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Flourishing pond at Tucson's Agua Caliente Park could be drained next year

Flourishing pond at Tucson's Agua Caliente Park could be drained next year

This summer’s monsoon cloudbursts have helped restore Agua Caliente Park to the verdant oasis it was before extreme drought all but dried up the park’s main pond .

But the popular 3.5-acre pond — once spring-fed and now kept full with the help of groundwater pumping — could be intentionally drained dry as soon as late 2018.

There’s a good reason for that, said Robert Padilla, assistant director of Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation. The department manages the park northeast of Tucson.

“It’s in the plan to install a liner in the pond” to reduce water loss through seepage, Padilla said.

“We would use that opportunity to dredge the pond and remove some of the cattails growing there,” he said. The cattails — marsh plants that have proliferated in the wake of summer rains — suck up precious water from the pond during dry seasons.

“We may do some maintenance in the interim with respect to cattails,” Padilla said. “Our plan is to remove them because they use up water. We pump a lot of groundwater into the pond (about 91,000 gallons daily), and we want to reduce that.”

Agua Caliente Park’s second pond, which had been mostly dry in recent years, was renovated last year so it can hold water when the main pond is drained.

“That was step one — to prepare pond two so visitors will have a pond with water in it while we do the work on pond one,” Padilla said.

He noted that vegetation has been planted around pond two — which covers about 2 acres and now contains some water — to make the area more attractive for visitors.

“The vegetation at pond two just needs time to mature,” Padilla said. “We use native plants and put them along the perimeter. In a year or 18 months, hopefully, we will have some lush vegetation there.”

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

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