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Urban Waters Partnership

Rio Reimagined - Rio Salado Urban Waters Partnership

Map of Arizona's Watersheds

The Salt River and Middle Gila River Watershed includes 58 miles along both the Salt and Gila Rivers, with its headwaters from three larger
watersheds: the Salt that starts west of Alpine, AZ; the Upper Gila that starts east of Baldy Mountain in New Mexico; and the San Pedro which starts in Mexico. All three watersheds eventually converge east of Phoenix and drain into the Middle Gila (Phoenix Metro area) and then to the Lower Gila River and finally the Colorado River which takes the remaining water away in a series of diversions at the US and Mexico border.

The Rio Salado Project will work to protect, restore and revitalize the Salt and Middle Gila River Watershed. The Project will use the mission, vision and principles of the national Urban Waters Federal Partnership to guide this work.

In addition, the Partnership has also identified the following goals specific to the Rio Reimagined Project:

  • Restore ecosystem functions
  • Balance revitalization with issues of urban resilience and public safety including flood mitigation, urban fire, air quality, water quality + conservation and urban heat mitigation.
  • Maximize multi-benefit watershed goals through water conservation and stewardship.
  • Foster climate adaptaion and urban resilience.
  • Foster diverse participation and equitable community benefits respectful of the power of place.

The Salt and Gila rivers and the watershed that feeds them, served as an epicenter of native American cultural activity and gave rise to Metropolitan Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun. The Rio Salado was once a perennial river flowing through Central Arizona, supporting early settlement by native Americans. Today it is an ephemeral river corridor connecting diverse urban communities across burgeoning Maricopa County. While the Rivers are now typically defined by intermittent flow as a function of water conservation and distribution in an arid urban climate, they can also have powerful flows during the Arizona monsoon season. Recently, the river has been the subject of restoration efforts focused on cultural and physical history, revived riparian ecology, supporting vast biodiversity and developing recreational amenities. Current community revitalization efforts focus on urban resilience for social, environmental and economic vitality.

EPA and its partners commemorated the designation of this project as the 20th Urban Waters Partnership location in 2020. Press Release

2020 Urban Waters Rio-Reimagined Workshop


List of Partners

  • Department of Agriculture
    • US Forest Service
    • Natural Resource Coservation Service
  • Department of Commerce
    • Economic Development Administration
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
      • National Weather Service
  • Department of Defense
    • US Army Corps of Engineers
    • Los Angeles District
  • Department of Homeland Security
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Department of the Interior
    • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
    • U.S. Bureau of Land Management
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • U.S. Geological Survey
    • U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Treasury
    • Community Development Financial Institutions
  • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Region 9
  • AZ Delegation
    • Representative Tom O'Halleran
    • Representative Ann Kirkpatrick
    • Representative Raul Grijalva
    • Representative Paul Gosar
    • Representative Andy Biggs
    • Representative David Schweikert
    • Representative Ruben Gallego
    • Representative Debbie Lesko
    • Representative Greg Stanton
    • Senator Kyrsten Sinema
    • Senator Martha McSally
  • State of Arizona - Governor's Office
  • Arizona Department of Environmental Quality | ADEQ
  • Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs | AZ DEMA
  • Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management | AZ DFFM
  • Arizona Department of Transportation | ADOT
  • Arizona Department of Water Resources | ADWR
  • Arizona State Land Department | ASLD
  • Arizona Game and Fish Department | AZ GFD
  • Arizona State Parks and Trails
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Arizona
  • Maricopa County
    • Department of Planning
    • Department of Housing
    • Flood Control District
    • Parks and Recreation
    • Public Health
  • Native American Communities:
    • Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRP-MIC)
    • Gila River Indian Community (GRIC)
  • Cities:
    • Mesa
    • Tempe
    • Phoenix
    • Avondale
    • Goodyear
    • Buckeye
  • Local Agencies:
    • Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG)
    • Salt River Project (SRP)
    • Arizona Public Service (APS)
    • Regional Transportation Agency – Valley Metro
  • UNIVERSITIES
    • Arizona State University – ASU
    • University of Arizona – U of A
    • Northern Arizona University - NAU
  • NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
    • Arizona Audubon
    • American Institute of Architects - Arizona Chapter
    • Arizona Municipal Water Users Association | AMWUA
    • Arizona Community Foundation
    • Arizona Forward
    • Arizona Rock Products Association | ARPA
    • Buckeye Valley Natural Resources Conversation District | NRCD
    • Buckeye Water Conservation & Drainage District | BWCDD
    • Chicanos Por Las Causas | CPLC
    • Center for the Future of Arizona
    • Central Arizona Conservation Alliance
    • Cross Watershed Network | XWN
    • East Valley Partnership
    • Greater Phoenix Economic Council
    • Greater Phoenix Leadership
    • Liberty Wildlife
    • Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Arizona | LISC AZ
    • National League of Cities
    • Pheasants Forever
    • RiversEdge West
    • Sonoran Institute
    • The River Network
    • The Nature Conservancy
    • Team Rubicon
    • Trout Unlimited
    • Trust for Public Land
    • Urban Land Institute Arizona
    • Valley Partnership
    • Vitalyst Health
    • WESTMARC

Local Partnership Work Plan

2019-2020 Work Plan