Berea Takes Positive Step Toward Dam Expansion

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The City of Berea has been working to secure approval for a $12 million plan to expand Owsley Fork Dam, thus meeting the city’s future water needs. Federal officials favor a $14 million plan to supplement the region’s water supply by building a pipeline to the Kentucky River.

Officials from the City of Berea received some positive feedback on a proposal to expand the capacity of the Owsley Fork dam.

City Administrator Randy Stone and Berea Municipal Utilities Director Ed Fortner recently met with representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers and Bell Engineering. The city has been engaged in a long campaign to gain approval for the $12 million project, which will expand the capacity of the reservoir by 50 percent.

In a positive development, the city was invited to submit an application for the project when the meeting concluded. Stone told council members one federal official stated: “This is the first dam project with water storage as a component that could be approved. Or I might say it might work.”

In remarks to the Berea City Council last week, Stone cautioned city leaders that the Army Corps of Engineers is still favoring an alternative proposal to run a water pipeline to the Kentucky River at a cost of $14 million. City officials, however, favor the dam expansion in the hope of maintaining the high quality of water customers currently receive from Owsley Fork.

Stone also noted that the process for gaining approval of the dam expansion will take more time and research on the part of the city, despite the fact that the initial meeting appeared to be a success. “We broke some ice, but it’s not going to be something that will happen overnight,” Stone said. “We walked away knowing they are going to ask for a lot more information in their effort to make this decision, simply because it’s not been done before.”

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