Sunday: Low Arkansas River level affecting utility plant
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 15, 2012
After two potential major funding sources for renovating Zink Dam vanished in the course of two weeks, River Parks Authority is contemplating whether Vision 2025 funds could be used to do short-term improvements on the dam.
“I just think we really need to consider what is going on now rather than wait three years to see if we can get another extension of Vision 2025,” River Parks Authority trustee Don Walker said last week during an authority meeting.
Nearly $70 million in potential funding for major improvements to Zink Dam disappeared last month when voters rejected Vision2, which included $41 million for the project, on Nov. 6 and the state Supreme Court ruled on Nov. 20 that a planned $25 million bond issue to improve the Zink Lake dam on the Arkansas River is unconstitutional.
Those funds would have been used for a major renovation of the dam, including the addition of new gates to manage water flow and create a pool of water large enough to provide recreational opportunities.
Now River Parks is looking to simply plug holes and replace the seals in the dam’s three 50-foot-wide gates as well as dredge the sand and silt built up behind the center section of the dam, which has no gates.
Removing the excess sand and silt not only would make Zink Lake deeper and thus more viable for recreational activities, but it would help address a looming issue for AEP-PSO: a lack of water from the Arkansas River to feed the cooling system of its Tulsa power station on the west bank of the river.
Half a billion gallons of water a year flow through a pipe that is in the river upstream of the dam into PSO’s cooling system. But low water levels, especially in the summer, have forced the utility company to pump water out of the river on occasion.
Read more in Sunday's World.
Water rushes under and through holes in gates of the Zink Dam near the Pedestrian Bridge over the Arkansas River in Tulsa. CHRISTOPHER SMITH/Tulsa World