... and the Desert Shall Rejoice: Conflict, Growth, and Justice in Arid Environments

... and the Desert Shall Rejoice: Conflict, Growth, and Justice in Arid Environments
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  • ISBN-13: 9780262131346
  • ISBN: 026213134X
  • Publisher: MIT Press


Maass, Arthur, Anderson, Raymond L.


"...and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose," prophesied Isaiah (35:1), and so it came to pass through the irrigation of arid lands, the diversion of waters, the damming of great rivers. The fruits of the earth have been brought forth in great abundance well beyond the regions known to Isaiah: This book examines irrigation communities in southeastern Spain and in the western United States. The authors' investigation covers past and present water resource institutions and procedures in the huertasof Valencia, Murcia-Orihuela, and Alicante in Spain; and in the Kings River service area of the Central Valley of California, northeastern Colorado, and the Utah Valley of teh United States. The book delineates all these settlements in a comparative framework in terms of how they approach such goals as successful conflict resolution, popular participation, local control, economic growth, justice in income distribution, and equity. In some communities these goals are largely complementary and can be pursued as aspects of a single objective. But in most the objectives are competitive, and the authors note the tradeoffs among them that define the distinctive character of the various irrigation communities. Water distribution policies, for example, may in some cases be based on time (seniority of settlement), in others on place (position along the stream). Or such policies may be based on firm legal precedents of long standing or on open community-adopted rules that can fluctuate as widely as the water level itself. More surprising than these differences, however, are the similarities among all these communities, similarities that transcend the passage of time, cultural patterns, technological level, and political ideology. In particular, all these communities have been able to circumvent the imposition of central control by the national government, even though it alone had the capital resources and technical expertise necessary to construct large-scale hydraulic public works. The organized farmers have retained much of their collective independence, whether they were Spaniards defying authoritarian fiats (if not-as in connection with the operation of the Generalisimo Dam near Valencia-dictating their terms), or western Americans finessing federal regulations controlling the use of river waters. As the authors write, "With important variations to be sure, local control has been the dominant characteristic of irrigation in these regions.... In this realm of public activity-and one wonders how many others-formal centralization of authority, where it has occurred, has not meant substantive loss of local control de facto. General administrative, legislative, and judicial norms laid down by higher authorities have not negated customary procedures. The norms have either been too general to accomplish this or they have been ignored by local organizations.... The users, if they are organized, can pretty well call the tune, even where the central government has built the works." The techniques the authors use to compare irrigation operating procedures in these areas today-principally a highly sophisticated computer simulation-enable them to measure the costs and benefits of building water storage and distribution works (which is of special interest to engineers), and of different schedules and methods for applying water to a variety of crops (which is of interest to agricultural scientists).Maass, Arthur is the author of '... and the Desert Shall Rejoice: Conflict, Growth, and Justice in Arid Environments' with ISBN 9780262131346 and ISBN 026213134X.

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