Thursday 2/16 - John Fleck - Water is for Fighting Over - A great journalist-turned-author on the Southwest's most treasured resource: water.

Thursday 2/16
John Fleck
Water is for Fighting Over
A great journalist
author on the Southwest's most treasured resource: water.

In my new home state of New Mexico, the biggest and most important industry by far is what you might call National Security Science, as practiced at the 2 big National Labs, Los Alamos and Sandia.  For many years, one local journalist “owned the beat.”  If you wanted to understand what was happening at the labs, in the greater contexts of national security, nuclear science and weapons technology, you read John Fleck in the Albuquerque Journal.

Then, John switched beats, to New Mexico’s most treasured, most threatened natural resource, water, and once again, worked his way to universally recognized status as “the man,” the state’s greatest journalistic authority on water, its uses and its management, and its role in the future of the State and the whole Southwestern quadrant of the United States.

Now John has made another switch.  He’s staying on the water beat, but he’s taken it from the Journal and from daily journalism, to the University of New Mexico and teaching some very lucky students, and book-writing.  His Water Is for Fighting Over has gotten the kind of high praise from reviewers and scholars that his journalism always got from his professional peers and loyal readers.

It is with deep pleasure that I welcome John Fleck back to our HERE & THERE conversation.

John let’s start by explaining that your book title is meant to be ironic.  It’s message is that when people and jurisdictions stop fighting over water and start working together on conservation and management that good things start to happen.


John Fleck is Professor of Practice in Water Policy and Governance and Director of the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program. Much of his career was spent in journalism, focused since the 1980s on the interface between science and political and policy processes, with special emphasis on climate and water in the southwestern United States. He was the Water Resource program’s writer-in-residence for three years before transitioning to academia full time in 2016. In the field of water resources, his primary interest is in nurturing the collaborative water governance needed to adapt to scarcity in the southwestern United States as populations grow while climate change reduces water supplies.


Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West, Island Press, 2016

High-Tech Desert: The Great Decoupling of the West’s Water, Breakthrough Journal, Summer 2016

What Seven States Can Agree to Do: Deal-Making on the Colorado River, Stanford Rural West Initiative, August 2012

The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus, Bulletin of the American Meteorology Society, September 2008

The Tree-Ring’s Tale, University of New Mexico Press, 2009

Jfleck at Inkstain: A few thoughts from John Fleck, a writer of journalism and other things, living in New Mexico




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