Water Economy and Liquid Assets

[zoning future underground water banks for a new liquid sub-urbanism]

Scientists and economists predict that the wars of the 21st century will be waged over water rights. Some cities live under the threat of eradication through rising sea water levels, and others, under the threat of desertification. Counties in arid Arizona, whose main cities of Phoenix and Tuscon are among the fastest growing cities in the nation, have begun 'water banking', in order to buffer themselves against the regular droughts.

Waterbanking is a strategy which stores or ‘banks’ unused river water (in this case the Colorado River) to be used in times of shortage to secure water supplies for Arizona. Each year, the Arizona Water Banking Authority pays the delivery and storage costs to bring Colorado River water into central and southern Arizona through the Central Arizona Project canal. The water is stored underground in existing aquifers (direct recharge) or is used by irrigation districts in lieu of pumping groundwater (indirect or in-lieu recharge). For each acre-foot of water stored, the AWBA accrues credit that can be redeemed in the future when Arizona's communities or neighboring states need this backup water supply. (1 acre foot is roughly the amount to meet the annual water needs of a typical household).

[Colorado River basin]

[The Granite Reef Underground Storage Project diverts water from the Colorado River to underground water banks. Image via SRP.]

Water has become so critical a resource that water authorities have real-time daily monitoring systems charting water flows and levels in state water reservoirs.

[real-time maps monitor daily water levels in state reservoirs]

Given the ongoing discussions in this region of how to generate more water for the expanding populations of the Colorado Basin (options include cloud seeding, shipping icebergs from Alaska and piping water from the Great Lakes), water is set to become the ultimate commodity in the American west.
[colorado river water strategies]

Welcome to the water economy...

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