The All-American Canal carries water from the Colorado River to half a million acres of prime farmland in California's Imperial Valley, and is nine desert cities' only source of water. For much of its eighty miles, the aqueduct runs parallel to California's border with Mexico, and since 1997, more than 550 people have drowned trying to swim across.
Some people south of the border believe the canal was constructed purposefully as a trap, although the revenue of 500,000 prime acres seems a more probable incentive than killing would-be immigrants. Fruits and vegetables are raised in the desert here all year round. But many citizens on both sides of the border would like the US to somehow make it safer.
The water moves dangerously fast. As the largest irrigation canal in the world, the All-American Canal transports more than 26,000 cubic feet of Rocky Mountain runoff per SECOND. Agricultural runoff from the All American Canal drains into the Salton Sea.
And if you're wondering what the lighter area around the Salton Sea might be, it is the outline of ancient Lake Cahuilla, a body of fresh water created over and over again by the Colorado River.