River Development Discussed In Jenks

Wednesday, September 16th 2009, 9:36 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

JENKS, OK -- Those behind a project intended to revolutionize the Arkansas River offered an update on its progress on Wednesday evening.  As part of Vision 2025, three low water dams will be built to encourage river development.

Officials stress they are still in the initial stages of the $85 million project and it will be years before the Arkansas River reaches its full potential.

Elected officials and engineers addressed a crowd at Jenks City hall, offering a presentation as complicated as the project they are undertaking.

09/15/2009 Related Story: Meetings Planned On Arkansas River Master Plan

"There are lots of hurdles when doing river development in dealing with environmental issues. So, we're being very careful as we move forward.  It's a very intricate process," said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith.

That process will eventually involve creating three low water dams on the Arkansas.   Two new ones will be built, one in Sand Springs and the other near Jenks.

The Zinc Dam in Tulsa will be renovated.

The idea is to improve the water quality and environment on the Arkansas, and private development will take it from there. 

Those involved say the project is on schedule.

"It is, it is. We're just hoping for more federal funding to keep the project on track," said engineer Murry Fleming.

The funding he's referring to is $50 million from the government.  That money has been approved for the project, but not yet allocated.

There are also a countless number of environmental, air and water quality studies that need to be performed before any work is done.  But, officials say once those are completed, and the construction on the dams begins, the Arkansas will be well on its way to rehabilitation.

"It's pain-staking, but it's absolutely essential and it's important because we do want this to be a healthy river," said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith.

If the project remains on schedule, work on the dams is expected to begin in 2011, and they should be finished by 2014.