Hardy Arizonans can overcome drought predictions

Drought is something I’ve always lived with since I moved to Arizona in the early 2000s. It’s something you come to expect and rely on every single year; a news article or guy on TV telling you there’s not much water left and you better watch out… in 2035.

The massive Central Arizona Project, designed to deliver water to Phoenix and Tucson, draws water from the Colorado River system to quench the thirst of those municipalities. Apparently, agriculture uses 77 percent of the water allocated to Arizona every year anyway.

It seems like there’s a huge disaster rolling toward us, and it only gets worse every day. That kind of call to action should inspire some alarm or concern from our leaders at the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal department that oversees water distribution in the Southwest.

A USA Today article quoted a bureau spokeswoman as saying, “‘We projected this was coming. We are basically where we expected to be, given the dry winters in 2012 and 2013.’”

That’s not really the type of alarm that this situation warrants. There seems to be a weird commitment by human beings to just continue to live even in the midst of so many horrifying and intractable problems.

I think that’s somewhat human nature and somewhat your government telling you it will all be OK — or not telling you anything at all.

In the future, the Southwest will be hotter and drier, according to many different predictions.

It makes me wonder whether or not I want to live here in the future. Will there be enough water for me to drink? It’s not about having a pool or a massive garden, it’s about knowing that there will be a way for me to get life’s most basic component.

Sometimes I extrapolate this anxiety to the entire metro area. I look at ASU’s expansion plans and I wonder why all these people decided to invest millions of dollars in infrastructure only to maybe have to abandon it because Arizona gets too hot or too dry to live here anymore.

Despite all my anxieties about the future of water in Arizona, I’m always happily surprised by the resilience of Arizonans. Throw drought, dust, heat and even Tom Horne at these hardy Southwesterners, and they will shrug and talk about whether or not it’s going to rain tonight.

While we do need some kind of panacea to help Southwestern states deal with chronic water shortages, Arizona hardiness will carry us through the worst of the droughts and the heat.

Now, as usual, it’s up to our state and federal executives to set policies that can benefit the most people while preserving most of the way of life we have in Arizona today.

It’s going to look very different, but we can overcome with some desert flexibility and commitment to conservation.

Reach the columnist at pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @peternorthfelt

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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