Thursday, March 3, 2011

Controlled Burn Notice

Sweetwater Wetlands Controlled Burn and Public Notice

As part of a joint project to enhance Tucson Water’s Mosquito Abatement Program at the Sweetwater Wetlands and provide a firefighting exercise for the Tucson Fire Department, the two City Departments have scheduled this year’s controlled burn. The controlled burn is scheduled to take place on Monday March 7, at the Sweetwater Wetlands, 2511 W. Sweetwater Drive, beginning at approximately 8:30 a.m.

In order to provide ample opportunity for citizens who may be sensitive to smoke generated by the controlled burn to take precautionary measures or avoid the area, we ask the media to publicize the burn prior to March 7th. Staff will be available to discuss the planned burn prior to March 7th, and ample photo and interview opportunities will be provided during the exercise as well.


The controlled burn is an important part of Tucson Water’s Mosquito Abatement Program at the Sweetwater Wetlands. The burn removes much of the thatched, dead vegetation produced by freezing winter temperatures. Due to freeze this year, the burn is anticipated to be significant larger, so full firefighting staff will be on site. Unless the dead vegetation is burned off, the accumulated thatch becomes a “shelter” which protects aquatic mosquito larvae during their development. From late March to November, Tucson Water applies a common, low-toxicity, granular mosquito larvicide to the water to kill the aquatic mosquito larvae. The burning and removal of the dead thatch makes the weekly granular applications more effective.

Beginning in 2002, Tucson Water and the Tucson Fire Department have conducted annual controlled burns in selected areas of the Sweetwater Wetlands that are heavily overgrown. These burns have been successful in helping control mosquito populations at the Wetlands, while also providing valuable fire suppression training.

Recent modifications to the Sweetwater Wetlands, designed to further control mosquito populations, permanently removed some vegetation to create more areas of open water, resulting in less vegetation to burn. The water utility has worked with Tucson Audubon Society to ensure that sufficient vegetation remains following the burn to allow for Spring nesting at the Wetlands.

The Sweetwater Wetlands will be closed to the public on the day of the controlled burn, and will reopen on Tuesday, March 8, 2011.

Fernando Molina, Tucson Water, 837-2185 (cell - 349-0982) or Captain Trish Tracy, Tucson Fire Dept. 471-7409 (cell) or 410-1901 (pager)