Water Resources People and Issues
A: Howard's a very thoughtful person. I never felt I really knew him well
because he had personal convictions and interests that were slow in surfacing.
We did a paper together for one of the international conferences, and he
worked on the Water Policy Commission. I guess that was his last major
assignment. Howard was an independent thinker who had great difficulty
expressing his views in a fashion that showed their relationship to the views
of other people.
Q: I see. Did you get to know any of the Chiefs of Engineers at this time, in the
fifties or sixties? Did you know Emerson Itschner, Samuel Sturgis, or
[Walter K.] "Weary" Wilson?
A: Itschner and Sturgis I recall meeting. I never had any very close dealings
with them. The one I knew best was Markham.
Q: Professor White, in the mid-sixties we see the development of a cause we call
the environmental movement. One aspect of that movement is a growing
concern about the way in which the nation is husbanding its water resources.
There's a Rampart Dam controversy in Alaska which involves the Corps.
There's the earlier Grand Canyon controversy involving the Bureau of
Reclamation. And in the mid-sixties Senator Moss introduces a water act that
would again diminish the Corps' responsibility in water resources. Strictly
in regard to water resources, do you recall what your impressions were as this
environmental movement begins? Did you feel that the concerns being raised
by Senator Moss or other critics of the Corps of Engineers were warranted?
Did you feel there was basically self-interest? Do you recall anything about
A: The most significant controversy during that period, in my recollection, was
the Echo Park controversy, which, of course, involved Utah and would have
influenced Moss and others there. To me the essence of that controversy was
the concern to look at all of the consequences of a given environmental
intervention and a discontent with whatever agency was involved in trying to
push for single-purpose efforts without considering those consequences and
the alternatives. That's my own bias as I look at it in retrospect. That same
concern then shows up in the NEPA act. It is quite different from what
appeared to me to be the underlying causes for the environmental movement
as we talk about it having taken shape in the late sixties and moving in the
early seventies, both in the United States and worldwide. I would look for