Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Arizona's spineless legislature

I really don't mean to bash Arizona all that much. Sure, I don't like it, and sure, it has its problems, but every place has problems, and a lot of people like it here and hate it in southeastern Pennsylvania and Portland, Oregon, two places I would choose to live over Phoenix. However, one thing that really bothers me about Arizona, and I've mentioned it before, is the lack of water-saving planning and, hand-in-hand with this, the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar over long-term solutions. In the 19 February issue of the Arizona Republic, we read this editorial: "Dicey gamble in Mohave County." Here's a map of Arizona with Mohave County clearly marked. In case you don't know your geography, if you travel slightly to the north and west of Mohave County you arrive in Sin City itself - Las Vegas. Hence the name of the article.

Here's the deal: two Las Vegas-based developers, Jim Rhodes and Leonard Mardian, have planned to build 165,000 homes in the county. They have done this because in 2008 the Hoover Dam bypass is scheduled to open, which will put most of the county within an hour's drive of Vegas. Mohave County currently has about 14 people per square mile. The water supplies, obviously, are uncertain, as is the road system, and the economy of the area is, to use the word, "dicey." The county relies on ground water, and residents have drilled deeply for water, and wells have gone dry. There has been no study done of local aquifers. State law requires developers in Phoenix, Tucson, or Prescott to demonstrate a 100-year supply of water, and obviously, sucking an aquifer dry is not an option.

So what's the problem? The Legislature doesn't protect rural water supplies. Even if the Department of Water Resources determines that the water is insufficient, developers are allowed to forge on. County supervisors could ask developers to scale back on the scope of their developments, but these are, of course, subject to legal challenges. The editorial points out the long-term problems that could occur:

- A new well, depending on the shape of the aquifer, could dry up existing wells. Many Mohave County residents already have sketchy yields from their wells or have lost water altogether.

- Lowering the level of an aquifer can cause the ground to subside and crack, damaging property and roads. Severe problems with subsidence and fissures have developed in areas with similar terrain.

- If water supplies last only a few decades, the rest of Arizona will be stuck figuring out how to help tens of thousands of households.

There will be, naturally, commuting problems. U.S. 93, the route from Kingman to Nevada, is one lane in each direction. Construction to widen it has risen to $80-85 million, and it's slow. Imagine that. The new construction was also designed to alleviate the existing problems, not handle a massive influx of new commuters.

The Legislature could solve all of this. They could allow Mohave County officials to negotiate with developers on their own terms, in order to make sure that their residents will not get shafted. They could look around at what rampant expansion has done to the Basin and Flagstaff, from air pollution to awful congestion on the freeways to the destruction of the very nature of the desert to the creation of a "ghetto" class of people that exists only to serve out-of-state celebrities and receives none of the benefits of the expansion. Mohave County would become a ghetto of Las Vegas, which the Legislature should see as even worse, as all that money would be flowing out of the state and into the slot machines. The Legislature could do all this. We have a Republican-dominated Legislature, however, and the Republicans (Democrats, too, but more so Republicans) stopped caring about anything but money a long, long time ago. Expansion has turned Phoenix into the sixth-largest city in the country! Whoo-hoo! It must be good, right?

I'm sure this kind of scenario is playing out all across the country in multiple ways. I hope the politicians don't act surprised when the revolution comes.


Blogger Pilgrim/Heretic said...

This stuff is just so very wrong. Take all the problems you've pointed out, and add some recent climatological information that suggests that the last 50 years (i.e. when much of this region was urbanized in the first place) have been uncharacteristically wet, and that this is a cycle that's about to end. So, less water from natural sources, just as humans start sucking up a hell of a lot more.

Sign me up for the revolution, will you?

23/2/06 3:55 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I didn't know about the climate changes - of course, that's "science," and we can't have that! Just another thing that nobody will consider. I'm all for making money, but it's sad when it's all-consuming. Little green pieces of paper won't mean much when we're living in Mad Max's world.

23/2/06 5:17 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

The developers are greedy and evil. However, it's the ignorant and equally greedy people (homeowners) who want so desperately to 'keep up with the Joneses' that they move way out into the suburbs and buy huge homes they could never afford in or sometimes, near, the city. When they discover the wells are running dry / a cement plant spewing brown stuff from it's stacks is a mile away / or that pretty hill on the horizon is really a landfill, they hue and cry and lawyer up. If those people want to gamble and buy mini-mansions in the desert, then judges and jurors need to be less sympathic when they file suit. If there wasn't a market for this nonsense, the builders wouldn't be building!

23/2/06 7:18 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

That's certainly true, Ashley, and I don't have much sympathy for the people who buy these houses. However, the long-term consequences for everyone, even if they live, in this case, in Phoenix or Tucson and end up paying for water to be pumped to these people, is what's distressing. Also, these are probably going to be cheap houses, and individuals are notoriously self-centered and short-sighted. I'm not excusing them, but that's a reason why we elect people to check out things like the availability of water. If developers build out in the desert, people moving in should be reasonably certain there is enough water to sustain the development. Of course, we voted for the legislature, so it comes back to personal responsibility again. It's quite frustrating.

23/2/06 8:37 PM  

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