Arizona Town Looks for New Water Sources, Insists Development ‘Full Steam Ahead’

While many Southwest cities are looking for ways to conserve water and limit growth as water supplies become strained, one town is pressing ahead with rapid development.

2 minute read

October 29, 2023, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Buckeye, Arizona with sunset sky.

Jacob / Adobe Stock

In an article for The Guardian, Oliver Milman describes how a fast-growing Arizona community is looking for new water sources to support its growing population, even as water resources across the Southwest become more strained.

“Buckeye expects to one day contain as many as 1.5 million people, rivaling or even surpassing Phoenix – the sixth largest city in the US, which sits in a county that uses roughly 2bn gallons of water a day – by furthering the tendrils of suburbia, with its neat lawns, snaking roads and large homes, into the baking desert.” 

Buckeye has no plans to slow down its growth, with its mayor saying, “Personally, my view is that we are still full steam ahead.” The city is looking at several solutions, including bringing in water from California or Mexico. “Perhaps the most “crazy” of the ideas is the one that would involve building a desalination plant in the Mexican town of Puerto Peñasco, perched on the edge of the Gulf of California, to suck up seawater and then send the treated water in a pipeline several hundred miles north to Arizona.”

The state itself is also considering new water sources. “About a third of the state’s water supply comes from the Colorado River, which has shrunk as temperatures have risen. Last year, under a mechanism where Arizona shares water with other states, its allotment of Colorado River water was cut by 21%.”

Arizona has seen some success when it comes to water conservation: “somehow Arizona uses less water than it did in the 1950s despite now having 500% more people,” Milman writes. But as conditions become hotter and drier, the past pay not be a good indicator for the future. “Arizona may be able to move the sea from Mexico, but somehow out-engineering the climate crisis in the longer term will be an even more grueling feat.”

Thursday, October 19, 2023 in The Guardian

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