TEMPE, Ariz. -- More than two months after one of the rubber dam bladders at Tempe Town Lake burst, water is once again flowing into the lake bed.
The water started flowing through an opening in the north wall of the lake near the sandy Boat Beach at about 7 a.m. The city says the lake should reopen on Oct. 25, ahead of the promised Nov. 1 date.
The lake has been empty since that bladder burst on July 20, sending millions of gallons of water downstream. Crews have been hard at work since then to install new dam bladders. Three of those installations are complete. A cofferdam is holding the place of the fourth bladder, which is expected to arrive later this month. That cofferdam will allow water to be pumped out of the construction area so crews can do the necessary work on that final bladder without completely draining the lake; it will be removed once the last bladder is installed.
“Town Lake has become our community gathering place and, when it emptied on July 20, there was an outpouring of public interest,” said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman in a news release. “Thousands of people came to look at the empty lake. They had to see for themselves what happened. Now they have an opportunity to watch it fill – some for the second time.”
It will take nearly 1 billion gallons of water to fill the lake. That water is coming from Roosevelt Lake.
All along Tempe officials have said that the lake would be open in time for Ford Ironman Arizona, which is one of Tempe's biggest annual events. While the city is keeping that promise, there is still much work to be done.
The dam eventually will be shaded by a new pedestrian bridge that will span Town Lake from the south bank at Tempe Center for the Arts to the north shore. That bridge will be equipped with a sprinkler system designed to cool the dam. It's expected to be finished in May.
With the shade and the sprinkler system, experts say the news dam bladders will last at least five years.
A report released a couple of weeks ago confirmed what many already knew -- heat and sun exposures caused the bladder to burst.