Tempe Town Puddle
Tuesday night, a portion of the dam that creates Tempe Town Lake, a recreational spot in the normally dry Salt River riverbed bordering on Tempe, Arizona, burst and released about 750 million square feet of water into the riverbed, creating flash flood conditions downstream for a considerable distance. The Salt River bed is mostly undeveloped, so damages have been light, though there's some fear homeless people who ocasionally set up camp in the riverbed might have been washed away. (Hard to tell yet.)
The dam in question isn't a normal concrete dam, but one that uses a number of extremely large inflatable rubber barriers to hold back the water. The barriers can be inflated or deflated to control the lake's volume.
The barrier section that burst ("exploded" was the word used by some witnesses) was one that had been supposed to be replaced earlier this year. Since the dam was first built about ten years ago, that particular portion had been riding higher than other sections, and it's top edge had been out in the open sunlight, rather than slightly underwater like it was supposed to be.
Take a piece of rubber. Leave it out in the Arizona heat and sunshine for ten years. What do you expect to happen? Duh.
The replacement didn't happen when it should have, apparently for budgetary concerns on the part of the Tempe city council. Double-Duh.
The company that built and installed the rubber barriers is named Bridgestone. I wonder if this is the same Bridgestone that had to recall about six million defective auto tires about ten years ago when the tires began blowing out much faster than would have been expected? Triple-Duh.
Shorter Tempe Town Lake Dam Debacle: "Oh no, the rubber broke!"
(note on the photo shown above: According to the New Times article, the photo and several others were taken from the seventh floor of the old Hayden Flour Mills building. This explains why there was no photographer's credit given; the Hayden building has been empty and boarded up for years, so anyone photographing from there would be doing so illegally. I've seen other photos of the insides of the Hayden building, and it's pretty decrepit, so it was probably dangerous for the photographer as well.)