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This upper basin, situated mainly within these four States, named because of the topography of the country, because of the climatology, and many other natural features which control, irrespective of the works of man, differs from the lower basin, and one to be contrasted in most respects with the lower area. In the middle section or canyon region the greater fall occurs and the change from high to low altitudes takes place. The opinion seems to obtain in some circles that the upper basin is rimmed or bounded by sharp mountain ranges on the outer edge of the basin, that these mountains are the only mountainous areas in the basin, and that all the country lying within these bordering mountain ranges is flat and in some respects like the country of southern Arizona and southern California. Such is not the case. The upper basin is one great area of interior mountain masses, as well as an area bounded by the continental divide, with high peaks where the snow is perpetual. These interior mountain masses are more a source of
supply to the river than is the continental divide itself, because, with respect to the continental divide, only that part of the snow falling on the western part of the range finds its way into the Colorado River, and that on the east finds its way into the Mississippi River, while all the water from the interior mountain masses is tributary to the river.
I have here, and I will ask that it be placed on the wall, a map prepared by Engineer R. I. Meeker after his extensive and thorough investigations of the western slope or Colorado River area in Colorado, showing the location of the streams of the western part of the State of Colorado, the irrigated areas along those streams, and the irrigable lands. I call attention to this map to bring to your attention the matter I have suggested, that the interior mountain ranges separating the various streams and their tributaries all constitute sources of supply of the river system. The same condition obtains in Utah, in Wyoming, and in New Mexico, for the most part. From this region (indicating on map], this upper section of the river, all streams flow toward Lee Ferry, and all the waters of every tributary in that great region of origin check in and flow through a common channel at Lee Ferry a short distance below the mouth of the San Juan River. So that as regards the hundreds of large and small streams in this upper region, or region of origin of the stream, all differences are ironed out and all waters unite at the head of the canyon at Lee Ferry. Then, as already described by the witnesses, these waters, augmented by some contribution below, plunge down through the canyon section and appear in the lower country at points below Boulder Canyon.
This upper country is one of high altitudes, short growing season, and varied climatology. The snow-capped peaks are devoid of timber, because they are so high that snow is perpetual and trees can
“ Timber-line” corresponds with the arctic circle. Then as you proceed down each of these streams you pass from the region of grasses and meadows at the head to the region of the hardy grains, such as oats, barley, etc. Farther down is the region of longer seasons and greater average temperatures where the potato and other crops join with the grains of the higher region. And thus it changes until you get into the valleys of the great fruit
regions, the deciduous fruits, where peaches and pears and apples and plums and prunes and other like fruits thrive luxuriously and the soil responds to the cultivation of many crops. All this is the region of the livestock industry, principally cattle and sheep. A large part of the agricultural products of the region are consumed by the livestock, and those livestock in turn move to markets either on the Pacific coast or to Chicago.
This is a four-season region. That is, we have winter as well as summer and fall as well as spring. During the winter season no water is used. The same is true of early spring and late fall. The average period of irrigation of this upper country would probably not exceed 120 days; more than that down in the regions as low in elevation as Grand Junction and much less up near the timber line. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that this is a four-season climate, each of these tributary valleys, each of these areas which is segregated from its neighboring area by intervening mountain masses is a region of towns and farms, with people living by the fruits of agriculture, by industry, by livestock, and by mining. But these people have great difficulty in marketing their products by reason of the fact that railroad facilities are very limited. The economics of the situation make railroading unprofitable except in the limited degree that railroads now traverse that region. Of consequence the development is slow and is controlled in large measure by the transportation facilities, which have been somewhat relieved by the auto transport, which is tending to encourage development of isolated areas which heretofore were not in cultivation.
This whole upper river country is one of striking contrast with the region at the lower end of the river. In the latter section semitropical conditions obtain; in much of the area frost is almost unknown, and it is a region of the citrus fruit and other products familiar to this committee. Here, however, irrigation obtains not only during the hot days of the summer but to some degree throughout the entire year.
The upper region, or that region contributing to the river above Lee Ferry, produces about 16,600,000 acre-feet of water on the average. Water which has flowed from the upper area is, of course, never again available for use after it has passed. It must be caught as it flows if it is to benefit mankind in that region. The people of that country look to this river and all its tributaries as their primary source of sustenance and prosperity. Outside of the mountain masses the region is one generally with a rainfall of about 8 inches per annum. The use of the water of these streams is not only convenient and profitable for agriculture but imperative to successful agriculture. Therefore, it is necessary for the people of each of these valleys to make first use of the water as it flows. This water is diverted onto “ shoestring tracts," or tracts the outer boundaries of which parallel the stream not far distant. A large part of the waters so diverted return to the stream, the time of return depending upon the character of the underlying soils.
To illustrate : If the water is applied to an area composed of gravels and bowlders, the return is almost immediate, and in quantity almost the amount diverted and applied. If, however, the soil is of fine texture, such as clays, the return is very gradual and sometimes far removed, but nevertheless occurs. Each of these applications, made in June and July, is in effect a conservation of supply to the lower-river section in that the flood is retarded and made to flow down at a more remote period. That applies generally over the area, so that if it were possible that all of the water in this great river system could be diverted and applied to land in the upper country, it would so flatten the flow of the stream as to make reservoir construction on the lower river practically unnecessary. A part of this water applied would be consumed by plant growth and natural evaporation, and a part, and usually the greater part, returns for reuses below.
But another peculiar condition exists up here [indicating on map on wall] : In that area practically every tributary enters a closed channel, a canyon, before it leaves the boundary of the State in which it originates. To illustrate: The Green River rises in Wyoming, and by the time it enters l'tah it is in a canyon, and that canyoned condition obtains in most part from there to where the river emerges from the lower canyon. There can be no irrigation conflict between l'tah and Wyoming over that river, because as an irrigation asset it has already served its purpose by the time it passes into Utah.
The same condition obtains with the Bear, the White, the Dolores, and other Colorado streams. The same condition obtains with respect to the San Juan, which is an available stream in Colorado and New Mexico, but enters a canyon as the river leaves New Mexico and never emerges until it has gone through the entire canyon region and comes to the lower country. Chance or opportunity of conflict between these upper States is very limited. Nevertheless, as I have already observed, it is imperative to the future growth and prosperity of these communities in all this great upper country that the first use of the water of the rivers be held available for future development. I do not mean lield in a physical aspect but in a legal aspect. We can not stop the flow of this water. It will flow downstream each year. But as each community develops, step by step, with the progress of civilization and the peopling of this very healthful and invigorating region, the people must look to these streams for each step of improvement, and they must be unhampered and unfettered by clouds upon their title.
To illustrate, if the claim were pressed that a lower reservoir had appropriated all the water of the river and that none could be used, irrespective of the strict legal aspect of the case, money would not be available for hire to these upper people necessary for their development, because financiers would stand in fear of suits that might possibly, although they never would be, filed. This upper country must have this water unquestionably available.
Secondly, the water must be available in quantities sufficient to be combined in larger development and carried out to the higher mesa lands.
There is one thing I intended to mention with respect to the return supply: On the South Platte, just across the Continental Divide in Colorado, the river was said to be “ overappropriated" by 1885. At that time there were about 500,000 acres irrigated. To-day the river supplies 1,500,000 acres, and the supply going across the inter
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state line into Nebraska, during low water periods, is many times that which flowed of nature. This is the result of return waters. On this river there will be little reuse of return waters, because the waters applied to the mesas are applied but once, when they reappear on the canyons and start on their way to the lower country. So the water will not be so badly worn out in the process of uses on the Colorado drainage as it is on the adjoining South Platte or Arkansas drainages.
Senator Phipps. I should like to have you amplify that a little as to conditions in the Arkansas Valley drainage.
Mr. CARPENTER. The conditions are almost identical with those in the Platte. Both Plattes, the North and the South, joining, as they do, to form the main Platte at North Platte, Nebraska, and the Arkansas, are streams of similar natural characteristics. They are what we call “disappearing rivers." They rush out in flood stage during May and June of each year, diminish during the month of July, and then entirely disappear. The early settlers had to dig into the sand for water during August and up to the middle of September. When the weather became cooler and the evaporation less, the water would reappear and flow during the winter. That condition obtained on all three rivers.
The experience from reclamation on the South Platte is repeated on the Arkansas, except that the Arkansas is a little more recent in its development.
As you approach the Kansas line the stream becomes one of constant flow at the interstate line, where it was once a stretch of sand, and, so far as our river records show, the dependable supply of water of that stream into Kansas is greater than it was by nature.
The streams on the western slope” in Colorado can not be reused. When the water flows from the irrigated mesas it drops into the tributary arroyos and passes down into the various canyons, then on to the main canyon of the San Juan, the Dolores, the Grand, the Bear, the White, the Green, etc.
This upper region is one of power possibilities. But here again, in the main, the conditions are in bold contrast to the conditions to the south. The roof is so steep, as it were, the fall is so great, that irrespective of the apparent size of the basins or the height of the dams which might be constructed, the actual storage capacity of the basins are very limited. I believe the largest available basin is the Kremling site in Colorado. That site would hold, if a dam were constructed to the extreme height, some 2.200,000 acre-feet. Draw that, if you please, into contrast with the reservoir at Lee Ferry, Glen Canyon, or Boulder Canyon, where a dam not much higher would impound 20,000,000 or 25,000,000 acre-feet, ten times the capacity, because the country is flatter, the flow of the water is not so rapid, and the inclosing basin stretches farther back up the river. These power developments in the upper basin will be more a matter of temporary retardation than of storing of water to hold over from one season to another, but if either one of them were constructed it would help to solve the flood-flow problem to the south.
I might further observe that the greater part of the region of the Colorado River portion of the upper States is characterized by large coal deposits. It is said on eminent authority that there are
beds of coal in northwestern Colorado, of semianthracite quality, 90 feet and more thick, that have never been touched. The same is true but in lesser degree in the San Juan basin to the southwest, and there are coal deposits all through that section of the country. Various estimates have been made of the coal supply, but the figures are staggering. The point I wish to bring out, however, is that the coal is so plentiful, that the supply is so great, that it enters into competition in the production of power, and it is very doubtful whether the hydroelectric development will be rapid in that country because of the immense quantities of semiwaste coal that are available for power development. In fact, on the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, where the country is highly developed, the streams are used scarcely at all for power development because of the fact that power plants are located in the coal fields, where they can use the slack and semiwaste portions of the coal mined. Blowing it into the furnaces with steam and getting the maximum combustion, puts coal into too advantageous competition with water power to make the development of the latter a financial success.
The main factor though that must be considered at all times is that of transportation. Because of our inability to lower the mountain ranges, to put jack screws under them and let them down as it were, those mountains stand there resistant walls of rock stubbornly fighting the building of railroads and transportation ways. Transportation will control the slow and gradual development in this upper country where otherwise development would be rapid.
The second phase is this: As you will notice on the map-and, Mr. Chairman, what shall we call it?
Senator ASHURST. Why not call it your Exhibit A?
The Chairman. I do not think the map will be placed in the record, but you can file it with the clerk of the committee, and I suggest that you designate it by some name that may occur to you. Mr. CARPENTER. I will designate it as “ The Meeker map."
. The CHAIRMAN. Very well.
Mr. CARPENTER. Referring, if you will, to the Meeker map, it is apparent that the areas of the lands served in this upper country are in comparatively small units. There are no great projects of half a million or a million acres of land all to be irrigated by one canal, or one reservoir, or one irrigation system. Taking the southwest portion, on the Dolores, for example, and there the Dove Creek mesa project is one of very alluring characteristics. The soil is red land. It is what people in that country call “ sweet” land--that is, there is no alkali in it. Now, that is one of the large projects, and yet you will observe it is probably a project of but 60,000 or 70,000 acres. And so it is from that on down to the lesser projects. The topography of the country forces each of these projects to be confined within certain limits and boundaries that make it small in comparison with the projects to the south; and, of course, the same physical conditions that limit the size of a project also limit the transportation to get into it, because railroads can not build, can not afford to build into these regions to get the increased crop production resulting from the reclamation of these smaller areas. But in the process of time every one of these areas will be served.
A startling feature obtains with respect to the project I just mentioned—wherever you go over that mesa south of the Dolores