Any river is really the summation of the whole valley. To think of it as nothing but water is to ignore the greater part.

Hal Borland

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What We Do

We work to ensure the Verde River will flow for generations to come

The Verde River is one of the last rivers in the American Southwest to still flow year-round for its entire length. Although flow now begins downstream from its historical headwaters, the Verde River still sustains a critical green oasis of life through the heart of Arizona for approximately 192 miles, providing economic and recreational opportunities along the way, and delivering essential water supplies to communities – along the river, as well as upstream and downstream, where millions rely on this desert river’s water.

American beavers, which both benefit from and help create healthy habitat and river flows, live in the Verde River and some of its creeks.

But pressures on the river system mean that innovation and effort will be required to sustain the river’s flows in the future. Most flowing rivers and riparian habitats in Arizona have been badly degraded or lost through human changes such as groundwater pumping and diversion of surface water. Although the Verde River system is experiencing impacts from these same threats, there has been growing stewardship in the watershed in recent years. Restoration and long-term protections are being sought for a number of areas along the river.

The future flow of the Verde River lies with citizens, as populations grow and water demands increase. Since water flow in the river has already decreased, and studies show that more flow will be lost to human use and changing climate conditions, we aim to work now on solutions to protect the Verde River so that this unique gem remains for you and for the generations to come.

The Verde River Exchange is a first-of-its-kind, community-grown solution to the unmanaged groundwater pumping that threatens to deplete flows in the Verde River. The Exchange provides a voluntary mechanism for groundwater users to offset the impact of their water use on the Verde River. The Exchange is a key part of our work to preserve a perennially flowing Verde River while also promoting sustainable economic development in the Verde Valley.

Another effort that seeks to preserve river flows, along with our goals of restoring habitat and promoting community stewardship, is the Verde Land and Water Planning Toolbox. The Toolbox provides land-use planners, water managers, and community leaders with a number of different strategies for improving the integration of land-use planning with water management decisions in response to intense growth pressures in the Verde Valley and Central Highlands areas of the Watershed. Friends, along with our project partners, developed the Toolbox both as a comprehensive resource, and source of inspiration for planning methods, which reduce the use of water, and therefore minimize the impacts of continued growth on the Verde River.

Two new (2020) resources in the Toolbox were written to help landowners understand water rights to surface water, or the water flowing in a river or ditch. Understanding Surface Water Rights is a primer on the subject, including information applicable throughout Arizona. Evaluating Surface Water Rights Claims is a guide for landowners and others interested in buying or selling real estate in the Verde Valley.

Read about our other efforts that contribute to sustaining river flows, while also Promoting Community Stewardship and Restoring Habitat.

Friends wants future generations to experience the beauty and uniqueness of a flowing desert river. Our choices today will determine if the Verde River flows tomorrow.

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