Monday, June 26, 2017

Burn Baby Burn - Fire Ecologist Celebrate Fire Season

"Life goes on though, and fires are not unnatural"
Margarethe Brummermann
Image - CNN

Annimated Graph - USA Today
The quote at the top of the post is from Margarethe Brummermann, Biologist from Dortmund Germany who resides in the Tucson area. She had written a post about Mount Lemmon which towers above Tucson to the north. I made a comment on her page about how my wife and I had driven up to Mount Lemmon last year May 2016 and how sad we were to see so much of the forest destroyed by wildfires. I made mentioned how I had first visited Mount Lemmon back in the late 1970s and there was hardly ever a scene where wildfire had damage anything. There was always the occasional snag here and there, but forests and even the high desert scrub were always able to recovery properly. That has all changed now. But her reply to me was simply, "Life goes on though, and fires are not unnatural." Her viewpoint is reflective of most all fire ecologists who champion fire as natural, yet often times have a hard time differentiating between human (especially if Native American) and lightning caused fires. Earlier this year, researchers revealed that 84% of all wildfires are human caused. So is that something natural or unnatural ??? The majority of wildfires on Mount Lemmon have had a human cause. This has also caused human introduced non-native, Buffel Grass, to invade clear up through the Saguaro Forests into the mid-elevation ranges of the Mount Lemmon. Here is that interesting finding regarding the origin of most wildfires.
Smithsonian Magazines: "Study Shows 84% of Wildfires Caused by Humans"

Aaryn Olsson, University of Arizona

Last year when we traveled up the Mount Lemmon highway, we were greeted all along the way by an overwhelming sea of Buffelgrass which blanketed all areas of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Researchers say warming temperatures and fewer winter freezes are helping the invasive plant spread, posing a threat to saguaro cactuses and other native plants. The Tucson Sentinel even had an article with a chilling title, "Arizona without Saguaros? As climate warms, desert's future uncertain." The Saguaros are such an iconic symbol of Arizona and the Sonoran Desert. But they cannot take wildfire. They have no protection against it. I can't hardly imagine them being eliminated permanently.


Grant Martin/Cronkite News Service

Bromus tectorum, an invasive species commonly called “cheatgrass,” grows in an area of the Coconino National Forest burned in a 1996 wildfire. I strongly dislike Cheatgrass. This is the invasive noxious weed whose stickers you have to pull out of your socks every so often down the trail when you go on a hike.


Grant Martin/Cronkite News Service

Researchers say this area of the Coconino National Forest, which burned in 1996, is decades away from returning to its native state, if it ever does. They say rising temperatures have weakened trees, raising the potential for devastating wildfires that will open the door to invasive species. Don't expect recovery anytime soon.



Image - Getty Images

I remember reading the fire ecology literature some time back in 2006. There was an account written by Arizona Historian Marshall Trimball of the old west in New Mexico, when a Cavalry Officer was complaining to his superiors about his men smoking cigarettes and dropping them along the trail as they all rode horseback. The problem was they were starting grass fires from their careless bad habit. Of course this was in the 1800s, when Indians still existed and practiced their ecological conservation with fire. Yet hsitorical writings from the 1800s relay that they used fires to war against their enemies. Not exactly eco-friendly. I know, it destroys the narrative. This 1800s is the time period for celebration for most fire ecologists who champion how natural the forested ecosystems all were back then because of Indians. But as I've questioned this before, if fire ecologists were looking at the world back then and telling us how natural wildfire played in ecology of all plant community systems, how did they reconcile white European Soldiers starting fires with their cigarette butts ? Was that a good thing for Nature ? How did this factor into their research of what was good for the plant community environment ? Native Americans generally get a free pass on why they started fires and they really shouldn't. See the post, Dances With Myths. But now what about the white man back then ? Today there is a movement to down grade human beings as not being so exceptional. Mankind is now being considered nothing more than animals equal to everything else. Does this now mean that the research on wildfire causes being 84% human fault provide us a new designation of the term, "Natural"   ??? 😲 Would it mean that humans carelessly throwing down a cigarette butt today should now be considered perfectly normal behaviour ??? 😟 We seem to be living in a time period of redefining everything from it's historical normalcy.
But what about all those heavy Rains 🚿 ??? Didn't things get better ??? 🌳
Image - Pismo Hotels

This year's rainy season of 2017, California experienced one of those unprecedented rainy seasons, after four years of serious intense drought. But everyone cheered Hooray 🙌 and celebrated with waving pom poms that all was well again in California again. The drought was now over, or is it. Indeed, heavy rains came, even to the point of major flooding events up and down the state. While there were some very clear catastrophic negatives, one of the great joys of all that rain brought out a spectacular display of wildflower blooms. Starting in early March, flowers popped up all across Southern and Central California and produced some seriously spectacular scenery. The photo opportunity didn't go unnoticed nor wasted by many of the non-profit eco-activist groups hoping to cash in on a fund raising opp by posting pics on their site's indicating that Nature seemed to have rebounded from the jaws od death. Or you know, life found a way. Except that things really were'nt all that rosey as they advertised. First, some of the people were a little too anxious about getting out there first. Then it appears that much of the water came in so furiously, that most of it raced back to the Pacific Ocean like a bullet train. Some water did fill up many of the State's reservoirs, but the surrounding landscape didn't have great percolation into the hills and mountains. I know this from viewing early on the photographs of dried dead invasive weeds not all that long after the flowers died and now look where they are over there with heat waves. Plus as indicated at the top of this post, lookie where we are now with the 2017 Wildfire stats. So have things really changed for the better ? Nope, same old same old. 😏




Look, I refuse to celebrate fire the way most fire ecologists worship it. Yes fire can be used as an excellent tool for correcting problems with any ecosystem if done properly. And I've actually done that. But mostly humans have misused and abused fire, even the so-called experts. Prior to 2006 I never read much of anything about the discipline of fire ecology, although I worked with people in the US Forest Service back in the 1980s who did prescribed burns. I've fought tooth and nail against many of their ideas which are complete failures when it comes to reforestation techniques. Take the Fire Ecologist insistence that fire is needed for the wild seed germination. For example, Tecate Cypress is one of those trees in which Fire Ecologist have insisted for decades needs fire to propagate itself. Prior to reading their literature, in all my 30+ years of outdoors exploration experience and seed collecting, I never found this to be true of Tecate Cypress. There are numerous circumstances under which the seed is spread and germinates without the need of fire within old growth chaparral which hasn't burned in a couple of hundred years. Same with Arizona Cypress. Fire is not always necessary, but you cannot tell them this. Science is not supposed to be about working in a Lab and venturing outdoors once in a while on a couple token field trips to make the research look legit. You have to live outdoors with nature. Look, I am not credentialed. I have no alphabet soup initials behind my name, nor some fancy coveted title before my name. Thank God. That allows me the freedom of not having been infected by the worldview biases and flawed presuppositions common to the Scientific Orthodoxy's industrial business model. I'm just one of 6+ billion people on Earth subjected to the negative consequences of inept decision making from a world leadership which has been weighed in the scales and found deficient. BTW, here is an exxample of how many old times steam locomotives started numerous prairie and forest fires in the days of the old west. This video below from China's still operational locomotives servicing coal mines just question begs, "Do fire ecologists who insist that  fire is a natural necessary healthy component of plant ecosystems ever factor in human stupidity as part of that natural component mechanism ???" I know I know, because the Indians did it! 😕
Fire sparks of Steam in Sandaoling Coal Mine Railway China


References I've written for seed germination, not entertainment, just practical real world application and fun:


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rain Water Harvesting Infrastructure Design Concepts

Meandering Floodplains provide Real World Biomimetic Blueprints for Infrastructure Designs vrs Engineering Inspireded by Ambitious Human Business Venture Schemes
Image - ourwellnessway.com

The iconic classic movie, Chinatown, makes it abundantly clear that humans have always disrespected designs found in Nature, especially when their wouldview (based on blind faith) believes that such designs are an impedement to their economic business successes. This is certainly true with the history of Los Angeles where business development and growth hinged on aquisition of water, both it's abundance and controling it. LA’s legendary water superintendent William Mulholland was driven towards channeling this water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. But stealing water from far away north wasn't enough. Vast floodplains in Southern California had potential economic value for both agriculture and the creation of an industrial infrastructure. So the natural meandering physics of flowing water on floodplains had to be tamed and harnessed. Take for example this photograph above  with the meandering switchback pattern of the river. From a politics and businessman perspective, this impedes quick transportation of both people or goods. Logically (from a flawed human perspective) a straight channel direct line would seem to be the obvious choice. Same logic for getting rid of stormwater quickly from cities to prevent flooding, straight channeling seems the better choice. This is evident by all the straight floodcontrol channel infrastructure you can find throughout all of Southern California like the Los Angeles River below. Unfortunately, the path of least resistance hasn't always been the safest or most efficient route for moving human economic goals forward.

Photographed by Lane Barden

Industrial corridor of the Los Angeles River at the Seventh Street bridge in downtown Los Angeles, California

Image - Nature Conservancy - Stream Restoration
In my other post on Beavers and slow water movement, I had a cartoon at the top of the post of a beaver/builder constructung his dam. Other Beavers in the cartoon were on the river bank looking like eco-activists with protest signs demanding to have the dam torn down so that ALL of the river water could be used to irrigate the Pacific Ocean. But that really is no joke, because that is exactly how southern California has mandated it's floodcontrol infrastructure be designed for quick water movement supposedly to prevent flooding and endangering human beings and their businesses. But how well has that really been working for us ??? Often times channeled rivers, especially those in agricultural valleys channeled by earthen levees have been breached on many sides during high flood waters due to exceptional rainfall years. Like the photo here on the right where human modifications to the landscape strongly influences triggers to instability, accelerating the erosion potential and altering sediment transport and flow regimes of channels. Pay close attention to this picture of the Walla Walla River back in December of 1964 which defied human attempts at channelization and re-created it's former meanders, point bars, pools, and riffles. Can you click on the image and count how many right and left breaces there are ? That's just the nature of water and physical natural laws. By their very nature many people not only resent laws by humans, but also disrespect natural laws. These disastrous events are not so much the fault of nature as they are exposure of inept decision making by the elites among humans who believe they are above fault. After all, most of the scientific orthodoxy believes nature is flawed, imperfect and badly designed. (Okay, I won't go there, but you know it's true) In their worldview's paradigm the floodwaters should be managed as a waste product as something that should be gotten out of the system as quickly as possible. And so all floodcontrol infrastructure is really being considered as a greywater infrastructure with it's system of concrete pipes, culverts, channels, etc to facilitate water out of the urban environment as fast as possible to it's final destiny, the oceans. In reality, this is simply gross scientific ignorance where researchers have bought into their flawed worldview. Here's one man who battled the prevailing scientific orthodoxy in Germany & Austria while championing natural designs based on Nature most all of his life.
Institute of ecological Technology
In the early 1920s, Austrian Forester, Viktor Schauberger, also a self taught physicist and river engineer, was given the task of helping an Austrian Prince who became broke after World War I to improve his economy by finding a way to bring valuable virgin Timber down from remote mountain properties he owned which had no easy access. Timber in those days would had to have been hauled out with mule teams on less than ideal narrow roads through rugged country. Viktor Schauberger had a nature based scheme for building a unique log flume for transport which was very unconventional for the times. As with anything, logging flume design then consisted of straight walls and flat bottoms or at best flat bottoms with 'V' shaped design for the sides. But the flow dynamics were horrible. Schauberger's design was to be biomimic designs he had observed in Nature. He went with a half egg shaped design in which the flume would twist here and there like a snake in biomimicry of the meandering habit of a large river on a massive floodplain.
Very crudely designed log flume
Quebec, Canada
As the story was been told, Viktor Schauberger acquired the contract for building the flume caught the attention of the Estate Administrators and the Institute of Hydraulics at the University of Vienna. He was considered an anti-science Luddite by the science orthodoxy of his day. They hated the man. The day before it was due to be commissioned, Viktor decided to make a preliminary test of the flume's performance. An average-sized green beech log was ushered into the mouth of the flume and to his horror it stranded on the bottom after a few metres and would not budge. This wasn't supposed to happen according to he Natural designed flume calculations. Important dignataries, including his mocking critics were all going to be there at the grand celebration. After his workers were sent away to give himself some space to think, Viktor sat on a rock to ponder the situation. As he sat down he felt something scrabbling underneath his leather trousers and sprang up to his feet to find a snake. Grabbing it quickly, he flung it into the log holding basin, which supplied the flume with water and where the logs were to be assembled before being guided into the flume. As he watched it swim to the other side, he wondered how it was able to swim so fast. 

Illustration - giewasser.ch
Then he suddenly became aware of its peculiar serpentine 'S' shaped movement. It appeared like Nature had again came to his aid again. Calling his workers back, he ordered the holding basin to be drained and the log jammed up withing the flume removed. He then gave them instructions on how to attach thin wooden slats to the curved sides of the flume walls, which would act like the rifling in gun-barrels and cause the water to rotate anti-clockwise at left hand bends and clockwise at right hand bends. You can see the illustration blueprints here on the left. Working all through the night with the promise of double wages, the work was finished by early next morning ready for commissioning at the Grand Opening. The pond holding basin for the logs was refilled the next day in preparation for releasing the first logs. His critics were said to be dumbfounded by his unconventional flume design. Eventually the time came for the flume sluice-gates to be opened and the logs guided into the mouth of this half-egg-shaped channel. One particularly large beech log (which they did not want to test) managed to get itself included with the first few logs and, half way into the flume it suddenly jammed and the water began to back up behind it. While everyone there watched with anticipation, all at once with a loud gurgling sound it was sucked forwards and departed round the first bend. The other logs followed, passing easily down the flume, being kept away from the sides at the bends by those longitudinal vortices induced by the rifling slats which they installed the night before. Needless to say, it was a success, but maybe too much of a success. The Prince and his Princess got greedy and clear cut almost all the forest to increase their fortunes. Funny, nothing's changed one iota since the 1920s. Well, that's not true, it's actually worse.


Image - LifinLapland.com - Nellim Log Flume

While the early history of true biomimetics regarding hydrology is interesting, how does any of this benefit the average person today, especially in view of the further degradation of our planet's natural world that has been accelerated through the misuse and abuse of science ??? While there are some who truly believe in biomimicry of Nature, they are still greatly outnumbered by those who would trash Nature through the worldview argument of Nature being badly designed and only intelligent free-thinking humans can fix those flaws through scientific shortcuts. Okay, so change of pace here. There is an organization whose mission is to revitalize the contrete channelized L.A. River bed. who are known as the "Friends of the L.A. River". That's a tough assignment they've given themselves. Even during the lightest rainstorms, the greater L.A. infrastructure is human designed & engineered to rapidly facilitate storm water off the streets, parking areas, rooftops etc and efficiently send it rapidly on it's way down to the Pacific Ocean. This is an incredible waste of valuable freshwater resources. But believe it or not there are viable real world natural solutions to reduce runoff and redirect water into public and private landscapes and possibly percolate much of in into the subsoil layers of the ancient floodplains to be used later as well water. How much depends really on people being interested in change for the better. Below I'll provide a gallery of photos demonstrating how street rainwater harvesting techniques through biomimetics can change the present Hydraulic infrastructure and save disappearing fresh water resources from the outside of the region. Take a look, much of where this is already practiced is from areas with higher rainfall averages than Southern California like up north and back east.
Large City Street Landscaped Medians
Image - svrdesign.com

This is the central California city of Paso Robles, who are successfully positioning themselves at the leading edge of this municipal rainwater harvesting technology which biomimic's nature by the use of "baffles" which creates a switch back motion replicating the meandering pattern in the design & using periodic low dams called weirs (replicates beaver dams on small scale) which deliberately slows & backs up water raising the water level behind the weir in the planting bed that allows a good percentage of water to percolate deeper into deeper subsoil layers. Top photo illustrate what happens during storms and lower photo reveals an attractive look when dry. Utilizing native plants and having knowledge of how to encourage one gallon containerized seedlings to develop deeper root systems would truly help such plants make it without any further water assistence the rest of the year. There could be a minimal irrigation infrastructure of  deep irrigation designs, which would be utilized only in emergency summer situations to supplement and apply water three or four foot below the soil surface where most healthy California native plants want and prefer it. 
Image - svrdesign.com
Here in this picture above you can see the baffles which look to be recycled small guage railway track with a center concrete guide on top of a bed of cobblestones which allows the waters to slow down and remain clean prior to easing into the actual planting beds. Further cobblestones downstream are both functional for keeping soil intact, allowing further percolation and have a decorative purpose that biomimics a dry streambed which are common in California.
Image - hawkinspartners.com

Curb and Gutter Rainwater Harvesting for Landscapes in Business Areas and Residential Main Streets
Image - State Collage Pensylvania

Curb cut-out inlet to rain garden on west side of Allen Street near Pennsylvania State College. Just like a forest with meandering water courses and beaver dams, the goal here would not be to prevent water from reaching the oceans, but slow it way way down and make it work for the benefit of all sorts life along the way down.

Image - State Collage Pennsylvania

This rain garden is demonstrating weir flow during rain event. For those who may not understand what the word "weir" means. The term "weir" is a Dam-like barrier across the horizontal width of a landscape bed that alters the flow characteristics of the water and usually results in a change in the vertical height of the water level. There are many designs of weir, but commonly water flows freely over the top of the weir crest before cascading down to a lower level section of the landscape bed. Again, the purpose here is not to prevent water movement down stream, but rather to slow water movement down and percolation with drainage at the end for major storm runoff.

Image - State Collage Pennsylvania

Now here is the full entire length-wise view of rain garden on west side of this Allen Street. Everything here is functional and decorative all at the same time. The concrete weirs again back the water up in a small pond behind the artificially replicated beaver dam. With a series of weirs, this would also prevent erosion of planting bed materials just the way a series of beavers dams would accomplish on a real life floodplain in the wild.
Residential Neighbourhoods and other low Traffic Side Streets
Image - progress-project.eu


Image - greywateraction.org

Sidewalk bioswale treats street runoff in Portland, Oregon

In cities like San Francisco California and Portland Oregon, their storm drains are connected to their sewer treatment plants, and the potential for hazard for such infrastructure design is that heavy rains cause the sewer plant to overflow with raw and partially treated sewer water into the bay or river. Other cities connect their storm drains to underground creeks, and the polluted oily water runs straight into the bay or nearby river. By cutting curbs and digging sunken basins into the “right-of way” or “parking strip” area of the sidewalk, you can turn street rainwater from a problem into an actual resource. Diverted rainwaer that falls on streets can nourish plants, protect creeks, and contribute to cleaner cities as a result of the planter bed's healthy microbial community taking care of the pollutants & turning them into safer elements.


Image - svrdesign.com

Preventing and reducing water pollution can be as simple as building a rain harvesting curb cut for the garden. Once again, this runoff water from streets can come in contact with various substances to pollute it like chemicals from fertilizer, oil from cars and garbage, etc. Before this polluted water makes its way into storm drains and our riparian ecosystems, we would filter it through a natural rain collecting garden with a strong healthy microbial soil community to digest & process it. Rain gardens can also add to a home’s curb appeal and allow runoff water to filter naturally and deeply down through your yard’s soil. Keep in mind also that many of these structure as also designed with outlets and/or drains into runoff water pipes to allow for those extreme weather downpour events.
Commercial Parking Lot Medians and Dividers
Image - landskapsarkitektur.no

What amazes me with many of the beautifully designed landscape medians in many places like these parking lots is the fact that they exist in mainly higher rainfall areas like the northern & eastern parts of the USA, Canada and Europe, like this example above in Norway. What about Southern California where it is even more needed because they lack water ? Free water that is otherwise facilitated rapidly down the drain so that they basically are forcing themselves to use public utility provided clean drinking water to irrigate their commercial and home landscapes.

Bioswale parking lot created by Lynn Capouya Landscape Architecture

This is the kind of thing that really makes sense. Love the plant selection for the area and keep in mind that mulch is an important part of this bioretention system to really work effectively. Rocks and other smaller cobblestones are perfect for the slowing down of water movement and work perfectly as a mulch to keep the ground cool and retain moisture levels in soils. This is extremely important in parking lots where they create a massive heat islands.

Image - grownative.org
These Natives plants within the planter accompanied by a species abundant microbial community within the soil system are able to filter the runoff and protect streams. They can recycle the pollutants & turn them into nutrients that the plants can use. No stream or river pollution to kill aquatic critters in the water environment. Also runoff volume is greatly reduced (not stopped) which prevents the violent scouring of the natural local creek or riverbeds which allows the system to be stable, much like it was prior to human pavement. I would love to do something like this picture (minus the parking lot) for my mother's property with street curb back in El Cajon California. Unfortunately I'd have to be living back there permanently to maintain it. However having said that, look below at this Walmart parking lot in Santee California. 

Image - Google Earth

Walmart parking lot in Santee California

Last year in May/June 2016, my wife and I went back to my home town area of San Diego California and visited my mother who lives in the El Cajon/Santee area. Ignore the 2017 dates on the Google Earth picture, I just posted this to illustrate how illustrative it is of ir's improper design when they took this parking lot photograph. When we visited this exact parking lot (May 2016), it was 100+ F (40+ C) and I waited in the car while mum and wife went shopping. Half of those trees, irrigated by inefficient bubblers in a tiny planter median were dead or dying because they stopped watering them. Why did they cut back the water ? Because prices out there are outrageous, even when people have cut way back on watering like they were asked to in order to help buffer the shortages create by drought, the Water agency went and raised the water rates big time. Hence, the management decided the landscape was not worth the effort and expense. so the parking is nothing more than functional in purpose. Too bad and every customer who visits fights for that small shady spot for their car because of the effect of direct sun in 100+ degrees pushes inside temps 160+ degrees. 



The Landscape median mechanism designs for Successful Water Harvesting


Image - Empowerhouse
These are just some simplified animated illustrations to help provide an easy way to comprehend the design of the soil system withing the planter. Water enters into the cells through curb cuts and flows to an area planted with native plants (preferably native to the region that are attractive and ornamental looking) & a microbial community system that are known to remediate heavy metals and toxins that vehicles usually leach on to the street, not to mention the totally unnecessary Agro-Chemical products used by commercial & home owner landscapers. The water is filtered through the topsoil where most of the roots are and then into a type of mixed gravel bed which will hold and store the bulk of the floodwater only then to seep slowly back into the subsoil layers and possibly as far as the moist ground water supply which helps to alleviate runoff to local waterways.  Usually this rain water runoff would enter directly into the storm system, where it could lead to an increase in combined Sewer Overflows that contribute significantly to the pollution in our rivers and streams.

(Image courtesy of GeoSyntec Consultants)

Stormwater runoff flows into this type of bioretention area like the other one above, percolates through the soil (which acts as that bio- filter) and eventually drains into the groundwater; some of the water is also absorbed by the plants. Bioretention areas are usually designed to allow ponded water and with an overflow outlet to prevent flooding during larger storm events which are becoming more common. Where soils have low permeability or where faster drainage is desired, designers may incorporate a perforated underdrain that routes to a storm drain system. If you have a soil profile like my mother's place which is built on top of an ancient alluvial floodplain, then such drains may not be necessary. But if you have a clay or adobe type soil profile, then I'd recommend the drainage. 
Nice Video Resources
This video surprisingly comes from the State of California. I say it's a surprise because you cannot see very much in the way of people practicing this water harvesting technique out there, with the exception of the Palm Springs & Coachella Valley areas.
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/stormfilm


This video below is excellent as it provides a how to for boring a hole through the curb and sidewalk to allow a inlet for stormwater to enter into the landscape strip.



This final link comes from Arizona. Actually it is a separate post I created because Arizona is much further along on this biomimicry and their climate almost mandates such a practice be done over there. And besides I thought it would have cluttered this post up with more info than it already has. 😏
Tucson Arizona: Regenerating Parks & Parkways through Biomimicry of Floodplains


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tucson Arizona: Regenerating Parks & Parkways through Biomimicry of Floodplains

2014 Regenerative Parks and Parkways: Local Harvests and Enhancements in Our Community Commons in Tucson Arizona
presented by Brad Lancaster
What is the story of your own place? What is your role in that story? What is the role of your public land (parks, parkways, rights-of-way) in that story? The Santa Cruz River was still a free flowing Sponge-like Drain in 1904 Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A as you can see in the photo below. This river use to flow year round. The Santa Cruz river in 2007 Tucson has been turned into a dredged out straightener &  deeper channel through Tucson as land was considered too valuable on either side for Cottonwood Forests and Mesquite Bosques which once acted to percolate water into the deeper aquafir like a sponge.
Historically the great floods that would occur every 100 years are now beginning to occur every 10 years. Especially after human development paves over the watershed and increases the rate and volume of stormwater flow running off site. No more percolating through sponge-like riparian woodland ecosystems along a meandering river floodplain. Just massive runoff, destruction and wasteful evaporation. The river only flows with un-natural street flooding runoff.
The long distance from which to transport Colorado river water to Tucson also means higher costs and more energy. We ignore, deplete, or pollute our local waters — then import ever more long distant water away from other peoples which must be acquired and transported from elsewhere. The largest consumer of electricity (and single source producer of carbon) in Arizona is the pumping of this water hundreds of miles from the Colorado River.
The average annual rainfall in Tucson is (280 mm) 11 inches Yet more rain falls on the surface area of Tucson in a year of average rainfall, than the annual consumption of Tucson’s water-utility water Said another way, in you were to divide the average annual precipitation falling on Tucson by its population, then divide again by 365 days a year, and you get. Can you image how much water they could save ?
Harvest and utilize on-site water (rainwater, stormwater, greywater, c ondensate, etc) as close as possible to where it falls within the oasis zone (your yard or public landscape strips) - within 30’ (9 m) of catchment surface. The illustrations below show how water falling on manmade infrastructure can be utilized to eventually created a lush garden around the home with beautiful small trees and shrubs for free and in the process drop the surrounding temperature around the house by 10 degrees. Also take note of the large desert trees on either side of a highway berm with culverts & storm runoff ditches on both sides and compare that to the surrounding wildland vegetation further away. Water is concentrated as it runs off the hard solid pavement into the culverts & ditches which in turn provide ideal habitat for larger desert trees and shrubs. This phenomena of large green strips of desert native tree vegetation within the ditches on both sides of desert highways can be seen and observed on all desert highways across the southwest. Pay close arrention nexxt time you travel through on a desert highway. This also provides a perfect blueprint for narrow landscape curb strips and medians to not only beautify, but also counter these man made heat island effects. Thus far main steam conventional science has rejected biomimicry with only a handful coming on board to the solutions introduced by non-scientists. Why is that ??? 
Below here I've gone on to further illustrate through a Google Earth satellite capture of what most all desert roads look like along side the roadways where what runoff does occur ends up in storms ditches on both sides and the effect of enhancing wild desert tree growth of native Paloverdes, Mesquite, Ironwood, etc. Now look beyond the ditches several meters and there is almost nothing by comparison other than tiny grasses or shrubs here and there and often just bare soil. This should well help you to appreciate the next animated illustration that follows regarding roadside landscape strips with desert city neighbourhoods and commercial Parkways.
Image - Google Earth - Route 60 - south of Vicksburg, Arizona
Below here provides an animated visial of Path to Scarcity Path to Abundance • Turns resources into wastes • Relies on the costly and imported • Consumes more than it produces • Disintegrated Drains • Turns ―wastes‖ into resources • Relies on the free and local • Produces more than it consumes • Integrated Harvests
In Tucson, Arizona, they are receiving on average 11 inches [280 mm] of annual rainfall. Most of tthat no doubt in summer monsoonal downpours. One mile of an average residential street runoff into storm drains is over ONE MILLION GALLONS of rainfall per year. That’s enough water to sustainably irrigate 400 native food trees per mile, or one tree every 25 feet on both sides of the street - irrigated by the street. One has to wonder why Southern California is wasting so much time and energy with inefficiently planned and ineptly designed storm runoff infrastructure ???
Above these residents of an early attempt at cutting street curbs was done on Sundays when inspectors were off for the weekend because it was at one time illegal. Later when they had done other streets and proved how envaluable this concept was in creating shady streets with nothing more than rain runoff as opposed to municipal drinking water sources, they then went to the city to legalize the practice. They convinced them how successful it was and they became incentivized, then it later became mandated in new city road construction and renovation.
In the street animation above, they created cutouts in the curb, evenly spaced to produce a half meandering effect of a floodplain storm runoff in a main river channel which spills water off to the side of a main river channel as is meanders back and forth. Of course the same happens on the other side of the street, so the snake-like 'S' movement is complete. So the animated scene above would be the finished product based on anticipated flow of the stormwater. Blow is the storm event and the hoped for result in filling landscape basins from the curb cut eddys and the added benefit not only of harvesting free precious freah water, but removing more water from the drain on down the line, removing road contaminants and less violent additional flow volumes once collective drains enter the natural desert wash. That being the case there world be less damage done to the environment and money saved in repairs by municipal street & flood channel maintenance departments.
Below here is the before and after photos of the house Brad Lancaster and his brother bought years ago in an older Tucson neighbourhood before they created this water harvest concept. 
All these slide presentation photos and video below are Brad Lancaster's work. I don't need to repost everything, but I want to provide something to illustrate what water harvesting was like in the desert citires in the southwestern communities. California in general doesn't do enough of these types of things and they should. I added the google earth image to further illustrate how the phenomena of landscape growth happens for miles on end in middle of nowhere desert areas and how we can ise biomimicry to replicate this within city limits anywhere. Below is a TedxTucson video which came out this past March 2017. It's only about 19 minutes long, but well worth a watch of the history of water havesting in Tucson as presented by Brad Lancaster. This was a supplement to another post on water harvesting concept in biomimicry of meandering floodplains in Southern California, but it was too much material here to add to that post, which is itself an extension or addition to another larger post in draft.
My main water harvesting Post which directs to this one: 
Rain Water Harvesting Infrastructure Design Concepts


References to Brad Lancaster's organization, websites and Slideshare presentation
https://www.slideshare.net/Tucson-water-harvesting
www.HarvestingRainwater.com
www.DesertHarvesters.org