Water Planning After the Age of Infrastructure


Despite geologic barriers and in the face of scientific advice, huge infrastructure projects of the 20th century brought water to the arid United States Southwest and fueled the growth of a megaregion. But now that era of infrastructure-enabled growth is over, leaving planners, developers and policymakers looking for new ways to sustain growth and rising demand amid diminishing resources.

In an article published on Planetizen, assistant editor Nate Berg tells the story of 19th century explorer John Wesley Powell who led the first documented expedition into the Grand Canyon in 1869.

In 1875, Powell presented his report to Congress. According to Berg, “He advised an almost complete halt to the settlement of the West, suggesting that the western U.S. wouldn't be able to support agriculture without extensive irrigation, and that without a more scientifically-based distribution of water rights, any further settlement would lead to devastation. Watersheds, he said, should define the location and extent of land settlement. Congress summarily dismissed his suggestions.”

Today, writes Berg, “The age of infrastructure-enabled growth…is being replaced by an age of sustained settlement through conservation, advancing technology and a more holistic approach to using and managing water.”

To read the complete story, click on Water Planning After the Age of Infrastructure


Posted December 2009