Residents concerned about the completion of the planned Army Corps of Engineers’ Cumberland Water Storage Allocation Study which would result in the McCreary County Water District being billed for permanent storage of “lake” water that pools in the Big South Fork River at Big Creek and is used to supply water to residents of McCreary County, can breathe a slight sigh of relief as a result of action taken by Congressman Hal Rogers. Rogers, as chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, was successful in removing funding for the study from the federal budget. Without funding for completion, the study cannot move forward. Rogers has opposed the Corps attempts to complete the water allocation study for years.
Without the study, the Corps will be unable to charge for water. However, at the same time, the Corps cannot renew access to users. According to the Corps, there are no plans to discontinue water intakes; however, users without renewed access will technically be trespassing on federal property. The handling of that situation, if at all, is uncertain.
In addition to the permanent storage fee, completion of the study would result in the McCreary County Water District being required to make annual payments to help with operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, and restoration costs for the Wolf Creek Dam impounding Lake Cumberland. In addition to McCreary County, ten other municipal/industrial water users in Pulaski and Russell Counties would also be required to pay fees as a result of the completion of the study.