- Page 73
- Colorado River problem
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- 378 FOWLER ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM practically balanced. It is probable, therefore, that the Yuma peak did not exceed 60,000 sec-ft. in any event, 25,000 sec-ft. less than at Topock. It appears, therefore, that with no regulation whatever a flood flow of 111,500 sec-ft. at Bright Angel was cut 26,500 sec-ft. by the time it reached Topock, and 51,500 sec-ft. by the time it reached Yuma. Considering the great distance between the junctions of the San Juan, Little Colorado, Virgin, and Gila, and also the great difference in topographic conditions and elevations in the basins of these tributaries, and the different seasons of the year during which they are normally subject to floods, it is difficult to conceive of any combination of circumstances that would produce a flood from the upper tributaries reaching Yuma at the same time as an extensive flood from the Gila. It would seem justifiable, therefore, to reduce the storage capacity of the flood reservoir on the lower river to a minimum far below that generally advocated to date, and to secure corresponding control in the head-waters. Even with this reduction, when working in conjunction with head-water storage, the reservoir would certainly supply sufficient local irrigation regulation and water for all projects likely to be completed in the immediate future. Arguments have been advanced on behalf of the Boulder Canyon location which are really (especially when taken together) strong arguments against it and in favor of head-water regulation. For instance, in the first report on the Project, it was stated that "any large reservoir on the Colorado must depend for its financial feasibility upon the availability of an adequate market for not less than 500,000 h.p. electrical energy within economic transmission distance." The logical conclusion is that a large storage at Boulder Canyon will absorb the ready market for power, and that as all down-stream needs will be safeguarded, adequate regulation of the middle and upper river will be delayed until the dim and distant future. In the same report the relative advantages of a great reservoir and power plants at Boulder Canyon as against Glen Canyon were carefully compared, and the Glen Canyon Project was condemned on account of its remoteness from the market, as well as for its less effective control of the flood and irrigation supply. No adequate program was advanced, however, for up-stream regulative storage operated in conjunction with down-stream power development and minor re-regulation. This plan is now advanced by the author, who has shown clearly that it will furnish flood control and an irrigation supply for the same area as the Boulder Canyon Project, and that it will furnish a regulated power discharge through three times as much river descent. It will also reduce the hazard and cost of construction of the five or more dams necessary to develop the fall in the Canyon Section of the river—this last advantage is no small item in its favor. Under his plan, head-water storage and power development on the middle and lower stream can proceed gradually as conditions demand, the first step being only that necessary to give, in conjunction with minor storage on the lower river, the necessary flood-control and irrigation supply.
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