Great controversy has surrounded water use by mesquite in Arizona, most importantly by riparian mesquite along the San Pedro River. The plant has been demonized as a water hoarder, using more water than any Arizona crop. As a result, the state legislature has banned the use of Arizona Water Protection Funds to restore the mesquite forest along our rivers. How much water does it actually use, though? A review of the literature shows that it uses less water than any Arizona agricultural crop except wheat, which uses about the same amount. Measurements on the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area show that it uses about 1.25 times the water that sacaton grassland uses, which the mesquite replaced when the San Pedro River entrenched in the early 1900s.
Please see the companion report to this fact sheet for complete information.