One of the problems I have with the persistence of the not-Twain quote is a long history in the West of not fighting over water. Faced with potential conflicts among states over the rivers they share, for example, we developed a series of “compacts” — essentially treaties governing how to distribute scarce water. To say that water is primarily for fighting over is wrong. In many of the largest conflicts, disagreement over scarcity has led to sometimes tense, often suspicious but ultimately successful cooperation. There’s been fighting along the way, but ultimately the compacts and the state water rights doctrines built around them have created cooperative frameworks for resolving our conflicts over water.
I looked up the non-Twain quote in our big book of Twain quotes at the store last week to see if it was in there (it was not) (because he didn’t actually say it, I assume)