Tonto Creek Flood Work Under Way


Crews are removing debris, reducing the height of sandbars and re-enforcing a damaged levee in Tonto Creek to protect homes from flooding.

Crews are removing debris, reducing the height of sandbars and re-enforcing a damaged levee in Tonto Creek to protect homes from flooding. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Flood repairs to Tonto Creek are going well, county officials say.

Work started recently and crews should wrap up reducing the height of sandbars near one water crossing and finish a second crossing sometime this week. County jail crews continue to remove dead and down vegetation from the center of the creek near Punkin Center.

Repair work on a damaged levee started last Wednesday and will take roughly a week, said Steve Stratton, Gila County public works division director.

Most residents hailed the work after a year-long wait, but some worried the county still isn’t doing enough.

Initially, resident Leo Coombs said he thought crews were merely moving dirt around without opening up the channel itself. However, after watching construction for a few days, Coombs said crews had started work on the channel and “we are going to get a win out of this.”

In January 2010, dozens of creekside residents watched floodwaters invade their homes and properties. The rampaging, flood-prone creek broke through the Roosevelt Gardens East levee and gouged a new path across front yards.

Residents partly blamed the flooding on vegetation clogging the channel as well as silt buildup. Until now, the county could not enter the federally-owned creekbed, since it provides critical habitat for several endangered or threatened species.

After working with the Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the county struck a deal to allow crews to enter the creek as long as they finished by the end of March. That is when mating season for several protected

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