July 12, 1963
In my last report, discussing chances for passage by Congress of the Central Arizona Project, I said I would support any bill or get behind any strategy which will win. Since several key figures (including Chairman Wayne Aspinall of the House Interior Committee and Secretary of the Interior Udall) are known to prefer a Lower Colorado regional approach as offering the best and quickest chance of passage, we ought at least to understand and explore this strategy -- and weigh its potential advantages and drawbacks.
Arizonans must not expect too much too soon. Water projects are controversial at best. Long campaigns are the rule and not the exception. For example, it took Colorado 10 years of concerted effort, marked by many delays, to win passage last year of its Arkansas-Fryingpan project. Rich Johnson, president of the Central Arizona Project Association, said last month he expects it might take three years to get our project through the House of Representatives.
All of us who are working for passage of this legislation have one common goal: construction of the Central Arizona Project at the earliest possible moment. Surely no harm can come from frank and open discussion of the alternative lines of strategy which may be open to us. In this spirit I shall devote this report to the question: "Which approach will win for Arizona?"
PATH NO. 1: A SEPARATE CENTRAL ARIZONA PROJECT
In my May 21 report I outlined the old Central Arizona Project which has twice passed the Senate, most recently in 1951, but never the House. If we pursue this path, we will seek to build the huge Bridge Canyon dam, key unit in the project, not for the benefit of a group of states, but solely for the benefit of Arizona. All of the electrical power produced will go to subsidize Arizona water consumers.* (All prior Colorado River dams -- Hoover, Davis, Parker, Glen Canyon, etc. -- have been built for the benefit of several states in the region.) A separate C.A.P. would cost $1.1 billion.
PATH NO. 2: C.A.P. AS PART OF A LOWER COLORADO REGIONAL PROJECT
The exact nature of the proposed regional plan
would depend to a large extent on agreement among the five states involved.
Basically, however, it would involve a willingness on Arizona's part to
work in partnership with Utah, Nevada, California and New Mexico to solve
mutual water development problems. In effect, Arizona would say to these
states, and especially to California:
What would this regional project look like? Would it be so vast and grandiose that it couldn't hope for majority support? Or would it be but a modest addition to the Arizona project? While the details of the plan are only now being drafted and negotiated, the Lower Colorado Project might look something like this:
COST: Not $1.1 billion, as in Path No. 1, but between $1.3 and $1.4 billion. Arizona's projects in this initial stage would be about 70% of the total.
'CASH REGISTERS': Bridge Canyon Dam would still be the major structure, but two Utah dams, Hooker Dam in New Mexico and others would also contribute power revenues to the "basin account." In addition, it might be possible to put Hoover Dam revenues to work for the Lower Colorado Project when Hoover's indebtedness is paid off in 1987. If this can be done, it would be incorporated now in the overall financing of the Lower Colorado Project.
FIVE STATES WOULD BENEFIT
From the regional project all five Southwestern
states would benefit. The following, urgently-needed projects might be
included in the initial authorization:
The Upper Basin states have pioneered the "basin account" method of interstate cooperation with striking success. Their act provides that Congress may add to the "basin account" such subsequent projects as are proven feasible and financially sound. If we take Path No. 2, and are successful, the lion's share of benefits in the initial phase will go to Arizona. However, the "basin account" approach may enable us to enlist the support of states whose total reclamation needs could not be satisfied in a single bill here and now. All will agree, I'm sure, that an overly large package would be most difficult to pass in this Congress.
In this connection, it would be well to remember that the projects I have listed above, totaling $1.4 billion, would benefit 20 million people, whereas C.A.P. alone, totaling $1.1 billion, would benefit but 1.3 million people.
I WILL SUPPORT ANY WINNING STRATEGY
Let us remember that our goal is water for Arizona at the earliest possible date. Which path is most likely to achieve that goal; this should be our only question. In seeking an answer prudence requires us at least to examine our alternatives and make certain the path we take is the one most likely to lead to victory. Let's look at the case for each alternative.
Those who reject the basin approach and urge "full
steam ahead" for the separate C. A. P. bills now before Congress make these
THE CASE FOR A REGIONAL PLAN
The principal arguments for proceeding with a
"lower basin" plan are these:
In summary, the proponents of the regional plan say that a few months' delay and a slightly more expensive project are a small price to pay for the active support of 43 more representatives, two of whom are on the key Rules Committee, and eight more senators.
Here then are the competing arguments. Proponents of each want water -- soon -- for Arizona. Let the arguments be carefully weighed and the best path chosen.
Above all, let Arizona's leaders consult, cooperate and work together in mutual respect and unity. This is our state's most critical hour; partisanship and politics have no place in these discussions.
Here and now I admonish the members of my party: Let no Democrat in this state strike a partisan note against any Republican on the water fight in Washington. We need all the unity and help we can get.
The water we're fighting for is not for the irrigation of political hay. I'm sure the responsible leaders of the Republican party agree.
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