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Officials Hold Groundbreaking for Zink Dam Overhaul to Finally Hold Water in the Arkansas River

Matt Trotter

Water in the river.

It’s been a Tulsa idea since 1964, and it was still a major theme in community forums held by then-Mayor Bill LaFortune in 2002 to gauge what citizens wanted the city to invest in most.

"Here’s what they concluded, and I quote: 'It's the river, stupid,'" said Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith.

With water in the river thanks to overnight storms dropping more than 2 inches of rain, city and county officials held a groundbreaking Thursday for Zink Dam. The Vision Tulsa package included $48 million to pay for a total overhaul of the dam, which will create a lake 8 to 10 feet deep from roughly 31st Street to I-244.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said a usable body of water has been his goal since he was elected to the city council in 2008.

"Really, since Keystone Dam was built, Tulsans have only very rarely been able to actually get out on this lake and utilize this river corridor, and now, moving forward, they’ll be able to," Bynum said.

The new Zink Dam will offer more control in flood conditions and includes a recreational flume for kayaking and other water sports. Gordy Guest with the Tulsa Regional Chamber said the Vision Tulsa sales tax–funded project holds a lot of potential for the area’s future.

"I think this is going to work for our region like the BOK worked out of the first Vision package. It’s going to be that kind of a tool," Guest said.

Work will take a little under two and a half years.

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.
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