Environmental flows in the Rocky Mountain West: a progress report

  • MacDonnell L
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Abstract

Westerners are mostly pragmatic about water. That's especially true for people whose families have lived in this region for a long time. They know that, to live in a land with limited rain, the water in creeks and rivers and aquifers has to be put to work. They know that means dams, diversions, and pumps, using water to grow crops and sustain cities. That's what it means to build a good life in arid country. Westerners also love the places where they live and play. They love their open spaces, their red rock canyons, their snow-covered mountains. Mostly they live in cities and, increasingly, they expect their cities to be attractive and livable. They also love the special places they can get to on the weekends or for vacations. An increasing number are moving to those places. These are often the places that did not get changed much when the region's economy depended heavily on development of its natural resources. In many cases, these are places where there are rivers and streams, springs and marshes--places with water. The legal rules governing use of water in this region developed out of the needs of early westerners to put water to direct use and to have certainty that their uses would be protected. 1 These uses required control of some portion of water, typically involving diversion of water out of a river into a ditch for transport to a place of use and storage of water behind a ...

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  • Lawrence J MacDonnell

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