• Politics and the Colorado River

      Steiner, Wesley E.; Arizona Water Commission, Phoenix, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      The Colorado River is the only major stream in the U.S. whose water supply is fully utilized. This distinction has brought the Colorado more than its share of controversy, within states, between states and between nations. The Colorado River compact, whose purpose was to equitably apportion the waters between the upper and lower basins and to provide protection for the upper basin through water reservation, was ratified by all states except Arizona, in 1923. Arizona finally ratified it in 1944. The history of controversies and negotiation concerning the compact are outlined through the supreme court decision on march 9, 1964, which entitled California to 4.4 maf, Nevada to 0.3 maf and Arizona to 2.8 maf, of the first 7.5 maf available in the lower Colorado. Unfortunately, the court did not attempt to establish priorities in the event of shortage. The problem is complicated by an international treaty of 1944, guaranteeing Mexico 1.5 maf annually, except in years of unusual circumstances. Because Senator Connally of Texas was then chairman of the senate foreign relations committee and because the treaty allocated twice as much Colorado River water to Mexico as it was then using, it was argued that this treaty represented a tradeoff to Mexico, giving it less water from the Rio Grande in exchange for more water from the overburdened Colorado. Problems of inter-basin water transfer studies, uniform Colorado basin water quality standards and central Arizona project planning are discussed.