RiverWatch – Water Sampling

Ongoing Events

FOSCR participation on the Flood Control Ordinance Advisory Committee for Santa Cruz County (2011 to present)

Three FOSCR members have diligently served on this committee for over three years, during which time the currently inadequate ordinance has been updated to better protect people and property. However, this proposed update is currently mired in objections from floodplain-property owners and developers.

The City of Nogales, which some years ago ceded its jurisdiction over floodplain issues to the county, has a significant amount of development in the Nogales Wash floodplain. It is therefore very vulnerable to flooding damage, but although the proposed regulations are designed to minimize that damage (and lower flood insurance county-wide), they would also increase the cost of both new construction in the floodplain and expansion/remodeling of existing structures in the floodplain.

FOSCR advocates for the adoption of the updated ordinance for its better protection of all residents and property owners in and near the floodplain. We feel that the long-term benefits to our entire community outweigh the added costs that a relative few would incur in abiding by the new regulations.


FOSCR’s water quality monitoring volunteer group, samples the river each month for physical, chemical and biological water quality parameters. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), other agencies, and research groups use our extensive, quality-controlled database. This data set was instrumental in drawing $59 million in federal funding to upgrade the treatment plant that the river’s flow now depends on.

If you would like to access the RiverWatch database, please contact us at friendsofsantacruzriver@gmail.com or ADEQ at jones.jason@azdeq.gov. To learn more, download the data and the data description and key:

THE FLOW Newsletter

FOSCR periodically publishes THE FLOW, our newsletter that keeps members and others updated about our activities and opportunities to help the river. In 2013 we purchased a dedicated laptop and software to assist our Editor, Lah-May Bremer, in fitting all the pieces together.


Our Board members serve on several committees and advisory boards whose decisions impact the river and its watershed. Some of the bodies on which FOSCR is represented include:

Water Harvesting Workshops

We conduct water-harvesting workshops for the public and any groups who request them. If you would like to arrange for a workshop or presentation, please call Sherry at (520) 398-8269 or drop us an email at friendsofsantacruzriver@gmail.com.

FOSCR has established two demonstration water harvesting projects, one at the Santa Cruz County Complex (2007) and the other at the Guy Tobin Trailhead for the Anza Trail in Rio Rico (2012). The second site, which demonstrates several water harvesting techniques and structures, was guided by the Watershed Management Group and carried out with the assistance of Rio Rico High School’s Interact Club.

Water Harvesting Projects

Water Harvesting Projects
Left to Right: Santa Cruz County Complex Garden and  the Guy Tobin Trailhead Project

Research Project

FOSCR manages a study on contamination of private wells near the Nogales Wash or Santa Cruz River.

Friends of the Santa Cruz River was awarded an Environmental Justice Small Grant by the EPA in 2011. The funded project tests for contaminants in private domestic wells within one mile of the Santa Cruz River between the AZ-Mexico border north to Tubac.

Contaminants that are being sampled for include nitrates, biological markers such as Total Coliforms and Escherichia coli, and metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, and lead. Twenty-three well owners volunteered to take part in this study. The results of the sample analysis will be provided to homeowners along with recommendations for water use and treatment when applicable.

Three out of four sampling seasons have taken place as of July 2014 with the final sampling season scheduled to occur in late summer 2014. Once the final round of samples have been analyzed, a public forum will be held and educational materials will be available for anyone interested in the results and recommendations that come to light through this study.

For more information, contact us at friendsofsantacruzriver@gmail.com or j_parks78@gmail.com.

Bi-National Composting Toilet Program

Composting Toilet Mexico

Composting Toilet Mexico

FOSCR has supported the bi-national Composting Toilet program since 2008. This program, guided by Dr. Diane Austin from the University of Arizona’s Bureau of Applied Anthropology, assists Nogales, Sonora “colonia” residents without access to sanitary sewage service in building and maintaining their own waterless, sanitary toilets.

Composting toilets not only provide sanitary waste treatment for colonia residents without using drinkable water; they also reduce groundwater pumping in our shared aquifer, as well as preventing raw waste from reaching surface waters. We match donations, up to $500 per six months, and have to date given more than $3,000 to this tremendously effective and broadly beneficial program. If you would like to donate to this great program, click here and include a note that the donation is for the “composting toilet match.” We will double your donation!
To learn more, download this .pdf articles:

Booths at Local and Regional Festivals

FOSCR operates an educational booth at many local and regional festivals in order to spread the word about our mission, activities, and about the river itself.

We often host fun activities for kids, and when we can, we set up a live aquarium so everyone can glimpse the river’s aquatic ecosystem—including native fish—for themselves.

Lah-May and Blue Evening Star at FOSCR Booth

Lah-May and Blue Evening Star at FOSCR Booth

 Rambler’s Guide to the Life of the Santa Cruz River

The Rambler’s Guide to the Life of the Santa Cruz River was written and illustrated by FOSCR members Sherry Sass and
Joel Floyd. The guide was published in 2006 and helps introduce anyone walking along the Anza Trail to the great diversity of life the river supports.

Click to join—and you’ll receive a free copy comes with your membership.