Before long, we hope that the Tonto Watershed Improvement Group, better known as TWIG, will be a household name. TWIG is not a governmental regulatory group that has been formed to dictate, but rather a grass roots community organization whose sole purpose is to promote and improve the health of the streams in the Upper Tonto Creek Watershed Basin through education, environmental restoration, collaborative research, diverse community involvement and regional economic development.
TWIG met for the first time in March of 2009 on the campus of Tonto Rim Christian Camp. After the informal meeting to discuss the need for such a group as TWIG, meetings were held to formulate bylaws and to incorporate. At the present time TWIG has received a grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to educate the community on the need for all the stakeholders in the Upper Tonto Watershed to take a vested interest in cleaning up our streams in order to provide a usable commodity for future generations.
In recent months, ADEQ, through water testing sampling, has found portions of Tonto and Christopher creeks exceeding the standards for clean water. Portions of our water have been declared impaired due to the high e coli and nitrogen content. What the public needs to understand is that this water is generally impaired by non-point sources such as failing septic and waste water systems located within the watershed area as well as high recreational usage. While these are not the only causes, they seem to pose the greatest threat and danger to clean water.
Eventually this becomes our groundwater which is our source for the water that comes out of our taps in our kitchens. With this in mind, it now becomes the task of each stakeholder to discover what they can do to improve this problem. That is why TWIG is so important.
Soon to come, TWIG will be publishing and handing out brochures that will inform the public how they can assist us in attacking this problem of impaired waters. While the invasion of impaired water into our drinking water is of great concern, of equal or greater concern is the financial impact for each stakeholder in the future if the problem is not addressed today. The cost of eradicating polluted water from our groundwater is astronomical compared to the cost of what it would take today in simply doing some routine preventive tasks. This and much more information will be available at education meetings that will be held throughout our watershed area beginning in October.
In the meantime, TWIG is developing a Web site, formulating a speaker’s bureau, creating a volunteer group for stream testing and searching for other grants that will enable us to hire a project manager for the tasks outlined. If you would be interested in hearing a presentation of how your community, HOA, school, church, neighborhood can assist with educating and getting involved to eradicate this troublesome problem of impaired waters in our very own watershed, please call Larry Fultz at 602-332-4840 to set up a scheduled appointment.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for stream testing, please call Phon Sutton at 928-478-0052. Training for stream testing will begin after the first of the year and the Speaker’s Bureau will hopefully be up and running after Oct. 1, 2010.
The public is invited to join us at our meetings which will be posted on our Web site, scheduled to be online by Oct. 1.
Larry Fultz is the coordinator of the Tonto Watershed Improvement Group.