The Water Crisis Comes Home to Roost in Arizona

Due in part to the state’s history of ‘wildcat’ real estate developments, some communities are losing access to water sources as cities and water agencies look for ways to conserve shrinking water supplies.

2 minute read

February 6, 2023, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of irrigation canal winding through Scottsdale, Arizona suburb with mountains in background

The Arizona Canal near Scottsdale, Arizona. | Tim Roberts Photography / Arizona Canal

Expanding on the saga of the Rio Verde Foothills, an unincorporated Arizona community that recently found itself cut off from water supplies from nearby Scottsdale as part of that city’s efforts to conserve water, Sarah Tory describes the situation in High Country News, speaking with Susanna Eden, assistant director of the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.

Now, the 25 to 35 percent of residents who have relied on water trucked in from Scottsdale have to find new, more distant, more expensive water sources. According to Eden, this is “a textbook case on the perils of Arizona’s “wildcat” housing developments, which sidestep the state’s groundwater laws to construct homes without a fixed water supply, as well as the far-reaching implications of the worsening drought on the Colorado River.”

Rio Verde Foothills residents, Eden says, “have options they’re choosing not to pursue. They could develop a water cooperative, which would tax or levy a fee on all the members to set up a water supply service. It would mean getting permission to drill wells and building out a distribution system. Or they could negotiate with private water companies to serve the area.”

Eden suggests that reimagining growth in the desert southwest means combining a range of approaches. “That is, keep looking for more, keep using less, and keep finding ways to squeeze value out of the amount of water we have now and can use.”

Friday, February 3, 2023 in High Country News

Black and white Rideshare Pick-Up Zone sign

The Slow Death of Ride Sharing

From the beginning, TNCs like Lyft and Uber touted shared rides as their key product. Now, Lyft is ending the practice.

June 1, 2023 - Human Transit

Red on white 'Room for Rent, Inquire Inside' sign

In Most U.S. Cities, Archaic Laws Limit Roommate Living

Critics argue laws preventing unrelated adults from living in the same home fail to understand the modern American household.

May 24, 2023 - The Atlantic

Vancouver Chuck Wolfe

Ten Signs of a Resurgent Downtown

In GeekWire, Chuck Wolfe continues his exploration of a holistic and practical approach to post-pandemic urban center recovery, anchored in local context and community-driven initiatives that promote livability, safety, and sustainability.

May 24, 2023 - GeekWire

Vacant storefront in historic building on Powell Street in San Francisco, California

Few Landlords Pay San Francisco Vacancy Tax

Less than 3 percent of properties potentially subject to a new vacancy tax were filed as vacant in the last year, but empty storefronts in the city persist.

7 hours ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of manufactured home being dropped off or moved by red truck in mobile home park

In Spite of Affordability Crisis, Richmond Rejects Manufactured Housing Plan

After declaring a housing crisis, the Virginia capital’s city council voted against a proposed manufactured home warehouse that would distribute replacements for aging manufactured housing stock.

June 4 - Greater Greater Washington

Graphic for '1000 Joys of Planning' with The Planning Commission Podcast

A Planning Commission Podcast Journey: The 1,000 Joys of Planning

The Commissioners explore the facets of the planning profession that fill their cups with joy.

June 4 - The Planning Commission Podcast

Project Manager III

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

UDO Transportation Planner

City of Charlotte - Charlotte Area Transit

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.