The maintenance of most washes and drainage ways within the City of Sierra Vista is performed by the Streets section. However, there are some areas where maintenance is not performed by City crews. These areas include unincorporated County enclaves, washes which have not been dedicated to the City of Sierra Vista (for example, those crossing State Land), and drainage easements that have been obstructed by adjacent property owners.
Maintenance of washes and drainage ways is a balancing act of preserving the natural features to the greatest extent practicable while also ensuring that public areas are clean, safe, and well-maintained. Natural drainage ways have many positive benefits including wildlife habitat and connectivity, recreational opportunities, enhanced storm water control and recharge, and aesthetics. However, maintenance is also required to remove dead brush and trash that could obstruct the wash and pose a fire hazard. Per the City’s Wash Maintenance Policy, each wash receives maintenance on a rotating schedule of once each year. Although a more frequent maintenance level is often requested by residents, current staffing and funding levels restrict maintenance to only once a year.
The intensity of maintenance for each drainage way or wash differs depending on its characteristics. Natural drainage ways are generally preserved as much as possible, so maintenance activities may only include a small amount of mowing, dead vegetation and weed removal, and trash removal. However, urban washes that have concrete sides and/or bottoms or that run through a densely populated area may include more intensive maintenance such as complete vegetation and sediment removal. If you have any questions regarding the level of maintenance in a local wash or drainage way, please click here to see a map of the City’s watercourses and assigned maintenance category.
Illegal dumping is a big problem in City washes and drainage ways. Sometimes the problem is caused by a truckload of garbage left in the middle of the night, but many times the debris comes from property owners who throw items like plant clippings over their back wall, figuring that it will naturally decompose in the wash. Regardless of the source, the material gets washed downstream during big storms where it sometimes clogs drainage structures. Downstream property owners may be impacted by both flooding and the accumulation of debris from upstream properties. If you live adjacent to a wash or drainage way, please do not dispose of items in it. The City offers a variety of services including special pickups for large items and free green waste pickups. If you would like to report an illegal dumping incidence, contact the Sierra Vista Police Department at (520 452-7500.
For any additional questions regarding wash maintenance, please call the Streets section at (520) 458-5775.