Desert Dilemma

“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, an American founding father, statesman, and author.

“For many of us, water simply flows from a faucet, and we think little about it beyond this point of contact. We have lost a sense of respect for the wild river, for the complex workings of a wetland, for the intricate web of life that water supports.”

SANDRA POSTEL, the founding director of the Global Water Policy Project.

“The air, the water and the ground are free gifts to man and no one has the power to portion them out in parcels. Man must drink and breathe and walk and therefore each man has a right to his share of each.”

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, an American writer ofthe first half of the 19th century

“In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.”

RACHEL CARSON, an American marine biologist, writer, and conservationist

“If everybody on the planet today had the same standard of living as the average European or American, we would need three new planets. But we don’t even have one new planet. We have this one, and with the way we’re polluting it, the shrinking water resources, the climate change, the experimentation with plants… the outlook is grim.”

JANE GOODALL, an English primatologist and anthropologist

Desert Dilemma Introduction

Desert Dilemma

The Desert Dilemma: water scarcity in the American Southwest demands urgent attention. Recent events in Arizona’s Rio Verde Foothills exemplify the challenges faced by desert communities grappling with the demand for new housing and agricultural expansion against a backdrop of limited water resources. Concerns raised among diminishing water supply for the desert southwest in the United States.

Competing for limited water supply, principally from underground aquifers and the Colorado River system, overuse is draining the system dry. Climate scientists are weighing in calling out increased demand for housing and the overuse of water for agriculture causes unsustainable pressures on the available sources of water.

Rio Verde Foothills: A Cautionary Tale

In the face of a climate-fueled drought on the Colorado River, Rio Verde Foothills became a poignant example of the pitfalls of unchecked development. With a population of about 2,000, this rural community north of Phoenix faced a water supply crisis when deliveries from the nearby city of Scottsdale ceased. Trucked-in water, once a lifeline, became a luxury residents couldn’t afford.

Developers exploited loopholes, specifically the practice of dividing large plots into smaller lots, known as wildcat subdivisions. This allowed them to circumvent regulations requiring a demonstration of a century-long water supply for new homes. The result? Residents faced not only water shortages but also exorbitant bills as they sought alternative water sources as their water source ran dry.

Desert Dilemma: Legislative Response and its Limitations

The state legislature approved a deal to restore water access to Rio Verde Foothills. The fix, however, was a Band-Aid on a larger issue. Attempts to tighten regulations on “wildcat” subdivisions faced resistance, revealing a reluctance to intervene in water-related matters. This poses a potential threat to other communities that might find themselves in similar predicaments.

Governor Katie Hobbs, recognizing the urgency, established a water policy council to address Rio Verde’s immediate needs. Additionally she also authorized addressing the broader water concerns in the state. However, resistance from legislators influenced by the home-building lobby presents a significant hurdle to comprehensive reform.

Colorado River: A Battleground for Water Rights

The struggle extends beyond individual communities to the broader fight over water rights along the Colorado River. Serving four states, the river is strained by increasing demand and climate-induced challenges. Rio Verde’s dependence on Colorado River water underscores a systemic issue: as demand rises, the river struggles to sustain the needs of growing populations.

Desert Dilemma: Development, Agriculture, and Sustainability

Arizona’s political landscape is torn between competing interests. On one side, there’s a push for more development, arguing that the 100-year water supply standard hampers economic growth. On the other side, proponents of stricter regulations aim to prevent the creation of more water-vulnerable neighborhoods.

Builders propose incentives to replace water-intensive crops with residential neighborhoods, adding another layer to the complexity. However, achieving a balance between economic interests and environmental sustainability remains a delicate task.

Conclusion: Navigating the Desert Waters

In conclusion, the scarcity of water in the desert demands a proactive and comprehensive political response. The ongoing battle over water rights, exemplified by Rio Verde’s struggles and the broader Colorado River crisis, underscores the pressing need for a coherent strategy.

The challenge lies in navigating the intersection of housing demand, agricultural needs, and environmental preservation – a delicate dance that Arizona’s political apparatus must master to secure a sustainable water future. The repercussions of inaction extend beyond Rio Verde Foothills; they ripple through the arid landscapes of the American Southwest, where the ability to provide fresh water over the next 100 years is a critical challenge that demands immediate attention and thoughtful, decisive action.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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