Friday, February 09, 2007

Wet Chino, Dry Chino...

Reading Candace McNulty's latest Verde River article in ReadItHere News reminded me that I had located scans of the Sullivan Lake dam in flood. The picture above was taken last year in July; there is no water to be seen. Nada.

Here's what happens after a really major storm or a big melt in the mountains following heavy snow. (The Big Chino drains everything from Granite Mountain north almost to the edge of the Grand Canyon.) That water, by the way, is several feet above the top of the dam! The roar is deafening; one appreciates the power of water after seeing such a flood.

Note the color of the water -- all that mud is the reason the dam is totally silted up. FYI: the pictures were taken by my late husband in September 1994.

However, this is all surface water -- important way downstream to help fill Horseshoe and Bartlett dams for the people of Phoenix. What matters up in these parts is a major sub-surface basin in the Big Chino.

Getting back to McNulty's article, it's well worth a careful read. She's been writing about the fate of the upper Verde River for several months now. The general upshot is that current plans for Big Chino water by Prescott/PV and Chino Valley will likely dry up the top end of the river. The one factor she misses is that even if the cities were, miraculously, to forego the water ... the spectre of development at the far end of the Big Chino is still leering at us. Fred Ruskin's Yavapai Ranch is likely to be the Next Big Thing in real estate. The water is there, so it will be mined, by one party or another. Too damned bad. It's sometimes called "progress."


Anonymous said...

The Prescott area while beautiful, has many problems, which will only worsen with time. The area is growing FAST. Developers are coming and buying land by the 100's of acres and developing all their cookie-cutter houses.

Now, unlike many years ago, Prescott is an EXPENSIVE place to buy housing & live. Median Housing for Prescott is in the $600,000+ range. The largest migration to this area is by wealthy $$$ Californians. Compared to Southern-California, prices in this area are still somewhat reasonable but that gap is closing and closing FAST.

What drove this rapid and poorly researched growth is $$$$$. With the Big Chino Pipeline costs now hitting over $200 - $300 million, the residents will have to flip the bill. What happens if the pipeline is NOT built? THIS AREA WILL RUN OUT OF WATER! Plain & simple.

So unfortunately the pipeline will go in by 2010. Even though the USGS says that the first 24 miles of the Verde River, "WILL DRY UP". As the Verde gets fed by the Chino Aquifer, via underground springs. As Prescottonians and PV-onians, pump away the water, the Verde River will go away.

The Verde River was just put on the top 10 Rivers in the USA that are on the endangered list of drying up and going away!

It's sad but true. You can thank all the FAT CATS for ruining this area. It will only get worse. Money Magazine for 2006 announced Prescott as the TOP 5 towns to retire in. Hmmmm, I wonder who knows who in that magazine company? Maybe one of the fat cats out here paid $$$ to have them publish that?!?

Here they come!! By the thousands!!
Just like they did in the 1990s. :(

Anonymous said...

Granny J -

You stated:
" the spectre of development at the far end of the Big Chino is still leering at us. Fred Ruskin's Yavapai Ranch is likely to be the Next Big Thing in real estate."

Is this development going to be NORTH of Las Vegas Ranch? At that point you are almost 45-60 minutes from Prescott.

Granny J said...

Anon #1 -- $600 Gs is a bit high as a median, and I've seen places taken off the market because they weren't moving in the current economy. And yes, I fear that the Upper Verde is doomed.

Anon #2 -- the Yavapai Ranch properties are at the top end of the Big Chino Valley -- way north of the Las Vegas Ranch, maybe as close to Seligman as to Prescott. It's this big property that's probably the reason behind the county board's adamant insistence on widening the Williamson Valley Road to 5 lanes. Say goodby to another antelope herd or two, while you are about it.

Erica Ryberg said...

Thanks for the photos - I'll pass them on to Candace!

cb_mcnulty said...

Thanks for your kind words, Granny J! I've been your fan for a while now. In the April issue I hope to write about growth (and how it interacts with our water conundrum) -- if, that is, I survive writing the current monstrosity!

By which I mean the one for the March issue, about "The Science," and its uses... including some words on the Dueling Hydrologists. This has almost wrestled me to the ground... pray for me! Just to make sure we don't have erroneous impressions, the USGS has not stated that the upper 24 miles of the Verde will dry up, as they are not in the prediction business. Laurie Wirt was partly motivated to do her two studies by concern for the river, though.

I loved your pix. Wouldn't I love to see that canyon in flood! I hope our paths will cross before too long. I was born in Evanston Hospital, by the way.

Cheers, Candace McNulty

Granny J said...

To catch the Big Chino in flood, wait for a really Big Storm that covers the same wide area as the BC drainage...if it's rain, wait half a day or so to go out to Sullivan Lake; if it's snow melt, it will take somewhat longer to mount up. Then hie yrself out to behold a wild, wild scene! BTW, we never made it to the canyon overlooking Stillman Lake (a name we never heard of) when the river was really flooding because we couldn't have made it over the muddy roads!

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