Transcript for How Water Won the West, segment 04 of 8


Each year the cycle repeats itself. The reds and golds of autumn fade to the stark gray of winter. The skies open, and a chilly blanket spreads across the slopes.

Then spring once again brings renewal. Sun warms the snow-covered alpine meadows. Tiny flowers burst into laughter as they watch droplets collect and rush madly down the flanks of their craggy hosts.

Tributaries to the Missouri, the Columbia, the Colorado gorge themselves on this raging feast. Then, like gigantic rain barrels, Mead and Roosevelt and Shasta and Powell catch the crazed torrents, calming and soothing. Nature has made her offer. Man has accepted.

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The cycle continues. Fields have been plowed, seeds planted. Spring turns into the heat of summer. These huge man-made lakes slowly release their treasure. Canals whisk it away to the far reaches of the desert. The West begins to bloom.

Here in California's Central Valley, the soil is rich, the climate exceptional with a long growing season. Water was the only thing missing. We made all this happen by working in harmony with nature. We brought water to this dry countryside. Now it bursts with life and productivity. In the Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project alone, annual agricultural production exceeds three billion dollars, and the people like me who benefit directly from these projects pay for 'em. Eighty-one cents of every federal dollar spent is repaid.