I know other people in my class have answered the question of what ecological
issues are imortant in you community, by talking about water. But it may be
the most important issue for Tucson's future.
I saw an ineresting pbs video the othe day called, Troubled Waters. It
brought up many issues.
One point from the video, is that there is a fixed amount of water flowing in
the Colorado river, and an increasing amount of people using it. Also, when
the allotments of the water were made, the water is shared by many states,
the amount of flow was determined at an abnormally high rate for the river.
Measurments since have shown the flow to be much less.
Another disturbing fact is that the water has to be pumped up hill for much
of its journey in Arizona. The power needed for this comes from a strip
mine/power plant on Navajo land. Not only is this bad for the land, but it
will run out.
Some question why other cities have less trouble with water quality than
Tucson. The answer is geographic. We are at about the end of the CAP trail,
and by the time we get the water, every drop has been used about 3 times.
Part of that use is by farmers between Phoenix and Tucson. This adds much
of the minerals and other undesirable contents that make it hard to drink and
expensive to clean.
It might also help to look at the conditions of the water that Mexico gets.
The river used to flow freely, but with the multiple dams and increased
usage upstream, Mexico gets but a trickle. And by the time the water gets
there, it is so saline that it is almost useless for farming. Tucson is not
too far from Mexico.
The problem is that Tucson must have an outside source of water. The
underground wells were created millions of years ago, and it took that long
to fill them up. At this point the wells are close to being depleted. And
no amount of heavy rains are ever going to fill them up again.
I don't think most people realize that we are heading toward a real crisis
point here. If Tucson continues to expand as it has, we are going to have
shortages very soon.
Tucson voted Tuesday to reject direct use of CAP water, in favor of using it
to recharge the underground wells. I think this is great, as it will cause
the crisis to come about sooner. Action on these type of issues only seems
to occur when there is no other solution.
If we start using the CAP water like everything is all right, then
development will continue unchecked, until we reach the point when even the
CAP water is not enough. Then what?
Crisis is good for stimulating creative problem solving. Ideas like limiting
the number of golf courses, fountains, swimming pools, and large areas of
grass will seem more logical. As the price of water goes up, people will
figure out ways to conserve, and less people will want to move here.
Eventually, the expansion of the city will have to be limited. The city will
implode, and other benefits such as less poluting public transportation will
become cost effective. We may even borrow some ideas from Arcosanti!
I say, bring on the shortage. And bring it on now, while there is still a
chance to fix some things.
arted university of arizona