Big Splash in the Arid West

A vast Arizona project taps precious Colorado River water

It ranks along with the Grand Coulee and Hoover dams as one of the century's costliest and most complex public works projects. It carries a price tag of $1.3 billion and has been a building for twelve years--so far. It will not be fully operational until the early 1990s, probably at the cost of another $2.3 billion. But when Interior Secretary Donald Hodel and Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt switched on the huge pump of the Hassayampa water plant last Friday, dedicating the mammoth Central Arizona Project, they signaled the opening of a new and possibly contentious era throughout much of the...

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