From Wine to Water: Wet Markets for Dry Times

Lauren Podgorski

One of the last healthy flowing rivers in Arizona, the Verde River, contributes substantially to the Verde Valley’s high quality of life. The Verde River supplies fresh drinking water to more than two million people in Maricopa County. But the river, its springs, and its tributaries face a serious threat from groundwater pumping in the Verde Valley. Arizona’s complicated, bifurcated water laws leave groundwater appropriation in the valley effectively unrestricted. As with many other water bodies, multiple parties hold rights to use the same Verde River water under separate legal regimes. These competing water rights, coupled with the valley’s rapid population growth, threaten to dry up the Verde River just like many other Arizona rivers. But a growing conservation effort strives to avoid that fate, with winemakers and other businesses helping to maintain a healthy river flow by paying others to limit their water consumption.

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