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February 19, 2018

Looking for Lessons along the Colorado River

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

In a series of stories on the Colorado River, the New Mexico Political Report covered the forging of the Colorado River Compact, quoting Water Policy Program director Martin Doyle's The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers. The book describes how, with a view to “limiting the potential for observers and interlopers," then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover sequestered Colorado River Commission members at a remote ranch in New Mexico. The ensuing talks, writes Doyle, “were held with only the delegate and advisors (an engineering adviser and a legal adviser) from each state; this approach minimized outside or lobbying during the actual talks and allowed the commissioners to negotiate concessions without immediately infuriating their state interests. These conditions, combined with Hoover’s constant cajoling and needling and prodding, resulted in a compact that hinged on a great compromise.”