Friday, July 2, 2010

Dams: Trying to Decide, 1945-6 (upd 7/5, 8/5)

Reports in Reclamation files, Boulder City,  indicate steps during wartime:
Jan 1941 Sec approves NPS doing study of recreation in CR basin.
Oct 1941 was a preliminary rpt for elev. 1772', w/ silt encroachment by 1987. Field investigation conducted Sep 41, showed four sites. Followed by Nov & Dec rpts on state application. A major consideration is that federal cooperation necessary, and more favorable if coordinated. 
State report in Mar 42 shows good geology and various designs. Upstream silt control required. Marble not big enough, but a Glen project would increase power availability. 
1943, drilling and drifting were done for the foundation and abutments. A 1947 summary describes what would be done: Limestone at 4200' would be crushed and dropped to a lower shelf. Two draws would be filled for processing and storage space. A railroad would come from Peach Springs Hindu rim; a 25-mile highway down Peach. At dam, Bright Angel would be stripped. Power plant would be inside dam. Operations would require coordination between Hoover for storage and Bridge for power. The Park Service would have developments at Bridge Canyon City, Peach Springs Wash, Granite Park, Mt Dellenbaugh up on Shivwits (as they do, and a very nice place it is).
Oct 43, Reclamation does study on transport routes, preferring Bridge Canyon with tunnel and maybe railroad.
Apr 44 report on investigations that show that dam to NP boundary is far less economical than  higher one, perhaps to 1840-85' with adjustment of boundary.
Jul 1944 Reclamation and Arizona agree to make CAP alternatives study.
Nov 1944 on CR, Menace becomes resource. Rhapsodic PR-style on power and American way of life, it includes Kanab tunnel idea. Became House document 419.

As the war was ending in mid-1945, Reclamation, and Arizona, were pressing hard to prepare for authorization to send Colorado River water to central Arizona. In January, a conference of state and Reclamation officials decided to compare routes in one report, followed by a preliminary project report on the one chosen to authorized. They expected attacks from the numerous water factions in and outside the state, some for different routes, some for using the water elsewhere. Internally, Reclamation was racked by indecision over how to account for the impact on power generation at Hoover dam. In February, the name Central Arizona Project (CAP) was adopted, replacing  Colorado River - Central Arizona Diversion Project, (which surely would have been shortened to Colorado River-Arizona Project by opponents).

A word on Reclamation organization: The Commissioner was in Washington; there were Regional Directors involved in Boulder City (directly responsible for work in Arizona) and Salt Lake City. Denver seemed to be field support. Later there would be a Phoenix Development Office; lets say, respectively, DC, BC, SLC, DNV, PDO. All of these offices contributed paper to each other, a ceaseless multi-way flow of expertise and opinion, data and argument. This multiplicity of centers was emphasized by the role of J.C.Page, Commissioner from 1936-43. In 1945, Arizona's Governor Osborn asked that Page be allowed to help with the planning, and he did contribute, particularly in analyzing the situation. Also in 1945, M.W. Straus became Commissioner, serving until 1953. This tenure spanned the first out-in-the-open fight to protect the Grand Canyon from dams (as well, of course, as the beginnings of the fight over Dinosaur National Monument dams). His previous career as journalist and Interior appointee emphasized the political nature of the position. The other supremo, Floyd Dominy, reached even greater heights of political influence from 1959-69, rising however, from within Reclamation following the internal political route of supervisorships. It is a pleasure to record that he was one of the chief orchestrators of the pro-dam effort that finally collapsed in defeat in 1968.

Mar 45, emphasizing that the Kanab tunnel idea was now an integral part of planning, DNV gathered estimates on the idea, with design changes such as a new tunnel alignment and putting the power house at the junction.  DNV then produced cost estimates for all three big tunnel routes, Bridge, Marble, Kanab. The high temperatures (well > 100°) had to be taken into account; perhaps with elbows near the San Francisco Peaks. Different sizes were considered. Mar 45, on its own, LADWP carried out a speculative study of a Marble-Kanab tunnel power project, based on Reclamation data.  Both Glen and Bridge dams were assumed, with a 42.5 mile tunnel, which was the main and unprecedented feature. The study came up with cost estimates; the tunnel itself was a little more than half, but there was no detailed geology yet.

In April, there were estimates on the various dams, even with the "meagre information provided", a reminder of how little field work had been done. Page advised considering a smaller diversion as well, to avoid the appearance of settling any water rights. He raised the matter of Boulder power output. 

This map showing the facilities involved in CAP alternatives was produced by BC in May. There was also a Bluff silt site on the San Juan. Note there was no diversion to Tucson. The Parker and Bridge canal routes over to Phoenix differed. 

Jun 45, BC released a story on the "gigantic dams, tunnels, power plants and canal systems envisioned for the Colorado", including the Kanab tunnel. This was its first public notice, and brought a rebuke since it should have come from the Secretary. The talk was of a 34' diameter tunnel, but further "appraisal does not suggest (it) should receive early consideration". The proliferation of CAP plans was indicated by the options: three routes, two amounts of water diverted, impact on Boulder & cost of pumping along Parker route, two interest rates, and three lengths of pay-out (up to 100 years). The Bridge dam + Big Sandy tunnel looked best, and that meant the issue of impact on Boulder needed to be settled urgently. All were agreed that if the loss of Boulder power were a cost on the upstream projects, there would be a furor and an opening of Pandora's box. In summing the position of the various parties up in July, Page ended up inclining toward a Parker route, with pumping power from Bridge. A squabble then arose over whether to distribute the report on routes to all the Basin states, given that it is solid and factual, yet will stir controversy. In August, Page was getting more and more concerned about California resisting any plan that cut water to Boulder, reinforced by the lawyer who raised the question to begin with. He opined it would be best to go for Parker + Bridge for power only in order to avoid litigation by Boulder users.

Aug 45, Regional Director (RD) was leaning toward the idea of Parker, with Bridge and Marble tunnels described as only future possibilities. The draft report presented the options as hypotheses, none of which arrived at a match of costs and benefits, unless longest payout times were used. If users pay up to their limits, then U. S. would have to absorb the rest. Noteworthy that Parker route has firmest data and calculations. "Inherent in Marble and Bridge routes are construction risks and potentially uncontrollable conditions" that cannot be calculated. Therefore, detailed work is recommended only on Parker.  

On Aug 25, Senator McFarland flew to Boulder City to exert pressure --tremendous now with end of war-- to get report. He favored Marble, then Bridge. He was surprised at the estimates of the smaller amount of water and the cost. BC told him water was only a supplement to existing farms; no new land for veterans. He was in a hurry, and wanted some kind of interim report, so was willing to go for Parker, maybe with Bridge tunnel later. Regional Director concluded that a detailed report would not work, and asked DC for permission to turn out something lesser in three months. This conflicted with larger-scale Basin study that had assumed Bridge, so just have to drop it from basni construction program. Still worried about criticism by other states if report read as making recommendations. Arizonans for Marble-Verde route active, but discounted as lunatic fringe by other factions. Oct 45, Page reported discussions in Arizona; reluctant agreement on Parker, even though it was "least worst", and not easy to justify. Pressure strong on congressional delegation, including to use Bridge for power, so I suggested stages of water diversion, followed by Bridge dam. 

Nov 45, Basin report was being circulated. internally, there were criticisms on design, water, power, law. For instance, the Director of Power Utilization said the data did not provide a sound basis for comparison, and that comparisons should use current Bureau methods. FPC suggested considering no diversion at all. LADWP agreed with Parker route, and urged a high Glen dam to regulate flow of water for lower basin. All of this upset BC, since that office did not want report released before internal review, and now there was public release in newspapers. Representative Murdock chimed in, calling for a high high dam at Glen to irrigate Navajo lands. Ironically, the Commissioner replied that such a dam would drown Rainbow Bridge, bring protests, and evaporate a large amount of water. (That tune changed.)

Jan 46, the Commissioner told region to make the report like a project report, so it could be used for Congressional authorization. The Supreme Court would have to handle Arizona's rights. Since many small projects may not be individually justified, they should all be units of a whole basin plan. The Power Division suggested Parker plus a less costly Bridge power dam; easier to get through Congress. Continuing, criticism came from California claiming there was no water for Arizona. NPS repeated its objections to Kanab, diverting all but 1000 cfs, as contrary to Park purposes, but apparently agreed to Bridge backwater to Kanab.  

Feb 1946, NPS wondered about Arizona Congressman Murdock, who seemed not to like the Kanab project, and seemed more the Park's friend than foe as far as a high dam was concerned; however, he had previously said an inter-agency agreement would be better than legislation to handle conflict. Hayden meanwhile had a draft bill, for discussion purposes among states, and wanted Reclamation to continue work assuming the Bridge + tunnel route. This idea was reinforced at a meeting of Arizona and Reclamation officials, at which former said only Bridge should be further investigated; newspapers follow this line. Region worried about being stampeded, and asks for Governor to make formal request for the Bridge route. But Larson worried about bill, since he preferred Parker.
At this time, LADWP, thinking first about protecting Boulder's power capacity, was emphasizing a combination that would start with a dam in Glen for regulation; then fitting in the Bridge and Kanab projects. They continued calculating costs and evaluations emphasizing a Glen+Bridge plan through the year. It was important not to be stuck as just anti-CAP. They tried to deal with evaporation losses and impact on Boulder, in one variation coming up with a "very radical thought" to add in the future another dam below Bridge, if Mead were to be permanently drawn down. That radical thought echoed in the late 1960's LADWP idea of turning Bridge into a pumped-storage project with the catchment dam just downstream. 

In April, Commissioner wrote Governor asking state to agree on a program of comparison and interim studies on Bridge and Parker to obtain adequate data and prevent Reclamation from being forced into premature or inadequate action. But Region said in May that comparison of Bridge and Parker would show "rather conclusively" the advantages of Parker. RD also complained that NPS refused to set monetary value on visitation, so why did we fund their studies. At this time, geology consultants were considering the dam and tunnel rocks for Bridge. 

Sometime in here, Senator McFarland introduced S. 2346.

May 46, Governor Osborn replied that Bridge was best, provided Reclamation supported it. So he asked for a complete feasibility report on the Bridge route, and that Parker be deferred as unnecessary. Senator Hayden agreed. 

May 1946, Commissioner wrote to the Secretary that Reclamation and NPS agreed that the policy was to protect the Park and Monument from intrusion while permitting full analysis of the potential for "highest beneficial use". Reclamation would confer with NPS on all current projects. Field officials in September wanted to make the Monument a recreation area and to cut into the Park boundary.

Jun 46, the geologists reported on three Bridge tunnel routes, each with different disadvantages. They suggested moving inlet one mile downstream to dam, then have tunnel go back to miss fault in Peach Springs and plug of Austin Peak, then take sharp corner to Big Sandy.

Jun 46, Commissioner wrote Osborn that we need complete investigations in order to testify that Bridge is best. So we shall do comparison report and concurrently study feasibilities of Bridge and Parker routes. Interim report on latter being done; maybe Congress could act on that. Internally, costs estimate was pushed for Parker so that if Bridge feasible, we can deal with state pressure for it. Region was also pushing DC because its lack of decision on pending topics was seriously interfering with orderly prosecution of work. 

Jul 46, after a May meeting, LADWP wrote the Commissioner with its own concept. We are worried silt would soon render Bridge run of the river, so less useful to us. Build a large Glen dam--in excess of dam in Marble-- to regulate water and hold silt, with incidental power generation. That would triple Bridge output, at which there would be no diversion. This combination would reduce the cost of power production. Allocation of costs (regulation & power equal) could be tailored to make a package attractive to Congress, and not a burden on power users. There should be one Congressional action. Reclamation comment was that this was a negotiating position on power coordination possibilities. 

Jul 46, Commissioner had convinced NPS to assign monetary value to visitation, and a study was done. Vexed by the cluster of unresolved questions and ambiguities, staff of DC, BC and SLC, plus lawyer and Page, met in Salt Lake to work on answers. With respect to impact on a Grand Canyon dam, the relevant points were: Bridge and the CAP should be one project. Not only that, but silt dams like Coconino, and Glen Canyon itself, could be parts of the CAP (the upper basin staff disagreed with this).  Further, power from Bridge should be part of a lower basin integrated operation. On loss of power at Hoover, the group foundered once again, waiting for the Commissioner. Power revenues could be preferentially used to pay off interest-bearing costs. Other questions were left, pending DC action. The group could not decide between Bridge and Parker--power (of both kinds) and money factors had to be taken into account. Nevertheless, Bridge benefits would be used to carry less feasible elements of the CAP, giving a pooling effect for basin development. I.e., Bridge Canyon dam would be a cash register to help pay for water diversion. This characterization would attach to it permanently, and 20 years later, would help doom it.

In August, LADWP continued discussions internally about Glen+Bridge strategy; they wonder about suggesting a cooperative effort to Reclamation. They also came up with the (new?) thought that Arizona would do better using the CAP for industrial uses than irrigation, an idea the FPC prompted, and one that would eventually be used, and because the price of industrial water was five times that from farming, help make the CAP more financially viable.

Sep 46, NPS had an opinion from the Attorney General that the Monument cannot be abolished, but could be modified by executive order. However, taking the canyon out would contravene purpose, so legislation would be required anyway. This month, a board of consultants was convened to look at the Bridge CAP tunnels: geology, temperature, water flow, shaft spacing, ventilation, cost, construction requirements. Up to 3000' deep; no adits. Their report noted the difficulty of tunneling at great depth in crystalline rock. No tests could be made, so experience was guide. They concluded that such a tunnel could be done and operate indefinitely without much repair, and no hidden or obscure earth forces would threaten it in our time. But it would take 8 or 9 years at enormous cost: unprecedented. A news conference was held, which led to stories & editorials that it was possible, and the die was cast for the Bridge route. Arizona politicians had to back this approach; it was Bridge or nothing. Reclamation's Larson despaired over trying to correct the misimpressions, and noted that the delegation had been careful lately to leave the door open to Parker. A DNV technical team was positive, even complacent, about the tunnel. In November, the Commissioner was told by Chief Engineer the tunnel (n.b., this is the Big Sandy tunnel to take water from Bridge south, not the Kanab project) feasible even with its large uncertainties. So CAP question is still one of comparison, and we should keep studying. We need much more information, and unless we can rule out tunnel on present data, additional exploration is indispensable. 

The irresolution was continued, then, into 1947.

Sources: LA Dept of Water and Power
Bureau of Reclamation

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