Arizona Water Facts

Arizona’s State Department of Water Resources has compiled a clear and concise data source on water resources for our state. Check out the “Water Your Facts” section of the site for easy-to-understand facts about this precious resource.

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Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habits in Decline
Audubon Southwest has a fascinating and educational report on creating a sustainable water future for birds and people in the American West.

Lower Salt and Gila Riparian Ecosystem
From the Arctic Slope in Alaska to the Mississippi Delta, and from the Northeast’s Long Island Sound to the wetlands of the Everglades, the power of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) cannot be overstated. Audubon is leading the way to protect these iconic places and the birds that depend on them and mobilizing their network of Chapters to act as stewards. Check out this interesting webpage on the ‘Important Bird Area’ (IBA) of the Lower Salt and Gila River Ecosystem.

Western Rivers Action Network [PDF] Audubon Southwest has created an informative fact sheet on the economic valuation of river ecosystems to the State of Arizona. Check out ‘River Economics’ and then join their network!

Clean Water Act Resources

Two excellent resources below provide helpful information on the Clean Water Act (CWA), a 1972 law that transformed federal water quality laws, addressing untreated sewage, waste, and countless industrial chemicals dumped directly into rivers. While those issues have been directly addressed, the nation still faces sewage and chemical pollution in addition to existential challenges.

To show how communities can apply the Clean Water Act to problems faced in their own communities and watersheds, River Network has released The Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual. Over the 20+ years since the first edition was published the Owner’s Manual has helped track, influence, and change the way the law is implemented at federal, state, and local levels.

View the latest edition

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Trash Free Waters program reduces the volume of trash entering our waters by working with partners to implement collaborative solutions that target land-based sources.

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Colorado River Basin Storymap

The Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, a center of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, created “The Hardest Working River in the West” an ArcGIS storymap focused on the key water sustainability issues in the Colorado River Basin. Through data visualizations and stories, the web-based storymap highlights the places, people, and policies that have historically shaped and will continue to shape water and land management surrounding the 1,450-mile Colorado River.

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Great Bend of the Gila Storymap

An enduring yet fragile ancestral landscape, the great Gila River spans the river valley and surrounding desert between the cities of Phoenix and Yuma, Arizona. The Great Bend of the Gila is a place that has shaped the diverse histories and heritage of the American Southwest and is an ancestral landscape that has been inhabited by Indigenous Peoples since time immemorial. This storymap produced by Conservation Lands FoundationThe Wilderness Society, and Archaeology Southwest with support from the Respect Great Bend of the Gila Coalition provides an historical overview of this great region and why it is so important to protect these vital lands.

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History of the Rio Salado Project

This website captures the history of the Rio Salado Project from its conception in the Arizona State University College of Architecture in 1966 to the dedication of the completed Tempe Town Lake in 1999. It provides a historical overview and timeline, documents, and past leadership who conceived, designed, and constructed the Tempe Town Lake and its associated amenities.

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Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

This nonprofit foundation researches and recommends creative approaches to land as a solution to economic, social, and environmental challenges. The work of Land Policy is organized around six climate goals, low-carbon, climate-resilient communities and regions; efficient and equitable tax systems; reduced poverty and spatial inequality; fiscally healthy communities and regions; sustainably managed land and water resources; and functional land markets and reduced informality. The website below offers a wealth of educational information, training opportunities, events and more. 

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Maricopa County Flood Control STEM Curriculum

The Flood Control District of Maricopa County’s STEM Curriculum provides lessons which are intended to supplement current curriculum that supports Earth’s water standards. 

This curriculum is a resource for schools, teachers and families providing inquiry-based, hands-on lessons that will assist in introducing meteorology, emergency planning, and engineering concepts to students. All of the lessons have been developed in alignment with Arizona Science Standards.

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Unique Salt River Flows in 2023

An especially wet winter in 2023 brought Arizona’s Salt River to life. Audubon Southwest unpacked why the river, which is typically dry due to damming and water demands in the Valley, was flowing. Spring floods, like this, can benefit the ecosystem greatly by hydrating the soil, germinating riverside plant seeds, replenishing groundwater, and attracting birds like Great Egrets and Green Herons.

A special Q & A can be found below.

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Salt River Project Drought Facts

The Salt River Project (SRP), a community-based water and energy company, has a website full of useful facts on the Valley’s water supply and issues of drought. SRP has provided water and power to the Valley for more than a century and has a wealth of information, both historic and current.

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Tamarisk Leaf Beetle

There is substantive literary content on this topic, but this is a quick and interesting Arizona article about a non-native insect that poses a complex threat to a non-native invasive tree species that permeates the Salt and Gila River corridor.  The beetle has not yet been found in the corridor, but it is likely to inhabit the river ecosystem in the future, with possible significant effect on fire management, flood control, water quality, and economic development.

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Water Resources Research Center (WRRC)

The WRRC at the University of Arizona is a robust center for research, engagement, outreach, and education in water resource management. As the state’s water resources institute, WRRC plays a leadership role in critical water policy and decision making in Arizona.

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WRRC also publishes county-level factsheets designed to answer common questions about water resources. Tailored to every county in Arizona, each sheet fosters an understanding of the local nature of Arizona water resource challenges and solutions. Factsheets for each of Arizona’s 15 counties are in development. Keep an eye on this page for new publications in the series.

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Water Cycle Glossary of Terms

The water supply of Earth is a required element for life to exist and thrive. The water cycle is a continuous cycle that keeps water moving on and around Earth in different forms. The different stages of the water cycle include evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Each stage of the cycle leads to the next stage, and each stage is an important part of a process that helps to water plants, fill cisterns, dry up puddles, and remove floodwaters.

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