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Water Resources of the Southwest
The success of agriculture, farming and ranching, and everyday life in the Southwest is indelibly tied to the supply of water, or the lack thereof. The constant instability of water in this region has prompted local and federal government regulations and reports, encouraged sustainability research, and also influenced practical and fictional writings. You can find many of these resources in the NMSL collection as well as online. This page should help you get started in your research about this life giving resource.
By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
General Interest - In Our Collection
Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by
Call Number: SW 917.91304 O972 2017
Publication Date: 2017-04-11
The Colorado River is a crucial resource for a surprisingly large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. David Owen traces all that water from the Colorado's headwaters to its parched terminus, once a verdant wetland but now a million-acre desert. He takes readers on an adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the U.S.-Mexico border where the river runs dry. Water problems in the western United States can seem tantalizingly easy to solve- just turn off the fountains at the Bellagio, stop selling hay to China, ban golf, cut down the almond trees, and kill all the lawyers. But a closer look reveals a vast man-made ecosystem that is far more complex and more interesting than the headlines let on. The story Owen tells in Where the Water Goesis crucial to our future- how a patchwork of engineering marvels, byzantine legal agreements, aging infrastructure, and neighborly cooperation enables life to flourish in the desert, and the disastrous consequences we face when any part of this tenuous system fails. Praise for David Owen's Green Metropolis-
Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West by
Call Number: SW 333.9100978 H1986 2019
Publication Date: 2019-03-19
The Green River, the most significant tributary of the Colorado River, runs 730 miles from the glaciers of Wyoming to the desert canyons of Utah. Over its course it meanders through ranches, cities, national parks, endangered fish habitats, and some of the most significant natural gas fields in the country, as it provides water for 33 million people. Stopped up by dams, slaked off by irrigation, and dried up by cities, the Green is crucial, overused, and at risk, now more than ever. Fights over the river's water, and what's going to happen to it in the future, are longstanding, intractable, and only getting worse as the West gets hotter and drier and more people depend on the river with each passing year. As a former raft guide and an environmental reporter, Heather Hansman knew these fights were happening, but she felt driven to see them from a different perspective--from the river itself. So she set out on a journey, in a one-person inflatable pack raft, to paddle the river from source to confluence and see what the experience might teach her. Mixing lyrical accounts of quiet paddling through breathtaking beauty with nights spent camping solo and lively discussions with farmers, city officials, and other people met along the way, Downriver is the story of that journey, a foray into the present--and future--of water in the West.
Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land by
Call Number: SW 333.913 O6185 2018
Publication Date: 2018-08-01
The Ogallala aquifer, a vast underground water reserve extending from South Dakota through Texas, is the product of eons of accumulated glacial melts, ancient Rocky Mountain snowmelts, and rainfall, all percolating slowly through gravel beds hundreds of feet thick. Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land is an environmental history and historical geography that tells the story of human defiance and human commitment within the Ogallala region. It describes the Great Plains' natural resources, the history of settlement and dryland farming, and the remarkable irrigation technologies that have industrialized farming in the region. This newly updated third edition discusses three main issues: long-term drought and its implications, the efforts of several key groundwater management districts to regulate the aquifer, and T. Boone Pickens's failed effort to capture water from the aquifer to supply major Texas urban areas. This edition also describes the fierce independence of Texas ranchers and farmers who reject any governmental or bureaucratic intervention in their use of water, and it updates information about the impact of climate change on the aquifer and agriculture. Read Char Miller's article on theconversation.com to learn more about the Ogallala Aquifer.
One Hundred Years of Water Wars in New Mexico 1912-2012 by
Call Number: SW 363.6 O5852k 2012
Publication Date: 2012-10-01
Focusing on the past one hundred years constituting New Mexico's statehood (1912-2012), contributors describe the often convoluted and always intriguing stories that have shaped New Mexico's water past and that will, without doubt, influence its future history.
Water in New Mexico: a history of its management and use by
Call Number: SW 333.91 C593
Publication Date: 1987-07-01
Originally published in 1987, Water in New Mexico remains one of the most comprehensive studies of a natural resource for any state. It contains material from the earliest pueblo irrigation systems to recent judicial decisions. Clark explores the issues of land-grant water rights, the effects of coal and uranium mining on water quality, the allocation of groundwater, as well as the interstate and federal-state conflicts over land and water.
Bitter waters: the struggles of the Pecos River by
Call Number: 577.64097649 D2853 2016
Publication Date: 2016-03-09
Rising at 11,750 feet in the Sangre de Cristo range and snaking 926 miles through New Mexico and Texas to the Rio Grande, the Pecos River is one of the most storied waterways in the American West. It is also one of the most troubled. In 1942, the National Resources Planning Board observed that the Pecos River basin "probably presents a greater aggregation of problems associated with land and water use than any other irrigated basin in the Western U.S." In the twenty-first century, the river's problems have only multiplied. Bitter Waters, the first book-length study of the entire Pecos, traces the river's environmental history from the arrival of the first Europeans in the sixteenth century to today. Running clear at its source and turning salty in its middle reach, the Pecos River has served as both a magnet of veneration and an object of scorn.
Gila: the life and death of an American river, updated and expanded edition by
Call Number: SW 979.17 M4789g 2012
Publication Date: 2012-10-15
For sixty million years, the Gila River, longer than the Hudson and the Delaware combined, has shaped the ecology of the Southwest from its source in New Mexico to its confluence with the Colorado River in Arizona. Today, for at least half its length, the Gila is dead, like so many of the West's great rivers, owing to overgrazing, damming, and other practices. This richly documented cautionary tale narrates the Gila's natural and human history. Now updated, McNamee's study traces recent efforts to resuscitate portions of this important riparian corridor.
Contested Waters: an environmental history of the Colorado River by
Call Number: SW 979.13 S9559c 2013
Publication Date: 2013-04-15
"To fully understand this river and its past, one must examine many separate pieces of history scattered throughout two nations--seven states within the United States and two within Mexico--and sort through a large amount of scientific data. One needs to be part hydrologist, geologist, economist, sociologist, anthropologist, and historian to fully understand the entire story. Despite this river's narrow size and meager flow, its tale is very large indeed." -From the conclusion The Colorado River is a vital resource to urban and agricultural communities across the Southwest, providing water to 30 million people. Contested Waters tells the river's story-a story of conquest, control, division, and depletion. Beginning in prehistory and continuing into the present day, Contested Waters focuses on three important and often overlooked aspects of the river's use: the role of western water law in its over-allocation, the complexity of power relationships surrounding the river, and the concept of sustainable use and how it has been either ignored or applied in recent times. It is organized in two parts, the first addresses the chronological history of the river and long-term issues, while the second examines in more detail four specific topics: metropolitan perceptions, American Indian water rights, US-Mexico relations over the river, and water marketing issues. Creating a complete picture of the evolution of this crucial yet over-utilized resource, this comprehensive summary will fascinate anyone interested in the Colorado River or the environmental history of the Southwest.
Glossaries of Water Terms
There are two great Water-Term Glossaries that we recommend you consult while doing your water research and as a resource for finding alternative search terms for our catalog.
- Use the "Advance Search" option where possible
- Try using keywords or subject terms (examples, “New Mexico”, “Drought”, “Water resilience”)
- Sometimes more than one search term is necessary. In Advance Search you can link these terms with “AND” or distinguish them with “OR”. You can also eliminate words to search for by selecting “NOT".
- If you have a particular resource in mind you can search by Title and/or Author (Agency).