Prescott’s bid to draw more groundwater could threaten Verde River

Average water levels in the Verde River could drop if the Prescott City Council votes to draw more groundwater from the Little Chino Aquifer, which is supported by the river.
/Photo by Christopher Howley/Cronkite News

By Christopher Howley/Cronkite News

The Verde River, one of the few perennial rivers in Arizona, is known for its fishing and recreation, but it also provides water to Prescott and metro Phoenix.

The more than 170-mile long river flows from its headwaters near Flagstaff south to the Salt River. Along the way, the Verde supplies water to the Little Chino Aquifer, from which Prescott draws its water. With a growing population and new housing developments coming to Prescott, this water faces increasing demand that could threaten the river itself.

That’s something Gary Beverly, who has lived in Yavapai County for almost 50 years, has witnessed many times.

“(The Verde River) is the longest surviving river in the state of Arizona,” Beverly said. “Out of six perennial rivers, this is the only one that’s still in good ecological condition, and we are positioned to lose it if we don’t change the way we handle our groundwater management.”

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