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p. 786. The watering of the Westlocked

  • Stephen Aron


‘The watering of the West’ describes the 1902 Reclamation Act (or Newlands Act) that established a National Bureau of Reclamation charged with constructing dams and irrigation projects in the western United States to reclaim the region from arid nature, open new lands for farmers, and restore the American dream for generations to come. The watering of the West required belief in new “scientific” propositions—many dubious—and entailed assigning added responsibilities to experts, often employed by the federal government, who took charge over not only the manipulation of western waters, but also the management of western lands and the regulation of other natural resources. This made westerners ever more dependent on federal stewardship and federal expenditures—and ever more resentful of federal oversight.

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