Rio Salado – Waterfall Restoration


Since our last update, we have completed one of our greatest hitches to date and it was right in our own backyards! We came to the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area located just South of downtown Phoenix. Our goal was to improve the waterfall (which was only a fast-flowing trickle down a steep hill at this point) by digging out 90-degree steps and inserting flatten rocks or slabs of concrete, causing the water to make a number of aesthetically appealing drops. We arrived at the “waterfall” while there was water still flowing, so while we waited for it to be shut off manually, we put logs on a hillside with burlap sacks and stakes. This method prevents erosion of the bank by holding up the rows of logs to create terraces, which slows down the flow of water and organic material. The next day with the water shut off, we started working on the waterfall. We starting digging out the drainage and strategically placing slabs of conrete and smooth river rocks to create a rock staircase. We were particularly careful to place the concrete slabs in locations that would stand up to the constant flow of water without eroding, even during the numerous spring flood events. In addition to the functional pieces of the waterfall, a vast number of river rocks were needed to both line the bottom of the stream and build retaining walls. One unique feature of the the completed waterfall was an improvised “infinity pool” devised by placing a single concrete slab vertically at the mouth of a small basin. While we were working, locals would often come by and visit this popular site near downtown Phoenix. The first reaction of the public was always awe followed by appreciation of our hard work. We were amazed at how much a difference we were making to the people who visit these places on a daily basis. It motivated all of us by helping us realize we truly are making a difference. As a great cap to our project, on the final day of work a gigantic red-tailed hawk flew swooped right over our heads and sat in a nearby tree for over an hour before catching a squirrel and flying away.