River dam concerns fuel growing opposition to Vision2

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/04/2012 7:23 pm Published: 10/04/2012 6:19 pm

Opposition continues to grow against the Vision2 bond package, which is a $750 million extension to the Vision 2025 package.

Specifically, many are concerned about the City of Tulsa's plan to spend $71 million of the funds to improve the Zink dam on the Arkansas River, and then build a second dam farther south near Jenks.

"Well, I just think that it's too rushed," Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, Vision2 opponent, said. "It's the wrong time, and I think that we can better."

Vuillemont-Smith would love to see water, and not just rocks and sand, in the Arkansas River, but she thinks the dam project is also too rushed.

"Don't know about the quality of water," she said. "We don't know about if it's even going to be sustainable down here."

Her concerns come from ongoing studies by the Army Corps of Engineers, which have shown possibilities of health and environmental hazards. The study showed even with improvements and new dams, water levels can sometimes be too low for water to pass through the dams. The water an then pool in front of the dam, and byproducts from the waste water treatment plant and other pollution then sits, rather than being filtered out by the natural flow of the river.

Gaylon Pinc has been working with the Army Corps for years developing the Arkansas River Corridor master plan, and said health risks shouldn't be a concern.

"The things that might affect public health, really people shouldn't be exposed to, because they shouldn't be swimming [in the river]," Pinc said. "That's not a proposed use."

Pinc said the pollution from the waste water treatment facility also shouldn't be a concern.

"It's far enough upstream of the south Tulsa low-water dam impoundment that the stream recovers as it flows down the river,"

As for risks to fish and wildlife in the river, Pinc said he shares concern.

But he also said water quality is already monitored on a regular basis, and will continue to be monitored in the future with or without the dam upgrades. He said that if studies show the design of the dams would harm fish populations he would simply continue to work with the Army Corps to come up with a design solution.

But Vuillemont-Smith isn't changing her mind.

"Why not wait until we get the reports, and let's find out what's going to be the best way to do it before we start saying we're going to dedicate this money," she said.

Pinc said that has been the process for developing the dam improvements all along, and will continue to be.

But he said plans for the dam have been developing for years, and the only thing stopping the project is money. Vision2, he said, is the long-awaited solution.

Click here to see more information on why Citizens For a Better Vision, LLC oppose Vision2.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

aleman - 10/9/2012 5:52 AM
0 Votes
We will never have a decent river walk here they can build all the dams they want but that old nasty river always gonna be a sandpit,the view across the river and the smell from the south added to it ruin any other chance and anything they spend on downtown becomes a hangout for winos and perverts,no you can color me out on this waste of money.

bowlerdave - 10/5/2012 8:41 AM
0 Votes
The fact that Vision 2 exists isn't enough reason to oppose Vision 2? Some of us would like to keep some of our own hard earned money and spend it on foolish stuff like food and rent.

Breckinridge - 10/4/2012 8:32 PM
0 Votes
Here's one vote for NO to vision 2 and specifically NO NO NO to Arkansas River dams
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