Arizona's Not Facing a California Drought. Bob Donley Explains Why

Summer officially started on June 21. However, for much of the country, and certainly for Arizona, the heat has been on for some time. Hot weather brings to mind a need for water, and that reminds us that California is suffering a terrible drought. But what about Arizona? Bob Donley explains why Arizona is in better shape than California in this report.

Arizona is under drought conditions and has been for quite some time. Northern Arizona is in worse shape than the rest of the state, mainly because of a snow shortage. “The lower Colorado basin is the only area technically not in a drought.” What concerns most people is the possibility of limits on daily water consumption such as the ones imposed on Californians.

Arizonans are not facing immediate water shortages and rationing, for several reasons. First, Arizona is better prepared with backup plans to cope with water shortages. These include wells and an underground reservoir that can supply local needs for a year. Californians don’t have that “ace in the hole” water.

Another reason for Arizona’s better situation is agricultural: Arizona has less of it. Even though the state’s population has tripled in the last fifty years, water consumption has remained relatively constant. The reason for this apparently anomalous result is that Arizona has less land under cultivation than it had fifty years ago. The shrinkage in Arizona farm land can be seen in this table. The trend started in 1987 and has continued ever since. Farms use more water per acre than urban communities.

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