The San Juan Diversion Project


How does nature serve to distort what we SEE?

Should we control and change nature so we can SEE clearly?

But what are we trying to SEE, if not nature?


The Colorado River Compact, nicknamed the “Law of the River,” asserts use of Colorado River water between the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. The compact, approved in 1922 by President Hoover, establishes the legal framework of distribution and allocation that would eventually inform the San Juan-Chama Diversion Project. 

Beginning in 1962, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation developed five dams, two reservoirs (including Abiquiu Reservoir), five tunnels, two channels, and several processing facilities. The social impact of this project has been significant, with landowners forfeiting property due to eminent domain, water drawn away from the Navajo Nation, new lakes appearing amidst several desert communities, and so on. 

But the project met its goal. New Mexico now funnels water from the other side of the continental divide. This gives life to the people—and the economies—of the region, especially Albuquerque. (Even in the midst of record-breaking drought.)