16 Counties to Receive Emergency Funds for Critical Flood Control Dam RepairsFri, 15 Jan 2016 11:30:36 CST
Oklahoma’s rainiest year on record, 2015 left over 60 of Oklahoma’s flood control dams severely damaged. Following authorization by Governor Mary Fallin to transfer $1.8 million from the state emergency fund to qualify Oklahoma for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) emergency funds, 16 counties will receive critical repairs to their flood control dams.
Affected counties are: Atoka, Caddo, Carter, Coal, Custer, Garvin, Grady, Hughes, Kiowa, Latimer, Love, McClain, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Seminole and Stephens.
“Lives and property across the state depend on the safe function of these small flood control dams,” said Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) Executive Director Trey Lam. “Even during challenging budget years, we must make provisions to keep our citizens safe. We are grateful for Governor Fallin’s wise and prudent decision.”
In 2015, Oklahoma’s flood control dams collectively prevented $280 million in flood damages. By comparison, the average annual cost of maintaining them is $2 million. Major infrastructure such as Interstate-35 and regional population centers such as Seminole and Wilburton enjoy the protection and economic security they provide. Were the dams around Seminole to go unrepaired, for example, portions of US-270, OK-3E and OK-56 could be washed away during another major rainfall event.
“These small flood control dams act as a network,” said NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Water Resources Bill Porter. “Together, they can capture fast moving flood water over a wide area and slowly release it downstream. If dams begin to deteriorate, the pressures on downstream towns and infrastructure increase.”
In the case of Eufaula Lake and its surrounding communities, 297 small flood control dams capture flood water and sediment upstream before reaching the large Eufaula Dam. Many of these flood control dams are including in the upcoming emergency repairs.
“It’s important that we not lose sight of the larger operation, maintenance, and upgrade issues surrounded Oklahoma’s flood control dams,” said OCC Conservation Programs Division Director Tammy Sawatzky. “The emergency funds are for immediate repairs where lives may be in direct jeopardy. They do not alleviate the ongoing upkeep needs of all 2,107 flood control dams managed by conservation districts.”
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