Page 70


Page 70
Colorado River problem
Is Part Of,8
Full text
FOWLER ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM 375 It was originally proposed that preliminary expenses in connection with the Boulder Canyon Dam be "charged on a basis of 85% against the interests that might consume power or for power purposes; 10% against flood control; and 5% against irrigation." This distribution was made arbitrarily, but its general theory was correct. Later, it was recommended as not only possible, but desirable, that the expense of the dam itself be carried entirely by the power interests—a proposal that naturally received more hearty popular support than the former, but was by no means as sound economically. In other parts of California land is being irrigated, drained, and protected from floods on a basis requiring payment in proportion to the benefits received. This principle is sound, and it follows logically that the lands on the Colorado should also pay in proportion to the benefits received from the storage of water. The same careful methods could be used in assessing such benefits as are now being used by the California Reclamation Board on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Drainage District. The various users of the stream would then be shouldering their own burdens. Under the present Boulder Canyon plan, the power users are expected to pay the entire cost, and although it is reasonably certain that they can, there are grave doubts as to whether they should be required to do so. "The cities and irrigation districts of Southern California" were referred to in the original Boulder Canyon report* as the most important market for Boulder Canyon power. Of the other possible outlets for power listed therein, the most important and readily accessible appear to be the mining regions of Arizona with the principal towns adjacent, and possible railway electrification on the Santa Fe, Salt Lake, and Southern Pacific Railways. Railway electrification is, however, entirely in the future, and its extent is dependent chiefly on the policy of the respective railroad companies. It is generally understood that the management of the Santa Fe System is in favor of electrification at the earliest possible moment, whereas the management of the Southern Pacific is distinctly antagonistic to all such plans. The immediate market for any large amount of power, therefore, is reduced to general uses in Southern California and mining uses in Arizona. Assuming that "the cities and irrigation districts of Southern California" do buy most of the power, what will be the proper charge? Why, for instance, should the irrigator of the Riverside region or the Lower San Joaquin Valley pay a price for Colorado River power that will vouchsafe both flood protection and free irrigation supply to his fellow irrigator who happens to be operating in the Palo Verde, Yuma, or Imperial Valley Districts? Part of the power will go to Arizona. Why should the mining industry of Arizona pay a higher price in order that the limited areas along the river may receive free flood protection and irrigation supply? It may be argued that the development of these lands will be of benefit to the nation, but it is obvious that, under the existing plan, owners of these * Senate Document No. 142, p. 19.

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