Pima’s town and river water supply may just be safer this monsoon thanks to a grant from the National Resource Conservation Service, Pima Town Manager Sean Lewis said.

The town used a $162,000 grant to hire a contractor to straighten Ash Creek and remove silt, sand, and debris from the bed that was left by the 2017 Mount Graham Fire.

By widening the creek, whatever debris or trees in it will flow downstream without catching and creating a dam. So far, the contractor has cleared a mile and a half of the creek bed, and the project will continue until the money from the grant runs out, Lewis said.

In August 2019 a hard rain fell in Pima and the water in Ash Creek, which splits the town in half, rose so high it escaped the waterway and surrounded the Pima sewer pond. The water didn’t get into the pond, but the potential for water contamination was there, Lewis said.

“We did it for two reasons. We had to protect the sewer pond. Obviously, it would be an economic disaster if (the flood water) it broke into the pond,” Lewis said. “The second reason is to keep down the potential of flooding homes, and the school which is two blocks to the east of the creek and Highway 70.”

Lewis hopes the contractor will be able to clear two more miles by the end of June. The Town of Pima has cleaned out sections of the creek in the past, but nothing of this size before, he said.

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