Flood Control District begins new phase of Santa Cruz sediment removal project

Flood Control District begins new phase of Santa Cruz sediment removal project
Santa Cruz River at Speedway and I-10. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Regional Flood Control District on Jan. 8 will begin removing approximately 150,000 cubic yards of sediment from the bed of the Santa Cruz River channel between Silverlake Road and Cushing Street. The process could take up to two months. Work will take place Monday through Friday from approximately 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The project’s goal is to increase capacity of that stretch of the Santa Cruz ahead of potential winter rains. A buildup of sediment over the last 30 years has significantly reduced the carrying capacity of the river, with over 10 feet of sediment buildup in some places.

The District took over maintenance responsibilities for the Santa Cruz from the City of Tucson in 2014. Once sediment removal is complete, the District will monitor the river and perform minor maintenance work approximately every five years, depending on flood activity.

“Lowering the level of the river bed will improve the channel’s ability to carry the significant amounts of runoff caused the powerful storms we experience, in both the winter and during the Monsoon,” said project manager Colby Fryar. “We want to mitigate the flooding potential in large storm events to neighborhoods such as Menlo Park, Barrio Hollywood and Barrio Kroger Lane and to protect bridges downstream.”

Crews will preserve stands of desirable vegetation while removing invasive species and other plant life that could contribute to flooding or hamper Flood Control’s response to emergencies or maintenance efforts. County-contracted herpetologists will scour the area in advance of the project and hope to relocate dozens of lizards and other reptiles.

This is the second phase of a larger effort to remove sediment buildup in the Santa Cruz. Phase 1, between Speedway Boulevard and Grant Road, wrapped up this past spring. Phase 3, which will remove sediment between Cushing Street and Speedway Boulevard is scheduled to begin in Spring 2019.

The Chuck Huckelberry Loop will close between the Mission Lane Crossing and Starr Pass Boulevard on the west bank of the river on weekdays for the duration of the project to accommodate trucks used to remove sediment and debris from the project site. The path will be open on weekends. Sediment will be moved to either the A Mountain Landfill or the planned Meander Bend Park north of Grant Road.

The Flood Control District will host an open house meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Pima County Housing Center, 801 W. Congress St., to give the public an opportunity to meet the project team and review maps of the project.

For more information, contact the Flood Control District by phone at 520-724-4600 or online.

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