(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)
Opinion: As Colorado River water evaporates, everyone in Pinal County may soon be drinking from the same pot.
By Joanna Allhands | Arizona Republic
Pinal County is once again about to become completely reliant on unsustainable groundwater.
Because in this new, scarcer water reality, there may not be any other way.
How did we get here?
Pinal County has a lot of water underground. The Arizona Department of Water Resources has begun a year-long process to measure what’s left of it.
Until the 1980s, the county was racing through its groundwater, in some years using more than a million acre-feet (an acre-foot is roughly enough to sustain two homes for a year).
That was causing all sorts of problems, most noticeably, the ground was cracking and falling by feet in some areas because so much water had been drawn out.
“The change-over to groundwater for farmers in Pinal was always anticipated — just not this soon. The effect will be less agriculture and potentially more non-ag economic development and housing as that uses far less water than farming. When farmers either cut back their water or fallow their fields, in order to return on their investment they generally try to sell their land to developers. If there is any good news for the Pinal ag community it is that at least right now, the demand for land for new homes and businesses in Pinal is hot. While transitioning from the ag lifestyle may not be timed as many farming families planned, at least the timing of demand for their Pinal real estate will allow for a financial return to these hard working farmers.”