Fighting Against the Current:
An Examination of Human Interaction with Water in the West
In the Northeast, we have an abundance of water. It’s easy to recall dry years, but in Vermont “dry” means that you water the garden with water from the stream. The notion of a drought is a foreign concept when you regularly receive over seven feet of snowfall in a single given year, and your house has its own well that refills every time it rains, and threatens to flood when the spring melt comes.
Moving to the desert has led me to have a greater appreciation for the power and scarcity of water worldwide. We need water to survive, and yet the average rainfall in Phoenix is 8.2 inches per year. In Las Vegas it’s only 4.2 inches, and the water that these cities need to survive must come from somewhere. Our instinct is to harness the water, to rein it in, though at the same time we must treasure it. We build walls to contain it, and write laws instituting who can own it. But through it all, the water shows its strength and merely continues on its own journey, ignoring our desires. Since 1931, the Colorado River has provided water to the arid Southwestern US. Being slaves to the water even while we are masters of it fascinates me. This work is a perspective on how we as humans in the Southwest must coexist with one of the mightiest bodies of water in this country: the Colorado River.