The Prescott Daily Courier has yet another perceptive story about the potential impact of groundwater withdrawals on the Verde River.
They report that the mayors of Prescott and Prescott Valley are arguing against the need for a mitigation plan in case groundwater pumping in the Big Chino basin impacts water flow in the Verde River. [right, irrigated farm lands west of Paulden, in Big Chino Sub-basin. Credit, ADWR]
ADWR director Herb Guenther is quoted saying, "Sooner or later, they're going to impact the flow of those (Upper Verde) springs, which impacts the flow to the Verde."
To give you a flavor of where the debate has gone, read this passage:
Those who agree with Guenther include numerous Middle Verde elected officials, several environmental groups and the powerful Salt River Project, which gets much of its surface water for Phoenix-area customers from the Verde River. Wilson has labeled them all "eco-nuts."[disclosure: AZGS is mapping the geology along the Verde and its tributaries under contract to ADWR, for use in adjudication hearings]
Scientists and recent U.S. Geological Survey studies generally agree that the Big Chino supplies at least 80 percent of the Upper Verde flow during dry seasons.