TUCSON -- The Santa Cruz River needs our treated sewage. Over a century of development and ranching have decimated the river, which is mostly dry.
Pima County releases treated wastewater from its Roger Rd. sewage plant. It has restored a 7-mile stretch of the river to a full-time stream, where birds and wildlife thrive within our urban environment. Pictured is Tucson Water's Joaquim Delgado explaining the relationship between the Tucson Wastewater Treatment Plant and riparian/wetland habitat. Flush for restoration.
Unfortunately, too much urban sprawl and poor planning have created a situation where area residents are complaining about the smell of the wastewater plant. The County is considering closing it, cutting off the river's critical water supply. Why was so much development permitted around a sewage plant? Not smart.
County Czar Chuck Huckelberry is considering moving the Roger Rd. plant sewage to another facility at Ina Rd. for treatment, but sprawlers are complaining about smells there too. The County and City also want to move more treated effluent to water parks and golf courses, freeing up more water for urban sprawl and the next million people developers want to move in to Pima County. This could reduce or end water available for the river.
Instead of closing the Roger Rd. plant, the County should figure out a way to curb the bad smell. If the plant is closed the County must find a way to keep water in the river, such as a pipeline from Ina to Roger, to carry water to the river for habitat and groundwater recharge.
Santa Cruz River restoration should grow, not shrink, and it should be expanded toward downtown. Tucson needs, and could have, a living river again.
Someday we must advance far enough as a society to no longer shit in our water supply.