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Levees along Arkansas River at risk of failing

Levees along Arkansas River at risk of failing
Posted: 5:42 PM, Aug 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-08 22:42:16Z

The Assistant Secretary of the Army was in Tulsa Wednesday to take a look at the levees along the Arkansas River.

The levees were built to protect residents and industry in the area from flooding but are now in need of repair.

These levees were built by the US Army Corps of Engineer in the 1940’s and now decades later, a feasibility study is in the works to address the issues and provide a solution for years to come.

There are three levees along the river that stand 15 ft. tall and each about 5 miles long.

After years of use, the systems are failing.

Levee Commissioner for Tulsa County Levee District 12 Todd Kilpatrick said there’s thousands of lives and billions of dollars at risk.

"We want to make sure we give everybody that’s behind the levee the best chance that we can," Killpatrick said.

The Tulsa-West Tulsa Feasibility Study is being conducted to develop different solutions to the flooding challenges caused by the declining levee systems.

The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works provided the funds for the study and Wednesday, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) toured the levees to better understand the situation.

“People’s lives are at stake with the project," R.D. James said. "You’ve got the reservoir up stream that brings water down. You’ve got the possibility of a big rain that comes in from the north to flood this area."

“The longer the duration the water is up on the levee, the more it tries to push through and equalize," said Kilpatrick. "So, it will actually blow through the levee."

The levees have endured several intense rainfalls including two in 1984 and 1986.

"What Todd knows is that this is a sand levee and sand levees don’t hold up well against major flooding unless they have enough weight and compaction to resist that flooding and that’s what they’re trying to do here," said James.

When the Tulsa-West Tulsa Feasibility Study concludes, the Corps of Engineers will give recommendations to prevent future flooding issues.

The next step is figuring out how to fund the project.

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