Old Water and New Knowledge at Cienega Creek

“How old is your water?” That’s not a common question among water users, or even in water education, yet it’s high on the list for Dr. Jennifer McIntosh. She’s an Associate Professor in Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona whose focus is the elemental and isotopic chemistry of water. For her, estimating the age of water can be a key tool in understanding the structure and functioning of aquifers. More…

Toads in Monsoon Mud

How do you give kids a sense of the enormous challenge it is to survive in the Arizona desert, kids who turn a tap for water, adjust a thermostat for cooling, and send someone to the store for food or treats? How can you pass along to adults a measure of the effort needed to adapt to the the drier and hotter conditions that (we are told) are in our future? One Tucson father and biologist has an answer. More…

Water for Silver

Southern Arizona’s Ciénega Creek, a small stream in the Sonoran Desert, supports an ecosystem of great variety and resilience. The upper story is cottonwood and willow, perennial water runs in many stretches, and hundreds of species make a home here including several endangered or threatened: Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Gila Chub, Southwest Willow Flycatcher. There is almost no reserve in the creek’s water supply…

Including a Total Wreck story from Edward Vail.

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Monsoon and Frogs at Empire Gulch

Gulch is a vivid name, suggesting hot sun on a jumble of rocks, some bleached cattle bones lying in the dust, a crusty prospector leading a mule into the hills, temperatures over 100 degrees, and occasional torrents of water. But Empire Gulch this August morning, just steps away from the surrounding Sonoran Desert, was shady, cool, deserted, covered with a carpet of greenery, and sporting a muddy stream channel winding through its downed timber.

Included is a return visit from Francisco Eduardo Valdés Acuña.

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Controversy at Ciénega Creek

The Empire Ranch entrance road transports its travelers from 21st century Sonoran Desert – scattered desert scrub, paved highways, speeding traffic, Border Patrol checkpoints, copper mine arguments – into a world of different dimensions. More…

The View from López Pass

López Pass sits at 5305 feet above sea level in the middle section of Santa Rita Ridge, the northern arm of the Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona. It offers an expansive view – west to the Santa Cruz Basin, and east to the Cienega Basin.

And, at the time of the full moon, it is the place to have a conversation with Francisco Eduardo Valdés Acuña.

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Mountain Springs at Rosemont

Springs were once plentiful along the slopes of the Santa Rita Mountains, the broken rocks of the mountains leaking moisture down the slopes to support sedge, a few sycamore or sometimes willow and cottonwood trees, Sonoran Desert wildlife, and eventually men and cattle. Most of the springs are gone now, or much diminished. The men are also gone, but not diminished. More…

Dos Aguas in Bouse

On an ordinary day there are two classes of water in Bouse, Arizona – water for local use (supplies pumped from the Ranegras Plain aquifer 50 and more feet below the surface), and that water just passing through (Colorado River water being pumped uphill, south and east in the canal of the Central Arizona Project, or CAP). On the last day of September, 2012, these two sources of water were mixed unexpectedly and with much drama. Here’s a Dos Aguas report from the key locations of the story: Bouse, CAP headquarters, and Lake Pleasant.

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