Kimberly Schonek

Kimberly Schonek

Kimberly Schonek, USA

Kimberly Schonek has worked with The Nature Conservancy for 8 years to restore and protect flows in the Verde River. Previously, Ms. Schonek worked with the Oregon Water Trust developing water transactions and a comprehensive monitoring program. Ms. Schonek holds a Masters degree in Environmental Management with an emphasis in hydrology.

Presentation Title:Verde River Flow and Habitat Restoration Initiative – Colorado River Program.

The Colorado River System is at the very heart of our quality of life in the American West.  Realizing that a river facing multiple threats and demands across state and national lines requires a big-picture approach, the Conservancy created its Colorado River Program in 2008. The underlying premise  of the program is that the needs of people can and must be met without sacrificing the health of the Colorado River system, upon which the region depends.  To tackle this challenge, The Conservancy took an approach of working in specific basin to develop tools and strategies to restore and protect flows while also developing a whole river solution.

This presentation focuses on the tools that have been implemented in the Verde Watershed and development of market-based flow restoration programs.  The Verde River, one of the focus basins, is impacted by surface water withdrawals for irrigation, groundwater pumping, and climate change. Competition for limited water supplies is expected to intensify for the millions of people who live downstream in the Salt River Valley as well as the fish and wildlife that depend on this healthy flowing river.  The Conservancy and partners have developed market solutions to the protecting flows including locating a malt facility near of the river to reduce surface water demand by 10% over the next five years without on-going subsidies and developing the Verde River Exchange, a locally driven solution to balance future water demands.  Additionally, the Conservancy has engaged local agricultural producers in infrastructure improvements that enable transactions.  Downstream beneficiaries are being engage to develop a sustainable funding source – the Salt and Verde River Water Fund.

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