Valley will get some of the runoff from SRP low-level Bartlett Dam water release
Mar 2, 2023, 2:15 PM
PHOENIX – As the wet Arizona winter nears an end, public utility Salt River Project said Thursday it has begun low-level water releases from a reservoir northeast of Phoenix to make room for snowmelt runoff.
Release water from the Verde River’s Bartlett Dam, about 50 miles northeast of Phoenix, makes it way down the Salt River and historically pools in Mesa on McKellips Road near Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway and Alma School Road.
SRP said the roadway will be closed within the next week likely for the rest of the month, depending on water amounts.
There hadn’t been a water release since 2019.
After a team checked snow levels earlier this week, SRP projected the Bartlett and Horseshoe lakes reservoirs would be full by spring and decided to jettison some water into the reservoir.
“It’s hard to determine at this point, how much water will be released,” SRP spokeswoman Patti Likens told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “It really depends on the weather from here on out. It’s the warm storms that cause much more snow to melt.
“We have to monitor that very closely: What are the forecasts, what does the snowmelt look like up there?”
The cold weather so far has been helpful.
“Normally, we would be delivering that water through our canal system, but we need to make room on the Verde side, in particular,” she said.
The company is looking at ways to increase storage capacity for the Verde River system over the next decade.
“If you look at the Verde and the Salt side of our reservoir system, what you will see is that the Salt side holds the majority of the water for us and our 2½ million customers in the Valley.”
Horseshoe Dam and Reservoir on the Verde River has seen decreased capacity because of sedimentation.
SRP is working with tribal, agricultural and municipal organizations on a solution in support of the Bureau of Reclamation feasibility study.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nick Sadowski contributed to this report.