The Modernization of the Salt River Project: The Impact of the Rehabilitation and Betterment Program
Author(s): Jay C. Ziemann
Following the cycle of economic depression of the 1920s and 1930s, and the manpower shortage caused by the outbreak of the Second World War, the various reclamation projects in the western United States suffered from broken-down systems. The Salt River Project, which serves the Phoenix metropolitan area with water and power, was one of these reclamation projects. Canals and laterals that carried invaluable irrigation water seeped and leaked, resulting in water losses of twenty-five percent; many of the structures within the waterways which regulated and measured the flow of the water were useless, because they had been made of redwood timber more than seventy years previously; Phoenix experienced a tremendous population boom following the War, and increased urbanization required that many of the open laterals be piped and placed underground; and many of the Project's dams suffered from a number of construction problems.
In 1949 during the Truman years, Congress passed the Rehabilitation and Betterment Act. The Act extended to the reclamation projects very low interest loans that were to be used to reconstruct and up-grade the dilapidated structures. Through the year 1980, the Salt River Project borrowed in excess of twenty-seven million dollars ($27,000,000) from the Federal government to rehabilitate its facilities. Canals were piped and lined, steel gates were installed, the seven Project dams were all strengthened and improved, and a computer system was installed that allowed one operator to regulate the flow rates of water throughout the entire water delivery system of the Salt River Project. Radial telemetry and computerized mechanization now typifies the Project that thirty years ago was described more accurately by the words, dirt, timber, and brawn.
The rehabilitation and betterment program at the Salt River Project had successes and failures; new technology was both developed and discarded. Throughout the whole program, however, curious and diligent engineers and workers tried to create a "state of the art" water distribution system at a reasonable price. This was their goal. The history of the rehabilitation and betterment program at the Salt River Project is essentially their story.
Cite this Record
The Modernization of the Salt River Project: The Impact of the Rehabilitation and Betterment Program. Jay C. Ziemann. Masters Thesis. Arizona State University (ASU). 1987 ( tDAR id: 428117) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8428117
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
min long: -112.816; min lat: 33.142 ; max long: -111.289; max lat: 33.875 ;
Individual & Institutional Roles
Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager
Submitted To(s): Arizona State University (ASU)
|Name||Size||Creation Date||Date Uploaded||Access|
|1987_Ziemann_TheModernization_OCR_PDFA.pdf||49.18mb||Dec 1, 1987||Apr 19, 2017 9:37:02 AM||Confidential|
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