Page 90


Page 90
Colorado River problem
Is Part Of,8
Full text
GRUNSKY ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM 395 ment was warned, as already stated, in 1907, at a time when Colorado River water was used in Lower California on less than 10,000 acres. At present, the irrigated area in Lower California is about 200,000 acres. What shall be the limit and what agency other than the United States can fix the limit ? There is plenty of land in Mexico to use the water—about 800,000 acres in the river delta and, on the mesas of Sonora, an additional 500,000 acres or more. The ultimate extent of irrigation in Mexico need not then be regarded as limited by the physical features of the country, but solely by the quantity of water temporarily and ultimately available. It should be noted in this connection that the engineers of the U. S. Reclamation Service, who have given much thought and study to the Colorado River problems, report that, after all the lands in each State of the upper group that can be supplied with water from the Colorado River at reasonable cost have been brought under irrigation, there will still be an ample supply, not only to meet the compact requirement of the lower group of States, but also for a fair delivery of water to Mexico. Again, the Colorado River menaces certain areas in the United States and other areas in Mexico, whenever at flood stages it runs wild in Mexico. The great menace is to the lands which lie below sea-level, partly in Mexico, but mainly in the United States. The places where this flood menace must be fought are in Mexico. To be sure the frequency of floods can be reduced materially, and channel deterioration by silt deposits can be decreased materially with such works as the contemplated Boulder Reservoir, but occasional floods originate in parts of the river's water-shed below Boulder Canyon, and even after the construction of a Boulder Reservoir or its equivalent, these floods would still remain a problem feature in the river delta south of the boundary. The fact should be recalled, in this connection, that the discharge of the Gila alone may bring the Colorado River at Yuma to a full flood stage as it did in November, 1905, when the river broke from its channel and took a course into Salton Basin. The flood control problem, therefore, involves not only the retention of the flood waters of the upper river in reservoirs, but also a proper treatment of the lower river to care for the high stages that will still occur occasionally after up-river reservoirs have been built. The United States should arrange all matters pertaining to flood control, not only in so far as the construction and operation of storage reservoirs are concerned, whether these be built by an interstate district, by a single State, by a group of States, by a private corporation, or by the United States, but also in the matter of providing a direct permanent channel for the Colorado River from the southern boundary of California to the Gulf. In other words the United States must maintain itself in a position to keep the flood menace for all time at a minimum and to assure respect for interstate and international obligations. When the United States, however, either by direct action or through selected agencies, reduces the flood menace and conserves the waste water of the river for use in generating power and for irrigation, the resulting benefits, both in this country and in Mexico, should

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