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Lake and river levels put question marks on Labor Day events

Posted at 9:44 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 23:16:53-04

TULSA, OK (KJRH) — Sinking river levels and recovering lakes are threatening annual Labor Day traditions, but the die-hards organizing them won't let the elements put a damper on the holiday.

This weekend looks to help businesses get back on track, and move forward from a crazy summer on the water.

"I think this is the last big yahoo, because we didn't get all the yahoos this year we normally get," said Ron Howell, owner of Keystone Harbor Marina on Keystone Lake. "Every weekend, it's like everybody's gobbling up what summer remains."

It's been a rough summer for businesses that rely on the seasonal crowds. Howell says communities like Mannford rely on lake traffic: "their sales are way off through the part of the year they're usually the busiest."

With recovery efforts underway to remove two barges downstream at the Webbers Falls lock and dam, the river level needed to be low enough to even get to the barges. But in just days, the water needs to be high enough for Tulsa's Great Raft Race. Thankfully, event coordinators have that under control.

"It's not like closing down a street for a run, and making sure there's water in the river is always a challenge," said Event Director Seth Erkenbeck. "We have an allotted amount of water for the event that starts to release Sunday night through the end of the event on Monday."

Registration for the event is open through Friday.

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