Water Scarcity in Arizona

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Water scarcity is increasing worldwide and dramatically affecting first world nations such as Spain, Australia, and the United States. All nations are now starting to recognize that the world's water is a finite resource, and that resource is being drastically altered in both availability and quality by development, climate change and population growth. In the United States, the Colorado River is experiencing rapid declines in volume. Recent studies and data suggest that the changes in frequency, intensity, and timing of the availability of water will have substantial impact on the way we live our lives in the 21st century and beyond. As Letmathe Brakeck said, “I am confident that, under present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel.”

From a developed nation perspective, two of the most dramatic demonstrations of the water crisis are the Murray-Darling river Basin in Australia, and the Colorado River Basin right here in our own back yard. In the Colorado River Basin, inflows have been on a dramatic decline for many years. Despite the decline, the effects of population growth, irresponsible use, and lack of a population understanding, will continue to result in larger amplitude and frequency fluctuations with potentially dangerous impacts.

Despite the crucial crisis of shortage of water in Arizona and the fact that an arid climate does not produce much rainfall, the region continues rapid population growth, economic expansion, and the community continues to ignore the fact that the water that Arizona should have in an natural state does not exist. We in the valley never discuss water issues; even when they come up they are quickly dismissed.

The natural beauty of the American Southwest, the expansion of its regional economy, as well as its relatively cheaper cost of living compared to the American coasts, has caused a recent influx of migration to the area. This population growth has largely been blamed for exacerbating the effects of the catastrophic droughts that have affected the region, in combination with unfortunate weather conditions. By 2025, the state is expected to have 6.4 million people, an increase of more than 2 million individuals from its 1995 figure of 4.2 million (Norton). In addition, according to azwaterinstitute.org, the population of Maricopa County alone will increase from 4 million to 6.1 million people between 2006 and 2030. “Between 2008 and 2032 Arizona will need to spend more than $139 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure. Furthermore, as water providers consider desalination and water reuse, infrastructure costs could be more. According to the Arizona Investment Council (2008) there will be a $109 billion funding shortfall for energy infrastructure between 2008 and 2032” (azwaterinstitute.org).

Natural conditions that affect the water table combined with a culture that takes their precious water supply for granted spell disaster in the near future. Arizona culture is carefree and relaxed, living the high life in a land of plenty. If every person could see the need to do everything that they can to conserve water, the problem could at least be reduced. However, individual citizens are not accustomed to conservation methods. Therefore, governmental agencies and water management agencies must take measures to ensure that Arizona's water supply is secure and conservation efforts are in effect state wide.

Like many of the other western cities on this list, Phoenix is extremely dependent on water imported from the Colorado River. This is because nearly half of the water the city’s residents use comes from this significant source. As the Colorado River Basin enters the eleventh year of its drought, the city’s reliance on the river may soon become a serious problem. If the drought continues, water deliveries to Arizona could potentially be cut back. To keep up a sufficient...
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