William Gookin was an Arizona engineer, working with irrigation districts and the Gila River Indian Community.

William Gookin: Water education at home

(The story below is built around a recorded interview)

When William Gookin was born, his father was a civil engineer for the US Bureau of Reclamation, focused primarily on drafting documents to justify construction of Central Arizona Project. In fact, Gookin spent some summers in his teens in San Francisco listening to testimony in Arizona v California, where his dad was an expert witness.

But it didn’t immediately influence his career choice.

“I didn’t think I was going to be an engineer,” said Gookin. “My first degree was in Economics in Business, and I was partly through an MBA because that was supposed to be the road to easy riches, and then I noticed that the guys that were getting the good job offers had a technical undergraduate degree and decided maybe my dad wasn’t as crazy as I thought he was.”

So he returned to school and got a degree in engineering and in 1965, went to work with his dad’s company, Gookin Engineers. It was there that he worked with numerous irrigation districts that wanted to get CAP water allocations.

“One of the requirements in the legislation was that there be certain water saving requirements had to be in place before you could take CAP water,” said Gookin. “So we were involved in the, initially in doing some feasibility studies for these irrigation districts.”

Throughout the years, Gookin’s work continued to intersect with CAP, working on water negotiations, irrigation district construction projects and more, which drives home the importance of CAP to Arizona.

“Quite frankly, when I was child if you told me what Phoenix was going to look like, I would’ve said you’re crazy,” said Gookin. “I think the biggest accomplishment (of CAP) long term is going to be to allow for Phoenix to survive and probably Tucson.”

Read William Gookin's Oral History Transcript
Listen to William Gookin's Interview