The main pond at Agua Caliente Park has become a shallow, sludgy shadow of its former self.

But that’s not a bad thing.

The popular pond northeast of Tucson is being slowly drained to accommodate improvements including installation of a liner to reduce water loss.

The project will unfold over the next few months, but the schedule will depend on several factors including rainfall and other weather conditions, said Karen Simms, division manager for Natural Resources at Pima County. The county oversees the park.

“We are pretty sure that by early- to mid-June, we’ll have the pond dry,” Simms said, noting that heavy rains in the coming weeks and months could increase the time needed for draining the pond.

A design contract for upcoming work was issued recently.

When the pond is dry, from about June through August, scheduled work includes:

  • Removing some palm trees and cattails to improve visibility and reduce water loss.
  • Contouring the pond and its island.
  • Constructing a polymer liner in the pond to reduce water loss through seepage.
  • Constructing a bridge to the island.

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Simms said the public won’t have access to the park at some times during the coming months.

“There will definitely be closures of the park for the period when there is active construction,” she said.

When the work is complete, plans call for refilling the 3½-acre pond with water pumped from a well and possibly water from the Agua Caliente Spring, which recently began running after a long dry spell.

“We’re still hoping to fill the pond sometime in September, but a lot of unknowns can affect the schedule,” Simms said.

County officials have estimated the cost of the restoration project at $750,000 to $1 million.

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