When a sprawling suburban development in the Southwest loses its water supply due to drought

On the edges of the Phoenix metropolitan region, one recently constructed suburban development lost its access to water:

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Joe McCue thought he had found a desert paradise when he bought one of the new stucco houses sprouting in the granite foothills of Rio Verde, Ariz. There were good schools, mountain views and cactus-spangled hiking trails out the back door.

Then the water got cut off.

Earlier this month, the community’s longtime water supplier, the neighboring city of Scottsdale, turned off the tap for Rio Verde Foothills, blaming a grinding drought that is threatening the future of the West. Scottsdale said it had to focus on conserving water for its own residents, and could no longer sell water to roughly 500 to 700 homes — or around 1,000 people. That meant the unincorporated swath of $500,000 stucco houses, mansions and horse ranches outside Scottsdale’s borders would have to fend for itself and buy water from other suppliers — if homeowners could find them, and afford to pay much higher prices…

Water experts say Rio Verde Foothills’ situation is unusually dire, but it offers a glimpse of the bitter fights and hard choices facing 40 million people across the West who rely on the Colorado River for the means to take showers, irrigate crops, or run data centers and fracking rigs.

Given conditions in the West and Southwest, this could become more common for suburban areas. See earlier posts here and here.

One key from the article: when you move into a home, is the water supply guaranteed (as much as possible)? It sounds like there was an agreement to sell water to this new development. If you have such agreements or live in unincorporated areas or depend on other water sources, will they always be there?

Water is typically one of the lower concerns of those moving to the suburbs. It is assumed to be there. There might be the occasional problem with pipes, particularly in older homes, but the water should keep flowing. Other infrastructure concerns tend to take precedence; are there enough roads for new residents? Schools?

Without cheap water, it is harder to live the suburban life. As the article notes, how does one wash laundry or dishes with limited or really expensive water? Flushing toilets? This does not even get close to beloved amenities, like swimming pools.

One thought on “When a sprawling suburban development in the Southwest loses its water supply due to drought

  1. Pingback: Infrastructure and the need for public relations | Legally Sociable

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