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The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes. Will you please tell the committee why you think the relief provided by the bill is necessary or expedient? What is your judgment about that?
Mr. Davis It seems to me that the assistance by the loan of the credit of the United States to the district is not only suitable and appropriate on account of the character of this proposition, it being international, interstate and involving the interstate waters and international waters, but that it is also necessary on account of the great magnitude of the work. It is the opinion of the best posted people, in which I share, that at the present time the district could not make any reasonable market of securities to such an extent as to carry this through. The United States is heavily interested, too, by the possession of several hundred thousand acres of public lands which this all-American canal will water and which can not be otherwise watered. That will be very valuable when reclaimed.
Mr. SMITH of Idaho. Mr. Director, has your department ever made an estimate to the House of Representatives with the hope of getting an appropriation to do this work and save all this vast amount of wealth in the Imperial Valley ?
Mr. Davis. No, sir; we have never asked for an appropriation for the purpose. It has been so large and there has not been the urgency for it from the standpoint of the Government that there has been for some other things.
Mr. Smith of Idaho. Didn't President Roosevelt at one time recommend action of that kind ?
Mr. Davis. Possibly; I don't recall if he did. He strongly recommended an appropriation to assist in river control, and very strongly recommended that the Southern Pacific Co. control the river and that Congress reimburse them for the expense.
Mr. Smith of Idaho. On account of the great wealth that necessarily could be saved if they constructed the project, and the necessity of getting immediate action, don't you think that the Committee on Appropriations would look with favor on advancing, say, $20,000,000, just like we did 20 years ago to the reclamation fund to take care of this particular project?
Mr. Davis. No, sir; for the reason that the Committee on Appropriations hold that they have no power to recommend appropriations for this work without authorizing legislation, and this bill or something similar is necessary as a preliminary to getting an appropriation through the Committee on Appropriations.
The urgency of this, Mr. Chairman, is due to two facts: The waters of the Colorado River that are utilized for irrigating in Imperial Valley are now diverted just north of the boundary and turned into a natural channel, an old channel of the Colorado River, marked on the map as the Alamo Canal. It follows that Alamo Canal to a point labeled East Side Heading and Sharps Heading, and various points along there, where it is taken out and turned northward into the Imperial Valley. If let alone that water would follow the Alamo Canal down into the Salton Sea, which is the lowest part of any of that country. Now that water all runs through Mexico, and interests in Mexico which are not responsible to the United States and can not be controlled by the United States nor by the Imperial Valley take such water as they choose from that canal. They do that on the pretext of an existing concession that the former owners of Im
perial Canal system made with the Mexican Government. They made it utterly without authority. Being an international question, it should have been handled by the diplomatic and State authorities of the United States, and consequently it has no force in law. The CHAIRMAN. That is, you mean the landowners made it with the Mexican Government? Mr. DAVIs. No; the owners of the canal system. It was a Mexican corporation. The CHAIRMAN. But they are Americans who owned that? Mr. DAVIS. Americans were financing it, yes, sir; but it was a corporation incorporated under the laws of Mexico, and to it was granted a concession for diverting the waters of the Colorado River and carrying them through the Alamo Canal and diverting from that into the Imperial Valley, and this concession provided that onehalf of the water used should be used in Mexico. Now, there are nearly 400,000 acres of land irrigated in the Imperial Valley, and about 100,000 on the Mexican side, and that on the Mexican side is rapidly growing, and they have, under the terms of this concession, a right to just as much water as is used on the American side. Mr. THOMPson. Just a question there. Outside of this concession, is there not a treaty, an arrangement between Mexico and the United States that the Colorado River shall be kept open as a navigable stream, and the waters shall not be diverted? Mr. DAVIs. No, sir. Mr. THOMPson. There is no such treaty? Mr. DAvis. I think not. That is my understanding. I have been told so. I haven’t examined it personally. It is a legal question that I have not looked into personally, but that is my understanding. Mr. TAYLOR. This concession that was granted, whatever it was, was that by the Mexican Government or was it the Government of Lower California? Mr. DAvis. It was by the Mexican Government, the National Government. Mr. TAYLOR. The National Government of Mexico? Mr. DAVIs. Yes, sir. Mr. TAYLOR. That was brought about, was it not, by these owners of this canal and the Americans that were interested in it? Mr. DAVIs. Yes, sir. Mr. TAYLOR. And the Mexican people had nothing to do with it? Wasn't it Americans that were working both sides of the road and getting a concession given by the Mexican Government for their benefit, and obligating our Government also Mr. DAVIs. Some of the landowners in Lower California were Mexicans at that time, and I presume some of them are yet, and it is landowners, of course, that are interested in that feature of it. Mr. TAYLOR. Now, is there going to be any financial obligation imposed upon the Government of the United States by the abandonment of that canal and the construction of another one within our own territory? Mr. DAvis. In my opinion there is no financial obligation coming on the United States. Mr. TAYLOR. Is there any liability at all?
Mr. DAVIs. No financial liability. I am inclined to think that, as to the lands in Mexico that have been cultivated, the landowners will desire to continue to cultivate them and they will try to make some arrangements for getting water. Mr. TAYLOR. Will they try to compel us to deliver them water gratuitously for all time to come? Mr. DAVIs. Just what they will try to do, of course, I could not predict. They have no basis for it in law, in my judgment. That is not based on my own opinion entirely, but upon the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States. Mr. TAYLOR. Ought we not to learn, as far as we can, how far these Americans have gotten the Government or our country into any moral or legal obligation here to continue to deliver water free to those people, if any at all? Mr. DAvis. Yes, sir; if you have any doubt on that subject it certainly would be wise to clear it up. I have none myself. Mr. TAYLOR. Ought we not to have the Attorney General and the Department of State to advise us as to the international obligations, if any, that will arise, or whether there will be a claim against the Government for $100,000,000 come up from the Government of Mexico by reason of our making a change in the line of this canal, or some other unreasonable and crazy claim? Mr. DAvis. I don’t think any claim could be made on account of the construction of the all-American canal. If, after that is constructed, it were improperly used to deprive Mexico of water, a question might arise, and that could easily be settled by turning down there such water as they might be entitled to. Mr. SINNOTT. Does this plan contemplate the abandonment of the Alamo Canal? Mr. DAVIs. So far as the United States is concerned, it does. That is the way I understand it. That is what I would do. Mr. SINNOTT. But the Mexicans can use it in the way they have used it in the past? Mr. DAvis. Yes, sir. Mr. TAYLOR. They could use it at their own expense hereafter. Mr. DAvis. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Now, let me ask you as to the contracting parties. It was the National Government which contracted on the one side and it was these landowners in Mexico, partly through a few Mexicans and more Americans, perhaps, who promoted the making of the contract on the other side. Now, did they use the name of the American Government in any way in making that contract? Mr. DAVIs. No, sir. The CHAIRMAN. And then they contracted and secured concessions of the Mexican National Government as individuals merely? Mr. DAvis. No, sir; it was as a Mexican corporation. The CHAIRMAN. Oh, yes; it was a Mexican development company. That is the name of it, isn't it? Mr. DAvis. It is a Spanish name. I don’t recall it exactly. The meaning of it is the Irrigation & Land Co. The CHAIRMAN. Now, that was owned by the landowners in Mexico; that is, that was incorporated by the landowners in Mexico, wasn't it?
Mr. DAVIs. Not entirely; not mainly. It was mainly by American capitalists, or American promoters. The CHAIRMAN. American capitalists for the benefit of their lands in Mexico, was it not? Mr. DAvis. Partly only. The CHAIRMAN. What else? Mr. DAvis. They desired to divert water in the Imperial Valley. That was the principal reason. The CHAIRMAN. In the United States? Mr. DAVIs. Yes, sir; their concession runs to that end by authorizing them to do that. That is the principal feature of it. The CHAIRMAN. The American Government is not a party in it? Mr. DAVIs. Absolutely not. The CHAIRMAN. Now, the American Government is not a party to that contract? Mr. DAVIs. Not at all; nor any Government officer. Mr. Eva Ns. I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the articles of incorporation and their agreements—that copies of those things would be very instructive to the committee. The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I think so. Mr. DAVIs. These gentlemen from the Imperial Valley doubtless have those with them, and can insert them in the record. Mr. SINNOTT. Mr. Davis, just another question: You are going to conserve a lot of water in the river, are you not—make more water available both for Mexico and the United States? Mr. DAVIs. By the high-line canal? Mr. SINNOTT. Yes; or by your dam. Mr. DAVIs. Not particularly. The dam is already there. It is not a storage reservoir at all; it is simply a diversion dam. There is some waste of water running through the Alamo Canal that would be saved by the high-line canal, but not a very large quantity. Mr. WELLING. Mr. Davis, I am getting into trouble with the suggestion you made a little while ago that we might be forced eventually to divert some water into the old Alamo Canal for use in Mexico under the grants and the agreements that have been entered into between the Imperial Valley Co. and the Mexican Government. Mr. DAvis. No, sir; you misunderstood my idea. I did not say that there was any such obligation; I simply said that there was no danger in going ahead and building a canal, for if it should be adjudicated that there was such an obligation it still could be fulfilled. Mr. WELLING. Well, in that event we will have to divert water from the Colorado River at some point approximately the same as the point where it is diverted now? Mr. DAVIs. Oh, no; we would not have to divert it. Mr. WELLING. They will have to divert it? Mr. DAVIs. Their only claim would be for water. All we would have to do would be to leave it in the river. Mr. BARBOUR. There is enough in the river for both canals, the new all-American canal and the old Alamo Canal? Mr. DAVIS. If the irrigation is not extended there is about enough. Mr. WELLING. This is the part I am getting at, that if the water is diverted from any point in the Colorado River above the point
of the present diversion there would still be the menace which you have not spoken about yet, of imperiling the Yuma project? Mr. DAvis. Yes; if they put a dam in the river it would. Mr. HAYDEN. As a practical proposition, then, in order to protect the Yuma project, if it were determined, for instance, that the Mexican lands had acquired a right to use water to the extent of, say, 150,000 acres, the only safe thing for us to do would be to divert that water at Laguna Dam and carry it down to approximately opposite the present Imperial heading and then drop it into their canal? Mr. DAvis. Yes, sir. Mr. HAYDEN. In that event the main canal from the Laguna Dam down to that point would have to be enlarged to such an extent as to be able to carry the water necessary not only for all the land proposed to be irrigated in the Imperial Valley but also for 150,000 acres of land, or whatever the amount might be, in Mexico? Mr. DAvis. What you have said is all true, but I don’t think there is any possibility of such a condition arising, for this reason: Even if Mexico were adjudicated any quantity of water by international treaty or international arbitration or any other means, all that the United States would be obligated to do would be to leave that in the river so that they could take it out, and they could take it out at high water without a dam. They could not take it out at low water without a dam, but they could not build a dam without the consent of the United States, because one end of it would have to be in the United States, unles they diverted it below the line of Arizona down here somewhere [indicating on map.]. There they could build a dam all in Mexico and could divert it at that point, and that would be entirely feasible. Mr. SMITH of Idaho. But that would not take care of the land north of the river? Mr. DAVIs. No, sir. Mr. HAYDEN. That would mean, of course, that certain lands now in cultivation in Mexico would go back to desert. Mr. DAvis. If they didn’t get water, certainly. Mr. HAYDEN. And any contingency of that kind undoubtedly would lead to very loud diplomatic protests from Mexico. Mr. DAvis. The answer to that, Mr. Hayden, is that there is no objection on the part of anybody to the Mexican lands having water if they pay their share of the cost of getting it, and nobody can object to that from the other side. Mr. HAYDEN. Then your idea would be that it would be entirely feasible for the owners of the Mexican lands to come to the Secretary of the Interior and provide him with money enough to increase the main canal capacity from Laguna Dam down to the Mexican border, so that the main canal would carry an extra supply of water necessary, for their lands, they paying for that enlargement. Mr. DAVIs. They paying for that enlargement their share of the operation. Mr. SMITH of Idaho. Or the construction of the additional reser
voirs that would be necessary also.
Mr. DAvis. Yes, sir.
mined more by the doctrine of priority of appropriation or the ex