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Here's a very cool map of the United States that almost represents a sort of alternate history, from John Lavey of the Sonoran Institute, a conservationist group:

A map of the United States with state borders redrawn according to watersheds
(click for larger)
Lavey was inspired to redraw the continental United States along the lines of its watersheds by 19th century geologist John Wesley Powell, who proposed that new states created in the arid west be formed around watersheds to minimize conflicts over scarce water resources. Powell's vision, detailed in a gorgeous, full-color map, never came even close to realization, though:
Map of drainage districts in the western United States
(click for larger)
Lavey explains that rail companies lobbied against Powell's plan because they preferred existing state lines, which he says allowed them to maximize revenues from the agricultural industry. Had we instead followed Powell's ideas, we might see far fewer fights over water between states today. But Lavey also explores at length many other changes that Powell's map might have wrought—and then takes things one step further by asking "what if?" and applying Powell's approach to the entire country. It's a fascinating notion of an alternate United States, one that would likely be very different from the nation we know.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Thu Jan 02, 2014 at 09:59 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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