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The spring at Agua Caliente Park is flowing again after long dry spell

The spring at Agua Caliente Park is flowing again after long dry spell

The renewed flow could affect plans to drain the main pond at Agua Caliente for renovations and the installation of a liner.

By Doug Kreutz

A spring at Agua Caliente Park, which has been almost continuously dry in recent years, is flowing again after abundant winter rains and mountain snows.

What has caused the renewed spring flow isn’t known for certain, although winter precipitation may have played a role, say officials of Pima County, which oversees the park northeast of Tucson.

Also not known is how long the spring will continue to flow.

An information panel at the Agua Caliente Spring site says that, “The sources and pathways for the water that now infrequently comes out of the natural spring head are not fully understood.

“Rainfall and snow on the Catalina Mountains, shallow and deep rock stresses and fractures as well as significant heat generated hundreds of feet below the surface all contribute to the complex and changing system,” the information panel continues. “The reduced and absent flows are likely the result of a change in the artisanal function at the spring, extended drought, and a draw-down of the aquifer from wells in the area.”

The recent renewed flow, while a welcome sight, could affect upcoming plans to drain the main pond at Agua Caliente for renovations and installation of a liner to limit seepage.

“We have a consultant on board who is developing various alternatives to manage the spring flow as well as local runoff during construction,” said Colby Fryar, civil engineering manager and project manager for the pond renovation.

“We will be coordinating the design with our contractor, once they are brought on board,” Fryar said.

County officials have made plans for renovating the 3½-acre main pond — known as Pond 1 — because the pond, which once was fed by the spring, has required pumping 60,000 or more gallons of groundwater daily in recent years to keep water levels up.

Officials have said the cost of the restoration project is expected to be between $750,000 and $1 million.

Details of the work and a schedule for each stage are posted on a sign beside the pond.

Agua Caliente Spring, with water flowing away on the right. Officials don’t know how long the spring might continue to run.

Water flowing near Agua Caliente Spring, which is at the top of the photo.

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

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