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- Colorado River problem
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- 346 THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM There would be little ground for objection if the project were reduced to provide only for present needs of flood protection and irrigation. The Boulder Project would provide water in the Lower Basin at all seasons far in excess of present irrigation requirements. This water will pass into Mexico and there be used for irrigation. Once used, its withdrawal for use in the United States will be difficult, if not impossible. As heretofore shown, storage for flood protection will not obviate the need for maintaining levees and bank protection in Mexico, and a treaty to facilitate this work and to limit the quantity of water to be supplied Mexico should be negotiated before the quantity for irrigation in Mexico is increased. Work Which Should Be Undertaken by the United States There are now before the Federal Power Commission applications covering practically the entire Canyon Section of the river. (See Fig. 13.) All the development justified at present, including flood control and irrigation, will be undertaken by private capital under adequate Federal and State regulation if the Federal Water Power Act is left free to function. If, notwithstanding this situation, Congress deems the special conditions on this stream such as to demand Federal construction of a flood protection reservoir, investigation of the Mohave site should be made at once and, if reasonable foundations can be found, the dam should be built there. In view of the objections to increasing the low-water flow at present, it would be best to construct this dam for purposes of flood control and regulation of flow for irrigation only and not for the development of power. It could then be operated so as to prevent the appropriation and use of water beyond present needs. If power is installed, there will be great pressure to operate for the power demand. There seems to be small justification for charging the entire cost of such a dam to the power consumers but, if Congress decides to do so, a dam 180 ft. high at Mohave will produce more than 130 000 h. p., which would justify an installation of about 240,000 h. p. Projects in Southern California have averaged about $130 per h. p. installed, but there are few developments left that can be built for less than $200 per h. p. installed. The estimated cost of the Mohave Dam is $27,000,000, which charged to 240,000 h. p., gives less than $115 per h. p. To this, add $35 per h. p. for cost of power equipment, and the total is $150 per h. p. installed. This price compares so favorably with prospective California developments that there is little doubt that the power can be made to carry the cost of the dam without raising present prices to consumers. If the Mohave Dam proves to be feasible, it can be built in 4 years as against the 8 years estimated for Boulder Canyon Dam. Conclusion The proposed high dam in Boulder Canyon should not be built because it will curtail ultimate power development by 300,000 h. p. and ultimate irriga- tion by about 50,000 acres. All the development needed on the Colorado will be built by private capital under adequate Federal and State regulation if the river is given over to development under the Federal Water Power Act.
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