New Federal Funding Will Help Improve Tulsa Levee System

Thursday, January 14th 2021, 6:25 pm

TULSA, Okla. -

Many people who live along the Arkansas River are still recovering from 2019's historic flooding. State leaders said a new federal law will be critical in protecting communities in the future.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said this legislation will accelerate repairs to those areas damaged by flooding.

A year and a half ago, much of Green Country was drenched with historic rainfall and flooding.

Osage Sky News 6 video shows the intense strain on the levee system in west Tulsa and Sand Springs.

Thaddaeus Babb with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said state and local leaders pushed hard for improvements.

"The 2019 floods really put a spotlight on our system, and pointed out our strengths and weaknesses, and I think the Corps and everyone has come together and spoken loudly to formulate a better plan," Babb said.

One of the provisions in the America's Water Infrastructure Act will help authorize and finance the west Tulsa levee system project.

It also includes additional federal investment to allow projects to be completed faster.

It will also allow non-federal entities to be reimbursed for repairs for water-related projects -- and quickly -- in the case of another major flood.

"Any repairs along our system is going to reflect on our economy, by the more tonnage we can put on this river, and the more functional it is," Babb said.

ODOT said this will boost response times and access to resources and improve their partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during natural disasters.

"We greatly appreciate our partners at the federal level, and I feel the relationship is stronger than ever," Babb said.

The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River system will turn 50 years old this June.