When U.S. Highway 1-10 was built south of Phoenix 40 years ago, it passed through a desert that was green. It was covered with mesquite, iron wood and other desert shrubs as much as eight feet high. Today only an occasional decaying trunk stands in a lifeless landscape. Now a person drives through the desert preserve near Florence to see the desert as it used to be. What happened?
Deep wells to supply the demand for the rapid expansion of cities in Maricopa County lowered the water table until no sub-surface water was left for the desert from the Salt River to the Gila.
In Sulphur Springs Valley in southeastern Arizona, the water table went from 40 feet to 1,300 feet in 50 years. Large cracks and holes appeared because the sub-surface water was gone. Now many farms are being abandoned.
Is this the picture of the Payson area in the future? Deep wells are being drilled in the forest to supply water for a city that plans rapid expansion. It now has three golf courses. Each one uses half a million gallons of water a day. Will the water table be drawn down until the ponderosa pine, pinon, gamble oak and manzanita are gone? This could happen if deep wells continue to be the source of water for a city with increasing demands.
Will we continue to allow rapid expansion in urban areas of Arizona until that part of the state we enjoy most is only a memory, until all the natural growth is on preserves?
Lola Dunaway, Tempe