Even as U.S. water supplies are decreasing, demand is increasing, and for residents in more arid regions that means working to solve problems in places where housing and land prices are cheaper, but water is scarce. "Some of the most affordable land and housing in Archuleta County can be found in Aspen Springs, Colorado," reports Christi Bode of Rocky Mountain Community Radio. "By definition, Aspen Springs is considered one of the largest subdivisions in the United States. It is also one of the most rural. There is no central water system in this nine-square-mile area, located 10 miles west of downtown Pagosa Springs. . . . Functional roads, utilities, running water, and sewer services were never considered in the original development plans."

Aspen Springs was developed in the 1970s, but 50 years later, the area "still lacks the infrastructure to provide domestic water utilities," Bode explains. "To make living here feasible, a few households have sunk wells to tap into groundwater despite poor water quality and costly drilling fees. While it's hard to pinpoint the number of lots occupied due to the sparse, unregulated nature of the community, it is presumed most households haul water and manually fill a cistern. These large containers hold thousands of gallons of water and are typically stored underground and then pumped through the home's plumbing system."

The water filling stations, as well as all the residential hook-ups in Archuleta County, rely "solely on surface water, or annual precipitation, in the form of snow from the Upper San Juan watershed," Bote adds. Their reliance on the watershed leaves water resources limited. "Growing population demands and a finite water supply, paired with aging infrastructure and new regulations, make it challenging to maintain the water system."

Read the full article about water scarcity by Heather Close at The Rural Blog.