Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Charles Peterson


Charles Peterson


The Colorado River Basin of Utah covers approximately 49 percent of the state. A sizable snowfall, particularly in the Uintah Mountains, makes Utah's major contribution to the water flow of the Colorado River. During the spring runoff the melting snow finds its way to the Colorado River, which eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. In large measure this water has held, and still holds, the key to Utah's development.

Because Utah lies in an arid region, water is an extremely important resource. Upon arrival to the Great Basin in 1847, the Mormon pioneers immediately set about solving the problem of diverting water from the streams of the area onto land. This was necessary to raise crops needed for their survival. Thus was begun the development of irrigation which along with being of extreme necessity became an important tradition in Utah.

As the population of the Great Basin continued to rise, it was found that demands on easily accessible water became too great for the existing supply. Cost was the greatest problem facing Utah's people in developing the potential of more inaccessible waters. Even with the formation of cooperative companies much of the water could not be utilized . The largest potential water source of all was the Colorado River Basin. But separating the larger population of the Great Basin from that water were the Wasatch Mountains. Use of this water would necessitate diversion of it through tunnels from one Basin to the other, a much too costly venture to be attempted privately. Those people who eventually settled in the Colorado Basin itself dount that natural stream flow was not sufficient to meet t he needs of everyone.

Included in

History Commons