Water resources, climate change, and urban vulnerability: A case study of phoenix, Arizona

Robert Bolin, Mohan Seetharam, Brian Pompeii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This paper examines the security of water resources in Phoenix, AZ, under different scenarios of climate change, consumption patterns, and reductions of available surface water. Phoenix constitutes a key site for examining the projected effects of climate change on water resources in the US West. Water providers in Phoenix rely on a mix of water sources to deliver to their customers. These include groundwater, water from the Salt and Verde River watersheds, water from the Colorado River, and effluent (water reuse). Water providers in Phoenix vary in terms of their access and rights to different sources of water for municipal delivery. As a result, providers differ in terms of their exposure to cut-backs in available water. To assess vulnerability to climate change and reduced water resources available for delivery, we consider two primary questions. (1) Based on current water provider portfolio mixes, what is the current relative security of each provider's mix of water sources? (2) Using three different climate change scenarios for the Western USA and projected growth-related demand increases, what patterns of water supply vulnerabilities are likely to manifest themselves in 2030? We map projected supply shortages and discuss implications for the vulnerability of people and places and mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-279
Number of pages19
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Climate change
  • Urban growth
  • Vulnerability
  • Water resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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