Southeast Houghton Area Recharge Project

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Southeast Houghton Area Recharge Project (SHARP)

October 30, 2020 (revised December 16, 2020)

As the newest addition to the reclaimed water system, SHARP allows Tucson Water to recharge and store recycled water into our aquifer – a maximum capacity of 1.3 billion gallons of water/year. But SHARP is much more than a working recharge facility! Visitors will enjoy its 40 acres of desert landscape to walk, cycle, take photos, walk a dog, relax under a ramada, enjoy water in basins (seasonally), and more.

SHARP’s three recharge basins, walking/running trails, and mountain bike trail sit on city-owned property, west of Houghton Road at 9900 East Drexel Road. It’s an active recharge facility constructed to be in harmony with surrounding desert, offering recreation, amenities, and education about water resources, conservation, and environmental stewardship.  Here’s more about SHARP’s three main goals:

Storing Recycled Water in the Aquifer: SHARP’s primary purpose is to replenish the aquifer by expanding recharge capacity for storage and future use. Here is how recharge happens: a remote automated system releases recycled water from the Houghton Reclaimed Reservoir to flow into a SHARP recharge basin. This water soaks into the soil, into the aquifer that’s 350 feet underground, where it is stored.

  • Three recharge basins totaling 6.8 acres; one potential future basin
  • Basin recharge occurs during cooler months when there is less demand for irrigation with reclaimed water 
  • Basins can infiltrate up to seven feet of water/day 
  • Maximum recharge capacity: 1.3 billion gallons of recycled water/year

Recreation and Amenities: SHARP offers 1.6 miles of two-way walking/running trails around basins including an ADA compliant path. A single-track mountain biking trail—part of the larger Fantasy Island Trails system—hugs the edges of the property.  Other amenities include: 

  • Three ramadas with picnic tables
  • Bike racks 
  • Benches beside basins 
  • Restrooms & a water station at the main entrance 
  • Over 1500 low water use desert plants, including 500 trees -- irrigated with reclaimed and rainwater

Water Resource Education: Visitors will find interpretative signs about water resources and how SHARP works. Two ramadas feature active and passive rainwater harvesting systems with small rain gardens. SHARP also includes three drywells to capture and study different types of stormwater runoff, its quality, its infiltration rate, and its potential uses.  

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This article appeared in the November 2020 edition of Water Matters.

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