In water policy terms, this is one of the most important stories I’ve done in a while:
The steady dripping into Carl Axness’ cistern is the sound of next spring’s water supply.
The snow melting from his Rio Rancho roof is the bounty of December’s storms. For the better part of four years, that roof runoff has provided the entire source of supply for Axness and his family.
It’s not that I expect everyone to follow Carl’s path. His situation is unique in a couple of ways. The first is the way his Rio Rancho lot was bypassed by water infrastructure. The second is Carl himself – an energetic tinkerer, willing to fiddle to make his off-the-water-grid life possible. It’s obviously not for everyone. But I think of him as a sort of bounding scenario for what is possible when we’re faced with apocalyptic visions of life in the Southwest with dwindling water supply and growing population. Carl’s a living demonstration that it is possible to live with far less developed water than we use today. Given a choice between apocalyptic abandonment of Phoenix or Las Vegas or Albuquerque as water supplies run low or the widespread adoption of some part of the suite of things Carl’s doing (especially for outdoor watering, which is far less finicky), it seems clear to me what we’ll see.