Flooding problem in Sahuarita Heights off Santa Rita Road,
south of Sahuarita Road
For the past four or so years, flooding has been occurring in the Santa Rita/Dawson Road area of Sahuarita Heights at heavy rain flows. The flow reaches some 3 to 4 feet and is strong enough to move sheds and uproot gate posts. The flooding occurs at high rain events during the monsoon season. (See photos below.)
The flooding is a recent phenomenon. The local opinion is that the flooding started when the Sahuarita Highlands was developed because there had not been flooding before this construction. However, there had been some collection of water in a large vacant lot--apparently owned by Pima Mine/ASARCO. The water breaks loose from the wash at Delgado and Davis, runs down the road and enters a barren plot of land. FICO manages a long dam Santa Rita Road that is made higher by a couple of feet every year to prevent the flood water flow from entering the pecan groves and destroying the laser-leveled pecan fields.
This dam has been in place for years. About six years ago, Neil Johnson, a local landowner, was showing the situation to a flood control person. At that time, FICO had a bull-dozer out working the dam, including on Neil's property. It was stacking the dirt in a manner that would make it more likely that the waters would be directed to Neil's property. Neil asked the Spanish speaking operator to quit the operations, which was detrimental to his property. And the operator did quit. This incident was witnessed by the flood control person, but there was never any follow-up with Neil Johnson. At that time, there was no major flooding on the Johnson property. After last year's flood, FICO created a berm to the north to curtail the flooding into Sahuarita Heights area when they were augmenting the dam that protects their property.
A complaint was filed by Neil Johnson during the rainy season three years ago. However, the flood control department replied in a letter that since the flooding was on private land, they had no jurisdiction. The flooding does end up on private land, BUT the water does not originate on this plot of land. It runs several miles along public washes and roads. Therefore, the County does have a responsibility to mitigate this problem.
Two foot flooding on dirt road off of Santa Rita Rd.
Green Valley Fire Dept. had no vehicle capable of withstanding the flow,
Heading Home on a tractor/back-hoe
Water level on tractor/back-hoe tire
New lakeside property—some two to three feet deep
One pathway of flooding, looking west
New lake in town (see map below)
Google map of region