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The Largest Selection of Wholesale Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products in Tucson

When it comes to trying new, exciting cuisine, few foods hit the spot like a deliciously fresh Mediterranean meal. However, we know that it can be very difficult to find authentic Mediterranean grocery wholesalers in Tucson, AZ. Having lived in metro Atlanta for years, we realized that our customers needed an easy way to find quality wholesale Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food in bulk. That is why we created Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market - to give everyone a chance to enjoy tasty, healthy food, desserts, and authentic Mediterranean gifts at wholesale prices.

Founded in 2009, Nazareth Grocery has become one of Tucson's leading international wholesale grocery stores. We are very proud to serve our customers and do everything in our power to give them the largest selection of high-quality wholesale goods available.

If you're looking for the freshest, most delicious Middle Eastern wholesale products and ingredients, you will find them here at the best prices in the state. We encourage you to swing by our store in Marietta to see our selection for yourself. We think that you will be impressed!

The Nazareth Difference

At Nazareth Grocery Mediterranean Market, our mission is simple: bring you and your family the largest selection of wholesale Mediterranean products in Tucson. When coupled with our helpful, friendly staff and authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere, it's easy to see why we are the top Middle Eastern grocery wholesaler in Tucson, AZ. We're proud to carry just about every kind of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern product that you can think of, from prepared meals and hookahs to fine seasonings and sweets. We're here for our customers and want each one of them to have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience when they shop with us.

Our loyal customers love our selection of the following wholesale foods and gifts:

  • Fresh Breads
  • OlivesOlives
  • HummusHummus
  • CheesesCheeses
  • SaucesSauces
  • Savory-FoodsSavory Foods
  • DessertsDesserts
  • DrinksDrinks
  • HookahsHookahs
  • TobaccoTobacco
  • SaucesGifts
  • Much More!Much More!

Our Service Areas

Most Popular Wholesale Mediterranean Foods

There is so much more to Mediterranean food than pizza and pasta. The perfect climate combined with delicious foods and amazing wine makes the Mediterranean incredibly irresistible. That's why our customers absolutely love to buy this kind of cuisine in bulk. Every country in this region has its own set of specialties and delicacies, each with its own flavors and styles of preparation.

Mediterranean countries include:

  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Spain
Mediterranean Grocery Tucson, AZ

So, when it comes to the most popular wholesale Mediterranean products in Tucson,
what are we talking about?

 Mediterranean Supermarkets Tucson, AZ

Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that is often enjoyed on its own, in Greek salads, on bread, or mixed with zucchini. Depending on where the feta is sourced and produced, the cheese can be made from cow, sheep, or goat milk, or even a combination of the three. Regardless of the animal it comes from, this delicious cheese is a crowd favorite.

 Mediterranean Grocery Store Tucson, AZ

Baba Ganoush

This Levantine dish is one of the most well-known Mediterranean dishes to eat in the United States. It typically comes in the form of a dip, served with pita or another kind of dipping bread. Commonly served before dinner as an appetizer of sorts, it usually features tahini, eggplant, garlic, spices, and sometimes yogurt. This tasty cuisine works great as a spread on a sandwich, or you can even eat it with a spoon, all on its own.

 Middle Eastern Grocery Tucson, AZ

Baklava

If you have never tried authentic baklava before, get ready to have your mind blown. This dessert is a traditional Mediterranean food that will have your taste buds craving more and more. Once you open a box of baklava from our Mediterranean grocery wholesaler in Tucson, AZ, you won't want to stop eating! Baklava is made with layers of thin filo dough, which is layered together, filled with chopped nuts (think pistachios), and sealed with honey or syrup. Baklava is so good that its origins are debated, leaving many wondering which country invented the dessert. Everyone from the Turks to the Greeks and even Middle Easterners hold unique takes on baklava. Try each one to discover your favorite!

Most Popular Wholesale Middle Eastern Foods

Fresh, healthy, aromatic, rich: it's no wonder that the popularity of Middle Eastern cuisine and products has skyrocketed in the United States. This genre of cuisine features a large variety of foods, from Halvah to Labneh. If there were one common theme throughout all Middle Eastern food, it would be the bright, vibrant herbs and spices that are used. These flavorings help create rich, complex flavors that foodies fawn over. Typically, Middle Eastern food is piled high for all to eat, with enough food for an entire republic to put down.

 Mediterranean Food Stores Tucson, AZ

Tabbouleh

This refreshing, healthy dish is chock-full of greens, herbs, tomatoes, and bulgur (or cracked wheat), creating a memorable, bold flavor. This dish may be eaten on its own or paired with a shawarma sandwich or helping of falafel. It's best to buy your ingredients in bulk to make this dish because it tastes best freshly made with family around to enjoy. Just be sure to bring a toothpick to the tabbouleh party - you're almost certain to have some leafy greens stuck in your teeth after eating.

 Middle Eastern Market Tucson, AZ

Shawarma

We mentioned shawarma above, and for good reason - this dish is enjoyed by men and women around the world, and of course, right here in the U.S. Except for falafel, this might be the most popular Middle Eastern food item in history. Shawarma is kind of like a Greek gyro, with slow-roasted meat stuffed in laffa with veggies and sauce. The blend of spices and the smoky meat mix together to create a tangy, meaty flavor that you will want to keep eating for hours. For western-style shawarma, try using beef or chicken. For a more traditional meal, try using lamb from our Middle Eastern grocery distributor in Tucson, AZ.

 Greek Grocery Store Tucson, AZ

Hummus

Traditionally used as a dip meant for fresh pita, hummus is a combo of chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, blended together until silky, smooth, and creamy. You can find hummus in just about any appetizer section of a Middle Eastern restaurant menu. That's because it's considered a staple of Middle Eastern food that can be enjoyed by itself, as a spread, or with fresh-baked pita bread. Hummus is also very healthy, making it a no-brainer purchase from our grocery store.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

If there's one diet that is most well-known for its health benefits, it has got to be the Mediterranean diet. In 2019, U.S. News & World Report listed the Mediterranean diet as No. 1 on its best over diet list. This incredible diet has been cited to help with weight loss, brain health, heart health, diabetes prevention, and cancer prevention.

Whether you already love Mediterranean food or you're looking to make some positive changes in your life, this "diet" is for you. Eating cuisine like Greek food, Persian food, Turkish food, and Italian food is healthy and tastes great. Even better than that? At Nazareth Wholesale Grocery, we have many staples of the Mediterranean diet for sale in bulk so that you can stock up on your favorites at the best prices around.

So, what exactly is the Mediterranean diet?

It is a way of eating that incorporates traditional Greek, Italian, and other Mediterranean cultures' foods. These foods are often plant-based and make up the foundation of the diet, along with olive oil. Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are also included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are only eaten in moderation, not in abundance. Mediterranean food includes many forms of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, seeds, and more. Of course, you can find at them all at our wholesale Mediterranean grocery store!

Here are just a few of the many benefits of eating a healthy Mediterranean diet:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Reduced Risk
of Heart Disease

Many studies have been conducted on this diet, many of which report that Mediterranean food is excellent for your heart. Some of the most promising evidence comes from a randomized clinical trial published in 2013. For about five years, researchers followed 7,000 men and women around the country of Spain. These people had type 2 diabetes or were at a high risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants in the study who ate an unrestricted Mediterranean diet with nuts and extra-virgin olive oil were shown to have a 30% lower risk of heart events.

Reduced Risk of Stroke for Women

Reduced Risk
of Stroke for Women

In addition to the heart-healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet, studies have shown that eating healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods can reduce the chances of stroke in women. The study was conducted in the U.K., which included women between the ages of 40 and 77. Women who stuck to the Mediterranean diet showed a lower risk of having a stroke - especially women who were at high risk of having one.

Benefits of Eating a Mediterranean Diet

First and foremost, purchase your Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wholesale foods from Nazareth Grocery - we're always updating our inventory! Getting started on this healthy, delicious diet is easy.

Try these tips:

Try these tips

1.

Instead of unhealthy sweets like candy and ice cream, try eating fresh fruit instead. It's refreshing, tasty, and often packed with great vitamins and nutrients.

2.

Try eating fish twice a week, in lieu of red meat. Fish is much healthier and doesn't have the unfortunate side effects of red meat, like inflammation.

3.

Try planning out your meals using beans, whole grains, and veggies. Don't start with meats and sweets.

4.

They're tasty, but try to avoid processed foods completely.

5.

Instead of using butter to flavor your food, use extra virgin olive oil instead. Olive oil contains healthy fats and tastes great too.

6.

Try to get more exercise and get out of the house. The Mediterranean lifestyle is an active one, best enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine when possible.

Why Buy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Products Wholesale?

Buying wholesale and retail are quite different. When you buy products from a wholesaler, you're essentially buying from the middleman between a retail establishment and the manufacturer. Wholesale purchases are almost always made in bulk. Because of that, buyers pay a discounted price. That's great for normal buyers and great for business owners, who can sell those products to profit. This higher price is called the retail price, and it is what traditional customers pay when they enter a retail store.

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 Middle Eastern Store Tucson, AZ

Latest News in Tucson, AZ

Arizona attorney general: Tucson's rule to protect renters violates state law

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich ordered the city of Tucson to rescind a law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters who receive government assistance, after he deemed it unconstitutional.Brnovich's non-binding legal opinion is that Tucson's "source of income" law is unconstitutional according to a press release published Thursday.If Tucson does not rescind its ordinance within the next 30 days, the attorney general's office will notify the state treasurer, who will withhold t...

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich ordered the city of Tucson to rescind a law that prohibits landlords from discriminating against renters who receive government assistance, after he deemed it unconstitutional.

Brnovich's non-binding legal opinion is that Tucson's "source of income" law is unconstitutional according to a press release published Thursday.

If Tucson does not rescind its ordinance within the next 30 days, the attorney general's office will notify the state treasurer, who will withhold the city’s portion of state shared revenue until it comes into compliance, said Brittni Thomason, a spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

"Tucson’s ordinance restricting home sellers and (landlords) from considering the source of income of interested individuals violates state law,” Brnovich said in a press release on Thursday. “It must therefore be repealed in 30 days.”

Fewer landlords are accepting housing vouchers or leasing to tenants on Social Security in Arizona, and a growing number of those people are becoming homeless. Tucson's ordinance is in response to the growing problem.

AZ housing advocates demanding change:Eviction filings are climbing to pre-pandemic levels. Is system broken?

Brnovich's decision is based on a 1992 state law that ruled local fair housing ordinances had to be passed no later than Jan. 1, 1995. Tucson's existing housing ordinance was amended on Sept. 27 with the "source of income" provision, 27 years after the 1992 law was passed.

The city attorney's office said in a letter in response to the complaint that Tucson passed its fair housing ordinance in 1988, seven years before the purported deadline.

The letter further states that the 1992 state law authorizing cities to adopt fair housing ordinances before Jan. 1, 1995, "does not expressly prohibit enactments prior to that date or amendments after that date."

City Attorney Mike Rankin said in an email he will evaluate the attorney general’s finding over the next few days and discuss the next steps with the city of Tucson mayor and council at the next available meeting.

The investigation into the legality of the ordinance began in November from a request made by House speaker-elect and state Rep. Ben Toma of Peoria, who is a real estate agent.

According to the Arizona agency handbook, the attorney general is "authorized to provide a written opinion when requested to do so by the legislature, an individual member of the house of representatives or state senate, a public officer of the state, or a county attorney ... Opinions must address a question of law relating to the office of the person requesting the opinion."

The Tucson City Council passed the ordinance amending the city’s fair housing code to help address the worsening affordable housing crisis, according to a response letter written to the Office of the Attorney General by Jennifer Bonham, Tucson’s principal assistant city attorney.

In Tucson, median rent has risen 40% since 2017 and median home values are also increasing, from $176,199 in 2017 to $287,288 by the end of 2021, impacting 75,000 Tucson households who are paying "too much of their income on housing," Bonham said in the letter.

The amendment in question expanded the city's fair housing code to prohibit landlords from denying renters based on their source of income.

Bonham said this type of law protects people who might be discriminated against for using other types of income for housing like housing vouchers, as well as people with disabilities who receive Social Security disability, and foster families who receive foster care subsidies.

Long-standing federal housing and civil rights laws protect renters and homebuyers from some forms of housing discrimination, but enforcement can often take years.

While Toma's complaint argued that the ordinance requires landlords to choose voucher recipients over other “more qualified” lessees, the Tucson City Attorney’s Office refuted that statement in its letter, stating landlords are not required to choose voucher recipients over other renters.

Housing choice vouchers:Getting one in the Phoenix area can take years. Finding a place to live can be tougher

“The city has been clear that property owners may continue to apply non-discriminatory screening criteria for prospective tenants," stated the letter.

But Toma also claimed the ordinance prohibited landlords from evicting tenants "who may be eligible for rental assistance from city and county initiatives," which the city attorney’s office also refuted.

Bonham clarified that while tenants using housing vouchers can be evicted for failing to pay rent, they cannot be evicted if the housing subsidy agency is late on distributing the subsidies.

The letter also stated the purpose of the fair housing code is to “level the playing field” for all tenants.

“This is important, now more than ever, given the scarcity of affordable housing in our state,” stated the letter.

Coverage of southern Arizona on azcentral.com and in The Arizona Republic is funded by the nonprofit Report for America in association with The Republic.

Defense still on Adia Barnes’ mind as No. 19 Arizona heads to ASU

At this point, head coach Adia Barnes says that she laughs when her rotation decisions are questioned by those outside the program. It’s not about individuals or just about offense. It’s about the entire team and how it functions together, especially on defense.“That’s what people don’t understand,” Barnes said. “They don’t understand there’s matchups. There’s different combinations that aren’t good together, defensively at all or offensively. So, those...

At this point, head coach Adia Barnes says that she laughs when her rotation decisions are questioned by those outside the program. It’s not about individuals or just about offense. It’s about the entire team and how it functions together, especially on defense.

“That’s what people don’t understand,” Barnes said. “They don’t understand there’s matchups. There’s different combinations that aren’t good together, defensively at all or offensively. So, those are the things that people don’t get.”

In the close loss at Utah, those were the questions she dealt with after the game. She says that she’s dealing with a team that is much better offensively than it’s been since she arrived but does not have the same flair on defense simply because of the personnel.

“Last year we couldn’t score,” Barnes said. “And so, we could play defensively. Like, ‘Oh, we can’t score!’ This year we can score but we don’t have anybody with a real defensive mentality and like the want and the will to shut their opponent down. And that’s a mentality. And I think that we’re also not as athletic as we’ve been in the past. I recognize that we’re getting better, but I don’t think there’s anybody on the team that has been focused on defense.”

As a result, she tries to help players improve where they can and uses those who best fill the roles she most needs. That favors Lauren Fields and Shaina Pellington in the backcourt, the two players who Barnes notes as her best on-ball defenders. She thinks Pellington could be even better, though.

“There isn’t like one defensive stopper,” Barnes said. “I think Lauren’s the closest to it, and I think Shaina is capable, but it’s not the mentality. I think the difference if you look at Shaina and Aari [McDonald], Shaina is probably even more athletic and bigger, a little bit stronger. But I think the mentality of Aari has always been more defensive minded. So, I think Shaina is capable of doing the things the Aari did, but I think the mindset is different—and she’s improving that mindset, but I think she can do what Aari did.”

Regardless of whether the players have the same mindset as past defenders, the numbers don’t indicate that the defensive end results are poor. They are lower than the final two years of McDonald’s college career, though.

Arizona’s best defensive rating (opponents’ points per 100 possessions) since the 2009-10 season came in its Final Four year of 2020-21.* The Wildcats ended that season with a 79.5 defensive rating. The season before that, the program had its second-best defensive rating with an 81.2.

The last two seasons have been almost identical. Arizona ended with its third-best defensive rating last season (84.6) and is less than half a point behind at 84.9 so far this year. With the improved offense, Arizona actually has its best net rating not just in Barnes’ tenure but going back to that 2009-10 season.

This season’s Wildcats outscore their opponents by 20.9 points per 100 possessions. The difference is that Arizona has its best offensive rating at 105.9 points per 100 possessions this year. That’s almost six full points higher than the next-best season, which was 2019-20.

But Barnes doesn’t want to be just a good team. She wants a great season and a long run in the tournament. That means they need to improve where they can.

“I think that it’s just been a challenge getting us to want to play defense and want to box out,” Barnes said. “That’s a mentality. And it’s not bad. It’s just the personnel of your team. So, our team is more offensive minded. I can tell you this…in six years, there was never a team that we could have run two offenses and scored 80 points. Like, never. We could probably score like 30 points in the past. So, it is what it is. You have to adjust to your teams. And so, I know that we can score when we’re getting good shots and sharing the ball. So, it’s my job to get us better and we’re only gonna get better if we get better defensively.”

*Stats in this article come from Her Hoop Stats. That database only goes back to the 2009-10 season.

When: Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023 at 3 p.m. MST

Where: Desert Financial Arena in Tempe, Ariz.

TV: Pac-12 Arizona

Streaming: Streaming is available via the Pac-12 Now app or online. Both options require a subscription via a TV provider. Streaming is also available with a subscription to a TV package that includes the Pac-12 Network via Sling, Fubo, or Vidgo.

Radio: Listen to the call by Derrick Palmer online on The Varsity Network or on the radio at KTUC 1400 AM.

Rankings: Arizona is ranked No. 19 by the Associated Press and No. 15 by the WBCA. ASU is not ranked in either major poll.

The Wildcats are No. 25 in the NET and No. 28 in the Her Hoops Stats rankings. The Sun Devils are No. 120 in the NET and No. 122 according to HHS.

Projections: Her Hoops Stats projects an Arizona win no matter where the game is played. In Tempe, the Wildcats are favored by 12.8 points and have a win probability of 85.3 percent. The point total is projected to be 135.9 points.

Follow us on Twitter @AZDesertSwarm for all things Arizona Wildcats. For live tweets of women’s basketball and news throughout the week, follow our deputy editor @KimDoss71.

More From Arizona Desert Swarm

Extra-stubborn buffelgrass patch in Saguaro National Park targeted

Airborne and ground-based herbicide spraying and hand-pulling have shrunk what was once a 5-acre parcel of invasive buffelgrass in Saguaro National Park-West by 50 times over nine years.On Saturday, a group of volunteers will spend up to four hours tackling the last tenth of an acre of the nonnative weed on a steep slope near Panther Peak at the park's north end. Even for the extremely hardy buffelgrass, it's an unusually stubborn patch, whose longevity is attributable to unique weather conditions there, among other factors.It'...

Airborne and ground-based herbicide spraying and hand-pulling have shrunk what was once a 5-acre parcel of invasive buffelgrass in Saguaro National Park-West by 50 times over nine years.

On Saturday, a group of volunteers will spend up to four hours tackling the last tenth of an acre of the nonnative weed on a steep slope near Panther Peak at the park's north end. Even for the extremely hardy buffelgrass, it's an unusually stubborn patch, whose longevity is attributable to unique weather conditions there, among other factors.

It's only one of seven buffelgrass removal efforts slated for a wide swath of Sonoran Desert landscapes over the next two weeks — a schedule that shows just how ubiquitous the weed has become.

The fast-growing perennial from Africa and Asia was first introduced to Arizona in the 1930s as hardy ground cover and forage for livestock. It has since exploded into a major threat to the desert ecosystem, by spreading even in dry years to crowd out native plants and fuel once-rare wildfires that are deadly to saguaros, paloverdes and other native plants. It now exists in every major public land preserve in the Tucson area.

Experts now consider it an existential threat to the desert ecosystem, on par with extended drought and climate change.

A deep yellow field of buffelgrass today adorns the remnant patch at Panther Peak, surrounding native saguaros and paloverdes, having filled in bare ground and pushed out other native plants, said Perry Grissom, a Saguaro National Park restoration ecologist.

"As a general rule in the park's Tucson Mountain District, it takes three years to get (buffelgrass) under control. In that one it's been different. We kept missing the seed" in past removal actions, Grissom said.

One reason that area's buffelgrass is so hardy is that the soils are different from elsewhere in the park, he said. The slope there is also very steep, and "in the winter the sun is at a perfect angle to warm it up."

"That's why we get more germination than anywhere else. It seems like the weather is different there. It will rain there when it doesn’t rain anywhere else. It will skip there when it doesn’t skip anywhere else," Grissom said.

At the same time, the buffelgrass' roots are fairly shallow there, requiring volunteers to pull only two to three inches deep of the weeds, Grissom said.

The National Park Service paid an agricultural contractor to spray the area aerially with the herbicide glyphosate in 2014, 2015 and 2017. Manual removal started in 2018, and volunteers have applied the herbicide on the ground and used tools to pull buffelgrass every year since then, he said.

"The seeds live for like five years in the soil. We’re killing the adults but the seedlings just erupt in the next monsoon," Grissom said. "It’s so warm they’ve been germinating a lot in the spring. We keep missing them. In the past, I think, maybe once or twice, we sprayed in the winter. It would rain. We would go back, and then it’s too dry to spray."

Now, with such a small amount of buffelgrass left, "we're getting kind of close to a knockout punch on this slope," Grissom said, adding that he thinks it will take a couple years more to remove it all.

But even then, "it will take maintenance of the grass forever. There is buffelgrass seed still around. We hope to get it to the point where you only need a couple of people pulling them in the winter."

Overall, "it's here to stay," he said.

The 45-minute hike to Saturday's buffelgrass removal site is off-trail.

But if you volunteer, "not only will you spend time in one of the prettiest desert landscapes on earth, you may win a saguaro cactus for your yard," organizers of the event say.

The Pima County Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation donated a little saguaro in a one-gallon container that will be raffled off that day.

For more information, including driving directions to the area, contact trip leader Frank Staub at 520-260-1400, or [email protected].

Arizona is wetter than usual, but the long drought isn’t over yet

Amid an unusually wet winter, Arizona may be better off than other Southwest states as it continues to battle a 23-year drought.Data gathered by the National Drought Mitigation Center shows Arizona’s drought conditions have improved since last year, but those improvements need to remain steady to make a difference.“Arizona really is, in a lot of areas, without measures of drought or just abnormally dry,” said Arizona state climatologist Erinanne Saffell.Saffell explained the center's findings Tuesday du...

Amid an unusually wet winter, Arizona may be better off than other Southwest states as it continues to battle a 23-year drought.

Data gathered by the National Drought Mitigation Center shows Arizona’s drought conditions have improved since last year, but those improvements need to remain steady to make a difference.

“Arizona really is, in a lot of areas, without measures of drought or just abnormally dry,” said Arizona state climatologist Erinanne Saffell.

Saffell explained the center's findings Tuesday during a virtual briefing organized by the National Integrated Drought Information System, the USDA Southwest Climate Hub, the Drought Learning Network and the Arizona State Climate Office.

All of central and most of southern Arizona is not currently in drought, Saffell said. Regions of northern and western Arizona that last year experienced what the center calls “moderate drought” are now just “abnormally dry,” and no parts of Arizona are facing “severe drought.”

Arizona, presented on a colored map of the Southwest in which red and orange colors indicate more extreme drought while white and yellow indicate a lack therof, is particularly devoid of dark colors compared to California, Nevada and Utah, which are covered largely by red and orange.

Saffell attributed Arizona’s current conditions to last summer's strong monsoon and above-average precipitation over the last 30 days.

Following one of the driest April to May periods on record, the 2022 monsoon “actually mitigated a lot of drought levels,” Saffell said.

In just the last 30 days, precipitation across the Southwest ranged from 200 to 400% above average. Snow-water equivalent, a ratio used to determine how much liquid water will result from the winter snowpack, is about 217% above average in the Lower Colorado River Basin. It’s at about 146% for the upper basin.

“We’re happy to see that,” Saffell said. “We’re hopeful that it maintains. We do understand that things can change."

While the snowpack is high, the Southwest’s reservoirs remain lower than average.

“Lake Mead and Lake Powell are dealing with a lot of issues that are deeply entrenched,” she said. “If we’re looking at Arizona reservoirs, they’re doing better.”

The Salt and Verde River system is about 70% full, a 6% increase from this time last year.

Along with mitigating drought, Saffell said the wet winter, which has also increased soil moisture to above-average levels, will lead to a strong wildflower season.

The good news doesn’t mean Arizona is in the clear, though.

“It’s a challenge when we’re looking at a nice wet season,” Saffell said. “It looks great right now, but especially in Arizona we can go back to 1994. We’ve only had nine wet years and 20 dry years.

“There’s a huge deficit that has to be made up. It does take a little bit more than one wet season.”

Nikki Tulley, a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona and a member of NASA’s Indigenous People’s Initiative, spent the second half of the briefing explaining the development of a Drought Severity Observation Tool.

The tool, which Tulley used to show the drought’s effects on the Navajo Nation, uses Navajo rain gauges, NASA satellite data and model data to analyze the land and create “drought reports” for the nation.

Tulley said the team working on the tool hopes it can be a free, user-friendly web tool to help everyday people understand the drought’s effects on the land.

Pima County takes steps toward new jail

Copy This Embed Code: Ad TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A new Blue Ribbon Commission will look into the prospect of a new Pima County jail, at the suggestion of Sheriff Chris Nanos. In December, he made a case to th...

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A new Blue Ribbon Commission will look into the prospect of a new Pima County jail, at the suggestion of Sheriff Chris Nanos. In December, he made a case to the Board of Supervisors that the aging facility was riddled with issues, resulting in "deplorable" conditions.

Nanos cited a crumbling infrastructure and overcrowding among inmates—a combination which makes a poor environment for everyone involved, including employees.

Following the recommendation of County Administrator Jan Lesher, the Board voted 3-2 to establish the commission, which will explore the need for jail improvements.

"When you hear the concept of a 'new jail,' it's not just the physical construction of such but it may be...what are the current standards, and how we might want to look at additional ways to operate the jail," Lesher said.

One of the two 'no' votes, District 4 Supervisor Steve Christy said "good ideas to go blue ribbon commissions to die."

Christy called the commission's formation "premature," saying the county should use the opportunity to get assessments—possibly through a bid process—from local construction companies on whether building remediation or new construction were the best paths forward.

A primary function of the commission would also be to look into the best possible sources of funding, which Lesher says could come from a number of sources—formation of a new 'jail district,' a sales tax and a general fund bond were some of the possibilities the commission will likely explore.

Some supervisors, including District 2 Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz and Board Chair Adelita Grijalva—raised the question of overall jail operations, suggesting the commission also provide directions on whether non-violent offenders are incarcerated.

"The other factor is, some of the things that are going on in the jail, our sheriff doesn't have control over," Grijalva said. "I think it's important for us to look at the umbrella of how the courts and the county, the county administrator, how it's all working together. I think that may be bigger than what this blue ribbon commission is doing, but when we get recommendations that come back to the Board, I do think that they have to be comprehensive."

Lesher's next step forward is to pinpoint commission members, which she said will likely consist of experts in facilities management and structural engineering.

The commission will have a 180-day timeline to develop its initial recommendations to the Board.

District 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson joined Christy with a 'no' vote.

——-Anne Simmons is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. Anne got her start in television while still a student at the University of Arizona. Before joining KGUN, she managed multiple public access television stations in the Bay Area and has worked as a video producer in the non-profit sector. Share your story ideas and important issues with Anne by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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