Lake Cumberland reaches summer pool level

Posted May 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

For the first time in years, local lake enthusiasts and tourists alike visiting Clinton County’s Grider Hill Marina and other local access points for Lake Cumberland, will be enjoying a “full pool” of water this summer.

Lake Cumberland surpassed elevation 723 feet last week assuring the recreation season will begin with the reservoir at its historic summer pool level for the first time since 2006.

That information was confirmed last week with a press release to the Clinton County News from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district office in Nashville, Tennessee.

Approximately three inches of rain fell in the local watershed over a 72 hour period last week causing inflows into Lake Cumberland to spike. The lake was expected to crest slightly above elevation 727 feet sometime Saturday.

The Lake Cumberland level has been reduced since 2006 when a drawdown occurred while repairs were being made to stop leaks in the mile-long concrete and earthen Wolf Creek Dam.

Levels went as low as 680 feet during the period while construction crews were busy on the work platform building a new concrete barrier wall that extended as deep as 150 feet below the bedrock that the dam was originally constructed upon.

The water level in the lake rose to elevation 724 feet last Thursday morning, which is four feet above the current upper Southeast Power Administration (SEPA) curve at elevation 720 feet.

The upper SEPA curve is a lake water elevation guide that rises in the spring, with spring rainfall and reaches elevation 723 on May 15, then slowly draws down through the summer and fall. This curve is designed to ensure an adequate level of water for continued hydropower production throughout the year.

Wolf Creek Dam is generating with all six hydropower units in an attempt to bring the elevation back down as quickly as possible to the upper SEPA curve while still considering downstream water level conditions.

Because of the limited volume of water that can be discharged through the Wolf Creek hydropower units, and the large inflows into the lake, the lake continues to rise.

Randy Kerr, a civil engineer in the Nashville District’s Water Management Section, cautions visitors to the lake to be careful as flows will be higher than normal and debris could be an issue.

“As we manage the most recent rain event, we want everyone to be extremely cautious as water runoff subsides,” Kerr said. “The water levels have risen back to normal this spring, which is great news as the recreation season kicks off.”

To see an elevation and discharge plot at Lake Cumberland, which also plots the upper SEPA curve, go to

(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 The public can also visit Lake Cumberland’s Facebook page at