Tracing the origins and growth of the Denver Water Department, A Ditch in Time: The City, the West, and Water places this case study in the big picture of regional and national history. Written in a lively style and enriched with photographs and maps, this book raises questions of consequence about the complex relationship among cities, suburbs, and rural areas, the crucial role of engineering in shaping the West, the unexpectedly entrancing workings of governmental agencies and bureaucracies, and the varying roles of contention and cooperation, litigation and negotiation in the control of the West’s water. Patty Limerick and Jason Hanson seek to reconnect the people who benefit from natural resources to the processes and projects that deliver the resources for their use. In a world that can no longer take a supply of clean and life-supporting water for granted, this book offers an opportunity to enhance the human capacity to think about the past, present, and future with a combination of optimism and realism.

A Ditch in Time is now available from Fulcrum Publishing. Purchase a copy at your local bookstore or online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble).

Reviews of A Ditch in Time

Ironically, most narratives about water are pretty dry. Not this one! Patty Limerick is not only a brilliant thinker, she is a brillian writer. Her wit is rampant, her ability to discern her readers’ desire verges on clairvoyance. Wet your lips for a great read!

– John Hickenlooper, Governor of Colorado

The first book in 25 years by MacArthur-winning historian Limerick is an entertaining history of the Denver Water Board. (Stealing, even stealing water, is always good copy.) Best of all, this deftly wrought history banishes our complacency about where water originates.

– Newsweek/The Daily Beast

Because of Limerick’s depth of knowledge, her story is more than just a local history. It is played against a background of western and even national water development and urban expansion, and deals with the changing attitude toward water use. It is an important book and a lively one. Who knew the history of Denver Water could be so engaging?

– Sandra Dallas, Denver Post

Professor Limerick doesn’t call her book a history of Denver Water. She subtitles it, “The City, the West, and Water.” It’s well named. She has set the story of some of the major events in the development of Denver’s water system in their proper geographic and historic context. The contributions of the people who built the water system and their legacy are stories that needed to be told. They were men of vision who could imagine a great city on the treeless plain next to the (mostly dry) South Platte River.

– Jane Earl, Your Colorado Water Blog