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Tempe Town Lake Dam Replacement Alternatives

Emergency dam evaluation positions Tempe Town Lake for a thriving future. 
  • Image of dam construction at Tempe Town Lake Dam-Gannett Fleming

    Once complete, Tempe Town Lake Dam will be the nation’s largest hydraulically controlled crest-gate dam.

City of Tempe

Tempe, Arizona

Our Role
Alternatives Evaluation, Final Design, Construction Management.

1,000 feet long
In Progress
New Construction
In Progress
  • Ultimate dam replacement will be more stable and last 50 years
  • Success as a flood control tool, recreation venue, and an economic development center.

Due in part to the extreme weather conditions in this desert environment, the inflatable rubber dam initially constructed to impound Tempe Town Lake was deteriorating much faster than anticipated. In July 2010, one rubber bladder failed, draining millions of gallons of water from the lake, requiring an immediate evaluation for replacement from the Gannett Fleming team.

What We Did

Gannett Fleming was engaged to study the alternatives for the dam replacement. We worked closely with the city to evaluate and select a replacement dam based on costs, constructability, reliability, aesthetics, and the ability to capture the lake after large flows. The team conducted an alternatives evaluation workshop with project stakeholders, performed hydrologic and hydraulic analyses associated with the design inflow conditions, prepared preliminary design plans, and performed a failure modes and effects analysis to compare the short-listed alternatives. 

After selecting the alternative, Gannett Fleming also performed final design, provided construction documents and geotechnical investigations, coordinated with the gate vendor and construction contractor, and obtained a dam safety permit from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Key Features

  • The team studied more than 20 options, eventually selecting a hydraulically operated steel gate system consisting of eight 106-foot-long by 17-foot-tall steel gates supported by seven concrete piers and two abutment walls
  • It will be the largest gate system of its kind in the nation.

Similar Projects: Dams & Levees: Dam Risk & Reliability Assessments, Water/Wastewater: Dams & Levees, Security & Safety