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Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, first published in 1986, explains why the West lacks sufficient water to nurture both people and agriculture. In essence, Reisner asserted that because the West is a desert, it is simply not equipped to hold so many water users.
Efforts by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers to build dams and run aqueducts to irrigate millions of acres and provide water for millions of people have not changed the fundamental nature of the West. It is not a land suited for large populations of people. Yet Americans have sustained themselves by turning the rivers out of their beds and remaking the landscape. Nevada is the only western state without any ...