This quote puts into perspective the current drought and battles over the Sacramento-San Joaquin Rivers Delta ecosystem for city/ag water use.
The consequences of aridity multiply by a kind of domino effect. In the attempt to compensate for nature’s lacks we have remade whole sections of the western landscape. The modern West is as surely Lake Mead and Lake Powell and the Fort Peck reservoir, the irrigated greenery of the Salt River Valley and the smog blanket over Phoenix, as it is the high Wind River Range or the Wasatch or the Grand Canyon. We have acted upon the western landscape with the force of a geological agent. But aridity still calls the tune, directs our tinkering, prevents the healing of our mistakes; and vast unwatered reaches still emphasize the contrast between the desert and the sown.
Wallace Stegner, Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs, page 47.
The quote came up while researching my water law paper.