I believe any plan for changes in the Arkansas River corridor at Tulsa needs to be managed through a comprehensive river management plan, recognizing that this 1,450-mile river drains 168,000 square miles, that control structures at Tulsa are 50 to 70 years old and have finite capacity, and that the river and its tributary floodplains are a single interacting system so that changes in one place have corresponding effects elsewhere.
River development plans need to recognize the potential for catastrophic damage that can occur when heavy rains upstream of Tulsa (possibly hurricane-driven) exceed the control capacity of Keystone Dam and the levee system that is in great need of repair (now rated in the bottom 5% of the most dangerous levee systems in the nation).
Some experts suspect the levees now may not withstand a flood of the magnitude that occurred in 1986, which would also flood the new developments that have been built along the river floodplain since the 1986 flood. Far larger floods are possible along this corridor and need to be accounted for in planning, because they could pose great danger to thousands of people and cause catastrophic damage to property and the environment.
Any responsible plan for river development needs to include, at a minimum, funding for levee repairs, protection of those who live and work and travel behind the levee, adequate funding for operation and maintenance, an updated floodplain management program, and a comprehensive river management plan that recognizes the current and future needs for river and floodplain management.
Thank you, Ann Patton,
A River Runs Through it