Sims Passes Arkansas River Levee Support through House Appropriations & Budget Committee

Saturday, 13 April 2024 06:53

Sims Passes Arkansas River Levee Support through House Appropriations & Budget Committee Featured

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations & Budget Committee has approved legislation aimed at bolstering the Arkansas River Levees through the establishment of a revolving fund managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Senate Bill 1391, carried in the House by Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, paves the way for the creation of the Arkansas River Levee Improvement Revolving Fund under the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. If signed into law, the $50 million fund would be used to improve the 20 miles of levees along the Arkansas River. 

Levees, which are used to prevent the overflow of rivers, play an important role in maintaining safety infrastructure and protecting homes, businesses, and people. 

Sims said prompt action is needed to capture the $137.4 million in federal matching funds to repair and replace the levees along the Arkansas River in Tulsa County, which have been ranked in the top 5% most at risk for failure in the United States by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"To quote one of my favorite movies, Apollo 13, 'failure is not an option,'" Sims said. "We have to capitalize on the opportunity now to repair and replace this critical infrastructure that is well beyond its engineering design life."

An estimated 10,000 people and over $2 billion in assets are protected by these levees.

"To put that in perspective, 87% of Oklahoma towns are less than 5,000 in population," Sims said. "So failure could very well be the equivalent of wiping two Oklahoma towns completely off the map."

SB1391 passed the House Appropriations & Budget Committee 34-0. The bill, which was authored in the Senate by Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa, is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.

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