An Update From Our CEO

A Splash of Summer

It’s summertime! That time of year, when we all like to get away and enjoy friends, family, or just some quiet time alone. It’s time to visit new places and favorite, familiar places. This summer, while I hope you’ve been off playing, we’ve been making a big splash…literally!

Tucsonans enjoying the new flowing Santa Cruz River near downtown.

The Santa Cruz River now has a new flow downtown thanks to Tucson Water’s Santa Cruz River Heritage Project. The release of highly treated wastewater is creating a new section of flowing river, replenishing groundwater, and creating an opportunity for native plants and animals to thrive. We saw many of our supporters and friends at a very fun fiesta after the official “ribbon cutting” on June 24th. There was live music and dancing, lots of food and crafts and we talked with hundreds of people at our booth about the Living River.

A family stops by our table at the Día de San Juan Festival to learn more about the Living River.

The Santa Cruz team has also produced and released a bilingual interactive mapping survey that invites users to identify and describe places of personal interest along the Santa Cruz to promote community-driven management solutions. Outreach efforts have expanded though a new series of collected stories from up and down the Santa Cruz River corridor, interviewing the likes of ranchers, importer-exporters, and wastewater treatment plant operators. Stay tuned to hear these community perspectives in the coming months.

The big news on the other side of the border—on July 1, continuing our successful track record in working collaboratively and binationally, the Sonoran Institute signed a collaborative 18-year agreement with other NGOs, Mexicali Public Services and the National Water Commission to improve the infrastructure of the Las Arenitas Water Treatment Plant with goals of improving water quality and increasing the flows of the water released in the Hardy River and the estuary of the Colorado River to benefit the communities, local economy and the environment. This means we will be creating even more new wetlands to treat wastewater and provide habitat. That’s the kind of big splash that makes us shout, “cannonball!”

View of water entering one of the wetlands at Las Arenitas. ©Bill Hatcher/Sonoran Institute, 2015.

Waverly Klaw is now officially at work as Associate Director, Resilient Communities and Watersheds in our Colorado offices; and she couldn’t be joining at a better time. This September, the Colorado Growing Water Smart workshop will be held in Estes Park, focusing on Front Range communities. And, Growing Water Smart is being expanded to Arizona for workshops in the spring of 2020. Waverly will help lead our work in Colorado and the Growing Water Smart Program during this exciting time.

Another stellar new addition to Sonoran Institute is our new CFAO, Kim Egita, who (to continue the analogy) is getting all our systems flowing. She is reviewing processes and unifying our teams in Mexico and the US for increased efficiency.

Whether you’re as new to the Sonoran Institute as Waverly and Kim, or you’ve followed us for (nearly) 30 years now, we are grateful to have you with us. Your support makes our projects come to fruition, and together we’re creating resilience and helping communities to connect with their natural resources. I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer so far with a chance to enjoy a cool stream of water, be refreshed by pine-filled mountain air on an exhilarating or gentle hike, or experienced some other interaction with nature that has given you a sense of comfort and inspiration.

Please feel free to tell us how you’re enjoying the season—we always love to hear from you.

Blog Post By: Stephanie SklarChief Executive Officer of the Sonoran Institute