable.
Allison Sleck, a spokesperson for the department said, "We allowed them to continue to work because of the importance of the work they were doing… and the coming tourism season."
Tyrone Crear, the US Army Corps of Engineer's onsite engineer in charge of the dam work, said "We had some discussions with the state regarding the discharges."
He said they did shut down operations over the weekend to do the required work to the settling pond.
Crear explained that the pond in question is located behind their offices and are used to settle out sediments and other solids from the water discharged by the drilling and grouting rigs on the dam.
The water from that work platform is pumped over the dam and from there flows downhill to the pond adjacent to the new road into the Corps' expanded campground. The purpose for the pond is that once there the solids settle and the water clears before it is discharged and finds its way to the Cumberland River.
"We are enlarging the pond and treating the water before it is released," Crear said was how they were handling the problems state inspectors pointed out.
Becker said that as far as his agency was concerned, the design of the settling pond built by the contractor has proven inadequate for the amount of material produced.
He added that Corps field staff aware of the possible violation took the initiative to contact the Division of Water with the report of excess material flowing into river, before his department took any action.
The discharges were far outside of acceptable limits.
"Inspectors with the Columbia Regional Field Office observed discharge into the river and tested the pH level," Becker said. "Which was at an unacceptably high level of 11."
He said the acceptable range, with or without a state permit for discharge is a ph reading of between 6.0 to 9.0.
A pH reading of 7 is neutral anything below that is acidic and above that is caustic. Each point is a ten-fold increase in acidity or caustic qualities of the solution being measured.
A reading of 11 places the discharge somewhere between milk of magnesia and household ammonia.
Becker said that while awaiting their permit, the contractor will be allowed to continue grouting work but must abide by the requirements of the "One Time Authorization."
According to Becker, the terms of that the contractor was ordered to restore the environment. A one-time authorization was issued, to allow for maintenance of the settling lagoon, and to allow grouting operations to continue.
Within that authorization, the contractor is to perform weekly monitoring on certain pollutants, as well as the pH of the water discharged.
The contractor must also submit an application for individual discharge from a re-designed settling lagoon system by June 2, Becker reported.
"This will allow the proper long-term controls on the discharge into the Cumberland River," Becker said.
Crear said the incident has caused no problems in the Corps drilling and grouting plans.
"We're still trying to close the single upstream grout line," Crear explained. "What we've run into is what we expected to find. We didn't expect it to be this difficult accomplish what we need to."
Allison Jarrod with the Corps' district office in Nashville said they had expected to need no more than 299 drill holes to fill the voids in the dam with grout. At present they believe 342 holes will do the trick.
"The more we drill and grout the more we see we need to," she said.
The contractors are linking the up-stream grout to the downstream line to improve the situation she added.
As to the rest of the project she said this isn't a problem.
"We're reviewing the bids for the (diaphragm) wall contract as we speak," Jarrod said. "This will have no effect on the time table or the design of the wall."
Until the first line of grout is judged completed she said there can be no decision on any increase in the lake level.
Once the grouting is complete, the Corps plans to have a contractor install a concrete wall inside the current earthfill portion of the dam from the concrete section of the dam to the far, northside cliff.
The concrete diaphragm wall will be inserted deep into the bedrock below the dam in order to go below any caverns or seepage issues there.