Yavapai Apache Nation Irrigation Modernization
The Verde River supports at least 13 native fish species, 1/3 of the Southwest’s breeding areas for the desert-nesting bald eagle, and high-quality habitat for more than 200 nesting birds. The watershed also supports 94 species of mammals, such as river otter and beaver. In addition to these ecosystem values, more than 14 Arizona communities rely on water from the Verde River, its tributaries, and the aquifers that feed the river.
While the Verde River provides immense value for the ecosystems and people that rely on it, flows in the river face tremendous threats from groundwater pumping, climate change, and overuse of surface water supplies. These threats are compounded by state policies that do not encourage conservation or wise use of water resources. The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with partners, has developed a conservation plan that identifies strategies to improve water infrastructure for groundwater and surface water management, to develop market-based solutions to reduce consumptive use of water in the watershed, and to develop supportive policies at the local and statewide level.
The Yavapai Apache Nation (YAN) is a significant stakeholder in the Verde Watershed. They are one of the largest farmers in the Verde Valley and utilize Verde River water and groundwater for their irrigation. Their reservation and other landholdings support vibrant communities, ecosystems, and agricultural lands. The Nation is partnering with the Nature Conservancy to secure funding to retrofit irrigation infrastructure on tribally owned lands. The investment in infrastructure to efficiently water crops will increase net returns while reducing water use.
* Project supports agricultural water use efficiency to reduce the amount of water withdrawn from surface or groundwater sources.