Located northwest of Prescott, the Big Chino Valley is one of the largest native grasslands in Arizona. The valley now supports large cattle ranches and herds of pronghorn. However, future population growth and groundwater pumping threaten change and create controversy. Beneath the grassy surface, abundant groundwater resources tempt cities to harvest water for growth. The problem is that Big Chino groundwater supplies over 80% of the base flow of the upper Verde River, which is a significant ecological resource for the southwest.
Competition for Big Chino water between agricultural, municipal, and environmental water needs has already caused intense conflict, which will likely increase as water demand grows. Already, historical groundwater pumping has diminished the Verde River; future water demands will far exceed the sustainable supply and further threaten the perennial base flow.
Use the links to the left to learn about the controversy.