Arkansas River Diverted For Inspections

Tuesday, February 20th 2007, 8:46 am
By: News On 6

Plans are now underway to repair the low water dam on the Arkansas River.
News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan reports a lot of people have noticed a dam being built in the river, and they've noticed an unusually fowl odor to go along with it.

The unusually low level of the river at 31st Street was enough to prompt a few people to stop and take a look. A huge sandbar crosses about half the river, to divert water from two gates on the dam. The gates leak and need repairs, but the only way to see the problem was to divert the water and dig out the debris piled up against the gates.

River Parks controls the gates on the dam, which is lowered occasionally to flush out sand, caught behind it.

“Those gates are about five feet tall so if they're down the water is five feet lower and that gives us some regulation of the pool behind the dam,” said River Parks Director Matt Meyer.

A temporary cofferdam was built out of sand last week to keep water away from the gates on the East Side. Keystone dam also shut off the river flow for a week, now it's back, which is why the river has looked foamy. The area between the cofferdam and the low water dam is about as low as it's ever been. Officials may have to pump it almost dry after the inspection is done for the repairs to begin.

PSO is helping pay for the work, because when the gates leak that's water they can't use to generate power.

“Then that water is going down the river without us getting to use it for its intended purposes, and for what we pay for it,” said Stan Whiteford with AEP/PSO.

When River Parks is ready to do the repairs they'll rebuild the temporary dam so they can get in there and do the work.

On Monday some people noticed a strong odor when part of the riverbed was exposed, that's gone now that the water is back up.