A decades-long megadrought is starting to crumble communities across America’s driest states.
Residents on the outskirts of Scottsdale, Arizona, will stop receiving water deliveries in January 2023, according to CNN. Communities in the Rio Verde foothills depend on the deliveries as natural water supplies from the Colorado River are few and far-between, which forced the Biden administration to declare a tier 1 water shortage in 2021, the outlet reported.
The tier 1 shortage meant that Arizona was forced to limit the amount of water used throughout the state, CNN continued. (RELATED: Wildfires Spread Through California And Arizona As Drought Continues)
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Rio Verde is technically its own community and not covered under Scottsdale’s jurisdiction, CNN noted. The Scottsdale water department said that, despite supplying hundreds of households in Rio Verde with water, the current water shortage means that the city “must dedicate its limited water supply to its residents,” according to a statement provided to CNN.
In 2023, Rio Verde will have to source its water from another supplier, with residents telling Fox 10, “if we can’t figure this, we lose all equity in the home and then some. We don’t have anything left. We have no options.”
Private companies, like Phoenix-based investment firm Greenstone, are buying up hundreds of acres of land along the Colorado River and intend to sell the water allotment to various newly developed Phoenix suburbs, CNN reported. Greenstone representatives told CNN that smaller communities and cities “along the river currently use less than half of their existing municipal entitlement. They can likely triple their population under their existing allocations before they would need to acquire additional water.”
Local activists fighting Greenstone’s work argued that the firm is setting a dangerous precedent and that water should remain in the communities that border it, CNN reported. Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren echoed this sentiment, saying, “Water is a human right and Wall Street shouldn’t be allowed to use this vital resource to make profits at the expense of hardworking Americans.”
The water rights have yet to be determined in Arizona, CNN concluded. The decision will likely determine the future of water rights throughout the West, which has been in a “megadrought” since at least 2000, according to AZ Central.