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Friday April 13, 2001

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Arizonan Arrogance

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By Jessica Lee

In the past ten years, Arizona's population has unfortunately increased by 40 percent. The newcomers, mostly Americans, have relocated themselves and their lifestyles from somewhere else in the country, and have begun to overrun our state.

Whoever let the word out that Arizona was a great place to live anyway? We have always been non-conformists here in this legendary Wild West state. In 1912, we were forced to join the union simply because we were surrounded by other states on three sides, and Mexico on the other.

We could no longer hide from the United States Government. My fellow native Arizonans, we must band together. The out-of-staters have moved here, and are taking over. They are destroying the very awesome nature of our 48th state. Besides the horrid traffic in Tucson, Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff, our new neighbors with their midwestern, southern, or eastern accents are slowly molding Arizona into a new physique.

Not only is the population growth paving over our deserts, but "they" (the non-Arizonans) don't even realize the damage "they" are causing. The major complaint or area of ignorance is that of the growing concern over lack of water in Arizona, or the West in general. As dramatic as a water war sounds with California and Nevada, there is a shortage of water in these parts. In fact, as novelist Edward Abbey put it, "There is no lack of water here, unless you try to establish a city where no city should be."

Here in Tucson, there used to exist the perfect proportion of water to rock, sand, plant and animal. Tucson was attractive because of its permanent supply of water and vivacious desert landscape. The Santa Cruz and Rillito rivers would flow year-round, and even a lake existed. Water was so plentiful, in fact, a hundred years ago here that in 1887 residents could purchase a gallon of water from a bag off a burro's back for a penny. In 1881, the first pipe system supplied the thriving town from tapping the Santa Cruz River. The City of Tucson bought the water company in 1900, and now currently delivers water to 600,000 customers.

The city currently relies almost solely on groundwater - pumping out 60-75 million gallons a day. It is not surprising that we are over-pumping the aquifer. In the last hundred years, we have successfully dropped the water table 200 feet.

Hey dude from New Jersey, have you noticed that the Santa Cruz no longer flows? Ms. Georgia, do you know that the land is subsiding? Many of them are trying to reform our state by planting yards of green grass and lush gardens. No thanks. We do not wish our state to look like Illinois.

Of course, it is the developers, the businessman, politicians and engineers who complain the most pessimistically about the "shortage" of water in the West. They argue we need more water "in anticipation of future needs, in order to provide for the continued industrialization and population of the Southwest." Edward Abbey points out, "Those individuals are only very simple minds in the grip of an obsession. They cannot see that growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

Native Arizonans say enough is enough.

We know, we know. Go ahead and pull all the facts and figures you want about how the economy is booming and the tourism buzzing in Arizona. Argue that industry provides all Americans and Arizonans, the lifestyle that they demand.

We don't care. Let us be.

How about stopping the world for a day to return to the ways of the past- the real West. Drain your pools and switch off the A/C. Let those foolish urban fantasies dehydrate from your mind. Let yourself sweat.

Go out into the Tucson mountain ranges and taste the dirt that will coat your thirst-quenched lips. And if you find yourself uncomfortable, hot and helpless-good.

If you don't love Arizona, then please leave and return to wherever you came from.