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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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4/13/2013 1:33:00 PM
Man & the River: USGS presents findings of water flow study
Ed Wolfe, retired geologist with the USGS, presents the results of a USGS study Thursday at the Camp Verde Multi-Use Complex Auditorium. VVN/Bill Helm
Ed Wolfe, retired geologist with the USGS, presents the results of a USGS study Thursday at the Camp Verde Multi-Use Complex Auditorium. VVN/Bill Helm
Brad Garner, Hydrologist with the USGS Arizona Water Science Center speaks Thursday at the Camp Verde Multi-Use Complex Auditorium. VVN/Bill Helm
Brad Garner, Hydrologist with the USGS Arizona Water Science Center speaks Thursday at the Camp Verde Multi-Use Complex Auditorium. VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE - "Base flow comes from the ground. Humans can change it."

This was the main theme Thursday, at the Camp Verde Multi-Use Complex Auditorium, as the U.S. Geological Survey presented the findings of their study: "Human Impacts on the Verde River's Steamflow, 1910-2109: Applying the USGS Northern Arizona Regional Groundwater Flow Model."

The groundwater model is based on data from 1910 through 2005 that incorporates the Verde River Watershed, estimating the impact of human activity on the baseflow of the Verde River at the Paulden, Clarkdale and Camp Verde streamgages.

The model defined human activity as: groundwater withdrawal by wells, incidental recharge, artificial recharge, consumptive use and population increase.

The presentation, sponsored by the Verde River Basin Partnership, discussed "the implications of human activity in a changing world," according to Verde River Basin Partnership Chairman Tom O'Halleran.

"There's an impact from above," O'Halleran said, "and there's an impact right here. If everyone wants to get a piece of the pie, we are doomed to failure.

"As Benjamin Franklin said, 'if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.'"

O'Halleran said that the best way to plan is to "become involved with the process. Let your elected officials know that you care about water. And start to conserve water."

Throughout the evening, the USGS stressed the importance of information.

"The importance of information cannot be underscored enough," says Jim Leenhouts, associate director of the USGS Arizona Water Science Center. "I can certainly say that we need to continue collecting information."

Leenhouts explained to the crowd that the USGS only collects information, studies it and presents it for others to decide how to act. Change is up to the users of the water.

"The tool [groundwater model] is only valuable if you have a general consensus that the tool has value," Leenhouts said. "The best thing you can do is to continue to learn how it works.

"What the USGS doesn't do is any sort of resource management," Leenhouts said. "We simply do the science. Hopefully, our information helps the decision-making process."

Brad Garner, hydrologist with the USGS Arizona Water Science Center, spoke mostly in layman's terms, imagining that the auditorium's attendees were not scientists.

"It occurs to me today that a great many of you are not hydrologists," Garner said.

Garner then told a story to relate to the crowd:

"Imagine that you are on the banks of the Verde River, last June. On this day, it has not rained in two months. How can it be that this river flows? Where did this water come from?

"It's coming from the ground. It is called baseflow. Humans can change it."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ @ Build Out

You sound an awful like an existing Cottonwood employee or Council Member. Your protestations about what a great job Cottonwood is doing might be taken a little more seriously had they even had ONE representative show up at this important meeting. I've seen people take stabs at the lack of representation from the Prescott side of the mountain, but I for one scanned that crowd of elected officials and staff at the presentation, and the absence of anyone from the City of Cottonwood was stunning. Makes me wonder whose side they are on?

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: Ann R

Cadillac Desert should be required reading for any and all that intend to call the Verde Valley home.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: @ build out... .

So does cottonwood get any credit for working to reduce the amount of development in the state trust land by about 30 to 50%?

If nobody steps up and takes the lead then that land would end up as another wildcat subdivision complete with who knows how many private wells and septic systems rather than a municipal system that is much more likely to conserve the precious resources we have.

Use the City of Cottonwood's acquisition of the local private water systems as an example. reductions of pumping in the 30% range as a result of fixed leaks and routine maintenance.

What do you prefer? Of course no development is ideal... but until you convince the state trust that no development is the 'highest and best use', (which ends up affecting school funding by the way as state trust lands fund the schools), then consider the alternative... a private developer gets a hold of the land and doubles the density?

That City option is looking better and better all the time isn't it?

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: Steve Estes

@Not enough water for for build out: Indeed, one of the key questions. As our economic system requires growth, and as that system is the lifeblood of our society, we will either run out of water or devise methods to most efficiently use what we have. I do not doubt our ability to achieve the latter.

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013
Article comment by: The Goatherder

This article's a complete fail. Did you intentionally leave out the information that the Verde may DRY UP completely in summer months?
And how on earth could you resist including Sedona City Councilman Dan McIlroy's utterly clueless suggestion about importing water?

“Why not reach out to the Columbia or the Mississippi and bring that water to Arizona at large and the Verde Valley?”

Yeah Dan, let's get somebody else's water. That'll solve the problem. Then we won't have to make any uncomfortable adjustments to our precious lifestyle.

Thank goodness there are others who live closer to the river with more sense than this nimrod. Otherwise we'd all be truly up that well known creek without a paddle.

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: Kayo Parsons-Korn

Great job USGS and VRBP! I'm surprised to see no comments yet here in the Bugle or the Verde Independent. But check out the Prescott Courier! Lots of debate and most very positive in favor of using the water model and limiting growth. And most very negative against their own city officials, who didn't bother to attend.

Maybe the two sides of the mountain aren't that far apart.

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: Not enough water for for build out

What we need here is more interpretation of what this means, particularly for growth and development.

Is there enough water to supply for build out of the existing inventory of private land?

Is there enough water for build-out of the State Trust land, in particular the 10 square mile block between Cottonwood and Sedona?

If not, then the Trust land should not be developed into some new huge city as Cottonwood has envisioned, but instead conserved as a water resource to benefit future generations.

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