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A Tale Of Two Arizona Rivers: How Lawsuits Are Shaping The Verde And San Pedro

21 hours ago
Photo courtesy Joe Trudeau/The Center for Biological Diversity

It's a tale of two rivers: The Verde, which flows south from near Flagstaff, Ariz. to metro Phoenix, and the San Pedro, which begins in Mexico and flows north to Winkelman, Ariz.

In some ways, the rivers differ drastically. The San Pedro is one of the last undammed rivers in the Southwest, while the Verde has many dams, including Horseshoe and Bartlett northeast of Phoenix. Parts of the Verde are protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act — protections the San Pedro doesn't share.

In early July, Bangladesh became the first country to grant all of its rivers the same legal status as humans. From now on, its rivers will be treated as living entities in a court of law. The landmark ruling by the Bangladeshi Supreme Court is meant to protect the world's largest delta from further degradation from pollution, illegal dredging and human intrusion.

A recent study of rivers across 72 countries found that waterways are often contaminated with antibiotics, including here in the Mountain West.

Jose Hernandez / USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

In an open field in Longmont, Colorado, about a dozen people crouched in the tall grass, moving slowly and deliberately through mud that squelched underfoot. Some carried huge, serrated knives called hori-hori, a Japanese tool made specifically for gutting weeds. Others wielded gardening shears, saws or chemical sprays as their weapons of choice.