Law: Cheap Water for a Lush Valley

Big growers and unwary prisoners win Supreme Court tests

California's Imperial Valley, just above the Mexican border, is one of the world's lushest agricultural areas, a cornucopia of fruit and vegetables, where several crops are harvested a year. What helped make this former desert bloom is a bountiful supply of federally subsidized irrigation water. Last week, in a victory for the valley's large landholders, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Government must continue to provide them with low-cost water.

Under federal acts of 1902 and 1926, intended to preserve the small, single-family farm, Congress limited cheap water to landholdings no larger than...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!