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Water Treatment - History

Beginning in 1904, the Newblock pumping station drew water from the Arkansas River and distributed the untreated water to Tulsa homes and businesses. This pumping station was located in what is now Newblock Park. The water was salty and full of silt as well as gypsum.

(One of the tributaries of the Arkansas River is the Salt Fork, which flows across north central Oklahoma to join the Arkansas at the eastern border of Kay County. This north-central Oklahoma region is famous for the Great Salt Plains Wildlife Refuge as well as the gypsum rock layers that formed Alabaster Caverns.)

As Tulsa grew, city founders realized that this river water was unacceptable. They needed a new source for water if the city was to grow. The City purchased land near the city of Spavinaw, where Spavinaw Creek flowed. In the early Twenties, they built a five-story dam to create a reservoir. Engineers constructed a 50-mile long pipeline to carry the water to Tulsa's new Mohawk Water Treatment Plant.

Briefly, the Mohawk Plant was expanded and then completely refurbished in the 1990s. The plant has the capability of treating 100 million gallons of water per day.

As the population of Tulsa continued to grow, the city purchased the water rights to a new Corps of Engineers Lake, Lake Oologah, northeast of Tulsa. They built a second treatment plant, the A.B. Jewell Water Treatment Plant, in 1971. Water from Lake Oologah travels to the A.B. Jewell Plant through a flow line. This plant can treat 120 million gallons of water per day.

Tulsa's water supply is more than adequate to meet today's needs. Our current facilities can treat up to 220 million gallons per day. Maximum historical use is about 209.03 million gallons per day, on July 16, 2011.