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May 23, 2013 5:55 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

How harvesting monsoons helps keep Tucson cool, beautiful

TUCSON - To most people our roads represent nothing more than a way for cars to get around.

But when it rains, Tory Syracuse of Watershed Management Group, will tell you the roads can do so much more. "We know that water is really precious in the desert of course," Syracuse says.

About a year ago Syracuse started working the City of Tucson to create a policy that will prevent storm damage from going to waste. "If we can capture the rain water, it is just going to be one more way we can assure we have always have adequate water," Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says.

The policy involves capturing water in basins built into the side of the road, next to the curb. The water can then be used to grow plants and trees along our city streets. "It would provide a way for that roadside vegetation to be irrigated without using municipal water," Syracuse says.

It would help take care of one of Tucson's other big challenges, which is lack of shade. Right now Syracuse says trees provide shade to less than 10% of Tucson. "The healthy urban forest canopy cover for arid cities like Tucson is said to be 25%-30%," Syracuse says.

She says the basins will help Tucson reach that level and beautify the city at the same time. "It will help walkers, it will help bikers, it will help businesses," says Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

Watershed Management will be presenting its policy to the city council on Wednesday, May 29.

If it passes, the policy would require the basins to be designed into all future road projects.

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