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Daily Independent

SRP water release forces road closures in East Valley, Phoenix



Gilbert Road at the Salt River is the latest to close because of the release of water from Bartlett Dam, officials said.

The Maricopa County Department of Transportation said it has closed until further notice Gilbert Road at the Salt River between Thomas Road and State Route 87.

MCDOT officials’ recommended detour to get to SR 87, also known as the Beeline Highway, is about 6 miles west at Country Club Drive.

McKellips Road, 67 th Avenue and 91 st Avenue at the Salt River and El Mirage Road at the Gila River also are closed by the Salt River Project’s release of water.

Construction of the Gilbert Road Bridge at the Salt River will adjust for the closure and take place at areas not affected by the water flow, MCDOT officials said.

Authorities warn motorists to stay out of closed roadways and washes.

Earlier this month, SRP officials said while releases are expected to be maintained at a low level, the water will eventually be visible flowing through the normally dry Salt River.

"SRP monitors the watershed and reservoir system year-round to ensure a reliable supply for the Valley," said Charlie Ester, manager of SRP water management.

"This winter has proven to be a productive year for the watershed, which is good news as SRP is able to store the water for future years."

Unlike the Colorado River system, which is facing severe shortages due to the drought “and a structural deficit where annual demand exceeds annual runoff, the Salt and Verde reservoir systems are nearly in balance where annual demand is close to the annual supply,” the SRP release stated.

“However, in wet years runoff can exceed the available capacity of the reservoir system.”

SRP officials said the utility will provide water to cities and irrigation districts that take deliveries from its system.

Additionally, they said, the water SRP is releasing will flow downstream in the Salt River and recharge the aquifer, which helps Valley cities and water providers.

Recent SRP surveys have determined that snowpack on the 13,000-square-mile watershed that replenishes the Verde River reservoirs is the second deepest it’s been in 30 years.

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