New funding could mean more water in the Arkansas River

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/02/2013 4:16 pm Published: 10/02/2013 4:15 pm

Most of the time the Arkansas River looks like a giant sand bar, but that could soon change.

The River Parks Authority secured funding to repair the Zink Dam, which would keep water in the area known as Zink Lake, stretching from the dam up to Interstate 244.

There are three gates that control the flow of water, but water constantly flows through here because the gates are broken, which is why the lake only stays full for about three days after it rains.

"The trails are clean, the people are nice, there's always something going on here," said Maria Irvine, a Tulsan.

She said the only thing missing is water in the river.

"I think if they filled the water it would, you know, it would clean up the area and bring people down, for sure," she said.

But that's going to take some work.

"We have seals that need to be installed along the bottom. They're 50-foot-wide gates, each of them. They're about 7 feet tall, and seals along the side," said Matt Meyer, with the River Parks Authority.

"Also, we want to put a quarter-inch steel plate over the face of each of those gates," he said.

To be clear, that won't raise the dam or fix the dangerous roller effect it causes.

"It's just basic, routine maintenance that should have been done years ago," he said.

So why wasn't it?

"Funding. I mean, it's all about funding," he said.

Now they have it.

"We've already taken bids on the project, and the bids came in at $839,000 and some change," he said.

This week Tulsa County commissioners approved $150,000 for the project, another $250,000 comes from the city and $250,000 from River Parks Authority.

The rest is a private donation from PSO.

"It's really a public-private partnership, as well as two public entities getting together," he said.

And if it keeps water in the river, Irvine says its money well spent.

There will also be another project going on down here soon.

PSO has some high-voltage lines that have run under the pedestrian bridge for 30 years they need to replace.

They are actually building a tunnel for those lines under the river.

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