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Winter storm runoff adding years to Arizona reservoir supply

(Screenshot)

PHOENIX – The winter storms keep giving to Arizona’s water supply.

A utility company manager said Monday that snow melt in the White Mountains has been spilling down the Salt River and filling up Roosevelt Lake, where it adds to a two-year reserve for the Valley.

The lake, which is about 80 miles northeast of Phoenix, is one of four reservoirs on the river managed by the Salt River Project.

“With the increase in all the reservoirs, we’ve certainly got two to three more years of water supply,” Charlie Ester, manager with SRP, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

The power company also operates the dams on the lakes. Besides Roosevelt Dam and lake, SRP oversees Apache Lake’s Horse Mesa Dam, Canyon Lake’s Mormon Flat Dam and Saguaro Lake’s Stewart Mountain Dam.

Roosevelt Lake was at 65 percent capacity. On New Year’s Day it measured 47 percent.

Snow melt and rain from February has filled the reservoirs on the Verde River. Horseshoe Lake was at 97 percent capacity and Bartlett Lake was at 99 percent.

“Any more water that comes down the Verde, we’re going to have push it through the Valley,” Ester said.

That won’t be anything new. Verde River runoff from Granite Reef Diversion Dam and the lakes were released in early March.

Water swept through the normally placid Tempe Town Lake and collected in river bottom streets around the Valley.

“But the water that comes down the Salt we can store in Roosevelt Lake,” Ester said.

He added the Valley wasn’t in danger of running out of water before the input from the big storms.

“We were doing, actually, pretty well, for how far into the drought we’ve been,” Ester said.

The reservoirs were half full when the storms hit.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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