The 75-Year History of the Colorado River District: A Story About the Embattled Colorado River and the Growth of the West
By George Sibley
Published September 2012. large-format (11" x 8.5"), 466 pages. Color.
The Colorado River is one of America’s wildest rivers in terms of terrain and natural attributes, but is actually modest in terms of water quantity — the Mississippi surpasses the Colorado’s annual flow in a matter of days. Yet the Colorado provides some or all of the domestic water for some 35 million Southwesterners, most of whom live outside of the river’s natural course in rapidly growing desert cities. It fully or partially irrigates four-million acres of desert land that produces much of America’s winter fruits and vegetables. It also provides hundreds of thousands of people with recreational opportunities. To put a relatively small river like the Colorado to work, however, has resulted in both miracles and messes: highly controlled use and distribution systems with multiplying problems and conflicts to work out, historically and into the future.
Water Wranglers is the story of the Colorado River District’s first seventy-five years, using imagination, political shrewdness, legal facility, and appeals to moral rightness beyond legal correctness to find balance among the various entities competing for the use of the river’s water. It is ultimately the story of a minority seeking equity, justice, and respect under democratic majority rule — and willing to give quite a lot to retain what it needs.
The Colorado River District was created in 1937 with a dual mission: to protect the interests of the state of Colorado in the river’s basin and to defend local water interests in Western Colorado — a region that produces 70 percent of the river’s total water but only contains 10 percent of the state’s population.
Learn more at www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org