The diversion of water from Colorado’s Western Slope to meet the needs of the rest of the state has been a contentious issue throughout Colorado’s history. The source of Colorado’s water is in the snow that accumulates west of the Continental Divide, but the ever-growing population on the Front Range continues to require more municipal water. In As Precious as Blood, Steven C. Schulte examines the water wars between these two regions and how the western part of the state fits into Colorado’s overall water story, expanding the account of water politics he began in Wayne Aspinall and the Shaping of the American West.
Slow to build its necessary water infrastructure and suffering from a small population, little political power, and distance from sources of capital, the Western Slope of Colorado has struggled to maintain its water supply in the face of challenges from the Eastern Slope as well as from surrounding states. Schulte explains in detail the reasons, rationalizations, and resources involved in the multimillion-dollar dams and reclamation projects that divert much-needed water to the Front Range and elsewhere. He draws from archives, newspapers, and oral histories to show the interrelationships among twentieth-century Colorado water law, legislators from across the state, and powerful members of congress from the Western Slope, who have influenced water policy throughout the American West.
As Precious as Blood provides context for one of the most contentious legal, political, and economic periods in the state’s history. Schulte puts a human face on Colorado’s water wars by exploring their social and political dimensions alongside the technical and scientific perspectives.