That immortal line belongs to one F. E. Dominy, whose lively obituary by Douglas Martin in the the New York TImes offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of farming, water, and the American landscape.
Dominy was the long-time head of the Bureau of Reclamation, which dammed the dry American West in order to sell the water to make it green. Dominy argued that winter vegetables for the nation and recreational lakes were far more important than a canyon and river in its natural state.
His one regret? That they priced the water too cheaply, so no one had any incentive to conserve: “It almost staggers my mind when I fly over Phoenix and see
all those swimming pools.”
Today, 60 percent of the country’s vegetables are produced with Reclamation water.