The March 2015 IFMA Tulsa meeting speaker was G.T. Bynum. Mr. Bynum is Tulsa’s District 9 City Councilor and is part of the Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force. The task force was created in 2013 for the purpose of developing a proposal for the construction of low water dams in the Arkansas River Corridor. The task force has proposed building three dams and rebuilding one other.
The three dams the task force are proposing to build would be located in Sand Springs, Jenks and Bixby. The dam they are proposing to rebuild is the Zink dam located between 21st & 31st Street off Riverside Drive. One source estimates the cost to build the three dams and rebuild the other to be at $182 million.
Back in 1870, Tulsey Town (now Tulsa) had 200 people. The city started at 6th & Boulder and back then, horses were used to pull barges. At one time, the Arkansas River was a source of drinking water and it was prone to flooding quite a bit. Then came the Keystone dam and that solved the flooding problems. The water wasn’t fit to drink and the Arkansas River long ago stopped being a source for drinking water.
The Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force has been looking at what it would take to beautify the area along Riverside Drive and make the water in the river and the area surrounding it more attractive. The answer is to build more dams on the Arkansas River, with the reason being that more dams are needed to control the water levels along the Riverside Drive corridor.
For the past few years the task force has been holding Town Hall meetings to get feedback from the public. Engineers attending the meetings asked questions about the plans to build dams that the task force could not answer, thus sending them back to the drawing board. One thing noted was that while four dams were being proposed, not all four dams are needed. However, of the eleven dams worked up in a plan by the Corp of Engineers from 1995 – 2005, these four dams are at the top of the list of most needed.
More town hall meetings will be held in the summer of 2015. Various ideas for how the dams will be funded are still being discussed and total costs for the dams are still being determined. At some point in the future there will be a city vote (versus a county vote) and ultimately, voters will decide if the city of Tulsa, as well as the cities of Jenks, Bixby and Sand Springs, along with Tulsa County and the Creek Nation have come up with a plan for the dams that is acceptable to the voters.