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Meet Arizona's water one-percenters

Elizabeth Wang Whitman - The Guardian on April 05, 2021

Every two weeks, Dawn Upton floods her lawn. She treks into her back yard, twists open two valves big as dinner plates, and within minutes is ankle-deep in water.

“You have to have irrigation boots, girl,” she says during a video tour of her property in Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. She flips her camera to reveal green grass, then tilts her phone skyward at four towering palm trees. As she walks, she pans across pecan, pomegranate, and citrus trees – lemon, orange, a grapefruit sapling. A tortoise, between 80 and 100lb, lumbers toward her, chewing. “There’s Simba,” Upton says. “Hey buddy! What is that, Simba? You can’t eat it.” She pats him affectionately on the head.

This lush half-acre is Upton and her husband’s oasis, fed by flood irrigation in the heart of the Sonoran desert.

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