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This publication is the product of an interdisciplinary conference on water problems in the western United States held in Monterey, California, in September, 1982. The primary purpose of the conference and this volume has been to assess the impacts on local, state, national and international communities of limited water supplies for agriculture in the semiarid West. This vast area of the nation is faced with important decisions in the management of declining water supplies if a prosperous agricultural economy is to be sustained.
Planning for the conference began in 1978 under the sponsorship of the Directorate on Arid Zone Ecosystems, a part of the United States Man and the Biosphere Program. The Man and the Biosphere Program is an international effort under the auspices of UNESCO to study the relationships of man to changing environments in various regions of the world. Because the future of western agriculture in the United States has significance for the economies and semiarid regions of other countries, the Organizing Committee of the conference concluded that a careful analysis of what was happening in the American West would have international interest and relevance.
The conference and this volume represent an interdisciplinary effort to deal with the subject from both a natural and social science perspective. The Organizing Committee identified the topics and invited over seventy specialists from diverse disciplines representing the academic community, private industry, and the public sector to prepare papers and discussants' comments for the conference.
Over two hundred persons participated in four intensive days of presentations and discussions of the papers. The participants represented a broad spectrum of experience, views and interests, including farmers, businessmen, bankers, planners, analysts, environmentalists, community leaders, elected officials, and representatives of other concerned organizations. They reviewed and critiqued the prepared presentations and made substantial contributions to the analyses.
Following the conference the authors were given the opportunity to revise their papers and comments, and, in some cases, to include overlooked but relevant points. This volume is the combined product of the revised papers and conference input. To provide integration of subject matter, the papers have been organized under section and chapter headings and placed in appropriate sequence.
No one who participated in this educational undertaking would conclude that all topics involving water and agriculture in the semiarid West have been adequately covered. Indeed, as both the Introduction and the Summary show, many issues remain unresolved. However, the Organizing Committee believes that a searching focus has been given to this subject and public attention called to what is becoming an increasingly critical aspect of the nation's economy. Thus we hope that this volume will be informative and useful for everyone who is concerned with future water supplies for agriculture in the West.
ROBERT M. HAGAN