Monsoon rains have briefly turned the tide at drought-diminished Agua Caliente Park - bolstering the park's main pond and creating a few shallow pools in a second pond that had all but dried up in April.
Heartening as that turnaround might be for fans of the oasis-like park northeast of Tucson, it won't last, say park officials.
"The spring that feeds the ponds has not rebounded" from its decline in recent years of drought, said Kerry Baldwin of the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department. "It isn't flowing with any volume, and last month it stopped flowing during the day for many days."
That means the slight rise in the main pond - about 4 inches - and the shallow pools in Pond 2 will likely be lost when the monsoon fades.
"What you see is strictly surface runoff from the recent rains," Baldwin said. "It will dry out when we get a week of hot, dry weather."
When Pima County acquired the Agua Caliente property in 1984, the spring flow was sufficient to maintain three ponds, Baldwin said. The flow at that time was about 150 gallons per minute, but during the prolonged drought the flow has plummeted - sometimes to less than 2 gallons per minute.
The park's Pond 3 hasn't held water for about a decade, and Pond 2 shows signs of life only after periods of heavy rains such as this summer.
The park's main pond - flanked by tall palm trees and populated with ducks - has relied on water from a supplemental well to augment the spring flow since drought conditions began to worsen in 2003.
Get to Agua Caliente
Roy P. Drachman-Agua Caliente Regional Park - named for its hot water spring - is northeast of Tucson. To get there, take East Tanque Verde Road to North Soldier Trail and drive north on Soldier Trail to East Roger Road. Follow Roger Road east 0.4-mile to the park on the left.
Did you know?
The site of Roy P. Drachman-Agua Caliente Regional Park was part of a cattle ranch in the 1800s and also housed a hot-springs resort in bygone years.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at email@example.com or at 573-4192.