Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dam Battle - February 1967 Press

1 Feb, Star, carried a report on testimony at an Arizona legislative hearing on the irrelevant scheme to bring water to Phoenix from Lake Powell through a 160-mile tunnel.

Irrelevant, as with so much else, because on this date, the hinge swung smartly and irrevocably toward closed on fate’s door for the dams.

1 Feb, in many papers, from AP, Sentinel, and a Sierra Club press release, the news was broken: A new concept for the lower Basin project was announced by Interior Secretary S. Udall. Two “controversial” dams were dropped, with pumping power for the CAP to be (pre-)purchased. Separate legislation would add Marble Canyon to Grand Canyon National Park. A national water commission would be created and action on Hualapai dam would be “deferred”. Udall said, “We now propose to obtain low-cost pumping power for the project by federal prepayment for 400 megawatts of capacity in a large efficient thermal plant built in the region under the sponsorship of the utilities (of WEST).” Interior, the Budget Bureau, and the White House are solidly behind the plan.
  RMN on 31 Jan had broken the story, saying Udall would announce the plan in a couple of days.
  Sentinel headlined the “mere shell of a plan which Congress unsuccessfully wrestled with last year’, with five upper Basin projects cut, along with the two Grand Canyon dams, a guarantee for California’s water allocation, and a lower Basin fund for future water projects. It is “a signal victory for the Pacific Northwest and the conservation groups”. Added would be the “unique” feature of federal prepayment for pumping power. The CAP would be paid for by the prepayment feature, municipal and industrial water pricing, and a property tax in the water using area. Udall’s announcement followed a four-month review in Interior and the Budget Bureau. [I had been informed that Bureau of Reclamation employees did all the heavy lifting.] Most basin water problems would be left outstanding. Aspinall had set 15 Feb as the date for an Interior report, hearings to follow. Aspinall & Johnson have already introduced a bill slightly scaled down from that of 1966. Arizonans’ bill was like the administration’s but with Hualapai dam included. Udall had talked with Senators Jackson and Anderson — who approved — as well as Aspinall and Hayden.
  The Club release listed: the water commission, adding Marble to the Park, deferring a decision on Hualapai dam, immediate authorization of the CAP including Hooker Dam [important to us because it would invade the nation’s first Wilderness, the Gila in New Mexico]. The prepayment plan will allow rates of $10/acre-foot for agricultural water, $55/af for m&i, with a property tax of .5 mil for the serviced counties. Udall asserted that this success is possible because of a new high level of cooperation between public and private utilities.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dam Battle - January 1967 Press

This entry continues the dam story using a file of press clippings I collected at the time. The Rep. Udall kitchen-sink bill had sunk in August 1966, and the big question was what the project backers would come up with now? The Sec. Udall initiative — ordering the Bureau of Reclamation to think of as many different plans-without-dams as it could — was complete, and the new Congress would convene to deal with these the different attempts, all, of course, still with the Central Arizona Project as the core.

1 Jan, Sentinel, reported that the Arizona Power Authority had asked the Federal Power Commission to issue the pending license for the APA to build Marble Dam, since the congressional moratorium on FPC action had expired the day before. The APA had filed in 1958, and the FPC was ready to issue a license when Congress enacted the moratorium in Aug 1964 at the behest of the Arizona delegation.
 The APA now argued there was no reason for further delay, it had spent $2.5 million, the project was feasible on economic, engineering, and financial grounds, all power head will be developed,  recreational values will be enhanced not adversely affected, power is urgently needed and can be marketed, annual benefits would be power ($3-4 million) and recreation ($8.5 million), conservation arguments are inaccurate and misleading.

1 Jan, Post editorial offered the opinion that the easily justified farmer-based Reclamation projects of the past will have to yield to new considerations of technology and population growth in the cities.

Early Jan, the Republic’s Ben Cole argued the political influence of Republican John Rhodes has increased after the 1966 elections due to a fortified position on the Appropriations Public Works subcommittee. Rhodes & his Democratic colleague Udall planned a “missionary” journey through the Basin states to talk about mutual interests. Another good sign is that Senator Hayden has recovered from a “trying illness”. And Secretary Udall says that his Reclamation experts have nearly completed their re-evaluation of the water projects.

At this time, the Sentinel editorialized on the “futile exercise” of trying to buck the emotion stirred up by the campaign to save the Grand Canyon. Though preservationists oversimplify and distort the facts, the general public doesnt care. Still the current Interior study of thermal power is folly, since it will cause a fight with private utilities. So we propose that Arizona build a thermal plant to help a federal CAP.

3 Jan, RMN, notes several important water resource bills were passed in the last Congress, and the new one will be dealing with several more big proposals, including the CAP. There will be a national water commission and a national wild & scenic rivers bills.
  It also cited the same authorities as the Post had that the cities were now able to over-match farmers in water matters.

4 Jan, RMN & Farmington NM, ran an AP report on the growing establishment of regional water councils to plan resource use and conservation.

6 Jan, RMN, gave space to Reclamation’s Dominy bragging about the burgeoning power capacity of the upper Basin dams — Glen, Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, Morrow Point — though he noted that water supply was still too low to permit full power utilization.
  Rainmaking was also in the news, due to a proposed bill by Colorado Senator Dominick to fund an “ambitious” weather modification project for the Colorado Basin.

10 Jan, Helena Montana editorial rained a bit on all this parade by noting that instead of water going from the Northwest down to Arizona, that Arizonans pay for their water without subsidization — that probably would solve the import question.

10 Jan, Republic analyst R. Glasgow noted that even if Arizona built its own CAP, when water shortages showed up, that aqueduct might well not be full. Comments by Californian water officials indicate that shortages are inevitable, so it would be better to stay together to consider how to deal with the future.

11 Jan, Republic: The Arizona House delegation introduced its bill to build a high Bridge Canyon dam, create a basin account to received extra revenues, make the water owed Mexico a national burden to be investigated by a new national water commission, and not to guarantee California its water allotment in times of shortage. Californians meanwhile had re-introduced the failed 1966 bill.
  The Interior Department asked the FPC to suspend any proceedings on the APA dam proposal, since the federal government was committed to Colorado Basin legislation.

12 Jan, Sentinel, reports on agreement between Interior Committee Chair Aspinall and Interior Sec Udall that Colorado Basin bill will be one of only three issues to be taken up in the new Congress. Aspinall reintroduced a bill much like the 1966 bill, with the changes he favored to have a national water commission that would oversee a reconnaissance study of import. Marble dam and an import feasibility study were both dropped.
  The Arizonans’ bill, in return, dropped the Colorado five projects and any import study. Thus, California and Colorado seem to be moving closer, but Wyoming and Utah are “stand-offish”. Seats are being sought on relevant committees by Basin congressmen.

12-13 Jan, Rep. Ottinger (D-NY) press release that he was introducing bill to suspend any action by the FPC on dams “that would flood the Grand Canyon”. (AP in Republic, NYTimes, Santa Fe).

13 Jan, Tucson Citizen, reports on Goldwater, running for Senate, was asserting a state-built CAP was entirely feasible.

14 Jan, Post: Colorado water officials approved their legislative approach including criteria for water storage behind Glen Canyon dam, a Bridge Canyon dam lowered a bit to keep its reservoir out of the National Park, no Marble dam, study of water import, and the five Colorado projects. Sparks of the water board says Hayden will introduce and get quickly passed a CAP-only bill. But Aspinall has his own bill and there will be a conference. He noted Aspinall included a high Bridge dam as a “slap” at the preservationists, who will also lose if the FPC licenses the APA Marble dam. Aspinall denounced those fighting to save the Grand Canyon because they are unwilling to compromise, and thus may get BOTH dams (Hee-hee, smirked the old man?)

15 Jan, Republic columnist Avery reported the state hunting group, the AGPA, is to “open a drive” to get a CAP with a Bridge dam — that, Ben (irrelevantly) sneers, “once was approved by the Sierra Club of California at a time when tempers were not so hot” (and the world was young and stupid).

mid?-Jan, Republic reports that the President’s budget message will endorse building the CAP, although it will call for using the thermal power plant route instead of dams. That plant would be built by the utilities consortium Western Energy Supply and Transmission. The federal government would prepay WEST to help with construction, in exchange for the CAP’s pumping power.
  California’s House bill did not include Bridge dam, he writes.
  Sec. Udall will testify before Aspinall’s committee on the administration proposal next Tuesday.

17 Jan, Star ran a New York Times story that Interior asked the FPC to delay any action on the APA’s Marble license since the administration was committed to the CAP and interest in Lower Colorado Basin issues has reached a “new crescendo of intensity”.

19 Jan Star, reported that Sierra Club official Ingram addressed the AGPA meeting, saying that no prime hunting land on the Kaibab would be taken. Cong. Saylor had introduced a new Park enlargement bill, “designed to prevent the building of dams”. The previous year’s bill had been drafted without realizing it could affect hunting areas. Ingram suggested a joint effort by the Club and the AGPA to draw boundaries for a rim bill, “balking” at the suggestion to include government officials. Ingram appeared with the Club’s executive director; and the two ”conducted themselves well”, in what might have been an “explosive” moment. Such a moment appeared when a member “produced two buckets marked His and Hers, tar and feathers, and a hangman’s noose, saying, ‘This is what I have to show people who want to take my hunting.’, to which Ingram made the perfect reply: ‘Well, I guess this only proves that some sportsmen can be as emotional as we can.’”

19 Jan, Farmington Times reports Aspinall thinks hearing may be held after mid-Febrary. At present, not all bills have been introduced, and not all committee seats have been settled upon. Aspinall and Johnson (of Calif. the new irrigation subcommittee chair) have reintroduced last year’s bills, leaving out Marble dam. The Arizonans, backing away from the import proposal, stand alone.

20 Jan, Republic reports that Johnson, though from California, is “a fair man” who has been helped in his district by Arizonan legislators Hayden and Rhodes.

22 Jan, Republic ran an article on a promoter of an alternative CAP, through a tunnel from Glen Canyon Dam. However, a Reclamation engineer said the studies had been done and bringing up the tunnel idea again would just mean years of delay.

22 Jan, Sentinel queried Reclamation’s Dominy about thermal power, and he replied that there were no plans to buy any such plant. Thermal alternatives were being investigated, but the high Hualapai Dam is “much more economically feasible”. He added that weather modification “gives extraordinary promise”.

24 Jan, Republic reported that a state legislator will introduce a bill to build an Arizona-financed CAP.

27 Jan, Star editorializes about proposals, like the North American Water & Power Alliance, to bring water from Alaska to Tucson, and the questions raised.

28 Jan, Sentinel, Republic, S.L. Tribune, Star, et al. ran an AP story on the Sierra Club having filed an amended petition with the FPC challenging a state-built dam in Marble Gorge on the grounds of economic infeasibility and adverse scenic & recreational impacts. It claimed a nuclear plant, built near Phoenix, would be less costly.

Jan, Colo. Riv. Assoc. newsletter round-up: Full consultation and a united front needed, say water officials. Arizonans not in agreement, some for a state plan, others to renew federal effort. Hayden says there will be separate Arizona bills for a bare-bones CAP bill. Colorado is behind a slightly modified 1966 bill. Sierra Club statement is that it will fight any dam at any site or height—CAP can be paid with revenues from existing dams.