River Task Force Talks Longterm Funding, Storm Water System

Mar 27, 2014

Credit KWGS News

Tulsa's river task force is trying to figure out how to pay for ongoing maintenance a system of low-water dams would need.

A tax increment financing district was one proposal, but those are better for building projects than they are for funding upkeep. Economic Development Coordinator Jim Coles said a business improvement district may work.

"They allow for property owners to pay an assessment annually, which is collected up and then used to do common maintenance, upkeep things — maybe street sweeping or landscaping downtown," Coles said. "There could be something more along the lines of general maintenance to a dam."

Putting water in the Arkansas River also comes with a challenge for Tulsa's storm water system.

Many outlets for the distribution system that feeds into the river weren't designed to be underwater all the time, but they will be if low-water dams are built. City Engineer Paul Zachary said not preparing would cause big problems.

"That's the worst thing that can happen, is that pipe falling off, and then we end up with some type of a sinkhole form or something like that up the bank," Zachary said, adding that work needs to be done "all up and down" the river.

The county took an inventory of the system, but there's no estimate of the cost yet.

The task force is due to report to the mayor in about six weeks.