ROBERT C. COTNER, Editor
Dividing the Waters: A Century of Controversy Between the
United States and Mexico. By Norris Hundley, Jr. Berkeley
and Los Angeles (The University of California Press), 1966.
Pp. xii+266. Illustrations, maps, bibliography, index. $6.95.
This monograph is a chronological account of the process of
determining who in the United States and Mexico has the right
to the use of what amount of what quality water from the Colo-
rado River, the Rio Grande, and the Tijuana River together
with the waters of their tributaries. The account begins with
difficulties between the states of Colorado and New Mexico over
water rights in the 188o's and carries through to the present. The
bulk of the story is concerned with the distribution of the waters
of the Colorado after the creation of the Imperial Irrigation
District in 1911 and the problem of the volume and quality of
water available to Mexico. The Rio Grande serves as a counter-
point to the dissonant main theme of the Colorado.
The attempts of local, state, and national governments to plan
for present and future needs of an expanding population in a
region of insufficient and irregular rainfall makes for an engag-
ing, if at times unedifying, case study of the distribution of
waters claimed by two sovereign nations. The earliest large-
scale irrigation efforts occurred in southern California where
the first pangs of a metropolitan water shortage were also felt.
This early capacity for consumption placed California in conflict
with other states that harbored future expectations: principally
Arizona in the lower Colorado basin and Utah and Colorado in
the upper basin. This interstate conflict took on major interna-
tional implications during the 1930's with the increasing capacity
of Mexico to develop irrigable lands with water from the Colo-
rado. The negotiations between the upper basin and lower basin
states and between California and Arizona in the lower basin
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 70, July 1966 - April, 1967. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101199/. Accessed March 11, 2014.