Water levels in the so-called deep pond at Pima County’s Kino Environmental Restoration Project have dropped dramatically since heavy rains and a rare snowfall had the pond virtually full in February.
Lack of recent storm runoff has led to the declining water levels.
“The ‘full’ pond depth in the constructed 50-foot-deep pond results in 7 acres of open water,” said Jennifer Becker, principal hydrologist with the county’s Regional Flood Control District.
“Based on the difference between the current water height and the top of the white mineral deposits along the banks of the deep pond, we can tell that the surface is roughly 10 to 12 vertical feet below the full” level, Becker said. “This means the water is still almost 40 feet deep and the pond area is nearly 4 acres in size.”
While water levels have dropped, Becker said enough water remains to meet the needs of the Kino Environmental Restoration Project, or KERP, which is on South Forgeus Avenue about a block north of East Ajo Way.
Storm runoff water stored in the deep pond is used to supply sustainable water to support the wildlife habitat within KERP and to supply irrigation to the surrounding ball fields, landscaping and roadway medians, Becker said.
“This harvested stormwater helps Tucson save municipal water that would otherwise be used for irrigation,” she said. “There is currently plenty of stormwater to sustain the KERP vegetation, plus excess stormwater to use on the ball fields, landscape areas and medians through May and June. We can expect the KERP pond levels to continue to decline until summer rains begin.”
Becker said the deep pond won’t go completely dry unless plans call for drying it out for a specific purpose.
“When it gets below about 20 feet deep, we stop drawing from it,” she said.