by Sarah F. Bates, David H. Getches, Lawrence MacDonnell and Charles F. Wilkinson
Island Press, 1993
Paper: 978-1-55963-218-8 | Cloth: 978-1-55963-217-1 | eISBN: 978-1-61091-323-2
Library of Congress Classification HD1695.A17S4 1993
Dewey Decimal Classification 333.9100973


To the uninitiated, water policy seems a complicated, hypertechnical, and incomprehensible subject: a tangle of engineering jargon and legalese surrounding a complex, delicate, and interrelated structure. Decisions concerning the public's waters involve scant public participation, and in such a context, reform seems risky at best.

Searching Out the Headwaters addresses that precarious situation by providing a thorough and straightforward analysis of western water use and the outmoded rules that govern it. The authors begin by tracing the history and evolution of the uses of western water. They describe the demographic and economic changes now occurring in the region, and identify the many communities of interest involved in all water-use issues. After an examination of the central precepts of current water policy, along with their original rationale and subsequent evolution, they consider the reform movement that has recently begun to emerge. In the end, the authors articulate the foundations for a water policy that can meet the needs of the new West and discuss the various means for effectively implementing such a policy, including market economics, regulation, the broad-based use of scientific knowledge, and open and full public participation.

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