Study: Arizona Using Less Water Than It Did 50 Years Ago, But Continued Growth Threatens Supply

Published: Monday, March 1, 2021 - 12:11pm
Updated: Saturday, March 13, 2021 - 10:09am
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It has long been reported that Arizona's water supplies are shrinking. A year-end environmental impact study quantifies the ongoing crisis, showing how Arizona residents feel about the shortage and the difficult allocation choices that lay ahead.

Arizona is consuming less water today than it was 50 years ago, despite the massive population growth over the past four decades.

Water scarcity is increasing. So is demand for water in the state. But overall water use has actually dropped. Part of that is efficiency and technology, according to environmental scientist and natural resources planner, Leon Kolankiewicz

He co-authored a study, completed at year-end that found from 1982 to 2017, "1,744 square miles (1.1 million acres) of Arizona’s natural habitat and farmland disappeared under buildings, pavement, gravel and other surfaces, representing a profound, long-term loss of agricultural potential, ecological values and functions, and quality-of-life amenities for Arizonans," he noted.

Right now, agricultural land uses 80% of the water in the state. As agricultural land use declines, so does water use — temporarily. 

He says Arizona’s cities have sprawled over the last four decades to accommodate more than four million additional residents, destroying fragile ecosystems, noting " Arizona’s population growth of 4.2 million was responsible for 12 times more sprawl than all other factors combined," he noted.

He said Arizona’s cities have sprawled over the last four decades to accommodate more than four million additional residents, eliminating natural habitats and fragile ecosystems.

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