In Tucson, Arizona, says Jesús Robles, there's one topic that rarely recedes far from architectural considerations. "The larger conversation of this place revolves around water," he says. "Water and water security equals food security, which equals crop security, which equals economy for a region, state, a nation."
A typical year brings around twelve inches of rainfall to Tucson. After a drought crisis in the mid-1970s, water conservation became a major priority. And though the population of the area served by the city water authority has grown by more than a third since the late 1980s, water consumption has remained constant. With a handful of activist groups spearheading awareness on a more systemic level and residents increasingly choosing arid landscaping over lawns, installing rainwater recapture and gray water use systems, Tucson is at the forefront of water conservation.