With severe storms rolling into Northeast Oklahoma the Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring water levels at Keystone Lake and along the Arkansas River to stay ahead of potential flooding in Tulsa County.
Right now, the corps of engineers is releasing around 60,000 cubic feet per second of water but they say the Arkansas River can still hold a lot more water, which is why the risk of flooding downstream right now is low. Engineers are monitoring the weather but even with more rain falling on Monday, they are on standby.
"Starting, I believe, Friday evening we started cutting back just in case there was heavy localized rainfall downstream, so we wanted to have some channel capacity downstream so we could prevent downstream flooding," said Keystone Lake Manager Travis Miller.
Keystone Dam was releasing close to 750,000 gallons of water per second last week. Now that they're releasing about 300,000 gallons less, that gives the downstream section of the Arkansas River plenty of room.
"Once the rain hits and our forecasters have a chance to see where it hit, what drainage basins that they are flowing into then we will adjust releases accordingly," said Miller.
Right now, crews are on 24-hour flood watch since the lake is at 744 feet, which is 10 feet below the top of the flood pool.
Miller says they won't adjust releases based on weather forecasts because a slight shift in weather could put the water in another drainage basin.
"We are measuring instrumentation and monitoring the dam, walking the embankment, checking for any potential seeps and other issues that may cause concern that way we have early warning," said Miller.
Miller says they would rather have campgrounds and recreation areas around the lake flood, than have downstream flooding that could impact people’s lives.
"We have no cause for concern at Keystone, it's just us being over cautious and protecting the resources downstream," said Miller.