Up We Go: Retention Basin is Temporary Home to Desert Plants

Barely noticeable in the shadow of the rapidly developing TMC Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower is a half-acre depression, lined with native vegetation.

Saguaros, ocotillo, desert willow, fairy dusters and mesquites are safely ensconced at the basin until their new homes are ready when nearby construction on the west campus is done.

The indentation in the earth will capture storm runoff from Tucson’s seasonal rains for two primary purposes:

  • To protect the banks of nearby washes from erosion by slowing the force of the water and giving it a chance to percolate into the soil;
  • To nourish the plants growing alongside the basin while they wait to be transplanted to their ultimate homes on the campus.

The temporary plant nursery is part of TMC’s compliance with the City of Tucson’s NPPO – the Native Plant Preservation Ordinance, which requires salvaging and transplanting for some desert foliage during major construction projects.

The retention basin is located on a small plot just west of the historic Erickson Building, between two parking garages that serve the west campus.  It will capture runoff from the entire west campus, including the roof of the new four-story Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower, which will open next spring.

“This small patch of land was not serving any purpose until now,” said Richard Prevallet, vice president, Facilities and Construction. “But with smart design, we are able to not only recharge groundwater, but protect our washes and capture our rainwater to serve our plant nursery.

“Living in a desert, we should all care about our water resources. This is another opportunity to expand our environmental activities as part of the redevelopment of our west campus.”

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Rd. | Tucson, AZ 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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