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Arizona Edition: The Role of Population Growth in Western Water Woes

Arizona Edition

A new study quantifies what was lost as Colorado’s population increased over a 40-year span. Leon Kolankiewicz co-authored the study, as well as similar reports on Arizona and the nation as a whole released over the last year.

On this episode of Arizona Edition.

As the population of Colorado doubled between 1982 and 2017 the state lost over 12 hundred square miles of rural open space.

The majority of that land, 86 percent, was developed to handle the additional consumption caused by Colorado having 2.5 million more people.

The remaining 14 percent was used to build their homes, places of work, places for them to shop, go to church, park, and more.

Population increase is a direct contributor to water overuse in the West, but public policy continues to push the idea of growth as a measure of economic and political power.

Our guest is Leon Kolankiewicz. He is scientific director for Numbers USA and Vice-President of Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization (SEPS).

Kolankiewicz is also the co-author a new study of sprawl in Colorado. A study that highlights what is lost when population is gained.

He authored a similar report for Arizona last year in a study that determined the state lost 1,744 square miles (1.1 million acres) of natural habitat and farmland to buildings, pavement, gravel and other surfaces to support a population that grew by 4.2 million people between 1982 and 2017.

Report on National Sprawl

Lou grew up in Tucson and has a long family history in the state of Arizona. He began his public radio career in 1988 at KNAU in Flagstaff as a classical music DJ and has been hooked on public radio since, transitioning to news after trying his hand at several other careers in publishing and commercial broadcasting. Lou has a degree in American Studies from Arizona State University and was KAWC's Morning Edition host for two and half years before becoming News and Operations Director.
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