There’s no question that Lake Pleasant is a popular spot to cool off on a hot summer day – especially a holiday.
Just ask those who showed up at the lake between 2 to 4 p.m. on Memorial Day, only to be turned away due to the excessive number of people in the park and on the lake!
But did you know that Lake Pleasant is not only a cool recreation spot, it’s also a reservoir for Central Arizona Project’s Colorado River water supply? And, on Memorial Day, the lake is at nearly its highest elevation as the “fill season” ends and the “release season” begins.
Lake Pleasant is just about the midpoint on the 336-mile Central Arizona Project aqueduct system and the segment of the canal leading off the main aqueduct to the lake is the only place in the system where water can flow two ways. During the winter months, Colorado River water is pumped into the lake, raising the elevation. Then, during the summer months – to be exact, this year it’s June 4 – water is released from Lake Pleasant to supplement water deliveries in central and southern Arizona, while generating electricity along the way.
This year those who frequent Lake Pleasant may notice it will be 7 to 10 feet lower than usual near the end of August, but that’s not a cause for alarm. The reason the lake will go a little lower than in recent years is a three-week outage at the Hassayampa Pumping Plant planned for August. During that time, more water will be drawn from Lake Pleasant to meet CAP water demands. Then, in September, CAP will transition deliveries from predominantly Lake Pleasant releases to 100% Colorado River water, so the lake is expected to remain at a relatively low level through the month of September. Significant pumping into Lake Pleasant will resume in October as the “fill season” begins again.