The needed maintenance on the Rochester Dam is slated to be completed in November.
The Dam, also known as Green River Dam No. 3, located in Ohio County, finished construction in 1838.
As part of a series of now nonexistent lock-dams, the primary purpose of the dam is the pool that it creates, providing water to the communities of Ohio, Butler and Muhlenberg counties.
Completing the projected $4-million project this year is not only exciting, but also a relief, said Walt Beasley, Ohio County Water District general manager.
“We could not have done this without Sen. Mitch McConnell,” he said. “Sen. McConnell got us $3 million through the U.S. Economic Development Administration and we were responsible for a $1 million match. It is exciting that it will be completed in November. High water has held them back a bit but they haven’t lost a lot of time and that is why they are working seven days a week.”
The plan, through contractor Sunesis and engineering firm Stantec, is to permanently seal the lock walls, set a wall where a mill used to stand on the Muhlenberg County side, adding additional support as well as bringing the pool back to its original level, Beasley said.
“They are installing a solid wall in the lock area to secure it given that there isn’t anymore river traffic,” he said. “The wall on the Muhlenberg side will stand where a mill and trace once stood at the lowest point of the dam. When they quit using that, that allowed the water to go around the dam and allow the pool to be lower than was designed. We are trying t get that to original stage. The purpose is to hold back water that we can have water to pull from. After they build the wall to hold that water back and to secure the rest of the dam, they are going in and putting a long tube made out of mesh material that will lay on the upriver side of the dam, and will be staked down and filled with grout concrete. It will go from one side of the river to the other and will provide extra support to the dam.”
While nothing involving water is a “life-time fix,” the hope is that the new additions will provide sustainability to the more than 50,000 people that the dam and pool serve, Beasley said.
“It will give us time to get the funds together to pay the loan back and look toward further advancements as the technology evolves,” he said. “We have a stream of income that comes from the water users and those funds go into an escrow account that will continue to build to tackle what needs to happen in the future. We are hoping that it will last for 20 to 50 years.”
Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, firstname.lastname@example.org