Contested Waters

An Environmental History of the Colorado River

by April R. Summitt

Paperback Price $26.95
Ebook Price $22.95
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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"A wide-ranging, entertaining, and informative history with a strong point of view. . . . Students and professionals both will find this a comprehensive overview of a multifaceted complex topic."
—Cindy Dybally, Journal of the American Water Resources Association

"A much needed study of water use and contestation in the American Southwest. The author cogently explains the history of Colorado River use, water management, and conflict while showing the efforts to prepare for anticipated reduced river flows alongside increasing population growth . . . . Contested Waters is a valuable contribution to the growing library of western water studies and river histories. Summitt's explanations of water use, political negotiations, compromises, and agreements, as well as current conservation strategies, help us better understand the role of one river in driving historical change and economic development."
—Jeff Crane, American Historical Review

"[A] useful, easy-to-read introduction and summary of the literature on the Colorado River."

—Eric P. Perramond, Journal of Historical Geography

"April Summitt offers a well-written political and policy history of the Colorado River. . . . It will be a welcome resource for academics, policymakers, upper division and graduate students, and those concerned about the impact of climate change and debilitating drought in the American Southwest."

—Benny J. Andrés, Environmental History

"To fully understand this river and its past, one must examine many separate pieces of history scattered throughout two nations—seven states within the United States and two within Mexico—and sort through a large amount of scientific data. One needs to be part hydrologist, geologist, economist, sociologist, anthropologist, and historian to fully understand the entire story. Despite this river's narrow size and meager flow, its tale is very large indeed."
—From the conclusion


The Colorado River is a vital resource to urban and agricultural communities across the Southwest, providing water to 30 million people. Contested Waters tells the river's story—a story of conquest, control, division, and depletion.

Beginning in prehistory and continuing into the present day, Contested Waters focuses on three important and often overlooked aspects of the river's use: the role of western water law in its over-allocation, the complexity of power relationships surrounding the river, and the concept of sustainable use and how it has been either ignored or applied in recent times. It is organized in two parts; the first addresses the chronological history of the river and long-term issues, while the second examines in more detail four specific topics: metropolitan perceptions, American Indian water rights, US-Mexico relations over the river, and water marketing issues. Creating a complete picture of the evolution of this crucial yet over-utilized resource, this comprehensive summary will fascinate anyone interested in the Colorado River or the environmental history of the Southwest.




April R. Summitt is associate professor of history and dean of the Division of General Education at La Sierra University.

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  • Paperback Price: $26.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-908-4
  • Ebook Price: $22.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-211-5
  • Publication Month: April
  • Publication Year: 2013
  • Pages: 248
  • Illustrations: 10 line drawings
  • Discount Type: Trade
  • Author: by April R. Summitt
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-201-6
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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