Monday, May 07, 2001

Kentucky's aging locks and dams worry officials

The Associated Press

        VALLEY VIEW, Ky. — Some people are worried about another summer of water shortages, but the Kentucky River Authority is thinking about a more worrisome prospect.

        Kentucky River Lock and Dam No. 9 doesn't have much water flowing over it now, but if the 98-year-old dam failed — something that could happen the next time the river floods — Lexington could face the possibility of having no water at all.

        There is no detailed plan on what to do about it.

        “I think it's irresponsible not to have a plan,” Stephen Reeder, the authority's executive director, said last week as he set in motion the process of creating one for the 10 dams under the authority's jurisdiction.

        There is not likely to be a break in any of the 14 dams along the Kentucky that would send a wall of water down the river. What is more likely is that floodwater would recede, and it would become obvious that part of one of those dams was gone.

        Mr. Reeder says he doesn't want to create panic. There is no newly discovered cause for alarm, no evidence that any particular dam is in imminent danger of collapsing.

        But the youngest of the 10 dams is 84 years old. The oldest is 115.


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