The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992

Book Reviews

Tyler's analysis contributes to our understanding of the Spanish approach to
water rights and administration as practiced in late colonial and Mexican New
Mexico: he understands that proportional distribution was the basic logic of
the system; that the government retained an administrative interest in water
use and could intervene to alter distribution arrangements in consonance with
changing use patterns; and that rights therefore were contingent rather than
absolute.
The issue of the expanding right could be made clearer (on p. 38 and else-
where he seems to be describing one). In customary Spanish water law the mat-
ter is quite simple: once an irrigation service area has been established it cannot
be expanded. New settlements may use leftover water (sobrantes) but always
with a secondary right. There is a putative expanding right to drinking water
but that right was moot (at least until the demographic expansion of the nine-
teenth century) because cities drew water either from wells or from distant
springs and thus exerted little demand on irrigation water. Spanish jurispru-
dence gave greater weight to corporate bodies, such as towns and church in-
stitutions, than to individuals, but no such body was allowed to monopolize sur-
face water.
Much of the fine detail of the New Mexican documentation studied by Tyler
is encompassed in the notes rather than the text. This makes it difficult for the
reader to assess the dynamics of water management. Tyler's evidence shows
that, though municipal governments administered the daily routine of water
use, substantial adjudicative authority was vested in the governor.
Boston Unzverszty THOMAS F. GLICK
Damming the Colorado: The Rise of the Lower Colorado Rwver Authority, i933-1939.
By John A. Adams, Jr. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,
1990. Pp. xiii+161. Acknowledgments, introductions, maps, black-and-
white photos, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $32.50.)
At a time when fewer and fewer Texans remember the days that floodwaters
roared unimpeded down the valley of the Colorado River, Damming the Colo-
rado is a welcome addition to the body of pubhshed material on the Lower
Colorado River Authority. While unpublished dissertations and journalistic
treatments have previously covered various aspects of the LCRA story, none
has been as effectively focused or as thoroughly researched as this slender vol-
ume. Limiting himself to the first crucial years of the LCRA's existence, the au-
thor identifies, describes, and places in national perspective the unique con-
vergence of factors leading to the agency's creation and its construction of the
hydroelectric dams that so changed life in Central Texas.
Numerous private-sector efforts dating back many decades had failed to con-
trol the problem of flooding and achieve the long-held dream of developing
the potential of the Colorado. Only the economic collapse of the Great Depres-
sion and the elevation to the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, who while still
governor of New York had embraced public power and regional resource de-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/. Accessed August 23, 2014.