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Challenging Unsustainable Water Use in the San Pedro River

The San Pedro River.

The San Pedro River is a remnant of a once extensive network of desert riparian corridors that traversed the Southwest.

Melanie Kay / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

Arizona's "River of Life", the San Pedro River is a remnant of a once extensive network of desert riparian corridors that traversed the Southwest.

Overview

Recognized as a world heritage natural area by the United Nations World Heritage program, the San Pedro River supports 400 species of birds (nearly half of the U.S. total), 100 species of butterflies, 83 species of mammals and 47 species of amphibians and reptiles.

The San Pedro is the Southwest's last surviving undammed desert river, threatened by local groundwater pumping that intercepts water that would ordinarily move from the aquifer seeping through the riverbanks to provide surface flow to the river. Reduction of the river’s flows have already adversely affected the riparian and wetland vegetation surrounding the river, as well as species dependent on riparian habitat.

Case Updates

July 22, 2016 | In the News: Arizona Daily Star

Feds Suspend Crucial Permit for Benson Development

"The Corps’ good-faith action to put Vigneto’s development on hold while the Corps and (wildlife service) determine what additional environmental reviews and conditions are necessary is good news for the San Pedro River, and the communities and wildlife that rely on it," said Earthjustice attorney Chris Eaton. "This does not resolve our lawsuit, but is a step forward."

May 25, 2016 | Legal Document

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

This case challenges the failure of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to reinitiate mandatory Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation regarding a Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 fill permit the Corps issued for a residential and resort development planned on over 12,000 acres near the San Pedro River in Benson, Arizona.