ProPublica: Feds' incentives impact water supply

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Matter and ProPublica News report that the scarcity of water in the Western states is as much a man-made crisis as a natural one. Governments and businesses, driven by a booming population, have been slow to reshape regulations that would conserve water.

The water needs of Arizona’s cities are surging. The state’s population — less than two million in 1970 — has ballooned to more than three times that and is expected to reach 11 million within the next 30 years, turning (the Tucson and Phoenix Metro areas of) the state into what the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University has described as (a “megalopolian”).

“There is enough water in the West. There isn’t any pressing need for more water, period," said Bruce Babbitt, Arizona’s former governor and a former U.S. Secretary of the Interior. "There are all kinds of agriculture efficiencies that have not been put into place.”

Water policy experts agree that farmers could reduce their water usage substantially. The government is willing to consider building billion-dollar desalinization plants to purify ocean water. Such existing subsidies could be redirected to help farmers use less water.

The article also appeared in Newsweek's digital format.

READ: How Federal Dollars Are Financing the Water Crisis in the West

REPORT: Megapolitan: Arizona's Sun Corridor

REPORT: Watering the Sun Corridor