October 2007

Canyon Lake Faces Restrictions During Drawdown

Volunteers Needed To Help Set-Up Fish Habitat

Boaters, campers and passengers of the Dolly steamboat will face restrictions this fall and winter when Canyon Lake becomes the second Salt River reservoir in two years to be drawn down for scheduled maintenance work at Mormon Flat and Horse Mesa dams.

The scheduled maintenance will result in lower levels at Canyon Lake until about Jan. 26. Canyon Lake will be gradually lowered to approximately 50 feet below the normal lake levels through normal water order during the four-month drawdown.  Last fall, Apache Lake was lowered about 50 feet during a similar drawdown for maintenance work at Horse Mesa Dam.

Because of safety concerns and the smaller capacity of Canyon Lake, Tonto National Forest District Ranger Arthur Wirtz said the lake will be closed to all recreational boating during the majority of the drawdown. Wirtz also said the Canyon Lake Marina Campground will be closed to the public during the drawdown, but the Acacia Picnic Area will remain open for picnicking and viewing the lake.

“The potential for hazardous conditions, such as the steepness of the submerged canyon, will increase as the water goes down,” said Wirtz.  “The forest will keep foot access open as long as possible for recreation users such as anglers.  We will be evaluating safety conditions daily and will consider closures and restrictions to lake access dependent on public safety needs.”

The Dolly steamboat, a popular cruise excursion for residents and tourists at Canyon Lake, will suspend operations from October until the lake is refilled in late January. The Lakeside Restaurant & Cantina will remain open at its existing location during the drawdown.

Chuck Richards, manager of the Canyon Lake Marina, said the marina will be relocated 1.1 miles from its current location during the drawdown and then will be moved back to the existing location when the project is completed.  Richards said Westrec Marinas, the owner-operator of the marina, will reconfigure the docks during the drawdown and will add a breakwater dock. 

Jim Warnecke, fisheries biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said a fish habitat project is planned for Canyon Lake that will be similar to the project completed during the Apache Lake drawdown last fall and winter.

To keep dams safe and secure, the Bureau of Reclamation requires regular inspections and repair.  Prior to the 2006-07 Apache Lake drawdown, maintenance work of this scope and on these components that are normally under water on the two dams was last performed in 1989 at Horse Mesa Dam.
Structures and equipment, including the hydroelectric facilities at Mormon Flat and Horse Mesa dams, will be examined for wear and repaired if necessary.  In addition, SRP will be performing channel-improvement work downstream of Horse Mesa Dam to maintain performance of the hydroelectric pump and turbine and to improve barge access to the power plant.

Editor’s Note: Those interested in participating in the fish habitat project may contact “Tight Lines” Co-editor Don McDowell at (623) 221-7655.

The plan will prevent any water from being spilled as a result of dam maintenance and will limit the loss of hydroelectric generation during times of lower energy demand.

Status updates of the drawdown will be available on the Canyon Lake Marina home page at http://www.canyonlakemarina.com.   During the drawdown, lake levels will be updated daily on the SRP web page at www.srpnet.com/dwr

At the completion of the drawdown project, a grand re-opening event has been scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9, by the Canyon Lake Marina, the Lakeside Restaurant & Cantina and the Dolly Steamboat.

SRP is the largest provider of water and power to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.


For more information about the Canyon Lake drawdown, contact Arthur Wirtz, District Ranger, Tonto National Forest, (480) 610-3301; Chuck Richards, Manager, Canyon Lake Marina, (480) 288-9233; or Jim Warnecke, Regional Fish Program Manager, Arizona Game and Fish Department, (480) 324-3541.