Drilling Deeper Won't Fix This
Play • 56 min

People in the lower Colorado River basin are now witnessing drastic cuts to their allotments. In many cases, developers find alternate sources of water by drilling into underground aquifers. But in places like Pinal County, Arizona, that groundwater is already becoming scarce. We hear from Stephen Q. Miller, who sits on both the Pinal County Board of Supervisors and the board for the Central Arizona Pipeline. Without sufficient water for crops, and facing some of the highest temperatures on record, he says farmers in his area will fallow up to 70 per cent of their land this year.


As Phoenix and its outlying suburbs start limiting development because of water shortages, those who stay put rely increasingly on wells and groundwater.


Arizona State University professor Kathryn Sorensen explains why consuming water from deeper wells is one solution – but it’s not ideal. The ancient freshwater underneath much of Arizona will never be replenished during our lifetimes. With high-tech cloud computing centers and some of the world’s biggest microchip manufacturers expanding their reach — and water use — we look at the desert future of the southwest. 


With increasing water scarcity across the lower Colorado River basin states, we look at the technology of the future – and the role of cloud computing centers. How much water do they consume, and what does that mean for people in water-stressed areas? Amazon Web Services has set a goal to become water-positive by the year 2030, and we hear how the company is recycling and re-using water, with Will Hewes, AWS’ Global Lead on Water Sustainability. 


Outside Phoenix, Intel Corporation has been a presence for more than four decades, with two recent expansions of its 700-acre campus in the desert. Those expansions allow Intel to manufacture more of the microchips that we rely on in modern life, powering everything from cell phones to automobiles. We hear from Intel vice-president and chief sustainability officer Todd Brady. He says the public-private partnership Intel struck years ago with the city of Chandler, AZ means a more sustainable, predictable supply of recycled water. 


Water scarcity is also having a profound effect on the desert south’s political landscape. In this episode, we hear from Kathleen Ferris, a senior research fellow at ASU’s Kyl Center for Water Policy, and we check in with Patrick Adams, water policy advisor to Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs. 


Our last word in this episode goes to the University of Arizona’s Kathy Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions. 


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