The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 651
How Water Czar Steve Reynolds Fooled Both New Mexico and Texas." The basis
for the book is the story of the Pecos River Compact and the ensuing litigation,
Texas v. New Mexco, which reached the United States Supreme Court. In the
preface, Hall immediately states his own background, as both a journalist and a
water attorney, even working for State Engineer Steve Reynolds, who controlled
New Mexico's water. Because of his own experiences, Hall's story is told from
the perspective of New Mexico, detailing Reynolds' regulation over the Pecos
River, groundwater pumping and his endeavors to manipulate the intrastate
conflict between Roswell farmers and the Carlsbad Irrigation District.
The struggles for Texas to retain its share of the Pecos River and New Mexico's
attempts to provide enough water for its own farmers as well as promote growth
is a fascinating tale. Hall goes into the background of the Pecos River Compact
and the early methods of figuring each state's share of water, but because of the
intricate maneuvering of Steve Reynolds and his sleight of hand, or actually his
silver-tongued dialogue, he staved off Texas's efforts to get its water for well over
three decades. While the river and the case baffled the experts and the courts,
Hall makes a very good attempt at explaining what happened, although at times
I was as lost as the Special Water Master when trying to understand the computa-
tion of the river's use or depletion figures and what each meant.
Hall used his own knowledge of the case, personal interviews with participants
and current farmers to tell the story, providing an in-depth look into Steve
Reynolds and how he was able to keep the water flowing in New Mexico if not in
Texas. It is too bad that Texas did not have the ability to see what was really hap-
pening and thus avert the prolonged struggle of its own farmers. For a more well-
rounded examination, the book might have also included additional material
from the perspective of the Texas farmers and those involved in the Compact and
litigation. The one weak feature of the book is the last chapter where Hall de-
scribes his own experiences irrigating and selling his farm produce. It is an uneven
conclusion to a highly charged book that can leave the reader a little dissatisfied.
Coming from a state that has experienced its own interstate conflict over the
Colorado River lasting almost a century, and whose own litigation in Arizona v.
Calzfornia, still requires adjustment among its parties, and employed by the Salt
River Project, which has been involved in two general stream adjudications for
over a quarter of a century, the reviewer is well aware of the partisan nature of
the struggles detailed by Hall. High and Dry is well worth reading for students of
water law, environment, and the culture of the Southwest.
Phoenzx, Arizona Shelly Dudley
Texas Natural Hzstory: A Century of Change. By DavidJ. Schmidly. (Lubbock: Texas
Tech University Press, 2002. Pp. ix+576. Foreword, preface, acknowledg-
ments, afterword, appendix, index. ISBN o-89672-469-7- $39.95, cloth.)
In October 1905 the Biological Survey of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
issued North American Fauna No. 5: Biological Survey of Texas by Vernon Bailey.
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page .
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/729/ocr/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.