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The Morality

of Deceit

Craig W. Morgan

A stunning exposé about greed, corruption, and deception in today’s water politics. The Morality of Deceit is a behind the scenes look at the biggest water heist in U.S. history. Well-written and extensively researched, the book is a must read for anyone interested in Western water affairs and politics.

January 20, 2023 | ISBN 9798218047009

Craig W. Morgan

The Morality of Deceit

In the arid landscapes of the West, there is no more precious commodity than water. To control this resource is to control its destiny. The Morality of Deceit is a factual first-hand account of the real-life battle waged by farmers in California’s Imperial Valley to protect its water supply from being plundered by the state’s politically powerful elite.

As an artifact of history, the Imperial Valley located east of San Diego and north of the Mexican border holds the single largest water right to one of the most important water sources in the nation, the Colorado River. The farmers’ rights to this river, valued more than $100 billion, is larger than those of the states of Arizona and Nevada combined. For over one hundred years, the residents of the Imperial Valley have used this water to farm five hundred thousand acres of some of the most productive agricultural land in the world.

In 2003, the valley’s local irrigation district was forced to transfer a large portion of its water supply to urban water interests in Southern California in what was to become the nation’s largest water transfer and most controversial. Subsequent litigation by those opposing the transfer divided the district’s tightly knit rural community and pitted neighbor against neighbor. Ultimately, the urban water interests prevailed over the farmers and others opposing the water transfer under a corruption-riddled judicial and political system. The water now flows unopposed.

Hanging in the balance of the water transfer is the fate of the Salton Sea, the largest inland body of water in the State of California. Deprived of much of its sustaining flows, the sea is receding exposing thousands of acres of dust prone playa and endangering one of North America’s most important avian habitats.

The Morality of Deceit is a captivating, masterfully written firsthand account of the deception and corruption employed to facilitate the water transfer. Readers who like books about water like Cadillac DesertWater WarsWater is for Fighting Over, and The Great Thirst will love The Morality of Deceit.

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“The Morality of Deceit … has a pleasing heft both literally and in its subject matter.  … Morgan writes in elegant, carefully wrought sentences that convey much. … Morgan does not disappoint.” —Heather Gould, Tahoe Mountain News

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“Loved this book. Living in California, there is so much information and knowledge about the water we use. Makes you appreciate what we have. Worth the read!!” —Logan Lisle, Dok Tok

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“This book sets out to describe the legal battles between the rural interests of the Imperial Valley and the various, primarily urban interests, over the fate of Colorado River water. Along the way, the history of the various parties and of the Imperial Valley generally are well covered.

As the story rolls along it becomes obvious that this is really a one-sided battle and that by dividing the rural water oligarchy the urban interests will ultimately conquer. The real value of this book lies in relating the intimate details of how this war is waged. … The book is an important primer on rural vs urban water litigation and water lawfare generally. It isn’t a pretty picture, but Mr. Morgan draws it well.” —John Campbell, PhD., JD.

Publication Date: January 20, 2023

CRAIG W. MORGAN is a water resources expert who served as consultant to farmers opposing the 2003 water transfer. A native Californian with degrees in civil engineering and business management, he serves as an advisor to both public and private clients on some of the West’s most significant water matters. 

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