Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dams: Some details on the APA and the Canyon, 1956-64

Having told the story of the APA's grabbing for the brass ring, only to have it snatched away just when its fingers were curling around it, there remain many pages of my notes on APA archives. Most bear on the intra-state relations and squabbles, but some fill in details on how the Grand Canyon figured in the APA dream. I am not writing a history of Arizona's fight for water, except as it dragged in the Grand Canyon, seen by water mavens as a source of water to fill a tunnel, as a power generator to pump water from elsewhere, as a cash register to fund their dreams -- the dream here is of verdant farms and proliferating houses with green lawns in central Arizona, and the Canyon slaved to those ends. 

Another comment about the FPC process being so much like a law-court: Its legalistic procedures provided innumerable openings for delayers. It seduced Arizona into believing that, because they had the law on their side (water rights, damsites in Arizona, withdrawals shutting out Navajo,…), their case was righteous. If it had been only a congressional fight, a case of political lobbying, might it have gone more smoothly, even more swiftly?

So here are some added details of the 1956-64 APA/Marble story.

Feb, right at the start, attorney R. Marks wrote to the governor that the Hualapai should take part in all conferences on a Bridge dam. 
APA staff recommended an early study of Bridge.

Jan, APA told Hayden that because it was studying Kanab, it did not want the Park or Monument extended.
Jul-Aug flurry because of LADWP's application; Udall & Hayden (Democrats; D.C. delegation) urged caution to avoid any irrevocable step. 
Aug, Marks suggested that APA approach the tribal council. A meeting was set, and at year's end, the Hualapai petitioned FPC. Harza Engineering set up to begin work. 
Nov, Harza draft appraisal reviewed history, discussed diversions, including Bridge & Verde, and Prospect dam, but did not bring up he effect on Hoover. Drafts continued into 1958, with even more about diversions, none of which were financially feasible. AISC agreed to more study, but eventually became disenchanted with Harza's work. 
Dec Harza suggested APA apply for Marble Canyon dam, since its power would be competitive.

Apr, Harza presented report on Marble recommending dam parameters. 
June 24, APA filed for an FPC license for Marble and Bridge.
Harza had presented discouraging draft report on a combined water and power project done by state.
Aug, APA wrote NPS that its low Bridge was out of the Monument. Their dams would be run of the river, so drawdown would be minimized. They would greatly enhance recreation.
Nov, APA met with Navajo representatives, who were aware 2650 acres of reservation would be inundated, and they wanted reasonable remuneration, as they did for access to the site to study it. They also wanted some power. 
Throughout this period, Harza was active with advice and prompting, an active consultant.

Jan, AISC told Harza to stop studying diversion. Harza was working on dams operating as run-of-the-river for power, but Interior said it might not go along with that, and anyway was against FPC action before the water suit settlement.
February meeting of Arizonans: officials, water agencies, banks, power companies were to find out strength of support for APA seeking license. The response was enthusiastic and unanimous. Water group would actively and vigorously assist APA. 
July, a meeting with Reclamation was negative: dubious about a dual approach, or even any non-federal dam, It wanted a high Bridge, and to wait until the water suit was resolved. A Paria dam was needed to protect Glen operations. 
Aug, California floated idea of a tri-state Bridge.
Sep, analysis of Harza data showed fed project cheaper, substantially. APA amended its application to allow for higher capacity, higher Bridge, with a Little Colorado silt trap.
November, there was gap between APA and water groups because a state dam would not support the water project enough, and might make any CAP consideration by fed tougher. Distrust rose to the point that water people insisted CAP required a high Bridge. A further meeting tried to relegate APA action to a block of California. 
Harza provided a lay lesson in dams. Gravity was a lump of concrete massive enough to act as a plug, which would not tip over or slide. Arch was two-fold: the curve bowing upstream carried the load to the sides, and a vertical cantilever with its end embedded in the river bedrock.
Dec, FPC staff, LADWP, and APA met. LADWP tried to delay as usual…after Glen, after suit resolved… LADWP would not contest Marble, so consider it alone, and postpone a fight on Bridge. AISC pressed on water, thought about talking with Reclamation; it was making distance from the APA.

Jan, APA archeologist Euler got in tangle with NPS, which demanded he get permit.
February 1, LADWP filed for a Bridge license. 
Memo on 24th about differences between APA and water agencies. Former should give up Marble, and we would all press ahead on federal project. 
March meeting with APA and water people reinforced idea of APA as block to LADWP. APA, however, did not endorse that course, since it would de-emphasize Marble, and back Reclamation development.
Prospect was dropped, since it was to counter LADWP high Bridge, now dropped.
Apr, Reclamation was eager to discuss a basin account. APA and AISC disagreed on the  best course; former was intent on getting license. 
In May, APA was aiming for FPC hearings to be done by end of year, then FPC consideration and our briefs would bring it before the full Commission by November 1961, with a decision by Feb 1962. There might be a court suit. And in that month, the master's report in the water suit was favorable to Arizona. APA  was feeling pressure to hold up, but also it believed it application strengthened Arizona's stance. 
Aug, FPC pushed ahead on getting agreements, but Navajo were refractory, although their demands were like those for Hualapai, including annual dollar payments, recreation & access controlled by Navajo, a block of power, and name of dam. Agreement foundered because APA interpreted 1934 Boundary Act to give rights to dam & reservoir land to Arizona, and Navajo attorneys said it did not. The question then is whether Navajo were being prodded by Interior, in league with Reclamation in opposition to a state Marble, since Navajo would supposedly get benefits from a federal dam.  And note that Reclamation had held up its Marble report for upstream dam once it knew APA was going downstream. 
Sep, LADWP asked for more time; FPC unhappy, so only granted a short delay. CAPA (Arizona water lobby) wanted APA to ask FPC for delay. 
APA celebrated Hualapai contract as blocking California and securing Hualapai cooperation.
APS, big private utility, argued for APA moving for dams in order to prevent Reclamation from dominating power field. 
Nov 4 and 10 meetings of LA and APA to get agreement: If Marble not opposed by LADWP or delayed by studies, then no permanent work would be done until Jun 62; Kanab, if feasible, would trump APA Marble; they would jointly contribute to a Reclamation Bridge study.
Nov 15, examiner severed Bridge at joint request, and would proceed to Marble hearing.
Dec, APA's Administrator (ex-Reclamation) Nielsen reviewed a fractious meeting with LADWP over "harsh" tone of APA position paper on cooperation. Smoothed over, and Reclamation deprecated its old Kanab work. 

Undated memo from Nielsen mulled over course to get NPS support for changing NM & NP boundary for Bridge by reassuring NPS there would be no Kanab from APA Marble, thus "leaving the purists ineffective". Public and Arizona were entitled to weigh values of "full conservation and use (of this very valuable resource of the Bridge dam) vs. adverse values put upon reservoir by purists". He proposed CAP with high Bridge after negotiation with NPS. It is no secret that Interior-Reclamation was opposing APA Marble, and they might sacrifice Bridge to get a federal Marble. But if purists received any encouragement, they would oppose a modified Bridge affecting only the Monument as bitterly and effectively as if Park affected. A federal Marble-CAP would be hard to get, since APA work had shown fed was not necessary. So APA should push federal high Bridge for CAP.
Jan, LA and Nevada, over APA objection, got an extension to June to present Kanab.
Mar, Reclamation suggested LA & APA ask Secretary for update of Kanab.
Apr LA & APA (Bateman & Nielsen) meet.

The hearing before the FPC examiner began 2 May 1961 and ended in December. I have 13 pages of notes from the transcript, but most are irrelevant to this story. I am putting the interesting parts here, between the lines:


in my notes, I wrote this: The FPC hearings went very quickly and smoothly, to the examiner's surprise. There was no challenge to the details of the project; LADWP, for instance, put forward only the weak case for Kanab as an alternative, a distraction and delay, with the Navajo, another federal advocate, pushing their claim to be the owners.

Early in the May 1961 sessions, the LADWP witness said it was not much concerned with Marble; it was gathering material on Kanab. The most action came from N.Littell, the Navajo's lawyer, who poked and prodded the APA witnesses. He seemed to bring out that there was little or no recreation access or facilities in APA plan. He tried to show the Navajo were not considered, but at one point, FPC examiner says they have been nursed along with special provisions.
Hearing resumed in Oct, with a different examiner, and continued to December end. By this time, LADWP had prepared testimony on Kanab, with argument that it was a better alternative than Marble alone. First, there was APA testimony on the Navajo boundary; problem arose because there was no survey of township lines yet. 
Then LADWP started on Kanab, wanting FPC to recommend that Congress take it up, so therefore FPC should not license APA Marble since that would pre-empt Kanab, making it infeasible. There was wrangling as NPA tried to bring in NPS witnesses on Kanab, but LADWP successfully kept them out, and then re-argued that FPC should recommend this project be studied. It could be done in 12 years. Tunnel construction would be harder if  Marble were in place, since one end would be in reservoir. (I will take a more detailed look at the Kanab studies in a separate entry.) Littell tried to join the Navajo position to LADWP. As he argued about what Navajo wanted, it seemed even clearer that he was just supporting a federal project. The FPC lawyer seemed aggressive in his questioning on the side of the APA, as if the FPC were at stake, not just a judge. 

After cross examination of Kanab witnesses, Littell started Navajo case by saying use of Colorado is of such broad public interest, entire matter should be done by Congress. His witness contested APA on location of dam because its maps were inaccurate. Then he brought on a long-time Reclamation employee who discussed Reclamation's Marble study, and how coordination on river was important. He pretended to be only technical witness for tribe. Cross examined to show his testimony was not relevant to Navajo needs; APA lawyer moved to eliminate it. But examiner wanted to have data, even though it was on Reclamation project that Reclamation did not come to testify on. I.e., witness was just a cover to get case made for federal project. And indeed, after he was asked more questions, with his answers of no help for Navajo, his testimony was stricken from the record. The Navajo Parks man talked about all the development, access above and below the dam and at Lees, and a road over it to get to the North Rim faster, and another to open up Tatahatso Mesa. And there was a limitless list of economic potential. 
Secretary did not want NPS chief to testify, which surprised the NPA lawyer. But after more anti-Kanab witnesses, NPS does appear in early December, and rehearses Parks and Kanab history. Of course, there was nothing against Marble itself, since NPS "already agreed" to it. Nielsen of APA came back to wind up case. 

1961 cont.
May, Harza began study of a minimum-flow 2000 cfs re-regulating dam, perhaps as the intake for a Kanab tunnel. Study of that showed possible powerhouse locations in Kanab or Deer Creek. 
Navajo Tribal Council passed resolution in opposition to APA and in favor of a Reclamation dam.
Jul, as APA prepared for testimony, emphasis was on Marble operated for peaking power. 
Aug, APA was upset at Reclamation helping the Navajo testimony and at LADWP on Kanab, but in a meeting with Dominy and Interior command, APA was "reassured" that Interior was not opposed to us, offering plausible explanations. But Nielsen thought otherwise: Navajo testimony was just in favor of a Reclamation Marble. Interior argued for a federal Marble to share power and reimburse Glen. And NPS testimony showed again Interior's unbroken opposition to APA Marble, and not making the true case of NPS being against Kanab and never objecting to Marble. 
Sep, Navajo puffed the idea of a bill for a federal Marble to supply them with water. APA called it a "monstrous" idea.
Oct, APA accused LA of bad faith by coming up with its superficial appraisal of Kanab.
Nov, Nielsen criticized the Interior's Holum letter: it was double talk to say there are other than electric uses in Glen-Mead stretch. Greater fed benefit for Marble was because a federal involvement would bring a lower interest rate, "buried in Treasury bookkeeping". [He should know, as RD, Asst Comm, CE before retiring to APA.]
Congressman M. Udall met with APA, and was impressed by their arguments. They were not angry with "my brother" (SecInt S. Udall), but felt he is misadvised; they need to meet.

Sep, APA told FPC it would proceed with field investigations to cut down time after license granted; to begin in January.
Oct, Navajo lawyers expressed opposition to APA license in toughest terms yet, but granted permit to investigate site anyway. 
Nov, APS said Interior motives were to promote public power.
APA decided the "volatile" Morgan on FPC favored a Reclamation study. 
Dec, the dam model Harza was making came with a photo to emphasize the size of the canyon. 

Jan, "Elec. World" magazine says old Interior-FPC fight sharpened with new Kennedy-appointed, aggressive officials. Udall desired to block non-federal projects; Morgan too is pro public power: in minority, and aggressive. At first, Interior higher-ups were critical of Dominy, but he has proved his worth.
Jan, Goldwater at odds with Hayden over S.502, the moratorium on FPC action. He sided with the APA. Hayden said, Feb, bill was to preserve status quo; license would interfere with my plans to have river unencumbered.
AISC put itself squarely with Hayden-Reclamation, and Goldwater excoriated them. He was not anti-Hayden, but anti giving up state advantage with Marble. 

Feb: BRobinson (on Sierra Club board) wrote to APA! Eastern groups look to us for leadership. All will be solidly behind NPS against Kanab. Unfortunate to flood Redwall Cavern. Nielsen reply was that 39.5 is the most comprehensive site. Kanab was no part of our project. And Robinson back: "I am convinced that it is in the public interest from the standpoint of both recreation and scenic preservation that the application of the APA should be approved as against the proposal of the Reclamation Service." I hope to convince my fellow directors. You will minimize chance of Kanab, and do more for recreation. We need, however, a road to get boats down, below dam. River running growing by leaps and bounds; hundreds. Muddy water is detriment due to intestinal problems and negligible fishing [!} So clear water from your dam is good. Also a re-regulating dam would stir up a hornet's nest of opposition, by interfering with boating, and conflicting "with the long-time dream … that …the boundaries of GCNP should be extended to a point a short distance below the Marble Canyon Dam." Assuming I can get Club support, what is timing to present to FPC? APA reply was cool. [So, one assumes, Robinson, pulling his tattered turncoat's rags about himself, shuffled into the gloom he had so richly earned.]

Mar, Harza reported on its drilling work. They had gone down 400' under channel. Over 700' of adits up wall to 200', much more for powerhouse.  Here are some photos showing the imprint of "investigations". 

April, APA Administrator Nielsen did studies of state power for water subsidy to get CAP without federal assistance. Hayden was not pushing S.502 now. Harza studies supported a state CAP with Marble and a low Bridge.
May, Hayden put out a strong memo for a simple CAP-Bridge project with no radical change from earlier bill that passed Senate ten years before. Argued against several add-ons, including a basin account or anything that would show high Bridge was not needed for CAP, only a low. 
Reference to 4 May 1963 Sierra Club resolution in favor of including all of Canyon, Lees to Grand Wash Cliffs in NP.
July, APA chairman attacked Udall brothers and their politically motivated basin account scheme. Nielsen said APA must oppose moratorium or FPC will "think ill of us".
Aug, APA told FPC it had spent $2 million so far on preparation; will continue in order to show good faith by planning transmission.
Sep, Harza analysis of PSWWP concluded Arizona would be better off out of it, working on its own. There would be adequate financing for a state plan (which paid off Hualapai and stiffed Navajo. And by the way, when the federal Marble was being talked up in 1965-7, the treatment was the same, one of the reasons the Navajo opposed a federal dam, too.)

Oct Sierra Club magazine had an M. Litton article defending entire canyon: "Shall we fail to go into battle because it is hard to win?" Urges a letter writing campaign. NParksA against Bridge of any height, but not (yet) Marble. APA comment that it would be wonderful California strategy to have entire Canyon put in Monument, and its lawyer assured APA that "once organized, they (conservationists) are a tremendous force."

Nov, Hayden made a direct attack on APA over its no-fed CAP. For 20 years, I have aimed at a federal project. Goldwater supports me, not you, whose "interest is other than … Arizona water". Our strategy requires having both dams available. 
Dec, in his analysis of PSWWP, Nielsen pointed out that Secretary used opposition to Bridge (or hurt to Canyon) to hold up on it, and thus make Marble necessary for CAP. This was the ploy Dominy had offered--and of course, they knew Bridge would be included in bill anyway. [Was this a bait-&-switch? We were used to block Bridge and that was used to grab Marble, and that done, they would grab Bridge too.] Much of his work was to show PSWWP was largely a plan to help California.

Lawyer Willey of APA: Take a pinch of Arizona free enterprise, mix in promise of water, shake with a grain of salt, pour in a campaign year, bake in the editorial pages, and swallow with hope of CAP. This recipe for confusion results in a hallucination called water for Arizona, led by governor following Rhodes following Hayden forced to follow Udall following Reclamation… leaving conservative Republicans castigating APA for plan to import River at no expense to taxpayers, while supporting Udall plan to federalize water and power. Only with this recipe can Arizona continue to receive its greatest resource from the Colorado: candidates for office.

Jan started with meeting on CAP, Marble, S.502. APA sniped at Reclamation's power. But legislature came out for moratorium, and Goldwater wrote that he was in full support of Hayden plan. Rhodes introduced moratorium bill Jan 27.
Mar, the APA went before a joint legislative session with governor to make their case about continuing their dam as a bargaining chip, and to try to head off memorial in favor of moratorium. Then, water lobbyists came in to attack idea of a state water project; federal project is the only way. Delegation was disgusted at APA pushing dam. Hayden-Rhodes telegram to APA that license would interfere with getting CAP. Arizona cannot pursue two courses; you must support. Water lobby attacked APA chairman for rejecting Hayden personal appeal in DC, to stop action threatening CAP authorization. AISC wanted legislative restraints on APA activities. Harza had produced report supporting the state plan; in fact, a low Bridge showed a better benefit-cost ratio than a high one. APA used this result to try to get Goldwater back on its side against FPC moratorium. [A dramatic confirmation that the APA was virtually standing alone, but would not back down. Surely this was about more than building a state power dam. In retrospect it came early enough that it did not affect the 1965-8 legislative story; the APA was an upstart trying to intrude on the turf, and in 1964 was kicked out of the yard.] 
Apr, APA trying to rebuff challenges to FPC's jurisdiction in Marble.  
Jun, FPC suggested a conditional license, but no go in committee, and it passed in July though the end date was cut from 1968 to 1966. Signed into law in August. 

Aug, in lamenting loss of FPC jurisdiction, APA lawyer talked about "Republican philosophy", and considered that all intervenors had had their day in court, so next step, in 1967, would be for FPC to decide.  

Sources: Archives of Arizona Power Authority, Phoenix
Federal Power Commission files, 1977


  1. Hi Jeff,
    Reading this and some of your other posts has been very interesting. I am in the process of writing a book about dams that were never built along the Colorado River, including Marble and Bridge Canyon dams. I'd love to be able to use some of your information as source material. Please contact me and let me know if that is kosher.

  2. Spreading the word about the Canyon --and discussing it -- is what this blog is all about. Contact: canyon-matters-ingram