'-------------------------------------------------- Cascoly Books: Cadillac Desert

Cascoly Books - Cadillac Desert

by Marc Reisner

The American West & Its Disappearing Water

With the catastrophes of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ongoing, and the governement response at all levels exposed as inept and feeble, even the incompetence of George Bush's administration is set in perspective by this books history of the construction of dams and other water projects in the US.  Written in the  1980's, the book seems to be discussing our current problems in dealing with underfinanced recovery systems, inadequate levees, and wetlands lost thru uncontrolled draining and dredging.  But the most hurtful realization is that this has been going on for over a century, and has been one of the largest transfers of wealth from national to private hands  in history.

The first sections of the book are devoted to exploits like Powell's exploration of the Grand Canyon, and the capture of the Owens Valley water supply by the fledgling city of Los Angeles. At the time, it may have seemed like grand larceny, but the efforts of the LA city fathers are as petty theft when we roll on to the calamities foisted by the dueling Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation. 

Much of the West consists of arid to desert plains that can support major agriculture only with massive irrigation projects; when those projects are built with no  interest loans to farmers, and the water is sold to others for prices well under market value a dependency cycle is built creating the largest corporate welfare system in world history. Most of these lands should never have been irrigated, and after they are watered, only a massive continued subsidy program can sustain the economy.

the sprawling water projects of the  American West, in which water is diverted at huge cost to grow crops no one needs, all to support giant corporations that threaten to wipe out the family farms that were the rationale for the projects in the first place.


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