Dec 09, 2019

Santa Cruz Sediment Relocated to Tuscon, Arizona, Landfill

The landfill at the base of “A” Mountain in Tuscon, Arizona, could become a 29 acre desert park in 2020. 

Tuscon, Arizona

More than 200,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed from the Santa Cruz River and relocated to a landfill near "A" Mountain in 2020, reported the Arizona Daily Star

The area at the base of "A" Mountain is recognized as Tucson's birthplace, reported the Arizona Daily Star. The removal marks the fourth and final phase of an effort to remove excess dirt and debris from the riverbed to mitigate potential flooding.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved a no-cost contract with Rio Nuevo that covers the removal of material. This will temporarily halt the release of new effluents into the river and has reignited discussions over whether to convert the site to a Sonoran Desert Park.

"We're excited that something is finally happening. We're going to keep our fingers crossed for the future," said Katya Peterson, a co-chair of Friends of Tucson's Birthplace, the group that created the garden right next to the landfill. "We're very hopeful."

There are still issues with the 27 acre plot, 25 of which served as previously the city's dump. An estimated $35 million will be needed to clean and rid the site of any potential environmental issues, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

"I guess you can consider this some sort of progress. The big challenge for all of us is remediating the landfill," said Rio Nuevo chairman Fletcher McCusker. "My hope is now that the various parties – the county, the city, Rio Nuevo – we've got to sit down and figure out that landfill."

The Pima County Regional Flood District has been working to remove unwanted sediment from the riverbed since the county took over maintenance responsibility for the Santa Cruz River and other regional courses in 2014.

In the first two phases of the project, more than 200,000 cubic yards of material was removed. The decision to instead move the sediment to the "A" Mountain site was a cost-saving measure. 

The next phase is scheduled to begin in January 2020, reported the Arizona Daily Star. Tucson Water will temporarily halt the release of water from the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project as part of the final phase. 

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