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Tucson's English-speakers have long loved throwing Spanish words onto a new street or subdivision to give the place-name some panache.

This was the home, after all, of an apartment complex near Kolb and Sunrise christened San Ventana - Saint Window.

It's also the city where, on the southeast side, you can live at the corner of Mañana Grande Vista and Mañana Grande Place. I'm a Spanish speaker, but I'm stumped trying to translate those street names.

Big Morning View?

Great Tomorrow Place?

Now Pima County has taken the Spanish place names to a previously unreached plateau - higher even than the perfectly redundant Table Mesa north of Phoenix - with a seven-word, three-part mouthful of a moniker for a new restoration project. Welcome to Corazón de los Tres Rios del Norte - Heart of the Three Rivers of the North.

What are these three rivers, you ask?

Pittsburgh can keep its Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers - Tucson has the Santa Cruz, the Cañada del Oro (ravine of gold) and the Rillito River (Little River River). They come together on the northwest side near West Orange Grove Road, just west of Interstate 10.

The layman may look at this area, as I did Thursday, and see mostly big ditches dug by California Portland Cement, which has a plant there, along with a marsh where reeds and cottonwoods grow. Pima County envisions it as a sort of eco-park, using effluent to help restore wetlands and revegetate the river bottom.

For a decade or so, Pima County and the Army Corps of Engineers have been working toward a major flood-control and environmental-restoration project along an 18-mile stretch of the Santa Cruz, from Prince Road in Tucson to Sanders Road in Marana.

The project has long been called the "Tres Rios del Norte." But it's incredibly ambitious and costly and might never get done. So Pima County officials decided in recent years to focus on a core area of the Tres Rios project - the "heart" of the project, let's say. Or "corazón" in Spanish.

The idea is to restore vegetation, protect riverbanks and build ball fields in that area - a more doable piece of the bigger project.

"We already had Tres Rios del Norte - the three rivers," said Suzanne Shields, director of the Pima County Regional Flood Control District. "We wanted to say it was the heart of the three rivers."

So they did, in a long phrase that Anglophones may have a hard time spitting out, especially with those four R's gumming it up.

But hey - the name has that splash of Latin spice, right?

"I like the idea that it's the heart of the rivers," Shields said.

You know, I do too. It's a place where rivers come together. I think there's a word for that. Yes … confluence! A lovely English word.

But of course, there's a Spanish word for that too - and happily for English-speakers, it's confluencia.

La Confluencia- simple, easy to say. Maybe Pima County can work with that.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at or 807-8427. On Twitter @senyorreporter