By Its Absence Water Becomes a Big Story

Hettena, Seth
March 2005
Nieman Reports;Spring2005, Vol. 59 Issue 1, p9
This article presents a narrative of the author's experience in covering water issues in the West. The author writes about water for The Associated Press from San Diego, California. According to him, what makes it interesting is that there is not enough water to go around. To give an idea how bad things are, he cites that the record-breaking rainfall that sent Southern California homes skidding off their foundations this winter was not enough to solve the West's ongoing water problems. In the dry West, water is everything: It is power, and it is the engine of growth. With it, a community like Phoenix, Arizona, can build more homes, attract business, fill swimming pools, and create jobs even in the triple-digit summer heat. Giving up a precious resource like water is tantamount to committing communal suicide. The author begins this article by offering an overview of the water crisis faced by the West as of March 2005. The author notes that he is given wide latitude to cover water because few reporters take much of an interest in it. His stories across the West. He tries to focus his coverage on people whose lives intersect with water. The story of water in the West has a natural tension that makes it easy to write. Farmers and cities, rival water districts, and even some states seem locked in permanent feuds that have almost become a way of life out here.


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