low water dams

Gaylon Pinc, owner and senior environmental program manager for Program Management Group, shares low-water dam charts and illustrations at his Tulsa office. KELLY BOSTIAN/Tulsa World

The Sand Springs Municipal Authority July 10 approved the use of $200,000 as part of the local share of the funding for the Arkansas River Corridor pre-construction, engineering and design phase, which will include construction of a low water dam and pedestrian bridge in Sand Springs.

The Arkansas River Corridor feasibility study is complete and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved moving into the next phase in late 2018. The projects to be designed include the low water dam and pedestrian bridge, an enhanced wetland area at the Pratt Creek confluence and a constructed Lest Tern island in the river reach below Broken Arrow.

“Building the Sand Springs low water dam will improve the water quality, the habitat of the Arkansas River—about 90 percent improvement from the current low-flow conditions that are dominated by the…hydropower releases from Keystone,” Program Management Group owner/senior environmental program manager Gaylon Pinc said.

Pinc said officials will have to find funding to build the low water dam after the design phase of the project is complete.

“Once it’s implemented, we’re going to have a low water dam below the (Highway) 97 bridge that is eight to 11 feet tall, will store enough water that we can release 1,000 cubic feet per second all weekend long, basically, for a three-day period once hydropower stops flowing at Keystone we will no longer have a dry riverbed that desiccates and really does not help the environment in the river bed whatsoever,” he said. “Recreational opportunities…that will benefit Sand Springs, I believe, will be pretty substantial. So it’s certainly going to improve the river, its appearance and its usefulness.”

Pinc said the design of the low water dam would not cause any rise in the 100-year flow of the river during times of high water in the river either.

“It will not help nor harm a flooding situation,” he said. “It does not impact the levees.”

The cost of the feasibility study was reportedly shared by the Corps of Engineers and Tulsa County using Vision 2025 funds. The funding for the pre-construction, engineering and design phase is reportedly authorized for fiscal year 2020 through 2023 at a match rate of 65 percent federal funds and 35 percent local funds. The total cost of the pre-construction, engineering and design phase of the project is $6,975,000, the local share of it is $2,441,000.

Rachel Snyder 918-581-8315