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Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West None Edition
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About the Author
John Fleck is director of the University of New Mexico's Water Resources Program. For 25 years, he covered science and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal. He is author of The Tree Rings’ Tale, a children’s book about the climate of the West.
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However, it felt at times like there was a bit of "massaging" to fit all the stories into his general theme that "informal" voluntary cooperation beats "overreaching" government regulation. For example, “The second step [by Las Vegas to manage growth in the face of water constraints] was an aggressive but <b>voluntary</b> conservation program. The Water Authority paid homeowners to tear out old lawns, and it placed tight controls on landscaping in new construction.” Tight controls by a “super-agency” hardly seems voluntary. (p. 35) Also, “casino fountains were not forbidden. Instead, they were required to switch to brackish groundwater...” And, the Authority issued “a unilateral halt to the extension of water service to new developments.” (p. 43) All examples of a government agency regulating people’s behavior. Not exactly voluntary.
And getting the L.A. western groundwater basin under control required a court to force a recalcitrant city into participating. So there is a role for voluntary cooperation and a role for coercion.
I wonder whether the them of voluntary cooperation is a relatively short-term solution. What happens if/when California reaches the population of Japan say (120m people in an area smaller than Calif?) How much cooperation is there going to be then between agriculture and urban dwellers?
Just a footnote, there is plenty of "fighting" going on over in the SF Bay Delta over the twin tunnels to S. Calif and farmers, and over increased water flow proposals by the State Water Resources Control Board. There's no talking Gov. Brown out of his tunnels without a fight I'm afraid. And farmers are adamant that fish don't need more water to survive, against the science. Attempts at negotiations on the latter issue have been going on for years but they're still figuring out the seating arrangement.
Best of all, this isn't a boring dive into a mindless slog of statistics and acronyms. The stories are down to earth, relatable and intrinsically human. You'll understand these issues from the eyes of the people who live with their consequences - and probably find out you're one of those people. That's right, I'm describing a water book that won't put you to sleep.
If water in the Colorado River basin has any interest for you, you need to read this book to get a real grasp of how water is managed today! My father was very involved in water for both agriculture and for citizens, he knew and worked hard on the uses and sharing of water. It is a critical resource in the west. Cooperation, not legal battles, are the real need for water now and in the future.
John Fleck's book will be a real source of information for anyone wanting to grasp the full story of where the Colorado River wet water is and where it is going. Well written and even better researched and documented.
Most recent customer reviews
Water Resources, Texas Tech University
John Fleck starts his story with the water problems in Colorado River basin and explains...Read more
I've worked on the Colorado River for over two decades and can honestly claim that I know it...Read more