Ensuring Reliable, Clean Water Supplies for Three Million People in the Valley
PHOENIX – The Phoenix City Council has approved a three-year partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) aimed at protecting flows and improving water quality in the Salt and Verde Rivers.
Through this partnership, Phoenix will join and invest $100,000 per year in the Salt and Verde Alliance: Healthy Rivers, Healthy Communities. Phoenix was the first municipality to support the Alliance with a multi-year investment.
The Nature Conservancy, a leading conservation organization working to protect important lands and waters for both people and nature, convened a historic meeting of 14 rivershed communities in 2016 that led to the creation of the Salt and Verde Alliance. The Alliance serves as a way for communities, corporations and foundations to invest in river-friendly projects that improve watershed protection, the quantity of flow and the quality of water in the Salt and Verde Rivers.
“A reliable water supply is critical to public health and economic prosperity in Phoenix,” said Mayor Thelda Williams. “By protecting and improving our watersheds, the Salt and Verde Alliance Fund aides long-term water security. Phoenix is proud to lead the way as the first municipality to partner with The Nature Conservancy on this fund.”
“We appreciate that Phoenix took the lead in helping us create collective action around the protection of the Salt and Verde Rivers,” said Pat Graham, State Director, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “The extended drought has seen river flows decline by 35 percent.The time to act is now. Healthy rivers are essential to a healthy economy as well as countless benefits to people such as clean water and air, food security and beautiful places we enjoy.”
The Salt and Verde River watersheds encompass 13,000 square miles in the eastern and north central portions of Arizona. These watersheds feed The Salt and Verde Rivers, which are vital surface water supplies to downstream users in the greater Phoenix metropolitan areas. The City of Phoenix obtains more than one-half of its raw water supply from these rivers.
Since its inception, the Salt and Verde Alliance has completed several projects, including:
- Thinning 1,600 acres of forests across four project areas within the Kaibab National and Coconino National Forest to reduce wildfire risk in the Verde watershed.
- Increasing water supply by approximately 40,150 acre-feet in the Verde River by implementing projects that benefit local farmers, create water savings, improve water quality and management and reduce future river impacts.
Over the next three years, the Alliance aims to thin an additional 12,000 acres of forest and increase water supply through infrastructure improvements.