Where Does Tucson Get Its Drinking Water?
A dessert refers to a dry or sandy area characterized by little or no rain. While such areas are usually uninhabitable, human beings have learned techniques of adapting and surviving in them. Essentially, people have discovered the use of water to make deserts habitable areas of residence. Tucson, Arizona is based on the Sonoran Desert. According to Culp et al., Tucson city is currently having water issues due to the prolonged droughts and an increasing population that it has experienced(9). As a result, the residents of the city are using more substantial amounts of water than the recharge of the aquifers. Tucson obtains a quarter of its drinking water from the Colorado River, which is depleting; thus there is not adequate water to sustain the residents. Apart from the Colorado River, Tucson also obtains about forty-four percent of its water from the ground. However, groundwater can only be renewed to a certain amount; thus it is not reliable. As a result, the city of Tucson has implemented projects aimed at recycling wastewater to sustain the quality of human life.
Population Growth and Its Effects on the Availability of Groundwater and the Water Table
The annual increase in Tucson’s population has augmented the demand for water. The city of Tucson vastly relies on groundwater to sustain its population over the last few decades. However, with the continued increase in population, the city has started using more water than nature allows resulting in issues such as reduced water quality and subsidence. Therefore, the residents of the city should stop pumping out water from the ground and find alternative sources of water before the mentioned practice damages, not on the people but also the communities around Tucson. Culp et al. assert that the groundwater supplies in Tucson are decreasing at an alarming rate of four feet yearly (11). Therefore, there is a need for establishing new strategies, techniques, and systems that can provide alternative sources of water to the residents of Tucson. The current laws prohibit the delivery of Central Arizona Project’s water to the residents of Tucson. The depletion of the city’s aquifers will force individuals to start using water from the Central Arizona Project.
How the Water Table in Tucson has changed over the Past 70 Years
The consequence of the increased population in Tucson is a decrease in the water table as nature cannot generate water as fast as Tucson is consuming. Over the last seventy years, the water level has reduced due to the increase in Tucson’s population from forty thousand to one million. Tucson’s water level significantly reduced from 170 feet between 1945 and 2005because of the augmented water pumping out of the ground and lengthy droughts (Drori and Jonathan). The riparian ecosystems near the river Colorado have also vanished; hence Arizona has been experiencing climate changes. The groundwater table around Tucson has redyced143 feet in the last two decades because of losing three feet yearly on average.
The Central Arizona Project
The Central Arizona Project is a channel that allows water transportation from the Colorado River to various cities in Arizona. The main reason for the project is to help Arizona in conserving its groundwater supply by obtaining surface water from the Colorado River (Drori and Jonathan). Cortinas et al. posit that the channel is roughly 360miles long and it starts at Lake Havasu and travels via Phoenix and Tucson, and it finally ends at San Xavier Indian Reservation located at the southwest of the city of Tucson (68). The Central Arizona Project’s water needs about 3000 feet to pump uphill to reach the altitudes of the Tucson region (Drori and Jonathan). The system also needs thirty-nine check mechanisms, which control and monitors the water flow within the system. The Central Arizona Project comprises fourteen water pumping plants that pump water to different cities that receive water from the project. The Central Arizona Project is the primary source of renewable water supply in Tucson, and it is designed to avail 1.5 million acre-feet of water out of Colorado River to the to the Southern and central Arizona yearly.
The importance of Water Storage in Tucson
Water from the Central Arizona Project has various uses, for instance, it is used drinking, agricultural practices, and cultural functions such as supporting riparian environments and fish. About six percent of water from the Central Arizona Project is used for industrial purposes, and twenty-five percent it is used for municipal purposes. A significant portion of the water is stored via the recharge systems to allow the direct use of renewable water channels (Cortinas et al. 75). The recharge programs also restrict the amount and type of water that is stored for extended periods to renewable water channels that cannot be directly used. Originally, the Central Arizona Project was a shared dream of the residents of Arizona, and it majorly constituted a vision of water stability and security for the future generations to enjoy a quality life despite living in a desert (Drori and Jonathan). Now that the dream has become a reality, the Central Arizona Project has vastly boosted the quality of life in Tucson, and its leadership is fully accountable and responsible for preserving and protecting what the previous generations were able to establish and fund.
Cortinas, Joan, et al. “Water for a new America: The policy coalitions of the Central Arizona
Project (Part 1).” Water bankruptcy in the land of plenty (2016): 65-78.
Culp, Peter, Robert Glennon, Gary Libecap. “The Western water crisis: Longtime brewing, now on the boil.” Shopping for Water. Island Press, Washington, DC, (2015) 8-12.
Drori, Seth-Elliot and Jonathan Leder. “The Central Arizona Project,and Why the Water Should not Be Wasted.” https://www.cals.arizona.edu/swes/tucwater1/cap.htm