Water scarcity and the politics of plenty
"Here is the land," states an inscription on the wall of the Colorado state capitol, "where life is written in water." Historically, Westerners have believed that water was too precious to be treated like other resources. Our factor analysis found that voters' responses to questions about the allocation of water clustered together on a factor by themselves, distinct from other logically related issues. In this chapter we will explore the underpinnings of the established "water ethic" which has grown up in the West. Because increasing demands for economic development place pressure upon the region to transfer water from present uses to new ones, we will broaden our analysis to include issues outside the water allocation domain, including energy development and population growth. We will examine the extent of the support by the public and legislators for particular uses of water.
This chapter focusing on water is the first of three chapters dealing with significant development, resource, and environmental matters facing the Four Corners states. In these chapters we will sort out the various patterns of opinion congruence between legislators and constituents that are displayed in different issue clusters. Since we expect the dominant cues to legislators will vary with clusters, we will contrast and compare how the cues that operate in water allocation differ from the party and ideology cues we found were important on the ERA, busing, and spending on