A federal bill waiving thousands of dollars in fees for many Rough River Lake property owners was officially signed into law by President Donald Trump this week.

Among a slew of other provisions, The America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 includes language waiving any administrative fees charged to Rough River Lake property owners found to be encroaching on the US Army Corps of Engineers' flowage easement.

The provision also requires the Corps of Engineers to reimburse all property owners who have already paid fees upon the property owners’ request.

Following the president's signature, The America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 will immediately go into effect.

“Kentucky’s water infrastructure holds vast potential for the future of our Commonwealth,” said US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a press release announcing that the president had signed the bill. “Home to more than 1,900 miles of navigable inland waterways that support more than 13,000 jobs, I am proud to represent the heart of our nation’s inland waterways system. During the consideration of this important legislation, I had the ability as the Senate Majority Leader to ensure that Kentucky’s priorities were at the center of the national discussion.”

The Corps of Engineers presented the Rough River Lake Flowage Easement Encroachment Resolution Plan in January of 2017 in an effort to resolve a decades-old error.

Following 2011’s flooding, which saw the highest water levels in the lake’s 50-year history, the Corps of Engineers discovered that many structures built alongside the lake had become either partially or wholly inundated by the rising water.

When the Rough River reservoir and dam were first proposed in the mid-1950s, the upper guidelines for government flowage easements (areas that the Corps is allowed to inundate for flood control purposes) were set at 534 feet above mean sea level; however, surveying methods at that time were not as accurate as they are today, so, in some cases, the lines could be found to actually be either above or below the 534 level.

Because of this, hundreds of buildings were found to be encroaching upon the Corps of Engineers’ flowage easement, causing property owners to be faced with thousands of dollars in administrative, deed drafting, and surveying fees, as well as possible structural relocation, to become compliant as the lines were redrawn.

McConnell and fellow Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have, for the past two years, worked to implement legislation that would waive these fees for property owners, feeling that it would be unfair to charge them for a mistake the Corps of Engineers made decades ago.

Working with Corps of Engineers leadership and local leaders, federal legislators secured the aforementioned measure in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 prohibiting the Corps from collecting fees from impacted Kentuckians.