Flood controls passed monsoon 2021 test

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 9:43 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It rained more than two inches in some places overnight in Tucson. And in previous years, that could have been devastating to the city’s infrastructure.

Pima County likes to compare this year’s weather pattern to that of 2006, when 10 inches of rain fell during the 90 day monsoon.

It created widespread flooding, road and property damage. But even though 2021 could do the same, it hasn’t so far.

“In terms of damage to our county infrastructure, nothing has actually happened, which is a good thing” said Joe Cuffari, a spokesperson for the Pima County Flood Control District. “All of our infrastucture has held up during these storms.”

Following the devastating floods along the Rillito Creek and Santa Cruz River, the county embarked on a multi-million dollar taxpayer funded flood control project to protect against serious flooding.

It first installed bank protection to keep the water flowing in the riverbanks instead of spilling into streets and neighborhoods as it did in 1983 washing out homes and businesses.

“I know there was about 22,000 cubic feet per second running through Rillito Creek at one point,” he said. about last night. “Which is a massive amount of water.”

But still three or four feet from overtopping the banks.

The only damage to county infrastructure was along The Loop, which was closed under bridges where water had spilled onto the pavement.

But the real test will come over the next few days as more rain is expected.

“Once it dries out in two or three days or a week or so, then we can go in there and look to see if there’s a bank protection failure, caving in, subsidence and see where sediment, vegetation and trash have collected,” he said. “Then we can clean it out for future storms.”

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