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New Marion mayor announces plans to repair Lake George levee

A gaping hole from an excavation in the Lake George levee exposes brown dirt. The photo is taken from above by a drone.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
/
Public Records
A drone photo taken on May 4, 2022 of the unapproved excavation of the sinkhole in the Lake George dam.

Marion mayor D’Anna Browning – elected in November – rang in the new year by detailing a short-term plan to repair the Lake George levee on social media. This announcement comes after almost a year of the Crittenden County community of less than 3,000 suffering from a water shortage after being forced to drain its primary water source when a sinkhole was found in the levee.

Browning said the repair plan – which is nearing completion by the city’s engineering firm – could be completed by this summer. The repaired levee will have a breach point up to 591 feet in elevation, which is lower than the original height of the dam.

“Since 2022 was a rough year for all of us, I wanted to start 2023 with encouraging news,” Browning said. “I hope to have more information for the long-term plan soon. Thank you all for your continued support. We’re going to get through this and we will be better for it.”

The official noted that this is an interim measure and that a full restoration would require bringing the dam into compliance with current Division of Water regulations. Browning said that this process would require “another two years of design and permit review” before construction could begin.

The mayor said that “Marion has to increase its raw water supply ASAP” and she believes this approach achieves that more quickly than the full restoration approach.

“Although, the total storage capacity is less, we believe the amount will meet Marion’s restricted needs when combined with the water we are able to purchase from Crittenden-Livingston Water District,” she said.

Restrictions put in place to conserve water during the shortage are still in place, and Browning said those aren’t going away any time soon.

"Restrictions will probably continue well into the summer, and just to please continue to conserve water and do the best that you can," Browning told WPSD.

WPSD also reported Marion is working on detecting leaks in city pipes. Browning told WPSD many of the pipes are older, and the city is “losing about 52% of its water” due to the leaks.

The Marion City Council discussed three viable long-term solutions for the community’s water shortage during an Oct. 2022 meeting. Those options included receiving 400,000 gallons of water from the Caldwell County Water District, continuing to receive water from the Crittenden-Livingston County Water District while constructing a new water line, or rebuilding the dam to allow Lake George to be a water source again – an option the council voiced support for.

Browning said she plans to post more information regarding a long-term plan soon.

Zoe Lewis is a first-year sophomore at Murray State University from Benton, Kentucky. She is majoring in journalism with a minor in media production. She enjoys reading, going to movie theaters, spending time with her family and friends, and eating good food. Zoe is an Alpha Omicron Pi sorority member in the Delta Omega chapter. She is very excited to start working at WKMS and work while learning more about NPR, reporting, journalism, and broadcasting.
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