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ANALYSIS OF THE COLORADO
(CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN HON. HERBERT HOOVER
AND HON. CARL HAYDEN)
ANALYSIS OF THE COLORADO RIVER COMPACT
Extension of remarks of Hon. Carl Hayden in House of Representatives, Tuesday, January 30, 1923, Congressional Record,
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, January 21, 1923. HON. CARL HAYDEN,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. HAYDEN:
Referring to your letter of January 9 addressed to the Secretary, inclosing questionnaire on the Colorado River compact, I am requested by Mr. Hoover to forward to you his answers to the questions which you propounded. Very truly yours,
CLARENCE C. STETSON, Executive Secretary, Colorado River Commission. Question 1. What was the reason for dividing the drainage area of the Colorado River and its tributaries into two basins, as provided in Article II of the Colorado River compact?
The reasons were:
(a) The commission, upon analysis, found that the causes of present friction and of major future disputes lay between the lower basin States and the upper basin States, and that very little likelihood of friction lay between the States within each basin; that the delays to development at the present time are wholly interbasinal disputes; and that major development is not likely to be impeded by disputes between the States within each basin. And, in any event, the compact provides machinery for such settlements.
(6) The drainage area falls into two basins naturally, from a geographical, hydrographical, and an economic point of view. They are separated by over 500 miles of barren canyon which serves as the neck of the funnel, into which the drainage area comprised in the upper basin pours its waters, and these waters again spread over the lands of the lower basin.
(c) The climate of the two basins is different; that of the upper basin being, generally speaking, temperate, while that of the lower basin ranges from semitropical to tropical. The growing seasons, the crops, and the quantity of water consumed per acre are therefore different.
(d) The economic conditions in the two basins are entirely different. The upper basin will be slower of development than the lower basin. The upper basin will secure its waters more by diversion than by storage, whereas the development of the lower basin is practically altogether a storage problem.
(e) The major friction at the present moment is over the water rights which might be established by the erection of adequate storage in the lower basin, as prejudicing the situation in the upper basin, and regardless of legal rights in either case. The States are now divided
into two groups in opposition to each other legislatively, with little hope of the cohesion that is necessary before Federal aid can ever be secured.
The use of the group method of division was therefore adopted both from necessity, as being the only practical one, and from advisability, being dictated by the conditions existing in the entire basin.
Question 2. Was the apportionment in Article III of the compact between the upper and lower basins arbitrary or was it based on the actual requirements of each basin?
The apportionment was not arbitrary. It was based on a careful consideration of respective needs of the two basins. The data available was the estimates provided by the Reclamation Service, which follow, showing the total new and old acreage in the two basins, including not only all existing projects but all projects considered economically feasible and also those of doubtful feasibility and intended to cover every prospective development during the next 75
The commissioners and engineering staffs of the different States varied somewhat from the basic estimates of the Reclamation Service, and some compromise from these figures was agreed to by the commission to compensate in different directions. This was particularly the case with regard to the estimated consumption of water per acre. It will be noted that the total acreage in the lower basin, present and prospective, is given as 2,127,000, whereas that in the upper basin is given as 4,000,000. Therefore the amount of water depends partly on the consumption assumed per acre, and after general consideration an addition was made in each case to cover any possible mischances of calculation, the general addition being about 30 per cent more than the probable use.
Question 3. Why was 40 years fixed as the time for a future apportionment of the surplus water of the Colorado River?
There was a decided conflict between the States over the period to be fixed in this paragraph, based chiefly on their ideas as to rapidity of development and actual use of the water. Some desired a shorter and some a longer time. Suggestions were made varying from 20 to 60 years. The 40-year period was finally arrived at as a common point of agreement. Judging by experience under other projectsthe Imperial Valley and Salt River Valley, for instance—the full development of contemplated construction, as shown in the table following question 2, will take a much longer time than the one fixed.
Question 4. Why was the term "Colorado River system” used in paragraph (a) of Article III, wherein 7,500,000 acre-feet of water is apportioned to the upper and lower basins, respectively?
This term is defined in Article II as covering the entire river and its tributaries in the United States. No other term could be used, as the duty of the commission was to divide all the water of the river. It serves to make it clear that this was what the commission intended to do and prevents any State from contending that, since a certain tributary rises and empties within its boundaries and is therefore not an interstate stream, it may use its waters without reference to the terms of the compact. The plan covers all the waters of the river and all its tributaries, and the term referred to leaves that situation beyond doubt.
Question 5. Why is the basis of division changed from the "Colorado River system” to the “river at Lee Ferry” in paragraph (d) of Article III, the period of time extended to 10 years, and the number of acrefeet multiplied by 10?
(a) I do not think there is any change in the basis of division as the result of the difference in language in Articles III (a) and III (6). The two mean the same. By reference to Article II (f) it will be seen that Lee Ferry, referred to in III (d), is the determining point in the creation of the two basins specified in III (a). The use of this term makes it plain that the 75,000,000 acre-feet are to be delivered in the main channel of the river above the various tributaries which contribute water below.
(6) The agreement as to the flow of 75,000,000 acre-feet at Lee Ferry during each 10-year period fixes a definite quantity of water which must pass that point. Under III (a) each basin is entitled to the use of 7,500,000 acre-feet annually. Judging by past records, there will always be sufficient flow in the river to supply these quantities, but in the improbable event of a deficiency the lower basin has the first call on the water up to a total use of 75,000,000 acre-feet each 10 years.
While there was in the commission a firm belief that no such shortage will ever occur, still this provision was adopted as a matter of caution. The period of 10 years was fixed as a basis of measurement, as being long enough to allow equalization between years of high and low flow and as representing a basis fair to both divisions.
Question 6. Are the 1,000,000 additional acre-feet of water apportioned to the lower basin in paragraph (6) of Article III supposed to be obtained from the Colorado River or solely from the tributaries of that stream within the State of Arizona?
The use of the words “such waters” in this paragraph clearly refers to waters from the Colorado River system, and the extra 1,000,000 acre-feet provided for can therefore be taken from the main river or from any of its tributaries.
Question 7. If more than 1,000,000 acre-feet of water are beneficially used and consumed annually on the tributaries of the Colorado River in