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LA District leaders tour Painted Rock Dam project

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District
Published March 26, 2021
The north view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

The north view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, explains the importance of the dam’s location March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, explains the importance of the dam’s location March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

The south view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

The south view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, enters the Painted Rock Dam control house March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, enters the Painted Rock Dam control house March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona.

Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, right, and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, left, visit Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The inflow gates, pictured behind Balten and Van Dorpe, regulate the amount of river water released downstream.

Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, right, and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, left, visit Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The inflow gates, pictured behind Balten and Van Dorpe, regulate the amount of river water released downstream.

The Painted Rock Dam entrance can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District completed construction of the dam in 1960.

The Painted Rock Dam entrance can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District completed construction of the dam in 1960.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, leads Col. Julie Balten, commander of  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, on a tour of the Painted Rock Dam, located on the Gila River in Maricopa County March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. May has been a dam operator for more than 41 years.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, leads Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, on a tour of the Painted Rock Dam, located on the Gila River in Maricopa County March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. May has been a dam operator for more than 41 years.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, visits the Painted Rock Dam spillway March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Balten leads 746 military and civilian personnel operating in a 226,000-square-mile area of California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, visits the Painted Rock Dam spillway March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Balten leads 746 military and civilian personnel operating in a 226,000-square-mile area of California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

William Kramer, dam operator, briefs Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, at Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the Corps’ LA District.

William Kramer, dam operator, briefs Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, at Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the Corps’ LA District.

The Painted Rock Dam Control House entrance is pictured March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.
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The Painted Rock Dam Control House entrance is pictured March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

GILA BEND, Arizona -- Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, toured the Painted Rock Dam, a flood risk-reduction project located on the Gila River in Maricopa County near Gila Bend, March 24.

“The purpose of today’s visit is to see Painted Rock Dam and the flood control project area,” Balten said. “It’s a large flood control project that was designed to protect Southern Arizona, and, particularly, the City of Yuma.”

Painted Rock Dam is within the Gila River Drainage Basin and is operated by the Corps’ LA District. The dam consists of a debris pool, spillway, a gauging station and dikes, and is monitored by two dam operators.

“The team here is crucial to the flood control mission,” Balten said. “They live in this remote area to maintain and operate the facility 24/7.”

The Painted Rock Dam is operated on a prediction basis, which establishes the rate of release for flood waters from the dam, based on upstream and downstream conditions.

“Painted Rock Dam was built to protect downstream agriculture, Yuma and other towns along the way,” said William Kramer, one of two of the dam’s operators.

The dam has a drainage area of 50,800 square miles. Most of the year, its reservoir remains dry. Daily operations consist of maintenance, weather monitoring and assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Painted Rock is strictly for flood control,” said Donald “Donnie” May, a second operator at the dam. “We must coordinate with other dam and facility operators to regulate water flow. This dam is the last stop for most of Arizona’s water, before going into the Colorado River and into Mexico.”

Construction of the dam began in July 1957 and was completed in January 1960, at a cost of about $13.7 million.           

“After the tour, I think the colonel was pretty impressed with our operation,” May said.


News Releases

LA District leaders tour Painted Rock Dam project

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District
Published March 26, 2021
The north view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

The north view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, explains the importance of the dam’s location March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, explains the importance of the dam’s location March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

The south view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

The south view of the Painted Rock Dam can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, enters the Painted Rock Dam control house March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, enters the Painted Rock Dam control house March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona.

Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, right, and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, left, visit Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The inflow gates, pictured behind Balten and Van Dorpe, regulate the amount of river water released downstream.

Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, right, and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, left, visit Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The inflow gates, pictured behind Balten and Van Dorpe, regulate the amount of river water released downstream.

The Painted Rock Dam entrance can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District completed construction of the dam in 1960.

The Painted Rock Dam entrance can be seen in this March 24 picture near Gila Bend, Arizona. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District completed construction of the dam in 1960.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, leads Col. Julie Balten, commander of  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, on a tour of the Painted Rock Dam, located on the Gila River in Maricopa County March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. May has been a dam operator for more than 41 years.

Donald “Donnie” May, dam operator at Painted Rock Dam, leads Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, on a tour of the Painted Rock Dam, located on the Gila River in Maricopa County March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. May has been a dam operator for more than 41 years.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, visits the Painted Rock Dam spillway March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Balten leads 746 military and civilian personnel operating in a 226,000-square-mile area of California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, visits the Painted Rock Dam spillway March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Balten leads 746 military and civilian personnel operating in a 226,000-square-mile area of California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

William Kramer, dam operator, briefs Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, at Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the Corps’ LA District.

William Kramer, dam operator, briefs Col. Julie Balten, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District commander, at Painted Rock Dam March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. Painted Rock Dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the Corps’ LA District.

The Painted Rock Dam Control House entrance is pictured March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 10

The Painted Rock Dam Control House entrance is pictured March 24 near Gila Bend, Arizona. The dam is a major flood control project in the Gila River Drainage Basin, constructed and operated by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

GILA BEND, Arizona -- Col. Julie Balten, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District, and David Van Dorpe, deputy district engineer for the LA District, toured the Painted Rock Dam, a flood risk-reduction project located on the Gila River in Maricopa County near Gila Bend, March 24.

“The purpose of today’s visit is to see Painted Rock Dam and the flood control project area,” Balten said. “It’s a large flood control project that was designed to protect Southern Arizona, and, particularly, the City of Yuma.”

Painted Rock Dam is within the Gila River Drainage Basin and is operated by the Corps’ LA District. The dam consists of a debris pool, spillway, a gauging station and dikes, and is monitored by two dam operators.

“The team here is crucial to the flood control mission,” Balten said. “They live in this remote area to maintain and operate the facility 24/7.”

The Painted Rock Dam is operated on a prediction basis, which establishes the rate of release for flood waters from the dam, based on upstream and downstream conditions.

“Painted Rock Dam was built to protect downstream agriculture, Yuma and other towns along the way,” said William Kramer, one of two of the dam’s operators.

The dam has a drainage area of 50,800 square miles. Most of the year, its reservoir remains dry. Daily operations consist of maintenance, weather monitoring and assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Painted Rock is strictly for flood control,” said Donald “Donnie” May, a second operator at the dam. “We must coordinate with other dam and facility operators to regulate water flow. This dam is the last stop for most of Arizona’s water, before going into the Colorado River and into Mexico.”

Construction of the dam began in July 1957 and was completed in January 1960, at a cost of about $13.7 million.           

“After the tour, I think the colonel was pretty impressed with our operation,” May said.