Colorado River Compact, 1922

Colorado River Compact, 1922

In the 1920's California was demanding more water to support Imperial Valley agriculture and cities like Los Angeles. The Prior Appropriation Doctrine says the first to claim and use western water has rights to it.  Slow-growing states like Colorado were afraid that fast-growing California would claim all the water in the Colorado River first.  They wanted to lock-up some water for their own future growth.

It took a Greeley water lawyer named Delph Carpenter to envision the solution. Delph is called "the father of the interstate water compact"; he wrote 7 of them in all.  This map is from the 1922 negotiations between the Upper Basin States (CO, UT, WY, NM) and the Lower Basin States (CA, AZ, NV).

Note that this map includes several proposed water projects which were not built until much later, including Glen Canyon Dam (1956), the Salt River Project (1925-1996), and Boulder Canyon Reservoir (AKA Hoover Dam, 1931).  With Glen Canyon "on the books" at least 33 years before construction started, it is unlikely that the Sierra Club could have ever defeated this project, although they did briefly try.

Map courtesy of the Honorable Greg Hobbs Collection

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