Mon, Feb. 24

Watershed study of Verde first of its kind

The Arizona Department of Water Resources has created a comprehensive study of the Verde River watershed, the first of its kind.

The ADWR has never done a study like this on any watershed, said Tom Whitmer, manager of surface water investigations for the state agency.

“It’s probably because of the amount of interest being generated in that area,” Whitmer said of the reason for the study. “There is a lot of concern up there. We needed to do something that would help you guys.”

The study also will be an invaluable resource for groups planning for future water use in the watershed, such as the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee, officials said.

“This is an outstanding report that will be of tremendous value to planners and hydrologists who are assessing the water resources in the Verde region,” ADWR Director Rita Pearson said. “The report reflects years of intensive study by our staff. It will answer a lot of questions people have had about the Verde.”

The Verde Basin contains about 5,000 square miles, including the sub-basins, of the Big Chino, Little Chino, Verde Valley and Verde Canyon. The study analyzes the basin down to Horseshoe Reservoir.

The study presents the current and historical surface and groundwater supplies; water-use demands from municipal, industrial, agricultural and exempt well users; information about natural and artificial recharge; and effluent supply and demand.

It also presents water budgets for five specific geographic regions. It lists soils, geology, physical character, and climate statistics Whitmer said. The final, chapter offers conclusions and recommendations.

“It is the most comprehensive thing ever done,” Whitmer said. “There is a lot of new information in there that hasn’t been available.”

The study concludes the Big Chino Basin, from which the Prescott Active Management Area wants to import water, has a healthier supply of water as agriculture uses decline, Whitmer said.

However, experts still are not sure about how taking water from the Big Chino would affect the river’s flow in the Verde Valley below, Whitmer said. The possibility of a reduction in flow has Verde Valley officials concerned about the Prescott area’s plans.

It’s interesting to note that Verde Basin residents use much less water per capita than the Phoenix Active Management Area, Whitmer said.

The 500-page book, with pull-out tables and full-color maps, is available from the ADWR Bookstore in Phoenix for $35.

A coupon inside the book entitles the buyer to a free copy of the CDROM version with even more graphics. Or you can buy the CD-ROM for $10. Call (602) 417-2485.

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