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.
Then came the reaction:
2 Feb, AP reported congressional reaction ranging from “a sound basis for agreement” to “ill considered” & “fantastic”. Aspinall said flatly, “It will not pass in Congress”. California Senator Kuchel called it a “bewildering intellectual somersault”. Cong. Hosme sneered by suggesting building two Las Vegas casinos instead of Hualapai dam. Northwesterner Jackson, however, called it a “sound basis for agreement in Congress on a program which can go forward without the disputes between states and regions which have plagued previous proposals.” The Californians were particularly concerned about their guarantee of 4.4 million a-f from the Colorado; Udall had left that as a matter for Congress to decide. He also wanted Congress to suspend FPC authority to license any Hualapai dam, leaving any future decision in its hands. Aspinall rejoined that Marble could be dropped, but only if Hualapai were authorized, asserting that the “compromises in his bill are the best we can do and get anywhere at all.” Sec. Udall [who had originally proposed a huge regional solution in his Pacific Southwest Water Plan] was ready to let the dam be deferred to the national commission. Senator Allott of Colorado was ready to fight, saying the Udall ideas would “flush down the drain all the years of trying to arrive at a realistic approach”.
2 Feb, Sentinel gathered the opponents’ comments: Aspinall, Kuchel, Allott, Hosmer. However, Jackson was reported as saying his committee would act soon, and it appeared he would co-sponsor a CAP-only bill with Hayden.
2 Feb, Cole of the Republic: started with Jackson giving the measure his full backing and Hayden indicating approval if it would get the project moving this year. Allott declared war on it. Details: CAP, Hooker Dam, advance purchase of 400 mw of power from WEST steam plants, property tax and m&i rate to protect low agricultural water rate, Marble into the National Park, Congress to decide on the California guarantee.
Also in the Republic, B. Avery heard “cautious optimism” from Arizona officials, Udall’s proposal being simpler and with a better chance of passage than the previous complicated legislation. Objections by the Sierra Club and the Northwest are eliminated. Gov. Williams wanted to wait and see, and was bewildered by the property tax. Hayden, Jackson, & Fannin (R-AZ) may introduce a bill soon. APA still wanted to get the FPC to act on a state Marble dam. Udall went out of the country on a 10-day trip.
2 Feb, Post report was a reprise of the Udall presentation.
2 Feb, RMN presented it as a continuation of a three-year face-off between the two Interior chairmen, Senator Jackson and Representative Aspinall. “No concessions”, said the latter; congratulations to Udall, said Jackson who anticipated quick passage in the Senate. To Colorado Basin observers, passage of the Udall approach was unthinkable. For conservationists and the Northwest, it would be a victory. Aspinall insisted his proposal would be the one worked on by his committee. Udall had thrown the Hooker dam bone to Anderson, chairman of the Senate Irrigation Subcommittee.
2 Feb, the Farmington paper had Aspinall predicting Udall’s proposal will not pass Congress. Although Udall had aimed to eliminate interstate controversy and lower costs, gathering “cheers” from Jackson, old wounds in the Colorado basin were re-opened.
3 Feb, Star reported state legislators in disarray over the Udall plan. One even called Udall a “double-crosser”, a nice indicator of the continuing Republicanization of the once-Democratic state.
3 Feb Post editorialized that water import was vital, and Arizona cannot be allowed to benefit at the expense of the upper basin. Aspinall will be a leader in finding a compromise.
3 Feb, Post’s B.Hanna described “a wave of bitter opposition” from Colorado officials. Aspinall: The administration has recommended, and now Congress will dispose of the matter. And Udall wont get his kind of bill. “I object strongly to the capitulation to minority members of conservation groups.” [Did I mention that Aspinall was defeated in the 1972 Democratic primary by a green candidate?]
He was supported by Senator Allott, Gov. Love, and waterman Sparks.
4 Feb, Republic & Star: Moving on, Arizona Senator Fannin released a statement that the Udall proposals would need many hours of study. He urged that all Arizona officials get together to discuss the Udall proposal. Hayden, however, was already preparing an administration-like bill. Fannin was particularly concerned about the property tax idea, the lack of dams, and extending the National Park.
4 Feb, RMN reports that major figures were shying away from attendance at a public meeting in New Mexico to discuss Southwest water needs.
4 Feb, the AP reported a speech California’s Hosmer had given in the House the day before: The Interior proposal was “nonsense”. The Arizonans did not “lack imagination in finding ways & means to throw monkey wrenches into the water machinery.” “Pure whimsy” that a national commission could evolve a practical plan. Maybe after it gets a concrete program for augmentation the CAP can be authorized—by “our grandchildren or great-grandchildren”.
Last September, Cong. Udall and Rhodes had reported that CAP prospects were “unlikely and discouraging”. They saw these paths: a state CAP, a bare-bones federal CAP, a larger federal effort that would defer the “large and controversial components”,
4 Feb, Republic, carried California Senator Kuchel’s announcement of a bill that would include Hualapai Dam, in sharp contrast to the Interior plan, that Kuchel said “repudiated basinwide” action. He insisted that any bill had to keep the guarantee that California would receive its 4.4 maf of Colorado River water if shortages developed. His bill would authorize the feasibility study of an import from the Columbia.
5 Feb, Post’s B.Hanna reviewed the Interior plan, starting out by writing that Coloradans’ viewed Sec. Udall as a chameleon of Western development. One week he was applauded for an oil shale program, the next denounced for his water plan — a Jekyll and Hyde. Aspinall “thundered” that Udall wont get this kind of bill, primarily good for “his state” of Arizona. Sparks added, “It may be the kiss of death for basin legislation.”
In describing the plan, Udall said he had had preliminary discussions with WEST and expects no problems in working out a pre-pay arrangement for 400 mw of power capacity. But Udall’s critics said he had conceded defeat to “ultra-conservationists”. It was small comfort to Aspinall that two of the Colorado five would be included. However, almost all of the major non-CAP salient elements of the 1996 bill had been dropped. Aspinall is ready to fight to the “last ditch” for his approach, including the big dam and the Colorado five, even a “preliminary” study of import. He is insistent on Hualapai to generate funds for a basin import project. Denver conservation groups said the Udall ideas had proven the dams were not needed.
5 Feb, Sentinel commentator W. Nelson opined that the Johnson Administration’s proposal was a “vehicle for horsetrading” and “will enable the Basin states to get most of what they want in the end.” Most of Udall’s deletions from the 1966 bill were “tongue in cheek”, e.g. the Colorado five, California’s 4.4 guarantee. Even an import study will be a continuing demand. The administration is probably adamant about dropping Marble and deferring Hualapai dams. Colorado is united on most elements of a new bill, except some Coloradans would accept a lower Hualapai dam. Separate bills will expand the National Park and set up a water commission. Use of existing dams’ revenues may also be involved in the trading.
5 Feb, Albuquerque Journal ran an analysis of the situation that included some choice views — of the Columbia “wasting to the sea”; Hayden could have “bludgeoned” Jackson into cooperating; the “East doesnt understand reclamation”; the Sierra Club (from the East now instead of California?) “effectively painted the big dams as ‘in the Grand Canyon’”; this year Udall is trying to appease nobody except Arizona in order to keep it “from drying up entirely” — though the idea that westerners who use the water should pay for it will not go over well with them. The writer concluded that, except for California and the other Basin states, all other opposition ought to be quieted.
5 Feb, Republic’s Ben Cole was more clued in when he reported that Senators Hayden, Jackson, and Anderson had been briefed at a late January Saturday meeting by Sec. Udall. The result is that the senior men are mildly pleased — though Hayden doesnt like the idea of a tax or losing Marble forever. Jackson has thrown his full weight behind it. So Hayden will put his own bill forward, with perhaps other ideas on paying for the CAP. Prospects are bright for a bill passing the Senate this year. However, the story is different in the House, with Aspinall and California terming the Udall ideas “abandonment” and “favoritism”. So a House-Senate conference will be needed.
5 Feb, New Mexican reported on a water meeting where the speeches were notable only because Dominy clearly was still talking up water diversion.
7 Feb, RMN reported on various administration officials attesting to the urgent need for the nation to work on its water problems, the Southwest’s among them. Weather modification and desalination were cited as the means.
Feb issue of Arizona Farmer-Ranchman carried a long article on the January 13 appearance of the Club’s Brower and Ingram before the state hunters’ group, which was on record in favor of Hualapai Dam. In his presentation, Ingram said we all know the Canyon and water for Arizona have nothing to do with each other. The Club, he said, is not out to ruin hunting, but to extend the Park to keep out dams. A speech had been made earlier explaining how important the Kaibab is for hunting. A CAP lobbyist summed up the status of the project.
7-8 Feb Star, Post, and NYTimes reported that the Senate, by voice vote, had approved the National Water Commission bill. The NWC was to “make a comprehensive review of national water resource problems and programs” and report in five years. Basin Senators cautioned the NWC should not be used to delay action to help their states. The bill had passed the Senate last year, but been caught up in the fight over Colorado Basin legislation by directing the Southwest be given priority, a change opposed by Senator Jackson, who cited the NWC as the “logical and necessary link in the unprecedented series of important water resource measures recently enacted”. The NWC would assess needs, technology, institutions, and alternatives involved in solutions for the nation’s various water problems.
9 Feb, Farmington (NM) paper has a Washington reporter’s view of the “Basin States Split”. Hayden has introduced a bill “substantially the same” as the administration proposal. Co-sponsors include Senate heavy-weights, and perhaps up to 50-60 more, with backing of local utilities. (Grand Canyon advocates not mentioned.) Colorado and California congressmen “screamed bloody murder” at this proposal, lacking as it does protection for their water allocations. However it is doubtful their bill, with Hualapai dam in it, can pass the House. In any case, Aspinall is now declining to schedule hearings.
9 Feb, SLC Tribune carried Utah governor’s statement, backing the Colorado-California position.
10 Feb, Republic reported the state Senate had passed memorials to leave Marble Canyon open to a state dam, to be quickly licensed by the FPC. Debate over the memorials’ wisdom was intense.
A bill was to be introduced soon to authorize a state CAP and Marble dam.
11 Feb, Star reported that California’s governor backed the Kuchel bill, including Hualapai dam, the state’s water guarantee, and water import study. Reagan called it “a worthy vehicle for seven state unity”.
13 Feb, Star reported on a bill in the state Senate that, IF there was no federal project, the state was authorized to seek permission to build the aqueduct and two dams.
However, the Republic reported action was being taken in both houses, but that leaders were urging caution, and that a closer look would be taken at financing.
Utah and Colorado featured calls for horse-trading to get all needs taken into account.
16 Feb, Congressional Record carried Hayden’s statement introducing his bill to augment Arizona’s “rapidly diminishing underground water supply”. Senator Jackson joined him “with great pleasure”. He noted the Senate had authorized the CAP in the 81st and 82nd Congresses, and my Committee again approved it in 1964. He applauded Interior’s approach as well, and would introduce it. He hoped the Committee would report a bill to meet Arizona’s legitimate needs.
14 Feb, Sun, featured a speech by Goldwater (running for the Senate) backing the Udall and state approaches, and claiming the 1966 bill was dead, sentiment for the dams being killed by the Sierra Club.
17 Feb, AP story says Hayden bill was introduced and administration bill was transmitted, leaving the controversial items up to Congress to deal with.
17 Feb, Sentinel reported that the administration had approved two of the Colorado five—Animas-LaPlata and Dolores projects. The other three could be looked at by the national water commission, that had received Senate approval this month. Coloradan legislators are more determined than ever to pass all five.
My file contains a very heavy-handed satire published in Field & Stream, calling for a $165,000,000,000 dam on the Hudson River, anchored near Grant’s Tomb and creating “a vast inland ocean”.
20 Feb, Sentinel, an analysis by W.Nelson tries hard to find divisions inside various of the participants in the current Colorado Basin controversies. He starts with Reclamation and Dominy, suggesting that he had not known what the new February 1 Interior plan had in it, since two days before, he was proclaiming that all Reclamation dams, including “the proposed Hualapai” Dam, would have installed maximum generating capacity for peaking power. Then when Dominy spoke at a New Mexico water meeting (5 Feb above), he used new material about the Basin proposals that was not at all like Dominy — “brief and half-hearted”. Nelson claims Dominy was to have debated Brower at the November 1966 Reclamation meeting in Albuquerque, but Cong. Udall spoke instead (see that item in the appropriate month of press).
In the Colorado state efforts, Sparks was suggesting a lowered Hualapai Dam, Aspinall is preferring the high dam. An article in a trade publication suggests that Udall and his under-secretary, K.Holum, are aligned against Dominy. Seven-state meetings are rumored; none have been held. An upper Basin meeting soon may show Arizona isolated. Even the “preservationists” may split over the latest Udall “compromise”, though there is no evidence of anything in that group except “jubilation”.
21 Feb, New Mexican, report on Utah’s Senator Bennett demanding that upper Basin rights be protected in any river legislation.
21 Feb, editorial (unattributed) says Johnson administration, by not approving three of the Colorado Five, is just trying to “embarrass” Aspinall.
22 Feb, report that Aspinall had announced hearings would be held 13 March on his bill and the National Water Commission bill.
22 Feb, Star, on the Upper Colorado River Commission meeting in Salt Lake City, reported that Wyoming, Utah & Colorado called the Udall proposal “a retreat to the Sierra Club position”. New Mexico was noncommital. A major element of discussion was import of water from northern California.
22 Feb, Sentinel’s report was more dramatic: “Unity Appears Only Dream”. The UCRC agreed on no proposal. Each member listed his state’s demands. Sparks of Colorado upbraided the administration for wrecking years of agreements by the states. Appeals for unity, but little was done to achieve it. Sierra Club members attended, but said nothing.
22ff Feb, Post, B.Hanna covers the “7-state strife” as “river unity effort fails” in three articles. The first reported at length on old-time water warrior Ed Johnson urging that the upper Basin “seize” its share. Stirring words, but no path was laid out, as was shown in the following discussion with no two states able to agree on a common program, unlike the 1966 effort. They were all united in their attack on the Udall/Interior proposal, calling it “a complete surrender to the Sierra Club”. A proposal to defer all new construction until there was import of new water went nowhere.
In an analysis, Hanna suggests a new Aspinall effort for unity when hearings start in mid-March is “almost hopeless”, facing the administration compromise, numerous Basin bills with sharp conflicts, a division among upper basin states, a squabble over the California guarantee, the dam issue, water import studies. Why such a fuss, when Arizona has a “desperate water famine”? Why does Colorado interfere with Arizona getting its share. The meeting last week reinforced the answer: the Colorado is short! And so all the states are scrabbling for a share of water that doesnt exist. “Congress will have a tough time producing any bill that can satisfy the strife-torn basin.”
23 Feb, Sentinel, cited one meeting participant on the ebbing power of the upper Basin states in the House committee. If there is not a unified position, it will allow a “Saylor-type” bill with no dams, no guarantees, no Colorado five, no water augmentation. Arizonans are trying three different ways to get the CAP.
23 Feb, AP reports on Arizona Senate committee working on a bill for a state-financed CAP. Caution on making city residents foot the cost was urged. There was no apparent unified view on how to pay for the dam and canal.
23 Feb, Republic carries a report on Sec. Udall’s visit to Phoenix, in which he was confident there would be a water bill “this year”. He also approved of the legislature working on a state plan, showing Arizona’s need and pushing California to have second thoughts. “The climate for compromise is improved.”
25 Feb, Star carried an estimate from the city water director that Tucson’s water supply would grow from 95,000 af to a needed 440,000 af by 2000, then to 670,000 by 2030. (Less hysterically, a 2010 paper says 130,000 was used in 2000, projected to 253,000 by 2050. https://www.tucsonaz.gov/files/water/docs/wp-ch03.pdf. Per capita water use in Tucson has declined. During the dam fight we would point out that evaporation from the Grand Canyon dams would about equal Tucson’s use.)
26 Feb, Republic’s B. Cole wrote up how the prepayment-for-pumping-power would work, according to Interior’s K.Holum: It had been done before in Washington state. This method would cost the project $88 million, about $50 less than building its own steam plant. The fed, through a conservancy district of 3 central counties, would contract with the Salt River Project, one of the WEST members, to take its money, WEST would build the steam plant, and SRP would supply 400 mw/yr for the power to pump CAP water. Any power not needed (say, water flow was low) would go into Reclamation’s power system. Holum was surprised at resistance to a property tax by the counties, since it had already been done, for instance in his state of South Dakota. The amount of water used to cool the plant would only be ⅓ that evaporated from a Hualapai Dam. One advantage of this method, as opposed to buying on the open market, is that the newest plant with the most efficiently produced power would be used. Unofficial talks with WEST have taken place.
26 Feb, Republic reports that state Senate committee had approved a state-financed dams+aqueduct project.
27 Feb, Star ran a long editorial as a “steady and responsible” advocate in the fight to secure Arizona’s share of the Colorado River. However, the current effort in the state legislature is cart before the horse. For their plan to work, they must have permits for the dams, but no administration in Washington “dares” to allow the FPC to license them. They are in “the doghouse of national unpopularity”. Without the consent of Congress, no FPC action will happen. The bills should be defeated, and state officials should seriously consider the proposals put forth by the two Udalls. The new water commission may have some new ideas, that might dispense with any need for the dams.
27 Feb, Scottsdale Progress charges the state plan in its current form would only benefit a few hundred farmers; the proposed rates are unfair to urban residents.
28 Feb, RMN editorial lauds “Aspinall’s compromise”, a bill that would set aside vast areas for recreation, “below … Hualapai dam”, upstream to Glen Canyon dam, over to the Vermillion Cliffs. An article described it as a bill to add 80,000 acres including the Vermillion Cliffs to Grand Canyon National Park. Aspinall viewed this bill, with his CAP bill for water storage as a compromise. 47 miles would be added to the Parks length.
28 Feb,Scottsdale Progress carries article about the debate over Phoenix water rates if the state plan materializes.
My file has a tongue-in-cheek letter in Geotimes from C.B.Hunt, one of the Colorado Plateaus foremost geologists, in which he “agrees” with Aspinall that the dam proposal was made by “experts”. First, only the inexpert would refer to the dam by its honest name, Grand Canyon dam. Second, it would boost the sagging morale of Reclamation, running out of damsites. Third, the lack of water to fill all the Colorado reservoirs would demonstrate the need for import works from the Columbia. Fourth, building a dam deep in the canyon would spare the desert from being marred by unsightly steam plants and mines. Lastly, more water would allow more surplus cotton to be raised providing taxpayers with the opportunity to pay more for the subsidy of cotton prices.
The California-based CRA newsletter carried a round-up of the many bills, with their disparate approaches.
It may be the shortest month, but February 1967 was perhaps the most significant in re-aligning the rules of the game to be played out over 1967-8.