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- Colorado River problem
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- 348 ALLISON ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM DISCUSSION J. C. Allison,* M. Am. Soc. C. E.—It has been well stated that an attempt to solve all the problems of the Colorado River at a single stroke on the meager data now available is likely to result in ill-advised expenditures if nothing else. Irrigation in the Lower Basin of the river is only twenty-two years old; in the Upper Basin it is not a great deal older and is less extensive. The idea of storage dams in the river canyons for the triple purposes of flood control, complete storage of water supply for irrigation and power, although not old in theory, is new in the respect that only recently has an attempt been made to investigate, by field survey, the actual elements involved in these three problems. On the strength of the relatively meager data at hand, the public expects a wholly untamed river to be harnessed completely with one dam, doing away with the necessity for the great systems of levees protecting the lower valleys; it expects every flat place shown on the map within the water-shed of the river (and a great deal of land outside the water-shed) to be irrigated immediately. Each State involved is naturally fighting for a right to the use of water on every acre possible, discounting the fact that perhaps only a small proportion of the acreage it is planned to irrigate will be found feasible for reclamation. International complications with Mexico are conjured up, with the result that great expenditures of money are planned solely for the purpose of holding the entire control of the flow of the stream in American territory. Suddenly, the power possibilities in the river are realized, and the fight for power rights is on. The only element in all the foregoing that requires immediate action, that is, the control of the floods sufficiently to save the lower valleys from annihilation, is almost smothered in the haste to solve all the problems of the river at one stroke. Fortunately for all concerned, the Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation of the U. S. House of Representatives, which is investigating the Swing-Johnson Bill providing for the financing by the Government of works contemplated to solve all the Colorado River problems, has been wise enough to understand the importance of the problem and is studying all angles of the situation before reporting the Bill. As these involve purely an engineering analysis of the project, it is certainly the duty of every engineer to contribute all the information and study available to the data already assembled. In this connection, Colonel Kelly's paper is certainly most important. Although all cannot agree with the author's conclusions in their entirety, most engineers can certainly agree that the immediate necessity for flood control is paramount, and that the Government should provide without delay the means for constructing a dam of sufficient proportions to minimize the flood dangers, leaving the multitude of remaining problems involved in complete river regulation for irrigation and power to be solved later. It is the purpose of this discussion to rectify a number of the conclusions drawn from insufficient data. * Cons. Engr., Calexico, Calif.
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