Plans to develop the desert west of Phoenix outstrip the water available to the area, a newly released report from Arizona’s Department of Water Resources shows.
Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) on Monday ordered the report to be released, saying “I do not understand, and do not in any way agree with, my predecessor choosing to keep this report from the public and from members of this legislature.”
“We must talk about the challenge of our time: Arizona’s decades-long drought, over usage of the Colorado River, and the combined ramifications on our water supply, our forests, and our communities,” Hobbs said in her remarks.
The new report means plans to develop the far West Valley of Phoenix and surrounding affected areas that are reliant on groundwater can’t get government approval, as projections put the area 4.4 million acre-feet short of demand over a century-long period.
Arizona Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke said this week he would not issue certificates for the area unless the projects’ developers are able to find alternate water sources, according to the Arizona Republic.
Hobbs, who was elected to the governor’s post during the midterms, now faces an over-allocated Colorado River and drought exacerbated by climate change, which is straining most Western states.
Hobbs has already established Governor’s Water Policy Council and opened the Governor’s Office of Resiliency, which is set to focus on water and land use.
“This should be a wake-up call for all of us, because it will take all of us to solve it,” Hobbs said.