Lake Cumberland lover says it's still deepest in state
By Scott Harvey
(WOLF CREEK, Ky.) -- The State of Kentucky wants to get the word out: that there is plenty of water in Lake Cumberland. This, after the water level was dropped 30 feet so Wolf Creek Dam could get necessary improvements. WAVE 3's Scott Harvey spent a day on the lake to see how lowering the water has affected the popular tourist attraction.
Fifty-year-old Bill Jasper has lived near Lake Cumberland his entire life, and four years ago, he bought the State Dock, turning a hobby into his full-time job, but this trip is different. Recently, Bill found himself leading a tour of the lake with a boat full of media representatives. His mission: to prove his claim that Lake Cumberland is perfect.
"We want people to see what's really going on and what the lake really looks like," Jasper said. "The impression that's been created in all the newspapers and the press is that it's empty."
The water level is down 30 feet and some of the coves have dried up. The state spent more than $1 million to extend 21 boat ramps to provide access to the lake, and there is still 38,000 acres of surface water in Lake Cumberland.
Jasper is at the lake everyday, and believes it's fine. "It's still the deepest lake in Kentucky, it's still the best recreation lake in Kentucky."
We took a four-hour boat trip but only saw about 5 percent of the lake. The cruise from State Dock to the Wolf Creek Dam took an hour. Officials wanted to show the reason the lake was lowered was to repair the dam.
Lt. Col. Steve Roemhildt with the Army Corps of Engineers provided information about the work that was being done.
"With the reservoir, we are having seepage that is going underneath the foundation of the dam," explained Roemhildt. "Once we are done here, we will have a very safe dam that will fully achieve recreation, hydro power, flood damage reduction, water quality, and fish and wildlife habitat."
It will take five to seven years to complete work on the dam, but that doesn't mean the water level will be down the entire time. Despite construction, people who are at the lake every day say it really hasn't been affected.
"For spring, this is the best spring ever," Jasper said. "I invite you to walk the docks and talk to our customers. They are liking it better."
So we did, and found Jay and Gloria Adams, from northern Kentucky. They moved their houseboat and ski boat to Lake Cumberland last year, before the water level was lowered.
"There's still plenty of water!" said Bill Adams. "As a matter of fact, in some ways, it's better."
Jasper told us that fishermen are having a terrific year. He said "It's like having a smaller bucket, the fish don't have as much room to hide."
We even found a group of five couples from Michigan who decided to vacation at Lake Cumberland, despite the rumors.
"There's some limited access and you can't get back to the falls," said Scott Snyder, who was vacationing with friends. "But it doesn't look like it's going to hurt our good time."
That's the message state tourism officials are trying to get out.
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