Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




The recent passage of the Swing-Johnson bill by Congress and its approval by the President has been the signal for a general rejoicing throughout the West, and especially in Southern California, the section to be meet directly benefited by this legislation. There has been a widespread feeling that the long fight for Federal development of this great western river is over, and that we may begin shortly to realize some concrete returns upon our investment. Press reports indicate that many are already seeking work on the construction of the dam at Black Canyon, in anticipation of the immediate launching of the project. · "Wild cat" employment agencies have sprung up and are extorting fees from work-seekers by promises of good positions on the construction job. Real estate "sharks" are already active and have promoted the sale of much land which they represent as being situated in a favorable spot for irrigation from water to be impounded by the dam. Much of this land is said by the government to be situated several hundred feet above the level of the proposed dam to be unfit for use even if water were available.

To forestall this exploitation of men and land the government has recently issued a timely warning to the effect that it will be at least eighteen months before work on the construction of the dam is actually begun and that no homesteading claims on land under the project will be allowed until its completion which will be about eight years.

!his announcement may come as somewhat of a shock to many optimists unacquainted with the actual provisions of the bill, for them it may be said that much depends upon the possibility of reaching a satisfactory solution of the problem of water allocation between California and Arizona. To date such a solution has not been reached and unless Arizona is satisfied it is highly probable that the question will be carried to the courts and long months of litigation ensue. If a satisfactory compromise is reached, the launching of the work will not be· long delayed. Of the ultimate outcome there can be no doubt, and the future seems to hold a very rich promise for the great Southwest.

As this subject is approached for study one is somewhat overwhelmed by its many ramifications. The engineering problems alone are of tremendous scope. The legal aspects of the question furnish material for exhaustive study. The political issues tend to claim a greater place than their real merit would seem to justify. While all the different phases of the question are somewhat closely bound together, it has been the purpose of the writer in this study to draw at least a faint line of demarcation and confine it as much as possible to the economic aspects. The Boulder Canyon Project Act proposes a four fold plan of economic development; namely, flood-control, irrigation, power development and domestic water-supply. It is to these features that most attention will be given, together with the historical background of the program.

It would be only just at this point to acknowledge the very generous response to calls sent out by the writer for reference material. More than a score of individuals and organizations responded with most gratifying results. Included in these were the governors of the seven states in the Colorado River basin, Senator Hiram W. Johnson and Congressman Philip Swing of California, co-authors of the Swing-Johnson bill; the Chairmen of the Senate and House committees on Irrigation and Reclamation; the Pacific Gas and Electric Company; the Southern California Edison Company; the Boulder Dam Association, and many others.





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