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In January, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs released a report confirming what many experts already had speculated: Parts of the far West Valley cannot solely depend on groundwater.
The report, prepared by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, showed planned homes for more than 800,000 people west of the White Tank Mountains must find other water sources.
Buckeye, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, has been at the center of a national conversation in recent years over its water sources. While the city is looking for more, experts have stated that the city doesn’t have the water to sustain its rapid growth.
In 2019, Buckeye had a population of 72,900, according to the city’s 2020 Water Resources Master Plan. Buckeye’s 2017 Integrated Water Master Plan states that the city’s population could grow to 343,000 people with its current water resources, which includes 34,750 acre-feet per year of groundwater replenishment. That number could grow to 466,000 with high water conservation.
But with the current rate of development, which includes 27 master-planned communities, that number is expected to balloon to 872,000.
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The report comes amid questions about where the water will come from to support Teravalis, a Flagstaff-sized master-planned community previously known as Douglas Ranch that would quadruple the size of Buckeye, expecting about 300,000 residents.
The initial plan stated the development would largely depend on groundwater. But the state has said in recent years there is not as much groundwater as was previously thought.
Because Buckeye does not have a 100-year assured water designation, the responsibility to find enough water to support that development falls on that of the Howard Hughes Corporation, one of the largest developers in the country.