Surprises were in store.
1 Mar, Post, marked Aspinall’s introduction of his “compromise” in the “tradition of compromise and fair play to try to bring two sharply opposed interests—water development advocates and the conservation groups—together.” The part of the Grand Canyon upstream of the existing National Park to the Glen Canyon N.R.A. would be added to the Park. An added bone would be extending 1) that northern end of the Park to the Vermillion Cliffs, and 2) the west end to take in part of the existing Grand Canyon National Monument. Hualapai Dam would be built. Lake Mead N.R.A. would be extended upstream to include the reservoir behind Hualapai.*
Beyond his compromise, the bill would authorize the Colorado Five, a national water commission tasked with studying water import into the Colorado, California’s guarantee of its share of the River, and creation of a Basin fund to collect revenues for future development.
1 Mar, Republic, reported on the serious questions being raised in the state senate about proposals for a state CAP. Financing was at issue. The APA stated that if the two Grand Canyon dams were authorized, the CAP was financially feasible.
2 Mar, Scottsdale Progress broke the news about a Univ. of Arizona study that, in effect, questioned the justification for the CAP — “not a good investment for the state”, and “the water crisis may not be as widespread or as critical as claimed”. The study presented data showing that agriculture is not declining due to lack of water, but growing in both acreage and crop production. Moreover, high-value crops account for 80% of income, while low-value crops use most of the water pumped from underground.
3 Mar, Sentinel editorial accuses the upper Basin politicians of ignoring political reality, while the Administration is counting the votes. The demands of the states for the Grand Canyon dams casts them in the role of Don Quixote.
3 Mar, Republic reported the Senate is moving a state CAP bill after financing conditions were settled.
4 Mar, Republic, next day, reported that the Senate passed the bill, but without the conditions. But,
4 Mar, AP called the measure “watered down” by giving the legislature a veto over actual start-up of any work.
6 Mar, Republic editorialized that if the bill were not passed, Arizona’s bluff would be called.
6 Mar, Star editorial complains that Arizona is being ignored as far as new waterworks are concerned. Worse, the Sierra Club of California doesnt oppose any of that state’s projects; it is content to claim that the Grand Canyon dams will ruin it.
7 Mar, AP gave the vote to pass the state CAP as 24-5.
9 Mar, UPI related a trip by Colorado’s water man Sparks to the Northwest to tell them that the Southwest would insist on an import study. No means of augmentation can be overlooked given that the Colorado Basin’s water shortage is “real, present and ever-growing”.
9 Mar, AP, also has Sparks leading the state’s move to oppose the Udall plan. The CAP may die if Arizona joins with Udall.
10 Mar, Republic reports the Arizona House passed its CAP bill 52-4. After some reconciliation with the Senate version, it will go to the governor.
11 Mar, RMN, the two Colorado Senators introduced bills similar to Aspinall’s, though adding a feasibility study for importing water. This story says the then-existing Grand Canyon National Monument would be added to Lake Mead N.R.A.
11 Mar, Star notes that the state CAP bill will not allow action until after 15 Dec, and that even then legislative approval is required.
12 Mar, Salt Lake Tribune, columnist F Hewlett sums up the situation as hearings on the Colorado River basin legislation were to open, Monday 13 Mar: “Well, here we go again, folks.” New wrinkle: Aspinall asked testimony be limited to new matters or new provisions, testimonies that are “not repetitous”. The “umpteenth resumption … on the CAP”, this “hardy perennial…before the Congress for two decades”. A “wide variety” of Basin bills, plus the NWC with “particularly strong support from the Pacific Northwest”. “Most important development has been the withdrawal by the administration of support for any more electric power producing dams on the Colorado.”
Monday, authors of bills will be heard; Tuesday, Udall and Interior. Utah and Wyoming get their chance on Thursday.
13 Mar, Farmington Times, led off with Aspinall saying “We’ll have some interesting hearings…(that) will determine whether a bill will come out of committee. If we cannot get together on a sensible bill there wont be a bill for a long, long time”. “Every interest must be protected”, he said. Senator Anderson (D-NM), chair, Water & Power Resources Subcommittee, declined to set a date. He has sent several questions to Interior about its plan.
No administration bill has been introduced in the House; all House bills include at least Hualapai. Udall recently reiterated that the administration’s position against construction of that dam is “firm”. The California witnesses will include some “violently opposed” to the Udall approach. The other Basin states will have their witnesses. Oregon & Washington will be testifying against the Aspinall plan that calls for a study of import; there are four Sierra Club and three other anti-dam witnesses. Others are lined up for or against, including those submitting their own bills (Cong. Udall & Hosmer, Sen. Kuchel). The Hualapai lawyer will appear.
13 Mar, Republic’s Cole described the witness list to be headed by California’s Senator Kuchel. There were 31 to speak. Several bills are before the subcommittee. Sec. Udall may not testify, leaving that task to Asst. Sec. Holum and Reclamation’s Dominy. There will be northwestern witnesses and conservation speakers, but the article does not try to get the order of testifying.
13 Mar, Sentinel: “Stormy Dispute Launches Hearings” reported a clash among members even before the meeting was called to order in the standing-room-only chamber. Cong. Johnson (D-Calif) presiding, proposed only new matter be presented. Cong. Saylor disagreed, saying there were eight new committee members with at best only limited knowledge. He was ready to object to Cong. Udall’s offering, as “old hat”. A “fine statement” and “I back the CAP with modifications.”, he averred. Udall did testify, but left out many backgrounding paragraphs. He now differed from his 1966 bill, his brother’s proposals, and those of the other Basin states.
14 Mar, Sentinel, reported a “day of stalemate” between California and Arizona. The article led with a suggestion from N.Ely, the former’s water-lawyer-in-chief: California would consider diverting some of its northern water for the Colorado. This came in response to Cong Steiger (R-Ariz) who, at the end of the day, suggested only California benefitted from a stalemate. Ely demurred, suggesting his state was considering that some of its northern water could cover the Mexican obligation.
On another front, Aspinall was not in town and therefore couldnt comment on the new Sierra Club effort directly targeting his bill to change Park boundaries, with an ad headlined: “The Grand Canyon National Monument Is Hereby Abolished”. The article pointed out that “actually” Marble would be added to the Park, while land around the Hualapai dam’s reservoir would be excluded.
From a reprint of the ad, — carried on 13 March in The New York Times and Washington Post — here is the top half. Notice Aspinall featured as the author of the headline quote.
Now here is the sequel: In 1973-4 (after Aspinall was gone from Congress), we friends of the Canyon worked hard to enlarge the Park by including many more of the Canyon’s stretches and reaches — some successfully, some not so much. In our bill, as a formal legalistic matter, is the phrase, “Grand Canyon National Monument (is) abolished”. Of course, our bill then included in the Park all of the old Monument; Aspinall’s would have deleted a bunch of Kanab Plateau land as well as the area affected by Hualapai’s reservoir.
14 Mar, Star also headlined the Basin’s vanished unity. Rep. Udall led off with a CAP bill keeping Hualapai Dam. He admitted last year’s bill was “too large and controversial to pass”, so dropped Marble’s dam, California’s guarantee, & Colorado’s Five. He called for northwesterners to approve supplementing the Colorado’s flow.
Oregon’s A.Ullman replied that he would support the CAP only if there were no prioritized import study, as indicated in the commission bill passed by the Senate. The California statements all stressed guaranteeing California its 4.4 million af share, The administration proposals were rejected by Arizonans and Californians.
The article went to describe Sec. Udall’s Park boundary changes, to include the west side of the Marble gorge plus other changes the Park Service had recommended in the 1950’s. It mentioned the Sierra Club ad highlighting Aspinall’s bill.
14 Mar, Republic also ran a piece on the ad, “Sierra Club Presses Attack”.
14 Mar, Post, B.Hanna led off on the renewed feud: a tug of war at a tense hearing as Arizona pushed its bill — at sharp variance with the administration’s, followed by California immediately taking exception in their questioning of Cong. Udall. Other controversies are showing up, and there will be another battle over Hualapai dam. as well as water import studies. Aspinall was absent, but Cong. Saylor indicated he would again be a thorn in the Basin bills’ sides, calling for a barebones CAP and attacking Reclamation. Udall, in his statement, noted his 1966 effort, but now, after “careful soul-searching and painful analysis”, could not wait for all problems to be solved.
14 Mar, Tribune continued F.Hewlett’s commentary: “just like old times” with the two lower basin states “at each other’s throats”.”Gone was the uneasy truce” of 1966, “out the window” with the import feasibility study. California asked Arizona to “share the risks and rewards” of the Colorado’s flows and work to augment them, but the latter called the 4.4 maf guarantee “the most troublesome issue”, if the problems are to be worked out “in cooperative statesmanlike manner”. Udall brought up the state-approved CAP, prompting Hosmer to call “this bizarre plan” a “morbid death wish”. California’s Kuchel asked that the obligation to supply Mexico be made a “national” instead of a basin duty.
14 Mar, Sentinel’s Nelson reported that Colorado’s efforts to “stay hitched” to California were continuing even though agreement to include Arizona had failed over the weekend.
15 Mar, Post, B.Hanna described the “vitriolic attack” by Aspinall on Sec. Udall at the Tuesday session. The administration’s ideas are “completely unacceptable to me”, he said. Udall, flanked by a dozen aides, was “questioned at length” by those who consider the new approach to be a “sellout”. “Aspinall roared, ‘I am not about to permit (our) water allotments to be jeopardized.’” In his presentation, Sec. Udall had indicated approval for only two of the Colorado Five projects. However, he was “confident …Congress can mold and enact acceptable legislation for meeting the short term basin needs”, though he would not object to a basin fund. Aspinall asked if the prepayment for pumping power was not a “complete new” policy. Udall called it a departure, but that Reclamation would not own or operate any plant. Aspinall “got” Dominy to “admit” that without a dam, a “billion dollars would be lost”, and there would be “nothing left for basin development”. “Harshly” pressed by Aspinall over the water supply, Udall was rescued by Dominy who said in the short term, the water was there. Aspinall also wanted to know how much the national commission would cost. At one point, Udall said he didnt want Reclamation to be tied to dams when technology is moving on. Saylor, an unusual ally for the Secretary, said he was completely behind the Interior proposals, and would co-sponsor its legislation.
15 Mar, Tribune, Hewlett led off with “Dams on Colorado Open Interior ‘Dispute Beaut’”. Under questioning, Udall said a “sharp difference exists within his department” over Hualapai dam. Aspinall led the critics by “lecturing” Udall that no upper basin project existed without hydroelectric power. Udall answered that after further consideration of all aspects they decided not to ask for the dams. Aspinall advised him he was “dreaming of a heaven that was out of reach”.
15 Mar, NYTimes in the Star, also led with the “beaut of a dispute” in Interior over the dams, part of a “full day of questioning”. The way the article is written, Udall “advocates steam power plants”, “to be built by private and public utilities” and substituted for the eliminated dams. Prepayment for a share of the plant’s output was not even mentioned, although in fact this was the Reclamation engineers’ innovative way out of the dams-or-Canyon dilemma. Indeed, the way the article is written, it is as if this was a debate of federal thermal-plant power vs. dam power; with no indication that thermal power would be used for water pumping even if the dams were built.
15 Mar, Star also carried a story about AWWW, a Tucson organization that had come to testify for the CAP while opposing the dams, in part because they would waste water through evaporation from a water-short river, according to J.Rodack, chairman.
15 Mar, Republic’s Cole wrote more conventionally about the Arizona governor’s plea for the CAP. He featured Aspinall’s warning that the prepayment plan would “rankle” private utilities. The latter also emphasized how much would be contributed to a basin fund, as compared to a zero contribution from a prepayment plan. Udall, he said, was just trying to avoid controversy.
15 Mar, Post, B.Hanna led with Wyoming officials’ “stern … unalterable opposition” to all plans so far introduced. In return, Cong. Udall called their position “preposterous and impossible”. Wyoming stressed its concern was for its “future” water development, claiming the downstream states would use their political muscle to claim all the Colorado’s water, even Wyoming’s share. There should be no CAP unless an import project was also authorized, and they baldly stated Wyoming backed the dams because they were for “building a fund to pay for a later importation project”.
15 Mar, Sentinel reported Colorado’s Sparks’ support for the Aspinall position, including all the Colorado Five. It also described the “impasse” between Sec. Udall and Aspinall over the national commission, deferral of Hualapai dam, and any steam plant “buy-in”. Sparks was willing to let Udall get blamed for killing the CAP if Congress passed a bill with a dam in it, and it was vetoed.
16 Mar, Republic noted that hearings resumed on Thursday, after yesterday’s session was cancelled. The topic would be the National Water Commission bill. Northwesterners had presented their views in writing due to the cancellation.
17 Mar, RMN repeated the stance of the Wyoming officials, and also the rejoinders by northwest Congressmen that asking for water import without a national study was “unbusinesslike and beyond reason”, not to mention “provincial”. Aspinall, instead, tried to wheedle Wyoming into softening their position, since all their Colorado allocation had been committed.
17 Mar, Sentinel headlined a Colorado “Ultimatum” that any CAP bill would have to include the Colorado Five. The state was ready, too, to start a federal lawsuit over the Mexican obligation. (By treaty, the U.S. had guaranteed 1½ maf/yr to Mexico, even further over-committing the basin’s water.) The governor’s testimony called the Udall ideas a “short-fused time bomb (leading) to destructive competition” among the Basin states.
17 Mar, SL Tribune offered a more mild Utah view: strong safeguards to protect water entitlements. Interestingly, Grand Canyon advocate Cong. Saylor took the opportunity to lecture Senator Moss (D-Utah) that the Canyon was for all the people, although backing Hualapai dam was the common position of the Basin states. The article noted that the Sierra Club offered four witnesses: Brower, Nash, Soucie, Ingram.
17 Mar, Republic, AP fleshed that out by citing the fight the Sierra Club was pledging, with Brower calling the Grand Canyon “the world’s” and “the primary scenic resource of the country”. When Udall noted his bill had dropped Marble dam, and asked if the Club would accept a “low,low Hualapai dam”, Brower replied with a “no compromise; no dams”.
17 Mar, Republic also noted the timely publication of the U of A’s Young-Martin study that the only economically feasible way to solve Arizona’s water problem is to make better use of the water now available, since importing water through the CAP would not generate benefits in excess of its cost.
17 Mar, Star gave the Y-M study full treatment: “Arizona ‘Water Crisis’ Denied by UA Experts”. Underground supply will last 170 years, even though Arizona has one of the world’s highest per capita usage of water. The CAP is not feasible because too much of the water is going for low-value crops, e.g., 54% goes to cattle feed.
The Star also carried a statement by Tucson’s water chief about that city’s need for 300,000 af/yr in 2000 [a gross over-estimate, as it turned out].
18 Mar, Republic summarized a grilling given in Phoenix of Interior’s Water & Power Secretary Holum about California’s overuse of the Colorado. He was confident that the CAP would be authorized and take care of those concerns.
18 Mar, Star editor took out after the “inadequately based” conclusions of the UA experts, ending by hoping that the CAP would be authorized in spite of such “cacophony”.
18 Mar, Star ran a rebuttal of the Young-Martin study by Tucson’s Chamber of Commerce. The two men had done the CAP “a great disservice”. Seven inadequacies in the report were described.
18 Mar, Republic B.Cole, however, had the bigger news from the hearings: “L. A. Proposes $728 Million Bridge Canyon Dam”. The scheme, described by LA Dep’t of Water & Power ’s F.Goss, was a pumped storage operation, with the secondary dam downstream of the big Hualapai dam. Cong. Udall was “dismayed”, as well as “impressed and a little bit stunned” by the surprise announcement, saying it could delay CAP consideration by a year. Goss said they had been working on the plan only since last fall, due to the moratorium on FPC projects about to expire. The capacity would go from 1.5 megawatts to 5. Since it would be a joint federal-non-federal project, it would cost the government less. The shock was so great that several congressmen pressed Goss on its surprise nature, but failed to shake him, as he “calmly replied” to difficult questions. He had finalized the idea only the day before. “Quite a little bombshell”, observed Cong. Udall.
[This was such fun watching the show in the committee room, even though we too were shocked and dismayed at the possibility that the idea would be irresistible. The year before, of course, we had tried the same shock treatment with our “the dams are not necessary; thermal power is superior” testimony. Compared to the usual mutual back-patting, Goss, the UA study, and our work had all shown the kind of re-thinking that, we can hope, also inspired Reclamation employees when they came up with the pre-payment plan that Sec. Udall advocated.]
18 Mar, Tribune, had the subcommittee members “startled” by the Goss plan. Of the $728 million cost, the federal government would only have to put up $254 million.
19 Mar, RMN ran a UPI report on Goss plan.
19 Mar, Star used a NYTimes story that “a little-known report by the National Park Service condemned the construction of two dams in the Grand Canyon.” It was cited by the Sierra Club, not Interior in its testimony, which has left Basin supporters in “disarray”. The writer opines, “The Senate likely will not act until after the House considers a bill.” The NPS report, prepared in 1963, dealt mainly with Hualapai dam.
19 Mar, Post editorialized that Sec Udall had brought about the current situation with its many local viewpoints in conflict because he had endorsed only the CAP for his state and abandoned national water planning. Leadership in solving the problems requires Washington leadership such as that shown by Cong. Aspinall.
20 Mar, Sentinel Interviewed Goss on his “sensational” proposal, noting that Arizonans just see it as another Californian delaying tactic. However, as an upgrading of Hualapai dam, it is attractive to the basin states for the amount it would provide for a basin fund to import water. When asked about the scheme, Sierra Club’s Brower wondered why not convert Hoover dam into such a project? If it is such a great money-maker, it would be worth it to upgrade the generators. Goss said that could be done, but not now. (The point being, though he didnt say it, that Hoover power, heavily used by southern California was very, very cheap. Dropped in 1966, this “bomb” would have complicated that story and its aftermath. But then, California and Arizona were allies.)
21 Mar, Republic’s editorial “suspected” California skullduggery, since Arizona had withdrawn its support for the former’s 4.4 maf/yr guarantee.
21 Mar, Republic ran another little bombshell: Without waiting, 20 March, Hayden and Fannin of Arizona, announced Senate hearings on May 1. The decision by Chair Anderson was made after conferring in Hayden’s office. The senators said, thus preliminary action will be out of the way early in this session. Jackson has introduced the Interior proposal, similar to the Hayden-Fannin bill, and very different from the California bill.
21 Mar, Denver Post’s Oliphant:
21 Mar, SL Tribune reports on Senate hearings, and Utah’s Moss now ready to bring forth his version, to join three others. Cong. Hosmer pipsqueaked that he would fight for a joint federal-private Hualapai dam. (Confirming Arizonan suspicions.)
24 Mar, Star editorial that Arizona will get its CAP, in spite of the UA Martin-Young report suggesting “water cannibalism”.
24 Mar, Star reported the governor claimed the idea of a state CAP “frightened” Reclamation, fearing it will lose its empire.
26 Mar, Post carried a belated blast from a Colorado water man against anti-dam testimony by R.Weiner & J.Coombs, but it was just against the “two women’s” questioning of the basin fund concept.
27 Mar, Sentinel gets a big headline out of “North California Offers Water to Lower Basin”: “a major break” in the Colorado River deadlock. A telegram came to Aspinall from the Eel River Association suggesting water from its area could take care of the Mexican obligation. (A suggestion made by California’s wily Ely.) Aspinall is now undertaking conferences on the legislation. The Senate has set hearings. New Mexico is defending Hooker dam’s invasion of the Gila Wilderness. The Eel River’s offer is almost unheard of, and Aspinall noted it was to help California get its guarantee.
28 Mar, Farmington Times called the Eel offer a “water miracle”.
30 Mar, UA Wildcat copied a Des Moines Register editorial defending the work of the UA professors who had raised questions about the CAP’s economics.
March ended, with, it might seem, all the participants reeling around trying to steady themselves after the shocks of the month. Work was to be done.
*No clippings describe this Aspinall fever dream of a "Park" extension, but while the Vermillion Cliffs would have been added (inappropriately in geologic terms), the Paria dam to catch silt would still have been built, ruining its extraordinary canyon. Downstream, Hualapai Dam’s reservoir would have intruded into the Park, Kanab Plateau lands would have been removed from NPS protection, and the Monument invaded by the reservoir would have been converted to part of Lake Mead NRA. Compromise? Like the Treaty of Versailles for the Germans.