LOUISVILLE, KY. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District is working to maintain the Ohio River pool at Locks and Dam 52 at Brookport, Illinois, after three wickets broke free from their bases. Due to the location of the hole, the remaining wickets in the pass section of the dam could not be raised totaling 42 wickets not raised.
The Corps has implemented emergency procedures to raise the remaining wickets to slow the drop in pool elevation, but flows continue to decrease on the Ohio below the impaired dam’s capacity to impound pool. All attempts to raise the remaining wickets were unsuccessful increasing the likelihood that the Corps will have to forcibly lower the dam later this week to make needed repairs. If the dam is forcibly lowered, the pool between Lock and Dam 52 and Smithland Lock and Dam (approximately 25 miles upriver) will temporarily not be deep enough to support navigation traffic.
“We are working to keep the pool at a 9-foot level as we are authorized to do,” Col. Christopher Beck, Commander, Louisville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said. “Mother Nature has a part of this process and without rain we are working to keep the pool level while making the needed repairs. We are working our hardest to keep navigation open but more deliberate actions may be required in the short term to proactively address the damaged wickets and minimize the long-term impacts to navigation.”
It is likely within the next 48-72 hours we will lower the wickets to reduce water velocity so that the three-wicket hole can be repaired using a dive deflector box. The dive deflector box creates an area of calmer water so that divers can safely repair the broken wickets. Safety is paramount during this situation. The work of raising wickets is still done by hand and can be hazardous. Lowering the wickets will create a temporary situation where the water depth is insufficient to support navigation traffic. Currently it is estimated that repairs could take up to 96 hours but this timeline is very dependent on river conditions during repairs.
The Corps is working to minimize the impacts to navigation and communities. Temporary impacts will likely include the following:
Navigation stopped for intermittent or longer periods based on river conditions
Commodities not moving up and down the river through this pool
Water intakes exposed disrupting water to communities and industries
To mitigate these impacts, the Corps is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, navigation industry and Kentucky emergency operations centers to constantly communicate the status of our repairs efforts.
During repairs, vessels will be stopped in the Smithland Locks and Dam pool at River Mile 918.5 going downstream and at Barkley Lock on the Cumberland River and Kentucky Lock on the Tennessee River. River traffic will also be halted on the Ohio River going upstream at Locks and Dam 52.
Updates will be posted:
Release no. 2016-009