Ed Hallenbeck was an engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, working as the project manager during construction of Central Arizona Project.

Ed Hallenbeck: Build it and they will come

(The story below is built around a recorded interview)

As the project manager of Central Arizona Project from 1980-85, electrical engineer Ed Hallenbeck was around for a bulk of the construction. Siphons. Tunnels. Reach 11. Pumping plants. Canal.

And one even bigger thing that was accomplished that Hallenbeck viewed as critical was the Orme Dam situation.

“When I came here in 1980, I inherited a hornet’s nest of problems over the Orme Dam construction, its alternatives, and what should we do about flood control in Phoenix, and that whole arena was up in the air,” said Hallenbeck.

Environmentalists were upset. Native American tribes were upset. Even the politicians weren’t supporting Orme Dam. But Phoenix was flooding for the second consecutive year, so flood control was on everyone’s mind. It came to the point where an alternative had to be developed.  

The answer? Plan 6, which would build New Waddell Dam, enlarge Lake Pleasant and raise Roosevelt Dam.

“We started looking at enlarging Waddell, and suddenly enlarging Waddell became the most obvious thing in the world,” said Hallenbeck. “Why have we not we seen this before?”

One of the reasons it was a sensible choice was because the elevation of the lake is above the elevation of the canal, so summer releases actually generate electricity.

Creative and collaborative water management continues today, and it has put Arizona in a good situation for the future.

“I’ve been to California and Nevada and Arizona, and I think of the three states, Arizona probably has the best handle on its future with water of anybody, and probably is the most secure,” Hallenbeck said.

Read Ed Hallenbeck's Oral History Transcript
Listen to Ed Hallenbeck's Interview