Big Chino Valley

BCLandscapeLocated 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.


  • "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