2019-08-14 ne-levees p1

Karen Keith, Tulsa County Commission chairwoman, stands on an earthen levee as she explains the levee system on July 2. The Oklahoman file

Local officials and the Army Corps of Engineers have reached an agreement on a $150 million to $200 million improvement plan for the Tulsa area’s aging levee system, Tulsa County announced Tuesday.

“This stage is extremely important to the continued acceleration of our project schedule and allows us to move forward with completion of the draft report, so that we may get the report to the public and other agencies for review and comments,” Corps of Engineers project manager Bryan Taylor said in a press release.

The “tentatively selected plan” agreed to Tuesday is a preliminary outline of improvements and cost estimates. Over the next month it will be refined into a draft report that will be available to the public.

The tentative release date for the draft report is Sept. 16. Public comment will be taken for 45 days following the release.

A final plan is expected in September 2020.

“It is critical that we have buy-in for our recommended plan,” said Taylor. “We want the public to be fully aware of what we have planned for the levee system.”

According to the news release, the plan includes filtered berms with toe drains, a landslide impervious blanket, reconstruction of pump stations, and retention ponds.

Toe drains are drainage systems situated along the “toe,” or base of a slope. “Landslide impervious blanket” refers to structures designed to maintain their water-resistant qualities despite landslides from above.

About two-thirds of the cost of the improvements would be borne by the federal government, with the remainder by local governments.

Local officials have been working for some time to upgrade the levee system, but last spring’s flooding along the Arkansas River lent urgency to the process. The Corps of Engineers agreed to shorten the usual three-year study time to two years in order to get the improvements into the fiscal year 2021 federal budget.

“We’ve been working on this project at some level for nearly 10 years,” said Tulsa County Commission Chairwoman Karen Keith. “Now that it’s at the forefront with our U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team, we are excited to see progress. And we are so grateful to our federal delegation and the District Army Corps of Engineers team who worked diligently to expedite the study time frame.”

Randy Krehbiel



Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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