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Final drainage of Tempe Town Lake complete ahead of dam construction

PHOENIX — Tempe Town Lake is one step closer to reaching the finish line on its latest project: The lake was drained completely on Saturday, according to city officials.

The draining was done in order to construct a new hydraulically-operated steel and concrete dam on the west end of the lake, replacing an old inflatable rubber dam system.

The new dam will use eight steel gates mounted on a “roller-compacted concrete foundation” about 100 feet from the existing dam, according to the city.

Using hydraulic lifts, these gates can be lowered to allow storm waters to pass through and raised to capture the tail end of the flow to re-establish the lake. About two feet of water can pass over the top of the gates while they are in the fully-upright position.

According to the city’s website, the dam will be the largest “hydraulically-operated steel gate dam system” in the nation when it is complete.

City officials said the lake will be safe for water activity by the end of April.

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