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  • Writer's pictureBill Moorhead

Back to the beginning

You'll find that I recommend books from time to time. OK, my last blog was a book

recommendation too (The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust across California, by Mark Arax). Now I'm going back to the beginning...or let's say the beginning of my passion for water.

In January of 1976 (the 2nd to be exact), I got into the water business. I studied water and wastewater years before that, but January 2,1976, is when I got paid to analyze water and wastewater (that’s the glamorus part). But then I had to unplug manholes, fix main breaks, answer customer complaints; that was the beginning of my career back in Pittsburgh.

Along about 1990 I came across the first edition of Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner, and it has become the “go-to” book on water—and is the first book I recommend, conjole, require, ask, beg engineers and other water professional aspirants (is that a word?) to read when they decide to make water and/or wastewater a career and not just a job. But let’s not waste this book just on engineers, because it is THE book to read when you have an interest in water, conservation, California water, or just western history. This book is very readable to the layperson as well as the professional and I highly recommend it for your library. However I will say the second half can get a bit tedious, but bear with me and start the book and you will find it fascinating and difficult to put down.

P.S. I will spare you another book blog next time but no guarantees for the future, as I have a lot of them. :)

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, by Marc Reisner

(From an Amazon Book description)

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster.

In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city's growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden—an Eden that may only be a mirage.

The year it was published, Reisner's book became a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1999, Cadillac Desert was placed sixty-first on the Modern Library list of the most notable nonfiction English books of the twentieth century. Reisner's book has inspired an entire generation of historians and historically aware environmental activists.

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