Phoenix — America's hottest and fastest-growing big city — is on the frontlines in the fight against drought, extreme heat, and wildfire. We bring you stories of how these global problems affect real Arizonans, and what is being done to solve them. This podcast series is supported by the Arizona Community Foundation and Intel.

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Water Pt. 2: The Wild West of Water

Water system
Farmer John Hart shows off his watering system near Willcox, Arizona. He said he used to use one well per field, but due to declining groundwater levels, that isn't enough anymore. (Photo by Luke Simmons)
Anthony J. Wallace

In certain parts of Arizona, there are no rules on how much water wells can pump out of the ground. That unlimited access to a finite resource is what economists call a “tragedy of the commons.” In this second part of our three-part water series, we travel to the Sulphur Springs Valley in Southern Arizona to see how unregulated drilling there has impacted hopes for the future and access to water for everyday people. And we’ll learn how the rise of industrial agriculture in the Valley, and across the nation, is contributing to changing rural economies, rising tensions in close-knit communities, and global climate change. 

Anthony J. Wallace