Page 71


Page 71
Colorado River problem
Is Part Of,8
Full text
376 FOWLER ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM lands will reap the benefit—and at the expense of other parts of the community. Among the strongest engineering counts against the Boulder Canyon Project are: 1.—That it will curtail the ultimate development of the stream. 2.—That, until its large block of power is absorbed, it will continue to pile up carrying charges. 3.—That, after its power is absorbed, the part of the investment chargeable against regulative storage must be duplicated by expenditures for headwater storage unless the upper stream is to remain unregulated. Such duplication would lead to great economic loss. The best plan of development on any stream is to concentrate the regulative storage as near the head-waters as it can be made effective, except in so far as this program has to be altered on account of local conditions. The burden of proof is squarely on the shoulders of any one who desires to depart from this basic rule, and no adequate justification has been made for the departure proposed on the Colorado. Two very distinct flood control and storage problems are found on the Colorado : 1.—Reduction of the high and long sustained floods resulting from melting snows in the basin above the San Juan, and the storage of these waters for power and irrigation. 2.—Control of the high, but short or torrential, floods originating in the basins of the San Juan, Little Colorado, Virgin River, and minor tributaries of the plateau region. (The Gila is excluded from this list as it is below all proposed storage.) It has been generally assumed in certain former studies that large storage for flood control and irrigation combined must be established at the lowest possible site on the Colorado in order: (a) To give protection from torrential floods of the San Juan, Little Colorado, and Virgin Rivers; and (b) to give closer regulation for irrigation than could be secured from head-waters storage. Colonel Kelly's demonstration that little economic gain can be secured by reducing flood flows below 75,000 sec-ft. permits a considerable reduction in the flood-control storage needed on the lower river; and installation of headwater storage for control of the main Colorado flood would permit still further reduction in the capacity of the down-stream reservoir. In view of the interesting flood records secured during September, 1923, it appears that the flood danger from torrential tributaries (other than the Gila) has been greatly exaggerated. As nearly as can be judged from combined stream-flow and rainfall records, it appears that on September 17 and 18, 1923, heavy precipitation occurred on the head-waters of the San Juan and over practically the entire basin of Little Colorado River. Two flood peaks resulted, as shown in Fig. 20. These floods were measured by river observations at Goodridge, Utah, on the San Juan River, and at Lees Ferry, Bright Angel, Topock, and Yuma, Ariz., on the Colorado. No flood was

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