President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act into law, authorizing CAP construction

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DeEtte Person

CAP 50th Anniversary LogoAt its first 2018 meeting, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District board of directors kicked off a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Colorado River Basin Project Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Act into law on Sept. 30, 1968. This Act authorized Central Arizona Project construction and shaped the long-range operating criteria for the Colorado River Basin. CAP will be celebrating this milestone legislation through September, sharing some of the “behind the scenes” stories that led to this historic Act and the work it took to bring CAP to reality.

“The signing of the Colorado River Basin Project Act was the result of tenacious Arizonans, who had a steadfast vision that water security and stability were critical to ensuring Arizona’s future,” says Lisa Atkins, CAWCD board president. “The effort required by Arizona leaders to get the Colorado River Basin Project Act passed is an amazing legacy to us and is indeed critical to Arizona’s future. Much of Arizona’s economic development can be traced to the water supply envisioned by those Arizonans more than 50 years ago.

”Throughout 2018, CAP will celebrate the many ways it provides reliable water supplies to central Arizona’s municipalities, irrigation districts and tribal nations. To kick-off the commemoration, CAP has posted a new video, narrated by none other than President Johnson himself. In addition, last year CAP worked with the Arizona Department of Transportation to install new signs along highways in central and western Arizona honoring four state leaders who were instrumental in securing approval and funding for CAP -- Carl T. Hayden (U.S. House of Representatives, 1912-27; U.S. Senate, 1927-69); John J. Rhodes (U.S. House of Representatives, 1953-83; Paul J. Fannin (Arizona governor, 1959-65; U.S. Senate, 1965-77) and Ernest W. McFarland (U.S. Senate, 1941-53, Arizona governor, 1955-59). CAP also will be sharing history throw-backs via social media and other communications channels.          

Upon signing the Colorado River Basin Project Act, President Lyndon B. Johnson acknowledged that “for the millions of Americans west of the Continental Divide, it will provide more water for growing cities; it will provide more water for expanding industries, for the farmers' crops, and for the ranchers' cattle.” For Arizona, the ramifications of the Act have been realized with increased water supplies, economic vitality and recreational uses.

“More water is exported from the Colorado River than from any other river basin in the world. In Arizona, the Colorado River Basin Project Act led to one of the world’s great engineering marvels – you can even see the CAP canal from outer space!” says Ted Cooke, CAP general manager. “This anniversary provides an opportunity to educate the general public, as well as CAP employees, partners and stakeholders about its history and value as a reliable steward of central Arizona’s Colorado River water entitlement and as a collaborative leader in Arizona’s water community.”

Media Resources: Photos, audio and video from Colorado River Basin Project Act are available. Please contact