The Green River’s Lock and Dam No. 5 near the Glenmore community in Warren County will be removed later this summer with a goal to improve the health and accessibility of the waterway.
Destruction will begin during the last week of June by dam removal personnel with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the southeast region. The process will last around two months.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers ceased operation of the structure in 1951. The lock and dam have been unused ever since, and it has created lower oxygen levels, more sediment and higher temperatures in the river, according to officials.
The Corps still owns the property, but The Kentucky Nature Conservancy will receive ownership once the dam is removed.
Kentucky Nature Conservancy Director David Phemister said it will then look to transfer the property at no cost to Butler and Warren counties for use as a public park and river access point.
“The dam’s removal will make the river healthier, safer and more accessible,” Phemister said. “It will restore free-flowing conditions to 73 miles of the Green River while also providing economic and environmental benefits.”
The dam removal project will utilize federal funds through the Department of Interior’s National Fish Passage Program. Phemister said the total cost is anticipated to be about $4 million.
In December 2016, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act was signed into law and deauthorized several defunct lock and dam sites on the Green and Barren rivers.
Phemister said those sites contained structures that were deemed to no longer serve their intended purpose to facilitate commercial navigation.
Lock and Dam No. 5 was among the sites deauthorized in Kentucky.
The removal of the dam will allow canoers and kayakers on the Green River in Mammoth Cave National Park to safely paddle past Brownsville, with no in-stream barriers between Mammoth Cave and Rochester Dam.
Phemister said he hopes the recreational benefits will assist the ongoing Green River Blueway and Trail Town initiatives, which have been embraced by many small towns along the Green River in the Barren River region.
One concern with the project was how it would affect the Edmonson County Water District’s water supply.
However, ECWD General Manager Tony Sanders said it has worked closely with the Nature Conservatory, and it should be able to draw sufficient water from the river.
If a problem does emerge, the Nature Conservancy purchased a portable pump system for ECWD to provide backup water supply options.
“They tell us they are 95% sure we still will have water, but it’s not a guarantee,” Sanders said. “To the best of their studies, we should have water. We have our fingers crossed. The Nature Conservancy has been really good to work with. Anything we have needed – they have helped us.”
The site is near where Edmonson, Warren and Butler counties converge.
The Nature Conservancy will host a private event at the location for stakeholders June 28. Phemister said local judge-executives will be invited. A public event will be held later in August to showcase the area, he said.
– Follow reporter John Reecer on Twitter @JReecerBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.