The documents listed in this section are easy to read and are recommended as an introduction to the region's water supply issues.


The Case for a Water Management District

What are water districts? They are regional governmental authorities established by state legislation. Each district has its own set of rules – as agreed upon locally, not in Phoenix. Its governing board would be democratically determined probably by local election or appointing the county Board of Supervisors as the district board. State legislation may be written in a way that the district could only be established by an election of the district's voters. View document.

Safe Yield

What is SAFE YIELD?  Why is it important? How do we achieve it? In Arizona, safe yield refers to a long-term balance between the water that is naturally and artificially recharged to an aquifer and the groundwater that is pumped out. When more water is removed than is recharged, the aquifer is described as being out of safe yield. When the water level in the aquifer then drops, we are said to be mining groundwater. View a pdf.

The Importance of Conservation

Where we use water is a key to conservation. Water used outside the home, most typically for watering vegetation, is lost to the atmosphere. Water used in the home can be returned to the aquifer. This is performed efficiently in municipalities that have central collection, treatment and recharge facilities. It is done less efficiently in communities that use septic tanks with leach fields. While conservation of all uses is valuable, the greatest benefits will come from outdoor uses. View document.

The Big Chino Pipeline: Fact versus Fiction

The City of Prescott and Town of Prescott Valley continue with plans to construct a pipeline that would transport from 8,000 to 11,500 acre-feet of water per year from the Big Chino Sub-basin of the Verde River Watershed into the Prescott Active Management Area. To garner support for their project, the municipalities and other proponents have made a number of unsupportable claims. The following are some of these claims and the facts you need to know. View document.

Big Chino Aquifer Map

View document.

The Endangered Upper Verde River, Tables and References

Bulletin Number 6A is a companion to this bulletin and presents a narrative description of a threat to the River from the likely exportation of Water from the Big Chino sub-basin to the Prescott Active Management Area (PAMA) and from development within the Big Chino itself. This Bulletin, 6B, presents similar information, but in a tabular form including references. The reader is encouraged to read Bulletin 6A for a fuller understanding of the issue. View document.

Arizona Water Rights Fact Sheet

Arizona's water law is based on the doctrine of prior appropriation, but it is administered based on a bifurcated system where surface water is regulated separately from ground water. There are basically four categories of water supplies available in Arizona: Colorado River water, surface water other than Colorado River water, ground water, and effluent. Each water supply is managed in a different manner. Colorado River water is allocated through the law of the river and Arizona's water banking program, surface water rights are based on "first in time, first in right," and groundwater rights vary depending on location. The Arizona water code is located in Title 45 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Published by ADWR. View Document.

Ecological Implications of Verde River Flows - Summary

Summary report, 4 pages. The Verde River Ecological Flows study is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Water Institute, and Verde River Basin Partnership. The purpose of the study is to develop a conceptual understanding of how the Verde River ecosystem would respond to variations in the river's hydrology—especially to decreases in river flows. The study team compiled and summarized what is known about the river's physical and ecological characteristics, drawing upon available data and what is known about hydrology-biology relationships on similar rivers. View Document.

Glossary of Acronyms

Glossary of Acronyms.  View document.

Groundwater Modeling Fact Sheet

Basic description of ADWR's groundwater modeling efforts. 2 pages. View Document.

How an Aquifer Works

Presentation by Kyle Blasch, USGS. View Document.

How Many More Homes Can Be Built in Prescott Without New Sources of Water?

If Prescott resumes the growth rate it had prior to the 2007-2010 housing bust, the city can continue to build new homes for about 27 years without additional water supplies. Written by Howard Mechanic, 2010. View Document.

Layperson’s Guide to Arizona Water

This Layperson's Guide provides an overview of Arizona's complex and evolving water story – its history as well as the state's future challenge of providing water from a limited supply to a rapidly growing population – and some of the unique management strategies Arizona has developed to protect and extend its most precious resource. It is part of a series of guides published by the U of A. View Document.

Long Glossary of water terms

A longer glossary of water terms including some geology terms. 13 pages. View Document.

Overview of the Arizona Groundwater Management Code

Non-technical summary of the groundwater code. By ADWR, 4 pages. View Document.

Overview: Climate Change Impacts on Water

Arizona's climate is becoming warmer and drier. Observed local trends combined with observed and projected global warming trends indicate that winter snow accumulations will continue to decrease in northern Arizona. Consequences include not only decreased ground-water recharge but also substantially increased water consumption for farms, trees, lawns, and gardens. View Document.

River of the Month: The Verde River

Short profile of the Verde River. View Document.

Short Glossary of Water Terms

A short glossary of water terms. View Document.

Summary of Arizona Water Law and Management

Non-technical introduction to Arizona Water Law, from the ADWR Arizona Water Atlas, Appendix C, 14 pages. View Document.

The History of SRP’s Claims on the Verde River and Current Legal Issues

Three part article written by Steve Ayers and published in the Verde Independent in 2003. Excellent summary. 5 pages. View Document.

Verde Watershed Fly-thru Visualization

Come fly with us through the Verde River watershed! Under a new NSF Geosciences Education Program grant, we are developing a 3-D visualization of the Verde watershed. The watershed, located northeast of Phoenix, is the first focus area for a series of visualizations that are being developed as an educational tool for grade 8-12 classrooms. The goal of this tool is to educate students about basic hydrologic processes and important watershed concepts. The narrated fly-through will foster an understanding that goes beyond static maps and graphs. It features animated sequences and decision-making opportunities at various points in the upper and lower watersheds, making visible otherwise unseen processes, and creates a link for students to actually see the impacts of their own city on the changing watershed. Video available at:

Water 101-108: Understanding Yavapai County Water Issues

A series of eight short articles explaining the background of the area water problems. Written by Steve Ayers for publication in the Verde Independent. 15 pages, easy to read. View Document.

Why Care About the Verde?

Presentation describing the values of the Verde River by Joanne Oellers, 2009. View Document.

Why Pumping the Big Chino will impact the Verde River

Correspondence from CWAG summarizing the reasons why pumping the Big Chino will diminish the upper Verde River, from John Zambrano to Mayor Wilson. View Document.


  • "Ranchers need clean water for their stock, farmers need it for their crops, every employer needs it to stay in business, and every living thing needs it for life... The law needs to be clear to protect water quality and the rights of landowners."
    Mark Udall
  • "Water is the driver of Nature."
    Leonardo da Vinci
  • "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water."
    Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1746
  • "...and since flow of information is to spirit what water is to life, we'd best think about how to keep the pipes free and unclogged."
    Raphie Frank
  • "In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference."
    Rachel Carson
  • "We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one."
    Jacques Yves Cousteau
  • "Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water."
    Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 1937 Nobel Prize for Medicine
  • "Water is everywhere and in all living things; we cannot be separated from water. No water, no life. Period..."
    Robert Fulghum
  • "It's the water. Everything is driven by the water."
    Mike Thompson
  • "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."
    Mark Twain