So much development, so much planning for water

Posted 4/12/21

Arizona is definitely a builder’s state. But what about water, our most precious resource?

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So much development, so much planning for water

Posted

Arizona is definitely a builder’s state.

In the West Valley, home construction has certainly been a reliable constant, dating back to when builders broke ground on Sun City more than a half century ago, followed by a land sprawling of other master planned communities with names like Verrado, Stone Haven, and for those in Peoria, Vistancia.

Add to that countless other HOA and non-HOA housing developments pushing to the outer limits of Maricopa County and beyond.

But what about water, our most precious resource?

Is there enough water to sustain all these new and growing developments in north Peoria like Lake Pleasant Heights, Saddleback Heights and the Cowley property?

Readers have asked me how can all this development be sustainable, especially in a desert where we have been enduring a drought for years, and in Peoria, where new developments are approved by the city seemingly on a monthly basis?

To protect against limited groundwater supplies, the Arizona Department of Water Resources Assured and Adequate Water Supply programs were created.

These programs evaluate the availability of a 100-year water supply considering current and committed demand, as well as growth projections.

The Assured Water Supply Program is designed to sustain the state’s economic health by preserving groundwater resources and promoting long-term water supply planning. It operates within areas of the state where significant groundwater depletion has occurred historically and include portions of Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yavapai counties.

The Adequate Water Supply Program, applicable to Peoria, ensures water adequacy or inadequacy as well as any water supply limitations are made public, according to its website. The program also requires adequacy of water supplies be demonstrated prior to plat approval.

Arizona has granted a “Designation of Assured Water Supply” to the City of Peoria, affirming that at least 100 years of water is physically, legally and continuously available to serve the city’s existing customers and additional growth.

It is a rigorous application process. To obtain AWS designation, Peoria had to show more than just a plan for future supply development. It had also to show that it has legal, physical and financial access to the future supply or supplies of water.
Because the city has this designation, it has been able to allow for developments like Vistancia and a slew of new developments to come online.

I penned an article in this edition about how Peoria reached a milestone last month when the first drops of a sustainable water supply crossed under the dry Agua Fria riverbed to where thousands of Vistancia residents live and where even more future residents will come to live as other master planned developments are constructed and continue to build out.

It is a beautiful thing for the city. Peoria now has a sustainable water supply in the northern part of the city for years to come.

But it was years in the making. And the growth could not have happened if the city had not properly planned and were not AWS designated.

Sometimes it is a long journey from the water source to your faucet. Be we can all certainly agree it is worth it.

Editor’s note: Philip Haldima is the news editor for the Peoria Independent.

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