Where the Water Flows

Sierra Vista Water/Ways

River

San Pedro River

Tributaries

Babocomari River

Ramsey Creek

Perennial streams in Garden, Miller, O'Donnell, and Turkey Canyons

Ephemeral Tributaries

Intermittent stream in Lyle Canyon

Numerous washes

Springs

Cooks Lake Spring

Numerous unnamed springs in the Huachuca Mountains

Water Production and Processing Facilities

Multiple private water companies supply water to Sierra Vista

City of Sierra Vista Wastewater Treatment Plant (treats and pumps water back into ground water aquifer)

Sierra Vista ~ Host Site Profile

Founded on Water

Sierra Vista is nestled near the Huachuca Mountains in southeastern Arizona. It benefits from the mountain watershed, nearby natural springs, and the San Pedro River to the east, which all provide water to the community. The area’s access to water was critical to the establishment of Fort Huachuca in 1877. Founded originally to serve the fort, Sierra Vista grew as residents established  mercantile shops, saloons, and hotels. Sierra Vista is now the largest city in Cochise County, with over 43,000 residents. It relies heavily on Fort Huachuca to support area businesses and add to the community’s population, which has grown substantially each decade since the mid-twentieth century.

The Impact of Ranching

Water was also critical for other economic activity around Sierra Vista. The San Pedro and Southwestern Railroad built a railroad line along the San Pedro River, east of the settlement, in 1888. Ranching quickly picked up in the area with access to the railroad and the river. With large cattle ranch operations booming, overgrazing soon depleted the region's plants and water. While ranching is still a part of the area economy and culture, ranchers increasingly make environmentally conscious decisions in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management.

Protecting the River

The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area has benefited from this cooperative effort. Located just east of the city and established in 1988, it covers tens of thousands of acres of public land along the river. It is one of only two Riparian National Conservation Areas in the country. The river serves as a passageway for millions of birds migrating between the United States and Mexico. The nearby Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Nature Preserve further preserves the area’s  riparian heritage. The San Pedro River has been an important part of Sierra Vista’s history and is still vital to the community.

Water Programs

Saturday, January 12 - 1:00 PM

Sierra Vista Water/Ways - Changing Landscapes
A Smithsonian Water/Ways Local Companion Exhibit
Grand Opening
Saturday, January 12
1:00 PM Ribbon-cutting Ceremony
1:30-3:30 PM Exhibit Open to the Public

Tuesday, January 8 - 1:00 PM

Whose Fault is it? Revisiting the 1887 Sonoran Earthquake
Henry F. Hauser Museum
Ethel H. Berger Center
2950 East Tacoma Street

The 1887 shaking was a major earthquake causing damage in the southwest United States and Mexico. Just how close is the Pitaycachi Fault to Cochise County and how has this fault been studied recently to analyze its reactivation potential? Cartographer and geographer, Glenn Minuth, returns to examine pictures of the fault to discuss its geological significance; and finally reviews historic damage pictures along with the narrative accounts from those who recorded their thoughts at the time from some of the over 200 Arizona locations, in nearby states, and Mexico.

Friday, January 18 - 5:30-7:00 PM

Stacks After Dark - Water Panel Discussion
A Conversation About Water Resources, Use, and Management in the Upper San Pedro River Valley

Sierra Vista Public Library
Public Meeting Room
Join moderator, George Van Otten, Professor Emeritus of Geography and Public Planning, Northern Arizona, for a conversation about water resources, use, and management in the Upper San Pedro River Valley. Panel members include County Supervisor Pat Call, Friends of the San Pedro River member, Tricia Gerrodette; Community member and former vice president of Bella Vista Water/Ranches, Judy Gignac; and local rancher and board member of the Hereford Natural Resource Conservation District, Jim Lindsey.

Saturday, January 19 - 10:00-11:00 AM

Watercolor Magic Hoops for Kids
Ethel H. Berger Center
Cost: Free
Maximum Participants: 30
Registration is required. Space is limited. To reserve your space call 520-439-2307 or email Debra.Block@SierraVistaAZ.gov
Children ages 7-13 will use their imaginations to create a water scene depicting an aspect of water found in the San Pedro Valley.
Using markers and colored pencils, participants will draw their water scene on fabric or choose from available templated prints. Magic happens when a watercolor solution is added. Each masterpiece is then framed in an embroidery hoop. Participants in the January class have the option to display their creation in the museum as part of our companion exhibit!
We thank the Hummingbird Stitchers Quilt Guild for sponsoring and conducting this class.

Saturday, January 26 - 9:00 –11:00 AM

Courtesy Bob Hermann

San Pedro River Tour
San Pedro House
Hwy 90 East
Friends of the San Pedro River and hydrogeologist Victoria Hermosilla in partnership with the City of Sierra Vista's Henry F. Hauser Museum are offering a free guided hike along the San Pedro River. The tour covers a range of educational topics such as riparian ecology, river hydrology, groundwater science, native and migratory birds, and water policy. Join us at the San Pedro House shortly before 9am for this discussion-focused hike, all while enjoying the scenic beauty of the San Pedro River corridor. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring water.

Saturday, January 26 - 1:00-2:00 pm

Image courtesy of Victoria Hermosilla

Hydrology and Water Resources 101

Ethel H. Berger Center

As we move into the 21st century, our water resources and management will need to become more adaptive under the pressures of population growth and less predictable weather patterns. This interactive and discussion-based presentation, with hydrogologist Victoria Hermosilla, covers the water cycle, surface water and groundwater basics with considerations of water usage as it relates water & energy and water & food. Victoria will also provide access to groundwater models and other informational displays.

Saturday, February 2 - 9:00 am -5:00 pm AND Sunday, February 3 - 10:00 am -3:00 pm

San Pedro River Quiltmaker Wendy M. Seals

Quilt Show - A Sierra Vista Water/Ways Special Quilt Exhibit

Buena High School

Cost:  Free for Special Water/Ways Exhibit Hall, $7 for the "Quilts of the Huachucas" exhibit.

The Henry F. Hauser Museum has partnered with our local Hummingbird Stitchers Quilt Guild in bringing this special water inspired quilt exhibit to the public, as part of their annual Quilt Show and Sale. There is a small fee for entrance into their regular exhibit area, but the Water/Ways quilt exhibit space is free. Stop by and take a peek. We have some incredibly talented quilters right here in the greater Sierra Vista area!

Saturday, February 2

Slow the H2O - Rain Chains Workshop for Kids & Adults

10:00 AM -11:30 PM Adult Class (Maximum participants - 10)
1:00-2:30 PM Kids Class (Ages 10-17) (Maximum Participants - 20)

Ethel H. Berger Center
A parent or guardian is encouraged to participate.
Cost: Free
Help us create unique and artistic rain chains to channel water from the Ethel Berger Center roof into the vegetation. The adult class will construct one chain and the kids workshop will make two. We'll be using various metal items such as spoons, forks, funnels, and bells, and we'll add some beads for color! After each creation is made, we'll do a short "Hanging Ceremony." Once you've learned the basics, you can create your own at home from your own recycled "treasures"
Registration is required. Space is limited. To reserve your space call 520-439-2307 or email Debra.Block@SierraVistaAZ.gov

Tuesday, February 5 - 1:00 PM

Water in Arizona: Past, Present, Future
Henry F. Hauser Museum
Ethel H. Berger Center
2950 East Tacoma Street

Water is Arizona’s most precious resource, yet few people know where their water comes from, who provides it, how its quality is assured, or how secure future water supplies are for the state’s 6 million residents. A billboard near Roosevelt Dam on the Salt River proclaimed in the 1960s: “Arizona Grows Where Water Flows.” However, growth and the control of water to support it have never been simple uncontested endeavors. There are the haves and have nots, conflicts between farmers, cities, and industry over who gets how much and who pays how much. Federal, tribal, state, and local governments are involved in developing and distributing water to serve diverse constituents with often competing interests. And what about nature? Who is looking out for Arizona’s native fish and amphibians, and the birds and insects that thrive in the cottonwood and willow forests along our most rare and valuable streamside ecosystems? We face very serious water supply sustainability challenges in the coming decades. Who makes decisions about our water future? ASU Professor of History and Sustainability Paul Hirt takes us on a bird’s eye view of the past, present, and future of water in Arizona.

February 5 through 7

Library Storytime courtesy City of Sierra Vista

Water Stories Storytime @ the Library
Tuesday, February 5 Baby Storytime
Wednesday, February 6 Preschool Storytime
Friday, February 8 Toddler Storytime
10:20-11:10 AM
Thursday, February 7 Pajama Storytime
6:30-7:15 PM
Sierra Vista Public Library
Public Meeting Room
Cost: Free
The Henry F. Hauser Museum has partnered with our city library in celebrating the many faces of water; from rivers and waterfalls to ice and steam. Join children's librarian, Erica Merritt, for a fun and educational week. For more information call (520) 458-4225.

Saturday, February 16  - 11:00 AM -12:00 PM

Make and Take: Squirt Gun Art for Families and Teens
Ethel H. Berger Center
Dining Room
Cost: Free
Maximum Participants: Unlimited (Ages 5-17)

Stop by the museum, take a peek at the Smithsonian Exhibit and create a one of a kind design using squirt guns and paint!
No registration required. Simply show up!

Saturday, February 16 - Presentation:  1:00-2:00 pm      

Environmental Operations Park History

A History and Overview of Water Treatment at the City’s Environmental Operations Park

Presentation and Tour

Ethel H. Berger Center

Wastewater treatment isn’t something most people like to think about, but it is vital to protect public health.  Did you know that buildings from the City’s first wastewater treatment facility are still standing in Sierra Vista’s historic West End?  Did you know that the City once used treated effluent to grow alfalfa?  What does the City do with its effluent today?  From the West End, to harvesting alfalfa, to the single-most important recharge project in our region, come hear about the history and future of wastewater treatment operations from the City’s Public Works Director, Sharon Flissar. Then meet her at the EOP for a tour following the presentation.

Saturday, February 23 - 10:00-11:00 AM

Watercolor Magic Hoops

Ethel H. Berger Center
Cost: Free
Maximum Participants: 30
Registration is required. Space is limited. To reserve your space call 520-439-2307 or email Debra.Block@SierraVistaAZ.gov
Children ages 7-13 will use their imaginations to create a water scene depicting an aspect of water found in the San Pedro Valley.
Using markers and colored pencils, participants will draw their water scene on fabric or choose from available templated prints. Magic happens when a watercolor solution is added. Each masterpiece is then framed in an embroidery hoop.

Saturday, February 23 - 10:00 AM -3:00 PM

Youth Arts Festival courtesy City of Sierra Vista

Sierra Vista Water/Ways Youth Arts Festival
Cochise College, Sierra Vista Campus
Cost: Free
The Henry F. Hauser Museum is pleased to partner with the annual Youth Arts Festival this year in celebrating the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit! This family-friendly event serves grades K-8 students through dynamic “make and take” activities and live performances centered around the theme of water. This collaboration between the Sierra Vista Arts & Humanities Commission and the Cochise College Art Department invites local artists and talents to run stations including Art, Craft, Writing, Theater, Music, Dance and more, where local youth can try new things and explore creative interests. For more information about attending or volunteering for this event, contact: thompsonpfauv@cochise.edu

We thank the Hummingbird Stitchers Quilt Guild for sponsoring and conducting this class.

Tuesday, March 5 - 1:00 PM

Tombstone Pipeline courtesy City of Sierra Vista

Huachuca Water Company: an Engineering Success
Henry F. Hauser Museum
Ethel H. Berger Center
2950 East Tacoma Street

Join historian and professional researcher, Nancy Sosa, for an educational and entertaining look into a rather unique regional water story - The Tombstone Pipeline. The Huachuca Water Company was established in 1880 to bring water to Tombstone, Arizona. The investors of the Huachuca Water Company claimed and developed 23 springs in Miller and Carr Canyons of the Huachuca Mountains, and built an approximate 27-mile long iron pipeline to deliver the water. Once the longest gravity fed pipeline in America, this line is still in use today, bringing much-needed water to the citizens and visitors of Tombstone.

Community Partners

Amerind Museum & Research Center

Founded in 1937, the Amerind is a non-profit archaeological research institution. The museum opened to the public in 1985 after a facilities upgrade helped it better preserve its collections. Today, the Amerind offers educational programs and workshops to tell the story of first peoples in North and South America.

Friends of the Brown Canyon Ranch

This volunteer group is dedicated to preserving and interpreting Brown Canyon Ranch, a historic property located in the Huachuca Mountain foothills. A pond on the ranch is habitat for the endangered Chiricahua Leopard Frog.

Friends of the San Pedro River

Since 1987, FSPR volunteers have dedicated their time to restoring the San Pedro River and preserving its riparian environment. Members work with land managers and engage residents and visitors with workshops, classroom programs and interpretive hikes.

Hummingbird Stitchers Quilt Guild

Taking inspiration from the beauty of Sierra Vista’s natural environment, the Guild offers fabric crafting workshops and partners with local organizations to promote quilting as history and art.

Sierra Vista Camera Club

Offering workshops, scenic outings and mentoring to people of all experience levels, the Camera Club welcomes anyone who has an interest in photography.

Sierra Vista Historical Society

The Society supports community history and historic preservation with research, programs, volunteer support and financial assistance.

Sierra Vista Public Library

The library offers programs for children and teens, workshops and discussion groups for adults, and a gallery and meeting space for community activities.

Upper San Pedro Partnership

Consisting of 21 agencies and organizations working together to monitor and manage water, the Upper San Pedro Partnership ensures that the water needs of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area and of area residents are met now and in the future.

San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area