The Verde River Watershed is an important, life-sustaining watershed. Located in central Arizona, the 6,230-square-mile basin is one of the most beautiful and diversified watersheds in Southwestern United States. On its western edge, the watershed includes Seligman, Prescott, and portions of Scottsdale. On the eastern edge, it reaches the Flagstaff city boundaries and stretches south to Payson and beyond. Click here to view a map of the watershed.
With headwaters in northwest Yavapai County, the Verde River – the basin’s master watercourse – provides a lush corridor from Paulden, just north of Chino Valley, to the Horseshoe Reservoir, just north of Phoenix. Along the way, it passes through the communities of Clarkdale, Cottonwood, and Camp Verde.
The Verde River is one of the very few remaining perennial rivers in Arizona. It runs relatively freely from its source near Paulden to Horseshoe Reservoir for 137 river miles. Still in 2006, American Rivers listed the Verde River, as one of the 10 most endangered rivers in America because of extensive groundwater pumping from development. Additionally, the river is the lifeblood of both the agricultural and rural/suburban lifestyle in the Verde Valley; consequently, flows are reduced – especially in summer, due to withdrawals by 42 ditch companies on the river and tributaries. The Verde supplies approximately 40 percent of the surface water that Salt River Project delivers annually to Phoenix-area residents and cities and towns for irrigation and municipal uses.