May 21, 1963
Arizona's economic and population growth is one of the marvels of recent time.
But this growth must ultimately come to a halt in the next decade unless more water is obtained for the heavily populated areas in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima counties.
Located in this important central part of the
In this critical area the water problem is simply
THAT LAST HOLE: THE COLORADO RIVER
Our use of water is increasing every year and, except for the Colorado River, there isn't any remaining surface water available.
Twelve years ago the Senate passed the Central Arizona Project bill (CAP) for a second time. In the House, we were met by California interests who claimed ownership of the water this project would divert. After a long fight in its Interior Committee, the House said to Arizona, in effect: "Until you prove your legal right to more Colorado River water, we refuse to pass this bill."
Thus was sparked the 11-year-old U. S. Supreme Court lawsuit, "Arizona vs. California." Sometime before June 15--perhaps even before you read this newsletter--the Court is expected to rule. In poker games and lawsuits there are no sure things. But most of us are hopeful that Arizona will win.
COURT VICTORY WON'T BRING WATER
Winning the lawsuit won't add a drop to our supplies.
The battle will return to the Congress, where your Arizona delegation will
face its greatest challenge, and opportunity, since statehood.
Let's take a look at CAP and some of the difficulties we'll be facing in the important months ahead.
A HUGE RIVER BASIN
The Colorado River Basin is one of America's largest river systems, covering an area as large as France. From its headwaters in northern Colorado, the river runs 1, 450 miles before emptying into the Gulf of California.
In 1922, the seven states in the basin met and
drafted the Santa Fe Compact to divide the estimated 15 million ac/ft of
water which yearly flows into and down the river.
The Upper Basin States (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming), in partnership with the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation and Congress, have gone ahead to build dams which produce revenue for construction of irrigation projects and other improvements throughout the four states.
But the Lower Basin states--Arizona, California and Nevada--have had more stormy relations, including the long and bitter Arizona-California fight.
THE COURT ACTION
Acting for the U. S. Supreme Court justices, a
"special master" conducted lengthy hearings. He recommended to the high
court that the 7.5 million ac/ft of Lower Basin water be divided in this
Arizona hopes the court will support the recommendations of its master, Judge Simon Rifkind, and thus give Arizona the right to 1.5 million more ac/ft than it now is using.
The Central Arizona Project is designed to bring 1.2 million ac/ft of this new water to the homes, industries and farms of the state.
HOW THE PROJECT WOULD WORK
Arizona will ask Congress to authorize the project
at a total cost of about $1.1 billion. But this money would be appropriated
and spent not all at once but in stages over a 10 year construction
period. These are some of the important mechanics:
WATER FOR MORE FARM SURPLUS?
Why, it will be asked, should the government spend
a billion dollars to irrigate more land when our storage bins are bulging
with surplus crops? Here is our reply:
TUCSON'S IMPORTANT STAKE
Contrary to what many might think, Tucson has
a vital stake in the CAP:
Engineers calculate that without new water supplies Tucson's population (now around 300,000) cannot safely grow beyond 400,000.
With the 100,000 ac/ft from CAP, the city could
plan on enough water to support a population of 800,000. (And, for my part,
that just might be a good place to stop!)
Many uncertainties and problems lie ahead ... Congress is being besieged to make drastic cuts in federal spending. In such an atmosphere opponents of CAP are greatly advantaged. Many congressmen would like to go home and tell how they voted against a one billion dollar project ... We expect little trouble in the Senate. But if California loses the court case, and if its leaders elect to oppose our project, they'll outnumber us in the House 38 to 3.
In addition, there are some basic and honest differences
of opinion among Arizona water and power agencies and the various state
leaders. One of the surest ways to kill any reclamation proposal is disunity
in the state. The people of Arizona have a right to expect--and I think
they'll get--statesmanship and a team spirit from their elected leaders.
WATER AND PEOPLE
Senator Ashurst used to tell on himself the story of his maiden speech in the U.S. Senate. "Mr. President," he began, "The new baby state I represent has the greatest of potential. This state could become a paradise. We need only two things: water and lots of good people." A gruff senior senator from New England interrupted, "If the Senator will pardon me for saying so, that's all they need in Hell!"
We have "lots of good people" in Arizona. But after 50 years the search for dependable water supplies is still the big story of our state.
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