Shifting sands

MUSHROOMING growth and burgeoning population is slowly eating up the natural Sonoran desert in Arizona; Phoenix, one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the US, especially faces the dread prospect of turning into a concrete jungle.

Herb Drinkwater, the mayor of Scottsdale suburb, has stopped issuing permits for buildings, as the city cannot afford to buy the necessary water. Water remains the biggest problem to nag developers who target the empty desert for their construction projects. Estate builder Del Webb Corporation's project of building 16,500 units near Phoenix -although approved because of a promise to leave 19 per cent of the place as natural desert -has been opposed; people doubt whether there would be enough water.