Preventing Tucson High School football field from flooding again

Preventing Tucson High School football field from flooding again
Source: Tucson High School Football
Source: Tucson High School Football

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Talks have begun to determine how to prevent the Tucson High School Football field and track from flooding again.

The field flooded twice last week, Sunday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 19, but what caused it is still not known. According to Gloria Ellison, who has owned a home next door to the high school since 1960, it's a first.

"The street would get flooded but never have we had that," she said.

Pima County paid for, and the Army Corps of Engineers engineered, a $5 million drainage project that was completed last year.

The project was supposed to keep Fourth Avenue from flooding and the SunLink streetcar running, but both had issues.

The streets flooded and the streetcar was shut down when the Fourth Avenue underpass filled with water.

The artificial turf football field may have suffered irreparable damage.

"Something has changed down there," District 5 Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias said. "I think we need to figure out what happened and why and figure out whose responsibility it is."

Elias does not believe the drainage project contributed to the flooding of the field but it never flooded before the project.

"It's storm water and it's unpredictable," he said.

Elias believes the school's sports teams may have to find another location to play and practice but that has not been decided yet.

A maintenance worker said the field's seams are beginning to fray and the water seeping underneath caused a bubble to develop in the middle of the field.

He said it's unplayable right now.

But the urgent issue at the moment is what emergency measures will be taken to insure it does not happen again.

Ellison said she called the city about debris building up, blocking the entrance to the culvert under Euclid Avenue which she believes could have contributed to the problem.

"See how that needs to be dredged down there," she said pointing to the sand which has built up in the wash. "The culvert has been there a long time, maybe as long as the house has been here and it was built in '35."

Her home flooded during the Wednesday downpour and left mud "all over the drive, in the rocks, everywhere."

She said it's flooded before but the mud this time was more than usual.

A city of Tucson spokesperson, Michael Graham, said it was likely "a high-intensity, short-duration storm."

Elias is not prepared to say that yet.

"I'm not willing to say that because I'm not sure how big the events were," he said.

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