Fiscal Court updated on Louellen Lake emergency

Published 3:11 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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The Harlan County Fiscal Court heard an update on a recent emergency situation concerning a large leak at Louellen Lake during the panel’s February meeting.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley took the opportunity to update the magistrates on the state of emergency recently declared at the lake when water was found leaking from the lake near KY 38 near Evarts.

“The lake leak that occurred on Valentine’s Day was a very serious situation from the standpoint of danger to life, property, and infrastructure from a road perspective and a water line perspective,” Mosley said. “The area of the leak was right off KY 38 in a community where there are seven houses.”

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Mosley said in addition to the homes and roadway, the Evarts city water lines were potentially in jeopardy. He stated the leak was discovered due to a whirlpool effect visible in the lake.

“Constable Scotty Moore and a couple guys from the Evarts Water Department got a backhoe up there very quickly to divert water that was going into the lake,” Mosley said. “Trying to get folks moved out of the area was going on while water was being diverted…there were a lot of people working to get the situation under control, and I appreciate all those people that were involved in that.”

Mosley explained it was determined the situation required the lake level to be lowered.

“The size of the hole warranted the water be pumped down below the level of the hole,” Mosley said. “We mobilized our pump we had leased for the Evarts water situation…fortunately they have not had to utilize it, because the Evarts water situation has drastically improved…we moved that pump to Louellen Lake and began pumping water out.”

Mosley said two additional pumps were brought in by the Division of Water.

“A substantial amount of water was moved from the lake,” Mosley said. “We think the level dropped approximately 12 feet. It’s roughly about seven feet below the hole.”

Mosley said it became clear a solution would have to be implemented that would keep the water level below the hole.

“This is a lake property that’s held by a nonprofit organization known as Evarts Fish and Game Club,” Mosley said. “We arrived at the conclusion that it would be necessary to install a pipe to establish a new overflow.”

He explained overflow pipes previously installed at the lake had deteriorated to the point of being ineffective.

“We prepared an agreement and approached the officers of the Evarts Fish and Game Club about allowing us to install a pipe to mitigate the emergency,” Mosley said. “Establishing a new lake level was critical, and the only way to establish a new lake level was by establishing a new lake overflow.”

Mosley noted the officers of the Evarts Fish and Game Club were on board and had signed the agreement. The situation has since improved.

“The tile was installed,” Mosley said. “The new lake level is much lower; the tile is working properly…the emergency was mitigated and the risk to public safety was mitigated, and I appreciate everyone that was involved to make that happen.”

In other court activity:

  • The Harlan County Clerk’s 2023 official statement of receipts, disbursements and excess fees was accepted subject to audit;
  • The Harlan County Clerk’s excess fee check in the amount of $15,000 was accepted;
  • The Harlan County Sheriff’s Official receipts for 2023 gas tax bills, oil tax bills, and limestone, sand and gravel tax bills were accepted;
  • An agreement between Avenue Government Systems and the Harlan County Fiscal Court for application hosting and technology support services was approved;
  • A contract between the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Office of the Governor, Department for Local Government, Office of State Grants and the Harlan County Fiscal Court was approved.