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Broken dam leads to flooding frustration in Taylor, AZ

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 22:55:39-04

TAYLOR, AZ — The town of Taylor, north of Show Low, has experienced flooding over the past week, made worse by a broken dam that has been addressed with temporary solutions.

The dam at the Millet Swale Reservoir looked like Arches National Park in July 2021.

Officials say 300 acres of pent-up water seeped through a small rodent hole and blew out the dam.

The county oversaw the immediate fix.

"They threw rocks on it," said Alan Elliot, who lives downstream.

Navajo County Public Works Director John Osgood said those rocks cost $50,000.

"Last year the whole purpose was to stabilize the breach that happened," said Osgood. "That was intended not to be a permanent fix."

Elliot said he found that out the hard way, "The first good rainstorm that came through, it washed all the rocks all downstream."

His front yard was still flooded two days later.

"It was 16 inches of water just coming down here," he said, motioning to the dirt driveway. "It flooded over the road. And I’ve tried to tell the county this, and they say, 'Oh no, it couldn’t have.'"

Unfortunately, the solution involves a lot of agencies and calculated coordination.

"The Silver Creek Flood Protection District, the Navajo County Flood Control District, and the Arizona Department of Water Resources are working on longer-term solutions," said Osgood.

"It’s just so much bureaucracy. I mean these guys, you don’t have the county talking to flood control and flood control talking to the county," said Elliot.

The Taylor Town Manager, Gus Lundberg, says the long-term fix is complex and expensive.

"It would be between six and $29 million to completely rehabilitate this dam," said Lundberg. "There are state statutes that regulate how this permanent fix needs to be handled, and that means a lot of money and money we simply don’t have."

Lundberg told ABC15 that the town has already applied for FEMA and Congressional grants.

"Those things take time," he said.

But for residents, with every storm, their patience is running thin.

"We have nothing that’s happened in the last year," said Robin Hargrave.

"I want to see something happen besides rocks," said Elliot.