The man who planned and pushed some of the largest water projects in the West has died. Floyd E. Dominy (above), the longest serving commissioner of the federal Bureau of Reclamation, died in Boyce, Virginia, at the age of 100.
Dominy was born on a farm in Adams County, Nebraska, in 1909, according to an obituary in the New York Times. The graduated from the University of Wyoming and eventually became a county extension agent, where he helped farmers build 300 small dams to store water for livestock. He rose through the ranks in the Bureau of Reclamation, becoming a commissioner in 1959. Under his leadership, the Bureau built the Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge and Navajo Dams in the upper Colorado River and the Trinity River section of California’s Central Valley Project. Conservationists opposed him. The founding director of the Sierra Club, David Brower, said his decision to accept the Glen Canyon dam as part of a deal to end another dam project was his greatest failure.
Dominy was unapologetic. He said the Colorado River without dams was “useless to anyone…I’ve seen all the wild rivers I ever want to see.” In writing about Lake Powell on the Colorado, Dominy said, “Dear God, did you cast down two hundred miles of canyon and mark, ‘For poets only’? Multitudes hunger for a lake in the sun.”