Cronkite News | by Mindy Riesenberg
Thursday, September 15, 2016
VERDE VALLEY – The valley is tucked south of the red rocks of Sedona, lush with greenery and alive with wildlife that flock to the banks of the river running through it.
One of the last remaining continually flowing rivers in Arizona, the Verde River is a lifeline not just for otters, beavers and bald eagles, but also for residents of the cities and towns in the Verde Valley who rely on it for drinking water, household use and irrigation. The river also provides 40 percent of the surface water delivered to Phoenix residents annually, according to the Verde River Basin Partnership website.
Growth and a lack of regulation are threatening that lifeline. A group of public officials, conservationists and economic development experts have spent three years trying to figure out how to slow down the loss of the Verde River’s water. They pioneered a potential solution: a pilot program unique to Arizona that pays residents and business owners to conserve water…