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Congratulations to Freshwater Client Friends of Verde River Greenway

We have been working for several years with our client Friends of Verde River Greenway on an exciting project called the Verde River Exchange. The Exchange is a voluntary, collaborative, locally developed program allowing groundwater users in Arizona’s Verde Valley to “offset” the impact of their groundwater use on the Verde River. The program creates a mechanism where new uses of water can be balanced by projects to reduce or temporarily curtail existing uses, helping move the system towards a healthy equilibrium.

This month, it was announced that the Verde River Exchange is one of five finalists for the New Arizona Prize Water Innovation Challenge. The challenge, sponsored by the Arizona Community Foundation, Republic Media, and Morrison Institute for Public Policy, invited collaborative teams to “develop innovative and scalable market-based solutions to advance the sustainability of its water future.” The winning team will receive $250,000 to implement its solution.

Congratulations to Friends of Verde River Greenway and all of its partners on the Verde River Exchange for being named a finalist! And congratulations to the other creative entrants and finalists in the challenge. Here’s more information about the Water Innovation Challenge and the solutions proposed by the winning teams.

To learn more about the Exchange, go to www.verderiverexchange.org. And if you live in Arizona, consider helping out by visiting the Verde Valley wineries that are some of the first participants in the Exchange—Page Springs Cellars and Caduceus Cellars—and thanking them for their civic leadership.

Freshwater Philosophy: The Genesis of Our Approach

Hi! My name is Jocelyn Gibbon, and I am the founder and principal of Freshwater Policy Consulting, LLC. I’d like to introduce myself and the approach of our company.

My husband and I live and work in Flagstaff, Arizona. By education and training, I am a writer and editor; a water and environmental lawyer; a conservation advocate; a boater and river guide in the Grand Canyon; and a teacher of “Restorative Exercise” as taught by the Nutritious Movement Center. How does that fit together, and why am I bothering telling you so?

Our approach at Freshwater has been shaped by this varied background. As a lawyer, I spend time studying how the rules and practices of our systems produce outcomes in the “real” world of our landscapes, our communities, and our lives. I don’t believe that the best answer to a problem is always legal, in the sense of litigating or changing the law. (More on this below.) But understanding the legal and policy context of a problem often helps you see the situation more clearly, and understand the right leverage points to promote desired results or changes.

As a writer and editor, I also believe in the importance of good communication, and that success can often come from sharing ideas clearly, creatively, and with attentiveness to the understanding and perspective of those you are working with. As a river guide—well, I’m passionate about rivers—but also about working on things as a team, and approaching them pragmatically and with a good sense of where the current might take you, how and when to go with it, use it, or work hard to get across it… As a movement teacher I have thought a lot about how we as people function and change our physical and mental habits and alignment over time, and how what we do affects our health—and I draw a lot of analogies between the way to approach changes in the complex workings of our bodies and the complex workings of our social systems. Finally, in all of this work I have become acutely aware of—and awed by—the complex interactions among our physical, social, and natural systems, and interested in how we—as people with some but not complete control over our surroundings—can promote well-being through our interactions with these systems. This is the kind of perspective that led to the creation of Freshwater and has shaped the philosophy of our company.

Finally, one more note about how we work with the law. I am trained as a lawyer and have worked as a lawyer. But I believe that natural resource problems often call for legal knowledge, but not always “legal” solutions. Freshwater was conceived based on an observation that understanding the complex legal and policy background of land, water, and energy issues is necessary—but not sufficient—to make important progress on issues of sustainability. We also recognize that many organizations—and conservation non-profits in particular—can benefit from a deep understanding of law and policy, without always needing, wanting, or being able to “hire a lawyer” to seek legal representation in a specific matter. Freshwater thus works with and values the field of legal knowledge, but we do not provide legal advice or services or serve as a lawyer to any of our clients.

Welcome to Freshwater

Welcome to the website and blog for Freshwater Policy Consulting, LLC. Founded in 2013, we are a small and specialized consulting company working on water and natural resource policy issues. We aim to provide support and resources to others who are working collaboratively to improve the sustainability of our natural resource use and the resilience and health of our land and water. Our particular expertise and passion is the realm of western water policy; we have been working with organizations in Arizona and the Colorado River Basin to identify and work toward the system changes needed to keep rivers flowing, water supplies ample and secure, landscapes healthy, and communities thriving. While not all of our country or region’s legal, economic, and social systems are currently set up and tuned to support the well-being of our communities and planet—and this is certainly true in the water resource arena—we believe that they can be. We understand that improving the world we live in, even a little, takes time, patience, resources, and good strategy that is attentive to the details of the present system, and we enjoy working with others who believe that it is nonetheless possible and worthwhile. Thank you for visiting our website. We plan to use this space to share news, thoughts, and information related to water and natural resource issues. Please contact us if you have comments, questions, or other reactions—and, of course, if we might be able to support or assist you in your work.