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  • Santa Cruz bank protection project seeks to prevent flood risk in Marana

    Feb 15, 2017 | Read More News
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    The Pima County Regional Flood Control District is performing repairs to the low-flow channel soil cement embankment along the east side of the Santa Cruz River between Cortaro and Twin Peak roads. 
    Photo credit: Pima County Regional Flood Control District
    Erosion along the soil cement banks has caused the river to undercut the banks. The repairs are necessary to prevent a breach. 

    Reclaimed water from the county’s two wastewater reclamation plants flows along that part of the river and had to be diverted to the west side of the channel. The diversion affected the water level of the river because more water was infiltrating into the ground along that formerly dry stretch. The lower water level for a couple of days did not provide enough water for some of the nonnative fish in that immediate area to survive and nearby residents and Loop users have noticed a number of dead fish in the area. Some fish also became trapped in small pools that eventually dried up. 

    Flows in the river are now back to normal and supporting aquatic life, including fish. 

    Repairs to the bank protection near the Continental Ranch subdivision have been needed on a regular basis due to substandard work by the original developer, which did not ensure the levee could prevent or minimize subsurface water seepage into adjoining low-lying properties. Without the work, homes and businesses along that portion of the river face a higher risk of flooding.

    It is worth noting that before 2013, fish and most other aquatic life were unable to survive in the effluent discharged into the Santa Cruz because the turbid reclaimed water had high levels of ammonia and low levels of oxygen. A $660 million upgrade to the County’s wastewater system completed in 2014 has greatly improved water quality in the river, so much so that there are now at least four species of fish filling the river north into Old Marana. 

    The work in the river is expected to be completed by March 17.