June 24, 2022

Water: Is Arizona’s growth sustainable?

Water is the main topic of conversation for Arizona and the economic development departments at neighboring Southwest states.

Fast-growing cities such as Queen Creek, Casa Grande, and Buckeye, AZ and regions like North Phoenix are feeling the water pinch as the Colorado River tightens distribution and Lake Powell’s water table continues to recede. 

With water an issue, developments such as Cannon Beach in Mesa, a surf experience with shopping pavilions and TSMC, a massive semiconductor development off I-17 which looks to recapture 85% of the water it will use, are two examples of water-conscious developments in the Valley. As Arizona continues to grow and water shortages become a bigger concern, water-conscious projects continue to be at the forefront of the state and for developers. 

Water by the numbers

Arizona has been at the forefront of the nation’s top states for growing population. It is estimated that by 2035 Arizona’s population will increase by 40% based on the current population of 7.1 million. To complement this growth, Arizona needs additional water flowing into the state, an estimate of 1.2 million acre-feet more (1 acre foot of water = 326,000 gallons). 

Water and growth

Arizona’s economic development is booming. Big companies such as Lucid, Intel, and others in the semiconductor space are helping grow the Valley’s technology footprint. Companies provide jobs, and people need places to live close to work. With the estimated 40% population increase over the next 10+ years, the water initiatives are coming at a crucial time. The key to a thriving desert is water. 

What does this mean for new housing?

New housing developments require a 100-year water certificate, and municipalities have a limited number to issue. Some cities in Arizona have 10 or less years remaining before the certificates run out. Future housing will be limited if this challenge isn’t resolved shortly.

What does this mean for businesses?

With new businesses coming to the Valley like Kore, TSMC and Intel semi-conductor plants, labor is a key to economic success. Without housing growth, labor may be limited as the manufacturers expand to their full potential. 

How can we get more water? 

  • One solution is a desalination project partnership with Mexico. This billion-dollar project aims to secure Arizona’s water for the next 100 years. 
  • The ADWR 500+ plan looks to provide 500,000-acre feet to serve 1.5 million households a year and add 16 feet of water to the reservoir. 

What is the future for AZ? 

Once a sustainable water supply is secured and residential developments begin to support the influx of population, we have enough businesses in the pipeline to support the growing desert market. Keep in mind that it takes a collaborative effort on the state level to incorporate change to Arizona water usage.

As everyone should, we have a great interest in this important issue. We have attended panels which featured Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega and our state representatives. Each time we’ve heard a multitude of ideas and perspectives on the topic. And with one topic having everyone’s attention, there are bound to be conflicts as how to best navigate these waters.

Rest assured, these conversations are being held at every level and ideas are being generated to help solve the water concern here in the beautiful Arizona desert.