October 10, 1968
Vol. VII, No. 3

The CAP Is Signed - This Is 'Next Year!'

Arizonans who have followed our state's 20-year fight for water must feel a little like the fans of baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers two decades ago. "Dem Bums of Flatbush" had perhaps the most fiercely loyal fans of all time. The team also had a fiercely maddening habit of blowing big leads and pennants--mostly in the last two weeks of September. After each debacle, one Flatbush storeowner would reportedly hoist a banner proclaiming, "Wait 'til next year!" Finally, one year it was the Giants who collapsed. The Bums actually took the pennant, and the fan's new banner across the whole storefront read: "THIS IS NEXT YEAR!"

Arizona's story has been similar, and fortunately it has had the same happy ending. Since 1963, when the Supreme Court

Click to enlarge

WHERE THE DITCH BEGINS--This artist's conception shows where water will flow into the Central Arizona Project system from the Colorado River. The pumping plant, located at Lake Havasu behind Parker Dam, will lift the water 820 feet. From there it will flow by gravity to Phoenix, thence to Pinal County and Tucson. (Bureau of Reclamation Photo.)

gave Arizona the green light for another major fight in Congress, we've had four years of frustration. Each October must have seemed to Arizonans the same old story: after months of committee hearings, "summit meetings" between the states, new compromise bills, news stories and editorials, the congressional delegation would have to admit defeat for the year, while vowing a fresh effort in January. My 1966 opponent may have struck a responsive chord with many discouraged Arizonans when he blasted me for continuing to hold out "false hopes" and declared, "I am convinced that CAP will not pass this session of Congress, nor the next, nor during any other session."

But finally victory did come, and it came through the efforts of hundreds of Arizonans working together in a common cause. On September 30, I had a moment I'd long awaited--standing at the White House while President Johnson wrote his name on a piece of paper. At that moment, CAP was no longer a dream--it was now certain to become a reality. The Central Arizona Project will be built! Water will flow from Lake Havasu to Phoenix, on to the fertile lands of Pinal County, and thence to Tucson.


Since 1963, I've written five newsletters on the CAP. For this final report in an hour of triumph I just want to comment and explain four major effects of its passage:

1 -- Insurance for Economic Growth

First, the action by Congress removes a major barrier to sound, orderly economic growth in our state. It is a hard fact, one which many of us have been reluctant to discuss, that hard-headed industrial leaders have had misgivings about location or expansion in Central and Southern Arizona when a permanent, long-range water supply was in doubt. These doubts are now removed, and I believe we will begin to see an impact in management decisions about payrolls, industries and jobs. Industry always looks for a sound economic base of markets, labor availability, electricity and fuel, community facilities, etc. Water is a crucial part of that base, and until now Arizona could not always give satisfactory assurances.

Industry looks, too, for an environment which will help it attract employees. The Central Arizona Project will bring Arizona more recreational facilities with new lakes at Orme, Buttes and Charleston dams and new possibilities for recreation development in the northland through CAP's water exchange provisions.

2 - Construction Means Payrolls

Second, during the next 10 years a gigantic federal construction program will pour $465 million into our state, providing a tremendous stimulus for Arizona business. This

means payrolls for thousands of construction workers, truckers, draftsmen, engineers, office workers, etc. One of the world's biggest aqueduct systems will be constructed over 340 miles from Lake Havasu all the way to Tucson. The system will include 169-foot, $42 million Orme Dam east of Phoenix; 210-foot, $32 million Buttes Dam above Florence; and 158-foot, $33 million Charleston Dam east of Ft. Huachuca. There will be pumping stations, canals and other facilities built, too.

Even after construction, the Central Arizona Project will be a major industry. Every year an estimated $9 million will be spent for operation and maintenance.

3 - Grand Canyon Untouched

Third, it should be noted that the bill as passed not only does not authorize construction of the controversial Grand Canyon dams, but construction of any dam in the canyon is specifically prohibited until and unless a future Congress removes the moratorium imposed by the new law. This was a bitterly argued question, both in Arizona and throughout the nation. Personally, I'm happy that Arizona can "have its cake and eat it too"--build CAP and have the Grand Canyon left as it is.

4 - Peace on the River

Finally, for the 11 states of the Far West and especially for the seven Colorado River states, passage of CAP means peace on the river and the end of a bitter water war which threatened to stalemate the development of an entire region. We began in 1963 seeking a simple CAP bill. We soon found that any proposal to take a big, new chunk of water out of a river in the nation's driest and fastest growing section raised serious questions in other states. In fact, the shock waves extended not just to Los Angeles but to Boise, Portland and Seattle. It soon became apparent that there would be no CAP unless there was a broad, regional settlement looking at least as far ahead as the year 2000. With this great settlement, the western states have laid a foundation of water statesmanship and cooperation which I believe will serve us and the nation well.


Many authorities agree that by the year 2000 the Colorado River is likely to be short of meeting all its demands and commitments. By then, Arizona's population of 2 million and California's 20 million will have doubled. Much of the congressional debate centered on the kind of program which ought to be pursured to meet this shortage.

Our sister states insisted, and we agreed, that a vital feature of our bill should be a broad, comprehensive program of studies looking into every conceivable method of augmenting the water supply of our water-short region. One source of water considered is the Columbia River, which pours some 185 million acre-feet a year into the ocean. But the Columbia Basin states protested vehemently against even preliminary

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The Central Arizona Project

studies of the feasibility of moving Columbia River to the Southwest. This matter was the major item of contention between House and Senate conferees. The "grand compromise" on studies consists of three main points: 
1-- To quiet the fears of the Northwest, the bill prohibits any federal studies of inter-basin water transfer for 10
years. This will give Washington, Oregon and Idaho a decade to completely inventory their water resources and determine their ultimate needs. At the end of that time, all the facts will be known in both Southwest and Northwest, and the inter-basin transfer of water can be studied and informed decisions made.
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2-- Beginning now, and during the next five years, the new and prestigious National Water Commission will study the long-term water needs of the entire nation and will make recommendations on the broad policy questions involved, including those arising from proposals to move water from one region of the country to another.
3-- While all this is going on, the Bureau of Reclamation will begin a big and comprehensive five-year study to determine what the seven Colorado River states can do within their own river basin to augment the common water supply. Some exciting scientific developments are occurring in weather modification and desalting of sea water; they will be looked at intensively, as will the possibility of exporting water from Northern California to the Colorado and the ability to salvage water now wasted.
As Congress adjourns, all of these studies and programs are now authorized. Arizona must support them and be in a position to help implement them when the final decisions are made.


My days and nights (and many Sundays and holidays) for the past five years--the busiest and most satisfying time of my life--have been filled with the problems of the big, muddy, Colorado River. In the months ahead, it will be a relief and a joy to have more time for other things. I've accumulated over these years many file drawers of correspondence, reports, statements, pictures, editorials, and countless other documents. I now plan to turn this material over to the University of Arizona Library in the hope that it might be of interest to future students and writers of this era in Arizona history. For myself, I'll keep a lot of memories. In the "flashbacks" of my mind, I'll see a lot of highlights like:

* The day in June, 1963 when the Supreme Court, after a record 12-year lawsuit, handed us a victory over California.
* The day in 1965 when I presided over an informal meeting in Washington in which for the first time in decades water leaders of the seven states began to search for a consensus on which we could go forward together rather than renewing old fights.
* The satisfaction of finding that California's leaders in Congress wanted to end this water war, too, and that they could and would work with us to get it through the House.
* Those exciting seven days when I was host to a party of 10 congressmen who rode the rapids of the Grand Canyon to weigh the issue of park boundaries and the effects of the proposed dams.
* Speeches to water groups at Las Vegas, Cheyenne, Denver, Albuquerque and San Diego, and to a partly hostile crowd at the Los Angeles Town Hall when I told them we in Arizona would win our project, "either with your help or over your dead bodies."
* A tense and often bitter debate with the Sierra Club's David Brower before the national press corps assembled on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
* A trip I made to New York to argue with the editorial board of the New York Times.
* The long and challenging hours in committee where I held not only my own vote but, by proxy, the crucial votes of many other Members.
* The historic day, May 16, 1968, when the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in all these years debated the CAP and then passed it on an almost unprecedented "voice vote."
* The eight hectic days I sat with Senator Carl Hayden behind locked doors in House-Senate conference when the great water leaders of the Western States (men like Senators Scoop Jackson of Washington, Clint Anderson of New Mexico, Carl Hayden of Arizona, Frank Church and Len Jordan of Idaho, Tom Kuchel of California; the wily House chairman, Wayne Aspinall of Colorado; Rep. Biz Johnson of California, and others) pondered and finally resolved the water future of a region.
* Not least of these highlights was the great bi-partisan statesmanship displayed these last five years by three Arizona governors, three U.S. senators, and three Arizona colleagues of mine in the House; throughout all this struggle our state came before politics, and we fashioned a strategy which could go all the way.
In addition to these memories, I'll keep at least one tangible memento for myself. It's one of the pens President Lyndon Baines Johnson used to complete this happy story. I'm going to let it sign one more thing--my signature for the printer's plate on this newsletter--and then, if you'll forgive me a little sentimentality, I'm going to have it framed with a copy of the bill for a place on my office wall.

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