The March monthly newsletter of California’s CRA called the Aspinall-led bill a “practical instrument” to deal with western water problems. It stressed that the Californian water interests and congressional delegation now formed a “united bi-partisan front”. Their position came out of a series of meetings led by state Water Resources Director Gianelli. California concessions were: eliminating the “Hualapai pumped-storage hydroplant at Bridge Canyon to calm wilderness enthusiasts” and recognizing Columbia River Basin fears about import aqueducts. The state’s priority to 4.4 maf of Colorado River water is protected unless and until the river’s supply is augmented. In the Aspinall bill, the Interior Department is to act on augmentation. The report ends with another dig at the Columbia Basin states, and the need for “a complete study”.
Another item cited a water tunnel scheme for Arizona; an open CAP canal might very easily be Reclamation’s grave. And a state CAP plan is “nonsense”.
A cry of despair claimed 8 million kws could come from the Colorado if only 63 more dams were built.
1 Mar, Post reported the powerplant provisions for the CAP were approved by the House Irrigation and Reclamation Subcommittee. A sharp contest is expected on the House floor. Also approved was a division of current power dam revenues between the CAP and augmenting the Colorado’s flow to meet the Mexican obligation.
1 Mar Sentinel reports approval of the Aspinall version. The bill will be taken up by the full committee on 20 March, with approval expected there in a few days. All basin spokesmen voiced approval, with only Cong. Saylor voicing doubts about river augmentation.
2 Mar, Citizen labelled the bill “a truly fine compromise”. Udall praised participants’ “statesmanship”.
2 Mar, UPI concentrated on Wyoming’s complaints that its efforts to get water augmentation were rejected.
2 Mar, Tribune editorialized that the Aspinall compromise has big ifs on adding water. It would be folly to approve of the CAP if there is not enough water assured.
The accompanying article noted that Utah’s Ute Indian project was given a conditional ok.
3 Mar, Post wrote of the dissent by Colorado’s COSCC conservationists on the Colorado 5, none of which were “justified from any economic standpoint”. All the projects are to benefit western Colorado, but are not going to protect Colorado’s water rights.
U.S.News & World Report ran a 4-page summary on “Year of Decision on Water”. It began by quoting J.W.Powell’s 1893 warning that “there is not sufficient water to supply the land”. Experts have drawn up a dozen plans to prove Powell wrong by moving water hundreds of miles from its sources. The Californian demand for a guarantee has been a major issue. The article surveyed all the states in order to show the difficulties in the future, and expanded the survey into the midwest and to Texas. A very late, though intelligent, presentation without the usual biases.
5 Mar, RMNews quoted Aspinall’s prediction that his bill would be approved in short order by his Interior Committee. He thought a difficulty might be getting congressional approval of making the Mexican obligation national. The bill is fair to everybody, said Aspinall. A Saylor substitute had been rejected 18-5 before a pro-bill vote of 17-5.
8-9 Mar, Citizen doubled up with a statement from the President appealing for prompt approval of the CAP, and an estimate from the Arizona water agency on the cost of a bare-bones state-built CAP. The decision to go ahead could be made after the House Committee has acted.
10 Mar, Post ran an accusation by a Colorado waterman that the conservationists were “selfish” in trying to block the Colorado 5.
11 Mar, Tribune editorialized hard for adding the Ute Indian unit to the CAP bill, the best possible way to put the state’s share of the Colorado to use.
13 Mar, Post & Tribune quoted Sec, Udall commending the House subcommittee for its very fine work, especially Aspinall’s leadership. He saw no obstacles to passage of this consensus compromise.
13 Mar, Republic cites Governor Williams strong reiteration of the state’s water policy.
16 Mar, Post reported the subcommittee votes and the 20 March date for the start of full committee sessions. On the last day, the Colorado 5 survived Saylor’s attack, and the subcommittee defeated attempts by the Northwest to further restrict import studies.
17 Mar, Sentinel claimed a new high in California-Colorado cooperation because Aspinall’s bill gave California about everything it wanted. It reported applause for the subcommittee chair’s work.
21 Mar, Post highlighted the Interior Committee’s move to executive session, to consider the legislation “in secret, behind closed doors, for the first time in years”. Saylor had made the motion; it passed 13-9, excluding the press, with the object of avoiding time spent in members making statements. The committee began by considering the sections calling for water studies. The Northwesterners said they would fight import provisions on the floor, the committee being for the Aspinall provisions that included a veto on imports by any potential export state.
21 Mar, Republic gave Cong. Udall’s take on the bill’s “exceptional” progress. He said the closed sessions will cut the time for consideration in half. Several amendments (by the Northwest) were turned down.
24 Mar, Sentinel laid out the problems that have arisen in the plan to pre-pay for CAP pumping power from the proposed Page plant. The problem is that there is not enough water in Arizona’s allocation to provide for the full-size plant at Page. Also there are already 7 plants under way by other companies. The Page plant contractor has not yet found enough participants as the utilities argue with Interior as to whom will supply CAP power, with Sec Udall favoring the Page plant using Navajo coal.
26 Mar, Tribune estimates three-fourths of the bill has been acted on so far, with one more day required.
27 Mar, RMNews put Aspinall’s self-praise on view as he hailed favorable action by his Interior Committee, although he said “the biggest battles are ahead”. After its speedy consideration in March, it will be slated to go before the Rules Committee on 23 Apr. He noted the augmentation study had been opposed by the Northwest and some questioned making the Mexican obligation a national one.
27 Mar, Sentinel describes Aspinall as “worn & tired” with “a war ahead”. Utah lost the bigger part of its proposals, and the Northwest was on the short end of votes to knock out augmentation language, 16-6. All basin states now have enough of a stake to support the bill.
27 Mar, Republic celebrated “crucial okay” for CAP, with Cong. Udall aiming for final action by 4 July. Saylor, however, claimed the House would never accept “ this blimp”.
Sen. Hayden was glad to see that there would likely be a floor vote on his CAP. There were a few things he didnt like, but he was ready to take what he could get.
The two big dams are missing from the bill, and the Northwest states have a veto over any import recommendation. A basin fund using existing dams’ revenues would go for CAP help and augmentation studies.
28 Mar, Tribune editorial was not celebratory, noting that what Utah had gained would only be on paper if there was not enough water.
[Whatever the principals said, the course set by Hayden’s initiative and the Senate approval had now achieved the crucial success of getting the acquiescence of Colorado, particularly Aspinall, and California. This had not been easy, as shown by comparing public statements six months before. Then, the position was that there had to be a Hualapai dam and meaningful water studies. The Arizonans tried to lure Colorado with the 5 projects, but Aspinall was stuck on the dam. That lasted until discussions, not reported in the papers, among Colorado & California watermen, produced the Sparks compromise bill, which gave the latter state its guarantee but dropped the dam with its promise of funding for water import.
It was all very well for Aspinall to take satisfaction with his committee’s product, but it was not what he and his allies wanted, not what they thought was needed. But the walls erected by Sec. Udall & Sen. Jackson, with Sen. Hayden approving perforce, channeled the product that Aspinall could produce. He and Arizona had tried for the big, broad, future-aiming kitchen-sink bill in 1966. Failing, they could not withstand the juggernaut of political reasonableness that the Senate produced a year later.]