The Gila River Flows Again

March 28, 2010

Gila River flowing

Photographer: Darryl L. Montgomery
Summary Author: Darryl L. Montgomery; Jim Foster

For the past several years, the Gila River in southwestern Arizona has been more like the “Gila Gulch” – it’s been bone dry. However, this winter rain and snowmelt filled Painted Rock Reservoir in Maricopa County and, for the first time since 2005, water was released from the reservoir into the Gila River (as pictured above). The Gila will finally flow where it normally would -- into the Colorado River. Painted Rock Reservoir is primarily utilized for flood control.

The source of the Gila River is in the highlands of western New Mexico. Together with its main tributaries, the Salt and Verde Rivers, the Gila drains much of central and southern Arizona before emptying into the Colorado River a few miles north of the city of Yuma. Water is siphoned from the river by diversions and into a series of reservoirs making the Gila vital to Phoenix and its environs for irrigation, water supply and industry. Due to increasing water demands and below normal precipitation in recent years, the Gila has run dry below Phoenix. Photo taken on March 19, 2010.