1. Environmental issues
Salt and water.
Fundamentally, those are two of the major concerns before us as a state. Specifically, the danger of too much salt and not enough water.
Water. The dangers of limited water supplies are known to every resident of Arizona. We of course need water to drink, cook, farm and bathe. And there is a genuine drought in the state.
Consider a few facts:
- Since 1999, rainfalls have been below normal in most years.
- The Colorado River feeds Lake Mead, which is one of the biggest sources of water for residents here. Like other bodies in the West, it has been dropping. In fact, Lake Mead in recent times has fallen to its lowest level since it began filling in the 1930s.
- The large in-state reservoirs are dipping to low levels, in some cases less than 50 percent of capacity.
- Forecasters predict a net in-migration into Maricopa County of 250,000 people a year for the next ten years. This means we have to find water to support an additional 2.5 million people.
Salt. Salinity in the ground can be a genuine problem, especially for farming and for lawns. Salinity enters in the form of TDS, or total dissolved solids. While many plants are salt tolerant, too much salt prevents some salt-sensitive plant roots from taking in water from surrounding soil. This lowers the amount of water available to the plant, even if there is sufficient water actually in the area. With the “osmotic effect,” salts attract water and compete with plants for it. The result is that as salinity rises, plants have to expend more energy to take in water. This can mean stunted growth, wilting, and other damage. Another concern is that elements of salinity, such as sodium and chloride ions, can be toxic to sensitive plants. Further, in sewer systems (sometimes referred to as sewersheds), salinity can limit the benefits of recycled or reclaimed water. Even golf courses are confronted with the problem of salinity as they keep up their greens and fairways.
Clearly every reasonable way to conserve water and limit salinity must be pursued.