Rough River recreation area closing

The Rough River Lake Tailwater Recreation Area will be closing to all public access on Sunday, July 26 for a period of three to four years.

The closure, which will take place at approximately 8 p.m. on July 26, “is necessary due to the starting of the next phase of the Rough River Lake Dam Remediation Project, which is expected to last three to four years,” the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced in a recent press release.

While the Tailwater Recreation Area is closed, the public will be unable to drive, walk, or fish in the area immediately below the Rough River Lake dam.

Contractor equipment will begin moving into the Tailwater Recreation Area on Monday, July 27. The Tailwater Recreation Area will re-open after the dam remediation project is completed, the USACE release stated.

Background for the necessity of the dam remediation project, as well as information regarding the intended work are as follows:

Due to what is considered an “unacceptable risk” as a result of the foundation conditions that can be found when a dam is constructed on karst geology (solutioned limestone), the USACE determined that remedial construction is necessary to ensure the dam functions as intended for the next 50-plus years.

Karst formations have been identified as having the potential to internally erode the dam embankment by allowing groundwater to flow through joints and solution features.

To correct this, a possibly two-phased construction project is underway that will rehabilitate the foundation of Rough River Dam and eliminate the aforementioned concerns.

Phase 1 of the project, which is split into two parts, is already in motion with the preparation of relocating Kentucky State Highway 79, which crosses the Rough River Lake dam, to the temporary road on the upstream face of the dam, the USACE announced on its Facebook page.

Hwy 79 is being moved to ensure that traffic flow goes uninterrupted and allow heavy construction equipment access to the crest of the dam.

After Phase 1A is completed, the USACE will move forward with Phase 1B, which will begin with the installation of 58 new piezometers to measure the water level and pressure in the dam.

After this has been done, the USACE will commence the exploratory drilling and “grouting” phase, during which workers will drill into the dam to pump in grout to fill in cracks, fissures, and other openings in the bedrock that underlies the earthen dam.

USACE personnel intend to drill into the dam at an angle to better pick up on the karst features and determine how much of a threat they may be.

Based on data obtained during Phase 1B, the USACE will determine whether using grout to fill in the voids caused by karst will suffice or whether it will be necessary to install a full-depth, concrete cutoff wall to ensure no groundwater flows through the dam’s foundations (Phase 2).

Anyone with questions regarding the Rough River Lake dam remediation project is encouraged to contact the USACE, Rough River Lake Project Office at 270-257-2061.

For more information about Rough River Lake itself, visit the USACE, Rough River Lake Facebook page at

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