Water will begin flowing into the empty Tempe Town Lake on Friday morning, allowing the lake to reopen Oct. 25.
The restoration is slightly ahead of Tempe's original goal of Nov. 1 to reopen the city's top tourism draw.
The lake's 997 million gallons will come from Roosevelt Lake and should arrive in Tempe about 7 a.m. Friday. Mayor Hugh Hallman said he's not sure whether many Tempe residents will hang out around the lake to watch it fill, but he said residents have missed the lake even during its least active months.
"I think folks recognized what a very big economic and social site Town Lake is as well as an economic engine," Hallman said.
The lake's water will come from the Crosscut Canal, rather than the Salt River, and enter at the lake's north wall, just west of the Mill Avenue bridges. The public can watch the water arrive from Boat Beach, which is accessible where Lakeview Drive intersects with Washington Street. Also, the entering water will be visible from Beach Park and the Tempe Center for the Arts.
Water will flow in the lake at 100 cubic feet per second.
The lake has been physically ready for water since last week, when the city installed three new rubber bladders on the lake's west end. A metal coffer dam fills in the fourth and final space of the structure that will be replaced this fall after arriving from Japan. Tempe got official clearance to fill the lake on Thursday from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
The dams are being paid for by Bridgestone, which made the bladders when the lake opened in 1999 and expected the inflatable barriers to last 30 years. Bridgestone and Tempe were one day away from starting to replace the bladders when one of them burst July 20, emptying the lake within hours.
Tempe's only cost to refill the lake is $50,000, which the Salt River Project is charging to deliver the water.
Tempe has researched various kinds of dams since 2007 but will look at options more closely now that work is ending to fill the lake. A metal gate is another option, which would allow the structure to lower as water flows through the river. But the city hasn't ruled out rubber bladders from a different manufacturer, Hallman said.
"People have to change out the tires on their cars on a regular basis," Hallman said. "That doesn't mean they stop using automobiles."