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Barnsdall leaders concerned about second Waxhoma dam breach

Posted at 7:53 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 10:55:33-04

TULSA, Okla. — It's a race against time for the city of Barnsdall as it continues dealing with a leaking dam.

City and state agencies are working around the clock to repair a second breach on the Waxhoma dam. Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley said they are doing everything in their power to keep the dam from failing and time is of the essence.

“I’m pretty concerned,” he said.

READ MORE: Crews monitoring Lake Waxhoma dam after recent leak

Kelley said the second breach happened around the spillway Saturday morning.

He said he received models showing the deepest part of the lake is actually pretty close to the mouth of the spillway, where the breach is located. He worries the high volume of water could further the erosion, which could lead to a failure of the dam.

“We don’t want to have erosion into the deep part and have a failure and have some flooding,” Kelley said.

His other major concern is the lake is the main source of water for the city of Barnsdall.

READ MORE: Lake Waxhoma dam breach temporarily fixed, needs funding for permanent repairs

“The only thing that would actually affect this community if something like that happened is the water would never reach town as far as a flood or anything like that, but we would lose our drinking water,” Kelley said.

He said they've been monitoring the dam all weekend and pumping the lake to relieve the pressure from around the spillway. Wednesday morning, he met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Emergency Management, The Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Osage County Officials and State Representative Judd Strom to come up with a plan.

“The one solution our engineer did come up with is a siphon that he’s designed over the weekend and came up with to try to control the level, and our county guys have offered to help us go out and take their equipment and place some more of the big rock in there,” Kelley said.

The temporary fix would only help maintain the water level to produce drinking water for the city of Barnsdall.

READ MORE: Breach discovered in dam at Lake Waxhoma, crews work to repair damage

“I don’t believe in making people panic or anything like that, but also I’m a pretty transparent person," he said. "I’m not going to lie to you, I’m concerned, very concerned."

Kelley said they are focused on finding the funding to take on the project, which is a lengthy process.

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