A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water

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A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water
Series Title:
A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water
Susman, Mary Beth
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:31:23 AM] Home A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and WaterA Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and WaterSubmitted by nwharton on 2-23-2013 04:53 PMAuthor: Patricia Nelson Limerick with Jason L. Hanson Publishing: Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2012. 327 pages. Black-and-white photographs, maps, notes, further readings, index. $19.95 paperback. Reviewer: Mary Beth Susman Lucky Denver! Patty Limerick expresses this sentiment in Chapter One of her book about the history of the Denver Water Department to describe the political and business environment and the personalities that gave Denver a functioning dam and delivery system by 1905. I say lucky Denver because we have this gifted historian to give us an engaging and, at times, humorous story of Denver Water. One doesnt pick up a book about Denver water history easily but from the first chapter I was hooked, not in the least because this formidable writer lets the reader relax with surprise personal messages like, Do not burden yourself by trying to commit to memory each one of these: there will be no test (29) and Reader advisory: Academic Jargon Episode approaching. . (207). Additionally, she makes great picture analogies for us about our ironic proclivities: In April 1863, fire destroyed most of the business district. This is a very common pattern of western towns, to the point that extraterrestrial observers would have puzzled over the motivation and strategy of the peculiar species that bustled around piling up wood in a central location, igniting those piles, and then experiencing apparent regret and distress when the wood burned (23). But the best thing about this book is the understanding it gives the reader about the complexity of our water resourcesas in what she names our country-western two-step: Population growth provoking the imposing of limits on service while seeking a greater supply of water that would make those limits unnecessary. She also exposes mythologies we continue to believe about the West and its water, such as believing that water is a finite resource and we are using it up, or that the supply of water restricts population growth. And for those of my age and home address, she offers a profound sense of living this history. Having someone connect seemingly unrelated events in ones ordinary life to the grand decisions, votes, intrigues, and plans surrounding an important global resource elevates ones sense of interconnectedness and, dare I say it, Karma (a word to give you an even better sense of my age if not my address). Limericks story of Denver Water has me and my family in it without actually having any words about us. For example, as a young family we bought a small cabin on the North Fork of the South Platte. It stood in the way of the proposed Two Forks Dam, a controversy well covered in this book. Our children had the privilege of attending integrated schools thanks to the Keyes vs. Denver School District No. 1 decision which led to the Poundstone Amendment prohibiting Denver annexations. In the category of unintended consequences, this amendment pointed out that Denver had assets beyond what the suburbs would ever match and this bore a significant outcome on the role of Denver Water. While the Keyes decision gave my EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWhile on the Dominguez-Escalante expedition in 1776, Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco drew the first map of Colorado.


A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:31:23 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us Denver children a heretofore unavailable education, the Poundstone Amendment that came as a result of that decision spurred the extraordinary creative development of our infill projects such as Lowry Air Force Base, the Central Platte Valley, and Stapleton among many others; it also made Denver Water an even stronger resource, keeping the organization world champs of water conservation while doing the two-step of delivering greater supply. Lastly, Limerick treats us to the inimitable personality and wisdom of Hamlet Chips Barry, the longtime manager of Denver Water. His insightful and irreverent perspective is a treasured legacy of his leadership. The book is fascinating, whether youve lived through some of this history or not. For those of us in public service it provides remarkable and indispensable information about the management of an essential resource that we must understand in its historical context to make sound decisions about our future. To our delight it is an absorbing read as well. Reviewer Info: Mary Beth Susman is the Denver District 5 councilwoman, and in her freshman year was elected president of the council in July 2012. Her district has over 170 acres under development, including the Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard site and the Buckley Annex, part of Lowry. She received her PhD degree from the University of Denver and spent her earlier career in higher education, retiring as vice-president of the Colorado Community College system. She is the founding president of three statewide online colleges in Colorado, Kentucky, and Louisiana. She is a Smithsonian Laureate for her pioneering work in online learning, and her work is archived in the Smithsonians National Museum of American History.