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Conservation Officials Tell Lawmakers to Invest in Oklahoma's Flood-Control Dams

Oklahoma Conservation Commission

Oklahoma has 2,107 flood-control dams across the state, and officials are urging lawmakers to put money into maintaining them.

Oklahoma Conservation Commission Director Trey Lam used a Grady County dam with a cut through it as an example.

"They’re 50 years old. We can make this repair, which is put a new pipe through there where it won’t erode anymore, make that repair in the dam, and we can make these dams last another 50 years. They’ve already reached their engineering life, but they still have a lot of life in them if we just take care of them," Lam said.

Lam said without the state’s system of flood control dams, there could have been significantly more damage from late May flooding in eastern Oklahoma.

"If we hadn’t had these 2,107 flood-control dams, there would have been $33 million in damage that would have occurred. For the state, there would have been $85 million across the state if all of those dams hadn’t been working in concert," Lam said.

The total cost of late May flooding in the state is yet to be determined, but it will likely be more than $1 billion.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.