The Rio Reimagined

Photo credit: Tim Roberts | Shutterstock

Join us for the Valley's most impactful green infrastructure project in a century.

Learn more about our recent work and accomplishments.
View and/or download the Spring 2022 Rio Reimagined Impact Update.

A vital resource

Our urban rivers can be a source of civic pride that connects and transforms diverse communities as well as enhances the future economic and environmental vitality of the region. The Rio Salado, once a perennial river, flowed through urban Maricopa County spawning early settlements and connecting diverse communities. For decades, community leaders and stakeholders have explored ways to reconnect the splendor of the river to Valley residents through ecosystem restoration, flood mitigation and economic development.

Photo credit: Weddle Gilmore | Floor Associates
Photo credit: Floor Associates | Weddle Gilmore

Reimagining the Rio Salado

This historically significant and underutilized natural resource has been reimagined as a unifying public space that enhances social equity. A creative and collective effort is needed to integrate priorities of public open space, environmental quality, housing, transportation, economic and workforce development, community sustainability and resilience.

Sustainable impact

This visionary project is designed to promote progressive commerce while ensuring an equitable, high quality, sustainable environment. Join us in cultivating a progressive identity for our river and its watershed. The time is now to redefine your Rio Salado as a community asset for all.

Photo credit: Tim Trumble
Connecting A Vast Valley

River Map

Explore the dynamic projects and partners engaged in the river corridor.


The geography

The Rio Reimagined project’s geographic span is a 58-mile stretch of the Rio Salado from Granite Reef Dam to State Route 85 including the Rio Salado and Gila Rivers. The Rio Reimagined belongs to the eight communities along the river corridor as they partner in creating a vibrant urban riverfront for the Valley.


Thanks to the early advocacy, leadership and generous support of the late U.S. Senator John McCain and Arizona State University, an active and diverse community partnership has begun to leverage broad support for the redevelopment and stewardship of the urban riverfront.

Rio Reimagined Brochure

Read the Rio Reimagined Brochure (pdf)

Latest Project Activity

River communities are actively collaborating to increase federal engagement and expand local support for their Rio Reimagined projects and programming. Here are just a few active planning highlights from ‘Year 2’ of the Rio Reimagined project.

West Mesa River Community Heat Readiness Project

The AZ Dept. of Forestry & Fire Management and USDA Forest Service have provided catalyst funding for a 2-year heat action planning and mitigation project, “Cool Island Neighborhoods,” in West Mesa neighborhoods. Project partners include the Great Communities Community Development Organization, City of Mesa, ASU, Maricopa County Public Health, Arizona Sustainability Alliance, Unlimited Potential and SRP. Outcomes include tree planting, citizen science, community engagement and education. May 2020 - May 2022

Brownfields Coalition Environmental Assessment Grant Project

In late 2019 the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Avondale joined forces to apply for a significant EPA grant to evaluate and clean-up brownfields (previously polluted or abandoned sites) along the river. AZ Department of Environmental Quality and private sector experts have been strong advocates in the effort to leverage regional cooperation into multi-year funding.

Maricopa County Flood Control Water Quality Grant Project

The U.S. Geological Survey and Maricopa County Flood Control District are teaming up for a water quality study that will support the County’s restoration efforts to remove invasive vegetation from the river corridor, and most effectively plant native species. [FY 2020]


Green Infrastructure Hazard Mitigation Plan

As Maricopa County (MC) updates its multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan, a planning workshop was held by EPA, FEMA, City of Phoenix, City of Tempe, and MC Flood Control District to review the benefits of including green infrastructure/low impact development strategies (GI/LID). Regional collaboration continues in 2020 with a variety of public, private and non-profit stakeholders interested in advancing this strategy within the river corridor.

Rio Reimagined Opportunity Zone Grant

A Unifying Public Space

Get Involved

At the heart of this project is community.
Click on the organization logos below for upcoming events and diverse opportunities to experience the Rio Salado.

Upcoming Events

Urban Wildlife Conservation Day 2022

Saturday, October 8, 2022
8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area
Get the details

Urban Waters

The Urban Waters Partnership reconnects urban communities, particularly those that are overburdened or economically distressed, with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies.

Read All About It

Stay Informed

Excitement surrounding the Rio Reimagined is building. Read on about the Project and its positive community impact.

Nov 17th - 20th, 2020
Advancing Tribal economic development & Native entrepreneurship
Federal, state, local and tribal leaders Tuesday announced the Rio Reimagined-Rio Salado Project in Arizona as the 20th Urban Waters Federal Partnership location.
For more than 35 years, viewers have relied on Arizona Horizon and host Ted Simons for in-depth coverage of issues of concern to Arizonans.
West Mesa River Community Heat Action Project
June 16, 2020
Rio Reimagined flows forward with cleanup event and Urban Waters Partnership
January 21, 2020
River communities are actively collaborating to increase federal engagement for their Rio projects and programming. Here are a few highlights from ‘Year 2’ of the Rio Reimagined project.
Former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano presents a unique perspective on the inspiration and purpose of Tempe Town Lake.
Mayor Kate Gallego expresses her progressive thoughts on the potential impact and value of Rio Reimagined for the region.
A fascinating time-line describes the history behind Tempe Town Lake from dry river bed to the grand opening.
On Saturday, November 9th, 2019, the Valley celebrated 20 years of one of the most popular and recognized destinations in Arizona, Tempe Town Lake. This video covers past, present and future plans for one of the signature and inspirational landmarks along the Rio Reimagined.
The designation of federal opportunity zones along 70% of the Rio Reimagined corridor are one of the many incentives for community development along the river.
2018 was an exceptional first year for the Rio Reimagined Project. ASU’s University City Exchange, on behalf of the 8 river communities and numerous stakeholders, spearheaded initial project planning and recaps the milestones and highlights of ‘Year One’.

Need Answers?

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions and Useful Web Links


Check out the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. Contact us for more detail if you can’t find the answer you need.

Useful Resources

Click here for some informative and educational community websites that relate to aspects of the Rio Reimagined project.

Together we can create our environmental future.

Join our mailing list to stay engaged in the Project.

Photo credit: Jon Rapp Photography