Page 69


Page 69
Colorado River problem
Is Part Of,8
Full text
374 FOWLER ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM Project and by Colonel Kelly, and, secondarily, to the author's reduced estimate of available water supply. As regards the difference in plan: The Boulder Canyon Project qualifies as desirable under the Reclamation Act, and is actually covered by a Special Act, but does not qualify under the Federal Power Act. Colonel Kelly's plan, however, will qualify in every particular under the Power Act by giving the maximum beneficial development of the entire river. The Federal Water Power Act was passed by Congress on July 10, 1920, after nearly ten years of debate. If it is permitted to function properly, it should prove in the long run a most valuable piece of legislation. It is far more than the mere "Water Power Act" its name would imply, for it was drafted to accomplish the well-ordered development of rivers, not only for power, but for the joint maximum benefit from irrigation, power, flood control, and navigation. One of its many requirements is that any project adopted shall be such as will be best adapted to a comprehensive plan of improvement and utilization of a stream for the purpose of navigation, of water-power development, and of other beneficial uses (including, of course, irrigation and flood control). It provides further that, if necessary in order to secure these results, the Federal Power Commission shall have authority to require the modification of any project. Certain other provisions of the Federal Water Power Act have direct bearing on the question of State or municipal versus public utility ownership—the issue that is being fought out on the Colorado. These provisions are: 1.—That licenses under the Act are not given in perpetuity, but have a limited term. 2.—That the Act gives preference to municipalities, provided their plans are equally adapted to the best ultimate development of a stream. 3.—That adequate rentals are to be charged for developments made by individuals, public utilities, or by States and municipalities (when operated for a profit), and part of the Government rentals are to be returned to the State or States within which the power development is located. All these items bear directly on the "public versus corporate ownership" phase of the controversy and show that the Special Act confers only one important "benefit" not included in the Federal Water Power Act, namely, an initial appropriation of $70,000,000 from the United States Treasury. Moreover, there is nothing in the Act which prevents the Federal Power Commission from including, as part of the terms of any license, the so-called "Colo-rado River Compact" or any part thereof. It is to be hoped that, after long years of discussion, having passed a comprehensive Act, Congress will allow it to function properly and will not hamper its operation by passing special legislation affecting the Colorado, as well as other important streams such as the Columbia, St. Lawrence, and Tennessee Rivers, all of which fall in the same general class. The inadvisability of special Federal legislation for a situation better covered by general legislation is only the first objection to the proposed Act; the second is that the financial plan is not sound.

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