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was brought under cultivation, and at one time it was reported that over 100,000 acres were being more or less irrigated. The first heading of the canal of the California Development Company was in the United States, immediately north of the Mexican border. It was found, however, after a time, that the heading on the United States side of the line did not give a grade to furnish sufficient flow of water, and, after headings had been opened at other points without successful results, a cut in the river bank was made 4 miles farther south in Mexican territory. This gave the water a shorter and steeper course toward the valley. The making of this cut in a bank composed of light alluvial soil above a depression such as this without controlling devices was criminai negligence. This short cut on Mexican soil was made in the fall of 1904. It was gradually eroded by the passage of the water, and in the spring of 1905 the floods of the Colorado River entering the artificial cut rapidly widened and deepened it until the entire flow of the river was turned westerly down the relatively steep slope into the Imperial Valley, and thence into what is known as Salton Sink or Salton Sea. After the mischief became apparent strenuous efforts were made by the California Development Company to close the break, but these were without success. Finally the Southern Pacific Company, finding its tracks imperilled and traffic seriously interfered with, advanced money to the California Development Company, received as security a majority of the shares of the company, and thus took charge of the situation. By means of the facilities available to the Southern Pacific Company the break in the west bank of the Colorado River was closed on November 4, 1906. A month later, however, a sudden rise in the river undermined the poorly constructed levees immediately south of the former break and the water again resumed its course into the Salton Sea. The results have been highly alarming, as it appears that if the water is not checked it will cut a very deep channel which, progressing upstream in a series of cataracts, will result in conditions such that the water can not be diverted by gravity into the canals already built in the Imperial Valley. If the break is not closed before the coming spring flood of 1907 it appears highly probable that all of the property values created in this valley will be wiped out, including farms and towns, as well as the revenues derived by the Southern Pacific Company. Ultimately the channel will be deepened in the main stream itself up to and beyond the town of Yuma, destroying the homes and farms there, the great railroad bridge, and the Government works at Laguna Dam, above Yuma. It is difficult to estimate how many people have settled in the valley, the figures varying from 6,000 persons up to as high as 10,000. It is also difficult to ascertain how much money has been actually spent in real improvements. Town lots have been laid off, sold at auction, and several hundred buildings erected in the various small settlements scattered throughout the tract. The greater part of the public land has been taken up under the homestead or desert entry laws, and sufficient work has been done to secure title. Some crops have been raised, and under favorable conditions the output in the near future will be large. The actual amount of tangible wealth or securities possessed by the settlers to-day upon which money can be raised is believed to be very small. Nearly all individual property has been expended in securing water rights from the California Development Company, or from the other organizations handling the water supply and controlled by this company. It is evident that the people have slender resources to fall back upon, and in view of the threatened calamity are practically helpless. The California Development Company is also unable to meet the exigency. The obligations assumed by the sale of water rights are so great that the property of the company is not adequate to meet these obligations; in other words, a gift of the visible property of this company and of its rights would not be a sufficient offset to the assumption of its liabilities. Nevertheless, the people in their desperation were reported as trying to issue and sell bonds secured by their property in order to give to the California Development Company a million dollars to assist in repairing the break. The complications which have arisen from the transfer of the property and the involved relations of the California Development Company with its numerous subsidiary companies are such that the United States would not be justified in having any dealings with this company until the complications are re
moved and the Government has a full understanding of every phase of the situation.
It has been stated above that the California Development Company has not the financial strength to repair the break and to restore the bank of the Colorado River to such permanent condition that a similar occurrence can not happen. It is further understood that the Southern Pacific Company having expended $2,000,000 or more for the protection of its interests, declines to furnish more money to the California Development Company to save the Imperial Valley, beyond controlling the present break in the river bank. The owners of the property in Imperial Valley, both farmers and townspeople, together with the Southern Pacific Company and the California Development Company, have combined to call upon the Government for a contribution to assist the California Development Company to the extent of erecting permanent works to insure protection for the future.
If the river is not put back and permanently maintained in its natural bed the progressive back cutting in the course of one or two years will extend upstream to Yuma, as before stated, and finally to the Laguna Dam, now being built by the Government, thus wiping out millions of dollars of property belonging to the Government and to citizens. Continuing farther, it will deprice all the valley lands along the Colorado River of the possibility of obtaining necessary supply of water by gravity canals.
The great Yuma bridge will go out and approximately 700,000 acres of land as fertile as the Nile Valley will be left in a desert condition. What this means may be understood when we remember that the entire producing area of southern California is about 250.000 acres. A most conservative estimate after full development must place the gross product from this land at not less than $100 per acre per year, every ten acres of which will support a family when under intense cultivation. If the break in the Colorado is not permanently controlled the financial loss to the United States will be great. The entire irrigable area which will be either submerged or deprived of water in the Imperial Valley and along the Colorado River is capable of adding to the permanent population of Arizona and California at least 350,000 people, and probably 500,000. Much of the land will be worth from $500 to $1,500 per acre to individual owners, or a total of from $350,000,000 to $700,000,000.
The point to be especially emphasized is that prompt action must be taken, if any; otherwise the conditions may become so extreme as to be impracticable of remedy. The history of past attempts to close the break in the river bank has shown that each time, through delay, the work has cost double or treble what it would have cost had prompt action been taken. It is probable now that with an expenditure of $2,000,000 the river can be restored to its former channel and held there indefinitely; but if this action is not taken immediately, several times this sum may be required to restore it, and possibly it can not be restored unless enormous sums are expended.
At the present moment there appears to be only one agency equal to the task of controlling the river, namely, the Southern Pacific Company, with its transportation facilities, its equipment, and control of the California Development Company and subsidiary companies. The need of railroad facilities and equipment and the international complications are such that the officers of the United States, even with unlimited funds, could not carry on the work with the celerity required. It is only the fact that the officers of the Southern Pacific Company, acting also as officers of the California Development Company, have been able to apply all its resources for transportation, motive power, and the operation of the road that has made it possible to control the situation to the extent which they have already done. The Southern Pacific (ompany is now reported to be working strenuously to fill the break through which the Colorado River is flowing westward to the Salton Sea, and in repairing and building levees to keep out the high water due next March. This work will be more or less of a temporary character. Further construction is necessary and all temporary works must be replaced by permanent structures. It is estimated that for this additional work $2,000,000 should be available. The question as to what sum, if any, should be paid to the Southern Pacific Company for work done since the break of November 4, 1906, is one for future consideration; for work done prior to that date no claim can be admitted.
But one practicable course is now open for consideration.
The Southern Pacific Company must continue its work to close the break and restore the river to its proper channel. The United States can then take
charge, making the protective works permanent and providing for their maintenance.
It is not believed that a free gift of this money should be made, as by its investment the stability of property of great value will be secured and the iu crease in land values throughout the Imperial Valley will be sufficient to justify the provision that this money should be returned to the Government.
The Reclamation Service should be authorized to take steps at once for the construction of an irrigation project, under the terms of the reclamation act, for the lands in the Imperial Valley and in the lower Colorado River Valley. The service should be in position to proceed actively with the organization of the project and the construction of the works as soon as the conditions in regard to the protection of the valley against overflow will justify expenditures for this purpose.
To accomplish this, the United States should acquire the rights of the California Development Company and its subsidiary corporations in the United States and Mexico upon such reasonable terms as shall protect the interests of the Government and of the water users. The United States should obtain by convention with Mexico the right to carry water through that country upon reasonable conditions.
Most of the land in the Imperial Valley has been entered under the terms of the desert-land act or the homestead laws, and title has not passed out of the United States.
The construction work required would be: The main canal, some 60 miles in length, from Laguna' Dam into the Imperial Valley; the repair and partial reconstruction of the present distribution system in the valley and its extension to other lands, mainly public; diversion dams and distribution systems in the Colorado River Valley, and provision for supplementing the natural flow of the river by means of such storage reservoirs as may be necessary. This would provide for the complete irrigation of 300,000 acres in the Imperial Valley and for 100,000 acres additional in the United States in the valley of the Colorado in Arizona and California.
The reclamation fund now available has been allotted for projects under construction, and the anticipated additions to the fund for the next few years will be needed to complete these projects. It will therefore be impossible to construct a reclamation project for the Imperial Valley with the funds now in hand, and it will be necessary for Congress to make specific appropriation for this work if it decides to undertake it.
Such appropriation would be expended for a project carried out under all the provisions of the reclamation act, requiring the return to the reclamation fund of the cost of construction and maintenance of the irrigation works, and there should be the further requirement that the cost of permanent protective works and their maintenance be repaid.
The interests of the Government in this matter are so great in the protection of its own property, particularly of the public lands, that Congress is justified in taking prompt and effective measures toward the relief of the present situation. No steps, however, should be taken except with a broad comprehension of the magnitude of the work and with the belief that within the next ten years the works and development will be carried out to their full proportions.
The plan in general is to enter upon a broad, comprehensive scheme of development for all the irrigable land upon Colorado River with needed storage at the headwaters, so that none of the water of this great river which can be put to beneficial use will be allowed to go to waste. The Imperial Valley will never have a safe and adequate supply of water until the main canal extends from the Leguna Dam. Ar each er:d this dam is connected with rock bluffs and provides a permanent heading founded on rock for the diversion of the water. Any works built below this point would not be safe from destruction by floods and can not be depended upon for a permanent and reliable supply of water to the valley.
If Congress does not give authority and make adequate provision to take up this work in the way suggested, it must be inferred that it acquiesces in the abandonment of the work at Laguna and of all future attempts to utilize the valuable public domain in this part of the country.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT. THE WHITE HOUSE, January 12, 1907.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, TRANSMITTING A LETTER OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR SUBMITTING AN APPEAL OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORs of IMPERIAL COUNTY, CAL., FOR FURTHER APPROPRIATIONS OF MONEY AND FURTHER WORKS FOR THE PROTECTION OF LANDS AND PROPERTY IN THE UNITED STATES AGAINST THE FLOOD WATERS OF THE COLORADO RIVER,
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
I transmit herewith a letter from the Secretary of the Interior inclosing an appeal from the board of supervisors of Imperial County, Cal., fo further appropriations of money and further works for the protection of lands and property in the United States against the flood waters of the Colorado River. In my message dated February 2, 1912, transmitting data of the work of the Interior Department, published as House Document No. 504, Sixty-second Congress, second session, there is contained a report of the engineer in charge of the work of protection done under the act of June 25, 1910, appropriating $1,000,000 for this purpose, and also a report of a special board convened by my direction to review this report and advise what further work should be done along the lower Colorado River for the protection of the interests of the United States. In this report of the special board, dated June 7, 1911, there will be found a recommendation that Certain additional work should be at once executed, and an estimate of $1,000,000 as necessary for this work. In my message I stated that I did not at that time make a definite recommendation, for the reason that the plan to be adopted for the betterment of conditions near the mouth of the Colorado River proves to be so dependent on a free and full agreement between the Government of Mexico and the Government of the United States as to joint expenditure and joint use that it is unwise to move until we can obtain some agreement with that Government which will enable us to submit to Congress a larger plan, better adapted to the exigencies presented than the one adopted. As stated in this message, the matter was being pressed upon the attention of the Mexican Government and favorable progress has been made in the negotiations. However, it is not probable that the negotiations with Mexico can be consummated before the adjournment of Congress, and it is therefore desirable to provide against a possible emergency which may arise after Congress has adjourned. Since the report of the special board above referred to a part of the work proposed has been executed, and it is believed that the work will prove adequate for the protection of the lands in Imperial Valley against serious overflow during the present flood, which materially exceeds the average flood in volume, but as shown in the letter of the Secretary of the Interior the Colorado River since the date of the report of the special advisory board began and has continued to cave its banks, until the protecting levee of the Mexican side about 7 miles below the intake of the Imperial Canal is threatened, and apprehensions are aroused that the Colorado will again cut a deep channel into the Imperial Canal and flow again into Salton Sink with disastrous results to American lives and property. I request that the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior be followed and that an appropriation of $1,250,000 be made to meet any emergencies that may arise for the construction of levees and revetments along the Colorado River and for the protection of property in the United States from damage by the flood waters of that river, and to be expended in whole or in part for the purposes stated and under the direction of the President of the United States. WM. H. TAFT. THE WHITE House, June 14, 1912.
DEPARTMENT of STATE, Washington, July 17, 1919. MY DEAR MR. KINKAID: I acknowledge receipt of your letter of July 10, 1919, in which you state that the House Committee on Irrigation of Arid Lands desires for use in connection with the consideration of H. R. 6044, introduced by Mr. Kettner, for the relief of the Imperial Valley irrigation district, to be furnished with copies of any treaties, which this country may have with Mexico,
bearing upon the question of the use of waters taken from the Colorado River for the reclamation of lands in the respective countries, and also copies of any official correspondence pertaining to the subject matter. I am advised that in a telephonic conversation with the Solicitor's Office of the department, you have modified your request for information as to official correspondence, and have explained that your principal desire is to obtain copies of pertinent treaties, and that for the present you would be satisfied to receive merely brief reference to correspondence in the matter.
In reply, you are informed that the United States and Mexico have never concluded an agreement relative to the distribution and use of the waters of the Colorado River for irrigation purposes. In 1912 this Government proposed to the Government of Mexico the concluding of a convention providing for the appointment of a commission “to study, agree upon, and report” the bases of distribution and appropriation of the waters of this river, the findings of the commission, if and when approved by the two Governments, to be embodied in a treaty. After an exchange between the Governments of several draft conventions, a form of convention seems to have been practically agreed upon in May, 1913, but, apparently because of the strained relations between this Government and the so-called Huerta administration in Mexico, the convention was never signed, and the matter has since been in abeyance.
As having some possible bearing upon this question, in which your committee is interested, I inclose herewith copies of the following treaties between the United States and Mexico:
The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, inviting attention to the provisions of articles 5, 6, and 7.
The treaty of 1853, known as the Gadsden treaty, inviting attention to the provisions of articles 1 and 4.
The boundary convention of 1884.
The boundary convention of 1889, together with the conventions of 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, and 1900, extending the provisions of the said convention of 1889.
As of further interest to your committee there is also inclosed herewith a copy of a note from the Mexican Embassy, dated November 27, 1901, in which complaint is made of the alleged diversion of water from the Colorado River by the Imperial Canal system, of Los Angeles, Calif. It will be observed that this complaint is based on alleged contravention of the provisions of the said treaties of 1848 and 1853. The department's records appear to show that this complaint was communicated to the Attorney General, and that the conditions therein compiained of formed the basis of a report made by Mr. Marsden C. Burch, a special attorney of the Department of Justice, which report was forwarded to this department by the Department of Justice on September 28, 1903, with the suggestion that because of the nature and bearings of the subject thereof, and because of the interest of various departments of the Government in that subject, it might be desirable to print the report for the information and use of the departments concerned. Accordingly the report was transmitted to the Director of the Geological Survey on October 14, 1903, with the statement that it was so transmitted because the subject thereof appeared to be connected with the work of his bureau and in the hope that he might find it desirable to print it for the information and use of the departments concerned. The Director of the Geological Survey replied, on October 17, 1903, that it was proposed to embody the report in the Second Annual Report of the Reclamation Service. I am, my dear Mr. Kinkaid, Sincerely, yours,
FRANK L. POLK, Acting Secretary of State.
EMBASSY OF MEXICO,
November 27, 1901. Most EXCELLENT SIR: My Government is in receipt of reports according to which a concern styled “ Imperial Canal System," of Los Angeles, Calif., is now conducting works tending to divert the waters of the Colorado River and to convey them to the arid lands in the southern part of the State of California, excavating machines have been set up to cut canals through the said lands, in