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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Flood Control Dams Save Millions of Dollars During Recent Rains

Thu, 06 Jun 2013 11:00:11 CDT

Oklahoma Flood Control Dams Save Millions of Dollars During Recent Rains
Oklahoma City-The heavy rains that hit our state over the period of May 29 to June 2 have once again shown the importance of Oklahoma's 2100 plus upstream flood control dams, said Kim Farber, president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. Without this flood control protection system, Farber said nearly $12 million in additional flood damage would have taken place in our state.

"These huge rain events again show the benefit our state receives every year from our flood control structures," Farber said. "Oklahoma has more flood control dams built under the USDA watershed program than any other state in the union, dams that according to economists at the Natural Resources Conservation Service provided an additional $11.79 million in savings during these last storm events. Once again our flood control system has proven its worth."

Designed to stop the dangerous flash floods, Farber said that these dams, in both rural and urban settings, have for over 50 years protected Oklahomans from the ravages of out of control water, saving countless lives and billions of dollars.

"Each year the state of Oklahoma is saved over $85 million in damage that doesn't happen because these dams are in place," Farber said. "We should be proud of this vital piece of public infrastructure that does so much to protect our state. Often we don't think about the benefit these dams provide. Its storm events like this one that bring the benefit of the flood control program into focus and help remind us of the need to keep this system in good repair."

While the system works as designed, Farber said that over 1,000 of these flood control dams will be past their design life in the next 2 years and will be in need of rehabilitation. In addition, over $25 million in operation and maintenance needs are on hold due to funding levels at the State Conservation Commission. Another 300 dams have been designated for construction in Oklahoma but lack funding and many homes and business have been built in areas of high flooding or in the breach inundation area below dams. According to Farber, all this adds up to a need for a continued focus on flood control work in Oklahoma.

"The governor and the legislature have shown leadership and foresight in past on the issue of flood control in Oklahoma," Farber said. "Whether it's providing funding for dam repair, operation and maintenance on existing dams, new dam construction, or providing funding for flood proofing homes and families in harm's way, our state government has been a national leader on this issue. We can't lose focus on this problem however. During the drought of the last two years, it's been easy to forget that extreme weather swings can happen at any time in Oklahoma. These recent rain events should serve as a reminder that we can't turn our back on flood protection."



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