This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

A desert city designed around intelligent water use - Phoenix, Arizona


Back when I lived in California, I remember the bumper stickers that said, "Save the world, shoot yourself". And to me that sums up what a lot of people think about whether humans belong on this planet. I disagree. I think that humans do belong here. As a species, we have as much right to share the big blue marble as anything else. There are, of course, places where isn't isn't all that wise to be, such as where food and water isn't readily available, for example. And since I live in the desert, in Phoenix, Arizona, I'm where my species really needs to be intelligent to survive, and thrive.

Unlike a lot of desert cities, like Los Angeles, Phoenix knows that's it's in the desert. The first priority has always been to make sure that there is plenty of water. If you know your Phoenix history, you know that Phoenix was built by a river which flooded every year and supplied an enormous amount of water. Water has never been piped in from hundreds of miles away.

If you're puzzled about where the water in Phoenix comes from, look at the Salt River. But don't look at the big dry gouge that's south of the airport. Find the Salt River where it's dammed northeast of Phoenix. Then follow the canals. That's the Salt River. And that water was there for the Hohokams, and it's still there, always flowing in the canals.

I live just south of the Arizona Canal, which was built in 1885, and goes from east of the Pima Indian Community (which is east of Scottsdale) to Peoria, which is west of me. The next time you're out driving around Phoenix, stop and take a look at one of the canals. If you never noticed them, well, that's the point. There are also enormous systems for storm drainage. Take a look at Thunderbird Paseo Park, and Tres Rios. Yes, they're all about water control. And not only are they beautifully engineered, they are designed to just kind'a disappear into the landscape.

Phoenix is, and always has been, designed around intelligent water use. I often compare it to Minneapolis, where I grew up, which is designed around snow removal. When other cities are panicking, these cities just keep doing what they do best.

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