To the Editor,

Since the topic of the fate of the Great Crossings Dam has been on the thoughts of many of our citizens, from time-to-time members of our Scott County Conservation District Board of Supervisors have been asked how we stand on the issue. Let me express our stand and why.

First of all, let me inform everyone that the SCCD is adamantly opposed to the idea of removing the dam.

We recognize the authority of the KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources currently has the final control of the dam. And as a conservationist myself and as a supporter of KY Wild and the KDFWR, I can understand the arguments supporting a change in the flow for the benefit of aquatic and the underlying argument of reducing liability since there has been two deaths in recent years.

As a retired minister, I am very empathic with the loss and grief of the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.  

But the importance of the dam at Great Crossings to both the agricultural community and the county at large outweigh all other considerations. For the agriculture community, the dam serves as a reservoir for irrigation and for watering of livestock. The KDFW has argued that even in drought years the Elkhorn Creek has always had a flow.  That’s great. We have been blessed in recent years with plenty of rainfall. 

But those of us who have been around for a while can remember the drought years of the 1980’s, 1990’s, and as recently as 2012. During those years there were times when the water flow would not but trickle over the dams of Scott County. The reservoir made by the dams make it easy for the farmers and golf courses to irrigate their grasses.  With matching funds available through SCCD and USDA farmers water their livestock from the creek while limiting access which prevents pollution. 

Thankfully we have not had a drought like California. But the story was released by agricultural media about a dairy farmer who was needing water from the small creek going through the farm. He had followed all the rules and regulations and filled all the applications.  But by the time the government had approved his request he had to sell his herd and close down his dairy. 

One of our board members likes to argue that if the draught continues in the western part of the nation, that the fertile lands of Kentucky will have to convert to vegetable production. Our county had a vegetable co-op at one time but couldn’t compete with western US production. But with the severe draught out west, our vegetables could financially become competitive.

For the county as a whole, the dam and park at Great Crossing is a great source of recreation. On August 3rd, the day of the public hearing held by KDWF, I visited the dam and talked to the people using that day. One lady was sitting on a bench reading and enjoying the sound of the water going over the dam. 

Another gentleman who had moved here a few years ago and worked at Toyota was sitting and watching the water flow by and the turtle that was poking its head out of the water. He was waiting for an appointment. When we talked and I told him about the meeting, he said he had not heard about it and couldn’t make it, but asked if there was a petition he could sign to save the dam. He and his wife came to the dam early mornings on the weekends just to have their coffee and watch the water flow by. 

There were several people fishing both above and below the dam. Someone had launched a boat from the ramp and was somewhere up stream. One lady had her kayak and was fishing before she headed to Toyota to work the night shift.  She informed me that she did this regularly during the warmer months of the year. There are other stories of people who enjoy the dam that I could tell, but you get the gist of the recreational use of the Great Crossing Dam.  

Our stand is SAVE THE DAM. There are more reasons to save it and if possible, repair it than there is to tear it down.

 

Keith Tingle

Scott County Conservation District Chairman

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