Press release from Coca-Cola North America, Change the Course, Waste Management & Bonneville Environmental Foundation

PHOENIX – Feb. 18, 2016 Change the Course, a freshwater restoration movement, continues its significant investment in the Verde River Valley as Coca-Cola, Waste Management and The Thunderbirds commit an additional $30,000 to support projects in the region.

In 2013, Change the Course supported its first water restoration project on the Verde River, less than two hours north of the TPC Scottsdale. In partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Arizona and local irrigators, Change the Course provided funding to modernize irrigation infrastructure and demonstrate that, with smarter water management and improved infrastructure, it is possible to enhance river flows without sacrificing agricultural production. With the installation of solar-powered “smart” gates, water-level actuators and other monitoring, irrigators have the ability to divert just the amount of water they need for their crops, leaving the rest for the river.

“Many irrigation systems haven’t been modernized since they were first created over a century ago,” said Todd Reeve, CEO of Bonneville Environmental Foundation. “In many instances antiquated water delivery systems force irrigators to divert more water than they need because they lack the infrastructure to fine-tune water delivery.”

“A suite of projects supported by Change the Course and implemented by The Nature Conservancy in Arizona and other conservation organizations will enhance stream flows throughout the upper Verde River to support people, fish, wildlife, and recreation. Through this partnership, we hope to optimize the use of this precious resource to benefit both the community and the environment,” continued Reeve.

As a charter sponsor of Change the Course, Coca-Cola contributed significantly toward the success of the pilot in the Colorado River Basin, which has now supported a total of six projects in the Verde River Valley.

“By partnering with Change the Course and contributing additional dollars to the Verde River Program, we’ll help restore significant water flow to the river. Working with a diverse group of stakeholders, including land owners and irrigators, we’ll invest in new irrigation infrastructure that will allow irrigators to better control and manage the water they divert from the river,” says Coca-Cola North American Water Resource Manager Jon Radtke.

Waste Management became a Change the Course sponsor in 2014 and worked with The Thunderbirds, host organization of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, to integrate a program at the tournament aimed at raising awareness about water use, water conservation and water restoration. The Change the Course program provided the company with the opportunity to share messaging about how water is captured from onsite kitchens and reused in portable restrooms, and fresh water usage by attendees is balanced through projects that restore water to depleted rivers and streams in Arizona.

“For this year’s tournament, Waste Management was already supporting Change the Course, and it’s great that we could join together with fellow sponsor Coca-Cola to bring awareness to these water restoration projects on one of Arizona’s most precious and beloved rivers,” said Janette Micelli, Waste Management external communications manager.

“Water is one of the most precious natural resources in Arizona and Change the Course gives everyone attending the Waste Management Phoenix Open the opportunity to make a positive impact,” said Tournament Chairman Dan Mahoney.  “Their individual pledges may not seem like much by themselves, but together they can make a huge difference to the future of our water supply.  It is an honor to participate in this grass-roots movement.”

During the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Change the Course invites patrons to make a free pledge to conserve water in their daily lives. For every pledge made, Change the Course will return 1,000 gallons of water to the Verde River. To date, Change the Course has built a pledge community of more than 168,000 people, supported over 20 new water restoration projects, and expanded its successful model beyond the Colorado River Basin to California, Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas.

CALL TO ACTION: Members of the public can calculate their own freshwater footprint and contribute to the water conservation efforts by making the free pledge to conserve water at or by texting WMPO to 77177. For every pledge, Change the Course will restore 1,000 gallons of water to depleted ecosystems throughout North America.