Reclamation Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Passage of the Colorado River Storage Project Act at Glen Canyon Dam

Media Contact: Doug Hendrix, (801) 524-3837
Stacey Carroll, (801) 524-3813

For Release: October 19, 2006

Reclamation celebrated a birthday of sorts today at Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Ariz. by hosting a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956 (CRSP Act). The event themed 'CRSP: Water and Power...Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' commemorated the sweeping contributions that the CRSP Act has had on the growth and development of the Southwestern United States and Colorado River Basin.

"As visionary as Congress was in April of 1956, when the Colorado River Storage Project Act was passed and sent to President Eisenhower for signature, I often wonder if anyone then really knew how significant that moment would ultimately prove to be," said Mark Limbaugh, Assistant Secretary Water and Science for the Department of the Interior. "The CRSP Act provided both the legal foundation and impetus for the comprehensive development of the Upper Colorado River Basin. In all likelihood, without Glen Canyon Dam and the other CRSP storage units there would be a strong possibility that annual obligations to the Lower Basin could not be met without creating significant water shortages in the Upper Basin."

The CRSP Act provided for the construction of the four initial units consisting of dams, reservoirs, powerplants and transmission facilities including: Glen Canyon Unit on the Colorado River in Arizona and Utah; Flaming Gorge Unit on the Green River in Utah and Wyoming; Navajo Unit on the San Juan River in New Mexico and Colorado; and Curecanti Unit on the Gunnison River in Colorado. The Curecanti Unit was later renamed the Wayne N. Aspinall Unit in honor of Congressman Wayne Aspinall.

Additionally, there are 21 participating projects authorized by the CRSP Act and subsequent legislation that develop water for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses, and other purposes in the Upper Colorado River Basin. To date, 16 are completed or in the process of completion.

"The reach of the Act is amazing in that it anticipated the day when water demands, water shortages, population and economic growth would converge," added Limbaugh. "I am confident that fifty years from now, water managers and western historians alike will proclaim the Colorado River Storage Project Act as one of the seminal acts that shaped the development of the American West."

The CRSP generating units provide hydroelectric power for more than 5.8 million customers in six Western states. Revenues earned from the sale of the power generated at these facilities are used to pay for operation and maintenance of the CRSP units and related works. The reservoirs formed by the four units of the CRSP have a total capacity of nearly 30.6 million acre-feet of active storage for the benefit of the Upper Basin States.

Keynote speaker at the CRSP Act ceremony held on the crest of Glen Canyon Dam was Mark Limbaugh, Asst. Secretary of Water and Science for the Department of the Interior. Other officials participating in the commemorative event included: Gary R. Herbert, Lieutenant Governor of Utah; Brenda Burman, Reclamation Deputy Commissioner; Rick Gold, Regional Director of Reclamation's Upper Colorado Region; Michael Hacskaylo, Administrator, Western Area Power Administration; and, Leslie James, Executive Director, Colorado River Energy Distributors Association.

Construction of four storage units of the Colorado River Storage Project and 11 participating projects was authorized by Congressional Act of April 11, 1956 (Public Law 485, 84th Cong., 70 Stat. 105).

# # #

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.