The city of Tompkinsville plans to ask the Natural Resource Conservation Service for help in making state-mandated improvements to the city’s dam on Mill Creek.
City commissioners voted last week to ask Dave Bowles with Monarch Engineering Inc. of Lawrenceburg to write NRCS officials a letter requesting assistance.
The city received a letter in November from the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Water regarding a Nov. 7 inspection of the dam, which revealed several deficiencies that must be corrected, according to the letter:
•Mowing the upstream and downstream slopes;
•Removing all brush and saplings from the upstream slope and downstream left abutment;
•Repairing the erosion gully at the bottom of the downstream right abutment;
•Monitoring the foundation drains for changes in flow or color.
The city was given until Friday to address the deficiencies or face a notice of violation and possible enforcement action.
The letter also said that due to the presence of homes downstream, the dam has been reclassified as a high hazard structure. However, the dam is hydraulically deficient for this classification and must be upgraded to meet the state’s minimum requirements.
A high hazard dam must be capable of passing/storing 28.9 inches of rainfall in a six-hour period with overtopping.
The dam on Mill Creek is currently only capable of passing/storing 16.9 inches of rainfall in a six-hour period.
During the city commission’s meeting Thursday, Mayor Jeff Proffitt said he had met with Bowles, City Attorney Reed Moore, Maintenance Supervisor Timmy Walden and Division of Dam Safety officials to discuss the problems.
“They basically said it’s going to cost us around $2 million,” said Proffitt. “Of course, the spillway is going to have to be changed. What their suggestion was to us was to go and see if NRCS would partner with us. They thought what money we didn’t get from them that we could go to the Department of Local Government and possibly get.”
NRCS built the dam in either the 1960s or the 1970s. The agency holds a 50-year partnership with the city to operate it.
“Technology has improved over the years with air photography and satellite imaging. They can get a quicker look at what’s going on downstream. They claim there are houses downstream that have been there for a long time,” Bowles said. “If the dam were to ever have a failure, those houses would be inundated. That’s why they say the hazard classification has changed from a moderate hazard to a high hazard.”
The solution to that problem would be to widen the emergency spillway, he said.
“We are not even for sure if those houses are impacted or not, so the next step is to contact NRCS … and ask to meet with them and ask for their assistance,” Bowles said.
A possible next step for the city commission would be to approach county officials about rezoning the downstream area to prevent others from building in the floodplain, according to commissioner Scotty Turner.
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