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

Lake Waxhoma dam breach
Lake Waxhoma dam breach
Posted at 6:27 AM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 16:07:22-04

OSAGE COUNTY, Okla. — Crews worked overnight to repair a dam breach at Lake Waxhoma and have temporarily fixed the issue.

Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley confirms Osage County received at least five inches of rain over the past couple of days. All of the pressure on the dam from the rainfall likely caused the breach.

Kelley said the city has an engineer that inspects the dam once a year and the last time it was inspected was about two months ago.

He said Waxhoma Lake was built in 1933, and the dam did show signs of trouble, but he didn't expect the breach to happen.

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

Wagoner County Emergency Management workers have worked for the past 14 hours to make immediate repairs to the dam. Workers started building on top of the dam and laid more than 500 pounds of rock to stop the flow of water coming out of the dam.

This lake is also the main source of drinking water for the community. Its failure could leave the community without water.
However, Mayor Kelley said doesn't forsee the breach reaching that point because of the temporary fix he hopes will help keep the dam from washing out.

They wrapped up around 4:30 a.m. and will come back once it's daylight to assess further damages. The workers hope the temporary fix can give them time to get funding to make a permanent repair on the Lake Waxhoma dam but are already facing a problem.

Kelly is currently working with several agencies to find funding, but they don't see any permanent repairs coming for at least a few weeks.

“We're going to have to get the funding to do that. We're working with the corp of engineers, government entities, the OK water, RWA, emergency management several agencies figuring out an answer for that," Kelley said.

Kelley said they don't expect the dam to fail and cause more damages, but it does need significant repairs.

As of Thursday morning, water is still coming out from the breach, but it drains into a small creek nearby. More rain coming into the area is causing concern about making the problem worse before a permanent repair can happen.

The Osage County Emergency Manager told 2 News they are considering asking the state and federal government for assistance.

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