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The CHAIRMAN. What was the report? What was the tenor of it? Mr. BIEN. The report was made by the Secretary of the Interior January 6, 1905, reporting on joint resolution approved April 28, 1904 (32 Stat., 591), and was printed as House Document No. 204, Fifty-eighth Congress, third session, copy herewith.
(House Document No. 204, 58th Cong., 3d sess. ]
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, January 6, 1905. The SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES :
Joint resolution approved April 28, 1904 (32 Stat. L., 591), provided :
“ That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby directed to institute an investigation of and report to the Congress on the various questions involved in connection with the use of the waters of the lower Colorado River for the irrigation of arid lands in the State of California and the Territory of Arizona, with the view of determining the extent to which the waters of the said stream may be made available for the said purpose through works under the national irrigation act and by private enterprise, and as to what legislation, if any, is necessary to grant or confirm to present and future appropriators and users thereof perpetual rights to the use of said waters for irrigation."
The investigation was confided to the Director of the Geological Survey, who made report under date of December 22, 1904, a copy of which is inclosed.
Under existing conditions neither navigation of this stream nor irrigation interests dependent upon the use of its waters is receiving needed and adequate protection. It is clear, however, that with intelligent and effective control of the stream, whereby the flood waters may be stored and loosed when needed, the navigability of the river can be greatly improved, and at the same time water sufficient for the reclamation of large tracts of arid lands may be diverted and applied for that purpose. This effective control can be secured only by governmental supervision. It is very probable that the use of the river for navigation will decrease, while the necessity for the use of its waters for irrigation will increase, so that the former use will eventually give way to the latter, Whether this results or not, the fact remains that effective control of the river and its waters is demanded by all interests.
In some instances private appropriation of water from the lower Colorado has been effected, and inasmuch as this has been allowed it would perhaps only be just to confirm such appropriations. Any such confirmation should, however, be limited to the quantity of water heretofore actually diverted and beneficially used. The act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat., 388), commonly known as the " reclamation act," provides that the right to the use of water acquired thereunder shall be appurtenant to the land irrigated. This is a salutary rule and should be made applicable to water rights conferred or granted by the United States.
Attention is called to the recommendations made by the Director of the Geological Survey, which meet with my approval.
It is proper in this connection to state that this department has been informed by the Department of State that the Mexican Government has presented a protest against the construction in the Colorado River of any works that will interfere with the navigation of that stream. Very respectfully,
E. A. HITCHCOCK, Secretary.
DECEMBER 22, 1904. SIR: In accordance with your instructions of May 16, 1904, I have the honor to submit the following report upon public resolution No. 32, approved April 28, 1904 (32 Stat. L., 591). This resolution is as follows:
“ That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby directed to institute an investigation of and report to the Congress on the various questions involved in connection with the use of the waters of the lower Colorado River for the irrigation of arid lands in the State of California and the Territory of Arizona, with the view of determining the extent to which the waters of the said stream may be made available for the said purpose through works under the national irrigation act
and by private enterprise, and as to what legislation, if any, is necessary to grant or confirm to present and future appropriators and users thereof perpetual rights to the use of said waters for irigation.”
INVESTIGATION AND REPORT.
The investigation ordered by the above resolution has been carried on by the Reclamation Service, the principal facts being obtained by Mr. J. B. Lippincott, supervising engineer, and his assistants. His work has been confined mainly to the lower river. Additional information concerning reservoir sites and irrigation possibilities has been gathered by various other engineers of the Reclamation Service located in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona.
This investigation is supplemental to systematic work which has been and is being carried on in the survey of reservoir sites, measurements of streams, and related investigations authorized originally in 1888 and described in full in the various annual reports of the Geological Survey and in the series of water supply and irrigation papers. The information obtained is very voluminous, and the details can be found in the various documents referred to and in the first, second, and third annual reports of the Reclamation Service.
The present report is intended to give in the briefest form possible the more important facts and the general conclusions of the studies of Colorado IRiver carried on through many years by various individuals.
VARIOUS QUESTIONS INVOLVED.
The resolution directs that the report shall cover the various questions involved in connection with the use of the waters of the lower Colorado River for the irrigation of arid lands in the State of California, the Territory of Arizona, etc. These questions naturally fall into two groups, viz, physical and legal. The physical questions, namely, those of topography and water supply, have been the subject, as above stated, of long and careful study. The legal questions have been given general consideration such as is necessary from the standpoint of the engineer or business man, but these matters are recognized as pertaining more properly to the cognizance of the legal officers of the department.
The Colorado River is one of the largest and most important streams of the arid regions. It has its principal sources in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, and flows through the Territory of Arizona, forming a portion of the boundary between Arizona and the States of Nevada and California. It then becomes part of the international boundary between the United States and Mexico, and finally crosses a portion of the latter Republic, discharging into the Gulf of Mexico. The waters of this drainage system are utilized for irrigation of lands in the five States and two Territories named and in the Republic of Mexico. Upon the utilization of its waters is dependent the prosperity of agricultural communities which have been established and are annually expanding in various localities in these political divisions. The river in its flow varies widely from the high floods of the early Spring to the extreme low water of late summer. The discharge during flood months has averaged about 53,000 cubic feet per second and during low-water months 2,500 cubic feet per second. For nine months of each year the flow has usually been below 10,000 cubic feet per second. The average annual discharge has been about 8,000,000 acre-feet. In its unregulated condition there is not enough water flowing in the Stream during the irrigation season to supply the future demands of the fertile but arid agricultural lands along its course. The stream, to reach its full value to the country, must, in the future, be regulated by storage works, so that the large amount of water discharged by the stream will be available at the times when it can be used for irrigation, such storage works being placed at suitable points on the headwaters for the benefit of lands farther downstream. The river in its natural condition is navigable in its lower course during a considerable part of the year. The navigation is relatively small, and, in the opinion of the Army engineers, it is not advisable to attempt improvements of the channel; nevertheless, the navigation of the river is an important factor in the development of the country. As railroads and other facilities are provided, the river navigation will become less important, but under good management the river Will always remain navigable between the head works of the larger irrigation systems to be installed in the future.
- Under a Wise and businesslike control of the entire stream, the interests of irrigation and navigation can be fully protected, and vast tracts of land now desert can be converted into densely settled and prosperous communities of small landowners. If, on the contrary, development proceeds in a haphazard fashion and without plans for the future, the resources of the country will be greatly diminished and the creation of thousands of homes will be prevented. In other words, by neglecting to build storage works at suitable places, or by allowing Wested rights to accrue without system or plan, the great resources of this river will be seriously impaired.
It is generally recognized that the control and distribution of the water appropriated for irrigation from the upper tributaries of Colorado River is carried on under the operation of State laws. Various systems have been adopted by the States of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah for apportioning and settling disputes as regards the utilization of the waters necessary for the continuous irrigation of arid lands. The lower part of the stream, however, being navigable, is under the control of the United States, and diversions of water for irrigation, although tolerated, have not been expressly sanctioned by law or by Executive action. Various ditches have been constructed to take water from the navigable part of Colorado River, and in one case permission was sought from the Secretary of War. Reply was given that the Secretary of War declined to grant formal permission, but informed the company applying that the War Department would not interfere with its operations, provided they were so conducted as not injuriously to affect the interests of navigation.
While not presuming to discuss the legal conditions, it is necessary to state that the control of diversions from Colorado River to lands in Arizona and California is obviously under the administrative supervision of the United States, and owing to the scarcity and great value of the supply must necessarily remain soif the larger future interests of the people as a whole are to be guarded.
The water which can be stored and regulated in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah can be used in part within their limits, while the remainder can be used only for the development of arid lands in Arizona, California, and the Republic of Mexico, and in maintaining for a number of years at least the navigation interests in the rapidly developing lower country.
IRRIGATION IN CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA.
The resolution calls for an investigation and report on the various questions. involved in the irrigation of arid lands in the State of California and Territory of Arizona through the use of the waters of the lower Colorado River. As before stated, irrigation canals and ditches have been taken out on both sides of the lower river, those on the right bank covering areas of agricultural land in California and those on the left bank similar areas in Arizona. Appropriation of the water has been made by the simple process of posting notices and recording these, such notices serving to give information of intention to construct works and to claim various amounts of water. The waters thus filed upon are usually stated in large terms, and, in fact, the aggregate of the paper claims to water filed in California and Arizona exceeds by many times the available flow.
Actual construction of the existing canals and ditches has proceeded to various degrees of completion. The large amount of sediment brought down by the river and the slight fall of the ditches result in rapid clogging of these artificial channels, and as a result each year the amount of land under irrigation is dependent upon the stage of the river and the energy of the settlers in cleaning out or practically reconstructing the irrigation systems.
The total area now actually irrigated is very small and almost insignificant in comparison with possibilities of future development through regulation of the waters of Colorado River by storage and by suitable dams placed across the stream, serving to raise the water and make practicable the maintenance of permanent headworks and the handling of the silt. The large and irregular fluctuations of the river, combined with the enormous amount of earthy material in partial suspension, renders the effective utilization of the stream a matter of great difficulty and expense.
EXTENT OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
The resolution calls for a report with a view to determining the extent to which the waters of Colorado River may be made available for irrigation through works under the national irrigation act and by private enterprise. The act referred to—that of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat., 388)—sets aside the proceeds from the disposal of public lands for the survey, examination, and construction of reclamation works. Under the terms of this act extensive surveyS have been made along the river and all the irrigable lands along its lower course have been mapped, showing that under various conditions of cost, great areas can ultimately be reclaimed by the construction of reservoirs on the headwaters and by placing dams across the stream, taking water out upon the adjacent areas by gravity and by pumping. The details of this work are given in the first, second, and third reports of the Reclamation Service. After a full consideration of all the conditions, recommendations have been made to begin this work of reclamation by constructing a dam across Colorado River at a point a short distance above Yuma. Plans and specifications have been completed and submitted to the department and authority asked for advertising for bids. It is assumed that this work of construction will be pushed at an early date, as it is not directly involved in any of the questions now under consideration. It is expected that under the terms of the reclamation act above noted it will be practicable to take up and complete a number of similar projects on portions of the river where it forms a boundary between Arizona and California, and elsewhere, reclaiming many thousands of acres of fertile lands capable of intensive cultivation. * . The amount of lands which can be irrigated by the complete conservation of the waters of the river and its tributaries, such as would be possible under the reclammation act by systematic and logical development, is not less than 2,000,000 acres, and the annual discharge of the river indicates that a much greater area will eventually be irrigated.
AVAILABILITY BY PRIVATE ENTERPRISE.
Up to the present time all development has been by private enterprise, the proposed Yuma project being the first investment of national funds. As a rule private enterprise has been greatly hampered by the magnitude of the construction involved and the great difficulties of effectively controlling the stream. The experience of these enterprises is such as to discourage further investment, especially in view of the fact that under the terms of the reclamation act the Government will probably construct large and permanent works, utilizing all of the available resources. The principal large enterprise is that of the California Development Co., taking water at or below the international boundary on the California side and carrying in through the Republic of Mexico for about 60 miles to points where it is returned, in part, northerly into the United States. Here in the southern end of San Diego County, Calif., is a great sink, or depression, extending to a depth of nearly 300 feet below sea level. The waters from Colorado River, conducted through Mexico, are distributed over part of this area through canals owned by the farmers. The lands lie at altitudes from those slightly above sea level, sloping very gently toward the north or west, to the Salton sink. The entire area has been frequently overflowed in recent geologic times, both by the waters of the Gulf of California and by the waters of Colorado River. In fact, the depression is simply the upper end of the Gulf of California, cut off from the salt waters by a broad expanse of fine sands or clays, the sediment brought down by the Colorado River. This depression, being the bed of a former estuary or brakish lake, contains all of the salts or alkali which was left by the evaporation of the water. This alkaline content ranges from a slight or inappreciable percentage to 3 per cent or more. The reports of the Bureau of Soils of the Department of Agriculture cover this point fully and illustrate the difficulties and dangers encountered by the settlers in this area. The lands within and around this depression have been filed upon principally under the terms of the desert-land act, and to a less extent under the homestead act. The holdings are usually from 160 to 320 acres or more, and irrigation has been attempted on many of these, with greater or less success, dependent upon the amount of alkali in the soil and the skill of the farmer in distributing the available supply.
The use of the waters of this river upon lands which are very strongly alkaline, or which for other reasons can not be permanently reclaimed and made to produce remunerative crops, is a waste and not a beneficial use. The waters of the Colorado River have in some cases been applied to lands of this character, and the public interest requires that such use of its waters should be prevented as being wasteful.
The object of the resolution appears to be to ascertain what legislation, if any, is necessary to grant or confirm to present and future appropriators and users perpetual rights to the use of the waters of Colorado River for irrigation. As thousands of acres of both public and private lands in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, as well as a large area in Mexico, are dependent upon a comprehensive development and utilization of this stream, it would be manifestly improper to permit further appropriations by individuals or corporations as in the past, because the existence of their improvements will render it more and more difficult to carry out the proper development of the waters of the river, unless Congress takes early action to control and regulate the matter. It is generally conceded that legislation is necessary, because, the lower part of the river being navigable, its waters are not subject to appropriation, and notices filed in conformity with the customs of Arizona and California are not valid. In this connection attention is called to office letter of March 19, 1904, reporting to you upon Senate bill 4193. It has also been suggested in a letter to you dated March 22, 1904, that the legislation needed is along the line of protecting all of the interests and not conferring a monopoly upon any one corporation or interest. The following interests are to be guarded: 1. That of the people of the United States who are the owners of much of the irrigable land along the river and of the waters of this navigable stream. The public in general is deeply concerned to secure the establishment upon these lands of the largest possible number of prosperous homes by the best use of the waters of this river. 2. The settlers upon the arid lands have already put to beneficial use a part of the waters of Colorado River. The appropriations which they have made should be recognized, limited, however, to the extent to which the water has actually been diverted and beneficially used upon lands capable of producing remunerative crops. 3. The corporations or investors who have spent various sums of money in the construction of works, in the hope of making large profits out of the enterprise. Their interest is solely that of getting the largest return for the least investment, and may or may not be consistent with the public welfare. The legislation adopted should be along the line of guarding the present navigation interests and gradually modifying them under the supervision of governmental agencies as the country is developed and more water is needed for irrigation. Such legislation should provide that in granting rights to the use of water to private parties due consideration should be given to the preservation and maintenance of the navigability of the river; and in order that these interests of the settlers upon the public lands may be properly protected, the law should provide that all grants of rights or privileges to divert and use portions of the water of the river shall be upon condition that the plans of all the irrigation and reclamation works for diversion, regulation, or control of the waters shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. The waters already put to beneficial use should be devoted to the lands which have been reclaimed and made appurtenant to them, and the large and irregular supply of the river should be controlled by storage works. The diversion of water from the lower Colorado River where it is navigable is without authority of law, and in order to protect those parties who are using such waters for beneficial purposes their rights to the use thereof should be confirmed to the extent of their actual beneficial use upon land capable of producing remunerative crops up to the end of the irrigation season just passed,