A testament to cooperation

For the first 18 months of the current administration in Washington, there has been a lot of lip service paid to improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Each attempt, though, to have an “infrastructure week” or even an “infrastructure day” has been overshadowed by scandals and controversies that distract from the very real needs of our nation’s bridges, airports, dams, highways, electrical grids, etc.

It is interesting to note, then, that construction of one of the most massive pieces of infrastructure in American history began 88 years ago. On July 7, 1930, work began on the construction of what was originally called the Boulder Dam. In 1947, it was officially renamed the Hoover Dam in honor of the president — Herbert Hoover — who fought the hardest to bring it into existence.

The dam is located in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border of the states of Arizona and Nevada. There were three main purposes for the dam:

1. To protect down-river cities from flooding when the winter snowpack melted in the western Rockies.

2. Provide a reliable source of water for agricultural irrigation and drinking water for parched cities (including Los Angeles) in the West.

3. To generate electricity.

A dam for the area had been considered for over a quarter-century but quarrels between the states over water rights had prevented construction. Hoover negotiated the Colorado River Compact that basically defined the rights to water among the western states.

According to History.com, Hoover claimed the deal was “the most extensive action ever taken by a group of states under the provisions of the Constitution permitting compacts between states.”

Some interesting notes about the dam:

• Construction was finished in five years — two years ahead of schedule and millions of dollars under budget.

• Over 21,000 workers participated in the project.

• Today, it generates enough electricity to service over 1 million customers.

Perhaps the creation of the dam is best summed up by artist Oskar Hansen:

The dam is “a monument to collective genius exerting itself in community efforts around a common need or ideal.”

(Sources: History.com and Wikipedia)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.