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Plan to free barges at Webbers Falls dam could create issues

Posted at 9:56 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 23:20:15-04

WEBBERS FALLS, OK (KJRH) — A plan is finally in place to free those two barges from the Webbers Falls Lock and Dam, but it could create more problems before they're finally hauled away.

Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke says the river needs to be lowered enough to be able to free them, meaning the Army Corps of Engineers could lower the river level to one of its lowest points in history.

Doke says those barges are causing the gate to leak water at 55,000 cubic feet per second, and with the river level so high there's no chance at getting to them. He says the answer is lowering the river 11 feet by Thursday, and hoping that will be enough to recover the barges. If it isn't, the plan is to lower the river another five feet at a time.

"Every day that the barge salvage job takes, it just creates additional sets of problems," Doke said.

Families in Fort Gibson are now concerned they could lose their fresh water, because the intake to their water station is 12 feet below where the river normally flows.

But Doke says there is a plan just in case. A 48" water line connects Muskogee and Fort Gibson, which engineers have figured can pump more than enough water to use as a contingency plan without having to ration water.

It's estimated retrieving the barges could take two to three weeks.

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