As drought and high water demands deplete more and more rivers in the western United States, it’s easy to assume a future of dryness is the inescapable fate of once vibrant streams.
But in the beautiful valley of the Verde River in central Arizona, farmers, residents, and conservationists are working together to restore flows to this life-giving desert river with no sacrifice to crop production or the local economy.
At the heart of this effort is a relatively simple and inexpensive technological upgrade to a vintage 1860s irrigation network that is lifting summer low flows by 50-100 percent in some reaches of the Verde – an aquatic Eden for fish and wildlife.
But achieving this conservation victory was not easy. It took the right mix of strategizing, trust, geography and collaboration – and some long talks over local brews.