I’ve Seen All The Wild Rivers I Ever Want To See


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.

IMG_2040Used to be the Sacramento River.  Now it’s Lake Shasta.

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.


  1. @Jan – “Reclamation water” is simply water from a reservoir tended by the US Bureau of Reclamation. These reservoirs provide a good bit of the water supply here in the arid West, thus allowing places like California to grow crops year-round.

  2. The April issue of National Geographic was all about water. Depressing and informative, because it described water shortages and the worsening conditions in many parts of the world.

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