Arizona Over Use of Natural Resources and the Shortage of Waters Research Proposal

Pages: 5 (1688 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Urban Studies

Arizona Water Shortage

Arizona's Water Resources

Arizona citizens may face a crisis the size of the Sonoma Desert if water supplies into the Colorado River do not increase in the near future. Parched Arizona may be declared a drought area by 2011 if the situation is not remedied quickly (Blake). The following will explore water usage and culture, as it relates to the looming water crisis. It will support the thesis that American consumerism and reckless conservation practices are the key factors that will ultimately lead to the demise of Arizona's water table.

Understanding the Arizona water supply

Arizona receives its water from the Colorado River. The supply is replenished every year as snowmelt in the spring runs down the steep banks and begins its journey southward to feed the parched states. Recently, runoff levels have been below their normal levels. This is a natural occurrence, but it has been happening for quite some time. Failure to replenish itself means less water to use by those that depend on the river for water (Blake). If runoff levels continue to be low, Arizona, Nevada, and California could experience a 96% water loss (Blake).

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The good news is that Lake Meade and Lake Powell act as a water storage container for times when water is low. Right now they are about 50% full (Blake). This provides a little time, but it still does not represent the best possible scenario. All these resources can do is to hold off, but not prevent impending disaster for Arizona residents. If runoff levels do not return soon, a shortage declaration will be forthcoming in the next several years (Blake).

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Arizona Over Use of Natural Resources and the Shortage of Waters Assignment

Regulation of the water supply of the Colorado River is a combination of federal law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions (Blake). Water us planning is a part of the culture made necessary by the desert and critical balance that must be maintained by the Colorado River. Strict rules are in place via a series of agreements between Colorado River states. For instance, one of the contingencies is tat if the level of Lake Meade drops below 1,075 feet, but remains above 1,050 feet, deliveries to the lower basin would be cut by 333,000 a-f (Blake). One a-f equals 325,851.42 U.S. gallons. If levels continue to drop below certain levels, other curtailment measures will be in place (Blake). A prioritized list of cutbacks that are the result of agreements between the concerned party's rules water resource decisions. Who is affected first is dependent upon where one happens to be on the prioritized list.

How bad could it be?

For Arizona citizens, at the current rates of water usage and lack of replenishment, it is not a matter of if the water shortage will occur, it is a matter of when. This water shortage will be long-term, depending on the hydrology (Blake). It could even be longer if run off levels do not improve in the future. One of the hardest hit districts will be the irrigation districts and the agricultural sector of the state (Blake).

The agricultural portion of the state receives its water from the Colorado River through the Central Arizona Project (CAP) (Blake). CAP includes 226 miles of canals that twist and turn through the desert to the Phoenix area and then it turns south to Tucson (Blake). This project supplies irrigation water for 300,000 acres of farmland. If the Colorado fails to deliver the needed water, Arizona farmers may have to foot the expense of digging replacement wells (Blake). This could amount to millions of dollars and could cost some farmers their ability to do business. The water shortage could ultimately reduce the productivity of the land.

Cultural factors

Sunny weather, clear skies, and beautiful landscapes make Arizona a highly desirable place to live. Arizona is a realtor's dream. However, it may be the dream that poses the greatest threat to Arizona's water supply. Unchecked development has caused spikes in local population growth that place additional strain on an already strained water supply system (Anderson). Water has been in short supply for decades, but not to the extent that it is now.

Cities have several options to try to curb development in the area. This first is to limit development. This would increase the demand for local housing, which could create higher prices for the local real estate market. They may choose not to limit development, which will allow growth to continue at an accelerated rate. This choice will ultimately lead to higher water prices in the future (Anderson). This could force residents to move, driving housing prices down. The second option creates a potential boom, then bust situation for the Arizona economy. This would not be a good situation for the future of Arizona.

The current water shortage is one of a simple math problem. More people move to the area, which increases demand. Water replenishment from runoff continues to drop due to natural occurrences. These two factors add up to impending disaster in the near future. Educational programs are a part of the cultural norm in Arizona schools. Abundant resources are available for use in the development of local programs (Gelt, 2008). The purpose of these programs is to raise the understanding of the importance of water conservation in the public.

In a recent survey, the it was found that Arizona residents felt that water issues were high on their priority list (CSREES). This study measured the importance of various water resources in the public mind. It is not surprising that Arizona residents consider clean drinking water and household water supply to be their greatest concern (CREES, p. 1). They considered water for recreation to be the least important water resource (CREES, p. 1). When this survey was repeated across California and Nevada, the results were similar to those of Arizona. This survey demonstrates that citizens have an awareness of the problems and the seriousness of the problem. They have their priorities strait and consider water conservation to be a part of their cultural heritage.

An online survey by the Arizona Daily Star revealed many attitudes held by newspaper subscribers. The results of this survey revealed that Arizona citizens are perceptive about the issues that they face. They are largely drawn to the area for their vast environmental resources in the area, but they also realize that continued growth could jeopardize the resources that they love (Davis). More than half are aware that the area does not have enough water to sustain growth for even another 15 years (Davis). Many think that slowing growth is the best solution to the problem (Davis).

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.

What can be done?

Currently, the Arizona Department of Water Resources has several plans to help conserve water. They realize that an aggressive plan is necessary due to the severity of the situation. Some of the measures include additional well drilling to increase the local supply of water (ADWR, p. 10). Three Irrigation Non-Expansion Areas were established in areas where groundwater shortage was less severe on a local level (ADWR, p. 10).

One of the most recent projects to be undertaken places emphasis on using non-groundwater resources. Renewable water resources will be required for new subdivisions to make certain that the water supply does not continue to be diminished as the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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