The Santa Cruz River Heritage Project - Frequently Asked Questions & Fast Facts

Working With Water - August 2019

Santa Cruz River Heritage Project png image

Why put water into the Santa Cruz River bed?

The primary purpose of the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project is to recharge recycled water into the aquifer for future use. This water has been discharged at different locations in the river for decades. Releasing water in this new location (between Silverlake and Starr Pass Boulevard) uses existing infrastructure to efficiently recharge water, while bringing the benefits of flowing water to a new part of the community—in reality, the oldest part of our community, where humans first settled thousands of years ago.

Will Heritage Project water flow year round?

Yes. Flow will be constant, except for occasional times when there is high demand from other customers on the reclaimed water system, or when we must shut down for maintenance.

Is the water safe to touch?

Yes, it’s safe to touch and wade in, but not to swim in or drink. The source of the water Tucson Water releases into the river is the same highly treated wastewater we’ve safely used to irrigate turf at schools, parks, and golf courses (and released elsewhere in the river) for decades. Keep in mind that once the water is flowing in the river bed, it can be exposed to animal waste, trash and pollution from stormwater.

Who is managing the trees and plants growing in and around the project?

Tucson Water and the Pima County Regional Flood Control District are working together to manage the vegetation and sediment buildup to help reduce flooding, protect bridges, and create a healthy riparian habitat.

Will the project mean more mosquitoes in the area?

No. By keeping the water flowing, there are reduced opportunities for mosquitoes to breed. Natural predators like fish, birds, frogs, and bats will help keep them in check. Tucson Water has already begun monitoring mosquito populations and will manage them as needed, much as we do at our Sweetwater Wetlands facility.

Will water rates go up to pay for the Heritage Project?

No. This project uses existing reclaimed water infrastructure, and provides a very cost-effective means of recharging the aquifer over the long term.

Fast Facts:

  • Location: Water starts between Silverlake Road and Starr Pass Boulevard, extends north of Congress Street
  • Amount of water up to approximately: 4.3 cubic feet per second/1,950 gallons per minute/2.8 million gallons per day/3,150 acre-feet per year
  • Construction Cost: $850,000

Learn more about the Santa Cruz River Heritage Project.

For more information about reclaimed water in our community, click here.

To read the complete August Water Matters newsletter, click here pdf.