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Dam Leak Means Lower Lake Level

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Like most people, the Salazars vacation on Lake Cumberland for its scenic beauty. But now, there's a big question as to whether the 9th largest lake in the country will be as beautiful this summer or as accessible.

“[The] main thing we worry about is having enough water to get past Alligator and having enough water to float your boat at this marina,” says Dess Salazar, who lives on the lake now.

The lake is already low to reduce pressure on the leaking Wolf Creek Dam in the wake of a $300 million repair job. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had planned to keep the summer pool close to normal. But now, that's changed because federal officials say the dam has a "high risk" of failing.

“I think the money is there. I wish they would speed up so that marinas like this one wouldn't be down on the bottom,” says Salazar.

But Alligator One Marina Owner Ed Slusser isn't worried his docks will sit in the mud. He's just wondering what dropping this lake 10 more feet will do.

“[A] 680 feet level [is] not going to allow us to do services that we did in the past; we won't be able to pump gas,” says Slusser.

The lower lake level means it will be more difficult to access the lake. U.S. government officials say they will help dock owners extend boat ramps in a program they're calling mitigation.

And, Governor Fletcher, with the lake in Burnside to his back, met with both National Guard and emergency managers Monday to make sure the multi million dollar tourism industry doesn't bottom out.

But some question whether the government is telling the whole story.

“They don't want a panic situation and I don't think they really know,” says Salazar.

And, since the problem is much worse that first reported, the job to fix the leak is expected to start sooner than expected.


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