Q&AZ: Why Has San Carlos Lake Behind Coolidge Dam Gone Dry?

Published: Friday, July 2, 2021 - 6:23pm
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While Arizona’s farmers have been preparing for extreme drought conditions, water shortages in some areas have reached drastic lows.

Through KJZZ’s Q&AZ Project, a listener asked: Why has San Carlos Lake behind Coolidge Dam gone dry?

San Carlos Lake, formed by the construction of the Coolidge Dam on the Gila River, has a regular capacity of 19,500 acre-feet. On June 16, the lake was down to 50 acre-feet.

The water supply of the Gila River comes in part from melted snowfall from the Black Range in New Mexico, which was particularly thin this past winter season.

There is also high demand for water in the surrounding area. Farmers, firefighters, and even a group constructing a copper mine are in need.

The lake has been struggling with drought on and off for several decades.

Since the construction of the dam in 1928, the lake has been nearly empty at least 20 times and has been full only three times.

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