Verde River


Verde means “green,” and that’s just what the Verde River is, threading through central Arizona to furnish its arid lands with a lush corridor of rich riparian habitat. Bubbling up from springs fed by the Big Chino aquifer in central Arizona, the Verde winds east and then south, skirting the communities of Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, Sedona, and Camp Verde. It’s one of Arizona’s few perennial rivers and includes the state’s only Wild and Scenic River segment. It also nurtures habitat essential to imperiled species like the desert nesting bald eagle, southwestern willow flycatcher, and several declining native fishes.

But the Verde River is in trouble. The rapidly growing cities of Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley plan to tap the Big Chino aquifer, which supplies more than 80 percent of the upper Verde spring flow. These communities would remove upward of 13 million gallons of water per day and transport it through 45 miles of pipeline to quench the thirst of numerous new developments.

Here in the Verde Valley and other parts of Yavapai County, more development would draw on the same water, and pumping from the aquifer could quadruple within the next 20 years. If this happens, the entire river, along with all the species that depend on it, will be fatally affected.

Verde River Facts
  • The Verde River nourishes one of the last Fremont cottonwood/ Gooding willow gallery forests in Arizona. There are only 20 in the entire world.
  • While most Southwestern rivers begin in mountainous regions with more precipitation than the lowlands below, the Verde begins in a broad alluvial basin in the Big Chino Valley.
  • The Upper Verde headwaters is region that has played an important role as the site of the first territorial capital and the subsequent development of northern Arizona, including the City of Prescott and the Grand Canyon tourism industry.
  • Competing water rights and population growth in the Prescott metropolitan area and the Verde Valley have caused concern that increased pumping from the sensitive aquifers could reduce base flow in the Verde River.

Read more about The Verde River- information from the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.

If you’d like to get involved to help preserve this special river, here are some of the groups you can support with your time and resources:
The Center for Biological Diversity – Save the Verde
The Nature Conservancy – Verde River

You can purchase water restoration certificates at the BEF website and designate them to help restore flows to the Verde River by funding work underway with The Nature Conservancy.