A new era of growth in the dry West faces water woes

As Western states juggle expansion and water scarcity, communities from Las Vegas to Phoenix are hitting the brakes on development.

Jennifer Yachnin reports for E&E News.


In short:

  • Recent legal and executive actions across Western states are limiting new construction due to the scarcity of water resources, underscoring the clash between booming populations and dwindling water supplies.
  • The Nevada Supreme Court ruled against a large development outside Las Vegas, highlighting the challenges of balancing growth with environmental sustainability and water rights.
  • Efforts to reduce water consumption in places like southern Nevada, through more efficient homes and restrictions on water use, point towards possible solutions amidst growing concerns.

Key quote:

"The era of limits is upon us."

— Kathy Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions at the University of Arizona

Why this matters:

Communities across states like California, Arizona, and Nevada are grappling with the reality that water, once considered an abundant resource, is now a critically limited one. In 2022, Arizona experienced the worst drought conditions in more than 1,000 years, which dried up reservoirs, exposed regulatory loopholes and further exposed environmental injustice.

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