The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to manage water resources within the Green River System have extended to support the rehabilitation of Green River Dam No. 3, known locally as Rochester Lock and Dam, in Rochester, Kentucky.
Because it is no longer needed for its original purpose of navigation on the Green River, the Corps will soon transfer ownership of the 184-year-old structure to the Rochester Dam Regional Water Commission, which uses the pool behind the dam as water supply for approximately 50,000 residents. In the interim, the dam has been leased to the commission so a vitally important stabilization project could begin.
On July 16, 2020, at an event hosted by the RDRWC celebrating the rehabilitation project, Louisville District Commander Col. Eric Crispino said,
“Rochester is one of five other locks and dams that the Corps owns on the Green River that are no longer operated for commercial navigation. So while we don’t see barges moving up and down the river through this section, the Corps understands that the long-term stability of Rochester Dam is an important component of the economic vitality of this region of the commonwealth.”
Also making remarks at the event were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Congressman Brett Guthrie, and Weymouth Martin, chairman of the RDRWC.
Collaborative efforts with numerous stakeholders have taken place to bring the project to fruition. USACE initially completed a Planning Assistance to States study in 2011 to identify stabilization alternatives for the dam. The Green and Barren Disposition Study, completed in 2014, was a key component as it recommended to Congress the deauthorization of commercial navigation at these facilities. Ultimately, the RDRWC signed a management lease with USACE enabling them to protect and preserve the pool that is a vital water supply for the region. An amendment to the lease in 2019 allowed RDRWC to proceed with the stabilization work prior to the final transfer of the lock and dam.
“This piece of critical infrastructure has been at the forefront of Corps decision-making on how to manage the full lifecycle of the locks and dams that are no longer required to be used for navigation,” Crispino said. “Removing navigation as one of our responsibilities has allowed for the rehabilitation work that is going on now to occur.”
The dam’s transfer to the RDRWC ensures that the long-term stability of the dam rests with the communities that depend on it for their water supply.
The Corps and the RDRWC also partnered on a number of components of permitting for the dam rehabilitation, such as cultural resource surveys, so that efforts could be streamlined.
“We understood that timing for permitting was critical, and I am happy that we could quickly move through our review processes, while meeting our statutory obligations. This type of creative thinking and partnership building are essential to tackling water resource challenges in the future.”
The restoration project is now underway and scheduled for completion in November 2020.