This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

The water problem in Phoenix, Arizona

I've lived in Phoenix since I was a teenager, and believe me, I know that Phoenix has a water problem. If you're new to Phoenix, or haven't studied much of its history, you may be surprised to learn that it isn't a lack of water, it's too much, too fast.

Unlike most desert cities, Phoenix gets annual floods. This water comes from one of the largest watersheds in the world, the uplifted area just northeast of the valley. For thousands of years, snow and rain that fell on that watershed suddenly came rushing down through the Salt River and ultimately emptied out in the Gulf of California, and it still does. And in addition to that, Phoenix gets regular torrential thunderstorms each summer, commonly referred to as *monsoons*.

The problem, of course, was how to control this water, put it in reservoirs, and avoid flooding. And people have been working on that since the Hohokams, with limited success. The photo above is the 1972 flood, which filled up the I-17 freeway. Yes, that's the freeway.

1891 flood, Phoenix, Arizona
Personally, I remember the floods which knocked down the bridges on the Salt River while I was going to ASU. If you're old enough, you may remember the devastation that the 1891 flood did to Phoenix (just how old are you?). And even after the Roosevelt Dam was built, and many others like it, floods continued to plague Phoenix. Such as the flood of 1915. The next time you see some road construction, look for the gigantic pipes, those are storm drains. The next time you visit the Thunderbird Paseo Park, note that it is a gigantic flood detention basin.

No, there is no lack of water in the Phoenix area. But this doesn't mean that you should waste it. It costs a lot of money to store, clean, and deliver that water. It all happens *behind the scenes* by people who make sure that you can take a shower in the morning. And those same people work to make sure that you don't have to drive through a lake to get to work!

1915 flood, Glendale, Arizona

Flooded house in Phoenix, 1963
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