Every flush is feeding one of Arizona’s largest and most prized wetland projects
Phoenix, along with most high temperature cities, tends to consume a greater amount of water per person per day than the average city’s consumption level. The strain of demand on this precious resource requires thoughtful conservation; in letting nature help with its wastewater treatment, Phoenix has developed an award-winning wetland in return.
The city of Phoenix is the lead partner of the Tres Rios Project, a man made wetland located near the confluence of three rivers. It was created to assist in the tertiary treatment of wastewater from the 91st Avenue WWTP; but the Project has provided many added benefits including the restoration of 1,500 acres for native riparian habitat, flood damage reduction, recreational expansion and environmental education.
While water is in high demand to promote growth, sustain industry, and provide life to yards, parks and agricultural areas, creating wetlands in the desert is a challenge. The Tres Rios Project has addressed these challenges by taking advantage of an underutilized source of high quality water – treated wastewater. The city used local, state and federal funding to obtain a pump that diverts wastewater to the 25 acre-section of riverbank called Tres Rios, where the flora and fauna of the wetlands help further clean the already treated effluent.
The first phase was finished in 2007 and according to city water reports, 90% of treated wastewater is now being recycled as potable drinking water, or used for agriculture or landscaping and the Tres Rios has become a home to a diverse animal and plant life. The original 25 acres of the park is currently being expanded to nearly 400.