First embankment created in Wolf Creek Dam

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) -- The first protective concrete embankment wall panel has been put in place inside Wolf Creek Dam. It's something officials working on the project consider a significant accomplishment.

Rehabilitation Project manager David Hendrix told the Commonwealth-Journal that the permanent wall in the remainder of the 4,000-foot-long earthen section of the dam is scheduled to be in place by December 2013, before area being currently worked on is completed.

The nearly mile-long structure impounds Lake Cumberland, the largest man-made reservoir east of the Mississippi River. The lake's water level has remained about 40 feet below typical summer depths since January 2007, when the $584 million repair project began.

If Wolf Creek Dam fails, it could flood towns and cities down the Cumberland River in Kentucky and Tennessee, reaching downtown Nashville.

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