Oxygen Diffuser Project Underway in Kentucky

Oxygen diffuser project KentuckyThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is executing a sustainability project funded by the Section 212 Program to install an upstream diffuser system at Wolf Creek on the Cumberland River in Jamestown, Kentucky. The district is partnering with power preference customers, the Southeastern Power Administration, and Tennessee Valley Authority to construct a cryogenic facility downstream of the dam and install 50,000 linear feet of oxygen diffuser lines that reach into Lake Cumberland.

When constructed, the cryogenic facility will be capable of converting 300 tons of liquid oxygen per day to gaseous oxygen through four 15,000-gallon tanks and eight vaporizers. Daily deliveries of liquid oxygen will be required during the low dissolved-oxygen season for operation. The Corps of Engineers is soliciting a contract for this project with construction scheduled to begin this fall.

Nashville District awarded a separate $1.56 million contract in January 2023 to Supplied Industrial Solutions for 50,000 linear feet of diffuser line materials. TVA is set to mobilize to the dam this month to fabricate and install the lines that will run from the cryogenic facility into the reservoir through a portion of Halcomb’s Landing and into Lake Cumberland’s forebay. The public can expect temporary closures to only portions of Halcomb’s Landing Recreation Area as work proceeds.

Deliveries of polyethylene piping have begun. TVA is mobilizing to the site this month to begin assembling the diffuser lines. Construction will begin downstream of the dam and then the lines will be trenched under Highway 127 and through Halcomb’s Landing in late fall after the peak recreation season. Lines will then be installed in the forebay.  The system is similar to those TVA operates at Norris Dam and Watts Bar Dam and is scheduled to be operational in the fall of 2024. Highway 127 and Halcomb’s Landing will remain open or partially open throughout the construction period.

Jonathan Friedman, resource manager at Lake Cumberland and Laurel River Lake in Kentucky, said impacts are expected to be minimal, but caution is warranted when visiting the area.

“With deliveries of materials already underway and construction beginning soon, visitors should be aware of the ongoing activities in support of this project. Deliveries of polyethylene piping have begun,” Friedman said. “We want to do everything to keep the public and construction workers safe throughout this project. Halcomb’s Landing will remain open or partially open throughout the construction period.”

Loren McDonald, Nashville District Section 212 Program manager, said the operation of the dam’s six hydropower units is often impacted during the late summer and fall seasons by the lack of dissolved oxygen that is discharged from the hydropower turbines.

“Beginning in the early 2000s, practices such as discharging water through sluice gates and adjusting the number of units declared were put into place to help mitigate for this lack of dissolved oxygen being discharged into the tailwaters of our projects,” said Anthony Rodino, Nashville District Water Management Section chief. “This was part of a concerted effort that the Nashville District made to be better stewards of natural resources while still meeting our originally authorized project purposes.”

Installation of an upstream diffuser system, in conjunction with auto-venting turbine runners, reduce or eliminate unit restrictions during the low dissolved oxygen season. When these capabilities are achieved, the Nashville District can provide more environmentally friendly releases while maximizing hydropower generation.


Image: US Army Corps of Engineers

Source: US Army Corps of Engineers

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