Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Water wars in Arizona and California


I note that Arizona is cracking down hard on new residential and commercial construction, requiring any new development to have long-term water supplies in place before building permits will be issued.  CNBC reports:

Water sources are dwindling across the Western United States and mounting restrictions on the Colorado River are affecting all sectors of the economy, including homebuilding. But amid a nationwide housing shortage, developers are bombarding Arizona with plans to build homes even as water shortages worsen.

. . .

Developers in the Phoenix area are required to get state certificates proving that they have 100 years’ worth of water supplies in the ground over which they’re building before they’re approved to construct any properties. 

The megadrought has generated the driest two decades in the West in at least 1,200 years, and human-caused climate change has helped to fuel the conditions. Arizona has experienced cuts to its Colorado River water allocation and now must curb 21% of its water usage from the river, or roughly 592,000 acre-feet each year, an amount that would supply more than 2 million Arizona households annually.

There's more at the link.

At least one Arizona city is shutting off water to areas beyond its municipal boundaries due to the shortfall in supply.  CNBC again:

An Arizona suburb has filed a lawsuit against the city of Scottsdale after the city cut off the community from its municipal water supply amid extreme drought conditions and declining water levels in the Colorado River.

In the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, residents in the unincorporated community of Rio Verde Foothills are seeking an injunction against Scottsdale to force the city to resume water services.

. . .

Scottsdale warned Rio Verde Foothills more than a year ago that the town’s water supply would be cut off as it faced projections of a historic drought and dwindling reservoir levels in the western U.S. Scottsdale said it must focus on water conservation for its own residents and would not continue to sell water to the roughly 500 homes in Rio Verde Foothills.

Earlier this month, hundreds of homes outside of Scottsdale could no longer access water from the city, leaving residents with no reliable source of water.

. . .

Scottsdale has said it would not work with any external companies to provide Rio Verde Foothills residents with water, arguing that it’s not legally obligated to continue providing water service to Rio Verde Foothills since the town lies beyond Scottsdale’s municipal boundaries.

Again, more at the link.

One wonders how many property purchasers in Rio Verde Foothills were informed of the water situation there before putting down their money?  If they weren't, I foresee lawsuits ahead as they try to recover their now-suddenly-devalued investment.

California's in an even worse situation, but it's the state's own fault.  For decades, no new major dams or water storage and treatment facilities have been built in the state.  The result is that most of the water that fell in such over-abundance on that state over the past couple of weeks has been lost.  The New York Times reports:

After a series of downpours over the past week dumped up to nine inches of rain on the San Gabriel Mountains, some 8.4 billion gallons were impounded behind 14 large dams, easing floods and building up valuable stores of water for the drier summer months ahead.

But in a state that is weathering a crippling, multiyear drought, much larger streams of water — estimated at tens of billions of gallons — have been rushing in recent days straight into the Pacific Ocean, a devastating conundrum for a state whose future depends on holding on to any drop it can.

. . .

The drought of the last few years has left reservoirs depleted across the state, burned forests, fallowed farm fields, brown urban lawns, barren ski slopes and disappearing lakes. The crisis on the Colorado River adds to the worries.

After years of deadly drought, images of floodwaters rushing into the ocean as people watch helplessly has been a cruel irony ... Capturing water in extreme events like those this year is a colossal engineering, environmental and financial challenge, experts say. Even with the planned improvements, water supplies are going to get tighter for major users: the environment, the public and agriculture.

“Everybody is going to lose something,” said Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Mr. Lund estimates that up to 25 percent of agricultural land could go out of production.

More at the link.

Other western states are faced with the same problem.  Las Vegas tried for more than three decades to take water from northern Nevada and southern Utah to feed its residents and tourist trade - which might have left a wasteland in those places as they lost the water they need to the demands of the big city.  Only after intense, hard-fought opposition was the plan defeated.  Meanwhile, the city has implemented some of the most stringent water restrictions in the nation, but it still needs more water, and is still looking to get it anywhere it can - even, if necessary, at the expense of other areas.

Many predict that water will be the proximate cause of open war in many parts of the world in future.  See, for example, this BBC overview of the water situation around the world.  It's going to be yet another point of conflict in our internal dissension and unrest in the USA.  "Woke" cities are likely to demand more water to help provide for their residents, and in the process minimize dissatisfaction that might turn violent.  The rural communities around them are likely to resist that, because they need their water for themselves, particularly for farming and food processing - without which cities will be in even more trouble.

Who's going to win?  Your guess is as good as mine, right now.  I can only suggest that if you live in a city or region where water is scarce, or likely to become a source of conflict, take that into account in your planning for the future.  If you don't, still take it into account, because you don't want to move to such an area unless you have to.



JG said...

Nothing is safe. I am from California and was born in the late 50s. The growth in California doubled the population and at the same time Democrats worked with environmentalists and EPA to stop many of the previous activities in place. This caused water drought on farms, heavy forest fires due to lack of previous activities, building in areas that should not be build in that cause environmental damage.

The same is happening to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado as population growth is too high and building is not planned correctly. The water supply for Los Angeles mostly comes from the Colorado River yet as Colorado, Las Vegas, and Arizona gained massive population growth the supply goes down. Overall these states have not planned and built water storage to keep up with their growth.

Massive illegal immigration invasion is hurting all these states even more. On top the Democrats that lead these states and cities have opened them to certain freebees that draw people to them.


Here in NH we're still in a drought. I have a well and am fretting over the lack of snow in the area. Praying for more snow, and a very wet (ugh!) spring.

Maniac said...

Places like California should've been investing in water desalination for years; now it's probably too late.

In the meantime, investing in personal water purification methods, i.e. tablets, would be wise.

Ray - SoCal said...

California’s disaster is a combination of lawfare forcing the release of water during droughts to save fish, not building or expanding water storage as the population doubled (more lawfare and politics), and refusing to build desalination plants.

An article mentions Az believes population will increase 40% by 2035.

Ray - SoCal said...

Timely article on Ca’s water dystopia:

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

BRM, I keep waiting for such states to use building moratoriums as effective population limiting measures as well. The "easiest" way to limit the rate of growth of use is to limit the people there to use it.

One wonders how far states will go in their competition for the same water rights.

JWM said...

I live in So Cal. Rampant development has been the curse of California for a long time. What we are seeing now is the construction of huge high-density housing being built in the middle of already over-developed suburbs. There was a small nursery a couple of blocks away from my house. The place had been in business since the 1950's. The property was sold, and now we're getting close to a hundred three and four bedroom condos dropped on the property. Of course, each of those units will need water and electricity. Of course each of those units will put at least two more cars on the neighborhood streets. Elsewhere, mega buildings of over a thousand units are going up all over the place. Where does the electricity come from? How about the water? It just appears. Until it doesn't.


Aesop said...

Desalination for California is retarded.

The state is simply paying for the no-growth retardation of four terms of Governor Moonbeam, who took the plans laboriously calculated when his daddy was the governor, before Reagan, that would have provided plenty of water for agriculture, and >shudder< 50M residents.

Moonbeam decided he didn't want that many people here, so he cancelled all plans for any new construction of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, freeways, highways, and power plants indefinitely, and shut off all offshore drilling for oil and gas.

But people came here anyways, and now the current pop. of 45M (including millions of uncounted illegal aliens) are well and truly fornicated.

Everything since then, and for the next 50 years, can be laid at his doorstep, where it belongs.

When 10-20M carpetbaggers and foreign leeches leave, things will be fine again. Probably about 5 minutes after the money set aside for those projects, and billions more, has been exhausted in dipstick welfare programs, and the locusts return home, or simply elsewhere.

Win either way for CA when it finally happens, but hell on earth here until that day. There will be no wars here over water.
Towns and 'burbs will simply dry up and blow away.

L.A. and surrounding regions depopulated by half would be a blessing of no small magnitude, in so many ways, it's difficult to overestimate the boon it would be to the future of the state.

regularjoeski said...

California turned down a desalinization plant because "it could harm the ocean".

They believe in magic and are pre-scientific revolution thinkers. This will not end well.

Dave said...

The law isn't the law anymore and instead judges rule on emotions or other outside factors that can't be proved in court with hard facts.

East of Sacramento, California, the now large development of El Dorado Hills started more than 60 years ago. Water was considered in the development of that community; however, as more folks built, the area south of Highway 50 was to be a dry community. If you wanted to build there, you knew you had no water rights and would have to purchase and transport the desired amount of water to your castle. Fast forward to the more gentle times we live in. The property owners south of Highway 50 went to court and the judge agreed that they should have as much water as those living north of Highway 50 even though the original paperwork showed that they weren't to get a drop. In just a few years, there are huge apartments and houses going up quicker than snow melting in the desert. (Condensed version of events)

In the early 80s, the greens petitioned the courts to stop the Corps of Engineers from dredging Folsom Reservoir of dirt from the winter and spring runoffs. They won and Folsom doesn't hold the amount of water that it could.

These are just the small water issues in that state. Now, the water rulers want to dream about underground storage in the local aquifers by pumping the water in under pressure. There are several other high dollar, unproven dream ideas for supposedly saving California water. As to practical, proven methods, the state managers and local managers will not ever take action. Demand that your city capture runoff water from the streets for cistern storage and you will be escorted right out of the meeting.

Again, just a few small examples of the California rulers wanting to destroy that state.

T Town said...

Brawndo is the answer to the water shortage.

Anonymous said...

The oft-cited megadrought of 1200 years ago lasted 200 years and ended the Anasazi civilization.

Don in Oregon

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain said, "whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over." So that's nothing new.

If I were still in California, the water situation would infuriate me. Back in 2010 or 2011, the state voted on a big bond issue that was supposed to go towards expanding and modernizing the water storage system. (I didn't vote for it because I didn't believe they would actually do it). Turns out they never did repair or any dams or build any new reservoirs like they said they were going to. But I expect plenty of consultants and environmental impact lawyers and broker/banks issuing the bonds got their payday anyway.

HMS Defiant said...

Hmmm, let’s see…. Yep, Lake Erie and all the rest of the Great Lakes are no more than 3 miles from here. So, not seeing the problem.
Among the easiest infrastructure to destroy are these three, oil, water and electricity. Look upon my works yes mighty…

Old NFO said...

This whole mess IS coming to a head, and it's going to be ugly... To put it mildly...

Stan_qaz said...

Arizona is looking at desalinization plants too, safely placed in Mexico well away from any Cali insanity.

On the Scottsdale water mess we now have government playing games by trying to pass mandatory water deliveries but backdated to lock Scottsdale in.

Years ago we decided Tombstone was required to keep providing water to folks that were secretly stealing it from their water pipeline so this not odd here.

ColoComment said...

W/r/t Rio Verde Foothills vs. Scottsdale, this water supply issue should not be a surprise to any resident of RVF. It's not as though water issues were not foreseen nor warned of, and repeatedly brought up for discussion. See Scottsdale's statement, here:

...which I easily found linked on the Scottsdale website, here:

PeterW. said...

Desalination requires electricity. Lots of it.

What was that about blackouts?

XTphreak said...

Make Stupid decisions,
Get Results that prove your stupidity.

California shuts down nuclear power plants
Runs out of electricity because "renewable" don't provide 24/7/365.
Oh yeah, waste heat from nuclear plants can provide desalination, besides the electrical output running reverse osmosis plants for fresh water.

They deserve what they get for stupid decisions, but wait.........

They'll claim everyone else must bail them out of their situations.