Winner of the 2022 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book from Western Writers of America
Wyoming's colorful story of water management illuminates the powerful forces that impact water use in the rural American West. The state's rich history of managing this valuable natural resource provides insights and lessons for the twenty-first-century American West as it faces drought and climate change. Public Waters shows how, as popular hopes and dreams meet tough terrain, a central idea that has historically structured water management can guide water policy for Western states today.
Drawing on forty years as a journalist with training in water law and economics, Anne MacKinnon paints a lively picture of the arcane twists in the notable record of water law in Wyoming. She maintains that other Western states should examine how local people control water and that states must draw on historical understandings of water as a public resource to find effective approaches to essential water issues in the West.