« PreviousContinue »
And as to the amount of money which can be invested in this safely, Mr. Ballard made this statement. I won't read but just one sentence:
Immediately upon securing the necessary Federal and State authority we are prepared to undertake and finance construction work at the rate of from $30,000,000 to $40,000,000 per year.
That certainly shows the practical phase of this particular project.
Now, we are asking that some action be taken. It is not a theory that we want to see carried out. It is not some theory asking for a permit for future development, but it is something to wipe out this menace which hangs over the head of this section of California, a menace that in Imperial Valley means life or death; a menace that hangs over us down here in connection with our domestic water supply. We must have more water. You will be given facts on that later, from other sources, from men more competent to give it than I am. And on top of that is this policy of economy that the Government is adopting and which we are glad to see adopted. We believe that there are power possibilities there that will pay for that whole project. As I heard one representative state at one time, “There is no reason why this should cost the Government more than the paper that it takes to write the bonds.” I think that will be shown later to the committee.
It might be summed up this way. This is one of the greatest menaces that exist in the country to-day, and there is a possibility to turn it into one of the greatest national assets.
Hydroelectric power is the greatest asset that we have to-day, and there is a possibility of developing from the Boulder Dam about 1,000,000 hydroelectric horsepower. Why should the Government be spending money where there is no return, when there is a possibility, in a project of this kind, of not only having the money spent returned but will actually yield an income? There is no question about that whatever. To-morrow may be too late. Actually this year there may be a disaster in connection with that river in the Imperial Valley that will be second to none that has ever happened in this United States. Gentlemen, we are asking that this be given action. I understand that there may be questions asked. I have kept within my time, and I believe there are a few minutes left, and I know you do not want me to run over.
I thank you very much for this opportunity of talking before you, and we appreciate sincerely the interest the Senate committee has shown in taking the trouble to come out here to California and get first-hand information right on the ground.
The CHAIRMAN. Does any member of the committee desire to propound a question to the mayor?
Senator Johnson. How long have you been mayor of San Diego?
Senator PITTMAN. The chief demand for this dam is for flood control, is it not?
Mr. Bacon. The first demand; yes.
Senator PITTMAN. I judge from your statement that there is imminent danger of the destruction of the whole Imperial Valley?
Mr. Bacon. Yes, sir.
Senator PITTMAX. Naturally that would be the first thing to think about?
Mr. Bacon. Yes, sir.
Senator PITTMAN. What amount of extra land would the canal anticipated by the Legislature of California irrigate? What additional land would it irrigate?
Mr. Bacon. Approximately 400,000 acres.
Senator PITTMAN. What would be the approximate cost of the canal?
Mr. Bacon. I think in the neighborhood of about $30,000,000.
Senator PITTMAN. What would be the approximate cost of the dam?
Mr. Bacon. In the neighborhood of $60,000,000.
Mr. Bacon. No; dams higher than that have been suggested. That is the dam recommended by Director Gates. Suggestions have been made that the dam run even higher that that.
Senator JOHNSON. Aren't you mistaken in the cost ? Isn't it estimated at $40,000,000?
Mr. Bacon. Of the dam alone?
Senator PITTMAN. I am not asking this question, Mr. Bacon, because I am in opposition to you in the matter, but I think possibly it will be well to have it in the record. There are some of the committee that are under the impression that there will never be anything done on the Colorado River until there is an agreement reached between all the States. You know there is considerable opposition right now in the country to the extension of the irrigation of arid lands, do you not?
Mr. Bacon. I understand.
Senator PITTMAN. Suppose that the building of this dam, or any dam on the Colorado River by the Government, should meet an obstruction in Congress that we could not overcome if it carried with it an irrigation scheme. Would it be your view that we should continue to fight for years on our theory of irrigation, or that we should accept what we could get, so as to protect against the flooding of the Imperial Valley?
Mr. Bacon. Now, I couldn't answer that question offhand without going very much into detail, because it involves so many questions that would have to be considered that you would have to have a pretty concrete statement of actually what was proposed to do.
Senator PITTMAN. Of course, we are your representatives out here in the West, and it is a very serious question to advise us on. There is a question of the principle of irrigation involved—that is true and I think it is the intention of the western Representatives to fight for that principle; but there seems to be an imminent danger that is more demanding on us than even irrigation. I don't know how imminent that danger is; but from what you say, I would judge that it might happen next year.
Mr. Bacon. Are you speaking from a financial standpoint ?
Senator PITTMAN. No, no. I am speaking of the flooding of the Imperial Valley.
Mr. Bacon. I don't know that I correctly understand your question, Senator.
Senator PITTMAN. The question is this: As one who lives here, if your Representatives in Congress should assure you that they believe that if you attach a tremendous reclamation scheme onto this proposition of flood control that it would not pass for several years, or if you did not attach it at all but would simply provide for the building of the dam now, leaving the question as to the utilization of the water and power until afterwards, and we could carry it very quickly, what would you advise your Representatives to do in the matter?
Mr. Bacon. Well, that is a rather abstract question.
Mr. Bacon. You are speaking, probably--you are referring, probably--to the All-American Canal, are you not?
Senator PITTMAN. I am not referring particularly to the AllAmerican Canal; there may be some other canal, but I am referring to putting on your $30,000,000 irrigation project as a condition to the building of the dam.
Mr. Bacon. Now, I don't think there ever was any intention of doing that.
Senator PITTMAX. I would like to have this read into the record. I am speaking of the condition of ratification of this compact by California. I have not put a construction on it, but I know the construction is put upon it that there is no ratification at the present time, but if and when the policy of combining the irrigation with the flood control is consummated, that then instantly the ratification becomes effective.
Mr. Bacox. I heard that discussion in the California Legislature over the so-called reservation in the pact. As I recall it, it was this, that California gave immediate ratification of the pact, would give automatic ratification of the pact when the Boulder Canyon project as outlined in the Swing-Johnson bill was authorized that is approximately as outlined. You spoke of an irrigation project. I don't think that that has been considered as an irrigation project. The idea was to make a well-rounded project of this whole thing, one which would carry itself and which would finance itself. And in order to carry that out, or rather to carry out the conditions as laid down in this report, they were read into that bill. I think that was the idea of the framers of the bill. There are others that can explain that better than I can, but that has been my conception of it.
Senator PITTMAN. Did Mr. Davis so recommend?
Senator PITTMAN. That is the canal that you referred to in your legislative provision? Mr. Bacos. Yes, sir; I so understand it.
Senator PITTMAN. Does the Department of the Interior at the present time approve of that?
Mr. Bacon. I don't know what the Department of the Interior approves of.
Senator PITTMAN. I don't think there would be any question in my mind, there isn't any question in my mind but what the AllAmerican Canal, conserving the waters from Mexico and the placing in irrigation of all this land, is a desirable, practicable, economic thing; but what I am getting at is not what we western men think, but what we face where there is a tremendous majority who know nothing about the West; and that is the reason I ask
question; if we are put up against it, we western men in Congess, either to drop this additional expenditure of $30,000,000 as a condition to the building of the dam, or to fight for it for several years, which would be the best policy?
Mr. Bacon. Let me ask one further question before I answer that. Is the objection raised because it places additional acreage under cultivation ?
Senator PITTMAX. The objection is raised that because there is a feeling in the eastern part of the country, where the majority of the Congressmen live, that irrigation projects, in the first place, have not been an ultimate success, or a great success; and the second reason, because they contend there is already too much agricultural land at the present time under cultivation. I am just giving you their reasons. And in the third place, that it is not necessary. Now, whether we believe that or do not believe that, that is the contention. We do not believe it and we are fighting it, and we are fighting it with a gallant little minority that looks like they are going to be badly overruled, from the present indication of things. What we want to do is to get a dam there. We want to pursue the policy of one of the most ignorant of animals, that is the coyote, we want to catch this rabbit, and then we will fight and tear it to pieces afterwards.
Mr. Bacon. Let me answer this question this way: Suppose you have authorization to build the dam at Boulder Canyon, that means that during the dry season instead of having two or three thousand acre-feet of water, as sometimes happens, there would be a steady flow of 3,000,000 feet. Suppose this All-American Canal is withdrawn, that nothing that can be construed as an irrigation project is attached to the bill, what will be the result? We will have there this increased flow of the river. Now, if there is power developed here on the American side, they must perforce take their water through the old canal. That means that every day you develop a thousand acres here you are not only developing a thousand acres on the American side but you are also promoting the development of a thousand acres down here in Mexico. It will develop faster down here than it will up here [referring to map], because this is newer land, it is richer land, it is the richest land you can possibly get, that fine alluvial soil that is brought down there in silt, and you will be taxing the American farmer for it.
Senator PITTMAN. I so agree with you, but the question is, If we can not convince about 30 or 40 Congressmen in New York City and many in other big cities there, who know nothing about water
on earth, and it is evident that the fight is going to last for several years without any decision at all, would you rather for us to drop that idea and just simply build a dam in accordance with the accepted policy of the United States, which they can not go back on, that it is the policy of the Government to protect against destructive floods—now, which would you rather we should do? That is all I am getting at.
Mr. BACON. If I were to be asked whether I would rather eat or sleep, I think I would have a hard time to answer the question.
Senator PITTMAN. Suppose, however, you were asked whether you would rather eat once a day or not at all, what would be your answer?
Mr. Bacon. I think I would answer that I would rather eat three meals a day. It is an extremely difficult question to answer. I believe this: I don't think that the Senators in the East will fail to grasp that situation; that if we leave this thing alone, that condition as it exists there to-day on that canal, that you are simply placing a tax on your American farmer to promote agricultural industry in Mexico. You are placing a premium on cultivating lands in Mexico to produce agricultural products that are going to compete with the American farmer. And as far as the financial end of it is concerned, if the objection is that this can not be financed, I think your bill could be framed that the financing could be taken care of without any drain on the American Government. I think that objection could be eliminated by men who are familiar with that phase of it.
Senator PHIPPS. I would like to refer to a statement credited to Mr. Ballard, an official of the California Edison Co., a private enterprise, who stood ready to construct a dam for power purposes at their own cost and expense, providing they were given the United States' rights and authority by the Federal and State Governments. Do you think Mr. Ballard has a good basis for his statement ?
Mr. Bacon. I think so; Mr. Ballard is a good business man and knows what he was talking about. He was so careful in making that statement that he read it instead of giving it verbally.
Senator PHIPPS. Your own remarks have been confined almost entirely to the possibilities of a dam being constructed at Boulder Canyon or Black Canyon site?
Mr. Bacon. Yes, sir. Senator Phipps. Of course, you are aware that many other dam sites along the river have been located; that so-called filings have been made? I believe to-day in Washington the power commission is holding hearings on the Girand application for a dam at Diamond Creek. Have you given any study or attention to the possibilities of flood control by reason of these other proposed dams along the river?
Mr. Bacon. I would not consider that the study that I have given would be at all authority.
I have taken the word of the reclamation engineers who investigated the entire river. And to show you how complete that investigation was, I have here a chart reproduced from page—it is a map opposite page 186, Senate Document No. 142. They inspected dam site after dam site along that river, coming down that river; some