Gilbert F. White
Resources Committee were most unhappy about this kind of promotion. They
countered with preparation of the first edition of a manual called Low Dams.
That's where Low Dams got started, through our Water Resources Committee.
Q: Which basically, as I recall, is a how-to-build kind of thing almost.
A: And what to look out for in designing it. Its initial stance was one of
prudence: what not to do, what to do, raising all sorts of cautions, pointing
out gains that can be realized but also severe damages that can be incurred as
a result of ill-advised and ignorant activity.
So you had Morns Cooke's Little Waters getting a lot of publicity and the
Water Resources Committee, representing the major federal agencies, putting
out Low Dams and then getting the agencies to continue the publication on
Q: Of course, now Morns Cooke evidently did influence Roosevelt . . .
A: He did.
Q: . . . on what later was to be called the upstream-downstream controversy.
And am I to gather from your remarks that Abel Wolman and the people who
worked for him didn't have a similar kind of influence on Roosevelt with this
Low Dam book?
A: That's correct. Morris Cooke was a much more skillful political operator.
He was primarily a politician in the best sense; that is, he was interested in
shaping public policy. He started out with an aim and he found evidence to
support it, whereas the people on the Water Resources Committee started out
with the basic data and technical analysis, and finally arrived at suggestions
about policy. Cooke could run circles around them when it came to getting
over to the White House and to some members of Congress. He had no
hesitation about going to Senator [George W.] Norris or other people on the
Hill on whom he knew he could rely. Wolman and others on the board were
asked not to lobby; the board was to advise the President and his cabinet.