Project Details

El Rio Confluence Lake Concept

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Project Manager: -
Region: W
Phase: Planning & Studies

The El Rio Watercourse Master Plan (WCMP) in 2006 is a blueprint for flood mitigation, economic development, recreational amenities and habitat restoration on the Gila River between its confluence with the Agua Fria River and SR 85. The creation of the El Rio Confluence Lake (LAKE) is one of many recommendations developed as part of the WCMP. WCMP implementation activities have indicated the potential for previously mined areas adjacent to the river to capture sediment loads during flood events and thus endanger critical infrastructure both upstream and downstream by erosion and headcutting. By providing grade control and sediment management, the LAKE would offer important public safety benefits. The LAKE study site consists of approximately 240 acres located at the confluence of the Agua Fria and Gila Rivers.

The LAKE is envisioned as a demonstration project of components for the overall WCMP and El Rio Design Guidelines and Planning Standards. These components will include flood control elements, riparian habitat and river function enhancements, and active and passive recreational facilities developed through local and Federal partnerships. The LAKE will support water conservation by controlling invasive salt cedar in the vicinity of existing and future impoundment facilities near the confluence, which consumes much more water than native vegetation. The knowledge gained by the development of the LAKE will help determine the most effective methods for integrating non-structural and soft-structural flood control elements into future flood mitigation projects along the Gila River.
The proposed features include creation of approximately 200 surface acres of open water; a grade control structure and other flood control features; an irrigation water takeout structure and replaceable earthen dam; active and passive recreational features and other amenities; planting native vegetation and improving wildlife habitat. The conceptual design process will develop preliminary concept schematics, identify opportunities for adjacent development and include public outreach efforts. This process will also provide a review of current property ownership and jurisdictional issues in order to assess the feasibility of alternative project ownership scenarios and estimate future project eligibility for grant funding opportunities as well as future project operations and maintenance responsibilities.


  • Protection of future and existing development and infrastructure from flood hazards, especially scour and headcutting resulting from stream capture by previously mined areas
  • Creation of a regional county park amenity for boating, recreation, bird watching and tourism
  • Secured, reliable impoundment for Buckeye Water Conservation & Drainage District (BWCDD) water supply with capacity for increased water storage
  • Water conservation due to facilitated management of invasive salt cedar near the BWCDD impoundment
  • Increased development opportunities for adjacent properties
  • Preservation and restoration of some of the Gila River's natural functions and native riparian habitat
  • Educational opportunities for schools, community groups and other organizations
  • Heightened regional awareness of the Gila River and the importance of water conservation and river management
  • Evaluate the potential for multi-use opportunities
  • Explore the potential for supporting economic development activities
  • Identify and incentivize local and federal partnerships

Learn more about the conceptual El Rio Confluence Lake in this video.
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An online presentation has been prepared for you to view to learn more about the proposed conceptual plan surrounding the possible El Rio Lake. View the video.

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