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The Central Arizona Project Canal near the Stetson Valley neighborhood in Peoria, Arizona on August 17, 2021.

The Central Arizona Project Canal near the Stetson Valley neighborhood in Peoria, Arizona on August 17, 2021.

Photographer: Caitlin O’Hara for Bloomberg Green
Green
Indefensible

As the Colorado River Dries Up, Phoenix Will Have to Survive on Less Water

The first drop in supply to the Central Arizona Project was announced last week. It won’t be the last.

The state of Arizona has been in drought since 1994. In that time, its population has almost doubled to 7.2 million people as of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The majority of that growth has been in Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal counties, which cover the area around and between Arizona’s two largest cities Phoenix and Tucson.

Both cities — along with native tribes, farmers, and municipal and industrial users — draw a substantial portion of their water from the Central Arizona Project, a system of canals and aqueducts that carries water from the Colorado River, more than 300 miles to the northwest. The canal cuts through areas like suburban Scottsdale and winds through Arizonan countryside. In all, roughly 40 million people from California to Wyoming to Mexico depend on the water for their lives and livelihoods.