Funding for Tulsa Levees Project

WASHINGTON U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has provided full funding for the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levees Project. The Army Corps released the work plans to fund multiple projects in Oklahoma. Link here.

“After years and years of work, I am incredibly proud to announce that the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levees Project is fully funded,” Inhofe said. “With this funding from the Army Corps, we can finish modernizing and upgrading the levees from the unacceptable version we began with to levees that will protect our children and our children’s children. This has been a priority of mine for as long as I can remember and I am grateful for the tireless work of Army Corps Chief of Engineers Lt. General Spellmon, his predecessor Lt. General Semonite, as well as Brig. Gen. Beck, Col. Preston and their staff.

I also want to thank District 2 Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith and District 12 Levee Commissioner Todd Kilpatrick for their years of work—they have been in the trenches with me on this for more than a decade. This is a very good day to be a Tulsan.”

“I couldn’t believe the amazing news that, after years in the making, the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levees project is fully funded,” District 12 Levee Commissioner Todd Kilpatrick said. “Inhofe has spent years working alongside us to make this project a reality and I will not soon forget his efforts. By prioritizing the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levees and remembering what is important to Oklahoma, we have made sure Tulsans are safe from floods for many years into the future.”

“I’m pinching myself….Senator Inhofe has been our lead advocate to rebuild the levees,” District 2 Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith said. “He called last night to let me know that our project is fully funded by the Corps. I was speechless for the first time in my life. I’m grateful for his tireless efforts to fix this life safety issue for our region. We all know the fragility of the levee after the Flood in 2019. An heroic effort by the Corps,  the Levee District, the National Guard and local law enforcement kept it intact. The Citizens of Tulsa County have benefited on numerous occasions by Senator Inhofe’s work to bring infrastructure dollars to Tulsa.  My heartfelt thanks go to the Senator and his talented staff.

“Today’s announcement of full federal funding for the Tulsa and West-Tulsa Levees project is terrific news,” Executive Director of INCOG Rich Brierre said. “The importance of implementing critically needed measures to improve the resiliency of the levee system to reduce life safety risks and potential property damage from flooding cannot be overstated as the levees protect thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses employing thousands of workers.  The fragility of the existing levees was sorely tested in the 2019 Arkansas River flooding. The improvements now funded and a step closer to implementation will modernize the levees to assure continued protection for decades to come.  Senator Inhofe’s tireless leadership in securing an approved Feasibility Study in record time, and now full funding for the US Army Corps of Engineers is highly commendable and greatly appreciated.”

“I want to thank Senator Inhofe and our entire delegation for making this a priority following the historic flooding in our city,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “In 2019, our levee system was on the verge of collapsing, but with this funding, our levee system will be fully functional and help protect our residents and community from the potential of flooding for generations to come.”

Phases of Approval for U.S. Army Corps Projects:

  1. Authorization for a feasibility study. On December 9, 2016, the Senate authored S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which passed with a strong bipartisan vote of 78-21 and included a number of provisions integral to Oklahoma. Sen. Inhofe included a provision in the WIIN Act that required the Corps to complete the feasibility study after inspections revealed that the Tulsa levees, originally built in the 1940s, were not compliant with federal standards.
  2. Funding for the feasibility study. On July 5, 2018, Inhofe announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted his request to fully fund the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levee system project through supplemental appropriations for disaster relief and recovery funding. By including the feasibility study in the emergency supplemental, the Tulsa levees project can actually move forward faster than if it had been included in the annual work plan.
  3. Feasibility study released for public comment. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tulsa-West Tulsa Levees Integrated Feasibly Study Report and Environmental Assessment was released on September 16, 2019, for a 33-day comment period. Inhofe praised the release of the study here. On October 21, 2019, Inhofe submitted a comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the feasibility study for the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levee system.
  4. Chief’s Report is considered. At the conclusion of the public comment period, the study is submitted to the Chief of Engineers (Lt. Gen. Semonite) for the U.S. Army Corps for his approval. Inhofe sent a letter urging the swift consideration of the Report.
  5. Chief’s Report is signed. On April 23, 2020, Inhofe announced that Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite signed the Chief’s Report for the Tulsa-West Tulsa Levees project. Sen. Inhofe pushed to provide the funding for the Chief’s Report under supplemental appropriations in 2018, and because of this, the Corps had the flexibility to immediately begin funding preconstruction phases with existing funding.
  6. Chief’s Report authorized by Congress. On December 22, 2020, the Senate passed the year-end appropriations bill, which included the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 with numerous provisions integral to Oklahoma. Sen. Inhofe included the authorization of the Tulsa and West-Tulsa Levees project and formalized that the non-federal cost share for this project be financed over a 30 year period.
  7. Today, Inhofe announced that the Chief’s Report was fully funded. The Army Corps released the spend plans of supplemental funding provided by Congress in two recently enacted laws. In this spend plan, the Army Corps has committed funding to construct the full cost of the Tulsa and West-Tulsa Levees project ($137 million).

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