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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Millet Swale Dam Breach

During monsoon storms last year, a section of Millet Swale Dam along the Silver Creek Watershed breached during a high impact rainstorm

  • 12 August 2022
  • Author: Clifton Foster
  • Number of views: 1627

August 12, 2022

Millet Swale Dam Community Update 

Holbrook, AZ – During monsoon storms last year, a section of Millet Swale Dam along the Silver Creek Watershed breached during a high impact rainstorm.  The storm and dam breach caused flooding impacts affecting residents and properties within and adjacent to the towns of Snowflake and Taylor. No injuries were reported as a result of the flooding but the resulting damage to the dam continues to present significant challenges.

“There are no easy solutions to permanently fix the dam because it cannot simply be patched,” explained Taylor Town Manager Gus Lundberg. “It requires a complete reconstruction which will cost millions of dollars and we are working to identify potential funding sources to help with that cost.”

Following the breach last year, the Towns, County, and Flood Protection District worked with Arizona Department of Resources to implement immediate actions and remediation to stabilize the dam while a pathway forward to complete reconstruction can be found. These actions were not intended to permanently fix the dam but rather were designed to prevent further damage and manage the flow of water through the dam as follows; 

  • Installed emergency repair rock-lined weir to stabilize the breach and manage the flow of floodwater through the damaged portion of the dam
  • Installed gauges and cameras for real-time monitoring of water level and flow
  • Conducted engineering survey and are in the process of conducting floodwater modeling to get accurate data to provide emergency notifications as needed to residents
  • Contracted with engineering firms to map Millet Swale topography, model the floodplain, and design Bourdon Ranch Road drainage improvements

There has been no new breach or failure at the dam with monsoon rains this year.  The stabilization and construction of the emergency rock-lined weir is working as intended and is allowing storm water to flow manageably through the breach.  However; as we have recently received high intensity rain events in the basin the continued flow of storm water to nearby property and residences has caused localized flooding and is extremely concerning to residents and community leaders. 

“Responsibility for the dam and the downstream watershed is a partnership between the Silver Creek Flood Protection District (SCFPD), the Navajo County Flood Control District (NCFCD), the Towns of Taylor and Snowflake, and Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR),” said Navajo County Supervisor Jason Whiting. “We are committed to working together to make progress towards a permanent solution. In addition to evaluating the complete reconstruction of the dam, we are actively pursuing alternative solutions including the construction of a series of upstream berms and groundwater recharge wells to reduce the amount of water reaching the reservoir. Moving forward, in coordination with SCFPD, NCFCD, Towns of Snowflake and Taylor and ADWR, Navajo County will provide regular updates to our neighbors regarding what actions have been taken and where the challenges are. These updates will be shared on social media and on Navajo County’s website.”    


For more information: 
Contact Bryan Layton
Assistant County Manager
Office: (928) 524-4152