Monday, November 14, 2016

Water Treatment and Riding

Saturday, the 12th, we were looking around the internet trying to figure out who is building the new reservoir out by the trail we hiked the previous Thursday.  See here for that post.  It is a city project, for home use, it's not for the golf courses.  I was wrong.  While on the city water website, we noticed a pick for the Sweetwater Wetlands.  Being bored beyond spitless and tired of the wind, we drove up to take a look.
It's really interesting.  In Tucson there are signs everywhere saying "X" has been watered with reclaimed water, where "X" is a golf course, park, or school.  We did not know that Tucson has two parallel water systems, one is for drinking and one is for water that has been through the sewage treatment system.  It's a system, not just a treatment plant.  Sewage comes in to the treatment plant and then is sent to the reclaimed water system or the wetlands.  The wetlands also treat backwash water from the treatment plant. Water from the wetlands is eventually either sent to the reclaimed water system, or allowed to sink into the ground via the recharge basins where it's stored for future use.

The wetlands.

A recharge basin being filled.

Before the Europeans came to Arizona, the Santa Cruz river was free flowing above ground.  Between the 1700s to early 1900s the Europeans with their cattle and their intensive agriculture, caused the river to dry up.  Deeper and deeper wells had to be dug to get at the ground water.  In 1940 the ground water was 40 feet deep, by 1990 it was 100 feet; today, some wells are 1,000 feet deep.  The recharging ponds allow water to go back to the ground water.  Some of it is pumped in to the reclaimed water irrigation system later, and some of it stays in the earth.  Tucson is making an effort to reclaim as much water as possible.

These are little fishies in the wetland.

Sunday and today we rode up the trail to the Christopher Columbus Park.  It's a pretty place.  We've always wondered why one lake was so blue.  We've about decided they're dyeing the water, like they do at the RV park in Newberry Springs, CA.

Also seen today was a controlled burn on Mt. Lemmon.  It was producing a lot of smoke.  That's about 25 miles north and east of us.

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