23 November 2007
Nor any drop to drink
We are much mocked (usually by Tulsans) for converting the glorified drainage ditch that was the North Canadian into some semblance of an actual river, but it makes a certain amount of sense, since (1) said ditch was a bitch to mow and (2) things actually happen there now.
It helps that we generally don't run horribly short of water in these parts: last year was unusually dry, but still we recorded about 26 inches of rainfall. (This year we've had more than twice that.) I mean, it's not like we're in the middle of a freaking desert or anything:
The city of Phoenix in Arizona sits in the middle of a desert that for the past 11 years has been suffering a punishing drought. Temperatures in the city rose above 43C (110F) for a record 30 days this year and water levels in the rivers that supply its 1.5 million people with drinking water are at near-record lows.
A perfect spot then to build what is described as a "year-round watersports paradise", in which visitors will be able to revel in whatever watery pastime takes their fancy.
The businessmen behind Waveyard say they plan to recreate the seascape of Indonesia or Hawaii in an area that has just eight inches of rainfall a year. They have earmarked a site about 15 miles outside Phoenix on 125 acres of land that normally supports nothing but saguaro cacti and creosote bushes and that is 200 miles from the nearest beach.
This seems ever-so-slightly insane, even in the face of bland reassurances:
Rita Maguire, a water expert who has advised Waveyard on water supplies for the development, told Associated Press that she had come round to the idea. "Initially, the reaction is: 'Oh my. Is this an appropriate use of water in a desert'? But recreation is a very important part of a community."
She added that the project would not use more water than a golf course, which sounds reassuring, until you learn that the Arizonan desert is already pockmarked with 402 golf courses.
In which case, a 403rd should hardly make a difference, you'd think. Still, I'm uneasy about this sort of thing, if only because the population of Maricopa County, now over three million, is expected to close in on five million by 2025 or shortly thereafter, and it's not like there's going to be a sudden upsurge in water availability between now and then. Then again, I could be wrong.
(Via Fred First.)Posted at 7:15 PM to Dyssynergy