Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dams: Marble + Kanab, - Kanab: 1960-3

Rising to a new peak in its mischief-making against Arizona's attempts to get FPC approval for a state dam, in November 1960, LADWP started thinking of seeking a meeting with Reclamation to discuss a recon of Kanab. This brightened Region 3 up, and it sought permission to review the "tremendous resource potentiality" of Kanab. The situation was that Reclamation over the previous decade had studied Marble, and decided on the 32.8 site; always hopeful about Kanab. 1956 on, Arizona (APA principal) & LADWP were skirmishing in the FPC arena, first over Bridge, and then, after pressure was brought to keep Bridge a federal project, APA focussed on Marble for its state dam.

January 1961, a new, now Democratic, administration took office, with Stewart Udall, formerly Representative from Arizona, as Secretary of the Interior. The next several months would involve Reclamation in three intertwined matters growing out of 1950's work: responding to the APA's FPC application, educating the new Interior officials, and responding to LADWP's initiative on Kanab. Then by 1964, these cards would all be shuffled into the new deck created by the decision in the water suit, Arizona v. California, and the administration's (and many others') response.

Work on Marble had been suspended in 1958, but in 1961, Reclamation made a new estimate of power capacity, 625 mw for 32.8 mile, 700 for 39.5. The APA asked for some Reclamation data from the 1940's. In March, Reclamation commented on the APA's Marble dam that the latter seemed to be aware now of tailwater encroachment, but still were not planning on Paria silt trap, and were not studying Kanab. 

In January, LADWP had made its request for Reclamation materials on Kanab, and followed this up in April with an estimate of two routes, the "Park route" and an "upper tunnel route". The significant features were the tunnel through the Park north of Tapeats, with a vertical shaft there and an adit at Fishtail. The construction could go about 50' per day. There was a range of estimates of capacity and cost, including assuming it could be peaking power. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dams: Marble - Kanab (but not really minus) 1949-59

In recounting Reclamation's venture into Marble Canyon, there are several factors that occur to me to investigate as I begin. 
First: Although it could always be considered as a separate project, a dam in Marble was entangled with the idea of diverting water from that stretch through an immense tunnel to drop into a power station at Kanab Creek. The best height and location in Marble for this combination was one important factor, even after the 1949 decision by Interior to abandon investigations of the tunnel, since the idea was too strong a temptation for dam-dreamers to abandon. 
Second, if the dam was to be built on its own, how far downstream and to what height could it be built to obtain adequate geology and optimum economic feasibility? This factor was complicated when the Arizona Power Authority decided to apply to the FPC for the Marble site Reclamation did not favor. As always, Reclamation was attuned to competing ideas, moving to block or co-opt them. 
The third factor was that Marble's reservoir not interfere with Glen's operation, and indeed there would be the question of coordinated operations. 
A fourth might have been the impact on the Park downstream. This was certainly controlling in the decision to shelve Kanab tunnel, as I have written; were there explicit worries about Marble by itself? Overall, in impact on the Canyon, this would have been a monstrous intrusion, along the rims, down in the canyon, from the rise and fall of the reservoir, and the flows below it. It will be interesting to see if and when NPS and NGO Canyon defenders started asking questions and raising objections. 

In earlier posts, I mentioned speculations in the 1920's-- LADWP's about a Kanab tunnel and La Rue's Redwall damsite at mile (below Lee's Ferry) 30 (he didnt like those just below that). One of the Arizona water factions ballyhooed a diversion from Marble east and south to the Verde. The debate over the location of a Glen Canyon dam also figured in, but all these took a back seat after Arizona and then Reclamation targeted Bridge from the late 1930's on. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dams: 1949, NPS Thinks about Bridge, Again

Dams: NPS 1949 Thoughts on Bridge

In a 4 May 1949 report, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. formulated for NPS Director Drury what he must have thought of as a fundamental view about Bridge and the Park, seeing a kind of contract. Olmsted, born in 1870, was dedicated to the Park System ideal, involved in its creation, and putatively as knowledgable as any Park supporter of the ups and downs of Grand Canyon Natonal Park. He was used heavily by Drury to provide guidance in the 1940's as pressure from Reclamation mounted for an ever higher Bridge Canyon dam. He jousted over Bridge's impacts in 1949 with Bestor Robinson as the latter formulated the position of expedience, whereby the Sierra Club could accept the dam as inevitable. These two could be considered together, and perhaps I will do that in the future, as exemplars of different rhetorics in how to be reasonable in the defense of wild & natural America, and end up promoting unreasonable loss.

In his report, Olmsted first offered a founding myth: Powell focussed attention on the Canyon. Then there came a growing stream of scientists and tourists. Niagara Falls was made a state park to protect against commercial exploitation. So in 1908, with Grand Canyon National Monument, the government decided to reserve one particular stretch of Grand Canyon as most outstandingly important, so that this one supremely significant stretch would be held inviolate against the advancing tide of economic exploitation. "That 1908 decision was made, and the Government assumed that unconditional obligation to protect and preserve the peculiar combination of natural conditions of that selected portion of the Grand Canyon for the purpose indicated, unimpaired by any subordination of that purpose to considerations of commercial profit or economic gain, with a clear understanding that this was likely to involve foregoing otherwise possible economic gains of large though as yet unmeasured magnitude, as for example from future developments of water-power when economically feasible."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dams, 1949: Marble-Kanab

In June 1945, there was a flurry of publicity from Reclamation's Boulder City (Region 3) office concerning a concept of "gigantic dams, tunnels, power plants and canal systems" for the Colorado River. The story had arisen from feasibility work for bringing river water to the Phoenix area, during which someone had suggested that putting the river in a tunnel in Marble Gorge and sending it to a powerplant in Kanab Creek could generate a lot of electricity. There had been reconnaissance in early 1945, with a visit to the mile 36.5 site finding a sizable fault, but farther downstream there was a site about mile 42. However, in July, the engineers had concluded that even with the sketchy data available, appraisal did not suggest that the Kanab Creek development should receive early consideration. Aug 45, the report on CAP alternatives mentioned Kanab tunnel, but later, reports concluded Marble was inferior, with not as good economics. (From Reclamation reports archive, BC)  (See my 7/2/10 entry.)

In 1948, a check of mile 42.4 in Marble disclosed no conditions precluding construction, though the profile was not ideal. More serious steps began in Apr 1949, looking at access to the river in the mile 29-38 stretch, since river travel would not be feasible until late summer. A trail was considered, and then a tramway overlooking mile 30. April saw an "urgent" request for money to make investigations in Marble/Kanab to tie into power production studies for Glen. BIA and Navajo approval was secured, and DC approved funds in May. So far this was all a quiet assessment, much like other engineers' appraisals over the previous quarter-century.

This all changed on 19 May 1949, when Reclamation issued a notice of initiation of investigation on the Marble-Kanab Project, to wit: To utilize the head of 1260' while avoiding dams in Grand Canyon National Park. Water for the Park would go through a powerhouse at Marble. Plans were needed for a high dam, long tunnel, two powerhouses, river regulation and transmission corridor. Also to determine location, given the difficult terrain, for roads and powerlines. Also to find the power system for the most satisfactory release of water through the Park. (My 10/7/10 entry has a map showing the scheme.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dams, and Parks III: the quiet 1950's

In April 1950, Drury's position was opposition to Bridge above 1877'; agreement it was an essential unit of river development; applause for abandonment of Kanab tunnel(another story)-- though Reclamation denied Kanab had been definitely abandoned. Phoenix and the National Park Ass'n exchanged the usual shots, after a 1949 article by NPA. In August, an article by Bernard deVoto in the Saturday Evening Post (both a big deal 60 years ago) about "ruin" of the National Parks moved Drury to say distributing it at Parks would be improper. The American Society of Icthyologists and Herpetologists opposed Bridge because of its effect on vertebrates and the Park; in comment, NPS agreed but dam is departmental policy, and quotes Robinson's P.Henry quote as encouragement. This reply brings a minor flurry as Tillotson worries the opinions were out of line. The ASIH wrote to Hayden anyway, deploring dam, saying they see environmental study as vital to understanding for proper use. 

October 1950, NPS to Reclamation that no benefits are created by reservoir over and above those existing, and we did not want to argue what is added vs. what destroyed. It prodded more in early 1951 about limiting height and clearing up ambiguity about additional works. Drury says NPS is concerned about Park, not Monument, and that we do not want to be associated with recreation development since that would look like approval of dam. When NPS did its recreation survey of Bridge in 1952-3, it ignored the Hualapai in spite of requests by BIA. 

Dams: Bridge's quiet time, 1950's, part II


The Arizonans continued to develop plans, and fence with LA, over Bridge and Marble-Kanab, but there was no agreement on how to proceed, so each pursued their permit  separately at FPC. They came to Washington thinking there could be a start on legislation in 1961. There was agreement to supply money for studies, so Arizona put up money for Reclamation to update CAP-Bridge. 

In April 1961, then, work began on an updating of the decade-old information on Bridge-CAP. NPS, Fish & Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers were asked for material. This was coincident with LADWP offering Reclamation money to revive studies on Kanab. On Bridge: There was a report on drainage areas for silt. The capacity was set at 1500 mw from 6 generators. Within two months, there were flood studies and power plant design, with projected power operations involving actual pumping of water and peaking capacity both. There had been a degradation in the river bed of 10' due to Mead's low level. Cost estimates were ready by October. The dam was set as a variable radius arch. The lower 14 miles of the Park would be affected by backwater & silt, which could reach 89' at the boundary. There is then extended discussion of sediment impact, made muddy because of use of 1947 report before silt traps like Coconino dam. Conclusion was that impact would be cut 60% by Marble and Coconino dams. Draft report went to DC in December. 

Dams: Bridge's quiet time, 1950's, part I

What was an activist bureau like Reclamation, full of macho and vinegar, to do when its centerpiece, Bridge-CAP, was put on the shelf? Fortunately, the upper Colorado River Basin states were raring to go, and although there was still much controversy, the planning and legislation were done by 1956, and real work could begin. More to the point for this blog, there were the plans for Marble Canyon dam and the Kanab tunnel power project. Then in the middle of the decade, Arizona and Los Angeles really created much noise by activating FPC consideration of non-federal dams in the Canyon. Marble-Kanab and the FPC each deserve to be considered as separate and parallel stories, even though of course, they have points in common.  
Before that, however, here is the collection of not always connected items the files hold, largely from Reclamation's files. There is already a short entry for what NPS was doing in these years. 

A 1951 Reclamation study gave Bridge a 40-year period before storage impairment.  However, it concluded that "it would be unwise to admit useful life …would be impaired…(the reservoir) would still serve a very useful purpose in providing power head". And anyway they knew by that time they were going after Glen.

California went on sniping about Arizona's water supply. It took aim at goundwater. Reclamation was not concerned about an impact on CAP justification. Valley National Bank of Phoenix offered no comfort in March 1952 when it put out a pamphlet to reassure people about Arizona's future: "water supply was definitely adequate for all ordinary purposes including almost unlimited municipal growth. Arizona has ample water to support ten to twenty times its present population…A sharp distinction must always be made between water for agricultural use and water for municipal use. We must frankly confess that reports of our drought are sometimes exaggerated. However, we hope someday to get the additional water to which we are entitled… we can make better use of it than the next fellow." 

Throughout early 50's,  Reclamation corresponded with electric machinery manufacturers. In 1948, 1950, 1952 and 1954, APA had asked FPC to hold up on its permit, but in abeyance,since decisions were being made elsewhere and no one would be hurt by the status quo; FPC agreed, Dec 54.

Nevada started a pro-Bridge flurry in Oct 1952, but it was all electoral politics. That state made other moves like this in the coming years, possibly as a California ally, according to LADWP archives.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

GCNP Boundary: Another NPS comparison: Segment I, east off the Shivwits

I have been taking a closer look at the somewhat ambiguous place on Segment I (the Shivwits rim), where it leaves the Shivwits and crosses the Esplanade to reach the rim of Parashant-Andrus Canyon. Here is the GCNP website map, with the area circled in red:
I have been comparing it to the official 1975 map, which is admittedly a bit slap-dash:
But look right where that lower, horizontal, orange line points--  match to my first green cross on the NPS map. On the official map, the line continues NNE to the rim, then bends back NW to point to the word "Boundary". My line of green crosses tries to follow the NNE part of that line. Contrariwise, the GCNP map does what the BLM map does, drops off due east, crosses over Mollies Nipple (not shown on the NPS map; out of modesty, I guess) to reach Parashant rim near the river. Here is BLM:
But the official map doesnt show any sort of due east indentation. The official line rather seems to go around that last point then, with a little bulge, head for the side canyon one higher up, as my green crosses try to show. This is supported by a close look at the township lines on the BLM and official map. On the official map, that bulgy line is way on the west side of T31N R10W, not cutting it in half as does the BLM map line. My green-cross line is supported by the grazing allotment maps (see my 9/13/10 entry) as well, which show a NE-trending line in T31N R10W for the 8/9-228 "afton snyder" boundary.

There is also a misleading aspect to the BLM & NPS maps, which shows up best on BLM: Their north-south boundary on the east side of the last point before the line goes due east is not located on the rim. In that area, there is a treed slope before the much-more precipitous Kaibab drop-off is reached. Moving the Park boundary about ½ mile east would bring it to the sharper rim and point it that much more toward the second side canyon up.

Friday, October 1, 2010

GCNP Boundary: Comparison with NPS map on GCNP website

On the NPS website for Grand Canyon National Park, there is a very nice map utility; it brings up a map of the full Park showing topography, the boundary, and important cultural features. Since the official map is undergoing work by NPS cartographers, I do not know the status of the website map, but in looking it over, I came across some interesting comparisons with my own conclusions. Here is a map and description of each, with a reference to my post(s) on that Segment.

Segment B. East side of Marble Canyon (posts 7/18-21/10)
The NPS map shows the boundary all the way up on the east rim of Marble, which under the 1975 GCNP Enlargement Act, can only happen if the Navajo concur. I do not believe they have, or will. However, this is a good place to make this point: There could be administrative arrangements made that the public would not know about without digging, and indeed it has happened that congressional action has been taken in big package bills, which again, the public may not know about. My position remains that the boundary lies on, goes to, the left bank of the Colorado, so that the entire river surface is in the Park, but no land on Marble's east side.