Corrections & Clarifications: This story has been updated to clarify the ways in which Buckeye and Queen Creek are trying to diversify their water sources as they grow.
Five Arizona cities and towns are among the fastest growing in the nation, new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show.
Queen Creek, Buckeye, Casa Grande, Maricopa and Goodyear were all among the top 15 cities with at least 50,000 people with the largest percentage population growth between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021.
Arizona has more cities among the top 15 fastest growing than any other state, but the Texas cities of Georgetown and Leander lead the list.
Queen Creek, whose population grew by 8.9% and Buckeye, whose population grew by 8.6% were the third and fourth fastest-growing large cities in the nation.
Phoenix and Buckeye were also among the the cities that gained the largest number of residents during the period, even as other major cities lost residents.
Phoenix gained more than 13,000 residents, second only to San Antonio, between 2020 and 2021, and Buckeye gained about 8,000 residents. This continues a pattern of growth for communities like Buckeye, which grew faster than any other city between 2010 and 2020. Both Buckeye and Goodyear now have more than 100,000 residents, the population estimates show.
Growth brings challenges, benefits
While growth is often seen as positive economically, it presents challenges for some Valley communities. As they've grown, Buckeye and Queen Creek have sought to obtain water from sources other than groundwater and the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, which trades nonrenewable pumped groundwater with water replenished from the Colorado River. Some researchers are concerned about the long-term viability of using groundwater to support future Arizona development.
And, even as Maricopa County was second in the nation in gains in housing units from 2020 to 2021, many renters and homebuyers, seeking affordable housing, have struggled to find housing that meets their needs.
The population estimates released Thursday are also important for the revenues of cities and towns. The population counts will be used to calculate the revenue shared with municipalities for the coming fiscal year. More than an estimated $2.75 billion in state taxes collected from income, sales, vehicle licenses and gasoline sales are distributed based on the population of cities and towns.
Population estimates are among the data sets derived from decennial census counts that guide more than $29 billion in federal funds for Arizona, an analysis of fiscal year 2017 funds by George Washington University Research Professor Andrew Reamer found.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 5 Arizona communities are among the fastest growing cities in US 2021