Water Scarcity in a Globalized World
The issue of water scarcity in Tempe is a pertinent one. In order to arrive at an effective solution for this problem, it is important to address the main causes, as well as the demand and supply solutions that have already been implemented, and why the city chose those particular campaigns.
The main causes of water scarcity in Tempe are climate and a growing population. Tempe’s desert climate denotes high temperatures, an arid environment, low annual rainfall, and little vegetation. All of these factors affect the availability of water. High temperature increases evaporation, essentially stripping the land of the little water received by rare rainfall. Plants use much of the water that does seep into the ground in order to prevent desiccation. Even with a good irrigation system, Tempe’s climate limits the amount of water that can be brought to local homes. Furthermore, the city’s growing population means the water supply is in danger of not being able to keep up with the ever-increasing demand due to urban expansion.
Tempe has implemented various demand and supply solutions in response to the imminent danger of a catastrophic water shortage. To address the issue of demand, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District has developed a process called “Access to Excess”, in which stakeholders must come to a consensus about how excess water is used. Allocation is discussed in depth, and distribution is carefully monitored. The Central Arizona Project has also constructed outreach programs to inform the public about water scarcity issues and solutions. To address the issue of supply, Tempe uses a share of the water from the Colorado River, as well as using levees and a seepage recovery system in Tempe Town Lake. Also, Tempe’s Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility has recently been updated to be able to supply twice the amount of water as before. The city even won a GE ecomagination Leadership Award for its innovative techniques1.
There are specific reasons for the implementation of each of the previously mentioned campaigns. The Access to Excess process aims to prevent water waste by compelling viable candidate pools to provide a template for water use, rather than blindly handing out water usage rights. Outreach programs help the public understand the severity of the situation and encourage them to be more aware of personal water consumption. Tempe uses water from the Colorado River to help supply inhabitants with better quality water. This is a viable option because the Colorado River has a water surplus, while the area around Tempe is arid. Updating Tempe’s water reclamation facility doubled its distribution capacity, increasing water supply to inhabitants.
The pressing issue of water scarcity in Tempe should not be taken lightly. Due to various demand and supply issues, the city has taken many steps to ensure the future of quality water for the area. Each campaign has a purpose, and solutions are brewing to help prevent local water scarcity in a globalized world.