People Used To Farm Here


Hard to believe, isn’t it?  This is what used to be Giles, Utah, near Capitol Reef National Park.  It’s also hard to believe that in the early part of the 20th century, the rivers in Tucson and Phoenix ran year round.  They may have been reduced to a trickle in the dry months, but there was water in the Santa Cruz and in the Gila.  Then we sucked the water table down 300 feet or so, and now we only have rivers when it rains, which is less and less frequently.  I remember when Phoenix made I-60 into a six lane highway back in the early 90’s.  THEY PLANTED GRASS ALONG THE SIDE OF IT!!!  We live in a desert, people, you can’t waste water like that.  Fortunately economics overruled their stupidity, and within a couple years, it was xeriscaped.  Phoenix is still covered with lawns and swimming pools, though, and several hundred grass golf courses.  Tucson isn’t nearly as bad, but we waste a lot of water too.  I’ve been here 30 years, and the water table has dropped 300 feet.  I’m sure the local developers have their eyes set on the huge aquifer under Willcox.  It is reputed to be larger than Tucson’s ever was.  I guess we could extend our excess a while longer by pumping it over here when the Colorado runs dry.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we have this canal, hundreds of miles long and uncovered, running from the Colorado river to Tucson, feeding agriculture, golf courses and swimming pools where there should be none.  Lakes Mead and Powell are at about 30% capacity, and the climate doesn’t appear to be getting any wetter.  In 100 years, Tucson may be a lot like Giles.

6 thoughts on “People Used To Farm Here

  1. There is an excellent book from 1971 that speaks to this:
    “The Water Hustlers”
    Robert H. Boyle; John Graves; T.H. Watkins

    John Graves is one of the must outstanding authors Texas has ever produced.
    His “Goodbye to a River” is a must read for anyone concerned about preserving our water resources. It is also a wonderful narrative about Texas history.

    Excellent photo and excellent post.

  2. Danny Thomas used to say, “We have no guarantee that wasn’t given to the Romans or the Babylonians.”

    There are times when I think we need a benevolent despot who’s children will inherit the kingdom so there’s someone looking toward the future.

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