Corps Of Engineers' Web Site Set Up To Counter Dam Rumors

SOMERSET — No, Wolf Creek Dam is not on the verge of collapse. The National Guard hasn't been called out to evacuate downstream residents. Lake Cumberland is not a big mud hole without enough water for boating and fishing. That is, unless you believe the rumor mill, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

That's why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the dam and giant lake, has taken the novel step of setting up a ”Rumor Control“ link on a Web page about the dam.

There have been a lot of jittery rumors and bad information about the dam and lake since the corps quickly lowered the water level in January 2007 to take pressure off the dam while beginning emergency repairs on leaks, reports the Herald-Leader.

The agency wanted to set up a way for people to get correct information quickly, said Allison Jarrett, spokeswoman for the corps district that covers Lake Cumberland.

The corps has gotten calls at times from people below the dam worried about safety, for instance, Jarrett said. ”If they don't know the truth, obviously they're going to be concerned,“ she told the newspaper.

People can use the rumor control link to submit questions to the corps, and someone will answer within 24 hours, Jarrett said. To access the link, go to http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/WolfCreek/ and click on the big red ”Rumor Control“ button.

Harvey Graves, emergency management director for Cumberland County, where a lot of land would be under water if the dam failed, said it's a good approach to help ease people's worries, the newspaper reports.

It doesn't take much to start a rumor, he said — someone sees a piece of equipment on the dam and don't know what it's for — and tales can get bigger as they travel. ”We're a small town. People just like to talk,“ he said.

Just a few weeks ago, a new wave of rumors swept lake country after a faulty instrument showed an abnormally high amount of movement in one area of the earthen section of the mile-long dam.

The data was incorrect. The dam was not unstable.

But James Flatt, manager at Indian Hills Resort Alligator Dock 2 in Russell County, said more than 50 people called the marina in one day about rumors that the corps was going to lower the lake level drastically and start evacuations, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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