A glassy river between tree-lined banks.
Verde River in Camp Verde, AZ The Verde River as it passes by Hauser Farms near Camp Verde, AZ. The Hausers are important Conservancy partners in making irrigation more efficient and conserving more water. © Heather Reading/TNC

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Arizona Governor Signs Law to Ensure More Water for People and Nature

On Thursday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law the “Water Conservation Notice; No Forfeiture” bill (SB 1368 / HB 2056). Why is this so important? Because our hot and dry state will have more water which supports people, recreaction and wildlife.

With the new law, water users—including farmers—can conserve water with no threat of losing their water rights or claims. Without it, landowners were disincentivized from conserving water on their property, because the water saved could have been considered “forfeited” under the state’s “use it or lose it” law.

Several family farms on the Verde River have been working with The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Chapter to improve the efficiency of their water use and keep more water in the river. In the past, measures were taken to avoid forfeiture but now these projects will be simpler. These water users give a prime example of the types of measures that could be part of a water conservation plan including:

  • Transitioning from flood irrigation to drip irrigation to ensure crops are receiving the right amount of water
  • Crop switching to both reduce the amount of water diverted and consumed and improve water quality

This opens the path to leaving more water in rivers to provide drinking water supplies, support wildlife and birds and enhance recreational opportunities. It’s an outcome that benefits people and nature. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.