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Central Arizona Project (CAP) is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first fill of Lake Pleasant after the construction of New Waddell Dam on April 3. The lake, which is a storage reservoir, can hold more than 800,000 acre-feet of water making it not only a scenic recreational facility, it continues to ensure reliable Colorado River supplies to more than 5 million people—an invaluable resource during the extended drought.
Construction of the original Lake Pleasant dam was completed in 1927. The multiple-arch concrete dam stored Agua Fria River for the Maricopa Water District (MWD). It was named Waddell Dam in 1964 to honor Donald Waddell, a partner in the investment firm that helped MWD to finance the dam.
The construction of the current New Waddell Dam was completed in 1992, allowing Lake Pleasant to hold about five times the amount of water it held before. The surface area is approximately 15.5 square miles.
Lake Pleasant is CAP's regulatory storage reservoir. From approximately October to March, when water demand is reduced, CAP stores Colorado River water in Lake Pleasant, raising the lake level. Then, from about March through September, CAP releases water from the lake to supplement the higher summer demands of the cities, Indian communities and agricultural users. With normal operations, the lake level fluctuates about 65 vertical feet per year.
Lake Pleasant provides safety for flood control, enhances water availability and recreational opportunities. It's come a long way from the 1927 use of storing water for agriculture to today.
Editors: CAP will be providing an opportunity to take photographs and conduct interviews from the top of Waddell Dam, using the vistas of Lake Pleasant as a backdrop on the morning of April 3. Contact Bob Barrett if you are interested in visiting the top of Waddell Dam.