- Page 18
- 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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- ON THE COLORADO RIVER 17 I say to you, that the state of Nevada has the sovereign right to take every foot of water out of the Colorado river on its own soil, because it has exclusive sovereignty over such waters within its borders. There is an equal right for Arizona to do the same thing if she can use the water. Now then, if Nevada cannot use this water for irrigation, and like Los Angeles for drinking purposes, because she is so unfortunate in those particulars, is she to be deprived of the right to the use of that water for another beneficial purpose, such as the creation of a project that will generate hydro-electric power? Why, no, that would be preposterous. I do believe, that unless there is more of the spirit of give and take manifested among the seven states, that an agreement will be impossible. Nevada is entitled to one-half of the power that may be generated by a government dam on its land, or by the use of its waters after compensating the government for its expenditure upon such dam. Arizona is entitled to the same for the same reasons. That is not the announced policy of the secretary of the interior, but, of course, the secretary of the interior does not recognize the rights of the states at all in the waters after the dam is built, or to any of the power generated with such waters. Haven't the states a prior right? Their land is being used for dams by means of which the electric energy is generated—their water is being used to generate such electric energy for power. The land and water are assets of the state. Have they no prior rights over the Southern California Edison company which is distributing its electricity throughout the southern part of California? Would the states of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming or New Mexico be willing to have their land and water used to create or generate electrical power to be sold by the Edison company or by some other company outside the state without any control over the matter? It won't be done. It can't be done. And no congress on earth would do that. Did Congress recognize the sovereignty of the states over their waters at the time the Federal Water Power Bill was enacted? It provided that the United States government shall not grant any permit to use the public lands for the building of a power dam until the applicant has first obtained a permit from the state wherein the dam is to be built, to use its waters and land and has otherwise complied with the laws of the state. But, of course, when the United States Government itself builds a dam, it will build it and use it as Congress may authorize and direct in the Act authorizing such construction.
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