Bill Wheeler was an engineer who served on the Central Arizona Project Association (CAPA) board, working to ensure Arizona received its share of Colorado River water.
Bill Wheeler: The Face of CAPA
(The story below is built around a recorded interview)
When California native Bill Wheeler moved to Tucson and got involved in the Chamber of Commerce, he quickly saw the importance of water and knew that being dependent on groundwater was a losing proposition.
So the prospect of bringing Colorado River water to Tucson didn’t seem far-fetched. In fact, as a civil engineer, it seemed like a necessity, so he got involved in the Central Arizona Project Association (CAPA), at that time, an organization with a diverse membership and a 50-person board that was working to get CAP authorized by Congress.
His service to the water industry spanned nearly 40 years, and included many water battles, not only with California, but also within the state of Arizona.
“We had serious problems, political problems with the Tucson people. Many of them saying that water is poison and it’s really a terrible thing and we can’t have that in Tucson, we have wonderful beautiful groundwater and we were saying yes, but is going to run out. We couldn’t convince many of the politicians,” Wheeler said.
But Wheeler was steadfast, and his work helped change Arizona’s water future. He retired in 2003 as the Executive Director of CAPA.