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South-side church benefiting from rainwater harvesting tools

Tucson News Now


Photo of green infrastructure at New Hope Church by Heather Janssen, Tucson News Now Multimedia Journalist When it rains, it pours in Tucson.

Flooding is a common problem many Tucsonans know well during the rainiest times of the year, monsoon. At New Hope Church off of Santa Clara Avenue and Valencia, they have become very familiar with flooding.

"Every so often there is flooding in our church property and our buildings so we have to file for insurance," said Pastor Agustine Jimenez.

Jimenez explained sometimes it meant less people heading to church because they couldn't cross the street.

It's a problem that needed a solution. That's where the Watershed Management Group and the Sonoran Institute came in. 

The pair conducted a study near Airport Wash three years ago. Their goal was to implement different phases of rainwater harvesting tools in the area. When the organizations received funding from the Royal Bank of Canada, they soon decided to dig in at New Hope Church.

John Shepard, Senior Director of Programming at the Sonoran Institute told Tucson News Now, "We're capturing here water that's coming off the roof, the parking lot, off the streets. It's rare that you have an opportunity to do that all in once place."

One of the phases - when it rains, water will come down off of the roof, down into small trenches, across the way and into the wash.

The project consisted of three phrases. Creating small trenches to carry water that runs off from the roof to the wash, cut curbs alongside the street, and split the asphalt down the middle of the church's parking lot. It took nine months to complete the project. 

A project like this is something Joaquin Murrieta with Watershed Management said can be done anywhere.

Murrieta, a cultural ecologist with Watershed Management said, "We're inviting the community to implement this kind of green infrastructure all over Tucson."

The project provided the 'New Hope' you'll find in the church's name. It meant a brighter day for them, even on the gloomiest ones.

"It's already impacting the community because people are coming and they want to be part of that. They're asking questions about what has been done and by who," said Pastor Jimenez.

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