Breaking down the history of flooding at Panbowl Lake Dam

Breaking down the history of flooding at Panbowl Lake Dam
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 3:47 PM EDT
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BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Highway 15 in Breathitt County links Jackson with Hazard, and is also on a dam along the Kentucky River.

This is the second time in less than two years flooding has prompted concern about the dam.

Just like flooding in 2021, the Panbowl Lake and the dam are a cause of concern. Panbowl Lake was created in the 1960s, during construction of KY Highway 15. The highway serves as a dam between the north fork of the Kentucky River and the lake.

There are neighborhoods, a hospital, a school and businesses along the lake.

In March 2021, flooding in Jackson was the worst since 1984. Water from the river seeped through the west embankment, causing the lake to rise 16 feet above normal.

Later, the Kentucky Division of Water Dam Safety determined Highway 15 could reopen and at that time there was no threat of the dam breaching. There were some short-term fixes, like removing the vegetation along the embankments, allowing easier access and inspection of the dam.

The debris gate was replaced last July. Additional short-term solutions were planned for this summer, and a long-term goal was set to widen Highway 15. That would replace the flap gate to the dam and putting fill material into the lake to better support the dam. But that long-term work isn’t expected to start until 2024 or 2025.

If you’d like to find ways to help flood victims, you can click here.

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