Since the 1950s, Lower Sabino Creek has experienced declining groundwater levels and reduced stream flow. As much as we’d like to “wave a wand” and bring back perennial flow to Sabino Creek, a river does not flow by magic. There is hard science involved—so we worked with our partners to develop this flow budget and get a clear picture of the dynamics at work.
We may not be magicians, but with our data and on-the-ground strategies pointing the way, the fantastic sight of a free-flowing Sabino Creek seems more realistic than ever!
Breaking down the data
There’s some good news: Sabino Creek currently flows in years with above-average rainfall. This is due to recent recovery in groundwater levels thanks to increased conservation by local residents and increased flow in wetter years. Tucson Water played a proactive role in the recovery of groundwater levels when they ceased pumping from the Sabino-area in the mid-1990s. After 60 years of steady decline, it is encouraging to see these efforts already making a difference in restoring groundwater levels.
More can be done: Our flow budget shows we need to reduce our current groundwater demand by 11% to support flow during drier years. In addition to overall water-use reduction, we need to focus our outdoor conservation efforts during the hottest months of the year (March – June), when the water balance deficit is greatest.
Learn more about our campaign to restore flow to Sabino and Tanque Verde Creeks on our 50 Year Program page.