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Arizona’s water history is a rich one, filled with stories of conflict and collaboration. . .hostility and harmony. But in the end, the characters in this story – farmers, politicians, engineers, economists, lawyers, accountants – accomplished a lot.

Aerial View of the Colorado River

CAP’s Oral Histories are the real stories. History told by those who lived it.

For example, Arizonans know that in the late 1970s, CAP construction almost ceased until the state developed a comprehensive groundwater management law. Conflict ensued between Arizona and Washington. But what you may not know is that, according to Bruce Babbitt, some of that conflict was intentionally created.

Babbitt took the lead and formed a group to tackle the issue, but progress was slow. So he talked with his friend, Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus and recruited him to help ignite the efforts.

“I would periodically call him up and say, ‘Cec, give me some leverage, threaten to kill it (CAP construction) and I will go out in public and condemn you as interfering in our business and telling you to stay out of our affairs,’” Babbitt said.  “At the same time I would go back into the group and say, ‘Okay, you hear him, he just might do that.’”

And that’s not the only great story told by this cast of characters.

Want to learn more? Check out the newly reworked CAP web page with all of its oral histories – 37 in all, in the words of some of Arizona’s most important water leaders, including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, Tom Clark, Andy Dolyniuk, Kathy Ferris, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, Jack Pfister, Arizona Representative John Rhodes, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Grady Gammage, Jr. and the Wuertz brothers. Each contains a biography, interview overview and a transcript from the interview. In some cases, there are even audio files so you can listen to the stories told in the individual’s own voice.

The oral histories detail how when Californian Wes Steiner was hired as the Executive Director of Arizona’s Interstate Stream Commission, people were worried he was still working for California, acting as a “spy” who wouldn’t have Arizona’s best interest at heart.

There are perspectives on Orme Dam and Plan 6.

Arizona fighting California for its full allocation. 

CAP suing the Federal Government over the total repayment amount.

Find these and more by clicking here.

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