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The Columbia River Basin Project Begun with the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in 1933, the Columbia River Basin Project is one of the largest, and most contentious, engineering projects ever completed in the American West. Franklin Roosevelt originally authorized the construction of the dam with the intention of diverting huge portions of the Columbia River to the fertile, though arid, Washington State Interior.??With the outbreak of World War II, however, irrigation initiatives were put on hold, and hydroelectric power became the dam's primary function. This change in use proved important historically.

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