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Lake at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site being lowered due to dam leak

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State officials are drawing down the water level of a small lake at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site in Boone County and are limiting access because of a leak in the dam.

The water level of the 9.6-acre lake is being drawn down to reduce the chance of a sudden failure and to provide an opportunity to examine the leak.

The dam is classified as a low-hazard dam, meaning failure would cause little or no damage to other structures, public utility services, roads or railroads. However, the park in Boone County has closed an access road to the lake as well as a nearby picnic shelter. Signs have been
posted along Big Bone Creek downstream from the leaking dam alerting anglers of the
possible danger.

The dam was last inspected in July 2017, at which time no leaks were observed. The dam was built in 1966 to create a recreational lake and is owned by the Kentucky Department of Parks.

Department of Parks and Division of Water officials are continuing to monitor the dam daily and will continue to draw down the lake. The Department of Parks has also notified state and local emergency officials, though the dam does not appear to be in imminent danger. Signs are also being placed to alert downstream anglers who fish along Big Bone Creek.

Department of Parks officials first reported the leak June 22. An inspection that day by Dam Safety personnel from the Kentucky Division of Water noted a large leak discharging on the downstream slope of the 70-foot-high dam. The leak appears to be the result of internal soil erosion within the dam, possibly related to a leaking draw-down pipe.

Additional inspections over the next weekend indicated the leak volume had increased and water was now coming from other areas on the dam slope.

Department of Parks and Division of Water officials are continuing to monitor the dam daily and will continue to draw down the lake. The Department of Parks has also notified state and local emergency officials, though the dam does not appear to be in imminent danger. n