Tempe Town Lake closed due to overflowing watersheds

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TEMPE -- City officials say they're going to close Tempe Town Lake later this morning in the wake of a huge winter storm that's been pounding Arizona since yesterday.

Tons of water is flowing down to the Valley from the north, which has prompted Salt River Project to release excess water from its two reservoirs on the Verde River to create additional storage space. While the water is flowing fast and furious, the lake is not yet at capacity.

SRP officials said there's no concern about any possible flooding. Once the water flow picks up to maximum, which is expected by Saturday night, the river will only be at about 25 percent of its capacity.

The water release means several roads, including McKellips where it crosses the river bed, will be closing as water flows into the once-dry Salt River. Some of those closures will likely remain in place through the spring.

This is the third time in three years that water has been released from the reservoirs. The SRP system was already about 73 percent capacity before yesterday's storm pounded Arizona. With the unprecedented amount of precipitation the storm is generating, SRP said it will reach capacity fairly quickly.

"The kinds of flows we're going to be experiences,we haven't seen anything even similar to this since 1993," said Nancy Regan, Rio Salado Project Manager.