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Central Highlands Planning Area Population

The 2000 Census populations for each basin and Indian reservation in the planning area, listed from highest to lowest, are shown in Table 5.0-4. The most populous basin by far is the Verde River Basin with more than 88,000 residents or 62% of the planning area total.  The 2005 estimated population of the Verde River Basin was almost 102,000 residents. Historic, current and projected basin populations are shown in the basin cultural water demand tables. The Census 2000 planning area population was about 142,850 and Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) population projections forecast another 100,000 residents by 2030 (see Table 5.0-5). 

Table 5.0-4  2000 Census Population in the Central Highlands Planning Area

Planning area population

Shown in Table 5.0-5 are incorporated and unincorporated communities in the planning area with 2000 Census populations greater than 1,000 and growth rates for two time periods.  Communities are listed from highest to lowest population in 2000 and their location is shown on Figure 5.0-14.  The planning area population grew by 38.5% between 1990 and 2000 and by 16.6% between 2000 and 2006.  A number of communities lack data for 1990 or 2006, but it appears that there has been considerable growth in smaller communities in the planning area.  Of note is the large number of communities in this planning area with populations between 1,000 and 5,000.  Many of these smaller communities are “satellite” communities of nearby incorporated areas; e.g. Kachina Village, Munds Park, Parks and Mountainaire are all located near Flagstaff, just outside of the planning area.  There were eight incorporated communities within the planning area in 2000.  The community of Star Valley, east of Payson, incorporated in 2005 due to concerns that the Town of Payson would take water from that area to serve new developments (Payson Roundup, 2005).  In 2006 Payson was the largest community in the planning area with more than 15,800 residents, followed by Cottonwood-Verde Village, Sedona, Camp Verde, Cottonwood and Globe. The median age in many communities is considerably older than the state average of 34.2 years.  Sedona, Congress, Big Park, Black Canyon City, and Clarkdale had median ages of over 45 reported in the 2000 Census.

Camp Verde

Camp Verde, Verde River Basin.  Rapid growth occurred in several areas between 1990 and 2000.

Rapid growth occurred in several areas between 1990 and 2000 census including Big Park, Payson, Pine/Strawberry, Lake Montezuma and the Verde Valley communities of Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale and Cornville.  The Verde Valley area population represents about 32% of the population of Yavapai County (Dava & Associates, 2003).  Between 2000 and 2006, Star Valley east of Payson, grew by almost 94%, the fastest growth rate reported in the planning area.  Population projections for 2030 are not currently available for a number of communities; however, the planning area population is projected to increase by 46% by 2030. 

Population Growth and Water Use

Growing Smarter and Local Planning

The state has limited mechanisms to address the connections between land use, population growth and water supply.  A legislative attempt to link growth and water management planning is the Growing Smarter Plus Act of 2000 (Act), which requires that counties with a population greater than 125,000 (2000 Census) include planning for water resources in their comprehensive plans. Yavapai, Maricopa and Pinal counties fit the population criteria. There is relatively little population or water development within the Maricopa and Pinal county sections of the planning area.  About 4,800 square miles (35%) of Yavapai County is located within the planning area, the largest area of any of the nine counties located within it. The Yavapai County water resources element includes an overview of the watersheds in the county, a statement of goals and objectives regarding water supply, water quality and protection of water resources, and an evaluation of existing water use data.  Also included is a discussion of the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee (WAC), a group tasked with development of a regional water management strategy that helps support the water resource goals in the general plan. (Dava & Associates, Inc., 2003).

The Act also requires that twenty-three communities outside AMAs include a water resources element in their general plans.  In the Central Highlands Planning Area this requirement applies to the communities of Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Globe, and Sedona.  As of August 2009 all communities had completed a water resource element.  Plans must consider water demand and water resource availability in conjunction with growth, land use and infrastructure.  References to completed plans are listed in basin references in this volume and may contain useful information for water resource planning.

Water System Plans and Annual Reports

Beginning in 2007, all community water systems in the state were required to submit Annual Water Use Reports and System Water Plans. The reports and plans are intended to reduce community water systems’ vulnerability to drought, and to promote water resource planning to ensure that water providers are prepared to respond to water shortage conditions.  In addition, the information will allow the State to provide regional planning assistance to help communities prepare for, mitigate and respond to drought.  An Annual Water Use Report must be submitted each year by the systems that includes information on water pumped, diverted and received, water delivered to customers and effluent used or received. The System Water Plan must be updated and submitted every five years and consist of three components, a Water Supply Plan, a Drought Preparedness Plan and a Water Conservation Plan. By January 1, 2008 all systems were required to submit plans. By the end of 2008, plans had been submitted by 94 community water systems in the planning area.  All of the larger systems submitted plans and were used to prepare this document. Annual water report information and a list of water plans are found in Appendix B.


Seligman, Verde River Basin.  Beginning in 2007, all community water systems in the state were required to submit Annual Water Use Reports and System Water Plans to the Department.

Water Adequacy Program

The Department’s Water Adequacy Program also relates water supply and demand to growth to some extent, but does not control growth.  Developers of subdivisions outside of AMAs are required to obtain a determination of whether there is sufficient water of adequate quality available for 100 years.  If the supply is inadequate, lots may still be sold, but the condition of the water supply must be disclosed in promotional materials and in sales documents.  Legislation adopted in June 2007 (SB 1575) authorizes a county board of supervisors to adopt a provision, by unanimous vote, which requires a new subdivision to have an adequate water supply in order for the subdivision to be approved by the platting authority.  If adopted, cities and towns within the county may not approve a subdivision unless it has an adequate water supply.  If the county does not adopt the provision, the legislation allows a city or town to adopt a local adequacy ordinance that requires a demonstration of adequacy before the final plat can be approved.  In September 2008 the Town of Clarkdale adopted the provisions of SB 1575.

Table 5.0-6  Water Adequacy Determinations in the Central Highlands Planning Area (12/2008)

Adequacy determinations in the Central Highlands Planning Area

Subdivision adequacy determinations (Water Adequacy Reports), including the reason for the inadequate determination, are provided in basin tables and maps and are summarized in Table 5.0-6.  Also shown in the basin sections are approved applications for an Analysis of Adequate Water Supply (AAWS). This application is typically associated with large, master planned communities.

The service areas of seven water providers in the planning area have been designated as having an adequate water supply.  If a subdivision is served by one of these designated water providers, a separate adequacy determination is not required.  As of May, 2009 these included:

  • City of Globe
  • Town of Wickenburg
  • Little Park Water Company (Village of Oak Creek)
  • Big Park Water Company (Village of Oak Creek)
  • American Ranch Domestic Water Improvement District (American Ranch Development near Prescott)
  • Verde Santa Fe Water Company (Verde Santa Fe Development at Cornville)
  • CDC Wickenburg Water, LLC (Wickenburg Ranch Estates)


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References and Supplemental Reading for the Central Highlands Planning Area Overview

Colorado River Central Highlands Planning Area Download entire Central Highlands Planning Area Atlas in pdf Verde River Lake Pleasant