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PART I

THE PROJECT AND THE DEPARTMENT

1. THE COLORADO RIVER SYSTEM. 2. THE COLORADO RIVER COMPACT. 3. THE BOULDER CANYON PROJECT ACT. 4. THE NEGOTIATIONS AMONG THE STATES FOLLOWING THE

PROJECT ACT. 5. THE POWER CONTRACTS. 6. THE APPROPRIATION. 7. COMMENCEMENT OF CONSTRUCTION. 8. THE CALIFORNIA WATER CONTRACTS. 9. WATER FOR ARIZONA. 10. SUMMARY.

1

THE PROJECT AND THE DEPARTMENT

1. THE COLORADO RIVER SYSTEM

The Colorado River system is roughly comparable to an hourglass. The main stream is 1,293 miles long. Shortly below Lee Ferry, which is about 725 miles above the river's mouth, the stream enters a bottleneck. For nearly 400 miles further it flows through a precipitous canyon country, then leaves it to enter the agricultural areas of the lower basin. Before it emerges it passes through the walls of Black Canyon, some 355 miles below Lee Ferry.

Lee Ferry constitutes the division point between the "upper basin” and the "lower basin." These two basins are separated physically and climatically. The entire river system comprises about 240,000 square miles. This area is about equally divided between the upper division, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and the lower division, Arizona, California, and Nevada.

In litigation it has been assumed that the river and its tributaries

carry annually an average of about 18,000,000 acre-feet of water, that about half of this has been put to beneficial consumptive use, and that the balance is flood water for the use of which storage facilities are necessary.

It was probably inevitable that on a river system of this size, flowing through the arid West, the seven States should fall into disagreement over their respective water rights. In 1922, when they undertook to settle these problems, it was estimated that about 2,127,000 acres of irrigable land lay in the lower basin and about 4,000,000 in the upper basin, and that of these areas, the lower basin contained about 1,165,000 acres awaiting development and the upper basin about 2,500,000.

For a number of years prior to 1922 the lower basin, growing more rapidly in population than the upper area, had pressed for development of the lower Colorado River, and the upper area had objected. Two lower-basin projects particularly were urged for action. One was the Imperial Valley, lying below the level of the river, which sought relief from floods through the erection of a flood-control dam, and sought an all-American water supply in lieu of its present canal. This passes through and is largely controlled by Mexico. The second project, presented by interests of the California Coastal Plain, called for the erection of a power dam at Black Canyon or Boulder Canyon. In 1919 a bill had been introduced in Congress for Federal assistance in building the AllAmerican Canal' and a similar bill had been introduced in 1920.2 In April, 1922, a third bill had proposed not only the building of the All-American Canal, but the building of a storage dam upon the main trunk of the river below the mouth of Green River. 24

Arizona was formulating projects of her own, particularly those calling for the irrigation of a large area on the Gila River and some territory in the vicinity of Parker.

It was rapidly becoming apparent that the normal flow of the river would not be adequate to supply all the uses demanded by the upper and lower basins; but the proposals for storage in the lower basin, without guaranties to the upper States, were regarded by the latter as holding the threat of establishing priorities which would preclude later use of the water in the upper division.

The crystallization of issues was a slow process. The various States approached the problem individually, and the conception of a division of water as between the two basins, instead of an apportionment among the individual States, was not an immediate development. Within each of the States there were, of course, conflicting claims by various projects. But the common desire for a solution gained headway. In 1920, at a meeting of representatives of governors of western States, Mr. Delph E. Carpenter's novel proposal for use of the treaty-making powers of the States was endorsed 2b As a result of the approval by the governors of the Carpenter interstate compact proposal, the legislatures of each of the seven States authorized appointment of commissioners, and the governors designated Governor Thomas E. Campbell, of Arizona, to bring their request for Federal participation to the attention of Congress 26 It was followed by authorization of an agreement by

1 H. R. 4044, 66th Cong., 1st sess.
2 H. R. 11553, 66th Cong., 2d sess.
2. H. R. 11449, 67th Cong., 2d sess.

26 Mr. Carpenter's plan was the recommendation of a subcommittee consisting of Mr. Carpenter, of Colorado, and Mr. Sims Ely, representing Gov. Thos. E. Campbell, of Arizona.

2¢ The Governors' proposal for a Federal authorizing act was drafted and presented to Congress by the same subcommittee.

the State legislatures and by Congress, and the appointment of
commissioners.
The members of the original Colorado River Commission were

Arizona: W. S. Norviel.
California: W. F. McClure.
Colorado: Delph E. Carpenter.
Nevada: J. G. Scrugham.
New Mexico: Stephen B. Davis, jr.
Utah: R. E. Caldwell.

Wyoming: Frank C. Emerson. The commission was presided over, on behalf of the United States, by Herbert Hoover, appointed by the President.

This Colorado River commission held a series of seven executive meetings in Washington between January 26 and 30, 1922; adjourned to Phoenix, Ariz., for its eighth session on March 15; to Denver, Colo., for its ninth session on April 1, and from November 9 to 24 held its final and successful 18 executive sessions at Santa Fe, N. Mex. It had meanwhile held a series of public hearings at Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Grand Junction, Denver, Cheyenne, and Santa Fe.

2. THE COLORADO RIVER COMPACT

The developments sketched in the preceding pages led to the signing, on November 24, 1922, of the Colorado River compact among the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

The compact itself is an instrument of only 8 printed pages, comprising 11 articles.

It defines the Colorado River system to include the Colorado River and all of its tributaries within the United States. It defines the Colorado River basin to include the drainage area of the system and all other territory to which its waters might be beneficially applied, thereby including the Imperial Valley, which lies below sea level.

Adopting Lee Ferry as a point of division, it divides the Colorado River system into an upper basin, comprising the drainage area above Lee Ferry, and a lower basin, comprising the drainage area. below that point. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming thus constituted the "upper division" and California, Arizona, and

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