CREATED Jul. 18, 2012
PALM SPRINGS--Tuesday night Palm Springs Police closed down Indian Canyon drive after reports of a levee breach. Police were concerned water could flood the roadway, but that didn't happen. We now know it wasn't a levee breach after all. So what happened??
"Based on past experiences back in December of 2009 we had a similar incident," Sergeant Mike Kovaleff with the Palm Springs Police Department said. "It wiped out Indian Canyon. Within minutes it wiped out Gene Autry Trail and a couple minutes later it wiped out Vista Chino. So as a precautionary measure we shut down Indian because of the incident that was possibly reported."
The levee remains intact -- The water spilling over one of the ponds is actually overflow from one of the Coachella Valley Water District's percolation ponds. The last and largest pond, number 19, hasn't been this full in close to 2 decades.
"The person who saw it was alarmed because they hadn't seen it and got a hold of Palm Springs Police and told them that they thought there might be a case of the integrity of the pond here being breached but that just wasn't the case," Robert Keeran, spokesman for the Coachella Valley Water District said.
Each of the 19 ponds is enormous and capable of holding hundreds of acre feet of water.
To give you an idea of just how much water that is. One acre foot is equivalent to a football field filled with a foot of water. All of the ponds combined hold more than 35-hundred acre feet of water.
So imagine the damage a levee break would cause. Luckily the ponds are intact--no breaks, just normal overflow.
"I wont say that it can't happen but the chance of enough water coming into pond 19 to cause it to breach and cause large amounts to go across indian avenue is very very slim," Keeran said.
Pond 19 is still overflowing, but it's doing what it's supposed to. Instead of flowing into another pond it's flowing into open desert. The water eventually reaches a stopping point about 1/2 mile from Indian Canyon.
There are no levee breaks. No flooding. But certainly no shortage of water here in the desert for the months ahead.