Lessons from Arizona’s water war
The nation laughed as the Los Angeles Times’ “war correspondent” wryly described the “impending movement of State troops into this theater of war.”
Behind the humor lay a serious subtext: For the first time since the Civil War, a state was rebelling against the federal government. Over water.
Arizona recently celebrated their 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. California, a decades-long feud with California over water from the Colorado and Gila rivers.
The Arizona Attorney magazine dubbed the case “the most important judicial decision in the state’s history.”
What you see is not what you get at Parker Dam, known as “the deepest dam in the world.” Engineers, digging for bedrock on which to build, had to excavate so far beneath the bed of the Colorado River that 73 percent of Parker Dam’s 320-foot structural height is not visible. Its reservoir, Lake Havasu, is a different matter. Its deep blue water stretches for 45 miles behind the dam, creating an oasis in the Arizona desert. Gracing the shore at Lake Havasu City is the historic London Bridge, reconstructed brick by brick in 1971 and adding to the city’s claim as “Arizona’s playground.”
The Parker Dam story has not always been so lighthearted, though many benefits have come with the dam, built on the Arizona-California border 155 miles downstream from Hoover Dam. When construction began on Parker Dam in 1934, Arizona Governor Benjamin Baker Moeur was so upset…
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