Arizona’s cost of moving water could be about to go up

The coal-Central Arizona Project link always seemed a bit of a Rube Goldberg policy apparatus to me. Its Goldbergness seems about to unravel.

Felicia Fonseca at the AP reports today on the potential costs of a retrofit to the Navajo Generating Station, up the hill from Glen Canyon Dam. The plant is part of a Byzantine deal to get water through the Central Arizona Project, which pumps Colorado River Water uphill to Phoenix and Tucson. The original plan was to build a series of power dams in the Grand Canyon to provide the electricity to move the water. That idea created one of western water’s great WTF moments, and the Grand Canyon dams were scrapped back in the ’60s. Instead, the government built a coal plant to generate the cheap electricity to move the water. Cheap, dirty electricity:

Requiring a coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation to further regulate pollution would not, by itself, force the plant’s retirement, but it could significantly increase water rates for agricultural users and American Indian tribes, a study released Wednesday found.


  1. Aha, but take care to not discount the overwhelming power of Rubeness and its famous ability to trump even the laws of physics.

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