Thursday, February 22, 2024



In the beginning, a nearby river or lake seems plentiful, so that water supply is taken for granted. When building projects are presented, each appears to be beneficial to the town, whether it’s housing or commercial. And each is approved.

Eventually the pace of permitting speeds up. Developers ask for and receive rezoning to higher densities for multi-unit housing or commercial developments.

Once leaders “up-zone” the town’s building codes, there is no backing down. Each project submitted that follows the code has the legal right to be approved. That’s why rezoning and up-zoning are so powerful and so very destructive. Each unit built will require water for daily use for 2 – 4 people, ongoing, never-ending.

This pattern can continue for some time, until some event brings into focus what is really happening. It could be a hot spell in spring melting much of the snow or a long, hot dry summer. All of a sudden, everything is pulling/tugging hard on the town’s water supply. And then a level of panic sets in. Leaders who should have foreseen this and acted earlier, finally wake up and warn the town. They threaten water restrictions, sometimes really big ones.

Residents growing gardens, food for themselves, or who have invested years of growing fruit tree crops, panic. Just when they need water the most, the water supply starts to fail and is severely curtailed. Some lose their harvest, or start to carry shower water outside to save their crop, or both. Next, residents’ water allotment is cut, so the town has to live on less water, going forward. Everything gets drier. Further densification requires smaller water allotments until the entire town is just squeaking by with minimum water. This is what has happened in So Cal where all the residents are now water-starved. Yet it happens so slowly that they don’t realize it.

Yet while town building codes still allow dense housing and commercial building, developers still continue to propose projects and get approved. So…...are your town’s building codes abouts to be up-zoned to multiple high-density units??? Are your leaders protecting your town’s irreplaceable water supply, or not?

Ann Crosby



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