Recommended Reading: Cadillac Desert

Cadillac DesertA recent article in the Denver Post, Hickenlooper backs $380 million Denver Water project to divert Colorado River water, reminds us that the communities of the Front Range depend on water captured and delivered from elsewhere – water that is seriously over-promised to places as far away as Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Over 30 years ago, Marc Reisner wrote the definitive book on land development and water policy in the western United States: Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water.  Starting in the early twentieth century, when the city of Los Angeles began importing water from hundreds of miles away, it chronicles how urban and agricultural development in the arid Western United States was built upon dubious assumptions about the availability of water.  

What is truly amazing is that 30 years later, not much has changed.  The cities of the West keep growing and growing, while the supply of water from the Colorado River continues to dwindle.

More than 50 million people in western states rely on the Colorado River for water, and a 1922 interstate compact allocates more water to states than the river contains. Demand exceeds supply. Water in reservoirs serving people in Nevada, Arizona and California this year fell to record low levels.  – The Denver Post, July 6, 2016

Cadillac Desert is available at Boulder Bookstore and Amazon.