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Rio Salado Environmental Restoration Project

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The Rio Salado Environmental Restoration Project (Project) has been 40 years in the making and is the first of its kind in the desert southwest. It has become the benchmark for future river restoration Projects. The Project restores a 5-mile section of the Salt River (Rio Salado) that goes through the very core of the City of Phoenix. The Salt River provides essential 100-year flood protection for the City of Phoenix. The Project changes a dry riverbed eyesore of debris and gravel pits back into restored native wetlands and riparian habitats with recreational and educational uses while maintaining the essential flood control. It also revitalizes the central city area.

The design includes innovative solutions to reestablish self-sustaining natural habits, and uses extensive recycling techniques to describe, interpret, and honor the history of the river, its people, and the City of Phoenix that grew from its banks. The Project provides the right mix of engineered infrastructure to support the riparian habitat establishment and maintenance as well as providing opportunities for public interaction with the Project.

This Project is a partnership between the City of Phoenix and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The Project design was completed on schedule in five phases over 3 years to meet the fiscal funding and construction schedule constraints.

Challenges included maintaining flood control, developing a sustainable environment, selecting appropriate plant palates and irrigation needs, determining water supply/quality, maximizing the use of nuisance flows from stormwater outfalls, minimizing impacts on the adjacent landfills, reusing existing concrete rubble in the Project, and providing public use features such as trails, kiosks, and ramadas.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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