Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and mayors across the country are being recognized for their local climate efforts as part of the 14th Annual Climate Protection Awards, an initiative sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Walmart. The city’s Santa Cruz River Heritage Project garnered Tucson a Large City Honorable Mention.
The awards program demonstrates how cities of all sizes are dealing with the effects of climate change and the impact mayors are having on protecting the environment for future generations.
The Santa Cruz River Heritage Project is an innovative project that uses recycled water to recharge the Santa Cruz River near the downtown area. In addition to recharging our aquifer for later use, this recycled water creates outdoor recreational opportunities, supports native vegetation, and provides habitat for the endangered Gila Topminnow that was recently reintroduced in this section of the river after 100 years.
The project restored perennial flow to nearly two miles of river through multiple neighborhoods and downtown Tucson’s near west side, within walking or biking distance for hundreds of thousands of residents and workers. Visitors now enjoy watching wildlife, returning vegetation, and flowing water along (pre-existing) multi-use pathways on both sides of the river. Researchers and residents have documented the return of dozens of species of birds, dragonflies, and other wildlife, including rare and threatened species.
“It is an honor to be recognized for a project that brought the Santa Cruz River back to life by using recycled water while creating multiple socioecological benefits in our community,” said Romero. “The climate efforts of local leaders are making an impact as we collectively make our nation climate resilient one action and one city at a time.”
“The Santa Cruz River Heritage Project represents a new way of thinking for Tucson Water,” said Tucson Water Director Tim Thomure. “We have expanded our world view beyond the sole focus on providing safe, reliable water. We have the opportunity and the obligation to contribute more broadly to our community and culture through these types of investments.”
“President-elect Biden has rightly pledged to make climate protection a top priority of his new Administration, and mayors stand ready to join with him to meet the climate challenges before all of us,” said Tom Cochran, USCM CEO and Executive Director. “Mayors have a record of success in taking climate action at the local level and have urged greater federal engagement and commitments on climate protection to bolster and expand upon what mayors are already doing.”
LARGE CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS:
- Tucson Mayor Regina Romero – Santa Cruz River Heritage Project
- Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego – Green and Sustainability Bond Program
- Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley – Cincinnati Clean Energy Program
- Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin – Energy Justice
- Rochester Mayor Kim Norton – Vision for Rochester
SMALL CITY HONORABLE MENTIONS:
- Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan – Street Light Replacement Program
- Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer – Efficient Framingham
- Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery – Climate Ready Manhattan Beach
- San Leandro Mayor Pauline Cutter — Solar & Energy Efficiency in Wastewater Operations
- San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon – Clean Energy Choice Program for New Buildings