In the third section of John McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid, the author observes the discourse between conservationist David Brower and Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Floyd Dominy, on the merits of dams in the southwestern United States. Brower "hates all dams, large and small," while Dominy sees dams as essential to our civilization. The Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, which Dominy created, are the main issue of debate between the two men.
Floyd Dominy graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1932 and, after an unsuccessful stint as a teacher, became a county agricultural agent for the federal government in Wyoming's Gillette County. This was the time of the Great Depression and also a great drought in the American Midwest, which quickly garnered the name of the "dust bowl." Frustrated by the lack of water available to farmers in his county, Dominy orchestrated the building of many dams in Gillette County, providing water to thirsty farmers and their livestock.
Rewarded with a job in the Bureau of Reclamation for his efforts, Dominy became the Bureau's director in 1959 and oversaw the construction of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.
Completed in 1962, the 710 foot tall dam built out of 4.9 million cubic yards of concrete has a reservoir (Lake Powell) that has a maximum capacity of 27 million acre-feet and is the one of the largest reservoirs in the world. Lake Powell has become a popular water recreation site and provides homes with about 1 million kilowatts of hydroelectric power and 8.23 million acre-feet of water and irrigation per year. Dominy views the dam as a great asset, both to provide utilities and to provide recreation - "Now people can fish, swim, water-ski, sun-bathe. Can't you imagine going there with your family for a weekend,