Thought I should go ahead and complete our ravishing ramble through Sonoran Desert Déjà Vu. It's been a kind winter here in Arid-zona—wet, like it used to be—as green and lush as I can ever remember. Perhaps if all winters were this rainy, "The Grand Canyon State" would stand a chance of meeting the thirst of its growing suburban sunbelt communities. But we know that's pie-in-the-sky, and you can't eat pie that's in the sky… especially when there isn't water enough for coffee to wash it down.
Water-wize, the only thing keeping Tucson afloat (pun intended) is the Arizona Project, a diversion canal built to transport water all the way from the Colorado River Basin. It's built on the (likely false) assumption that drought won't affect snowy supply states like Colorado. Uh, anyone seen lake Mead lately? It's down over a hundred feet, which equates to roughly half full… or half "empty," depending on whether you are an optimist or pessimist.
Think of water shortage in terms of money in the bank… there is a finite amount and if you spend (withdraw) more than you deposit (make), you will end up broke (dry). Tucson was depleting it's groundwater supply so fast that the city was actually settling at a rate of 2 inches per year. That's a considerable amount. Enter the great and powerful Oz (the Arizona Project), he pulls levers and yanks ropes and voila. As in the movie Oz, it turns out to be more show than substance—a fireman with a garden hose. All it does is buy more time and create false hope. "Dorothy" and Toto need to find the Wicked Water Witch of the West, and fast.
The canal water turns out to be unpalatable. Customers are buying bottled water and all in an uproar, and so the desk jockeys try to blend it with the sweet tasting groundwater. It still sucks.
What to do. What to do. Tucson (and Govie) has gone to all the expense of building the "project" and pumping water from the Colorado River. They must find a way to use it or else face liquid "bankruptcy." It is decided by the "deciders," to drill a series of remote deep wells into the supply aquifers and inject the unpalatable water, the idea being that, eventually, bad water will be "sweetened" by good old Mother Earth. Talk about leaving a bad taste in "Mama's" mouth.
Meanwhile, the Del Webb'ers continue to carve massive subdivisions with fountains that spit into the air and waterfalls that tumble over fake rocks and golf courses that need water hazard ponds, all-the-while ignorant easterners are adding lawns to green up their property like back home. What happens, eventually, when the well runs dry? Why is there no political will to stem the root of all evil, growth? Well, talk about a dumb question… we know the answer to that one.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, yuck) the technology exists to turn wastewater into drinking water. Having a career in drinking water treatment, I've had the "dis-stinked" pleasure of touring such Reverse Osmosis water treatment plants and have actually sampled their end product (pun intended). I can assure you that it tastes fine, but the "psychological taste" is going to take a while for consumers to get use to.
For now, treated effluent from sewage plants is being used on more and more golf courses. R. O. is too expensive, so settling, digestion, filtration, and chlorination is all that's done for links water. I wouldn't be putting a finger in my mouth or eating without gloves if I were a golfer… just in case some "solids" make it to the sprinkler system.
"Piece" Out :)
mark and bobbie...