Bombs for Water?

Written by Douglas Towne Category: History Issue: September 2011

Undeterred, the AAEC proposed another plan to set off nuclear explosions at 14 sites around the state for water development. Detonations just below the surface would create large craters that would increase water supplies by recharging stream flow and perhaps even form permanent lakes. The runoff captured by the effects of the atomic blasts could add “2-to-3 million acre-feet of water to the Arizona supply... roughly equivalent to the potential of the Central Arizona Project,” according to a 1968 Phoenix Gazette article. Known as “Project Aquarius,” the first nuclear detonations were tentatively scheduled at a site along Clear Creek south of Winslow. The plan was canceled in 1969, however, because of public outcry. No atomic blast ever took place.