Flood prevention work is among the main projects included in Tulsa, Okla.’s proposed $917.8 million capital improvements package.
The plan that goes to voters on Nov. 12 includes $3.4 million to assess and begin repair of the Drainage District 12 Levee, the Tulsa World reported.
“It is basically going to evaluate the levee system’s strengths and weaknesses and begin the process of updating the pump stations,” said Todd Kilpatrick, levee commissioner for Drainage District 12.
The drainage district stretches 21 miles from Sand Springs to west Tulsa. In 2008, it received an “unacceptable” rating from the Army Corps of Engineers, indicating that the levee has one or more deficiencies that could prevent it from functioning as designed.
Kilpatrick said the 70-year-old levee received the rating because of its old infrastructure. He said the relief wells do not have the capacity to handle a high-water event.
The rating did not mean the levee is unsafe, but it did leave the levee district ineligible for federal rehabilitation assistance should the levee be damaged in a flood or significant storm.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced in 2011 that the district had been accepted into the System-Wide Improvement Framework program, which allowed the levee district to again receive federal rehabilitation assistance. However, continued eligibility is contingent upon the district’s ability to bring the levees into full compliance with Corps standards.
County officials say the work funded with the $3.4 million would ensure that the levee district stays in compliance with the SWIF program requirements.
“It is going to show the commitment at the local level, to show that we are taking the problem seriously,” Kilpatrick said.
The levee system has seven pump stations and approximately 1,800 relief wells. Replacing all 1,800 relief wells and updating the pump stations could take more than $24 million, Kilpatrick said.
Advances in technology will likely mean that the levee system will need fewer than 1,800 relief wells when the repairs are done, he said.
The $3.4 million “will help identify where they are needed and where they are not needed,” he said.
Drainage District 12 was the first levee owner in the southwest U.S. and the second in the country to initiate levee repairs under the new SWIF program.
The problems in District 12 had been cited before 2008 but were deemed unacceptable in the Corps’ report in part because of modified maintenance standards that grew out of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.