Tucson Water Quality: Yesterday
In 1881, the city of Tucson awarded the former Mayor R.N. Leatherwood a franchise to construct a water system to meet the needs of the growing city. The following year, citizens of Tucson celebrated as the first water from the new system gushed from a hydrant at the corner of Congress Street and Main Avenue. The water was pumped from the Santa Cruz River and flowed by gravity through a single 10-inch pipe. As the city grew, city planners concentrated on designing and financing additions to the system. In the 1930s, Tucson launched the first of many education programs to urge residents to conserve water resources. As the city grew in population, particularly after WWII and into the 1960s, Tucson pumped significant amount of water from groundwater resources, leading to land subsidence, or land sinking. In the latter half of the 20th Century, the state of Arizona passed several laws that requires Tucson to reduce reliance on the limited supply of groundwater and concentrate on using the renewable water supplies of the Colorado River. The Central Arizona Project first delivered Colorado River water to Tucson in the early 1990s, but many residents complained about the water quality.