What the worsening water scarcity means for Arizona homeowners


Arizona is in the midst of a historic water shortage. The southwest and much of the west are suffering from an intense 22-year drought, resulting in increasingly low water levels, dry soil and dry vegetation fueled by forest fires.

Drought can have serious repercussions on the things we love to experience in our region, such as enjoying our abundant national and national parks and forests, tourism, the local economy, landscaping, agriculture and of house building.

At Halpern Residential, we’ve received quite a few questions regarding how the planned water cuts in Arizona could affect homeowners and the real estate market in general.


READ ALSO: Low Levels on the Colorado River: What It Means for You


Below, we’ll explore the current state of Arizona’s historic drought conditions, changes in government and industry, and what you can do as a homeowner to reduce your water use. .

How serious is the drought in the West?

Almost 88% in the western United States is currently experiencing both severe and extreme drought conditions.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the nation’s first and second largest reservoirs, respectively, provide much of the water we use from the Colorado River, and both are at all-time highs. In August, the federal government is expected to make an official statement declaration of water shortage for the first time in the history of Lake Mead.

Trevor Halpern is North & Co’s No.1 Independent Agent, based in Phoenix. and the founder of the real estate group Halpern Residential.

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water for 40 million people, farmers and ranchers, and Native American tribes from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California and Nevada. In 2019, these seven states signed a emergency plan in case of drought, which takes effect in the event of a shortage.

How Drought-Induced Water Scarcity Affects Arizona

In Arizona, 84% of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions and preparing for its first level 1 water scarcity cuts. The state has been operating below level 0 for the past few years, making only slight reductions in water supply, which, if you haven’t noticed – well – that’s the goal. The unprecedented Tier 1 reductions are expected to take effect in 2022, forcing the state to reduce its share of the Colorado River.

This means Arizona will lose nearly 18% or 512,000 acre-feet of water he drew from the Colorado River basin. This burden falls primarily on farmers and ranchers, as most of the water from the river goes to the state’s agricultural industry.

Drought conditions for Maricopa County

The US Drought Monitor updates drought conditions weekly. As of August 9, 2021 – 86% of Maricopa County was in a Severe drought with almost all of its affected population, even if this does not disrupt the daily life of the inhabitants. Water supply in Maricopa County is below normal as 60% of stream flow sites are below normal in Arizona, directly affecting 124,812 Maricopa County cattle, 2,575 sheep and 151,695 acres of hay, haylage and cotton.

NOAA’s highest red alarm category for drought conditions is listed as exceptional. In the past 20 years, Maricopa County has only experienced exceptional twice drought conditions; just as recently as 2018 and now into 2021, where data shows drought conditions are by far the worst in the past two decades and the year is not over yet.

Source: Maricopa County Historical Conditions, Drought.gov

How water scarcity affects Arizona housing

Over the past decade, Arizona has seen rapid growth with the migration of new residents from across the country, especially from other drought-affected states like California. More people means more stress on an already scarce water supply.

Interestingly, however, as the land used for agriculture is sold to residential developers, the pressure on the water supply is reduced. People in their homes use much less water than farmers. So, as long as our expanding population moves agriculture for homes, the net effect is positive for water use.

What can I do as an owner?

As a homeowner, there is a lot you can do to be careful about wasting water inside and outside your home:

• Fill your garden with drought tolerant plants that do not require regular watering, such as different species of cacti, succulents and palms.

• Invest in lawn irrigation technology and switch to high performance sprinklers and nozzles that use less water.

• Water your garden less frequently and do it earlier in the morning before the sun can evaporate the water.

• Replace your grass with synthetic turf. There is quality artificial turf that looks like the real thing. Las Vegas recently announced its 30% removal of non-functional grass to conserve 10% of its water supply.

• Do not install water features such as decorative fountains in front of your house.

• Inside your home, install dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and shower heads.

How is Arizona taking action to respond to drought?

If we can build thriving cities in a desert, we can certainly bring our minds together to ensure our future generations have continued access to water.

We chose the brains of our friend, Jake Lenderking, senior vice president of water resources and legislative affairs at Global Water Resources, Inc., who has championed the diversification of our water sources for over 20 years so that our State can continue to tolerate drought. . Jacques says, “We’re at a big inflection point and we need to start doing more. Since even consumers won’t feel the effects of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 shortage, we have a lead, but if the drought doesn’t abate, we could end up in a more serious situation fairly quickly.

Professionals like Jake who study this say we can expect to see significant investments in modern technology and engineering to create innovative systems that replenish our water supply and protect the environment to get us out of a drought in the past. over time.

For example, sustainable agricultural practices give rise to hydroponic and vertical farming technologies. In the United States, the agricultural industry uses almost 90% of the country’s water supply. Increased investments in vertical farming in controlled environments can dramatically reduce the amount of water we waste instead of traditional farming methods.

As Phoenix continues to grow faster than natural resources can keep up, city planners as well as state and local politicians face the challenge. This summer, a $ 200 million water shortage bill adopted the legislature as part of the 2022 budget.

Change starts with conversations. Invested minds from interconnected sectors come together to discuss how to conserve and provide water for future generations. For example, the 29th edition Arizona Water Law Conference takes place August 26-27 at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villa. The conference will feature representatives from Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, and discuss what states must do soon to avert a water scarcity disaster.

At Halpern Residential, we care deeply about the economic well-being, health and prosperity of our state and its residents. If you have any questions about how water scarcity can affect you or what you can do to make your home more water efficient, we are here to help. Happy to help and be a resource!

Trevor H. Halpern, JD is the # 1 Independent Agent in Phoenix Nord & Co. and the founder of the Halpern Residential real estate group. As a native of Phoenix, Halpern’s in-depth knowledge of people and property has enabled him to create success for his clients in all areas of the city. As a graduate of ASU Law School, Halpern prides itself on delivering high-level strategy, effective negotiations and precise tactical execution. Since 2011, Halpern has sold over $ 100 million in real estate and has been in the top 1% of real estate agents in the Greater Phoenix metro area since 2016.

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