Low-water dams: Don't count Inhofe out
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
11/21/12 at 3:37 AM
Sen. Jim Inhofe continues to look on the bright side of funding for the low-water dam projects on the Arkansas River. After all, as mayor of Tulsa in the early 1980s, it was Inhofe who pushed through Zink Lake and the current low-water dam.
In 2007, Inhofe successfully got an authorization for $50 million in federal funding for the Tulsa County projects included in the Water Resources Development Act. Such projects typically need to get an appropriation before spending could move forward.
Separately, the state Legislature approved a bond issue that would have supplied $25 million for improvements to the low-water dam on Zink Lake. That bond issue, however, was ruled unconstitutional on Tuesday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid., contended that the money approved will not be used as it is intended, thereby making the bond vote moot.
Inhofe, while not getting involved in that court case, does dispute Anderson's claim before the court that Congress will never appropriate the federal funds.
While acknowledging that acquiring the funding will be difficult in this economic climate, Inhofe says it is not impossible. He says getting the money would require persuading the Corps of Engineers to reprioritize its projects and use existing appropriations for the work.
There is some resistance to the low-water dams. Money for the dams was included in one of the recently defeated Vision2 proposals. That doesn't mean, however, that it would not pass in some other form. Inhofe knows that well as the architect of the proposal that finally gained approval of voters for the lake and dam.
There is a lot of work coming to the river. The George Kaiser Family Foundation is committing millions of dollars to improve the east bank. That could bring some limited commercial and residential development to the river. The river needs to hold water to make it an attraction.
Yes, it's an uphill battle. But in a political fight, Inhofe is always a good bet. He has a habit of delivering funds and services for the state. Don't count him out.
Original Print Headline: The dams