Water shortages are expected to grip western states in future years. Arizona, with its high growth rate and mega cities like Tucson and Phoenix, faces a costly battle for water.

More than 4,000 new houses are built in the Phoenix area each month. Tract homebuilders have the construction process down to a refined science, with scheduling done on Web sites so workers know where to go each day and exactly what needs to be done.

Many of the newcomers are California "refugees." They are flocking to Arizona, fleeing the high cost of living, traffic congestion and crime.

High Country News reports an 83,000 house project is planned for an area 40 miles from downtown Phoenix.

The News estimates Phoenix's population, now just under 4 million, will reach 8.3 million by 2030. A water tax assessment is built into each new lot in many new developments.

That assessment today is about $70 per year but it could rise to between $2,000 and $3,000.

Communities may eventually get into a street fight for water rights off the Colorado River and from aquifers underneath the Sun Corridor.

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