Originally Posted by Andy H.
I can't put my hands on the exact quote but the passage from Cadillac Desert by the late Marc Reisner comes to mind right now.
Generally to the effect that the "Bureau of Reclamation spent billions building dams and flooding fertile bottom land and important natural habitat so it could irrigate marginal western scrublands with heavily subsidized water so farmers could grow crops the government was paying eastern farmers not to grow."
You pretty much nailed it. He goes on to say the wheat, barley, alfalfa, etc., for which farmers back east receive government subsidies to not
grow, go to feed cattle which in most years are an export crop.
At the time of the book, around 85% of Colorado Compact water was going to agriculture. I think I've read it's closer to 82% now in the upper basin states and 80% for the lower basin ones.