Cover image for A life of its own : the politics and power of water
A life of its own : the politics and power of water
Gottlieb, Robert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1988]

Physical Description:
xviii, 332 pages, 2 unnumbered pages of plates : maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :

On Order



Is water a natural resource, or is it a commodity, to be sold for industrial, residential, and agricultural use? In the arid American West, this question is crucial, because water-or lack of it-affects every aspect of life. Index.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gottlieb's exhaustive review of the politics surrounding California water management points out how water affects economic development and influences regional farming and manufacturing. Water management in other areas of the country is also discussed, especially as it relates to what the author refers to as the ``Iron Triangle''-- Congress, water agencies such as the Corp of Engineers, and local water groups. (Ever since the New Deal, these groups have fostered subsidy programs and water use programs.) The technical aspects of water resources are neatly inserted into both the historical accounts and the many profiles of industry leaders. Issues such as irrigation, salinity, drainage, and pollution of aquifers are a few of the topics covered. Notes; to be indexed. GRH.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Concern and disputes over water have shifted from control of quantity to control of its quality, explains Gottlieb, member of the Metropolitan Water Board of Southern California and coauthor of Empires in the Sun , in a revealing study of the private water industry and public agencies that play a crucial role in economics and politics. The author analyzes how policies effect crop selection, production, labor and land values along with abuses created by vast new government-subsidized irrigation systems. While agriculture and growing urban centers competed for water and power resources, the pollution by sewage, pesticides and industrial contaminants of surface and ground water in urban and rural areas that endangers them both gave rise in the 1970s to a powerful environmental movement that opposes Army Engineers Corps projects, over-exploitation of river systems such as the Colorado, and supports clean water laws to regulate water systems taken over by municipalities from private companies. The results of ongoing debates between private profit and public interest groups over the future of water policy, Gottlieb stresses, will largely determine our environmental priorities. (October) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gottlieb, an historian/journalist and member of the Metropolitan Water Board of Southern California, describes how water agencies have relied on economic rather than public health objectives in managing water. His ``insider-outsider'' perspective provides important insights into the causes of current problems. But times have changed, according to Gottlieb: cost sharing, increased system efficiency, privatization, and protection of environmental values will be important in future water policy. More than other recent analyses, Gottlieb's work relates the evolution of water policy to changing social and cultural perspectives in America. Highly recommended. James R. Karr, Virginia Tech . , Blacksburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
1 The Eclipse of the Water Industry: An Introductionp. 1
1 Unholy Alliances: a California Water Warp. 3
Scurrilous Attacksp. 3
Contending Interestsp. 5
"The Final Solution"p. 14
Strange Bedfellowsp. 20
2 The Playersp. 35
2 Formation, Consolidation, and Challenge: the Water Industry in Transitionp. 37
"Soldiers for America"p. 37
The Role of the Fedsp. 40
The Iron Trianglep. 46
Last of the Big Projectsp. 52
The Water Industry in Turmoilp. 58
Hit Listp. 63
The Uncertainties of the Reagan Yearsp. 65
3 Agricultural Empires: the Farm-Water Connectionp. 75
AgOreo's Reluctant Portfoliop. 75
The Rise of Irrigationp. 79
The Subsidy as Kingp. 84
The Farm-Water Lobbyp. 90
Desert Politicsp. 94
Center Pivot Crisisp. 103
The Continuing Quest for Cheap Waterp. 109
4 The Urban-Development Complex: the Politics of Growthp. 113
Moon over Honey Springsp. 113
From Private to Publicp. 116
The Growth Machinep. 123
End of the Pipelinep. 128
Urban-Suburban Rivalriesp. 136
Beat the Peakp. 143
New Approaches, Old Objectivesp. 149
3 New Issues, Changing Facesp. 153
5 The Water Quality Battleground: Entering the Age of Trace Organicsp. 155
Image Development and Behavior Modificationp. 155
The Search for Safe Waterp. 158
The Industrial Factorp. 162
The Disinfection Quandaryp. 168
Groundwater Crisisp. 177
The Leaching Fieldsp. 187
Privatizing Water Qualityp. 192
6 The Outsiders: Water Industry Critics, Outcasts, and New Playersp. 199
Robert Redford's Search for Consensusp. 199
Preservationists, Conservationists, Utopians, and Reformersp. 202
The Environmental Decadep. 209
The Third Wavep. 213
The Outcastsp. 219
The Rural Oppositionp. 228
Community Politicsp. 234
4 Water Policy Confronts Itself: a Conclusionp. 241
7 A New Era? Prospects for Changep. 243
The Water Industry in Troublep. 243
Opening Up the Processp. 246
The Problem of Equityp. 253
The Interrupted March Toward Privatizationp. 257
Troubled Marketsp. 261
Values and Ideologiesp. 272
Acknowledgmentsp. 281
Notesp. 283
Indexp. 320