Weather taking a toll on W. Tulsa levee

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Updated: 4/10/2013 8:26 am Published: 4/09/2013 11:09 pm

Every time storms sweep through Tulsa a levee on the West side of Tulsa gets a little more beat up.

The commissioner of Drainage District 12, Todd Kilpatrick says, “with a sandbar in the Arkansas River it’s hard to understand the need to improve the levee.”

However, he and Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner, Karen Keith, fear what could happen if the levee stretching from Sand Springs to West Tulsa doesn’t get a lot more attention and money for improvements.

"Since ‘86 not much has happened,” said Keith.

However, with time what has tended to happen is a slow process of deterioration to a levee that stretches 20 miles.

No major problems have led to no major funding for infrastructure improvements.

Kilpatrick says the County budgets $800,000 each year to maintain the levee that’s why he and Commissioner Keith are working with federal officials and the Army Corps of Engineers to bring the levee in compliance with federal guidelines which they say will cost more than $20 million.

"It's easy for us to just see these as grassy mounds we see along the river," said Keith.

The purpose is to protect people and property in the worst case of flooding.

"The ecological disaster it would create if it got in the refiners would be horrific," said Keith.

Residents who live near the levee say heavy rains cause a pool around the storm pumps.

"It floods from right there at that manhole to right there back that way," said Jerry Koonz.

He and his wife are among the 50,000 people who live near the levee. A storm pump is in his backyard.

They share similar concerns with Commissioners that outdated pumps and Band-Aids on the levee could one day prove to be disastrous.

"I've seen that water all the way up to the levee you can't walk down it, where the water was going through the trees,” said Koonz.

Commissioner Keith says she plans to meet with federal officials at the end of the month in hopes of working to secure money to upgrade the levee.

Levee upgrades were part of one of the Vision 2 packages that voters rejected in November, that was an extension of the sixth penny sales tax.

The second part was known as the Quality of Life Improvements package which was reported to generate $362 million that would have been split among Tulsa County and all ten cities included in the county. 

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

ewolfe357 - 4/10/2013 10:43 AM
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I don't know anything about levees, but I know bad writing when I see it. This also seems to be the norm for Fox23.

Marc Masnor - 4/10/2013 2:14 AM
0 Votes
I agree that the levee needs attention, but the story was a disjointed mess of meaningless quotes. Please try again. Even the line above, "No federal money is a concern for the levee...", is poorly written, and is misleading. The levee is a responsibility of local government. The Federal government may be authorized by Congress to help, but Federal funding for projects is limited. Waiting for Federal assistance could be a risky decision. I assume the quotes about water pooling behind the levee refer to interior drainage features of the project. While the West Tulsa Levee is designed to keep the Arkansas River from flooding developed areas, the levee inherently blocks runoff from rainfall on those developed areas from reaching the Arkansas River during a flood event. That's why those pump stations exist, to pump the ponded runoff to the river. Those ponding areas exist to temporarily hold the interior runoff while the pumps work to move the water to the river. Quoting people that don't understand the function of the project only serves to misinform others - often many other. If you want to fill space, keep reporting stories like this one. If you want to help the community, write responsibly.
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