WeatherImpact Earth


What to know about Lake Pleasant's fluctuating water levels

Arizona Drought
Posted at 4:55 AM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 09:51:55-04

PEORIA, AZ — Water from the Colorado River is stored in Lake Pleasant, and some of it is released every summer to provide water for thousands of households across the state.

Darrin Francom with the Central Arizona Project says the shortage on the Colorado River is not impacting how much water is in the Peoria lake. Rather water levels at Lake Pleasant have always changed, he says, varying by season.

“I think a lot of people feel that since there is the drought and Central Arizona Project will be using less water, that somehow Lake Pleasant will see a significant decline,” Francom said. “But the reality is we will continue to use the lake as this operational storage reservoir and pump water in during the early start of the year, release water during the summer and fill it back up at the end of the year.”

It’s something visitors, like Wayne Smith, are adapting to. Smith recently moved to the Valley and noticed a problem while taking his new boat out on a fishing trip.

“You’re fishing on what used to be dry land, so the fishing habitat isn’t there,” Smith said. “So, people that ask me, 'did you catch any fish?' Not from the bank.”

While the lake is full now, parts of it will become dry land come summertime. According to CAP, the lake will lose about 30-40 feet from May to August.

Staying safe 

ABC15 rode along with Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol Team to see the difference.

Enriquez says that with hidden land beneath the water, comes hidden dangers. He explains how sometimes visitors in the summer will set their GPS to the same spot they went to in the winter.

“Now if their navigational plane takes them to this area and the water’s lower, they might run into a hazard. They might run into an island or the water where they’re going might be lower. So that can damage their boat, sometimes even sink their boat if it’s serious enough,” Enriquez said. He recommends boaters lookout for the buoys, so they know which areas to avoid.

Another issue is cliff jumping at the lake. It’s illegal, but Enriquez says people still do it. He says that often leads to injuries, because of islands hidden beneath the water.

“You won’t be able to see this, so you think you’re good to jump,” he said. “And you’re obviously three feet away from rock.”

Enriquez says most accidents on the lake are due to bad weather or people not being prepared. Regardless, he cautions everyone to pay attention, to avoid any injuries.

"I think a lot of people come out to the lake to enjoy themselves," Enriquez said. "They come out here with family and the last thing you want to do is have a day with your family out here, or friends and going home because something tragic happened."