A log jam along the Kentucky Riverbank leads to erosion, leaves homeowner concerned

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 18:05:45-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — James Wells and his wife fell in love with a piece of property on Kentucky River Road in south Fayette County. 27 years ago, they bought it and built a home. Last month, however, James noticed a problem on the river bank below.

“A lot of the property has dropped three feet,” he said while showing the erosion line.

There is a steep drop, probably hundreds of feet below, from Wells’ home to the river, in fact, it took 12 minutes to hike back up from the riverbank. So the likelihood of the river encroaching on his home anytime soon is low. But that hill does support a lot of the land above, and the amount of erosion that was evident is worrisome.

“It’s gotten bigger since I originally spotted it,” Wells said of his January finding.

Mr. Wells believes the log jam in the middle of the river is causing the problem, and he can’t find anyone who can remove it.

“All that debris catches on the log there, forms a dam that continues to get bigger, and when a major rain or flood comes, it causes a backwash on this property,” Wells explained.

Mr. Wells has received several email communications, including one with an employee of the Kentucky River Authority. According to the email, the authority does this type of clean-up work, but their barge isn’t able to float into this area of the river near his home. So, for now, Wells isn’t sure what the solution might be.

“I think a couple of men on a small boat with chainsaws could handle it,” he said before adding that he isn’t sure if river regulations would prevent him from hiring such a crew out of his own pocket.

James firmly believes mitigation of some kind will be needed at some point because while his home isn’t in immediate danger of sliding off this hill, the amount of erosion is obvious and a large chunk of it has happened in a short amount of time.

“With climate change and unknown weather in the coming years, who knows what could happen,” Wells wondered.

He’s hoping someone will clear this jam so he doesn’t have to find out.

“Notice the trees I have there with orange paint. We’ll see if they’re here in the spring,” Wells said with a laugh.

But he wasn’t entirely joking.