“the robbery of Arizona’s birthright”

The people of Arizona have come to look upon the officials of California, and particularly those of the Imperial Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles as diabolical schemers who are dedicated to the robbery of Arizona’s birthright.

That’s sometime Arizona political scientist Dean Mann, talking about the 20th century California-Arizona tussle over the Colorado River’s water, in his 1963 book Politics of Water in Arizona. At the time, just before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Arizona v. California, Arizona was pretty clearly losing said tussle.

My question to the Arizonans in the audience – are y’all still pissed? Does Mann ring true today?


  1. I posted this earlier today over at RobertScribbler (http://robertscribbler.wordpress.com) as I had done a bit of digging around on the water transfers we’ve been seeing. Any thoughts whether this makes sense or I am misinterpreting otherwise normal conditions?




    Western Water Movements

    If you peruse the various water storage facilities, you’ll see a lot of recent movement between reservoirs.

    Water was moved from Powell to Mead to Havasu. California is exercising their seniority rights and drawing down their water.

    Powell is down 1 million acre ft for this time of year. 49% capacity.
    Mead is down 26 million acre feet. 39% capacity.
    Havasu is at about 10,000 acre feet above. 93% capacity.

    Primary rights / users of water in Havasu are Los Angeles followed by San Diego. Perhaps this is being used to offset the lack of north / south canal delivery from the Sierras?

    If this is another thin winter for snow pack in the Sierras, then L.A / San Diego has to draw from Havasu. If the snow pack above Powell is thin as well, then it leaves Nevada, Arizona, Mexico in a bind.

    The north / south transfer would reduce further, to be offset by Havasu. Havasu will need to be replenshed by Mead. Mead needs to be fed by Powell. Mead is at 1084 ft. At 1075 ft by agreement Nevada, Arizona, Mexico suffer water cuts.

    That is only 9 ft from where it is today.

    Even with the water transfer to Havasu, this year there has only been 1.1 million acre feet of out flow from Mead (9 million is required), ~12% of the required outflow.

    There is not much room left to maneuver. Another thin winter and we’ll see some agreements being drawn into the court system, emergency attempts at injunctions against said agreements, potential seizing of water and maybe an international dispute. By agreement, Mexico is able to store the water they own in Lake Mead. What happens when they say “send my water down”?


  2. Andy, somewhere down the line you forgot to factor in Lake Mohave.

    Also, Lake Havasu’s elevation is pretty constant. The only exception is when maintenance is being done at Parker Dam. We normally see this in the Fall/Winter months when water demands are low. BuRec will drop the levels for that. The main reason I can think of for the lake to remain full is that CAP & MWD pump from it. Costs more to pump from a low elevation level than a high one.

    John, I’ve lived in Arizona for the last 22 years and I follow water. To answer you, at least our football team is doing well this year. Thanks for asking.


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