Could what happened at Oroville Dam happen in Arizona?

As hundreds of thousands of people are evacuated near Oroville Dam in California, amidst fears the Dam's emergency spillway could fail and result in a 30-foot wall of water to barrel down into the communities below the dam, there are fears the same catastrophe could happen in Arizona.

The short answer? It's extremely unlikely, as Arizona's dams have had upgrades, and have not had problems in recent years.

At the Horseshoe Dam northeast of Scottsdale, water released from the reservoir behind it has created a waterfall. Water is released from Horseshoe Lake because runoff from snow and rain up north has filled the lake almost to capacity. Water released from the lake will enter the Verde River system, and eventually into the Salt River.

"We are actually releasing 2,000 feet out of Bartlett [Lake], and 3,500 cubic feet per minute out of Horseshoe [Lake]," said Charlie Ester, a Surface Water Resources Manager for SRP. "Storing water in Bartlett and drawing Horseshoe down a bit."

The goal is to manage the increased levels of water, in an effort to prevent flooding. According to managers of the Salt River Project, dams in Arizona are structurally sound, and are under Federal supervision.

Meanwhile, the rush of water in the desert has become a tourist attraction.

"I think it is awesome," said Susan Allen. "I have lived here my whole life, and this is the first time I have been out here so I like it."

"It is majestic. I have never seen it in person," said Brent Allen. "It is really awesome. I would recommend everybody coming out to see it."

 


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