Kentucky's Federal Delegation Mounts Pressure to Raise Lake Cumberland

Feb 3, 2014

Lake Cumberland at Wolf Creek Dam
Credit U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Kentucky’s congressional delegation is urging federal officials to restore the water levels at Lake Cumberland, even as an endangered fish found in headwaters threatens to keep the lake lowered for an eighth year in a row. 

A letter sent Monday to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says “it is well time for the lake to return to its full capacity.”  The letter, signed by Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, as well as Congressmen Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield, says the matter is "of great concern to the economic well-being of the Lake Cumberland area in southeastern Kentucky." 

Seven years since the water levels were lowered to allow repair work on Wolf Creek Dam, Lake Cumberland was expected to return to the normal pool of 723 feet this summer.  Now, the federal agencies are delaying an increase until determining how to minimize the effect on an endangered species called the Duskytail Darter. 

The corps kept the lake level at 680 feet from 2007 until last year but let it rise to 705 feet for the 2013 tourism season. Federal officials say the current plan is to leave the lake at last summer's levels.