Albeit counterintuitive, the statement is correct. At first glance, it would seem a seven-fold population jump and 15-fold economic growth since the ‘50s would naturally suck all the water from the parched Arizona. The opposite is true.
According to an October 7 Wall Street Journal opinion piece penned by Sarah Porter director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University and Kathryn Sorensen director of research at the Kyl Center and former director of water services for the city of Phoenix, “Water demand is more dependent on land use than on population growth. In Arizona’s arid climate, crops can consume six times as much water as subdivisions. As Phoenix’s urban sprawl turned former farmlands into developments, water demand declined even while population increased.”