(mariachi music) – So we’re standing here
at the Mission Garden. It’s a ethnobotanical
garden where we’re trying to represent very
much what Tucson used to be 150 years ago. People would’ve
been growing wheat, corn, beans, fruit trees. They would’ve been
growing vegetables and all kinds of plants
that would’ve been sustaining the community. All of course related
to the amount of water that was present in
the Santa Cruz River. – The Santa Cruz
River’s always been a key part of why Tucson
has had civilization here for thousands of
years and even though it doesn’t look like
it today, it used to be a perennially flowing river. – This was a thriving,
flourishing river with cottonwoods and
willows and surface water flowing all year long. As we move through
history, population growth the Spanish, the European
influence in the region… – [Tim] People would
actually divert water out of the river in
order to grow crops or do other things and that
really started changing how the river behaved
into the early 1900s. – [Jesus] And later
on, as air-conditioning came into this area
the city exploded. – [Tim] People
discovered how to pump from the groundwater
beneath the river in order to keep
building the community. – There’s a lot of
factors that led to the river drying up, but groundwater
pumping is a big one. That changed what was
living along the river. You know the Gila
topminnow disappeared as well as many
other native fish. – Visionaries have
often thought about, okay wouldn’t it be
great if we could have the Santa Cruz River flow again. But it wasn’t until about 2016 that Tucson Water
really took a look at, okay is this now the time,
is there an opportunity here and do we have the
resources in place that it could make sense. And it really did. It lined up really
nicely as something that would be good
for the community but it also fit in
with how we approach management of our water
supplies for the future. So it’s been about a
three year conversation from idea to when
we’re actually gonna dedicated the flow. (mariachi music) – Well good afternoon everybody. I want to welcome you all to this dedication ceremony
for the Santa Cruz River. This is a project that’s
been many years in the making and we’re finally here today. – This is a grand experiment. We actually don’t know for sure how far the water will flow. We have a limited pipe diameter and limited amount of
water we can put in. So, we’re gonna use that and it’ll flow maybe one
mile, maybe two miles. We’ll find out over time. A lot of people
might wonder about, okay how are rate payer
dollars being used to do this, and the total cost
of this project is well under $1 million. To be able to recharge
this amount of water in a constructive
facility would be at least three to six
times as expensive as that. When we deliver water
into the river channel most of it actually soaks in
to the groundwater beneath and when you do that over time it actually can start to rebuild the groundwater underneath it. – Adding any kind of water
regularly to the river is gonna increase
diversity and probably support more plants like
willows and other vegetation that need more access to
water, aquatic wildlife, insects that a lot of them
start their life in the river and they’re a good food
source for fish and birds. – It’s a very high quality
of reclaimed water. It’s not drinking water,
but incidental contact with that water is
perfectly appropriate. This is the same
water that we use on our golf courses, that we use in our parks
and school grounds. And it’s actually the
same quality of water that already flows in
the Santa Cruz River much further North. – [Claire] The stretch
of the river from Sweetwater Wetlands
area, North to Marana, I believe we’ve
been releasing water into the river since the 70s. So we’ve been doing
it for a long time but what’s really changed
is the quality in the water. I don’t think there was
any seeding of vegetation. It just will come on it’s own, so give it water
and it will come. – A few people have
asked, how would the return of the flow
effect the Mission Garden or would compliment
somehow the Mission Garden? Wildlife and the biodiversity,
whether we’re talking bats, insects, and birds,
and possibly reptiles will be connected
in a bridge between the “A” Mountain,
Tumamoc Hill area, The Mission Garden Oasis,
and the permanent flow, even if it’s small will
definitely increase the biodiversity
in the entire area. – Unless you live in the dessert you just don’t appreciate
rain and rivers the way Tucsonan’s do. And releasing the water
into the Santa Cruz today on el Dia de San
Juan, when Tucsonan’s are good and ready for
the monsoon to start is especially appropriate. Only Tucsonan’s
could understand why, on one of the hottest
days of the year, we go outside of
our own free will, celebrate our city, and
fervently hope for rain. (clapping) (mariachi music) (singing in foreign language) – It is a very important
symbolic gesture I would say. Personally, I can
compare to what we’re doing here at
the Mission Garden. There’s no way we can
bring everything back the way things used
to be, you know when Tucson was a little town. But yet, it brings
us the concept of why we’re here, understanding the origins of Tucson makes
us understand this region. It makes us conserve and makes
us appreciate what we have. When you see the water
flowing in the Santa Cruz and you can go and touch it and you can go and put
your feet in the water you are touching history. – Really we focus so much on what we’ve lost along the river and our river is still there. It’s still very much alive. It’s probably really
different from what it used to be in the past, but it’s still part
of our heritage. It’s the reason we
can call Tucson home.