River swells after Alamo Dam release
LAKE HAVASU CITY – The draining of Alamo Lake began this week, pouring water from Alamo Dam into Bill Williams River. The flow reached its peak on Wednesday morning, and on Thursday areas of Planet Ranch road were closed because of flooding.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the release of Alamo Dam water was a necessary measure prior to conducting maintenance and repairs to the 50-year-old, 283-foot earthen structure.
Arizona State Parks and Arizona Game and Fish Department officials attempted to bring a federal injunction against the release, fearing what lower levels in Alamo Lake would do to spawning waters of Alamo Lake. Mohave County’s off-roading community objected to the release of water during the region’s busiest off-roading season, fearing what damage the water may cause to sections of the Arizona Peace Trail, which includes Planet Ranch Road.
“We won’t know the full extent of the damage until the area’s dry again,” said Lake Havasu Side-by-Side Trail Association President John Savino. The Association was a leading agency in the development of the Peace Trail through Mohave County. While the group has worked to create a detour for off-roaders this month to avoid the water, extensive damage to the trail could force the group to seek a new route.
“We’ll see how bad it is after it’s over,” Savino said. “I wish it was different, but they needed this. We’d rather have a section of the trail washed out than having a dam break. If it was bad enough that the dam was in jeopardy, they needed to do it.”
Restoration of Planet Ranch Road could require grading the unpaved passage through Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge. If the damage is extensive enough, a permanent trail may need to be established, Savino said, which could require planning and approval by multiple state and federal agencies.
According to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the flow of water from Alamo Dam will gradually decrease throughout March, and is expected to subside completely by April 1.