Cities in the arid West would not be what they are today without water and the technology needed to deliver it to users. The history of water development in Arizona goes hand in hand with the state's economic growth, and Arizona's future is inextricably tied to this scarce resource. Fuel for Growth describes and interprets the history of water resource development and its relationship to urban development in Arizona's three signature cities: Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff. These three urban areas could hardly be more different: a growth-oriented metropolis, an environmentally conscious city with deep cultural roots, and an outdoor-friendly mountain town. Despite these differences, their community leaders and public officials have taken similar approaches to developing water resources with varying degrees of success and acceptance. Douglas Kupel has created a new vision of water history based on the Arizona experience. He challenges many of the traditional assumptions of environmental history by revealing that the West's aridity has had relatively little impact on the development of municipal water infrastructure in these cities.
While urban growth in the West is often characterized as the product of an elite group of water leaders, the development of Arizona's cities is shown to reflect the broad aspirations of all their citizens. The book traces water development from the era of private water service to municipal ownership of water utilities and examines the impact of the post-World War II boom and subsequent expansion. Taking in the Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Project, and the Groundwater Management Act of 1980, Kupel explores the ongoing struggle between growth and environmentalism. He advocates public policy measures that can sustain a water future for the state. As the urban West enters a new century of water management, Arizona's progress will increasingly be tied to that of its ever-expanding cities. Fuel for Growth documents an earlier era of urban water use and provides important recommendations for the future path of water development in the West's key population centers.
Douglas E. Kupel has worked for the City of Phoenix Law Department since 1988 where he conducts historical research for water rights litigation. He is an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University, Phoenix College, and Gateway Community College.