Low Water Dams Still Years Away

Even with state bond money available and the selection of an engineering design team, the construction of additional Arkansas River low water dams is still two to four years away.
Kirby Crowe, Vision 2025 project engineer, recently announced that representatives from Sand Springs, Tulsa, and Jenks have selected the engineering firm of CH2M Hill, 502 S. Main St., Ste. 400, for preliminary design work.
Sand Springs-based engineers Meshek and Associates will be involved with the hydrology engineering work for the project.
Tulsa County officials are negotiating with CH2M Hill for the preliminary design and permitting services on new low water dams at Sand Springs and Jenks and rehabilitation work on Tulsa’s Zink Lake dam. The firm’s work should begin this fall.
The Sand Springs dam, which will be topped by a pedestrian bridge, will run from the foot of Main Street across the Arkansas River to the south bank. The dam will create a five-mile long lake from Main Street to the west past River City Park and the Star Center facility.
The process will likely take two to four years before construction can begin, said Sand Springs City Manager Douglas Enevoldsen. Conditions permitting, it will take at least another 18 months to build the Sand Springs dam.
Tulsa County Vision 2025 and Four to Fix the County monies are in place to fund all the design work. Construction funds include $25 million from a state bond issue and $50 million in federal Water Resources Development Act funds. The state funds were approved by the legislature last spring. The dams have been authorized at the federal level, but funding has yet to be allocated.
Last fall, county voters turned down a $282 million initiative for public, commercial, and private development of the Arkansas River, including low water dams.
Because current projects involve significant federal funding, the permitting process and the review time are expected to be more extensive and longer.
“Where the initiative (last fall) indicated that dams could be built in three to four years, our current process will likely take a few years longer,” Enevoldsen said. “This expanded timeframe certainly fits with other things that are happening in the adjacent.”

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