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- Colorado River problem
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- ALLISON ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM 351 ably forty years before the Lower Basin will demand the entire 7,000,000 acre-ft. of water per annum. The Colorado River Compact, between six of the seven Basin States, provides 7,000,000 acre-ft. of water for the States in the Upper Basin. The maximum usage possible as determined in the paper is 4,500,000 acre-ft. plus 500,000 acre-ft. possible to withdraw into water-sheds other than the Colorado. It is doubtful whether such a quantity of water can ever be put to beneficial use in the Upper Basin States; but presuming a final usage of 5,000,000 acre-ft., the period over which this will be developed will be considerably more than the forty years necessary to complete the usage in the Lower Basin. In spite of the withdrawal from the tributaries of the Colorado from the upper water-shed, of water to irrigate approximately 1,500,000 acres, as found by the U. S. Reclamation Service, the annual discharge of the Colorado River at Yuma for a period covering the past forty-four years indicates no traceable depletion of supply. The history of irrigation in Southern California and elsewhere during the past twenty-two years reflects a similar condition. As long as the water is not withdrawn from the water-shed, the quantity returned to the river after irrigation may be expected to more than offset any shortage caused by usage on any acreage contemplated. The speaker's experience on the projects in the Lower Colorado, in Imperial Valley, Mexico, and the Palo Verde Valley, especially the latter, where the return water was measured to some extent in a drain canal constructed along the river near the protective levee, indicates the tremendous return of irrigation water to the stream. With a completely regulated Colorado River, whatever the flow, or whether the complete allotment provided for in the Colorado River Compact can be utilized by the Upper Basin States, the Lower Basin projects will never suffer from water shortage as long as no considerable quantity of water is withdrawn from the water-shed. The following outstanding facts sum up the situation: First.—Under complete regulation, there will be ample water for any future needs. Second.—On account of the comparative slow advance of irrigation, and the apparent rapid advance of power demand, complete irrigation of all the lands available in the Colorado River water-shed will, without doubt, follow complete regulation of the river for power; power demand will stimulate a regulation of the river from which irrigation will later profit in ample time for its needs. As long as the power dams are designed and regulated by the Government to the ultimate end that all the water of the river can be properly conserved for irrigation usage at the times of irrigation demand, the one dam built immediately for partial flood control, and the additional dams built to meet the growing power demand, will ultimately completely solve the Colorado River problem and attain all the results sought in the Swing-Johnson Bill. Third.—With an excess of water for irrigation, international disputes over the water are needless and a complete treaty understanding between the United States and Mexico is easily attainable.
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