Agua Caliente Park will get new life

Agua Caliente Park will get new life

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Pima County will dedicate Pond Two at Agua Caliente Park on April 7, 2017, which it hopes will bring back to life a park once on life support.

Agua Caliente, an oasis in the desert on Tucson's far east side at 12325 E. Roger Road, is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

At one time, the park had seven ponds but is now down to two due to drought and water consumption from nearby development. During the housing boom in the early 2000s, even Pond One, was nearly dry.

However, in the past year, due to efforts from the Regional Flood Control District and the Pima County Parks Department, a project to save water seems to have paid off and helped re-establish a second pond.

A well was dug in 2004 when it became apparent that the springs, which fed the ponds, were not enough. But even with the new well, drought conditions threatened the parks only surviving pond.

That all changed in 2016, when the pond was lined which minimized water loss and has led to the restoration of Pond Two.

"It looks like a pond again," said Jeff Babson, the county Naturalist at the park. "I'm just hopeful to see what happens in the future as far as bird and animals coming back to it."

150,000 thousand people use the park every year, a testament to its popularity.

One of those is Dan Weisz, a retired educator who comes to the park to take photographs of  birds.

"It's a great horned owl taking a look at us," he said showing photos he had taken that morning.

While he showed pictures, a dozen students from Hermosa middle school scoured the trees looking for the owl.

It's part of the value of the park.

"It's a beautiful place," he said. "It's a real jewel for Tucson."

Mattie McAlister has been coming to Agua Caliente since the sixties.

She was having a picnic lunch with about a dozen friends from the Tucson Foothills, who came to the park to eat Greek food and share friendship.

They also shared stores about the time the park nearly went dry.

"It was heartbreaking, absolutely heart breaking," McAlister said. It's coming back now and I think it's wonderful."

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