Americans from coast to coast have been suffering through one of the worst droughts in decades. Many blame erratic weather conditions for water shortages, while others point to population growth. But that’s not the whole story. Another major contributor to our water problems is the way we develop land. As we pave over more and more wetlands and forests, this new report shows that we are depleting our water supplies. It’s not only the arid West that is facing critical shortages. The rapidly suburbanizing Southeast, blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible water supply, is now in serious trouble, as are many other formerly water-rich regions of the country.
The rapid conversion of once-natural areas and farmland into subdivisions, shopping centers, roads and parking lots has become a leading threat to America’s native plants and animals.
Located 25 miles north of Detroit, the city of Rochester Hills, MI may seem like an unlikely place for smart growth to be taking hold. But local residents have taken to smart growth concepts on multiple fronts—from transportation, to preservation of open space to economic development. Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is committed to advancing them even further.
“To me smart growth is a philosophy and it’s a lifestyle,” Barnett says. “It’s not all economic development, it’s not all transportation. It’s about stepping back and looking at how our decisions impact where we want Rochester Hills to be a few years down the road.”