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Officials looking for permanent levee solution in Sand Springs

Posted at 5:20 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 19:20:41-04

SAND SPRINGS, OK (KJRH) — Neighbors in Sand Springs continue to be frustrated as they wait for the Arkansas River to go down, hoping their levees will hold.

Officials have been talking about a five year timeline before breaking ground on permanent levee fixes, but they’re hoping the drama unfolding over the past week will help speed up that process.

Officials say the infrastructure at Levees A and B is decades-outdated, and should have been fixed a long time ago. However, the federal funding just hasn’t been there to make the needed repairs. Local and state officials hope this week's national attention has put the Sand Springs levees on the forefront of elected officials’ minds.

Representatives plan on using that momentum to secure the needed funding, but it's still unclear how much Tulsa County will have to use. That will be figured out after a full study is completed next year.

“I just recognize the fragility of it, and you’re seeing the end result of that," said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith. "It’s taking a lot of resources and a lot of money to man that levee and make sure it holds up, so I think a better approach would be to spend that money to fix it.”

The Army Corps of Engineers has started using LIDAR technology, which is basically utilizing drones equipped with lasers instead of RADAR. They're using it to check on the status and erosion of the levees, to spot any weak areas that they might not be able to see on the surface.

After the water recedes experts will keep using those drones to see which spots need the most attention, and determine how exactly to bring the levees into the 21st century.

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