Throughout southern Arizona, neighborhoods are etched into the desert. So when monsoon hits, the heavy rains and fast wind speeds blow through the area, which moves the landscape around. It’s one of the ways that the community sees the impact of erosion.

The Garden District neighborhood staple, Zayna’s Mediterranean Restaurant, 1138 N. Belvedere Ave., sees the impact of erosionespecially during monsoon. Heather Smith is a neighborhood advocate and has worked at Zayna’s for the last few years.

“The water ruins everything,” she said. “There were big pot holes and customers couldn’t get over the water safely.”

The restaurant sits next to a wash that floods with water and debris like trash and even mattresses. She said the owners built a bridge from the parking lot to the restaurant to help customers safely arrive at the restaurant.

“The debris in the wash floods over,” she said. “And it floods over so much that it ruins the cement around the property.”

She said they’ve had to make improvements and rebuild the cement around the bridge because of the flood water’s impact to the concrete. Erosion is the loss of soil from one place to another or when wind or water gradually wear down the land. Craig Rasmussen, an environmental science professor from the University of Arizona, said erosion is caused by a few different factors here in Arizona.

“Soil erosion can take place from water, running across the surface and taking the particles and washing them away,” he said. “But another agent of erosion in the desert is actually the wind.”

He said some of the best way to help slow the impacts of erosion is by creating a water basin in your yard.

“Anything that you can do on your landscape to slow water down so it can’t infiltrate on your yard,” he said. “Like a wood chip mulch or something can help offset some of the potential erosion losses.”

At Zayna’s, Smith said they’re working to make sure the wash is clean.

“Flooding is going to happen and water is going to come down,” she said. “But when it’s full of all of this debris it just doesn’t help.”

Watch more monsoon team coverage:

Monsoon Watch 2024