Drinking Water and Irrigation in the Arizona Desert

Show Summary - July 27, 2009

Guest: David Modeer

David Modeer (Phoenix,AZ), General Manager, Central Arizona Project "Supplying Water to Central Arizona Desert Areas"

David Modeer is with the Central Arizona project that supplies water to 80% of the population of Arizona. Water is moved uphill from the Colorado River for 336 miles, via canals and pipelines, to the cities of Phoenix and Tucson.

There are hugely populated areas. Phoenix has 1.5 million people and a metropolitan area of 4.2 million. Tucson has 541,000 people and a metro area of 2.6 million. Both populations increase by 15% during the winter. Demand has been increasing by 4 to 8 percent annually so the water must be there.

The Central Arizona Project works with municipalities and tribes to develop water sources and options. Agricultural water pumped from the ground tends accumulate salt on the surface, which makes the soil less productive. The CAP is looking at desalinization techniques to counteract this. They are also looking at recycling techniques. The groundwater under Arizona has been protected by law since the 1940's and is not an option for urban drinking water. The law has greatly stabilized the aquifer.

Categories: Ecology and the environment; water and sanitation