Page 9


Page 9
Partial proceedings of Conference of Governors, Commissioners and advisors of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, on the Colorado River
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8 SEVEN STATES CONFERENCE stretched and it is high time we were claiming our title to them, lest through our neglect they be taken from us. The most important of these is the water in our western states. Man cannot live without water, and states cannot exist without it. Every state has the inherent sovereign right to control the uses of this element which are essential to its existence. To deprive a state of this right would destroy its autonomy. Moreover, the original states are conceded to possess full power to control their waters save for the regulation of interstate commerce, and to deprive the newer states of this control would take from them that equality with the original states which was guaranteed them when they were admitted into the union. The arid states in particular, whose water is their very life blood, should realize that if they would protect their state autonomy they must resist the deliberate and constant pressure of certain enthusiasts for federal usurpation of state powers. The theory that is advanced by attorneys for the bureau of reclamation that congress has the power to allocate and apportion the waters of any western river among the states, regardless of their will, is abhorrent to our whole plan of government. It proceeds from the vicious bureaucratic hypothesis that in all the western states the United States and not the states, owns and may dispose of the waters of every stream, and that congress at any time may wholly remove the control of such waters from the states; and that the states exercise their present control by mere sufferance. The states of the upper basin are not mere obstructionists. On the contrary, they are all desirous of encouraging, in every legitimate way, the construction of flood control works, along the lower river. The officials of the upper states, however, are confronted by the facts that such works will be very expensive; that the cost must be repaid to the federal government; that the money to repay this cost must be earned by using the water impounded by the dam; and that when its water is used it will give rise to claims of prior appropriation of the whole flow of the river, unless such a disastrous result is avoided by interstate compact, concluded and ratified in advance of construction. It is also interesting to note that the financial setup contemplates that the government is to be repaid from the sale of power, and the estimated earnings are based on a proposed power plant that will require water in excess of the allocated supply. In that event, where do the upper states get off? And if the upper states take out their share of the water, and thereby reduce the earnings of the power plant, where does the government get off? All of the water of the river will pass through the turbines of the proposed power

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