In addition to being a writer, essayist, soldier, adventurer, ranger and acrat, Edward Abbey must also be considered a visionary.

In a quote at the beginning of La banda de la tenaza, a novel published in 1975 with the original title The monkey wrench gang, which soon became a myth in the radical defense of the environment, he makes this clarification: “This book, although fictional in form, it is strictly based on true events. What has been described is real or has happened. It all started right next year.”

The four misfits who star in the story are dedicated to sabotage to complicate the construction of dams in a place of high ecological value in the western United States such as the Colorado River. The country’s two largest man-made lakes, Mead and Powell, emerged there.

“What used to be a horse-drawn river is now a ghost,” says the narrator.

Today, more than ever, the initial clarification of his story is understood. Abbey, a kind of madman for many, had the sense to foresee the disaster that was approaching in the 21st century. After two decades of drought and the transformation of its course, the Colorado is a true ghost compared to what it was, with the consequent danger to the ecosystem and human coexistence itself.

Its basin extends through seven states (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico). It provides electricity to a large part of the American West, allows the irrigation of more than 2.2 million hectares and supplies drinking water to 40 million Americans, including the large cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix. But everything is at imminent risk due to the climate emergency and the enormous exploitation of a small volume.

After the ultimatum issued by the White House – either you fix it or we will do it from Washington, they said – the three states that make up the lower basin system (California, Arizona and Nevada) signed this week a plan to reduce the Colorado water intake, a pact that has taken more than a year of negotiations.

The agreement states that the utilities of the tri-state water districts, 30 Native American tribes and farmers will reduce the total liquid they use by 13% (about 3.8 million liters), a historic cut that will lead to , sooner or later, restrictions on both residents of the region and farmers. In return, the Government of Joe Biden will grant a compensation of 1.2 billion dollars.

It is nothing more than a temporary solution to protect the reserves of Lakes Mead and Powell, which have fallen to critical levels in the past three years. It is only necessary to see the reappearance of corpses (some stuffed in mafia-style drums), of vehicles, of houses or of natural places of immense beauty, which was the primary objective of preservation pursued by the band of tenalla that formed Abbey.

The plan would boost reservoir levels through 2026, said Eric Balken, executive director of the Glen Canyon Institute. Balken himself acknowledges that it is not enough to solve the Colorado crisis, but it is a step in the right direction. The crux of the matter, he remarked, is that there is an imbalance between supply and demand, much more water is used than what naturally flows in the river.

California, the state that consumes the most water and had promised to suffer less damage, agrees to contribute with a cut of more than 50%, followed by Arizona, and Nevada will be the least affected.

One of the parties that has not been part of the negotiation is the neighboring country, Mexico, where the Colorado flows into the Sea of ​​Cortez, despite the fact that it is used to irrigate farmland in the northwest.

Since the US took control of the Colorado to turn the desert into agricultural land, the supply to Mexico has only decreased. The decrease in flow reaches 80%. Farmers are last in line on a ghostly river.