File Size: 5664 KB
Print Length: 612 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books; 2 edition (June 1, 1993)
Publication Date: June 1, 1993
Root the encyclopedic scope of “Cadillac Desert” are two basic themes.
First, the settlers lured to the arid West by the railroads and the ALL OF US Federal Government in the nineteenth century needed cheap drinking water to back up agriculture on their 160 acre parcels of land, and also for their growing cities such as Los Angeles. Low-cost hydroelectric power was normally a secondary need, essential to pumping water. This need was met by jobs of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers. The jobs were generally promoted by local congressmen, who supported each other’s projects. Inside the long term this undertaking has been subsidized by US taxpayers since return revenues from the jobs have generally fallen tumble far in short supply of plan.
Next, the projects and dams have been an escalating source of controversy. With regard to the most part the projects have never been economically justifiable, especially the irrigation jobs, and especially the more recent projects. Also, the dams have created lasting problems -- salination of irrigated soil; silt accumulation right behind the dams; environmental devastation to streams, salmon fisheries, and migratory birds; an overstretched US Federal budget, etc. Cheap hydroelectric energy has also enabled groundwater pumping which is using up aquifers. The taxpayer subsidized benefits associated with cheap water have often gone to large corporate agriculture, not the small farmers for which the water was meant. By the later part of the 20th hundred years the public sentiment experienced largely turned away from building ever more dams, and indeed in the direction of removing some of the existing ones.
The individual chapters of “Cadillac Desert” are often mesmerizing, instilling a sense of outrage in the civic and historical past minded reader. The part on the 1976 Teton Dam failure is a great example. When the frontrunners and promoters had attentively considered the economics of the dam, or the geology of the site, the dam would never have been integrated the first place. But built it was and fail it did. The marvelously devastating failure is now used as a circumstance study in engineering courses, providing an example of mistakes at all levels and by all of those engaged.
While Reisner does seem to be long winded sometimes, it is worthwhile staying with “Cadillac Desert” to the end. Similarly, it provides many interrelated perspectives on water and the West. It also ends on a somewhat positive note because the many constituencies involved seem to be to be converging on a more rational approach to future water utilization in the West., Absolutely fascinating. I lived in Ca for some 34 years and had no idea as to the historical past of how Los Angeles got it's water, other than knowing that a good portion came from the Colorado River. This particular book is thoroughly investigated, and deals not just with California but with the problems and development of the complete U. S. dry West. I had no idea as to the building of the great (and then not so great) dams starting in the late 20's early 1930s, starting with Hoover Dam. Also fascinating treatment as to the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation and the competition with the Corp. of Engineers, and the Congressional pig barrel system that supported home of more and more dams and drinking water projects, necessary or not. IN ADDITION TO one wonders what will happen because the dams eventually silt up even as the population of towns such as L. A., Phoenix, Tuscon, Denver increase exponentially, as they have and continue to do. Indeed, after i moved to Calif. in 1970 the state's population was about 19 million; today it is around 38 million, TWICE that!! And Southern Calif. is actually an arid or at best a semi-arid desert!! This book was written in the late 1980's\early 1990's; one can only surmise the way the writer would be talking about the extreme Calif. drought now in it's 4th yr. Calif gets much of it's water from 'snow-packs', from the Sierra The state of nevada to the Rockies (which feed the Colorado River). The CA Governor just lately stood on bare floor up in the Sierra The state of nevada Mountains, and said this individual should be standing on 5 feet of compacted snow!!! Yet, because the author points out (and I observed residing in So. Calif. ) the only thing grown in So. Calif. is no longer orange groves, but housing developments (usually in my viewpoint somewhat noxious with their same tile roofs, and built 10 ft apart). And they are still heading up by the droves on every hill and valley!! The ultimate question is where is the water going to come from to support all this, especially with the consequence of climate change, now regarded as at least in part responsible for the current extreme drought??? Anyway, fascinating publication (not a quick read, for sure) and am learned much as to the progress California and the West. It's all about DRINKING WATER!!! Harvey (p. s.: I actually now live back East)., Premiè re lessons in Western Water. It is all a scam to consider tax payer dollars and perpetuate the lies at the foundation... Trillions of dollars down the empty for unsustainable and unneeded water infrastructure. Cadillac Wasteland is dated, nevertheless the data corruption underlying the premises of water in the traditional western US remains as distorted now as was then. And the wasteful practices are accelerating! The stench is prevalent from the united states Gov all the way through the nice little local water district. This guide isa call to mobilize, yet, the chosen route has been to keep shoveling more money on a fundamental mis-truth. Western water as it is concocted is not lasting and the more money spend wanting to prop upward a broken concept is merely a pipe dream., Our son's thoughts on this book
So my planet professor recommended this publication to me, so I actually was skeptical at first, but within the first 20 pages, I was hooked! Marc Reisner does an amazing job of posting arguments, backing them up, and then analyzing them from hindsight about the impact that they really had on water politics in the west. I use never read a book over 2 hundred pages before, so five hundred pages were daunting at first, but looking back on it, it was a simple and enjoyable read. I would recommend this book to college students interested in drinking water politics, or ones interested in seeing precisely how corrupt federal government agencies can be.
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