Buckeye, Arizona, is eyeing ‘crazy’ ideas to keep growing, including piping water hundreds of miles uphill from Mexico. From a report: Arizona, stressed by years of drought, has declared its housebuilding boom will have to be curbed due to a lack of water but one of its fastest-growing cities is refusing to give up its relentless march into the desert — even if it requires constructing a pipeline that would bring water across the border from Mexico. The population of Buckeye, located 35 miles west of Phoenix, has doubled over the past decade to just under 120,000 and it is now priming itself to eventually become one of the largest cities in the US west. The city’s boundaries are vast — covering an area stretching out into the Sonoran Desert that would encompass two New York Cities — and so are its ambitions.
Buckeye expects to one day contain as many as 1.5 million people, rivaling or even surpassing Phoenix — the sixth largest city in the US that uses roughly 2bn gallons of water a day — by sprawling out the tendrils of suburbia, with its neat lawns, snaking roads and large homes, into the baking desert. Arizona’s challenging water situation appears a major barrier to such hopes, however. In June, the state announced that new uses of its groundwater have essentially hit a limit, placing restrictions on house building, just a few months after the state lost a fifth of its water allocation from the ailing Colorado River.
There isn’t enough water beneath Buckeye to support homes not already being built, Arizona’s water department has said. But the city is embarking upon an extraordinary scramble to find water from other sources — by recycling it, purchasing it or importing it — to maintain the sort of hurtling growth that continues to propel the US west even in an era of climate crisis. “Personally, my view is that we are still full steam ahead,” said Eric Orsborn, Buckeye’s ebullient mayor. Orsborn said he understands the state has to be “really careful” with water resources but that the city is exploring “options to keep us going and allow us to continue to grow at the rate that we want to grow.”