No Agua, No Vida

John Trotter

Since 2001, I have been photographing the consequences of the sweeping human alteration of the Colorado River, in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. The Colorado, I soon learned, was greatly reduced from what it once was and no longer makes its ancient rendezvous with the Sea of Cortez, between the Baja California peninsula and the Mexican mainland.

Forces north of the border had other destinations planned for the river’s water, and in 1922 divided its annual flow between seven U.S. states and Mexico. They built an extensive network of dams, stilling much of the once roiling river and creating the foundation on which the Southwestern United States has been built.

But as it has turned out, the foundation of everything, the premise of 1922, was based more on wishful thinking than fact and up to 25% more water has been promised to the river’s users than actually exists.

My project has been an exploration of the disconnection many Americans have with the source of their water, one of the few things in the world without which we will not survive. Inevitably, our entire nation will pay for this hubris. Only the degree of sacrifice is still somewhat negotiable.

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