May 16 2012

Water in Tempe, Arizona: Colorado River Sourced

Tempe ArizonaIn a desert climate, such as Tempe, Arizona, rain is sparse. At only 4.5 inches per year, it is a very dry place. The city gets water, nevertheless, as is demonstrated by the unusual amount of lawn-grown grass surrounding the suburban and urban sprawl. The question then is how? How do residents get the water for their lawns and swimming pools? For Tempe, the water comes from two places, the Central Arizona Project via the Colorado River and Tempe’s  nearly depleted ground water.

Here are some statistics discovered during a lecture at Arizona State’s Sustianability lecture series given by D A Simpson, PhD (September 30, 2011):

●       Population in The Valley will balloon from 4 million people to 6 million by 2030, and to 12 million by 2080;

●       Outdoor water use (lawns and pools) currently account for over 58% of the total water use for this region;

●       The Colorado River feeds many other populous areas, namely Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

According to this research, there are three concurrent trends related to water use:

  • There is a predicted 33% population increase from baseline in less than 20 years;
  • Only 42% of CAP water is used for human consumption and a large portion of that goes to farmland;
  • Competition of valley urban planners and politicians to get a fair portion of water.

Tempe Arizona

Coming from the Great Lakes basin, I have never really had to worry about fresh water supply, but here in Tempe, Arizona, I am. As of now, it isn’t. And the water is running out. always conscious about my water use. Unfortunately, however, many local residents couldn’t care less. To make matters worse, I haven’t really seen a huge effort for water conservation on the part of the architects. It should be the architects’ main priority to make water conscious buildings, and a desert is no exception.

What can be done to make people living in a desert, act like it? Why don’t they? If all the water dries up, who will they have to blame?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Jeff P Jilek

Jeff Jilek has earned a B.S. in Architecture with a Minor in City & Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. He has been involved with architecture since his junior year of High School when he attended Eastland Career Center’s Architecture program. Sustainable Design is something that he is most interested in but also has taken many college level courses in psychology, political science, and philosophy. He will be attends Arizona State University for continuing education. He is pursuing both his M.B.A and Master of Architecture degrees. He blogged about pertinent issues in design and how design relates to global dynamics, culture, and economy.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 at 11:38 am and is filed under Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Design, Government/Politics, Housing, Land Use, Landscape Architecture, Social/Demographics, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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