Former Desert Rat
There was a report on National Public Radio (NPR) this morning regarding the rapidly decreasing water levels in the Colorado River Basin, the drainage system that waters most of the American southwest - from the rich farming areas of California's Central Valley to the metropolitan centers of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix. A long-term drought and constant overuse of water supplies has led to lower reservoir levels and a serious reduction in ground water sources. The depleted levels of water below ground will not be easily remedied, even if and when the rains come again. It will take years to replenish those aquifers.
The reporter on this story highlighted the fact that the rapidly decreasing availability of water for irrigation will impact farming - and thus affect national and international food supplies. But, it is also going to eventually have a serious impact on the availability of water for home and personal use in those areas. When that happens, she reasoned "All hell will break loose."
One of the many reasons that I left Phoenix, Arizona, was the area's flagrant misuse of water. Water is still relatively inexpensive in the Valley of Hell, though how it remains so is beyond my ability to cipher and calculate. It is, I suspect, a huge case of urban denial. Phoenix is building houses to beat hell, and being honest about the future of water in the metropolitan complex would fly in the face of the greedy effort to keep bulldozing, building, and populating the desert. Anyone with a competent sixth grade education knows that disaster is just around the corner, but unfortunately the Arizona legislature has to add some significant intellectual height to their bench before they will be able to reach that sixth-grade bar.
One environmental outrage that I will predict with almost absolute certainty is this: When the price of water does begin to rise in the Phoenix area (and it will be a dramatic rise), the golf courses of Scottsdale will be lush and green long after water has been shut off to the homes of the poor.
Sadly, I know that of which I speak.