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Zink Dam and Zink Lake

Opening Labor Day Weekend 2024 | Learn more! 


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About Zink Dam & Zink Lake
Replacing the old Zink Dam with a new one, Tulsans will soon get a chance to experience Zink Lake - a voter-approved $48 million amenity that will revolutionize the way people experience the Arkansas River near Gathering Place. 

For decades, Tulsans had no safe access to the Arkansas River near the old pedestrian bridge, which in recent years fell into a state of disrepair. The old Zink Dam, which was located near the old pedestrian bridge, was constructed in 1982, with its gates becoming inoperable over time. For this reason, and with an opportunity to create a dam that would allow for recreational opportunities in the Arkansas River, the decision was made to create a new Zink Dam that paved the way for Zink Lake. 

Following voter approval, the construction of Zink Dam and Zink Lake commenced in October 2020. Set to open concurrently, Zink Lake will open alongside the new pedestrian bridge, Williams Crossing (learn more), that was also approved by voters through the Vision Tulsa sales tax package. More information on Williams Crossing can be found online

CH2MHill is the engineering design consultant for the project and Crossland Construction is the contractor. 


 


News & Information


Background 


Public Meetings & Presentations


Frequently Asked Questions


While construction of Zink Dam is complete, fine-tuning of the flume will continue to take place until Zink Lake opens. 

Zink Lake will open Labor Day Weekend 2024, which will coincide with the opening of the new pedestrian bridge, Williams Crossing.

The total project cost is $48 million. The construction of Zink Dam and Zink Lake was approved by Tulsa voters through the Vision Tulsa sales tax package.

The new dam will have significant structural changes that include added gates, a stairstep design and work to reduce a dangerous undertow. The pool depth will be increased to 10 feet. The project also will include a 1,050-foot-long recreational flume along the east bank of the river south of the new pedestrian bridge. The flume will have seven drops or pools where visitors can access the water. Another important part of this project is stabilization of the east bank of the Arkansas River near Gathering Place. Ultimately, Zink Dam will provide the infrastructure for the creation of Zink Lake, which will be approximately 2.5 miles long.

Unlike the old Zink Dam which had limited access to the waterfront, the new Zink Dam will provide visitors the opportunity to be right next to the water in Zink Lake. There will be designed plazas and walkways so people using River Parks trails can easily access those amenities.

The lake’s programming and operations are subject to an operations agreement with River Parks Authority. It is expected that recreational opportunities will include non-motorized watercraft like canoes, kayaks, etc. 

The City of Tulsa has released a water quality dashboard in coordination with its third party contractors, AquaStrategies and A&M Engineering. Testing protocols and methodologies are being used to develop a stormwater quality plan for the lake. Visitors can use these findings to make decisions about their participation in water activities. 

Additionally, on-site communication methods are being discussed (i.e. flagging, signs, lights, etc.). More information will be made available when these methods are finalized before the lake opens. 

Yes. Additional water testing outside of what is already tested in the Arkansas River is occurring in Zink Lake as part of the water testing protocols in place. 

Parameters being tested for at multiple sites include pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, electrical conductivity, E. coli, Dissolved Cadmium, and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons. 

Parameters displayed on the water quality dashboard include pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, electrical conductivity and E. Coli. 

The water quality dashboard uses E. coli as a means to display potential health risks associated with its presence. E. coli is a standard indicator that has reliable and consistent laboratory results. 

Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and Cadmium are also parameters we are testing. Though these parameters are mainly used for drinking water standards, which is not what Zink Lake is used for, we are continuing to test for these parameters as we investigate and map their current trend. 

Outside of the testing of Zink Lake, other water testing already occurs in the Arkansas River as part of the City’s stormwater quality permit through sampling. Sampling takes place at the point the water enters Tulsa near 81st West Avenue in West Tulsa and near Harmony Bridge (Bixby Bridge). Samples are conducted monthly and measure bacteria, as well as other parameters, at a specific point in the river at a specific point in time.

Water sampling results in the Arkansas River have met and exceeded State water quality standards. Bacteria levels seen are consistent with statewide assessments on other water bodies.  

Results from new testing that started in early 2024 were released publicly during the February 27 public meeting. The dashboard can be viewed at the top of this page. 

In addition to developing a regular testing protocol and reporting methodologies for that testing, Zink's recreational flume will have portable aerators available to help circulate water when needed, in addition to potable water systems (three hydrants) used for washing down rocks, etc. when needed. 

  • If Zink Lake is at or above a water surface elevation of 615.5 feet, then water can flow through the flume at up to 500 cubic feet per second (cfs). When the flume gates are fully raised (in the closed position), they are designed to still allow approximately 1 to 5 cfs of water flow into the flume to maintain dissolved oxygen levels.
  • If Zink Lake is at or below water a surface elevation of 615.5 feet, then the water surface elevation is below the level of the flume and no water can flow from the lake through the flume. In these conditions, portable surface aerators may be installed for each pool within the flume. 
  • If there is a power failure or other constraint to aeration-pumping equipment, then hydrants located along the flume can be used to add water into the upper pool, which will cascade down into lower pools. 
  • Should water quality testing indicate unsafe conditions, the flume will be closed for recreation.
  • In all cases, potable water will require the removal of chloramines in the pools to protect aquatic life.

The new Zink Dam will also greatly improve water flow along the Arkansas River when compared to the old dam – another reason for improved water quality. The old dam had only three 50-foot gates, which comprised about 12.5 percent of the width of the river. Because the gates at the deepest points didn’t reach the bottom, stagnant water below those gates oftentimes never was given the ability to be flushed out and aerated, resulting in fish kills and decreased water quality. The new Zink Dam will have more than 50 percent of the width of the river covered with gates to allow water flow, with a third of those gates having the ability to lay all the way down.

Another measure to improve water quality is work being done with H.F. Sinclair, an energy company with operations just west of the Arkansas River. H.F. Sinclair is currently working to comply with ODEQ requirements ahead of the opening of Zink Lake. The company is spending $10-15 million to comply with those requirements through various measures, one of which includes the installation of a containment cap.

The City of Tulsa remains in regular communications surrounding municipalities and ODEQ on best water quality practices in the Arkansas River.

Some of the best water quality practices that cities use are through maintaining stormwater quality permits. Maintaining these permits helps municipalities improve water quality throughout the city. Though the City of Tulsa already has practices in place to meet its current stormwater quality permit, it is gearing up to receive and comply with a new stormwater quality discharge permit. That new permit will prescribe additional water sampling, not only in Tulsa’s feeder streams, but also in the Arkansas River – an effort that will be used to improve water quality in Zink Lake.

The City of Tulsa also has a Stormwater Education Program that it uses to educate the public and industrial owners and/or operators on their responsibility to reduce the pollution in stormwater runoff. More information on that program and stormwater quality in Tulsa can be found online