White Mountains Online

Pintail Lake and Redhead Marsh


Created Wetlands In Northern Arizona

Design & Layout

Size of Wetlands

Telephone Lake
Pintail Lake
South Marsh
Redhead Marsh
Bullseye Marsh
Ned Lake
Riparian Area
45 acres
57 acres
19 acres
49 acres
1 acre
15 acres
15 acres
Total Acres=201 acres

Since the construction of the first wetland at Pintail Lake in 1978, there has been a gradual evolution of the wetlands. In 1985 a major expansion occurred with the construction of Redhead Marsh.This surge of construction was required as effluent volumes produced began exceeding treatment and disposal capacities. The present system is designed to handle 1.42 million gallons of wastewater per day to serve a population of 13,500.

The system was designed to integrate several lakes and marshes into an effective wetlands complex. Flexibility in management options was built in to accommodate changes from year to year. The water delivery system was designed to provide additional treatment before the effluent reaches Redhead Marsh.

Area Map of Pintail Lake Facilities

Operation & Monitoring

The main techniques used in operating the wetland complex involve the management of the water. The quantity, quality, and delivery routes are varied to manage the wetland habitat. The flexibility designed into the system allows a variety of management options. For example, water control structures with adjustable water boards are used to hold water levels at desired levels. Water can be diverted away from some ponds to allow them to dry up. This is desired to allow for maintenance and to accomplish vegetation management goals.

Monitoring of the wetlands is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality by the City of Show Low. Additional monitoring is conducted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Forest Service.

As water progresses through the system, water quality improves. For example, secondary effluent coming from the polishing ponds flows into Telephone Lake, then into an open channel which delivers it to the riparian area. After the riparian area, the water flows into another open channel and is finally delivered to pond one of the Redhead Marsh. During this delivery process the water quality greatly improves. The following charts show the removal rates for nitrogen and phosphorus as water moves through the system.

Nitrogen Levels Total Phosphates
For more information, please feel free to contact the USDA Forest Service, Lakeside Ranger District at 520.368.5111 or you may write us at 2022 W. White Mtn. Blvd., Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona 85935

White Mountains Online wishes to express our appreciation to the USDA Forest Service, Lakeside District for providing this information! This and other articles may be found in print media entitled:

Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment and Wildlife Habitat
United States Environmental Protection Agency
September 1993

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