Page 119


Page 119
Colorado River problem
Is Part Of,8
Full text
424 DEBLER ON THE COLORADO RIVER PROBLEM the only one on the Lower Colorado River that has not been plastered with applications before the Federal Power Commission. Colonel Kelly states that "all development needed on the Colorado will be built by private capital under adequate Federal and State regulation if the river is given over to development under the Federal Water Power Act". There is little reason to doubt that speedy development can be obtained in this way, along lines, however, as favorable as possible for power but with a minimum regard for irrigation and flood control. The present status of the Flaming Gorge permit of the Utah Power and Light Company is an excellent example. This permit was originally granted, subject to up-stream irrigation use. It is now understood, however, that the Company is reluctant to accept license under these terms and requests irrigation development above the reservoir site to be limited. The claim that construction of the Boulder Canyon Reservoir will jeopardize up-stream water rights by utilizing the total stream flow applies with equal force to any and all reservoirs and power plans proposed, as even the so-called up-stream reservoirs are below the irrigable areas in the Upper Basin. Regardless of the amount of storage provided, the flow available for power, whether at Mohave or Diamond Creek, is made up of the normal flow plus a storage increment, the latter alone being affected by the storage capacity provided. The normal flow is of vital interest to power and to irrigation development throughout the basin. Up-stream irrigation development will reduce this plan to the detriment of power development below; it can be safeguarded only by legal and binding agreements which will preclude opposition to such depletion. In case a plan of private development is adopted, a large development of Colorado River power may come about very quickly in comparison with irrigation development; the provisions for future irrigation development, therefore, must permit wide latitude from any plans that may now be outlined. If inadequate storage capacity is provided for flood control and irrigation before power developments become crystallized, the bar to full irrigation development becomes insurmountable. The proposal by Colonel Kelly and others to inundate a large irrigable area like the Mohave Valley as the first step in irrigation development requires more justification than has yet been advanced. On the other hand, an excess of storage for irrigation and flood control can be converted later to use for power development, resulting only temporarily in a reduction in power output, provided a market then exists for this added power. Although the Reclamation plan is severely criticized, no alternative plan is outlined in sufficient detail to indicate its comparative value or feasibility. The author enunciates the generally recognized axiom that power development should be based on up-stream storage. Practical plans usually require some deviation from this principle either to obtain the greatest power output or to obtain a near maximum output at reasonable cost. It is in conformity with this practical application of the principle that the plans outlined in the discussion by Mr. Weymouth have been evolved.

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