Arizona is on high alert for the 2018 wildfire season.
And while the connection might not be readily apparent, that also means this summer could be fraught with even more dangerous than usual flash flooding during the monsoon season. Wildfires = erosion and erosion = flash flood danger.
To prepare for monsoon season, Phoenix Fire recently conducted its annual swift water rescue training in the canal at Central Arizona Project’s north Phoenix headquarters. The team practiced rescuing a “victim” from the water by demonstrating their rescue swimming skills in the moving water current, performing throw bag operations, executing boating operations and throwing ropes across the water to a helicopter. Running these drills in and around the CAP canal system helps ensure rescue workers have the necessary expertise to properly respond if and when true emergencies occur.
CAP’s entire system is fenced to protect the public’s safety. The water is moving more quickly than it looks and, combined with its extreme force, can be deadly if someone were to fall into the canal. The practice prepares trained rescuers for monsoon and similar storm events that can create sudden flash floods and other life-threatening emergencies.
The CAP aqueduct may also be used to combat wildfires during the season. Thanks to a 2016 cooperative agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, in emergency situations the Colorado River water flowing through the canal can be used for fire suppression anywhere along the 336-mile canal system from Lake Havasu to south of Tucson. Although the agreement hasn’t yet been called upon – and hopefully won’t need to be – the water and collaborative agreements to use it are there should it be needed. Thus, CAP is helping to prepare for wildfire and monsoon season in more ways than one!