NR 17-034: Barkley Dam will not reduce discharges as anticipated today

Published Sept. 14, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Sept. 14, 2017) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District will not be reducing discharges at Barkley Dam today on the Cumberland River in Grand Rivers, Kentucky, as previously announced.  The Louisville District reports that the wicket gates at Dam 52 on the Ohio River in Brookport, Illinois, were installed yesterday and navigation is expected to resume at Lock 52 this evening. 

Caleb Skinner, lockmaster at Barkley Lock at Cumberland River mile 30.6, a Nashville District project, and Kentucky Lock at Tennessee River mile 22.4, a Tennessee Valley Authority project, reports that the Nashville District resumed normal operations at both locks yesterday afternoon.  TVA also reports that discharges at Kentucky Dam will not be reduced today with the improved situation at Dam 52.

“At this time, Louisville District no longer needs special operations for reduced discharges from Kentucky or Barkley Dams,” said Ben Rohrbach, Nashville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch chief.

Dam 52 is a low lift wicket dam built in 1928 consisting of 487 timber wicket gates adjacent to one another stretching the width of the river at mile marker 938.9. During periods of high water navigation traffic transits over the lowered wicket gates, but during low water, the gates must be raised individually to impound water creating a navigable depth from Dam 52 to Smithland Dam, Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam.

Last Thursday, Ohio River velocities stopped the Corps from raising enough dam wickets to hold the pool, but a drop in overnight flows reduced velocities Wednesday morning, Sept. 13, allowing the Corps to resume dam raising operations.

“With the wickets we were able to raise this morning, we now have the dam in a workable configuration,” said Waylon Humphrey, deputy chief of operations with the Louisville District, when the wickets were installed yesterday afternoon.

As a result of the completed work, the river elevation at Dam 52 is now rising at one half foot per hour and is expected to return to normal summer pool elevations by this weekend, providing much needed relief to stakeholders like the navigation industry and companies along the river which rely on barge traffic for commodity delivery.

(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Bill Peoples
Lee Roberts

Release no. 17-033