Faculty Advisor

Crusberg, Theodore C.


Until the mass construction of dams and water system planning along the Colorado River and its tributaries, the river was uncontrollable and made human survival nearly impossible. Indian cultures first populated this region but established communities high above or completely away from areas known to flood and focused technological advances mainly on survival skills rather than military purposes. When the Spanish first began to explore the area, initially looking for untapped resources and chasing myths and legends of hidden treasures, they found that their highly regarded armadas could not navigate the waters of the Colorado and were unable to flourish under these harsh conditions lacking steady lines of supplies and trade. After the land was acquired by the United States, the erection of small dams and diversion canals only complicated matters by causing floods in new places while still unable to prevent them in areas where they typically occurred. Following the restructuring of the Bureau of Reclamation, big dams such as Hoover, Shasta, Bonneville, and Glen Canyon, and the systematic planning of the Colorado River Basin, the river was soon brought under control and the human population soon flourished in the desert. Once established in this unforgiving environment, social concerns began to shift toward the environment and the overall quality of life rather than survival at all costs.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 2001

Project Type

Interactive Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Biology and Biotechnology