A Grasp of thenObviousnby Odie B. FaulknWater and the Future ofnthe SouthwestnEdited by Zachary A. SmithnAlbuquerque: University of NewnMexico Press; 278 pp., $32.50nIn an attempt to lure immigrants tonArizona in 1881, Patrick Hamiltonnwrote, “Irrigation is the life of agriculturenin the Territory. Without it scarcelynanything can be raised; with it the soil isnthe most prolific in the west. Water,ntherefore, is the most precious elementnfor the farmer in Arizona.” The samenwas — and is—true of other parts ofnthe desert Southwest.nThose who live in this thirsty regionncan fully appreciate the sentiment expressednby John Ballantine Gough, whonwrote, “Everywhere water is a thing ofnbeauty, gleaming in the dewdrop; singingnin the summer rain; shining in thenice-gems till the leaves all seem to turnnto living jewels; spreading a golden veilnover the setting sun; or a white gauzenaround the midnight moon.”nThe settlers of this region quicklynlearned that the scant rainfall is notnspread evenly across the year, but rathernmost of it falls within six weeks to twonmonths. For ten to eleven months anyear there are only traces of precipitationnin the true desert Southwest. Thenncome downpours that flood arroyos andnriver valleys, giving meaning to roadnsigns that warn, “Danger in flood season.”nIn the mountainous parts of thenSouthwest, most moisture falls as snownduring winter months and then melts innspring and summer to feed the twonmajor river systems of the area.nAcross this region the earfy settlersnbuilt small dams both for flood controlnand for irrigation. Larger dams laternwould be constructed for the concomitantnbenefit of hydroelectric power. Butnin their quest for water, the residents ofneach state soon learned that their neighborsnwere also searching and fighting fornadditional water supplies, and that andam built in one state trapped water thatnfell as rain or snow in another, or elsenimpounded water that otherwise wouldnflow on to another political jurisdiction.nBecause most Southwestern riversn38/CHRONICLESncrossed state lines, cooperative effortsnwere necessary in order for all states tonget a fair share of what little water wasnavailable.nSouthwestern pioneers also learnednthat large dams and huge irrigationnprojects could be dreadfully expensive,nand they searched for deep pockets tonpay for these. Despite their posturing asnrugged individualists, they quicklynturned to the federal government as thensource of first resort. Buckey O’Neill, anwell-known peace ofliicer and later famousnas a leader of the Rough Riders,nsuggested this solution when the NationalnIrrigation Congress met in Phoenixnin 1896 — a national irrigation andnconservation policy financed by thenfederal government.nCongressman Francis G. Newlandsnof Nevada subsequently introduced legislationncalling for the national governmentnto use the funds derived from thensale of public lands for the constructionnof “reclamation” works. The first suchndam was built between 1905 and 1911nwhere Tonto Creek joined the SaltnRiver in central Arizona and, whenncompleted, included power facilities,ntransmission lines, roads, and canals tonvalley farms. Through the sale of water,nthe cost of Roosevelt Dam and its canalsnwas repaid by 1955—one of the fewnexamples of a federal water project thatnhas ever done so.nThere followed a rush of dam buildingnon the two major rivers of thenSouthwest, the Colorado and the RionGrande — and then a flood of negotiationsnand litigation to settle the allocationnof the impounded water. At timesnthe fight reached comic opera levels, asnin 1934 when Governor Benjamin B.nMoeur called out the Arizona NationalnGuard to stop federal workers fromnconstructing Parker Dam on the ColoradonRiver.nEventually all states with a claim tonwater from the Colorado River signednthe Colorado River Compact, just asnColorado, New Mexico, and Texasnagreed to the Rio Grande Compact.nComplicating negotiations in both instancesnwas Mexico’s claim to waternfrom these two rivers, and it became ansignatory to both compacts with guaranteednallocation of hundreds of thousandsnof acre feet of water annually.nFurther complicating the strugglesnabout water in the Southwest have beennindustrialization and urbanization. Ari­nnnzona’s population, mostly urban, hasnswelled from approximately five hundrednthousand in 1940 to some fournmillion today, while greater Los Angeles,nwhich gets drinking water from thenColorado, has expanded beyond liveability.nLikewise, Texas, New Mexico,nand Oklahoma have been among thenfastest-growing states in the nation.nMoreover, since Worid War II, tens ofnthousands of additional acres have beennput under irrigated cultivation, droppingnthe water table where wells havenbeen drilled and leading to yet morenbattles with city dwellers for water impoundednby dams.nStill another complicating factor isnthe water rights of Native Americans,nmany of whom have prior claims, guaranteednby treaty and by court cases, tonthe water in Southwestern streams andnwho increasingly are demanding thatntheir rights be recognized. And therenare the concerns of environmentalists,nsome of them legitimate, about thenpollution of both surface and undergroundnwater by agricultural and industrialnchemicals as well as human waste,nespecially along the border betweennMexico and the United States.nToday almost all surface water hasnbeen appropriated, and groundwaternsupplies have been exploited to thenpoint of overuse in all but the most remotenareas. Thus increasingly the battlenfor water is confrontational and litigiousnas one state fights with another, as citiesnvie with farmers, as Native Americansnon reservations contest non-Indians,nas industrial users contend with privatenconsumers for finite supplies, and as environmentalistsnseemingly want tonchallenge everyone.nThis current study of the search andnfight for water in the arid Southwestnconsists of 14 essays plus a summary ofnmajor trends and issues. As in all suchnmulti-authored efforts, the results are ofnuneven quality, and the work suffersnfrom considerable duplication and somenomissions (shortcomings that editornZachary Smith has recognized and addressednin his introduction). Also, somen”experts” reach conclusions oppositenfrom those of other “experts”; for example,nJohn Merrifield in Chapter 11nargues for increased privatization ofnwater management, while Tim DenYoung and Hank Jenkins-Smith innChapter 12 refer to privatization asnundesirable.n