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

About the Verde River Exchange

The Verde River Exchange provides an innovative and community-driven tool to address the unmanaged groundwater pumping that threatens Verde River flows. Our vision is a new model of locally driven groundwater management that sustains a vibrant regional economy and secures a healthy Verde River.

The Problem

The Verde River, at the heart of our communities in the Verde Valley, flows year-round because it is fed by groundwater. But groundwater is also a critical water supply for surrounding communities. As groundwater use increases, water levels drop. The Verde River has already lost five miles of flowing river, and both river and groundwater levels have declined. As population continues to increase, so will the demand for groundwater—and new pumping in the Verde Valley is subject to little or no restriction under current law. Without innovation and action, both groundwater supplies and Verde River flows will decrease over time at the expense of the beauty and character of the Verde Valley.

The Solution

The Verde River Exchange allows water users to “reduce their water footprint” while helping to protect river and creek flows, as well as water supplies for the future. Through the Exchange, Verde Valley groundwater users seeking to reduce their “water footprint” and participate in reducing collective impacts of groundwater pumping on the river can buy “Water Offset Credits,” which are created when other willing water users temporarily reduce their water use. The Exchange is a collaborative effort of Friends of the Verde River and a diverse group of partners, including Arizona and Verde Valley community leaders, residents, and businesses.

Wells as of 1950 (Pictured Top) and Wells as of 2015 (Pictured Bottom). Images Courtesy of Salt River Project

How it Works

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Step 1

A Verde Valley water user (usually a private landowner) voluntarily agrees not to consume a certain amount of water on their land.

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Step 2

The unused water is recorded by the Exchange as a “credit” – water that has been returned to the Verde River system.

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Step 3

A Verde Valley business or resident purchases Water Offset Credits, reducing their “water footprint.”

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Step 4: The Result

Through this balancing mechanism, total water use, and its impact on the river system, is reduced.

How to Participate

As a voluntary, community-driven program, the Verde River Exchange relies on Verde Valley business leaders and residents leading the way to protect the Verde River. We invite you to learn more and to consider participating in the Verde River Exchange as a buyer or seller.

“Buyers” in the Verde River Exchange program are businesses, farms, or homes that continue to use the water they need—but purchase “Water Offset Credits” to help offset the impact of their water withdrawal.

Buyers are currently pumping or using groundwater in the Verde Valley, are conscious of their water “footprint,” and in addition to using only what they need, want to help reduce the overall “draw” on the system by making up for part of what they take out.

Buyers purchase Water Offset Credits for a given year, allowing others to be paid to use less. They receive a Water Offset Certificate commemorating their participation in the Exchange and documenting their purchase of Water Offset Credits.

Contact for more information.

“Sellers” in the Verde River Exchange program are water users in the Verde Valley that have recently and historically been using water but volunteer to cease or reduce their use for a specific period of time, in return for a modest payment.

Sellers have typically been using surface water (water diverted from a stream or river, usually through a ditch) but may have been pumping groundwater. They have used water for a beneficial purpose in recent years—for example, to irrigate lawn or pasture—but are willing to stop using that water for a few months or an entire irrigation season.

Sellers sign a contract and agree to change their water use for an agreed-upon period of time (usually by “fallowing,” or not irrigating, a portion of land that had been irrigated). In return, they are paid for the temporary non-use of water—which allows the Verde River Exchange to record Water Offset Credits.

Contact for more information.


Benefits To Verde River Exchange Participants

As a business or individual participant, there are many benefits to working with the Verde River Exchange. Participation generates tangible conservation results for the Verde River and demonstrates local watershed stewardship, while also offering a way to enhance brand value and visibility in the Verde Valley.

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Become A Participant In The Verde River Exchange

Friends respects the privacy of individual donors and, except where disclosure is required by law, will not sell or otherwise make available the names and contact information of donors without providing them an opportunity at least once a year to opt out of the use of their names.

To me, the biggest benefit of participation in the Verde River Exchange is the chance to protect the Verde Valley’s future – it’s something I care deeply about and, as a local business owner, it’s a valuable investment.

Eric Glomski, Page Springs Cellars

The Verde River Exchange’s Participants

Participants in the Verde River Exchange have purchased Water Offset Credits, helping restore water to our area’s river and streams. Please join us in thanking these valued partners for their leadership and support.

Participant since 2016
Page Springs Cellars & Vineyards, an inaugural and second-year participant in Verde River Exchange, is a family-owned vineyard and winery that crafts fine Arizona wines. Eric Glomski, the owner and winemaker at Page Springs, is involved in the Verde River Exchange because he deeply values the Verde River and believes maintaining its health is a community effort. As Eric shares, “We believe to make great wine we must take just as much responsibility for the lands and waters that we steward as the community we live in. The river to me is a gigantic indicator and metaphor for the condition of our landscape and our relationship to it.”


Participant since 2016
Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards has been a leader and participant in the Verde River Exchange since the Exchange launched in 2016. Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards is a roughly 6000-case family owned and operated winery with a tasting room and winery perched on the side of the southeast-facing slopes of Jerome, Arizona, and a newly opened Osteria and Tasting Room in Cottonwood, Arizona. Owner and winemaker Maynard James Keenan has made his home in the Verde Valley and his participation in the Verde River Exchange reflects his commitment to the region’s future: “There is a unique resonance to this Valley. It may be the copper in the hills or perhaps the blue skies, but I was drawn to it. My first visit here was in 1995 and I immediately opened up a PO Box and switched my licenses over. This is an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s called the Verde Valley for a reason.” Keenan hopes his involvement in the Verde River Exchange will raise awareness that grape growing can be sustainable in terms of long-term water conservation.

Website: http://merkinvineyardsosteria.com

The Fish’s Garden is a local produce supplier for Verde Valley restaurants based out of Camp Verde, Arizona. To grow its vegetables, it uses aquaponics, a cutting-edge method of low-water-use farming that combines fish and vegetable farming in a single recirculating system. “Our business motto is ‘Nature, Science and People Working Together’ and we are always looking for new ways to live that motto,” says co-owner B.J. Davis, who is also the president of the Camp Verde Downtown Business Alliance. “Offsetting our water use through the Verde River Exchange is a great way to make The Fish’s Garden even more sustainable while protecting the Verde River in the process.”


Out of Africa Wildlife Park, a wildlife park featuring the wild animals of Africa and beyond, joined the Verde River Exchange in 2017. Out of Africa is offsetting the water it is using for its famous Tiger Splash exhibit as well as for habitat for Totter the Otter, the baby otter that gained national attention after being rescued from a Salt River Project canal north of Mesa. “Totter is known and loved across Arizona, and Out of Africa is one of the Verde Valley’s largest local businesses,” notes Bill Jump of Out of Africa. “We hope that our decision to offset some of the water used at Out of Africa will be highly visible and will inspire thoughtful and responsible water management in the Verde Valley and beyond.”

Website link:

Guiding The Verde

Advisory Council

Steve Ayers
Nikki Bagley
Linda Buchanan
Peter Culp
Tim Elinksi
Jocelyn Gibbon
Chris Kudzas
Chip Norton
Kimberly Schonek
Doug Von Gausig


Questions? Contact Us

Verde River Exchange Water Offset Program

(928) 641-6013

Verde River Exchange Partners And Funders Include:

Participants in the Verde River Exchange have purchased Water Offset Credits, helping restore water to our area’s river and streams. Please join us in thanking these valued partners for their leadership and support.

The Nature Conservancy
Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Nina Mason Pulliam
Walton Family Foundation
Environmental Defense Fund, EDF
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