Regional Issues

Population growth and the resulting development are among the biggest issues facing our region. The beautiful desert landscape, diverse wildlife, and sunny climate attract people from all over the world. In order to maintain a high quality of life, we must balance growth with conservation and efforts to reduce resource consumption. This page offers information about current plans to balance growth and ideas about solutions to resource demands.


What is the situation…

Regional growth projections will drive the need for increased resource consumption that will stress our water supply and worsen the global warming problem. Choices made today in regional land use planning and practices to reduce resource consumption will determine the resiliency of our community and whether or not we add to the production of greenhouse gases and degradation of our water supply. Principles of Green Building and Smart Growth are tools to reduce resource consumption and create communities that are more adaptable and resilient as we face global warming and the effects of climate change.

What are the issues…

The rising cost of conventional energy supplies (coal, oil, natural gas) will translate into higher utility charges for all sectors, as well as increasing private transportation costs. Communities that are dependent on non-renewable energy sources will have a more difficult time adapting to the economic impacts of the decreasing availability of conventional energy sources and the resulting increase in energy costs. Looking for solutions now and developing the infrastructure to utilize renewable energy sources, such as solar power, will make our community more adaptable and resilient.

Energy use is connected to water use because it takes energy to deliver water and it takes water to produce energy. Thus, as population growth continues in the region and energy costs increase, the cost of delivering water will also rise. Growing within our means is important for ensuring that our water supply meets the needs of the community well into the future. 

Municipal water delivery and waste and stormwater infrastructure have been built under assumptions of certain historical water consumption, precipitation and population growth patterns. Changes anticipated due to climate disruptions and rising energy and water costs could invalidate these assumptions. For example, should precipitation events become more intense, storm water infrastructure may become inadequate to manage peak runoff volumes. As warming temperatures become the norm, precipitation patterns in the Colorado River watershed may affect the future availability of Colorado River water thus adding to regional stresses that are related to climate change. 

What are the policies/regulations…

City of Tucson Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP)

Urban Landscape Framework
A healthy urban landscape is vital to our quality of life. Our stewardship to both the built urban landscape environment and the natural desert ecosystem is even more important now that the population of the Tucson metropolitan area has passed the one million mark. To increase awareness and understanding about urban ecology, the City of Tucson developed an Urban Landscape Framework (ULF).

Pima County Green Building Program

Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan

The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, mindful of the factual correlation between growth and the consumption of natural resources, gives high priority to preserving and protecting our most important natural resources. Growth should be directed to areas with the least natural, historic, and cultural resource values.

Arizona Growing Smarter
In 2004, Governor Janet Napolitano requested the Growing Smarter Oversight Council initiate a statewide conversation toward a vision for Arizona, and to develop a set of Guiding Principles to help Arizona not just grow, but reach for the next level in developing quality growth.

ADOT Wildlife Linkages Workgroup

The Arizona Wildlife Linkages Workgroup is a collaborative effort between nine public agencies and nonprofit organizations. Recognizing that habitat connectivity is a landscape issue involving multiple land jurisdictions, this workgroup has engaged in unprecedented cooperation and facilitated discussions and partnerships to help ensure a unified approach to wildlife linkage conservation and management.

Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife Action Plan

Arizona's wildlife action plan provides a strategic framework and an information resource to help conserve Arizona's terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and the lands and waters on which they depend for survival.

US EPA Region 9 Green Building website (includes Arizona)

Green Building is the practice of creating healthier, more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. Some of the fastest growing areas in the country are located in Region 9 and the states, local governments, businesses, researchers, architects and builders have been pioneers developing effective green building initiatives. EPA Region 9 supports initiatives to advance green building regionally and nationally. We have a number of green building initiatives and work with a wide range of partners.