The Long Goodbye Part 2

While reading through the myriad of statements on the California Water Project given before various water committees in the early 1960s, I was struck by one in particular entitled “Without Vision — and Unity — the People Perish.” This speech was written by William E. Warne, the Director of the State Department of Water Resources, and, as you can probably tell by the title, is quite dramatic for an address given at a regular Town Hall Luncheon. What stood out to me the most was the apocalyptic imagery Warne used to describe a future California in which the California Water Project had not come to fruition. He compares this desolate potential reality to previous civilizations like Persia, as “four times as many people lived in Persia years ago as are the same area in modern Iran today” and the Persian canals are but the merest traces in the desert now.” Being a (tentative) history major, reading for this project provided me with the realization that because I take water for granted, I never considered the copious amounts of engineering and labor that must have gone into projects like the Roman aqueducts and Persian canals. Warne’s persuasive speech has engendered in me an interest in the history of water transportation that I’d like to read about in the remaining days of summer vacation.