VERDE VALLEY - The valley's oldest and most storied Verde River advocacy organization is set to merge this year with one of the newest and largest.
The Verde Watershed Association, which has been educating the public on behalf of the river since it formed almost exactly 20 years ago, will soon close ranks with the Verde River Basin Partnership, an organization formed as a result of the now-defunct Yavapai Ranch land exchange.
According to VWA Chairman Dan Campbell, the two organizations have been discussing the idea for some time and decided to roll the two into one under the VRBP name.
"The idea began when the partnership decided to take an active role in education. It was decide that the partnership had the broad membership we need and we had the local educational and outreach experience they needed. We think it's a perfect match," Campbell said.
The VRBP has become the preeminent organization dealing with water issues in the valley over the last couple of years, after its efforts to form a basin-wide partnership with the cities and towns in the Prescott area failed.
Now chaired by former state senator Tom O'Halleran, the VRBP has taken an active role in lobbying for policy changes as well as becoming involved in education and science-based projects.
"Our mission statements are very similar and those involved in one are involved in the other, for the most part," O'Halleran said.
"The VRBP has one of the best technical groups in the western United States, and VWA has this group that is more localized, so blending those together will be a big plus for our area," he added.
The VRBP's outreach, according to O'Halleran, now reaches around 12,000 people across the state and the nation.
Former VRBP and VWA chairman Ed Wolfe describes the union as a trial marriage.
"We will continue with the regular monthly meetings of the VWA, and with educational talks, but whether or not the VWA will keep a separate identity or not, I don't know. We agreed on a one-year trial marriage but I don't expect a breakup any time in the future," Wolf said.
The VWA publication "Currents," which now reflects the merger, will continue as an online publication.
Full merger is expected to take place this summer, according to O'Halleran.
"It has been my view for some time that we are fractured and the sooner we all get together, the better. It is time to fold all this together," Campbell said.
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
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Alas, evolving water groups following real and imagined changing conditions with lofty mission statements typically centered around advocacy, advisory and education within the Verde watershed and/or along the Verde River. A few years ago there were more than 20 water groups in Yavapai County prompting county supervisor Thurman to say "Every one of these groups (with exception of WAC) seems to be antagonistic." Elected officials have questioned whether advisory committees/groups should get involved in legislative issues but the bifurcated state water management that treats surface water independent of groundwater should be changed. Perhaps through public education and with Tomís experience in the legislature, progress can be made with our screwed up water laws. Also, there is the Gila River Adjudication that needs completion so we know who has the right to use water. Good luck VRBP where ever you are headed.