Green River Lake partners with emergency responders

USACE - Louisville District
Published Jan. 17, 2022
Updated: Jan. 17, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the nation’s leading providers of outdoor recreation. The Louisville District alone had over 15 million visitors to their 17 lakes last year. While the lakes provide many great recreational opportunities, they are also often used in partnership with federal, state and local agencies to provide educational resources or to serve as training grounds for emergency responders.
Each year the Campbellsville Fire Department works closely with district personnel to conduct lifesaving, swiftwater training in the tailwater area at Green River Lake in Campbellsville, Kentucky. 
“We are proud to partner with the Campbellsville Fire Department each year to support this training exercise which helps to save lives,” said Lori Brewster, Green River Lake Project Manager. “They receive a license from our Real Estate division and coordinate with Operations Division and the Water Management team so they can host the training.” 
The course itself includes five days and over 50 hours of training, according to Chris Taylor, Campbellsville Fire-Rescue Chief.
“We have several of our mutual aid partners from across the Commonwealth to participate in the class,” Taylor said. “We take brand new students and turn them into competent people trained in swift-water rescue at the same time our past students and instructors assist with the class giving every rescuer more exposure to moving water.”
Taylor works closely with Brewster to ensure proper coordination and ideal training water conditions.  
“Whether the training happens is dependent upon us having water storage available to support their needs and the water releases coordinated with us and our water management team,” Brewster said.
There are quite a few factors that go into any release decision, according to the Louisville District Water Management team. These include the time of year, current and forecasted weather, and pool elevation to name a few. Typically, swiftwater training requests require the release of large flow rates to simulate the necessary conditions. 
“Depending on the requested training dates, we can either let a little more water out or hold a little more water back in the week or so leading up to the training to make sure the amount of water released during the training fits within our overall operating objectives,” said Adam Connelly, Louisville District hydraulic engineer. “The water management team does recognize the value of these trainings for public safety, and we are always more than willing to accommodate them as long as they fit within our overall operating plan.”
It is not uncommon for trainings like this to be conducted at USACE lakes, and rightfully so.
“This training was instrumental in a rescue that occurred on Jan. 1,” said Brewster.
According to their Facebook page, Campbellsville Fire-Rescue saved several people who were stranded in their vehicles due to flood waters in the area. Rescuers used a self-bailing raft to save some, and when that wasn’t enough, due to fast water conditions, rescue crews deployed a motorized rescue boat. All of which is taught during the crucial trainings at Green River Lake. 
“The partnership with USACE is absolutely critical in the success of our training program and also instrumental with successful rescues in the past,” Taylor said. “Everyone involved from the USACE level from the license request with Real Estate to the operations manager and water management work really hard to get us the water conditions that we need to have a realistic but safe training opportunity.” 
Taylors’ team conducted swiftwater training in December at Green River Lake and is planning another for March. 
“At the end of the day, we do our best to operate the projects to squeeze every amount of benefit we can get out of them while staying within our approved operating criteria,” Connelly said. “Supporting these community events/requests go a long way in building positive relationships within the respective community and a positive public opinion of the Corps. We are always willing to consider these types of requests to continue that good will.”
Taylor echoed the importance of the community relationship. “This unique partnership leads to successful rescues and properly trained rescuers able to operate safely,” Taylor said. “We appreciate the support, assistance and partnership that we have with USACE. Green River Lake is a major asset to our community, and we appreciate the working relationship with USACE to make Green River Lake a safer place to recreate and enjoy.”