February 1968: a hinge month.
1 Feb, Tucson Citizen laid out a discussion at the hearing between Sec. Udall and Californians, who pressed him on how he would handle a state go-it-alone CAP. Udall noted Arizonans’ “fierce” determination to have a CAP. There would be a lot of hurdles to a state effort. Udall did not want to foresee what that effort would include; he might not even be in office, although he did not think it would be fair to “raise unnecessary obstacles”. As an Arizonan he would pursue it. The Californians noted the difficulty of getting approval for any state dam. Dominy assured Cong. Udall that Reclamation’s assumptions concluded that there was enough water for the Colorado 5 projects, the CAP, and the California guarantee, even in the current drought cycle. Aspinall was reassured, although the Mexican burden would have to be a shared one. He set markup for the day that Congress adjourned for recess in mid-February. Cong Udall called this delay damaging, but not fatal; the sooner the bill gets to the floor early in the session the better.
2 Feb, Citizen reported Cong. Udall as saying there were no surprises, no setbacks in the hearings. Markup would start 26 Feb. Northwesterner Foley drew Sec. Udall to re-emphasize that desalting and rain-making were the most hopeful paths to add to the Colorado’s flow. Udall said that funds from Arizona’s share of revenues from existing dams would mean there was no need for a property tax and that the water price could be reduced.
In a related article, studies and drafts were discussed among state legislators for starting and financing a state-built CAP if needed.
2 Feb, Tribune’s Hewlett wrote of the uncertain future for desalting, admitted by the Secretary, though he remained hopeful.
2 Feb, the Sentinel echoed this, with a Udall estimate of 8-12 years to get “intelligent recommendations”.
California’s Hosmer took the chance to say that losing Hualapai dam meant that the preservationists vs. the Indians debate put the Indians second.
2 Feb, RMNews reported Aspinall as still not completely committed, but Sparks was reassured; his version had basin agreement. Udall kept the questioning of Interior up for another day.
3 Feb, Tribune’s Hewlett reported Sec. Udall said that four big steam plants were planned by the utility consortium WEST, including at Page. A Kaiparowits plant is also likely. It is only a question of which is built first; all are being planned. Additionally, Dominy worked to ease fears about import by projecting high costs of bringing water down from the Northwest.
3 Feb, the Republic reported an Oregon congressman’s satisfaction that the pressure to import Columbia River water was considerably lessened.
This came after Dominy said such import was the costliest option.
3 Feb, the Citizen countered with a gloomy assessment as to whether the California guarantee question was really settled.
5 Feb, Tribune editorialized on Sec. Udall’s “hope” for satisfying water needs. It called for realism, but had no ideas.
5 Feb, Citizen brought up history as S. Rifkind, the 1950’s special master in the case that settled the Arizona-California dispute, visited Tucson. He recalled the basis of his decision being to reject California’s claim to “first in time, first in right”, siding with Arizona that “whats mine is mine; whats thine is thine”, and using the Compact allocation.
5 Feb, New York Times noted that the hearing was “standing room only”. while the Citizen reporter credited Rep. Saylor with airing the stuffy room out with his twitting of Reclamation’s Dominy. Sec. Udall congratulated the committee for the hearings: its best work he had seen.
6 Feb, the Sentinel recapped the situation: work on the bill might be completed by Easter, starting 26 Feb and wrestling with it until done. Aspinall added, in an interview, that the big question was over handling the Mexican obligation. He was dissatisfied with Interior testimony on desalting.
9 Feb, Post reviewed the proposed bills, noting that Saylor has a bill with a very limited California guarantee, only one Colorado project, and no language on import studies. Opinion seemed to be leaning toward the Colorado/Sparks version, with its more stringent attitude toward the CAP and more generosity toward Colorado and California, while still accepting Hayden’s version of no-dam, no-import, pre-paid power purchase plan.
9 Feb, RMNews noted the committee action of having an Aspinall version and a Saylor version now before it.
15 Feb, Sentinel’s Nelson looks at the different bills. There is work to be done, but the differences are no longer impossible to reconcile. Even making the Mexican obligation national seems likely. He mentions the effort to stop the Gila Dam, but notes it will be up to New Mexico Sen. Anderson.
25 Feb, Post notes Aspinall speech criticizing administration for snag in funding water projects.
26 Feb, AP ran a Californian statement, made as the markup sessions opened, insisting on its guarantee
27 Feb, Tribune marked an apparent victory for the Northwest when a veto over import studies by affected states was voted.
27 Feb, Citizen quoted Aspinall as saying a partial agreement had been reached on the guarantee issue. The solution was to pass responsibility for working out shortages to the Secretary.
28 Feb; several papers noted that the logjam had been broken with a “major breakthrough” from Chairman Aspinall.
Tribune: Each state was allocated its share of the river. Shortages would be divided by the Interior Secretary. The Mexican obligation would become a national burden, but at a lower level (1.5 maf instead of 2.5). This “agreement” was made at a Monday night meeting between Arizona and California.
Post says that the Arizonans had voted against while admitting the CAP was now closer, and that the shortages were decades ahead.
The Citizen agreed. It quoted from the Arizonans’ statement about Aspinall’s “sincere effort”, though they still stayed with the Senate limit of 27 years.
New York Times, reporting a 17-2 vote, did not mention the Secretary’s role. It did note that Hooker dam was approved subject to a study for an alternative, added wording offered by Cong. Udall.
[An almost unbelievably climactic month, opening with hearings and closing with subcommittee action on major compromise. Much preparation and discussion had been necessary out of the public eye, but the Administration-Hayden-Jackson-Senate strategy had worked to present a version that put the pressure on the recalcitrants in California and Colorado to bend and twist. ]