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Keystone Dam water flow reduced, river level expected to go down

Posted at 1:33 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 19:18:16-04

TULSA, OK (KJRH) — The Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District has reduced the Keystone Dam water flow to 80,000 cubic feet per second from its previous 100,000. Experts say that should lower the Arkansas River a couple feet by Friday night.

While Keystone Lake is still more than 23 feet above normal, experts say they've seen its level steadily decrease enough to reduce the amount of water flowing out and into the Arkansas River.

The reduction happened about midday Friday, but because it takes several hours for the water going through the dam to reach low-lying areas like the Tulsa river parks and Bixby, noticeable changes aren't expected until Friday evening.

The change also adds an important padding between the projected Arkansas River level and its flood stage of 15 feet. With severe weather in the forecast, the extra couple feet will be important space if there's heavy rain and runoff south of the lake.

Experts say the plan for the weekend is fluid, and depends on where heavy rainfall hits hardest.

If heavy rain ends up going north of Tulsa, falling in and north of Keystone Lake, it's possible the Army Corps of Engineers re-opens the flood gates to a wider margin to allow more water to pass through, leveling out the lake. However, if more rain falls south of the lake and threatens to flood the Arkansas River, the Keystone Dam could be closed even more to reduce that threat.

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