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Tempe Town Lake’s water breaks
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Vex Harrow
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Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 400
Location: Tempe, AZ

PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:01 pm    Post subject: Tempe Town Lake’s water breaks Reply with quote

From the looks of it, the Fake Lake aka Tempe Town Toilet will be closed into mid fall as repairs are made to the 16’ section of rubberized dam that failed last night around 10pm. The flash flood down the normally dry Salt River bed must have really confused a lot of people! However, it seems like an inevitable thing to have happened.

I’ve never been a fan of the fake lake from its inception to its current status as dirty sapphire looking pool. However, it’s become such a fixture of the landscape—and one of the boundaries to Mill Ave—that I’ve come to accept it as it is. A type of natural disaster held in place to raise property prices while making a giggling mockery of our desert ecosystem. The river itself, of course, had been changed by the installation of Hoover dam (far, far up river) and it used to be Hayden’s Ford and the location of Hayden’s Ferry.

I really think that having an actual river there would be far less contemptible than a man-made lake.

From AP:
"All of a sudden, we heard this ka-boom and the ground started shaking," said 13-year-old Lukas Henderson, who was biking on the northside of the lake with his sister and father.
Witnesses said the dry Salt River filled as far as the eye could see within seconds, and small animals could seen scrambling away from the floodwaters.
Warning sirens began wailing within minutes, and officers rushed along the riverbed to warn anyone — particularly transients known to camp on the river bottom during the summer — of the approaching water.

I will be checking in with my transient friends on Mill Ave as soon as possible to make sure everyone is okay. Not many still sleep or frolic along the river bed; so I don’t expect many of them would have been affected by the flash flood from the failure.

It seems fortunate that it’s not foul play, because, really, if someone damages the dam they only hurt Tempe. Even if we think it’s an eyesore that shouldn’t have been built in the first place, it still has gained a lot of function in the years it’s existed. The Tempe government has done a great deal of work attempting to leverage it and, while they apparently didn’t budget a maintenance routine that fit the wear-and-tear, this is the first actual disaster to befall the lake. It would be uncharitable to blame them for not predicting it.

Still, we have this from the Arizona Central article:
In April 2009, Tempe officials said they intended to ignore a safety recommendation from the makers of Town Lake's rubber dams because sufficient safeguards already were in place to prevent the dams from deflating.
Kris Baxter, a spokeswoman for Tempe, said the city believed that Bridgestone's main concern was that boats on Town Lake could get near the dam and puncture it. The city responded to the concern by stringing a line of buoys across the lake to prevent boats from getting close to the dam.


Although, whoops! I still say it would be uncharitable to place too much blame, this is a high profile project, it’s one-of-a-kind—especially for Arizona—and a lot could go wrong. The worst didn’t happen (aside from gushing waters) and so far as I can tell nobody suffered injuries.

I say we wait and see.

Maybe they’ll have it fixed and working in time for the next Dragon Boat Festival.

Link via AP and link via AZCentral.
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