19 Sep 2008

Water and Growth

via Aquadoc, we get this interesting discussion [PDF] of changing land use decisions:
the exit of the federal government from subsidizing regional development, along with state inaction, is forcing urban areas to begin linking land use and water resources planning for the first time. Western cities may not stop growing, but growth accommodation will be more difficult and more expensive than it has been in the past. Increasingly, some form of water supply planning will be necessary before growth can continue. Water will be more costly, and the trade-offs between growth and its alternatives will become more intense and obvious. Global climate change adds an additional wild card to the mix. We are still a long way from achieving sustainable human settlement in the American West.
In Section 3.4 of my dissertation, I also discuss how cheap water was used to promote urban growth (sprawl) in SoCal in the 1950s and 1960s (a point that environmentalists have made for years), and I agree that scarce water is now dampening urban growth -- no matter what the mayors of San Diego and Las Vegas might want...

Bottom Line: When the price of development is subsidized, "over-development" will result. Now we are paying the price of past over-development (in terms of unreliable water supplies) while the developers enjoy their fat profits.

hattip to DW