Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2006

Michelle Harrington, Rivers Program Director, 602-628-9909

Center Launches Campaign to Protect the Verde River

PHOENIX – The Center for Biological Diversity announced today the launch of a long-term campaign to protect the Verde River in Arizona. In response to multiple perils facing the river, including the proposed Big Chino Water Ranch Pipeline project by the city of Prescott and town of Prescott Valley, a citizen action and collaboration campaign is underway to preserve the health of this invaluable resource.

Arizona’s rivers are under incredible pressure from drought, man-made obstructions and overuse. More than 90 percent of the state’s riparian habitat has been completely lost. The habitat along many rivers has become choked with exotic vegetation, and the assemblages of fish, amphibians and invertebrates have become overrun with non-native species, such as small mouth bass, green sunfish, crayfish and bullfrogs.

One of the last, best places for native species restoration in the state is along the upper Verde River. For 150 miles, from its headwaters to the dams at Horseshoe and Bartlett, the Verde continues to flow year round – a rare perennial stream. The Verde originates and ends in Arizona . For many thousands of years it has served the needs of people, plants and animals without fail.

However, pressures are mounting on the Verde River in the form of groundwater wells. The watershed holds more than 10,000 wells, nearly 43 percent of them drilled since 1990. Many of these wells tap the sub-flow, or water running underground that feeds the river. Others pump heavily from the aquifers that contribute to the Verde or its tributaries.

A massive well is planned for the headwaters of the Verde by the city of Prescott and town of Prescott Valley. The cities plan to draw between 2.8 and 4 billion gallons of water per year from the aquifer that provides 80 to 86 percent of the flow in the upper Verde River during the driest times of the year. In time, this withdrawal, in combination with other withdrawals that are currently in place for domestic and agricultural use, will devastate the rate of flow in the upper 24 miles of the river.

But the pumping would not stop there. Nearby Chino Valley also has staked claims on “water ranches” to the tune of 1.8 million gallons per day. Multiple large developments in the headwaters basin are also in the planning stages.

As this tide of development is poised to steal the life of the river, the Center for Biological Diversity fights back with the Save the Verde Campaign. See for more information.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with more than 25,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.


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