Skip to main content

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 surviving remnant of a once extensive network of desert riparian corridors that traversed the Southwest.

The last major free-flowing river in the desert Southwest, the San Pedro is a sanctuary for millions of migratory birds and home to multiple endangered species including the jaguar and southwestern willow flycatcher.

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.

For years, Earthjustice and our clients have engaged in a series of legal actions to defend the San Pedro River and its riparian vegetation and springs from irresponsible, unsustainable groundwater pumping.

Case Updates