County Judges to Discuss Barkley Dam in D.C.
By Bill Hughes
EDDYVILLE, KY - The County Judge Executives from Livingston and Lyon Counties will be in the nation's Capitol Tuesday to discuss the planned boating restrictions near dams on the Cumberland River, including Barkley Dam.
Lyon County's Wade White and Livingston County's Chris Lasher have a meeting with General Thomas Bostick, Chief of Engineers of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield set up the meeting, and was asking other elected officials from Kentucky and Tennessee to attend.
The Corps detailed their plans at a meeting on Jan. 10 at Badgett Playhouse, and was met with vocal opposition from over 200 concerned citizens. Lasher, Whitfield, and White spoke against the proposed permanent barrier, instead of just buoys and signs. White quoted statistics indicating that lost tourism income could be up to $4 million per year.
The Corps of Engineers says safety is a concern in the turbulent waters below the dam, so they have re-evaluated their existing regulations. They told the crowd in January that 14 people had drowned, 1 almost drowned, and there were several 'near misses' near dams.
White says that a closer look at drowning reports shows that 5 were fishing from the bank, all of the rest happened when the gates were open, and only one person was properly wearing a personal flotation device. White also said that some of these drownings happened before proper signs and notification alarms were installed to alert fisherman that the gates were going to open. White argues that with proper boater safety and the current guidelines that require signs, horns and buoys, all of these deaths could have been prevented.
White, Lasher, and Whitfield are hoping to convince the Corps to include them and the public in determining what changes are needed, if any, rather than proceeding with their announced plan in the next few months.