By Lee Roberts
JAMESTOWN, Ky. — Nashville Mayor Karl Dean visited Wolf Creek Dam Aug. 7, 2012 to see the ongoing foundation remediation construction, which is a dam safety project of vital importance to the citizens he represents 270 miles downstream.
The mayor, who was accompanied by Scott Potter, director of Nashville's Metro Water Services, received briefings, toured the work platform, and visited the hydropower plant. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District provided them with a project update and shared how the dam in eastern Kentucky ultimately supplies a stream of benefits throughout middle Tennessee.
"This project is important to the city of Nashville, and there are two things I got from today's trip," Dean said. "Number one is understanding where we are on the Wolf Creek Project. It appears to be progressing, and I am anxious to see the project completed. And then secondly, getting an overview of how the entire system works in middle Tennessee and in Kentucky, in terms of not only flood control, but the production of energy, and navigation, and how they are all related."
Project Officer 1st Lt. Allen Stansbury provided the mayor a technical briefing that included the history of seepage and previous remediation efforts along the dam's 3,940-foot embankment. He also explained the challenges involved with the karst geology under the dam and embankment, the construction process for the barrier wall, and ongoing work in Critical Area 1, which is the area where the embankment wraps around the concrete structure of the dam.
Stansbury explained the five-step construction process of pressure grouting; installing a protective concrete embankment wall, pilot holes, and barrier wall, followed by verifying the quality of work completed with core samples. He reported that the pressure grouting and installation of the protective embankment wall are 100 percent complete. The pilot holes, which guide the larger drill bits deep below the foundation into bedrock, are 96 percent complete. The barrier wall installation is 78 percent finished and the overall project is on target for its completion in December 2013.
Dean then walked on the work platform where work crews are constantly moving around and machinery and drill rigs are continuously running. He looked at the specialized drilling equipment and watched as work crews from Treviicos-Soletanche J. V., the contractor for this project, drilled into the embankment.
Power Project Manager Larry Craig then led the mayor through the Wolf Creek Dam Hydropower Plant, which has six generators that provide an estimated yearly energy output of 800,000,000 kilowatt hours. The mayor went deep down into the dam to see the power intake section and to see the generators in operation.
Bob Sneed, Nashville District Water Management Section chief, then briefed the mayor on how the Wolf Creek Project is a vital resource for Nashville.
Lake Cumberland sits behind Wolf Creek Dam and is the largest reservoir east of the Mississippi River. When full, the lake has a total volume of 6,089,000 acre feet, which is enough water to cover all of Davidson County in Tennessee with 18 feet of water. At its current reduced level of 680 feet, this figure would be approximately 6 feet. The lake's huge water storage capability provides Nashville with important flood risk reduction, and additional water resources supporting commercial navigation, water supply, water quality, hydropower, and environmental benefits.
Sneed explained how the congressionally authorized purposes of Wolf Creek Dam and Lake Cumberland are balanced with the purposes at the other nine projects along the main stem Cumberland River and its tributaries. These waterways are managed and operated by the Nashville District within the framework of the entire system, he said.
"What I want you to take home with you is this connection Nashville has with this project and the other projects the district operates, and what a vital resource that it is for the whole middle Tennessee community," Sneed said.
Dean said it's important for people to understand the importance of the dam system to the city, but also what the differences are between the navigational dams and the storage dams, and to have intelligent discussions about how they are connected to each other.
Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, Nashville District commander, thanked Dean for coming to Wolf Creek Dam and ensured the mayor that public safety remains the Corps' main priority as the work continues to reduce the risk of seepage at the 60-year-old dam. DeLapp shared that the contractor is fast approaching one million work hours without an accident that would cause a worker to miss time on the job, which is an indicator of how the Corps stresses the importance of safety.
"It was important to get Mayor Dean out here from Nashville to see how Lake Cumberland and the Wolf Creek Dam Rehabilitation Project are critical to the city of Nashville because of the integrated system of the projects along the Cumberland River," DeLapp said. "And it really all starts up here at Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky."