House Approves $50 Million Funding to Repair Arkansas River Levees

May 28, 2024
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A measure dedicating $50 million toward modifications and upgrades along the Arkansas River passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Tuesday.

House Bill 2890 appropriates $50 million from the Progressing Rural Economic Prosperity (PREP) Fund to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The monies would be used for upgrades to the levees along the Arkansas River and feeder waterways in Northeast Oklahoma.

The measure was presented on the House floor by Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, who has worked on numerous pieces of legislation related to hazard mitigation.

"The passage of House Bill 2890 marks a crucial step toward safeguarding our communities and assets from potential flood risks," Sims said. "By investing in these much-needed upgrades to the Arkansas River levees, we are not only protecting the lives and property of thousands of Oklahomans but also ensuring that we don't miss out on significant federal funds to enhance our infrastructure. This proactive approach is essential for the long-term safety and prosperity of Northeast Oklahoma."

Sims has said previously that action was needed immediately to capitalize on a $137.4 million in federal matching funds to repair the levees along the Arkansas River in Tulsa County. The levee system has been ranked in the top 5% most at risk for failure by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It's estimated that approximately 10,000 people and over $2 billion in assets are protected by the Arkansas River levees.

HB2890 passed the Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget on Monday. Sims said presenting the measure on Memorial Day held a special significance as Oklahomans remembered the 40th anniversary of the 1984 Mingo Creek flood, which killed 14 people and caused over $180 million worth of property damage. 

HB2890 passed the House 87-0 and now moves to the Senate for consideration. It would take effect on July 1 at the start of Fiscal Year 2025.

Oklahoma House of Representatives seal