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Recognizing The 100Th Anniversary Of The Theodore Roosevelt Dam

Floor Speech

Date: March 10, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt Dam, the cornerstone of water resource operations in Central Arizona. The reliable, sustainable water supply provided by the dam and its reservoir, Theodore Roosevelt Lake, has served as an economic catalyst that spurred decades of growth and helped create the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.

* The Salt River Valley, home to metropolitan Phoenix, was little more than a few military outposts and prospecting camps until the first modern canal company was organized in 1867. The success of this venture encouraged more irrigation concerns. Most used the ancient canal networks created and maintained by an indigenous civilization that thrived in the area more than 1,000 years earlier.

* As a result of these canal companies, settlements cropped up across the Valley. Local leaders agreed a dam was needed to regulate the flow of the Salt River, which fed the canal networks, to ensure a reliable source of water and sustain development.

* A group including a surveyor, journalist, and canal company superintendent identified a possible dam site in 1889 about 80 miles east of Phoenix near the confluence of Tonto Creek and the Salt River. The site was nestled among the Superstition wilderness area, the Sierra Ancha Mountains, and the Salt River Canyon.

* Next, residents had to determine how to pay for such a massive undertaking. The Salt River Valley Water Users' Association was organized in 1903 when Valley landowners pledged their property as collateral for a government loan to build the proposed dam. It was a unique arrangement only made possible by an act of Congress the previous year, the National Reclamation Act of 1902.

* Dam construction began in 1905 under the supervision of the U.S. Reclamation Service, now the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. When completed in early 1911 and dedicated personally by the president whose name it bears, Roosevelt was the world's largest masonry dam.

* Hydroelectric generation from the dam provided early power to, and served as the basis of, power operations for the Salt River Project (SRP), a water and power entity that includes the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association.

* Roosevelt Dam has undergone various improvements through the ages, including three separate upgrades of its hydroelectric generating capacity. A major modification of the dam and reservoir was completed in 1996 when the height of the dam was raised by 77 feet and the dam envelope was strengthened.

* This modification was part of a comprehensive project to increase water storage, improve dam safety and enhance flood control throughout central Arizona.

* Through a partnership with SRP, the federal government, and state and local communities, central Arizona has grown into a vital metropolitan region in the Southwest.

* Mr. Speaker, as Theodore Roosevelt Dam embarks on its second century of service to the people of the Salt River Valley, it deserves special recognition for its historic and invaluable contributions to my state.