If we had a flowing river near Tucson, wouldn’t you want to make sure it stayed that way? We would! Tucson actually has a little-known gem like this. A 23-mile stretch of the Santa Cruz River as it runs north out of Tucson enjoys year-round flows supported by effluent, or treated wastewater. The water is cleaned and released into the river channel from two water treatment facilities near Roger and Ina Roads.
Over the years, this influx of reliable water in the river has established native willow, palo verde, and mesquite trees, as well as other wetland understory plants, that would not otherwise survive on the intermittent flows that have become the norm for the Santa Cruz. In turn, this habitat a rich ribbon of riparian habitat supports birds—more than 230 bird species identified during annual bird counts—and other desert critters!
What’s the problem? There is no formal agreement to keep this water from being designated for other uses. And as we continue to reduce our per capita water use in the region, we reduce the amount of water that goes down our drains to the treatment plants—meaning less reclaimed water available for all uses in the future.
That’s why WMG, through our leadership role in the Community Water Coalition, is asking City and County leadership to secure water for this stretch of the Santa Cruz River using the Conservation Effluent Pool (CEP).
What is the CEP? It is 10,000 acre feet of treated wastewater set for projects to protect or restore riparian habitat each year. Our proposal asks the City of Tucson and Pima County to dedicate a portion of this CEP water to maintain the established habitat along the Santa Cruz, ensuring this amenity survives for wildlife—and people—to enjoy for years to come.
In 2014, the Community Water Coalition created a 53-page report on priority riparian areas to benefit from using CEP water. Our proposal provides an important first step toward maintaining two of these areas. And if approved, the agreement to keep water in the Santa Cruz will be first project to utilize the CEP.
Instructions for sending a card to your elected officials:
Print and mail option
- Download the postcard pdf and print it out
- Add a personal note about why our rivers matter to you and sign it
- Put it in an envelope to mail it to the Mayor, County Administrator, and the council member who represents your ward* at the addresses listed in this pdf
Email delivery option
- Download the postcard pdf and save it where you can find it on your computer
- Compose an email with a personalized message to your elected officials about why our rivers matter to you
- Attach the postcard pdf to your message
- Send your message to the Mayor, County Administrator, and the council member who represents your ward* at the email addresses listed in this pdf
*You can look up which ward you are in on the City's website, and everyone can send a message to the Mayor and the County Administrator
Download the Complete CWC report on priority CEP restoration projects at the Community Water Coalition website.