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Malfunction Drains Tulsa Lake

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The dam that is stuck open. The dam that is stuck open.
Repairs to the gates are long overdue. Repairs to the gates are long overdue.
Matt Meyer, with River Parks, which will start repairs next week. Matt Meyer, with River Parks, which will start repairs next week.

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- A malfunctioning gate on a dam has drained Tulsa's Zink Lake, but repairs start next week. One of the gates in the dam is stuck open, so any water that comes down the river flows right past the dam.

The biggest difference that you'll be able to see is more water in the Arkansas River. That makes for good fishing.

"People come out here, they like it, the old train bridge, they come out here and have themselves a good time. I've been coming out here fishing since I was a little kid," Yzelle Walker said.

The open gate practically eliminates the lake, and keeps it so shallow the rowing clubs can't use it.

River Parks will start repairs next week on the cylinders that raise and lower the gates. They're 20 feet underwater.

"Right now we're estimating $102,000, but it's sort of like taking your car to the shop, you don't know how much until you get into it." Matt Meyer, with River Parks, said.

The repairs to the gates are expected to take at least a few weeks. When they're done, River Parks will be able to raise the gate and back up water in the river for the first time this year.

"All of this stuff is 30 years old, okay, and the hydraulic cylinders and the systems, the pipes that support it and the hoses, it's all in a very corrosive salt water environment," Meyer said.

The repairs are overdue, but come while plans are being made to replace the entire structure with something taller, with longer gates. That's still at least 2 years away and depends on state funding and approval of all the environmental permits.

The new higher dam will make the lake deeper, while more gates will make it easier to flush out the sand that fills in the lake.

The existing gates are 50 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Only one of them works. It's the one on the west end, by the power plant.

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