Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is an oasis in the Phoenix desert. Well actually this oasis is in Gilbert—in the Metro Phoenix East Valley—just east of the intersection at Guadalupe and Greenfield roads.
This unique area was designed to utilize recycled water to create community wetland wildlife sanctuaries for recreation, education, and research.
This wetland wildlife sanctuary is an incredible resource for hikers, bikers, bird watchers, and desert wildlife photographers, or for an afternoon stroll with your family!
It takes a lot of imagination and just as much ingenuity to use gallons of wastewater to create a desert oasis. But that’s just what the town of Gilbert has done with its Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.
Not long ago much of what is now Gilbert was devoted to farming—citrus, cotton, and cattle. With industry and jobs and the ever expanding metropolis of Phoenix the fields gave way to neighborhood after neighborhood of residential homes. Tens of thousands of people generate millions of gallons of waste water—which, thanks to modern treatment techniques can be made pure enough to drink.
Although people are still averse to using waste water for direct human use, it is a resource beyond value in this arid desert.
In 1986, the town of Gilbert made a commitment to reuse 100% of its effluent water. The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is one innovative way the town is accomplishing this goal while providing educational and recreational activities for its citizens.
Of the 110 acres, 70 are dedicated to seven recharge ponds that are filled with effluent that seeps into the underground aquifer. Once it reaches the upper underground aquifer 150 feet underground it is cleaner as a result of the filtering process. It is the water from the upper underground aquifer, not yet of drinking quality level, that is pumped into the fishing lake to make a home for trout, bass, catfish, and sunfish.
While this natural filtering process is taking place it is also creating a riparian habitat.
The really interesting thing about this riparian preserve is that it’s in the middle of Gilbert. You’d never expect to find a nature preserve tucked between the unassuming Gilbert Public Library and track-home neighborhoods. Yet, it’s there, and it’s quite a gem of the East Valley. Overall it’s a cool and interesting place to visit!
To read Part 2, click here.
Slow down and enjoy life.
It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—
you miss the sense of where you’re going and why.
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