Regarding Mr. Joels’ recent letter about the Salt and Verde Rivers Water Fund, I want to clarify some important facts. This proposed program represents no threat to people or organizations who have surface water rights in the Verde watershed, actually quite the opposite. The Water Fund, if implemented, would be a recognition on the part of communities in Maricopa County (such as Phoenix) that the health of the Verde and Salt Rivers has a direct impact on their water resources and therefore their pocketbooks. The fund will give the people who rely on water from our river once it reaches Maricopa County, a way to positively affect the conservation of the Verde. This is in no way an attempt to change ownership of water rights or their validity.
Programs like the Salt and Verde River Water Fund are generically called “Payment for Ecosystem Services” projects. These projects look for ways to allow the beneficiaries of healthy natural resources, like water, contribute to the ongoing health of the resource. This program would recognize that if the Verde River remains healthy and flowing, the people who use its water in central Arizona will continue to have a plentiful and relatively inexpensive supply. For instance, if the people who use Verde River water downstream from the Verde Valley contribute money or other resources to conservation efforts in the Verde’s watershed, and those conservation efforts keep the river flowing, then the people who contributed have wisely invested in the ongoing health of the river. We should all be happy to have new resources in the Verde Valley that help us undertake expensive conservation projects, such as recharge of treated wastewater, for example. This will help the Verde continue to flow through our cities and towns and ensure it will be here to kayak and fish and hike along. The contributors to the Salt and Verde Rivers Water Fund will not own additional rights, nor be able to force any action on the people or rights-holders of the Verde’s water.
Remember, if the Verde River flows strongly all the way to the Valley of the Sun, it has to flow through the Verde Valley to do so! This is one of those rare “win-win” situations, and the Town of Clarkdale supports the Fund wholeheartedly!
Doug Von Gausig
Town of Clarkdale