Water levels at popular Rose Canyon Lake north of Tucson are about 2 feet below normal — and the lake won’t refill until rain and snowmelt come to the rescue.
The immediate forecast for moisture: zilch.
Drought and natural evaporation — coupled with releases from the lake’s dam to accommodate repairs along the shore — have left the upstream end of the lakebed dry. The downstream end near the dam is still fully covered with water.
“The lake was lowered by about 2 feet to repair the accessible walkway along the lake shore,” said Heidi Schewel, spokeswoman for the Coronado National Forest, which manages the site in the Catalina Mountains.
“We waited over last summer for the lake level to fall, then worked with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to open the valve on the dam last November to lower the lake to the level where the work could be completed,” Schewel said.
The 7-acre lake and surrounding area — popular with anglers, campers and picnickers — lies at the end of a paved access road that departs the Catalina Highway near mile marker 17. The access road is closed for the winter, but unusually warm weather this winter has led many visitors to walk a mile or so from the highway to the site.
Schewel said the repair project has been completed, with a final inspection of the work about three weeks ago.
Getting the lake back to its normal level will depend on forces of nature. “The lake will refill by natural means,” Schewel said. “The less precipitation we receive, the longer the lake will take to fill.”