Chasing the Mirage of New Water in the American Southwest
University Of Iowa Press
On Sale: March 15, 2016
Paperback / e-Book
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Non-Fiction Political | Non-Fiction History | Non-Fiction
In a lyrical mix of natural science, history, and memoir,
Melissa L. Sevigny ponders what it means to make a home in
the American Southwest at a time when its most essential
resource, water, is overexploited and undervalued. Mythical
River takes the reader on a historical sojourn into the
story of the Buenaventura, an imaginary river that led
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorers, fur trappers,
and emigrants astray for seventy-five years. This mythical
river becomes a metaphor for our modern-day attempts to
supply water to a growing population in the Colorado River
Basin. Readers encounter a landscape literally remapped by
the search for “new” water, where rivers flow uphill, dams
and deep wells reshape geography, trees become intolerable
competitors for water, and new technologies tap into clouds
In contrast to this fantasy of abundance, Sevigny explores
acts of restoration. From a dismantled dam in Arizona to an
accidental wetland in Mexico, she examines how ecologists,
engineers, politicians, and citizens have attempted to
secure water for desert ecosystems. In a place scarred by
conflict, she shows how recognizing the rights of rivers is
a path toward water security. Ultimately, Sevigny writes a
new map for the future of the American Southwest, a vision
of a society that accepts the desert’s limits in exchange
for an intimate relationship with the natural world.
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