Sep 18, 2013 10:32 AM by Ryan Haarer

County hopes to restore disappearing pond at Agua Caliente

TUCSON- Agua Caliente Park is home to a prehistoric pond full of water from a running stream. But, just last year that stream stopped running.

"We enjoy the water. There's not a lot of areas around Tucson that are so accessible with such beautiful riparian habitat. To see this drying up is just devastating," said park visitor Christina Orr.

The stream that supplied the water used to flow at a rate of 140 gallons per minute. By August of this year the pond was bone dry. The county is pumping in water to make up for what it's losing.

"We've got 55 feet of water on the surface of an acre. We are using almost all of that to pump into this pond. Now, normal evaporation in the Tucson basin is about 88 inches a year from the surface. We are losing three times that. So it's not just evaporation. We probably have a hole in the bottom of the pond so there is probably leakage out that way," claims Kerry Baldwin, Division Manager of Natural Resources for Pima County.

That's a lot of disappearing water. So, the county has a plan to prevent leakage.

"We are probably going to cut the size of the surface area of the pond down a little bit. We'll go ahead and clean the bottom of the pond and line it so it doesn't lose anything from the bottom," said Baldwin.

The proposed project is expected to cost about a million dollars. It's a proposal that will be left up to voters in a 2015 bond election.

In the meantime the county will continue pumping in everything they've got. In 2015 you can bet dog walkers like Christina will be voting for a restoration of this age old retreat.

"To see this drying up, we're losing a piece of something that we truly love," said Orr.

The county estimates that lining the pond and cutting down the size would only require pumping in 13 acre feet of water a year instead of 55.


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