- Page 68
- Colorado River problem
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- FOWLER ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM 373 If fully conserved there would be more water in the Colorado River watershed than is needed by the practical agricultural land on both sides of the International Boundary Line. It does not require an All-American Canal to serve the remaining agricultural lands in Southern California. A flood-control dam, built forthwith at some point on the river by the Government will solve the immediate flood problem, leaving the Federal Power Commission free to act in granting power permits to complete the development of the river after the Colorado River Compact between the States has been ratified. Frederick H. Fowler,* M. Am. Soc. C. E.—Present engineering information on the Colorado River problem has been ably summarized by the author. Several of his conclusions are diametrically opposed to a plan that has received wide publicity and has secured a firm hold on the popular imagination, the so-called "Boulder Canyon Project". Although the speaker does not regard this project as the best solution of the Colorado River problem, he admires most heartily its bold conception as an individual development. In its final form, the Boulder Canyon Project proposes a dam rising 605 ft. above low water, capable of storing 34,000,000 acre-ft. behind it, the dam itself to cost at least $50,000,000. The power rights are to be leased to political sub-divisions or to others on a basis that will amortize the cost in fifty years. The power plants have been estimated to cost $36 000 000, and the transmission lines leading to the market, $46,000,000; a total of $132,000,000, or more, without the All-American Canal that has been appended to the project in pending legislation. According to its proponents, this project would: (a) Reduce the maximum flood flow to 40,000 sec-ft.; (b) Furnish a regulated irrigation supply to all irrigable lands below it; and (c) Produce 660,000 continuous horse-power with a surplus even more than this at certain times. The author holds that the development is not justifiable, because: l.—No marked economic gain will result from reducing the flood flow below 75,000 sec-ft., and regulating the discharge of the Colorado River proper to 40,000 sec-ft. will result at times in increasing its flow during the winter months when floods may be expected from the Gila, and, in this manner, greatly increase flood danger between Yuma, Ariz., and the Gulf. 2.—The irrigation supply for lands below the Grand Canyon will ultimately be insufficient even with the tremendous storage proposed; and, for all lands in the basin to be irrigated until 1940, 2,300,000 acre-ft. of storage will suffice. 3.—The large block of power made available immediately on the completion of the dam cannot readily be absorbed by the prospective market, and there will be, therefore, a serious accumulation of interest charges on the unproductive part of the investment. 4.—The construction of the project will result in the permanent loss of 300,000 h.p. and of an irrigation supply sufficient for 50,000 acres. The radical difference in these two sets of conclusions is due primarily to the differences in the plan of development as proposed in the Boulder Canyon *Civ. Engr., San Francisco, Calif.
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