Rare look inside Lake Pleasant generating station

Posted at 4:48 AM, Sep 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-15 10:18:07-04

There's a good chance the water you drink today passed through the Waddell Pump Generating Station. 

You've probably never heard of it -- "most people" have no idea it exists, but plant supervisor Daniel Schuh gave ABC15 a rare look inside.  

Nestled below the 440-foot New Waddell Dam, the generating station regulates water in and out of Lake Pleasant -- which serves as a reservoir. The system is connected to more than 300 miles of Central Arizona Project canals. Most people in Arizona use at least some water from CAP every day. 

Two towers and two massive, 14-foot-wide pipes move billions of gallons of water in and out of the lake. During summer, hydroelectric power is generated as water is released.

"At its peak, it can produce 43 megawatts," or enough power for 2,500 homes, Schuh said. 

The dam and plant are deemed critical infrastructure and security is tight. ABC15 wasn't allowed to take photos or video of the sophisticated computer systems and massive generators in the four additional levels below the surface. Normally, only plant personnel are allowed inside. 

Due to scheduled maintenance, half of the facility is currently shut down as workers inspect the equipment and pipelines.