Home > Article > Restoring Flows & Floodplains with Pima County

Restoring Flows & Floodplains with Pima County

WMG’s river restoration work would not be possible without our partnership with Pima County Regional Flood Control District. The District owns and manages a considerable portion of the lands along our major streams and rivers, such as along the Rillito and Santa Cruz Rivers. While the District is charged with minimizing the risk of damage due to flooding and erosion and keeping the public safe, they are a forward-thinking agency interested in restoring Pima County’s rivers and floodplain habitat. 

Staff from the District, including Eric Shepp, Evan Canfield and Greg Saxe, are participants in the new Santa Cruz Watershed Collaborative, where their invaluable hydrological expertise and perspective will help develop a plan to restore the watershed. Through a holistic watershedWMG is working with Pima County to restore flows and floodplains. framework, the District is working with WMG and many other partners to restore Tucson’s heritage of flowing rivers.

While we are collaborating on larger-scale planning, we are also busy partnering on a variety of on-the-ground restoration projects. Flood Control District Deputy Director Eric Shepp explains that the District enlists WMG to assist with “land restoration projects that use water-harvesting. WMG’s ability to provide water harvesting project design and installation, partnered with their strong community outreach and education component, helps the District revegetate floodplain corridors, and promote neighborhood scale, low-impact development strategies to the public.”

The District is utilizing WMG to implement stormwater harvesting on the county’s urban properties to restore the land, create multi-use areas, and provide flood control benefits. For example, the Shannon Gardens project – along Shannon Road north of Curtis – will include a pocket-park.  Other water harvesting partnership projects include the Neffson site on the Cañada del Oro River, Midvale Park on the Santa Cruz River, the Shamrock Site on the Rillito and a water recharge project at the Isabella Lee Preserve on Tanque Verde Creek. Each project site has unique ecology and constraints, and WMG collaborates with the District’s landscape and restoration specialists Sandy Bolduc and Jen Becker – who provide valuable guidance during design and installation. The District provides plants from Pima County’s Native Plant Nursery and other additional construction support as needed. The District is also looking to WMG’s volunteer base to “develop recurrent clean-ups in the regional watercourses such as Santa Cruz River and Rillito.”

Thanks to Pima County Flood Control, we are also able to host great events on the District’s properties, including our annual Tanque Verde Flow & Feast at Isabella Lee Nature Preserve and creek walks at various County properties across the Tucson basin. We appreciate this great public-private partnership!