There's definitely some Cato Institute stuff that's just too far out there for me, but when they take on federal control of water resources in the West and advocate for more use of markets to allocate a scarce resource, they can probably reel me in. I enjoyed this article, mostly for its advocacy of water markets. I think it's easy to find examples of where the federal government has screwed up in their long-standing management of Western water and they do a good job of chronicling those in the article. But they largely overlook much of the good that has resulted from those efforts - the Colorado being a prime example of both the good and bad of what the Bureau has done.
We would not have the infrastructure that is needed to weather extremes of climate, like we have been experiencing the last couple of decades in the Colorado basin were it not for the extensive infrastructure built by the Bureau and that infrastructure could not have been built by any smaller unit of government. We also could probably be figuring out better ways to manage the water of the basin if it weren't for ongoing federal control of the basin and all that infrastructure. But the Southwest that we currently have - good and bad - clearly wouldn't be around today if not for what the Bureau did with the Colorado.
And the article clearly does a much better job of chronicling what's wrong than of proposing workable solutions. That's think-tank work for you. But still a pretty good article if you swing toward the free-market side on water management.
hat-tip to Marginal Revolution for the link that eventually led me to this article.