+ 1-888-787-5890  
   + 1-302-351-4405  

Essay/Term paper: Geography colorado river

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Geography

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Geography: Geography Colorado River, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

Geography Colorado River

Geographers can tell you that the one thing that most rivers and their adjacent
flood plains in the world have in common is that they have rich histories
associated with human settlement and development. This especially true in arid
regions which are very dependent upon water. Two excellent examples are the
Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates rivers which show use the relationship between
rivers and concentrations of people. However, the Colorado River is not such a
good example along most segments of its course. There is no continuous
transportation system that parallels the rivers course, and settlements are
clustered. The rugged terrain and entrenched river channels are the major
reasons for sparse human settlement. We ask ourselves, did the Colorado River
help or hinder settlement in the Western United States?
As settlers began to move westward, the Southwest was considered to be a
place to avoid. Few considered it a place to traverse, to spread Christianity,
and a possible source of furs or mineral wealth. Finding a reliable or
accessible water source, and timber for building was difficult to find. There
was a lack of land that could be irrigated easily.
By the turn of the century, most present day cities and towns were
already established. Trails, roads, and railroads linked several areas with
neighboring regions. Although the Colorado River drainage system was still not
integrated. In the mid 1900's many dams had been built to harness and use the
water. A new phase of development occurred at the end of the second World War.
There was a large emphasis on recreation, tourism, and environmental
The terrain of the Colorado River is very unique. It consists of Wet
Upper Slopes, Irregular Transition Plains and Hills, Deep Canyonlands, and the
Dry Lower Plains.
Wet Upper Slopes: Consist of numerous streams that feed into the
Colorado River from stream cut canyons, small flat floored valleys often
occupied by alpine lakes and adjacent steep walled mountain peaks. These areas
are heavily forested and contain swiftly flowing streams, rapids, and waterfalls.
These areas have little commercial value except as watershed, wildlife habitat,
forest land, and destinations for hikers, fishermen, and mountaineers.
Irregular Transition Plains and Hills: These areas are favorable for
traditional economic development. It consists of river valleys with adequate
flat land to support farms and ranches. Due to the rolling hills, low plateaus,
and mountain slopes, livestock grazing is common. The largest cities of the
whole drainage system are found here.
Deep Canyonlands: Definitely the most spectacular and least developed
area along the Colorado River. These deep gorges are primarily covered by
horizontal layers of sedimentary rocks, of which sand stone is the most abundant.
The Grand Canyon does not only display spectacular beauty, but numerous other
features such as mesas, buttes, spires, balancing rocks, natural arches and
bridges, sand dunes, massive sandstone walls, and pottholed cliffs.
Dry Lower Plains: These consist of the arid desert areas. These areas
encounter hot summers and mild winters. Early settlement was limited because
most of the land next to the river was not well suited for irrigation
agriculture. The area is characterized by limited flat land, poor soils, poor
drainage, and too hot of conditions for most traditional crops.
The Colorado River was first navigated by John Wesley Powell,
in his 1869 exploration through the Marble and Grand Canyons. The Colorado
River begins high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The water begins from
melting snow and rain, and is then supplemented by the Gunnison, Green, San
Juan, Little Colorado, Virgin, and Gila Rivers. Before any dams were built, the
Colorado River carried 380,000 million tons of silt to the Sea of Cortez. Along
it's path, it carves out the Marble, Grand, Black, Boulder, and Topok Canyons.
The Grand Canyon being the most popular, which is visited by numerous tourists
every year, plays a large role in western tourism. The Grand Canyon is in fact
one of the World's Seven Wonders. The Colorado Basin covers 240,000 square
miles of drainage area. At certain points along the river, it turns into a
raging, muddy, rapid covered mass of water. Unlike other rivers, the Colorado
River doesn't meet the ocean in a grand way, but rather in a small trickle.
Almost all of the water that passes down the river is spoken for. It passes
through seven Western States, travels 1,700 miles, and descends more than 14,000
feet before emptying into the sea, with more silt and salinity than any river in
North America. A river not used for commerce, or any degree of navigation other
than recreational, and virtually ignored until the turn of the century.
The Colorado River is the most fought over, litigated, and legislated
river in the United States. The upper Colorado passes through mountainous, less
populated country. It has seen fewer problems that the lower Colorado. The
lower Colorado, which passes through canyons and arid desert, serves a more
populated area. It has been a large source of arguments for the state of
California and surrounding areas since the early 1900's.
The first project on the Colorado River was the Alamo River Project
near Yuma, Arizona. Sediment from the upper river was transported and deposited
down river. It raised the river bed so the river was higher than the
surrounding land, making water easy to divert for irrigation. The Alamo Canal
diverted water from the Colorado River to the Alamo River, and traveled 60
miles through Mexico across the Mexicali desert to the Salton Sink, a depression
in the Imperial Valley. For this, Mexico received the right to take half the
water from the canal, the rest went to the Imperial Valley. Although it may
have seemed like an easy way to divert the water, the Alamo Canal was no match
for the untamed Colorado River. In 1905 a series of floods breached the intake
and flooded the Imperial Valley, settling in the Salton Sea. After tremendous
amounts of manpower and money, the river was returned to its original path.
This disaster alarmed the landowners of the valley. The Imperial
Irrigation District of Southern California was the largest single user of
Colorado River water. They campaigned for an All-American
Canal. One that would divert the river above the Mexican border and leave the
Mexicali desert with what they didn't use. This was met with much opposition
from the largest landowner in the Mexican desert, a syndicate of wealthy Los
Angeles businessmen, headed by Harry Chandler of the Los Angeles Times.
The Imperial Valley landowners received support from the City of Los
Angeles. The city was growing rapidly and the need for future electric power
was a major concern. Water experts advocated a dam on the Colorado. Without
this dam, the All-American Canal would be in danger of
breaching and flooding. The two forces combined to work for a Dam in Boulder
Canyon on the Colorado River.
In Salt Lake City in January 1919, representatives from the seven states
that have tributaries emptying into the Colorado River met. "The water should
first be captured and used while it is young, for then it can be recaptured as
it returns from the performance of its duties and thus be used over and over
again ".(1)
On Nov. 24, 1922, the seven states signed the Colorado River Compact.
This pact divided the waters into 2 basin areas, separated at Lee's Ferry, at
the head of the Grand Canyon. The Upper states included Colorado, New Mexico,
Utah and Wyoming. The Lower states included Arizona, California and Nevada.
Each area received 7.5 million acre feet of water, with the lower basin getting
an extra 1 million acre feet annually from its tributaries. The allocation of
river water was based on an annual flow at Lee's Ferry of 16.5 million acre feet.
This was later found to be inaccurate and did not take into account the rivers
dry years. A more accurate flow is 13.5 million acre feet per year. In
addition, any water given to Mexico by international treaty would be supplied
first from the surplus above the total of 16 million acre feet, and if this was
not sufficient, the deficiency would be shared equally by the two basins. The
consensus was that the river and its tributaries were American (244,000 sq.
miles) originating in the United States, very little of the Colorado River was
in Mexico (2,000 sq. miles), and therefore they deserved very little. Herbert
Hoover stated, "We do not believe they (Mexicans) ever had any rights." The
Indian tribes along the river were treated the same way. Hoover inserted what
was called the 'Wild Indian Article', "nothing in this compact shall be
construed as affecting the obligations of the United States of America to
Indian tribes." (2) It's obvious that the native Mexicans and Indians were
being deprived of what originally belonged to them. The attitude of Herbert
Hoover left the local peoples with a taste of resentment.
The Colorado River Pact did not apportion water to individual states.
Arizona would not ratify the pact, feeling that California was taking all the
water given to the lower basin. Arizona contributed 3 major rivers, about 2 to
3 million acre feet, to the Colorado. California farmers would be the largest
single users of the water, but would contribute nothing. California finally
agreed to some concessions.
All the waters of the Gila River in Arizona would go to Arizona, and be
exempted from the Mexican Treaty. California also agreed to apportion 0.3
million acre feet of water to Nevada, 4.4 million acre feet and 1/2 of the
surplus to California, 2.8 million acre feet to Arizona and the other 1/2 of the
surplus. Arizona was still not satisfied. The argument went on for years, with
Congress finally passing the Boulder Canyon Act in 1928 without Arizona's
The Boulder Canyon Act of 1928 authorized the construction of a hydro-
electric plant at Black Canyon. The cost to be off-set by the selling of
electric power over a total of 50 years. All power privileges at the dam were
to be controlled by private interest. The Metropolitan Water District controlled
36%, City of LA 19%, Arizona 18%, and Nevada 18%. The act also included the
construction of the All-American Canal, starting at Laguna Dam and crossing 75
miles of Imperial Valley to the Salton Sea.
Arizona's share of the water made it possible for large population
increases in Phoenix and Tucson, two desert regions that would not be able to
exist with out the Colorado River. Population increases in Phoenix and Tucson
were using much of the state's water. Arizona wanted more water from the
Colorado River, they continued to fight California for it. In 1930 Arizona filed
what was to be many lawsuits against the State of California for more water
rights. It wasn't until Arizona was granted electricity from Hoover Dam, and
given assurances for the Central Arizona Project, that Arizona ratified the 1922
Colorado River Compact, 22 years later. Nevada, the one state that has no major
river, was largely unpopulated at this time and remained unconcerned about the
water allocation.
During this time, The Federal Bureau of Reclamation built Davis Dam, 66
miles below Hoover Dam to further regulate flows and provide storage. Parker
Dam, below Davis was built in 1934 to facilitate the 242 mile long Colorado
River Aqueduct. This was another of Metropolitan Water District's projects to
transport water to Los Angeles. With Hoover and Parker, California could
receive 5.6 million acre feet from the Colorado River.
Mexico saw its share of the river water drying up with the control of
the water at Hoover Dam. In 1944 the United States, wanting to continue a good
relationship with her neighbor, signed an agreement with Mexico giving them 1.5
million acre feet per year, with nothing said about the quality of the water.
Mexico water, due to return irrigation water from United States fields and
evaporation was increasingly saline. Additional water to flush the salts was
tried, but the condition worsened. By 1955, the Mexicali Valley was a leading
cotton producing region. By 1960, growing salinity of river water hurt the
cotton crop along with the decline in cotton prices. Mexico and the United
States argued over the quality of water, and due to the administration's "Good
Neighbor Policy", the United States acquiesced, and in 1973 signed a water
agreement with Mexico. United States reduced salt by releasing more water
upstream, the quality of water arriving at Morelos Dam was to be equal in
quality to water behind Imperial Dam. The silt was to be removed by the giant
desilting works at Imperial Dam, and then the water was returned to the river
above Morelos Dam at the Imperial Irrigation District Pilot Knob power drop.
This policy promised Mexico that salinity levels would be no more than 115 parts
per million. It also obligated the United States to assume all costs necessary
to meet the salinity levels. As a result, the United States agreed to upstream
salt control projects in Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, and a 260 Million dollar
desalination plant in Yuma, Arizona. The desalination plant reclaims more than
70 million gallons of drainage water a day from the Welton-Mohawk irrigation
project. Fifty miles from the Mexican border is Laguna Salada, the end of the
Colorado River. An unlined canal carries the water 50 miles and then empties
it onto the flat plain of sand and silt where the Sea of Cortez washes the last
drops into the gulf. The Mexican water irrigates soil for 14,000 farmers and
supplies drinking water for the Mexicali Valley. A 76 mile aqueduct provides
water for Tijuana, Mexico.
It was not until 1964 that Arizona finally got their share of the water
with the passage of the Central Arizona Project. The Central Arizona Project
was the culmination of years of litigation. The 3.5 million dollar project
pumps water from Lake Havasu, 824 feet up and over the Buckskin Mountains
through a 7 mile tunnel along a concrete aqueduct 333 miles to the cities of
Phoenix and Tucson. The Central Arizona Project was built by the Bureau of
Reclamation and finished in 1991.
In 1963 in Arizona vs. California, the Supreme Court allocated 900,000
acre feet of Colorado River water to 5 Indian tribes along the river, and 79,000
acre feet for federal lands. This gives them sufficient water to meet needs of
reservation. Recently the tribes have reasoned that farm lands were omitted
from the original estimate and that they want more water rights. If tribes
receive more water, this could mean less water for the lower basin. Opponents
argue that the Navajo Tribe bargained away some rights for other developments,
such as the huge coal burning power plant on Lake Powell. The Federal
Governments outlook is, "why give the tribes more water?" They gave away their
rights, and the Federal government does not have the money for water irrigation
projects that would benefit so few people. There is another side to the Indian
issue, "first in time, first in right". this means that the Indians were there
first, before the laws, so therefore the Indians have first right to the water.
This would put a totally different slant on distribution of Colorado River water,
but most people feel that this issue would be tied up in litigation for years,
and because of the benefits of so few, the Indians would likely lose.
Citizens groups have become more vocal in the management of the lower
Colorado River Basin. The river water has historically been given to
agricultural uses. In recent times, urban sprawl has infringed on the
agriculture, 80% of the Colorado river water is still used for crops, but
scarcity and expensive water is limiting the agriculture. The Imperial Valley
Irrigation district wastes about 15% of its water. Conservation has led to the
lining of canals with cement. This had brought about charges that it prevents
seepage from filling ground water aquifers. Water experts fear that depleting
local water supplies will empty underground reservoirs, so they want more water
from the Colorado. Maintaining stream flow of tributaries is necessary for
preserving habitat and underground aquifers. Infrared satellite photos which
pick up plant growth as red, show the area of the Colorado Delta in Mexico, the
Mexicali, and San Louis Valley as desolate, with few pale red patches, but the
area of the canals in the Imperial Valley show vibrant red. The growing
population explosion in the southwest have given the municipalities a loud voice
in the fight for more water, but most of the laws still favor agriculture.
Agriculture produces economic advantages, government subsidies and facilities.
The Clean Water Act sets effluent standards for water coming from 'point
sources' (pipes and ditches), but agricultural return flow is exempt. In 1980,
the State of Arizona passed the most stringent water management program. This
law discourages farmers from using Central Arizona Project (CAP) water to
increase production of heavy water user crops such as cotton, rice and citrus,
by having growers cut back on ground water use equal to their use of CAP water.
The farmers can also sell their water rights to developers and local water
systems. The City of Tucson is perhaps the most water conscience city in
America. They have mandatory conservation, all golf courses and city parks use
reclaimed water, or water that has been recycled. They ban outdoor fountains
and utilize low flow toilets and showers. The city has cut their water
consumption 25% since 1974. Sadly, most of the west has not practiced water
conservation. The recent six year drought in Southern California, when many of
the cities were required to conserve water, and some even had water patrols to
cite people for wasting water, forced people to conserve water or face stiff
penalties. For years California had 'borrowed' water from the upper basin and
used Arizona and New Mexico's unused portion of lower basin water. The water
supply of the lower Colorado Rive Basin had, for the first time, used up its
entire share of river water. This meant severe conservation of water. By 1990,
after heavy rains in Arizona, California was again using other states water.
People went back to their old habits of wasting precious water. Many people
felt that because conservationists are always crying about water shortages, they
have cried wolf too often, they don 't believe there is a water shortage, that
it is only an excuse for raising water rates. On April 1, 1994, California
State water officials said that California is again in a drought. Many people
will ignore this in view of recent heavy rains. People have to understand that
the water is only transported to Southern California. If there is no rain or
snow in Colorado (or the Sierra's in California's case) it can result in water
shortages. A threat of water allocation is a threat to a person or a communities
way of life. New growth actually encourages more water consumption. New
houses mean more dish washers, washing machines and backyard pools. This is not
the way to manage water. A conscientious effort must be made by government, and
residents to share the water equally and conserve water equally. In 1980
legislature authorized the transfer of water rights, or water marketing. Some
people believed this would lead to an open market, the price of the water would
reflect the cost of developing and distributing the water. The highest bidder
would receive the water. In theory, the more the water costs, the more people
would conserve. But agriculture is heavily subsidized and therefore prices can
fluctuate. Commercial and residential users would be subject to high water
rates, with the wealthy being able to afford most of the water. This is an
unfair and unjust system. A marketing system that is fair and responsible, one
that mandates conservation, should be enacted. Water needs to be dispersed
equally. The 1922 compact, while good in its time, is antiquated by today's
standards and usage. "The politics of the Colorado River Basin is nothing more
than a fabric of promise, incurred at different times, under different
conditions and often for different purposes'. (3) The Colorado River could in
the future be augmented by other water. Some have suggested connecting the
Columbia River to the Colorado by way of pumps, siphons and canals. These plans
are very costly and unless water becomes scarce, this is not a reality. Some
California coastal cities have made plans for alternate water in times of
shortage. Ocean water desalination plants are in the planning stages or under
construction. This method of water augmentation is also very costly. Water is a
social good, a public trust, should communities be able to decide independently
about water use? The seven states of the Colorado River Basin should follow the
advice of Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and form a commission, along
with representatives of the Federal Government with input from the Colorado
River Indian Tribes, to regulate, manage, control, enforce and educate the
public and private sectors regarding the Colorado River Water. Too many
agencies, too many private water companies all add to the confusion of the
water rights of the Colorado River. Water banks need to be set up. Lake Mead
is designated as a water bank for storage if all parties agree to this, but with
the history of regulations regarding Colorado River water, there will most
likely be a long and drawn out battle over this idea. Only the fear of no
water or a severe drought seems to move passage on laws regarding the water.
People come to the Colorado River to play and enjoy the water. "Six national
parks and recreation areas along the Colorado's shores support a multi-million
dollar recreation industry of boating, hiking, fishing and white water rafting".
(4). Recreation has become a huge part of the Colorado River System. This
has brought loud cries from the conservationists. In 1991 the Arizona stretch
of the Colorado River was named the most endangered river of 1991 by American
Rivers, a conservation group. Many of the fish and wildlife have disappeared.
Special areas have been designated as wildlife protection areas. The Endangered
Species Act protects the river and can be enacted independently of the Clean
Water Act. Federal Fish and Game, state resources and conservation groups have
all worked to make the public


Other sample model essays:

World History / The Forever Moving Land
The Forever Moving Land The land below us is always in motion. Plate tectonics studies these restless effects to give us a better understanding of the Earth and its past. New molten rocks...
World History / The Industrial Heartland
The Industrial Heartland There are basically seven factors that must be met before an industry can start to take place in a particular area. Those seven factors are: raw materials, tr...
The Industrial Heartland--Megalopolis There are basically seven factors that must be met before an industry can start to take place in a particular area. Those seven factors are: raw mate...
World History / The Maori Of New Zealand
The Maori of New Zealand The Maori people, the natives of New Zealand, have played a strong part in the development and success of the small island nation. Their ferocity and determination...
World History / The Namib Desert
The Namib Desert 5/13/96 Period 6 The Namib Desert is a parched and rippled desert, an endless expanse. It stretches along the wouthwest coast of Africa from Angola in t...
World History / Canada
Canada Canada, is the world's second largest country and it is the largest country in the Western Hemisphere. It comprises all of the North American continent north of the United States, w...
World History / The Population Solution
The Population Solution Question... 1. Most people assume that human numbers will stabilize at some point in the future. Discuss the conditions which can contribute to the solution of the p...
The Problems of Mexico City The principal problems now facing Mexico City are its overcrowding and overpopulation, its dangerous environment, its dwindling water supply, and its terrible a...
The Relevancy of the Heartland - Hinterland Distinction in Canada's Economic Geography Until the early 20th century, Canada was primarily an agricultural nation. Since then it has become on...
World History / Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens Top of Volcano Blown Off In Blast! 18/04/82. 60 people were killed today when Mt. St Helens blew its top Mt. St Helens erupted two years ago today in a bla...
Experience with Dream Essay - Reliable and great customer service. Quality of work - High quality of work.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
Dream Essay - Very reliable and great customer service. Encourage other to try their service. Writer 91463 - Provided a well written Annotated Bibliography with great deal of detail per the rubric.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
it is always perfect
Frederick, Maryland, United States
The experience with Dream Essay is stress free. Service is excellent and forms various forms of communication all help with customer service. Dream Essay is customer oriented. Writer 17663 is absolutely excellent. This writer provides the highest quality of work possible.
Browns Mills, New Jersey, United States
Only competent & proven writers
Original writing — no plagiarism
Our papers are never resold or reused, period
Satisfaction guarantee — free unlimited revisions
Client-friendly money back guarantee
Total confidentiality & privacy
Guaranteed deadlines
Live Chat & 24/7 customer support
All academic and professional subjects
All difficulty levels
12pt Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1 inch margins
The fastest turnaround in the industry
Fully documented research — free bibliography guaranteed
Fax (additional info): 866-332-0244
Fax (additional info): 866-308-7123
Live Chat Support
Need order related assistance?—Click here to submit a inquiry
© Dreamessays.com. All Rights Reserved.
Dreamessays.com is the property of MEDIATECH LTD