Risk and Outrage on the Animas River

Outrage is directly correlated with what is visible and easy to understand, not what is actually outrageous. Case in point: the EPA accidentally released 1 million gallons of mine waste into the Animas River (while investigating how to stop mine drainage, no less), turning the river sludgy and bright orange. The response: HEADS MUST ROLL!…

Dispatches from the Water Detente

I beat up on the “water wars” trope a lot. Like, a lot. Water is so essential to every aspect of life in the American West that it sometimes seems inevitable that great conflict will arise over its potential uses, and sometimes it does. But we see the opposite transpire all the time: the looming…

Transbasin Diversions in Colorado: A Zero-Sum Game

Zero-sum game (noun): A situation in which a gain by one person or side must be matched by a loss by another person or side. (From here). The narrative of dryland water use as conflict, even warfare, is firmly entrenched in the Western cultural tradition. “Water wars” is a memorable alliterative phrase that paints the…