An inflatable dam in downtown Tempe, Ariz., burst on July 20, emptying most of the contents of the 1-billion-gal Tempe Town Lake. No one was injured and no property was damaged in the resulting flood, which traveled down the normally dry Salt River through Phoenix. Peak flows were measured at 15,000 cu ft per second, equivalent to an average release during the area’s winter rainy season.
The two-mile lake was formed in 1999 using eight flexible, rubber-coated fabric tubes manufactured by Tokyo-based Bridgestone Industrial Products Group. A rip in the seam near the top of one of the four downstream bladders caused the failure. Each segment is 240 ft long and weighs up to 40 tons.