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

Aug 13, 2020

City and county officials held a groundbreaking Thursday for a publicly funded overhaul of Zink Dam. The new structure will create a lake for recreation.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

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.