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Where does the storm water go?

Officials say the water from a storm event ends up untreated and discharged to one of Phoenix's city outfalls.

PHOENIX — The Greater Phoenix area is known as the Valley of the Sun for a reason; but when it does rain, where does the water go?

City of Phoenix Environmental Quality Specialist Josh Blakey explained that the water from a storm event ends up untreated and discharged to one of Phoenix's city outfalls. 

An outfall is the city's term for a flood retention structure or a larger drainage ditch. There are 760 outfalls in the city of Phoenix alone. Eighty of those are along the Salt River. 

Blakey said newer subdivisions have green, low depression areas where neighborhood water will drain into. From there, that water will either percolate into the ground or eventually drain into the city.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Mike Schaffner pointed out that as you increase acidification of the soil and increase urbanization, you'll get more runoff. 

Since there are less dirt, grass, vegetation, and natural spaces in the Greater Phoenix area, excess runoff is natural. 

Even when rain hasn't fallen in months, don't be surprised to see water flowing through a city outfall. Sometimes excess irrigation water from SRP will be released. 

During a storm, you'll witness several hundred thousand gallons of water flowing through one outfall. The city outfalls work the hardest during a typical monsoon, where much of the storm water eventually goes. 

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