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Dam project closes Tempe Town Lake until April

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Posted at 11:48 AM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 01:16:57-05

Kayaking, boating, fishing and paddle-boating at Tempe Town Lake will be put on hold for the next two months as officials continue to construct a hydraulic steel dam.

As a result, beginning Feb. 10, the lake will be drained into the Salt River Project canal where it will be held until construction is finished and the water will be pumped back in.

Construction crews will remove the previous dam support system and conduct lake maintenance.

Kim Baxter-Ging, public information officer for the City of Tempe, said construction is expected to be completed in late April to early May. When finished, the dam will be the largest hydraulically-operated steel gate dam in the country.

During construction, water activities on the lake will be closed. The pathways and running routes around the lake are expected to remain open, but residents are asked to stay away from the construction area and to stay out of the lakebed while it is drained.

VIDEO: Construction update from City of Tempe

According to a Tempe website focused on providing residents updates on the $47 million project, the draining of the lake will take about three weeks to complete.

Officials are working with local organizations and Arizona Game & Fish to remove as many of the fish as possible, including temporarily removing current catch limits.

Any fish that remain after Feb. 10 should flow into the canal, according to the website.

They also have an expert on staff who is working to minimize the amount of midge flies and mosquitos.

Any events planned at Tempe Beach Park are not affected.

Arizona State University's men's and women's rowing teams use the lake for practice. The sailing club also uses the lake.

According to an emailed statement from ASU, "alternative practice facilities are being arranged, to include the use of nearby lakes by the sailing club."

Nicolas Ansara, president of the ASU Men's Rowing team, said in an email to ABC15 that the team will move its practices off the water and indoors for "dry-land training."

He looked at using other lakes for practice, but hauling the team's equipment back and forth, plus the additional drive-time when they practice at 5:30 a.m. "would cause additional issues for the team," he said.

He said the Spring rowing season is more competitive than the fall and that losing two months of training on the lake could hurt the team.

"With us losing our training water it will hinder our ability to train in boats and gain a feel for how our teammates row and train together on the water," Ansara said in his email. "Land training is not a major issue, but it is for us as it falls backwards to how other schools would train during the spring season."

Teams on the East Coast train indoors during the winter months, but usually can get some time on the water before competitions begins.