Thunderstorms multiply Lost River Cave suds anomaly, closing down tours

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Lost River Cave has shut down their tours, a huge part of their summer revenue, all thanks to one foamy anomaly.

Just this week, News 40 investigated this white, soapy substance coating Lost River Cave.

Now, Wednesday’s thunderstorm multiplied the patches of suds into a full out detergent overflow.

Lost River Cave Executive Director Rho Lansden says for years now suds have accompanied rainfall at the cave, but starting last November, foam this has filled the river on multiple instances – no rainfall needed.

Why do we care about these suds?

“Lost River flows into Jennings Creek, which then flows into the Barren River, which is Bowling Green’s drinking water,” Lansden explained. “That is my primary concern.”

Lansden also fears for the cave wildlife, namely the tourist-favorite crawfish.

“It’s hard to imagine anything would have survived that,” she said of the flooding. “That water moves constantly, so they would have just been washed away.” 

Turning away visitors hasn’t been easy either.

“People come here from all over the country. They make reservations sometimes months and weeks in advance, and we’ve had to turn away people,” Lansden said.

Water testing is happening now at the local and state level – BGMU Water, the City of Bowling Green’s storm water personnel and Kentucky Division of Water working to identify particles in the water and in the chlorine. 

BGMU Water and Wastewater Systems Management’s Mike Gardner said, “In the pipelines, it’s much easier to say, ‘Okay, well we can trace it back to where it’s coming from.’ When it involves caves and underground, it’s a lot more difficult.” 

The next step? Hurry up and wait to see where the soapy source is stemming from.

Lansden said, “We are just in a waiting game right now to see when it’ll be right to get back into the cave.”

“Once we get those results back, it’ll hopefully narrow our search,” said Gardner.