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As Roosevelt Lake fills, SRP's annual spill gate test to release more water than usual

Snowmelt from Arizona’s high country has pushed Roosevelt Lake to record levels.

The water has backed up so far that Salt River Project has scheduled its annual test of the dam’s infrastructure for Wednesday.

Although the rising levels have not threatened nearby homes, they have affected wildlife habitat and triggered a federal requirement to release water downstream.

SRP regularly tests the spill gates at Roosevelt Dam to assess its ability to respond to flooding, but this year’s discharge will send about 2,000 acre-feet of water or about 650 million gallons of water downstream in Apache Lake and will last more than an hour.

“The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, they own the dams and part of their operating procedure is that we test these gates at least once a year, actually open them up and operate them,” said Buck Phelps, of SRP.

The utility says that high country snowpack is the deepest it has been in three decades.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct the amount of water discharged to Apache Lake. 

Ron Dungan has lived in Arizona for more than 35 years. He has worked as a reporter, construction worker, copy editor, designer and freelance writer. He's a graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was a member of the undergraduate Writers’ Workshop, and has a master’s in history from Arizona State University.Dungan was an outdoors reporter and member of the storyteller team at the Arizona Republic, where he won several awards, and was a contributor on a border project that won the 2018 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting.When not working, Dungan enjoys books, gardening, hanging out with his German shorthaired pointer, backpacking and fly-fishing. He's a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and Iowa Hawkeyes.