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Funding for Santa Cruz Flood Control

In September 1983, rains from Tropical Storm Octave led to massive flooding of Santa Cruz River. Photo credit: Ron Medvescek/Arizona Daily Star (1983)

By Brian Wright for Maricopa Monitor

Anyone who lived in or near Maricopa in 1983 knows how devastating a flood can be on the Lower Santa Cruz River.

The town was underwater for an extended period of time that October, but that’s just one example of how flooding on the Lower Santa Cruz can wreak havoc.

Pinal County leaders, activists and politicians are putting in hard work to make sure that kind of destruction isn’t seen in the future. Last week, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved participation with the Army Corps of Engineers on a feasibility study for the river.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, played a large role in securing federal funding for the initial phase of the study. U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, also helped secure the funding, which covered all of the first phase ($100K) and part of the second phase ($200K).

Kirkpatrick wrote a letter directly to President Barack Obama that outlined Pinal County’s desperate need for federal funding for the project.

In the last 128 years, 34 major floods have occurred on the Lower Santa Cruz, or an average of one flood every 3.8 years, according to a study by the Army Corps of Engineers. Six of the seven most damaging floods occurred in the last 50 years.

The Lower Santa Cruz River stretches from northern Mexico to the Gila River Indian Community, just north of the City of Maricopa, cutting directly through western Pinal County.

One of the biggest advocates for addressing the problem of floods on the Lower Santa Cruz is Mark Killian, chairman of the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance and chairman of the Greene Reservoir Flood Control District.

Killian said the Lower Santa Cruz River Alliance is a massive group effort to support the flood control project, involving farmers, politicians, tribal leaders, cities and private developers. He said a “regional approach” is a must because potential flooding affects all of Pinal County.

Killian said many other farmers in the area faced the wrath of that flood.

He said the flood control project is on the right track but added the rest of the funding needs to be secured quickly to make sure the project is completed as soon as possible. That includes funding not just for studies, but the engineering costs associated with implementing a physical solution.

Read more at Casa Grande Dispatch

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