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The mining company Phelps Dodge built this dam, which holds back the long, narrow, now half-empty Blue Ridge Reservoir. The lake can hold up to roughly 14,000 acre-feet, which includes some 3,500 acre-feet allocated to Payson and other northern Gila County communities.

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Endangered watershed

Aerial tour underscores danger to water supply on which Rim Country depends

The dry and spindly forest rises and slopes across the terrain, an unbroken ocean of trees crowding right to the edge of a sinuous snake of aqua-blue, with a shed skin of raw, exposed rock. Rim Country’s future lies beneath that unbroken canopy of tinder dry trees and along the twisted banks of that canyon-caught Blue Ridge Reservoir, as revealed this week during a helicopter tour hosted by the Salt River Project.

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