Progress! Cyrus Thomas: “rain follows the plow” It works, but not for a whole region This obstacle and frame of thinking leads to… The evolution of riparian rights in the East He who controls the source, controls the water And the evolution of prior appropriation rights in the West Water rights are separate from land ownership and are allocated to those who first put the water to beneficial use …in essence, a water “free-for-all”
How does the West compare to the East? Los Angeles Average yearly rainfall: <15 inches Population: 9.8 million Las Vegas Average yearly rainfall: <4 inches Population: 478,000+ Durham, NC Average yearly rainfall: about 48 inches Population: <263,000
What Drew So Many People to Places with Not a lot of Water? GOLD! Cheap (sometimes FREE), available land Population pressures Economic Development e.g. LA Chamber of Commerce’s “California on Wheels” program (1880s), etc.