Housing and water: a year later, are we closer to an answer?

A year ago, I puzzled over the implications of the collapse of the southwest housing business for our long term water future.

We’ve got another year of data, and no real sign that the southwestern growth engine in Phoenix and Las Vegas, the two cities closest to the edge of the water cliff, are coming back:

Phoenix, Las Vegas Housing Starts

Phoenix, Las Vegas Housing Starts, courtesy St. Louis Fed

What’s funny here is that it wasn’t the reasoned arguments of smart growth advocates, implemented through a wise political and policy process, that achieved this end, but rather the internal contradictions of the overheated housing business itself. Whatever. To what extent does this simplify the water policy dialogue in the southwest? Sure seems like it makes Pat Mulroy’s job easier, though I doubt she’s happy about the circumstances.


  1. Hereabouts, we are still building big straws for future growth, as if recent events mean nothing except a temporary reduction in the positive slope. I suspect it is the same in the Colo basin but will defer to others for correction.

    I keep returning to Tyler Cowen’s assertion: we thought we were richer than we were…



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