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Clogged culvert amped up Green Valley-Sahuarita floods

According to Pima Flood Control report
Posted at 10:21 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-03 01:21:43-04

SAHUARITA, Ariz. (KGUN) — More than heavy rain is to blame for flooded neighborhoods in Sahuarita and Green Valley in late July.

The Pima County Regional Flood Control District has concluded the flooding was from big rain but it was also from a drainage culvert clogged with mud.

Strong storms July 22nd and 24th brought plenty of rain to Green Valley and Sahuarita. A draft report from Pima County Flood Control says on the 24th some areas had about five and a half inches of rain.

But rain wasn’t the only problem.

The culvert under Abrego Drive, near Duval Road clogged with so much mud, a main drainage channel backed up and flood water flowed into more than 40 homes. Flood Control says in some homes the water was half a foot deep.

Almost six weeks later some of those homeowners are still cleaning up, including Andrew Bowen. He figures he threw out nine or ten loads of ruined belongings.

“It was just a terrible mess. It got inside the house too and you had to clean the mud up. I got down and the only way you could get it up was with a paper towel and then use a wet sponge to clean up the rest.”

Flood Control says seven years ago a report recognized the need to keep the culvert clear and re-work the drainage channels so they can carry more water. It says the Town of Sahuarita cleared the culvert but Flood Control says it does not have details of maintenance that happened since 2014.

Sahuarita Town Engineer and Public Works Director Beth Abramovitz says the town does do regular maintenance on the culverts but says,

“… Despite frequent and appropriate maintenance, some culverts may still become plugged during a major storm event—as was the case in this instance.”

In this instance, Pima County hired a contractor to clear the culvert and drainage channel, and finished the work about August 18th.