A state modeling analysis discovered that the groundwater supplies needed by developers to proceed with their plans to build homes in the desert west of Phoenix are insufficient.
As the state struggles with a record megadrought and water shortages, plans to build homes west of the White Tank Mountains will need alternate sources of water in order to move forward.
Water resources are becoming scarcer in the Western United States, and increasing Colorado River limits are having an impact on all facets of the economy, including home construction. However, despite the state of Arizona’s water problems and a nationwide housing crisis, developers are flooding the state with proposals to build homes.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources reported that the Lower Hassayampa sub-basin that encompasses the far West Valley of Phoenix is projected to have a total unmet demand of 4.4 million acre-feet of water over a 100-year period. Therefore, the department is unable to move to sanction the creation of subdivisions that entirely rely on groundwater.
“We must talk about the challenge of our time: Arizona’s decades-long drought, over usage of the Colorado River, and the combined ramifications on our water supply, our forests, and our communities,” Gov. Katie Hobbs said in a statement last week.
Before they are given the go-ahead to build any properties, developers in the Phoenix area must obtain state certificates demonstrating that the land they are developing on has 100 years’ worth of water reserves.
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.
Some Arizona developers have asserted that they can avoid dwindling water resources despite warnings that there isn’t enough water to support expansion in development. They claim new homes will feature low flow fixtures, drip irrigation, desert landscaping, and other drought-friendly methods. More than two dozen housing developments are in the works around Phoenix.