Waste Not, Want Not: Does California Have Rights to Arizona Water?

Billions of Gallons Wasted By Not Capturing Run-off
Charlton - Charlton Lakes Drought by Chris Talbot, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Charlton – Charlton Lakes Drought by Chris Talbot, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Trillions of gallons are dumped into the ocean. Trillions. A significant number for an insignificant reason. As most Arizona residents know, the most renewable source of water comes from the Colorado River. So California, through suffering another drought causes a daunting amount of issues on all ends for those involved with the river. However, they’re wasting precious rainwater. In February of 2024, the state wasted an estimated 18 trillion gallons of rain. 

This rainwater flows into the Pacific Ocean the water waste comes from whenever dams and reservoirs begin to overflow the water goes straight to the Pacific. The second reason is that the water is often contaminated from the asphalt of urban streets capturing this water could be done through replenishing the groundwater supplies.

Arizona gets very little rainwater throughout the year so it wouldn’t hurt for California to spare some. 

This waste issue is not only affecting California but also in Arizona. Over the past 3 years, California has severely overdrawn its share of the Colorado River. The Imperial Valley District, located in southern California is the largest user of the said river.  

Back in the early 1920s, the rights of the Colorado River began to be decided, a meeting was held in New Mexico where the decision was made to split up the river into two sections, the Upper and Lower basin states. although the Upper came up with a sound plan of using percentages to divide up their water resources. 

The lower basin was a lot more complicated because of the up-and-coming California while the other slower-growing states are forced to watch as they lose priority over the river. Although it’s an enormous source of water for the western states, California’s rainfall is another alternative that has failed to be capitalized on. 

The reason why California has abnormally high rainfall is because of the natural event referred to as Atmospheric Rivers; these are when water vapors near the tropics get transported equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Since rainfall such as in recent events shows no signs of stopping why not capitalize on this opportunity?

They say if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. California’s spin on this phrase is, ‘When life gives you rain, waste 80 percent of that rain into the Pacific Ocean. Even with a whopping 50 dams, a few more couldn’t hurt, so why throw away what’s being given to you? 

However, this is nothing new. In fact, the state managed to raise 2.7 billion dollars for new dams. Then again that was ten years ago and the process needs to be reinstated.

This has caused a severe uproar as the state had just gotten out of a drought. Now with the lack of saving current rainfall, it’s likely they will soon be in another. 

The California government is doing little to nothing about this waste of water, this situation is made worse by the fact that they are not only affecting California but other places too, such as Arizona


A way to resolve these issues in the future is redesigning cities or shifting focus in developing areas more on recycling and collecting stormwater. Trillions of gallons are being wasted into the ocean, and desalination of ocean water takes high amounts of money and energy as is. So water being graced that comes only to be wasted is a major issue for all states involved in the plan. Arizona already has issues with using its reserves, so constantly compromising with them only draws further concern.

Hindsight greatly played a part in the way water is handled now as far back as the 20th century, focusing more on how to get rid of it rather than any future uses of it. This is due to storms that plagued the 30s that wiped away homes and construction progress. 

Jump forward to the 21st century and now we’re facing major issues in how to even scrape back hints of the trillions of gallons lost just from our wasteful neighbor. The sun is bright but the future of our water is quite bleak in comparison. 

Here’s a little fun fact backed by the Los Angeles Times, there is more wasted water running off into the Pacific Ocean at the end of the year than what Los Angeles could potentially be using. Efforts to catch storm water have increased but according to experts, this will take a lot of time to do and make use of. Many many years to recover such wasted water. Decades specifically. There have been measures taken for reuse especially in this drought-driven state, such as directly reusing wastewater. They are the second state to incorporate this, right behind Colorado. 

The reluctance of California to push forward with progress mirrors that of many states across the nation, fueled by public resentment. Yet, the backlash directed at the state cannot be solely attributed to its actions. California grapples with the intricate balance of fostering development while safeguarding fragile ecosystems, particularly in the context of dam and river projects.

The dilemma lies in the delicate balance between the immediate consequences of halting such projects and the long-term ramifications of ecological disruption. While prioritizing ecosystem preservation may strain budgets and limit space for development, it is essential for mitigating water waste and ensuring sustainability. Only by prioritizing sustainable development can we safeguard the future for generations to come.


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About the Contributors
Jalil Humphrey
Jalil Humphrey, Staff Writer
On the day of February 1st, 2006, Jalil Humphrey was born in Saginaw Michigan. He was raised there for the early years of his life, moving out of the midwestern state under the searing sun rays of Arizona.  For 9 years he has lived in Arizona and has moved with his family a total of 3 times throughout the state. Now he finds himself in the communities of Litchfield and Verrado High School.  Prior to the move to Litchfield, he lived in the city of Avondale for 6 years. During the last 2 of those years, the Covid era struck. With nothing to do, writing began to strike a chord within the teen and since then, it would stick and become both a hobby and passion in the form of poems. He even won a poetry contest held during that same time of literature discovery. After this he tried out Cross Country and Track for La Joya High School, trying to find footing and explore new things including sports. This time is no different.  His very first year of Verrado was him trying to navigate through their Junior year. Mid-year he suddenly found himself trying out for the musical Jekyll And Hyde, even being cast in a named role. Now he is a Senior trying to finish off his final year of high school and graduate on time while also being engaged with the school. In his free time besides writing and working, he listens to music, his favorite artist being Kanye West. He also plays games like Super Smash Bros and watches anime like One Piece or Hunter X Hunter.       Stepping into journalism, he hopes to expand his writing abilities by creating engaging stories occurring around him.   
Odin Naylor
Odin Naylor, Staff Writer
Odin Naylor took his first breath on November 10, 2008, he grew up liking sports he liked to watch sports and play in them he used to play basketball as a kid but now he enjoys to workout for self-improvement and to see himself grow He also likes to listen to music in his spare time or while working out. his favorite artist is MF DOOM his lyrical prowess is nothing to scoff at he is pretty gifted here is a quote you may have heard before “Rap snitches, telling all their business Sit in the court and be their own star witness” This is a line from his famous song called Rapp Snitch Knishes.  Odin enjoys reading books such as Meditation by Marcus Aurelius and The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. In the words of Blinkist, “Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a collection of personal writings that offer insights into the Stoic philosophy, guiding readers towards a more virtuous and content life.” Odin's favorite quotes from the book are “When you arise in the morning, think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” and “You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”  The 48 Laws of Power has great quotes as well Odin's favorites are “If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.”   also “...But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief.”  Odin wants to be a doctor when he grows up and is very excited about this year he is especially excited about journalism.
Olivia Moran
Olivia Moran, Staff Writer
Olivia Moran was born in Arizona and raised in a tight-knit family. The best word she could use to describe her childhood would be fulfilling and fun. As a child, she had many different hobbies, such as drawing, writing, and other such things. Writing and storytelling became Olivia's safe place when she struggled in an uptight middle school. While she had friends, she struggled to connect to other people due to insecurity. This didn’t change as she got older and went into high school. She struggled to find things she was interested in until she reconnected with her love of writing. Writing once again became her place to process all of her emotions and to feel understood. Olivia’s favorite part of writing was how it brought people together, through her stories she was able to make more friends that had the same interests as her. Olivia's favorite pastime was writing stories and writing about the things she had learned. She had always been very opinionated but writing allowed her to express those opinions in a healthy way. Olivia’s love of writing became even more intense when she discovered Verrado had a journalism class. She had always entertained the idea of taking her writing more seriously but never felt like she had the opportunity to do so. Now as a junior in high school she plans to make the most of her last two years of high school by taking her writing more seriously and enjoying herself as much as she can. She plans to develop her writing skills as much as she can in these short two years.

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