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- Colorado River problem
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- L. C. HILL ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM 411 Louis C. Hill,* M. Am. Soc. C. E.—It is generally agreed that the Colorado River must be controlled not only for flood protection but for irrigation and the development of power. As stated by the author, however, protection of the lands along the river and in the Imperial Valley from damage by inundation is of primary importance. No plan that limits this protection should be considered. The determination of what ultimate development of the Colorado River will give sufficient protection from floods, will irrigate most economically the maximum area, and will return the largest net income from the generation of power, is a problem not yet solved. Any schedule of development leading to such ultimate control and use of the waters of the Colorado River will be greatly influenced by such economic factors as the rate of agricultural development within the Basin and the rate of increase in the use of power throughout the entire Southwest. As the generation of power will be of secondary importance to irrigation, and as both must be considered in the light of their effect on the control of floods, the speaker will touch on these subjects in that order. Power Development.—If the entire Southwest were thickly settled and industrially developed it would be logical to create the first storage reservoir on the Colorado near the upper end of the Canyon Section. The regulation of the flow from this reservoir would greatly increase the available power at each site below. Furthermore, this regulation would reduce the cost of foundation work on any dams built subsequently in the canyon. Before being called by the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation and by private power interests to study the control of the Colorado River, the speaker was of the opinion that the Glen Canyon site should be developed first, in spite of the distance to a power market. However, after personal investigation of this site at the head of the canyon and of the Boulder Canyon or Black Canyon sites at the lower end, he is convinced that, under the physical and economic conditions, the net advantages of the lower site outweigh those of Glen Canyon as the location of the first large reservoir. Glen Canyon is about 100 miles farther from a railroad than Black Canyon and 250 miles farther from the principal power market. Although the depth to bed-rock at Glen Canyon is about 80 ft. as against 124 ft. at Black Canyon, there is considerable doubt as to the suitability of the Glen Canyon sandstone for the foundation of a dam as high as that required for proper control of the Colorado River. It is no doubt true that tests of dry samples indicate ample compressive strength, but this material will be subjected to high hydrostatic pressure so that its action when wet must be considered. Samples of this sandstone were secured by the speaker himself from an excavation made in the side wall of Glen Canyon by the Southern California Edison Company for the purpose of obtaining fair samples. After one of these rock fragments has been in water for a few minutes, it may be easily broken and crushed into sand particles with the fingers. *Cons. Engr. (Quinton, Code & Hill), Los Angeles, Calif.
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