Romancing the River: The Colorado River Compact at 100

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Glen Canyon Dam

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, That was built in such a logical way It ran a hundred years to a day … – Oliver Wendell Holmes We’ve been exploring the Colorado River Compact here – which, like Oliver Wendell Holmes’ ‘wonderful one-hoss shay’ has now lived almost ‘one hundred years to the day’ – the commissioners signed off on it November 24, 1922.  The century mark is a good place to pause and pull back for a larger perspective on something like a multi-state agreement and see what it has and hasn’t actually accomplished – but without losing sight of the romantic vision of conquest that drove the Compact’s formation, back in the early decades of the Anthropocene Epoch when reorganizing the prehuman world was still fun. In the last post here, we looked at the ‘major purposes’ cited in the first article of the Compact: the first listed purpose, ‘to provide for the equitable division and … Read More

Romancing the River: 
Onward and – well, onward with the Colorado River Compact

GeorgeSibley's Rivers4 Comments

Hoover Dam... Romancing the River: 
Onward and – well, onward with the Colorado River Compact

If any drink [of the Hassayampa], they can no more see fact as naked fact, but all radiant with the color of romance. – Mary Austin Before getting into the Colorado River again, I want to put out a plea: Please recognize the importance of the coming ‘midterm elections.’ Especially if you live in one of 15 percent of our congressional districts that has not been gerrymandered to a foregone outcome. This is a ‘tipping point’ election, not between two political parties trying to work things out, but between two political concepts with no middle room for compromise: if both houses of Congress tip toward the Republicans this election, rather than remaining barely tipped toward the Democrats, then we are going to be taking a big bumbling step toward authoritarian governance, and away from our evolving American experiment in government by, for and of the people. I think I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but please do what you … Read More

Romancing the River: Colorado River Compact, Part 2 – Divide to Conquer

GeorgeSibley's Rivers15 Comments

“Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay, That was built in such a logical way It ran a hundred years to a day … – Oliver Wendell Holmes The last episode here ended with representatives of the seven Colorado River Basin states gathering in Washington, DC, as a commission charged, in the words of Herbert Hoover, U.S. Commerce Secretary and Chair of the Commission, ‘to consider and if possible to agree upon a compact between the seven states … providing for an equitable division of the water supply of the Colorado River and its tributaries amongst the seven states.’ He went on to note that ‘this Conference is unique in its attempt to determine states’ rights over so large an area by amiable agreement.’ That was in January 1922; in 2022 we commemorate the centennial of a compact created by the Commission and ratified by six of the seven states and the U.S. Congress, enabling the controlling and harnessing … Read More