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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Water and Arizona's Hubris

Water of love deep in the ground
No water here to be found
Some day baby when the river runs free
It'll carry that water of love to me
Dire Straits 

From the summit of Mount Wasson (4,687 feet) a hiker can look to the west and see the physical results of the Central Arizona Project. 

The CAP is the largest and most expensive "straw" on the overused, abused and litigated Colorado River. The water is pumped uphill from Lake Havasu for 336 miles to its terminus south of Tucson.

For a state famous for sun, heat, conservative politics and little precipitation (Tucson gets about 12"of moisture/year. Phoenix around 8"), life for Arizona's 6.7 million inhabitants would be near impossible without the Colorado's supplementary water. 

In Tucson, the CAP water is placed in ponds to recharge the aquifer. When the CAP water was originally added to the city's water supply, the mixture didn't play well together. Water heaters went bad, rust in pipes broke loose, laundry was dirtier after being washed and the water's taste was worse than usual. 

So with all the trouble getting the wet stuff here, why is there so much water waste?
Come on Arizona! 
All those golf courses? 

Growing cotton and pecans in the desert? These thirsty plants require 23"-60"/year. 

Public fountains and artificial lakes? 

Homes with lawns?

I'm now reading "Cadillac Desert" by Marc Reisner. The book is a bit dated (he mentions the World Trade Center in terms of size) but the message is still clear. Water use in the Southwest is based upon a house of cards. The resource can't keep up with the increased demands. Rain doesn't follow the plow! 

The Santa Cruz River was once a perennial stream before all these people discovered Arizona. Now the only time it runs full time  is downstream of Pima County's water treatment plant. Maybe someone should warn that duck what he's swimming in. 

All this talk of water got me thirsty for an IPA.
Use water responsibly wherever you live. Well, maybe not in Ireland. 


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