National Affairs: WESTERN GOLD: WATER

ALL THE GOLD ever mined in California is not worth a single year's rainfall," said California's onetime Governor Earl Warren, now U.S. Chief Justice. To many Westerners the Federal Government's chief reason for existence is to provide water. The Government, in this instance, means Secretary McKay's Interior Department, which is responsible for reclamation.

Almost everywhere in the U.S., water is delivered free with every rain, but not west of the 100th meridian, where the Great Plains begin. Westward of the line, rainfall rates drop from 100 inches a year to 20 or 10 or even less. Old maps labeled the area: "The...

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