Low-Water Dams


Allocation: $5,600,000.00
Status: In Progress

Summary Update:

The success of Zink Lake in Tulsa inspired this proposal for more in-river, low water dam (LWD) sites on the Arkansas River.  The Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan (INCOG, 2005) would be the basis for locating two high-priority dam locations to be partially funded by Vision 2025 funds.  Vision 2025 funds were used to further the refinement of the LWD design concepts, conduct environmental studies, and prepare federal permit applications and supporting studies.  Environmental data collection and technical studies were completed in 2009 in a cooperative, cost-share program with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  The USACE completed the Arkansas River Corridor Ecosystem Restoration Plan that recommended the construction of the Sand Springs LWD and the South Tulsa/Jenks LWD, and identified the potential impacts and improvements that these projects would have on the Arkansas River in Tulsa County.  It determined the improvements were feasible and of federal interest to implement.

With federal appropriations not yet approved, Tulsa County forged on with Vision 2025 funds to start the federal permitting process for Zink Dam improvements (funded separately) and do environmental and engineering studies for the Sand Springs, South Tulsa/Jenks and Bixby LWD locations.  These studies were the basis of the 2016 Vision Tulsa sales tax extension that will fund the design and construction of the South Tulsa/Jenks LWD.  These studies were also used by the USACE to perform the Arkansas River Corridor Feasibility Study, released in 2018.  It identified that the Sand Springs LWD, along with recommended improvements, would provide significant environmental benefits to the ecosystem and the ability to improve the flow regime of the river.

The initial permitting project for the federal Section 404 permit for the South Tulsa/Jenks LWD was submitted to the USACE in 2015, funded by Vision 2025.  After an extensive and thoughtful process, the USACE issued the final Section 404 permit in mid-2020.

The next phase of the USACE Arkansas River Corridor project, Pre-construction Engineering and Design (PED), began in mid-2019 and is projected to take 5 years to complete, depending on receipt of federal appropriations.  The USACE received limited funding to perform a detailed Cultural Resources study, which was completed in late Fall 2021.  Most recently the USACE has received an appropriation of about $1.39 million to continue design on the Sand Springs LWD and related components, with encumbered V2025 funds providing the local match.


The Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan identified Sand Springs, Jenks/South Tulsa and Bixby as the three possible low-water dam locations to be initiated with Vision 2025 funds. Further studies and data resulted in the Arkansas River Corridor Ecosystem Restoration Plan’s recommendation to construct the Sand Springs and South Tulsa/Jenks LWDs.

The Sand Springs Low-Water Dam, to be located downstream of the SH97 bridge, will form a river-lake about 5 miles long, and the Jenks/South Tulsa Low-Water Dam will be located downstream of the Creek Turnpike bridge and will form a river-lake approximately 2.5 miles long.  Zink Lake, after modifications to Zink Dam are complete, will be approximately 2.5 miles long. These low-water dams will enhance the Tulsa area’s most visible physical asset by creating a series of urban lakes within the river channel with more consistent water levels. Vision 2025 funds will be used to match state and federal funds needed for project design, permitting and construction.

See also: