KUTTAWA, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2011) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Commander, Lt. Col. James DeLapp welcomed The Mississippi River Commission and guests for a tour of the Lake Barkley Dam Power plant, and the Kentucky Lock Addition Project during a portion of their Annual Low-Water Inspection Trip Aug. 11.
The Mississippi River Commission is touring cities along the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers on the Motor Vessel Mississippi to hold public hearings, gather vital information and study impacts from flooding during 2011.
Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, Mississippi Valley Division Commander and MRC president said during the most recent Mississippi River flooding, that the Nashville District’s water storage at Lake Barkley was key in the flood fight of the Mississippi river.
"We worked great as a regional team to fight the record-setting flood,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh, Mississippi Valley Division commander.
“The amount of coordination and collaboration with other Federal and State agencies, our sister Corps’ Divisions, and with local communities was incredibly important to the success of the flood fight,” said Walsh.
Jamie Holt, Barkley Power Plant superintendent, Nashville District, briefed the group on Barkley day-to-day operations, described the Dam Safety Action Classification System, flood control reduction operations and led them on a tour of the power house, which included site visits to the generators and control room.
Don Getty, acting chief, Project Planning Branch and project manager for the Kentucky Lock Addition Project; Caleb Skinner, a senior mechanic; and Mark Abshire, area lock master, briefed the group on the ongoing Kentucky Lock Addition, it’s funding status and how the Great Lakes and Ohio Division operated, maintained and utilized Lake Barkley and Lake Cumberland, two of the largest flood control reservoirs east of the Mississippi River.
“This lock is one of the busiest locks in the country,” said Getty. “It has some of the longest delay times, so there are a lot of products that are shipped to and from the Mississippi River that go through this lock. So from that standpoint, it’s very import to the Mississippi River System.”
R. D. James, Mississippi River commissioner from New Madrid, Mo., said the purpose and objective of the group is to look at the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland as an entire system. The Commission left the Mississippi Valley to evaluate and study impacts from flooding during 2011.
“I’ve gathered an extreme amount of information during our trip this week,” said James. “It will be very helpful in making decisions on the Mississippi River.”
During the flooding of 2011, Hundreds of engineers and technicians from the Mississippi Valley, Lakes and Rivers and Northwestern Divisions, along with scientists from the Corps’ Engineering Research and Development Center, worked around the clock to combat flooding stemming from historic Mississippi River levels. The river set record levels at various locations on the river.
Lt. Col. James DeLapp, Nashville District commander, said the Commission’s visit was chance to share how the District supported the overarching mission during a flood of record on the lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the Spring of 2011.
“The Mississippi River Commission only comes into the Ohio River Valley once every five years and it was a great opportunity for the Nashville District to show the commission what we do in the Tennessee and Cumberland System and how we can contribute to the greater Mississippi River System overall,” said DeLapp.
The commission was established in 1879, is composed of seven members, each nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. Three of the organization's members are officers of the Corps of Engineers; one member is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and three members are civilians, two of whom are civil engineers.
General duties of the commission include recommendation of policy and work programs, the study of and reporting upon the necessity for modifications or additions to the flood control and navigation project, recommendation upon any matters authorized by law, and making semi-annual inspection trips. The duties of the commission include the entire length of the Mississippi River from its headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to Head of Passes, La., where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The purpose of the public meetings is to maintain a dialogue, an exchange of viewpoints and ideas flowing between the public and the Corps. Presentations by the public are made orally, but a copy of the remarks should be presented to the commission for the official record.
The public hearing process is unique to the Mississippi River Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The benefits of hearing first hand the issues and concerns through the public hearing process are invaluable to the Commission and the Corps. Also, the interaction with congressional, federal and state interests, local boards and non-government organizations and the public is crucial to the decision making process of the Commission.
Since 1879, the seven-member presidentially appointed Mississippi River Commission has developed and matured plans for the general improvement of the Mississippi River from the Head of Passes to the Headwaters. The Mississippi River Commission brings critical engineering representation to the drainage basin, which impacts 41 percent of the United States and includes 1.25 million square miles, over 250 tributaries, 31 states, and 2 Canadian provinces.
As necessary, news and information regarding Lake Barkley, Smithland and Paducah is available it will be posted on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Face book at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and http://www.facebook.com/lake Barkley, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.
For more information about the Memphis District, go to http://www.mvm.usace.army.mil/. For more information about the Louisville District, go to http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/.