SRP releasing water from reservoir to make room for anticipated runoff

As of Mar. 3, Salt River Project's watershed is 86% full.

SRP's watershed gets water from the mountains in Northern Arizona and Eastern Arizona, and with all the rain and snow, SRP officials have started to release water from one of its reservoirs, in order to make room for even more water from the anticipated runoff.

At the end of February, a snowpack survey by the SRP measured nearly 50 inches of accumulated snow, the second largest snowpack in the last 30 years. When it melts, the snow will turn into runoff, and eventually make its way into the Salt and Verde Rivers.

"There’s over a million acre feet of water that’s going to start melting in the next few months," said SRP Hydrologist Stephen Flora.

SRP officials are releasing water from the Bartlett Reservoir, as they expect to have a water surplus for 2023, and needs to make more space in its system.

"Right now, the concern is on the Verde System," said Flora. "Horseshoe and Bartlett, they’re smaller reservoirs. They’re about just over 80% now, but we expect they’re going to start reach capacity. That’s why we’re doing these releases now to start slowly moving that water out."

The last time Granite Reef Dam, the lowest dam in the system, released water was in 2019. The runoff flooded roads in the East Valley that cross the Salt River. Officials with the Maricopa County Department of Transportation say they are monitoring water releases, and will close East Valley roads when necessary for public safety.

"In our system, we have years like this that help refill our system, to help get us through those dry years," said Flora. "That doesn’t happen on the Colorado."

Officials expect runoff water can be seen in the Valley in a couple of weeks.

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