The Gila River is posing new flood dangers to homes and businesses in the west Valley, and now the Army Corps of Engineers is helping find solutions.
The expanded floodplain covers an extra eight square miles near Buckeye and Goodyear, according to the Flood Control District of Maricopa County. About 100 homes are in the area. The county received a grant from the Army Corps of Engineers this summer to study the flood problem and pay for some mitigation efforts.
"The fixes for the whole river cost about $100 million, so we're looking at what would be the best bang for the dollar," Maricopa Flood Control Planning Branch Manager Doug Williams said.
Dense areas of salt cedar trees have caused the changes to Gila's flood zone, forcing the river channel to spread flatter and wider.
"Instead of the water going through smoothly, it pushes out to the side," Williams said.
Charlene Leap's home was finished around the time her neighborhood, near MC 85 and Jackrabbit Road, was found to be in a 100-year floodplain. This means every year there's a one percent chance high water will cover her property. She lives one mile north of the river.
"It's a dry river," Leap said. "It would have to fill up and then go over the banks, in the fields, so it's kind a hard to imagine."
Even so, she pays for flood insurance.