TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) Crews found an estimated 80 tons of scrap metal in the Pantano Wash, including dozens of cars, shopping carts, and grave markers.
Pima County officials say the bank re-enforcement project began in October. Crews dug about eight to 10 feet to clear sediment. Some of the sand will provide a barrier to protect the structures on Grant Road from Tanque Verde Road past Fort Lowell Park, crews say.
"There's so much junk it boggles the mind," said Eddie Garcia with Psomas Civil Engineering, in a press release. "It's really amazing how much stuff people in previous generations would dump in the river here."
The scrap metal found weighs an estimated 80 tons, county leaders say. That includes 10 tons of tires, 240 tons of concrete, and about 50 headstones. Those headstones, however, weren't associated with graves but had some kind of flaw in the design or spelling. There was also about 2,400 tons of plant material, including invasive species which were removed.
The project also allows for construction of The Loop, a path used by pedestrians and cyclists. The county says that will include a sitting area near the Costco and a staging area for bicycle and horseback riders at Glenn Street and Sahuara near Fort Lowell Park
Most of the cars found were from the 1950's and 1960's. Larry Robison, with the Pima County Regional Flood Control District, said the old car bodies would be used to shore up river banks.
"In the 1970's, people finally wised up to the fact it's not doing us any good," Robison said in a written release. "You're leaving an old junker, which often has the battery left in it, so you're polluting the wash while not doing much to actually re-enforce the bank."
Some debris found may have been dumped illegally.
To report illegal dumping, call the Department of Environmental Quality at (520) 724-7400 or the Wildcat Dumping Hotline at (520) 622-5800 or complete an Environmental Complaint Form online.