A newly-rehabilitated dam in Buckeye will protect thousands of West Valley residents from flooding. White Tank Flood Retarding Structure (FRS) Number 4 was formally dedicated in an event this month that included the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and District 4 Supervisor Clint Hickman.
“This is an area that could have as many as 50,000 people living downstream within the next two decades,” said Hickman. “We needed to make sure we had dependable flood protection for the growing number of families who call this home.”
The 1.6 mile long structure is a compacted earth embankment dam, known as a FRS, which slowly releases flood water instead of holding it all back. It is located south of I-10 and Jackrabbit Trail Exit. Originally built back in 1954, the dam was identified as a potential safety problem at the turn of the century. State regulators discovered several deficiencies and worried it might eventually fail. The Flood Control District decided that, instead of getting rid of it, they could fix it.
“Dam rehabilitation is a greater value, dollar for dollar, than other options,” said Bill Wiley, the Flood Control District’s chief engineer. “In this case, we were able to address all safety deficiencies and give the structure a new, 100-year life span.”
The first phase of the project was completed in 2012. The second and final phase was completed in August 2017. The NRCS covered 65% of the $40 million cost, with the Flood Control District picking up the remaining 35%
The Town of Buckeye, where the structure is located, plans to build recreational ball fields near the dam for public use when the structure is dry and is considering a library outside of the flood pool.
“We get enough big storms in Maricopa County that flood protection always needs to be top of mind,” said Hickman. “I appreciate the Flood Control District, the NRCS, and all the partners who worked together over the last several years to make this part of the West Valley a safer place to work and live.”