In July 31 - Aug. 6 issue By Greg Wells Times Journal Managing Editor
SOMERSET, Ky. - “I empathize with what you go through,” Lt. Col. Bernard Lindstrom said as he began his address to every one of the marina owners and others with a vested interest in Lake Cumberland.
Lindstrom continued by saying, “You are not going to hear any lies from us.”
The senior officer explained that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' primary mission on the lake has been and will be the safety of those below and above the dam, but suggested that it is time to move beyond the warning messages.
“That dam is going to be there for your grandchildren to enjoy,” Lindstrom said.
He stressed that they will reach the “goal line” of a fully repaired dam, and that the Corps of Engineers are concentrating on getting first to the red-zone and then scoring that touchdown.
Football metaphors aside, the colonel also went into some detail on the recent cause for concern at the dam and the effect that has had on continuing work there.
Lindstrom and Deputy Chief Engineer Mike Wilson described the “faulty” instrument and the resulting study and exploratory drilling.
He said they read and re-read the one instrument that had shown a large variance from its previous readings and of the other instruments around it.
When the inclinometer that was reading abnormally read normally one of three times they opted to install new instrumentation and drill exploratory wells in the top of the dam.
Lindstrom said the incident proved the validity of their monitoring and decision making processes.
Continuing his explanation of that week's events at the end of June, he said they would not “reach closure” (of a major point of seepage) using the grouting procedures.
He explained that the Corps had originally intended to extend a solid grout curtain through the entire earthen portion of the dam, but given the results of their readings and the subsidence in what he termed “Critical Area 1” the grouting has been stopped in that area.
“That area” is where the faulty gauge reading occurred, and is the area of the dam that has been subsiding more rapidly. It is also the area where the earthen portion of the dam wraps around the northern end of the concrete portion of the dam.
It was explained that in this area they were unable to get the grout to “take.” By that he explained that the contractor was pumping grout into the rock in the dam's foundation.
In that critical area instruments were showing they were not able to reach a point when the grout intake was solidifying into a contiguous curtain that would take no more grout. “Some areas aren't solidifying,” Lindstrom said. “We haven't reached the point were we're filling those voids.”
That “closure” target was what would have triggered a likely increase in the lake's pool level, but he said they were reaching a point of completion in the grouting procedures with the current contractor, Boart Longyear.
In keeping with his good news focus, Lindstrom described the new contractors who will be building the diaphragm wall within the dam as being “the best” and saying they have built similar structures in similar situations and are who the Corps considered “the best in the world” for the job.
He said they will be looking at other grouting procedures and installing two test walls in the dam to decide on the best method for building the structure in this dam.
Lindstrom said no one has conducted a dam rehabilitation in quite this situation.
“They may have built the deepest and they may have a built the longest wall but I don't think anyone has built a wall this deep, this long and in this type of structure,” He said. That is the reason for the test walls, he explained. They will not, he said, be starting those in Critical Area 1, but will move to that area once they are sure of the best method for dealing with the problems.
Stressing to the leaders gathered at the meeting, Lindstrom said they and the Corps needed to speak with one voice. “You need to take the attitude — We're going to make this a great lake to come to.”
He was pressed by marina operators for assurances both that the lake level would be increased and that it would not decrease. As to the increase, the best he would say was maybe and as to the decrease he would only say that there was no reason to expect one given what they know.
He stressed the need for rumor control on and around the lake.
“Bad news spreads rapidly,” even when it isn't true Lindstrom said. He directed everyone to the Corps' rumor control button on their website, lrn.usace.army.mil/WolfCreek. The “big red rumor control button” can also be found on the home page at lakecumberland.com, which directs clicks to the Corps' internet page.
He also encouraged them not to get stuck on a 2012 date for the completion of the dam rehabilitation project. He said that was the target date, but the company could finish earlier and the date could be extended it there are weather problems or other issues which prevent the contractor from working for some periods.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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