Aerial Flooding

Floodwater from the Arkansas River encroaches on the levee near Sand Springs in May. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World file

Update: A public information workshop on the Tulsa West-Tulsa Draft Feasibility Report for the Arkansas River levees is tonight at Case Community Center, 1050 W. Wekiwa Road, in Sand Springs, 5:30- 8 p.m.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tulsa District released its 161-page draft study on the Tulsa County levees Tuesday, four months after high water threatened Sand Springs and west Tulsa neighborhoods.

The Tulsa and West Tulsa Levee Feasibility Study examined various options and environmental impacts of a multimillion-dollar plan to improve flood control in the area after water seeped through and under levees in several locations during the May floods. The plan is to offer a month-long public comment period that includes a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Case Community Center in Sand Springs.

The tentative plan, approved in August, includes adding 13 miles of filtered berm on levees A and B, reinforcing the Charles Page Boulevard floodway, adding two detention ponds and rebuilding seven pump stations, according to a joint news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Tulsa County. Construction reportedly would cost between $150 million and $250 million, with the federal government picking up 65% of the cost.

“The public release of the draft tentatively selected plan report is the next key step to modernizing the Tulsa-West Tulsa levees,” Inhofe said in the release. “By releasing the draft report ahead of the budget process for the next fiscal year, we can continue to stay ahead of schedule for modernizing and upgrading the levees. The opportunity for public comment is especially important given the terrible flooding Oklahoma experienced earlier this year.”

The report is available online, at the Tulsa District office at 2488 E. 81st St. and at the Charles Page Library at 551 E. 45th St. in Sand Springs. You may also download a PDF of the report at the link with this online story.

Public comments may be submitted through email at TWT-Levees@usace.army.mil and at the public meeting.

Tulsa County Commissioner Chairwoman Karen Keith, who spoke about the levees’ conditions before and during May’s flooding, said in the release that the project is moving quickly.

“We are so pleased that the project is right on schedule and that we are progressing as quickly as possible to begin improving the levee system,” Keith said. “We encourage the public to review the document, attend the public meeting and provide their comments.”

In 2008, the Corps rated the District 12 levee “unacceptable” and chose it as part of a risk assessment pilot program in 2014. At the time, the rating meant it was not expected to withstand a 100-year flood, which equated to 205,000 cubic feet of water per second.

The feasibility study was fast-tracked before floodwaters threatened the levees in May with flows into the Arkansas River from the Keystone Dam peaking at 277,000 cubic feet per second. Water pooled on the nonriver side of the levees in some areas, forcing evacuations of some neighborhoods.


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Stetson Payne

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Staff Writer

Stetson covers breaking news, general assignment and other stories. He previously worked at the Enterprise-Journal in Mississippi. He is from Broken Arrow and graduated with a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University. Phone: 918-581-8466

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