We have loved living in the desert for over 5 years. We even bought a house here. My husband and I are both restless people, preferring to be on the move rather than stuck in one place for too long. I guess that is what is motivating us to move on from Phoenix the most. But there are two huge environmental reasons helping our decision to leave Phoenix. Water and Fire.
The southwest United States is in a major water crisis. We are 14 years into a drought cycle. The Colorado River that fulfills the water needs of all the big cities in the southwest like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles and San Diego, is running dry. So much water is being taken from the river and the drought so bad that the level of the Lake Mead Reservoir is almost t0o low for it to continue to feed into the massive pipelines that flow to the major cities. The Colorado River has become a muddy trickle near the end of it’s run in Arizona.
Climate experts believe the drought is a prelude to a new, drier era in which the river’s flow is permanently diminished. “We can’t depend on history to project the future anymore,” said Carly Jerla, a geological hydrologist who closely monitors the Colorado. The river’s wet 20th century may have been an anomaly; in the 13 centuries before the 1900s, its flow was actually 15 percent lower. The current drought may also be the product of a wider pattern of climate change, signifying a barren future: Several global-warming studies predict that rising temperatures will reduce the river’s flow by up to 35 percent by 2050. – Theweek.com
Phoenix isn’t talking too loudly about this issue, but what they have said is that if something doesn’t change soon, they will have no choice but to limit water usage and/or charge more for water use. Not only is the southwest experiencing a 14 year drought, but the water table in Phoenix has dropped alarmingly fast, down 400 Feet from when people first started drilling for water.
Another side effect of climate change and early snow melts in the tree covered mountain regions like Flagstaff and places in New Mexico is Monster forest fires. The number of mega forest fires and crown fires globally has gone up drastically when compared to the historical record. Scientists suspect there are many factors that influence these giant fires: a long standing no-burn policy of the late 1900s, early snow melt and higher temperatures that lead to longer fire seasons, and an overall dryer climate in places that historically experienced more annual rain. This video explains the situation:
So for us, this is a warning to leave the mirage, the temporary oasis in the desert. We are considering green places, places where grass grows without the help of irrigation or sprinklers, where 4 seasons are present, where our kids can play outside year round. It may not be an issue, but the warning signs are all there. And I don’t want to be in a desert city when water becomes a commodity.
- The Thirsty West – Slate.com
- The Unprecedented Water Crisis of the American Southwest – theweek.com
- Phoenix AMA Groundwater conditions