Already it appears the water intake pipe for Somerset’s water system is on dry ground. While the pipe does reach water below the ground, if Lake Cumberland is lowered 30 more feet, the lake will be too low to pull water in.
Unless Somerset spends $1 million on a new floating intake system, there won’t be a way to provide water to the plant’s 100,000 customers in Pulaski and surrounding counties.
“Sure it’s a concern,” says Somerset Water Manager Charles Dick, who says he’s confident money will be provided to build a new intake system so no one will be kept high and dry.
“We’re going to build this floating structure. We hope to have it online. In the event that something happens or doesn’t happen, either way,” says Dick.
Army Corps officials say right now they’re not planning to lower the lake any more, but they say it is possible the lake could be dropped 30 more feet.
A drop of 30 more feet would place the lake 23 feet below what’s considered that low point for water intake. That low point would be too low to get water in to cool generators at the John Sherman Cooper Power Plant. The plant provides electricity to hundreds of thousands of people.
However, electric utilities served by the plant are being told adjustments are being made to avoid a worst-case scenario of rolling black outs.
“East Kentucky power has assured us that they are working on both short term and long term solutions to the power stations so it will keep generating electricity,” says Carol Wright with South Ky RECC.
For now, federal officials say the lake should not be lowered any more and they’re hoping if there’s any change, they can add water to the lake.