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Pima County clears Rillito River ahead of Monsoon

Sediment Removal at Rillito River
Posted at 7:55 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 22:06:59-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On a windy Tuesday afternoon, Pima County is hard at work to remove 90,000 cubic yards of sediment from the bottom of the Rillito River on the Northwest side of Tucson.

"On this particular project, they're using a big excavator with a large bucket on it. He's loading it into, what we call, rock trucks," said Regional Flood Control District Divsion Manager, Colby Fryar.

It's the first time in around five years that this type of work has been done at the Rillito River, but it will make a big difference when monsoon season arrives.

"The sediment builds up over time and reduces the capacity for the washes and the rivers to carry the flow. We need to remove it to limit the potential for flooding over the banks," said Fryar.

The project will be completed in March. While the Rillito is the focus for now, other major rivers and washes, like the Canada Del Oro, Tanque Verde and Pantano, will also be cleared out.

"We're always being proactive with our maintenance and cleaning up our washes. We have an inspection program where we go through all the water courses and check them periodically," said Fryar.

The large piles of sediment from the Rillito won't go to waste. They are being transferred to the other side of the river, where the Arizona Department of Transportation will put them to good use.

"We're going to be using it for the next phase, which is the highway construction. ADOT is going to be constructing the new bridge over the Rillito," said Fryar.