Environment
12:51 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Western Ky. Judge-Executives Seek to Delay Barkley Dam Restrictions

Lyon and Livingston County's judge-executives are seeking federal support to halt planned boating and swimming restrictions above and below Barkley Dam.

The Army Corps of Engineers announced they planned to put in 24-7 restrictions about 700 feet downstream and 400 feet upstream of the dam because the area poses a danger to the public.

Corps officials say the restrictions have been required for years, but they didn’t know that until recently. Previously, the public was restricted on the water when the dam was operating.

Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White says Barkley Dam is a prime fishing spot for professionals and amateurs.

“We’re trying to get the Corps to stop what they’re doing, consider the economic impact it’s going to have to our counties," said White.

The judges, Corps officials and Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield held a conference call yesterday to discuss the issue.

White says while he and Livingston County Judge-Executive Chris Lasher raised a lot of questions the Corps could not answer, he doesn't feel any minds were changed. White hopes to delay the project, set to start in February.  The restrictions affect a total of 10 Cumberland River dams.

Congressman Whitfield's office released a written statement on the call.

"It is the Congressman’s hope that in the coming weeks all parties involved can work together to find a compromise that ensures safety at the dam, but also provides flexibility for recreational use of the river. ... Since the Corps has not made a final determination on how to regulate access to the tailwaters, the Congressman hopes they will sincerely consider the thoughts and concerns of those in the region and the economic impact before making a final determination," a spokesman said.

Corps spokesman Leon Roberts says the agency hopes to announce details next week on four public meetings in January, including one in Paducah.