Legislation designed to help Lake Cumberland marinas

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U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., have introduced legislation to help marina operators in the Lake Cumberland region whose operations have been hurt by lower water levels at the popular tourist site.

Lake levels have been lowered to accommodate emergency repairs at Wolf Creek Dam.

"Scenic Lake Cumberland has been the hub of economic development in our area of southern Kentucky for years," Rogers said in a statement. "Many marinas have had to incur tremendous expenses to accommodate the lower pool, such as relocation and investments in additional infrastructure, and these unanticipated expenses have significantly disrupted their cash flow."

Rogers added that he had "no argument with this work," however, little relief was made available to those whose livelihoods depend on the lake.

"During tough financial times, we need to do all that we can to protect small businesses and help spur economic growth," Whitfield added in a statement. "This legislation will help safeguard the critical tourism industry in the Lake Cumberland region, ensuring a bright and prosperous future for the entire region."

The bill would suspend lease payments for marina owners on Lake Cumberland until higher water levels are restored and reimburse these businesses for losses in revenue, costs of relocating on Lake Cumberland and interest payments on loans undertaken as a result of the project.

To ensure county governments surrounding Lake Cumberland do not lose funding, the legislation directs the Corps of Engineers to reimburse the counties for lost revenue.

Rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam has been under way for several years to ensure the safety and health of residents living in the dam's surrounding communities. However, this rehabilitation has resulted in lower water levels on Lake Cumberland that has adversely affected tourism and recreation at the popular lake.

An estimated 4 million visitors travel to Lake Cumberland every year to take advantage of the lake's many attractions. Visitors contribute $70 million annually to the local economy, the congressmen said in their statement.

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