A river runs through downtown Tucson, or it soon will

Published: Jun. 6, 2018 at 5:34 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 6, 2018 at 7:07 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It appears Tucson Water's goal of a river running through downtown Tucson is about to become a reality.

The project is called 'Agua Dulce", or sweet water and if it achieves its goal, it would be sweet indeed.

The project will take 34 million gallons of treated waste water a day from the Ina Road sewage treatment plant, pump it ten miles south to 29th and Santa Cruz and put it into the river bed.

Phase 1 will create a stream about 20 feet wide, which will meander through the channel one and a half miles to Congress, ending at the new Caterpillar office complex. Phase 2 will begin at Cushing Street and create the same stream further north.

It will be the first time water has flowed continuously for nearly 80 years.

Tucson Water spokesman Fernando Molina says it achieves several goals.

"We meet our long term water management objectives," he said. "It makes sure we have water for the long term."

Right now, the water discharged at Ina Road flows north into Marana and into Pinal County where Tucson Water has no control.

By pumping the water to 29th Street, it keeps the water in Tucson and under legal control of Tucson Water. It also provides a reason for people to visit downtown, locals and tourists alike.

"We create an amenity for downtown that will also be a big draw to get people downtown," he said.

"Once we put water in there, we'll start to see some of the natural vegetation come back," he said. "In fact, we're going to be revegetating with natural vegetation."

The cost will also be minimal since the water utility already has a pipeline with runs from Ina to 29th and the cost of pumping the water will be much smaller than if it had to build an entirely new pumping station.

Another part of the plan is to divert some of the water at Cushing Street into the Rio Nuevo project to create a river walk which can also be used for business, retail or restaurants.

The permitting process in nearly complete which gives Tucson Water confidence the project can be up and running, with water in the Santa Cruz by May 18, 2019.

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