Thursday, June 4th Public Meeting
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Reducing Fire Danger and Post-Fire Flood Risk through the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP)

The Orion timber sale is located in the Schultz Pass area. The orange slashes designate "leave trees" that will not be cut.

Tom Runyon and Erin Phelps, U.S. Forest Service

Tom Runyon and Erin Phelps of the U.S. Forest Service will present an overview of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP) including types of treatments, where treatments will occur, and hydrologic modeling from simulated soil burn severity mapping.

For those of you interested in a delightful summer activity, keep an eye on this website for a posting of Jack Welch's celebrated Rio Walk Series beginning June 6th. Join Jack in exploring and enjoying the Rio de Flag Watershed through group tours along the Rio and its tributaries.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, June 4th!

Evening Rio de Flag Walk Series with Jack Welch starts June 6th at 6:00 pm

Jack Welch. Photo by John Grahame.

Join Arizona Daily Sun columnist and Flagstaff treasure Jack Welch for a series of walks exploring the natural and cultural history of the Rio de Flag from its source at Leroux Springs to its terminus at the Bottomless Pit. All walks begin at 6:00 pm.

The series kicks off on SATURDAY 6 JUNE at LEROUX SPRINGS.
Start Location: Leroux Spring parking area.
Directions: Turn right on Snowbowl Road from Highway 180. Go straight for one mile to the first sharp right hand turn. Parking area is at that turn.
Time: 6:00 PM
Description: Walk Into Big and Little Leroux Springs. Big Leroux now flows on the surface for the first time in decades. See the NAU Arboretum, CCC encampment and old Mormon cabin, plus turnaround for the Moqui Stagecoach. About 4 total miles total walking.

Complete schedule here.

Thursday, May 7th Public Meeting
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Exploring Possible Solutions for the Rio de Flag Floodplain
Walter Crutchfield, Developer with Vintage Partners

Rio de Flag flowing through the Southside neighborhood during spring snowmelt season, Flagstaff, Arizona, April 2, 2010.
Rio de Flag flooding in Southside

Walter Crutchfield, developer with Vintage Partners, will present on possible solutions to managing flood control on the Southside in Flagstaff.

Ian Smith, intern with the Friends of the Rio, will also present on his draft watershed plan for the Rio de Flag Watershed.

Thank you to everyone who came out to for the Earth Day event with the City of Flagstaff on April 18th! It was great to see so many of you in attendance for the Rio de Flag cleanup and our Watershed Investigation workshop at Frances Short Pond on a sunny Saturday morning.

We look forward to seeing you at next week's meeting!

Reclaiming Rio will pay off in many ways

Arizona Daily Sun Editorial • April 30, 2015

The purple dashed line shows the proposed Flagstaff Urban Trail System alignment from Old Route 66 to Townsend Winona Road. The proposed trail will pass through areas where the city and the county are working to restore the Rio de Flag riparian area.
Picture Canyon Trail

When it comes to the Rio de Flag, Flagstaff can’t give the little ephemeral stream too much attention.

At nearly every twist and turn, the city and volunteer groups have lavished it with trails, holding ponds, marshes, interpretive signs and regular cleanups.

And if there are sections without those amenities, then there are plans to change that. It’s a far cry from when townsfolk referred to the “River de Flag” and used it to dispose of trash – or worse.

In recent decades, the portion of the Rio de Flag that runs through downtown has surfaced as a major flooding threat, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. But although the Corps has placed nearby properties in a 100-year-floodplain, thus limiting their development prospects, it hasn’t come through with much money to fix the problem. After years of delay, the cost to widen and deepen the channel has ballooned to $90 million, although some locals believe the city could do it for about $30 million less. (read more...)

Restoring the Rio

Arizona Daily Sun • April 28, 2015 • By Emery Cowan

David McKee with the city of Flagstaff's stormwater management department stands above the Rio de Flag waterway. The city of Flagstaff is in the midst of a project to restore the river's historic watershed. Photo by Emery Cowan © AZ Daily Sun.
David McKee at Wildcat Reach

After it winds through Flagstaff, squeezing between homes, under roads and through culverts, the Rio de Flag ends up on the eastern edge of the city.

Here, boulders decorated with ancient petroglyphs rest in the shadows of construction trucks, and wildlife tracks appear just feet from a Cemex building materials work yard.

Here, the industrial uses that have been pushed to the city’s edge run up against, and tumble into, a rare ribbon of riparian habitat.

“A lot of this area was taken for granted as a trash dump for a long number of years,” said Andy Bertelsen, the county’s director of public works.

This is also the place where the city of Flagstaff has spent the better part of the past decade restoring the Rio de Flag’s path, step by step. The final vision is to extend the Flagstaff Urban Trail System for 3.3 miles along the newly restored riparian area. The trail would connect Doney Park to the existing FUTS trail near the Flagstaff Mall and wind through Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve. (read more...)

Flagstaff Earth Day Saturday April 18

Thursday, April 2nd Public Meeting
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Flagstaff Water Group

Rio de Flag flowing below the Wildcat Water Treatment Plant at Picture Canyon Natural and Cultural Preserve, August 27, 2014. Photo © Tom Bean
Rio de Flag flowing below Wildcat Water Treatment Plant

The Flagstaff Water Group (FWG) will present their most recent work and progress as related to better cleaning of reclaimed water, better sludge treatment and improving methods to better conserve water in the Rio de Flag watershed and the Flagstaff community.  For the past year, this group of scientists and engineers has voluntarily researched the issues of how to address technological and economic dimensions as related to better water conservation and water quality.  Their presentation will be feature a 5 step program phased in over 5-10 years that would improve the biological health of the Rio de Flag and the safety of citizens who use reclaimed water.

In addition, Chelsea Silva will update members on Earth Day Event activities with the City on April 18. We are still looking for volunteers, and any interested members will be able to sign up to volunteer for the Earth Day Event.

City requests $500K for Rio de Flag project

AZ Daily Sun • March 19, 2015 • by SUZANNE ADAMS-OCKRASSA Sun Staff Reporter

The Rio de Flag runs near the library during the snowstorm that hit Flagstaff recently. Photo by Shannon Clark.
Rio in Winter by Shannon Clark

The city of Flagstaff is hoping for another $500,000 from the federal government to complete the design of the Rio de Flag Flood Control project.

In a report to Flagstaff City Council, Deputy City Manager Josh Copley detailed the city’s annual lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. This year’s delegation included Copley, Mayor Jerry Nabours and Councilmembers Karla Brewster and Jeff Oravits. At the top of the list of topics to discuss with federal representatives was the Rio de Flag Flood Control project.

The project is designed to channel the water from a 100-year flood away from the city’s center. The city and the federal government have been working on the project since 2000. The original cost of the project was estimated at $24 million. It now has an estimated cost of $106 million. This year the city’s delegation to Washington asked for an additional $500,000 to complete the design of the project. (read more...)

Thursday, February 5th Public Meeting
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Get Rio for Earth Day

Wildcat Reach. Photo © Tom Bean
Wildcat Reach. Photo copyright Tom Bean

Get Rio for Earth Day this year. Come join Friends of the Rio de Flag on Thursday, February 5 to help us plan Earth Day 2015 events along Flagstaff's major stream, the Rio de Flag.

Our intern, Chelsea Silva, will discuss her Adopt-The-Rio project for Earth Day in partnership with the City of Flagstaff. David McKee of the Flagstaff Stormwater Department will update us on restoration efforts at Wildcat Reach and other projects within the Rio watershed.

Share your thoughts and ideas on what kind of fundraiser you would like to see FoRio create for the community. We’ll also discuss topics for upcoming meetings and walks along the Rio, as well as a recap of the Friends of Rio de Flag’s participation at the Orpheum Theater in January for Ed Kabotie’s “Celebration of Water.”

Thursday, December 4th
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Friends of the Rio Potluck

The Friends of the Rio potluck depicted in this photo is somewhat idealized. Actual seating arrangements, food and beverage selections and table settings may vary.

It's time to celebrate another great Friends of the Rio de Flag year and plan for the next. We'll also be presenting this year's Tom Moody Award for exceptional efforts to protect, restore, clean up and improve the lovely little river which flows through the heart of our community.

Unlike our usual monthly gatherings, there will be no formal presentation. Rather, we will use this opportunity to talk with each other about what we've accomplished and what we should aim for in 2015.

We'll also be introducing the Board of Directors including several new directors, and discussing Board elections and nominations to the Board. Most importantly, please bring your holiday cheer. It's fun to be a Friend of the Rio de Flag.

Please bring a dish to share, something to drink, and if you are so inclined a donation to Friends of the Rio de Flag. The latter is entirely optional.

All are welcome, but this meeting will not be announced in the newspaper. If you are not a member, why not join? It's free and easy and there are no dues. You can join online or you can sign up while at the potluck.

Drainage with direction for Flagstaff

Arizona Daily Sun • October 28, 2014 • By Emery Cowan

Malcolm Alter, the stormwater engineer for the city of Flagstaff, stands in front of one of the undersized culverts along the Rio de Flag that a new watershed flood model is likely to identify as in need of enlarging.  (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun)
Malcolm Alter

Malcolm Alter stood on Cherry Avenue as it crosses over the Rio de Flag and held his hand up to his waist. That was how high water would reach above the culvert in the event of a 100-year flood.

City stormwater officials generally know how Flagstaff would be affected if a massive, 100-year flood spilled into the watershed that drains into the city's heart. But flooding impacts under other scenarios -- if a massive wildfire roared through the area or if drainage-altering development occurred upstream of town -- are hypotheticals the city has a hard time answering.

It’s a problem they’re hoping to solve thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city will use the money to develop a set of hydrologic models that will allow it to predict what would happen to the Rio de Flag watershed under a range of scenarios.

That type of information will allow the city to do a better job of prioritizing stormwater infrastructure projects to minimize the risk of flood-related damage as well as find solutions to drainage problems that already exist. (read more...)

Thursday, October 16, 2014 Friends of the Rio Special Event
5:30 pm at Federated Community Church
400 W. Aspen Ave, Flagstaff

A Conversation with David Coss

Former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss
Santa Fe River Park
River Park in downtown Santa Fe (courtesy virtualsantafe.com)

Recently retired Santa Fe, New Mexico Mayor David Coss counts as one of his proudest accomplishments bringing new life to the Santa Fe River. Quoted in the Santa Fe New Mexican, Coss said, “We still have a long way to go. We have climate change making everything more difficult and complicated, but I can tell that this town is going to bring back the river...It’s fun for me to see kids playing in the river. It’s fun to see baby strollers being pushed up and down the river trail, and I live right by it so I get to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”

Friends of the Rio has arranged for an exclusive conversation with the former mayor on Thursday, October 16th at 5:30 at Federated Community Church. Coss will be the keynote speaker at the 3rd Annual Flagstaff Regional Open Space Symposium at the Museum of Northern Arizona on Friday the 17th.

Coss's quest to bring back the Santa Fe River began more than a decade before his eight years as mayor. He was instrumental in drafting the Santa Fe River Corridor Plan that became a blueprint for the development of a riparian greenway of natural areas, trails and parks. His expertise and interest in the natural world is attested to by his bachelor’s degree in wildlife science from New Mexico State University and a master’s degree in zoology from Southern Illinois University.

Besides friends in high places, the Santa Fe River is advocated for by an organization similar to Friends of the Rio de Flag, the Santa Fe Watershed Association, We hope to find out in our conversation with the Mayor how various community partners worked together to find the funding to accomplish their goals.

Thursday, October 2, 2014 Public Meeting
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Aftermath of debris flow from the Schultz Fire
Cross section of lower reach of Shultz Creek watershed

What if Schultz Creek watershed burned?

A masters thesis presentation by Tori Stempniewicz

The 2010 Schultz Fire that led to 15,000 acres of devastation on the east side of the San Francisco Peaks was named for Shultz Peak and did not directly impact the Schultz Creek watershed.

But what if the fire had burned in the Schultz Creek watershed, which is located within the Dry Lake Hills treatment area of the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP)?

For her masters thesis NAU grad student Tori Stempniewicz studied both the history of Schultz Creek and the volume of sediment currently stored in the channel.

Join us on Thursday to learn how Tori calculated the probability that monsoon runoff after a wildfire in the watershed could mobilize high volumes of stored channel sediments and cause severe flooding and erosion downstream in the Rio de Flag and into downtown Flagstaff.

The 3rd Annual Flagstaff Regional Open Space Symposium on Friday, October 17 at the Museum of Northern Arizona will focus on visioning a future for the Rio de Flag. Lunch is included and seating is limited, so seating is limited, so registration is required.

Flagstaff 3rd Annual Regional Open Space Symposium flyer

Walking the Rio at Willow Bend

Rio de Flag and FUTS below Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. Photo © Tom Bean.
Below Willow Bend

Thursday, September 4th, 6:00pm — Willow Bend Environmental Education Center — 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff

Join Friends of the Rio de Flag for an evening walk and visit to Willow Bend Environmental Education Center.

We'll start at Willow Bend, where Director Rusty Tweed will introduce the center's new 3-dimensional model that offers a birds-eye view of the Flagstaff area's watersheds. Then we'll take a walk on the FUTS trail below the Center along the Rio de Flag.

Summer Evening Rio Walk to Frances Short Pond

Frances Short Pond. Photo © Tom Bean
Frances Short Pond

Thursday, August 7th 6:00pm
Montoya Community Center

Join Friends of the Rio de Flag for a summer evening walk from Montoya Community Center in Thorpe Park to the Frances Short Pond, aka the "Duck Pond."

Rick Miller, formerly of Arizona Game and Fish, will explain where the water in the pond comes from and what makes this an official Arizona Watchable Wildlife Site.

We'll explore more of this neighborhood along the FUTS trail and consider the future of the Rio de Flag in this area.

Time to realize fire and floods come together

June 20, 2014 • Arizona Daily Sun Editorial

It may seem odd to be obsessing about flooding in the middle of the dry season in sunny Arizona.

And particularly after a decade of drought in northern Arizona.

But there was the Flagstaff City Council last month looking to redesign the seemingly endless Rio de Flag flood control project.

And out in Doney Park, workers are rushing to put the final touches on this year’s flood mitigation structures below the Schultz burn area ahead of the monsoon.

Farther out of town on Mormon Mountain, Forest Service employees are taking the final measurements and putting the finishing touches on an EIS that will support flood-control thinning of the forest. The Dry Lake Hills are also part of the project. (read more...)

Flagstaff hike: Big Leroux Spring

June 11, 2014 • by Mare Czinar • Special to the Arizona Republic

Old sistern at Big Leroux Spring (Photo: Mare Czinar/Special for the Arizona Republic)
Old sistern at Big Leroux Spring

There's big news at Big Leroux Spring. For the first time in more than a century, this important water source at the base of Flagstaff's San Francisco Peaks has been freed from its 1930s-era concrete box. Well, partially, anyway.

Having been diverted and capped for municipal drinking water for years, the spring box was reconfigured in June 2013 to return a portion of the flow to the surface. This is the first step in the restoration of the site's wetland ecosystem and possible reintroduction of native plant and animal species.

Located at the head of Flagstaff's Rio de Flag watercourse, the sister springs of Big and Little Leroux have been a critical resource for Native Americans, explorers and homesteaders. Named for Antoine Leroux, a prolific 19th-century guide who assisted the Sitgreaves Expedition and the journeys of Lt. Edward Beale (of Beale Wagon Road fame), ownership of the springs area has changed hands numerous times. It's currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service and used for firefighter operations and hotshot headquarters.

With the goal of restoring a healthy, self-sustaining riparian environment, the woodlands around the springs have become a research area where ongoing data collection will aid in future conservation plans. Restoration of the site is mostly a volunteer effort. Although water flow varies with the seasons, a visit to the springs pays homage to the work of the Friends of the Rio de Flag, a local advocacy group toiling to preserve the history and hydrology of Flagstaff's watersheds.

Length: 2.6 miles round trip.

Rating: Easy.

Elevation: 7,520-7,600 feet.

Where: From Flagstaff, travel north on U.S. 180 to Snowbowl Road. Turn right and go 1 mile to where Forest Road 516 makes an abrupt right turn with an unmarked dirt road straight ahead. Park along this road in front of a gate, which marks the beginning of the hike. Pass the gate using the wood stairs and hike 0.3 mile to a fork. Go left and continue to a second fork and turn right. At the third fork, go left for Big Leroux or right for Little Leroux.

Details: friendsoftheriodeflag.org/leroux_springs.html

(Read more...)

City-built Rio de Flag has tradeoffs

Arizona Daily Sun • June 5, 2014 • by Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa

Flooding in 2004-05 in the Rio de Flag below Sinagua Heights (AZ Daily Sun courtesy photo).

Flagstaff City Council is tired of waiting for the federal government to fund and build the Rio de Flag flood control project.

Staff presented Council with four design and cost alternatives to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s plan for the project Tuesday.

The good news is a city-built project would likely be completed sooner than the Army’s plan.

The bad news is that the local project would not receive federal funding and thus likely cost local taxpayers at least $23 million more than the Army project unless other funding can be obtained. (read more...)

New design concept for Rio de Flag flood control

* Consultant to present to City Council on Tuesday, June 3rd, 6:00 pm at City Hall
* City Staff to present to Friends of the Rio on Thursday, June 5th, 6:00 pm at Montoya Community Center (Thorpe Park)

Rio de Flag project phase and alignment map - Army Corps of Engineers, Feb. 7, 2013
ACOE Alignment Map

After more than a decade of frustration trying to get the Rio de Flag flood control project funded by Congress and built by the Army Corp of Engineers, the City of Flagstaff six months ago hired a consultant to determine if there is another way to get flood control done.

Specifically, the consulting company, Michael Baker Jr. Inc, was tasked to develop a Design Concept Report (DCR) for flood control that would 1) develop a design concept at a 15% design level, 2) determine project feasibility, and 3) estimate project cost.

On Tuesday, June 3rd, at 6:00 pm at Flagstaff City Hall, Tim Quillman, Vice President of Michael Baker Jr. Inc. and the project's design engineer, will present the DCR to City Council.

Two nights later, on Thursday, June 5th at 6:00 pm, Mo El-Ali, Capital Improvements Engineer with the City of Flagstaff, will review the DCR at the Friends of the Rio de Flag membership meeting at the Joseph Montoya Community Center in Flagstaff. The public is invited to attend.

From Senator John McCain's office (color emphasis added)


May 22, 2014 Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain today released the following statement on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014  (WRRDA) conference agreement:

“Mr. President, today the Senate is considering the conference agreement for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). This bill contains roughly $12.3 billion in additional authorized spending for a variety of water projects that fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works division. This bill supports the construction and maintenance of many of our nation’s dams, levees, harbors, ports, and river ways to name a few. 

“For being such an important bill, the American people may wonder why the last time Congress passed a WRDA law was seven years ago in 2007.

“The reason, Mr. President, is that it took Congress seven years to finally respond to public pressure demanding Army Corps reform. As my colleagues know, the Corps has long been criticized by government auditors, taxpayer watchdogs and environmental groups for employing highly questionable economic models and environmental studies to justify its construction projects. A large number of Army Corps projects have been pegged as government boondoggles flush with waste, fraud and abuse due to cost-overruns and cut-corner construction. Perhaps the best known example is the flooding of New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina disaster that was traced back to substandard Corps levees, poor planning and gutted coastal wetlands. Years later, an independent study by the American Society of Engineers commissioned by the Corps concluded that, ‘a large portion of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina was caused by... engineering and engineering-policy failures made over many years at almost all levels of responsibility.’

“But as much as the Corps’ bad management practices are to blame, the truth is that we in Congress are not without fault. For decades, Congress has used each WRDA bill to pile on construction project on top of construction project as a way for members to ‘bring home the bacon’ in their states. Layers of these pork projects have created a $60 billion construction backlog, and the Army Corps simply can’t complete them all with their $2 billion annual construction appropriation. Cutting corners and cooking their books is one simply one way they bend to political priorities set by Congress.

“I appreciate that the conference agreement implements some modest Corps reforms, particularly addressing the agency’s $60 billion construction backlog. This bill requires Army Corps to ‘de-authorize’ up to $18 billion in Corps projects, most of which have never received construction funding to begin with. This is a step in the right direction, but unfortunately this bill’s ‘savings' are washed away by the $12 billion in new authorized spending included in this bill. Additionally, the conference agreement makes it impossible to de-authorize $28 billion in projects that were authorized in the 2007 WRDA law – a bill that was vetoed by President Bush for containing too much government waste but was subsequently overridden by Congress.  

“This bill also falls short by not giving the Army Corps clear parameters on what projects should be treated as national priorities. The conferees even eliminated a law that requires the Corps to send their most costly and controversial projects to undergo an ‘Independent Peer Review’ process. All of this means there will be less transparency and oversight into the Corps decision-making process. So I’m sorry to say I must question the veracity of ‘reform’ in this conference agreement.

“Mr. President, I worry that ultimately this WRRDA conference agreement means that Army Corps projects of lower-priority will continue to supersede projects that address serious, life-threatening issues across the nation and in my home state of Arizona. This lack of prioritization with Corp projects comes at a real cost to the American taxpayer. Take for example the Rio de Flag Flood Control Project in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Army Corps knows that a single large flood event along the Rio de Flag River could easily wipe out the city’s downtown area and Northern Arizona University, affecting half their population and causing $93 million in economic damage. After undergoing the appropriate feasibility studies, Congress authorized $24 million in 2000 to construct a 1.6-mile flood water channel and a detention basin to redirect the water away from the community. For 14 years, this project – again, just 1.6 miles – has languished partially because of the Corps’ $60 billion construction backlog. The Corps spends less than $3 million a year on Rio de Flag while Congress plays favorites with other projects on their plate. This approach of funding Army Corps projects piecemeal over the years has inflated the total estimated cost of Rio de Flag from $24 million to $101.5 million.

“Rio de Flag is a serious public safety project and yet it’s behind schedule and way over budget. In fact, the only competed portion of the project is a 4,000-foot levee, which is cracked due to shoddy construction by an Army Corps contractor. I’m told that the Army Corps recently ordered the contractor to repair the broken levee, of course at the added expense of the American taxpayer and the City of Flagstaff. Now the project faces more delays because the Army Corps has been slowly dragging out its ‘updated economic analysis’ for Rio De Flag for the past 3 years, leaving the city unnecessarily vulnerable to disaster and causing the project’s price tag to rise even higher.

“Mr. President, I have a longstanding practice of abstaining from legislating projects to WRDA bills out of principle that each project should be prioritized based on national need. But it’s hard to argue that Flagstaff isn’t one of these national priorities, or that the current practice of piling on Army Corps projects isn’t contributing mismanagement across the entire agency. Ultimately, this conference agreement does little to change the Corps’ culture of bad decisions that affect Rio de Flag and similar projects. Congress will not be blameless if a flood event larger than what Flagstaff occasionally sees inundates the city, destroys property, or claims innocent lives. 

“Mr. President, I appreciate the need to pass a WRDA bill after seven years, but I’m concerned that this bill is just a new coat of paint on the same broken system.  I urge my colleagues to oppose this conference agreement.” 

New life to Rio do Flag flood control project

Arizona Daily Sun • May 17, 2014 • by Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa

Kelton Smith, left, and Shelton Boggess paddle their kayak along the Rio de Flag last summer during monsoons in this file photo. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun, file)
Kayaking the Rio de Flag

The city of Flagstaff could see additional funds from the federal government to help continue the Rio de Flag flood control project.

The city requested $1.6 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year to fix the Clay Avenue Detention Basin and continue construction on the project.

According to the city manager’s office, the request has made it through the Army Corps’ Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. offices and is on track to be included the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. The act includes funding for several water, flood control and transportation projects across the U.S.

“It looks like WRRDA will be approved by Congress in the next week or two. So at this point things are looking very good,” City Manager Kevin Burke stated in a memo to Council. “We have a long ways to go, but at least we are moving again.”

On top of that, the city may also get $700,000 transfer from a project the Corps was working on in Tucson.

Councilmember Scott Overton said the information is good news. “It’s a positive step in the right direction,” he said. (read more...)

Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030Check your mail

The County has sent out ballots for the City of Flagstaff special election and many residents have received them.

The ballot will ask voters to vote ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ on the following: “Ratification by the Voters of the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030: Place Matters as the New General Plan for the City of Flagstaff, AZ.”

Voting ‘YES’ would mean that Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030 will become effective immediately and supersede the 2001 Regional Land Use and Transportation Plan.

Voting ‘NO’ would mean Current 2001 Plan stays in effect. In response to a No vote on the Regional Plan, the City will gather feedback to revise proposed Plan and seek adoption and ratification of revised 2030 Plan at a future date.

Voters should have received a publicity pamphlet last week that included an introduction to the Plan, a list of pro and con statements, and a sample of the ballot question. The Plan may still be reviewed at www.FlagstaffMatters.com, at the CD front counter at City Hall, and at both library locations.

Remember to Mail-in or Drop off Your Ballot

All ballots must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. A dropbox is located at the Coconino County Elections Office, 110 East Cherry Avenue, Flagstaff, AZ.

If you didn’t receive a ballot, you can call the County to request a replacement ballot by May 9, 2014. Information is on the County website at www.coconino.az.gov/elections.

For more information on the Regional Plan call Sara Dechter, AICP, at (928) 213-2631, or contact her via e-mail at sdechter@FlagstaffAz.gov.

Thursday, May 1, 2014 Public Meeting
6:00 pm at the Joseph C. Montoya Community Center
245 N. Thorpe Park Rd., Flagstaff

Water Works Part 5

A Vision for Flagstaff's Water Future


At our March panel discussion on water quality, George "Corky" Kladnik made the case that conservation and recovery of potable water from wastewaters will be necessary if Flagstaff is to have a reliable, safe, long-term supply of fresh water. Corky is a co-author of Water, an Essential Resource, a "White Paper" being prepared for the City and the public by Friends of Flagstaff's Future's Technical Water Committee.

At this meeting Corky and the rest of the water committee will be on hand to describe how their paper addresses issues related to water usage, reclaimed water, conservation, and the steps needed to ensure a future with both adequate water quantity and quality.

Specifically, they are seeking comment from FoRio and F3 members on how their paper addresses issues related to sources of available water, current trends in water consumption, the need for and technologies appropriate to better clean reclaimed water, uses of a tier-cost system to pay for needed improvements, and actions needed today (including conservation) to preserve access to water quantity and quality for future generations.

Also on the program, our NAU intern, Alex Garcia, will present the results of her research on the effectiveness of our outreach efforts.

Thanks to Friends of Flagstaff's Future for once again co-sponsoring this important community presentation and discussion.

Thursday, April 3rd Membership Meeting
6:00 - 7:30 pm, Joseph C. Montoya Community Center, Flagstaff

Stewardship plans for select springs in the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests

Kyle Paffett and Abe Springer, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University

Jones Springs
Jones Springs in the Upper Beaver Creek watershed. Photo © Tom Bean.

Springs provide unique and essential habitat for plant and animal communities to thrive. Unfortunately, the practice of developing springs for human uses has degraded the natural conditions of many of the springs in the Southwest.

Using a prioritization scheme developed with land and resource managers, NAU's Dr. Abe Springer and graduate student Kyle Paffett assessed 200 springs in the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests.

The results of the assessments were analyzed to determine which springs are most in need of increased stewardship. Stewardship plans have been disseminated to the land and resource managers at the forests.

This presentation will highlight examples of stewardship plans for springs within the Rio de Flag watershed.

Congratulations to Kyle on his recent successful defense of his thesis!

Water Workshop in Flagstaff

What: Water Resources Research Center Workshop: Arizona’s Roadmap for Considering Water for Natural Resources in Management and Planning

When: Friday, May 16, 2014. 12:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Where: USGS on Gemini Drive in Flagstaff

Water Planning RoadmapThe WRRC is developing Arizona’s first ever roadmap for if and when environmental water demands should be considered in statewide water management and planning decisions. This process is being guided by a diverse Steering Committee with representatives from agency, agricultural, environmental, industrial, mining, municipal, tribal, and research interests.

This collective effort is designed to produce a stakeholder driven “Roadmap” for considering water for natural resources in Arizona that will include: (1) concerns and ideas from a diverse array of Arizonans on water for natural resources; (2) lessons learned from previous efforts to consider water for natural resources in management ranging from an entire river to an individual ranch; and (3) recommendations and tools for how Arizonans might consider water for natural resources in their management and planning.

The WRRC invites you to participate and add your voice to this discussion.

A project fact sheet is available here.

Please RSVP learn more about this and other upcoming events from WRRC.

Flagstaff, Arizona • March 6, 2014

McKenzie Jones wins 2013 Tom Moody Award

McKenzie Jones at Picture Canyon / Stephen Root/Phoenix 12 News

City of Flagstaff Sustainability Specialist McKenzie Jones is the winner of the 2013 Tom Moody Award for her role in the purchase and preservation of Picture Canyon and Observatory Mesa as open space.

Bond initiatives for open space acquisition were passed in 2004, but for nearly a decade inflation in land prices and complications at the state level left the city with little hope that it could make good on its promise to voters.

A window of opportunity emerged in 2011 with falling land prices and new leadership at the Arizona State Land Department. Fortunately, the city hired the perfect person to take advantage of it.

Jones quickly demonstrated that she had the skills and energy necessary to navigate productively through historically sensitive relationships. Hitting every mark and taking every setback in stride, she successfully secured a total of $7.9 million in additional grant monies that made possible the purchases of 479 acres at Picture Canyon in 2012 and an extraordinary 2,251 acres on Observatory Mesa in 2013.

Jones’ award commemorates Tom Moody, the co-founder and co-owner of Flagstaff’s Natural Channel Design. Tom was tragically lost to our community in 2009 in a plane crash. His work in stream rehabilitation, stream channel restoration and community planning inspired Friends of the Rio de Flag to honor community members working in, volunteering for, and directing efforts in the fields Tom chose for his life’s work. Friends of the Rio is proud to provide this award in Tom’s memory.

Public Meeting

* Thurs, March 6, 6:30 pm at City Hall *

Water Works Part IV

Flagstaff Water Quality Panel

with Kevin Burke, Abe Springer, Cathy Propper, Brad Hill, and Corky Kladnik - moderated by Bryan Bates

A-plus wastewater flows in the Rio de Flag during the winter (view from I-40 bridge)
Rio de Flag in winter

For the fourth and final event in the Water Works series, a panel of water experts and local officials will share their knowledge and perspectives on the quality of Flagstaff’s water supply.

The City of Flagstaff is held to federal standards for the quality of its drinking water and monitors for chemicals that are considered hazardous when consumed in large quantities.

Flagstaff’s A-plus “purple pipe” recycled water, which accounts for 20% of the community’s water use, requires less treatment than drinking water. It is used year-round in local manufacturing and is in heavy demand for irrigation during the summer months.

There is less demand for recycled water during the winter, when two-thirds of the discharge from the Rio de Flag Wastewater Treatment Plant flows into the Rio. Some of this water eventually finds its way into groundwater that supplies some of the city's drinking water wells.

Although not required to do so, the city tests its drinking water for unregulated contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and hormones, some of which have been shown to alter growth patterns in amphibians. Small traces of some of these contaminants have been found in wells downstream of the treatment plant.

Flagstaff City Manager Kevin Burke, who will be on the March 6 panel, in 2012 created an advisory panel specifically charged with looking at the impacts on human health of unregulated contaminants, including those that have been detected in Flagstaff’s downstream wells.

The panel’s interim report, released in 2013, recommended that the city consider additional treatment to its drinking water that would go much further in removing contaminants now found in levels of parts per billion and even parts per trillion.

Also appearing on the March 6 public panel will be:

The panel discussion will be moderated by Bryan Bates, professor of environmental sciences at Coconino Community College.

Many thanks to Friends of Flagstaff's Future for co-sponsoring this important event!

Army Corps of Engineers OKs $1.6 million for Rio de Flag flood control project

Arizona Daily Sun • March 6, 2014 • by Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa

The Army Corps of Engineers has included $1.6 million in this year’s work plan to complete repairs on the faulty Clay Avenue Detention Basin in Flagstaff.

The basin is a key part of the Rio de Flag flood control project, which still needs more than $50 million in funding to complete.

Councilmember Scott Overton said he was pleased to hear about the funding. 

“We’re thankful for what we can get. It’s obvious that we’re still on their radar,” he said.

The money should be enough to finish the repairs to the basin, Overton said.

“We will have to continue to work on getting the rest of it completed. It’s a challenging project to fund,” he said. 

The basin was one of several Rio de Flag items city officials discussed with federal officials and representatives during a trip to Washington, D.C., last week. (read more...)

Give flood control projects flexibility

Arizona Daily Sun Editorial • March 5, 2014

When it comes to flooding in and around Flagstaff, not all flood control is created equal.

That statement has come home to roost in recent weeks as both the city of Flagstaff and Coconino County have tackled in different ways flood threats present and future.

The most pressing is the continuing danger to health and safety posed by runoff from the Schultz fire four years high up on the eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks.

Then there is the near-term threat to property and drinking water supplies were a similar catastrophic fire to strike the Dry Lake Hills or the Mormon Mountain watersheds.

And in the future, were a so-called “100-year flood” to strike, Flagstaff’s Rio de Flag would not be able to handle the runoff, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to property primarily in the Southside and at NAU. (read more...)

DC delegation returns with hope but no cash

Arizona Daily Sun • March 4, 2014 • by Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa

The Flagstaff City Council’s annual trip to Washington, D.C. didn’t net the city any additional money for the Rio de Flag or forest thinning.

But Mayor Jerry Nabours and Scott Overton said they did have some good conversations while they were there and the projects are moving forward. City Manager Kevin Burke and councilmembers Coral Evans and Mark Woodson also made the trip.

“We certainly didn’t come home with any checks, but we did meet with some very high officials in the Corps of Engineers and the Forest Service,” Nabours said. (read more...)

View presentations from Water Works Part I ("Origins), Part II ("Our Water Future"), and Part III ("Water Reuse").

Thursday February 6 Public Meeting

* 7:00 pm at City Hall *

Flagstaff Water Works Part III

with City of Flagstaff Utilities Director Brad Hill

The City of Flagstaff is one of the state's leaders in water reclamation, and the Rio de Flag plays an important role.

Utilities Director Brad Hill will help us understand the history and importance of reclaimed water, how it is used in Flagstaff, how it contributes to our water conservation efforts, and how it provides resiliency in the face of future climate change.

Brad will also explain the history and operations of the City's two wastewater treatment plants along the Rio, how emerging concerns with water quality are being addressed, and the future of reclaimed water use in Flagstaff and around the country.

Many thanks to Friends of Flagstaff's Future for co-sponsoring this important event!

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