« PreviousContinue »
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Forrester, you have been here a great many years, and I am told you are the father of irrigation and development in this valley. The committee would be glad to hear from you.
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, I was there in the valley when it first broke in here and we had to blast the river open from Imperial pretty near up to Calexico to keep the water from running all over the valley. I had all my horses and men working pretty near day and night on the main canal out of Calexico to keep it from coming right down through the valley. And we had a great time keeping it out of here, and then when it broke in the second time--you see, we had two, one in 1905 and the other one in 1906—and we had the river in here pretty near all the time. And then when we got into this here business of the river control they sent out little slips about this thing, to be signed up and I signed one of them the same as Mr. Crawford did, before I read it over; they told me they believed in the All-American Canal and the river control. Well, I thought that over after I read it over; I signed on the paper before I sent it in. I thought it had everything I believed in, and so I went back after five or six days to get my paper and told Mr. Ferris that I wanted to get my slip back again because they were not doing what they were agreeing to do on these papers. So I know of several people that have signed those papers that said they would like to have them back but didn't have grit enough to go and get them. That was the bigg st tr vuble with tiat.
The CHAIRMAN. Won't you tell the committee in a brief way something about the menace that hangs over the cities of the Imperial Valley on account of seasonal floods of the river and the destruction that may follow an inundation ?
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, we have been building levees in the river ever since we have been in this country. We have them built across the volcano lake. We have got a bit levee there; it must be 15 miles long; and we have had to build that every year until our engineers conceived the idea that we could turn the water over into the Pescadero.
The CHAIRMAN. Who stood the expense of this levee?
The CHAIRMAN. Just keep on the subject of flood control for a minute: How much in the aggregate has this community expended in protecting property and lives from inundation?
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, now, I couldn't tell you exactly that, but it was up into the millions that we have spent in Mexico.
The CHAIRMAN. On flood control?
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir. You see, the river runs right up on top of the ground down there; it has got a ridge; it slopes toward Arizona and it slopes toward the Imperial Valley. But when it gets up there it can spread. It has done that since I have been in this country.
The CHAIRMAN. Does the community defray the annual expense on these levees?
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know what amount of money they have spent annually?
Mr. FORRESTER. I could not tell you that; I have been told several times.
The CHAIRMAN. Can you have some one supply us with the figures for the record ?
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir; I believe so.
The CHAIRMAN. There is nothing in the record that shows the amount of money that has been expended in the furtherance of flood control, and I would like to have that in the record.
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, I couldn't tell you that amount.
Mr. FORRESTER. But then we have had to keep this river in and then we have put in a brush mat; we used it to put the rock into over in the river, and the Yuma people filed a protest against us several different times; I have been up there several different times on the business, and at last we got a business that we put a cable across the river there—it is 242 miles long-and we made our mats sloping this, way and put the big part down and we dropped them in from this cáble. Well, we could stop the river off in about three or four days with that.
The CHAIRMAN. In your opinion, what effect would Government regulation and control of the waters of the Colorado River have upon the valley.
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, it would be a great deal of benefit because the land would be worth three times as much in this country if we had the river controlled. And I was one of the men that went through this All-American Canal on three different surveys, helped pay for the survey and took my teams and went through those sand hills
, and I know every crook and turn of the All-American Canal clear through.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you a civil engineer?
The CHAIRMAN. In your judgment, are there any obstacles or engineering difficulties in the construction of an All-American Canal ?
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, yes, there are; but then it can be overcome. Because of that sand they are talking about three millions, it would cost three millions. I am satisfied it could be built for less than half of that.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you a contractor?
Mr. FORRESTER. No, sir; but then I know something about moving sand. I have worked on these ditches and I have helped furnish the brains to help stop the Colorado River.
Senator CAMERON. Mr. Forrester, wouldn't the building of the AllAmerican Canal eliminate a lot of this trouble you are now having!
Mr. FORRESTER. Sure it would. If we had the All-American Canal and the Boulder Dam we would be satisfied and our land would produce enough to pay for the whole business.
Senator CAMERON. If you had the All-American Canal at this time it would be of great benefit to this valley?
Mr. FORRESTER. Sure.
Senator CAMERON. It would give you assurance that you had your water rights protected?
Mr. FORRESTER. That is what has put this country out of commission-not having permanent water rights. Our water rights in the Colorado River-whenever it goes into Mexico we haven't any. I have been to Mexico City; I have been into a place down below
Senator CAMERON. Well, never mind.
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, now, I was down there and I talked with Torrazes over this very water system, and I put in a week there with him to find out whether we had any rights to this water system out of Mexico, and he convinced me that he could use it all if he wanted to; and he said it didn't take them very long to change their minds occasionally on such things. I had a recommend from the Governor of California, Mr. Gillette, and Mr. Ford at that time gave me a recommend to Mexico, to Torrazes, and I went down there and they kind of shied off of me for a little while, but after I came to pull the papers on them from the Southern Pacific-I had a recommend from the Southern Pacific, too--and I went down with those papers and walked in on one of the officials; he walked off, and I said, "Just wait a bit, I have got a few things to ask you.” And when I showed him the papers I had he invited me into his place of business and he got three or four detectives after me to see what I was there for, because it was just in the time of the beginning of the war. After I got down to Mexico City in there they tore the railroads up and I couldn't get back again.
Senator Cameron. How many more acres of land could you irrigate in this Imperial Valley additional to the Imperial Valley under that All-American Canal?
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, we could irrigate more than we have got here, 217,000 acres, right over here on the mesa east of here that we go through to go to Yuma. I was on that survey and surveyed that out and we sectionized it out into 217,000 acres, and there is land clear over to Indio. You see, we run 75 miles the other side of Indio.
Senator KENDRICK. Mr. Forrester, do you believe that the menace of the Colorado is brought about by any diversion dams or ditches connected with the irrigation of this valley?
Mr. FORRESTER. I don't understand you.
Senator KENDRICK. Do you believe that dams and ditches have anything to do with the increasing menace of the Colorado River?
Mr. FORRESTER. No, I don't, but those banks, you see, they keep filling in all the time, the mud keeps raising the river; therefore we have to keep raising our levees. If you had a river control to stop the mud from coming down the river it would not fill the country, it would not fill our ditches. Now, I have been on our ranches here several years and it has cost us a lot of money to keep our ditches clean.
Senator KENDRICK. Is your annual assessment for the protection of this section of the country against the menace of the river based upon land ownership and water rights entirely? Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir. Senator KENDRICK. And not upon the entire community?
Mr. FORRESTER. Not upon the entire community. Yes, we have assessments of our company. We had 14 different companies here and I thought it would make a difference in the country here
to get up an irrigation district so we would all be together, then we could go into Mexico. We couldn't take our stuff in without paying Mexico for everything. If we took a span of horses in there it would cost eight or ten dollars to cross over the line. And it cost us $40,000 to put a railroad down there for the benefit, mostly, of the Mexican side, more than it was for our own benefit. But they charged us $40,000 to get down there with it.
Senator Dill. Mr. Forrester, I noticed in riding along the road here that these present ditches have been cleaned out until the roadside has been piled up higher than the road.
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir.
Mr. FORRESTER. If you had been over to my place-I used to have a double road and now I haven't got any road at all, unless I dig up a little ditch.
Senator Dill. How many years does it take for this silt to accumulate; how many years does it take to make a pile of dirt 6 or 8 or 10 feet high?
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, we started in in 1901--I landed here the 14th day of June, 1901, and started in making those ditches. I brought in 28 head of horses and started here on the 12th day of September, 1901, with the Colorado filling those ditches, and it has taken that much time. But then we used to have to shove it over on Mexico, but there was a fellow in Brawley kind of got it in his brain that he maybe could make an excavator that could take the mud out. I went up there and stayed with him a week, and between the two of us we got one rigged up to clean the ditches without shoveling it. We turned around and we got big shovels on and it piles it out on these banks and it makes it so that you can get the water down. But one thing, in Mexico now, there are some places in Mexico up there we have to dam the whole business 6 miles back to get the water out. Well, that makes it so we get all the mud and they get all the water.
Senator Dill. Well, do these ditches build up 6 inches or a foot or a foot and a half a year?
Mr. FORRESTER. Well, I should judge a foot a year. We have to clean them about two or three times.
Senator PHIPPS. Mr. Forrester, have you been to the Pescadero cut recently?
Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir; about a year ago.
Senator PAIPPS. The opening up of that cut has been successful, has it?
Mr. FORRESTER. Sure. That has got, as I recollect, about 26 feet soil down through there. I was down through there when the river was in through there; I went down to look at that, and I made a cruise around to look around over the whole system.
Senator PHIPPS. The action there is somewhat the same as you state you may expect on the All-American Canal ?
Mr. FORRESTER: Yes, sir.
Senator PHIPPS. And allowing the force of the water to widen the channel?
Mr. FORRESTER. That is it, exactly. Now, on the subject of putting the All-American Canal through the sand hills: You see, the wind comes a certain way in this country and the wind—if you have got a ditch there-it will pack that sand and it will never blow in the ditch. I can show you, if you go in my automobile--I can show you there on the road--I have been through there, going through there for about 18 years, and I can show you that that sand hasn't come down in. The wind divides it and it blows it both ways. Where the old stage line came through in 1846, the wires are over there and it is about a mile on the east of where the road is now; there is a hole that ate over a half a mile through the sand that goes through there. You see, I was out there with the surveyors and I was cook at that time and I could take the saddle horses and ride all over this country. There isn't a creek in there that I don't know.
Senator PHIPPS. I would like to refer back to Pescadero Cut for a moment
Mr. FORRESTER. I can tell you about the Pescadero Cut. You see, there were other ditches; they had one of these drag line dredges and they dug there three channels. Then they put the dam into the river and when the water came down it went through and took them all out. I was down there one day; I was there just as it was rolling the trees down through there.
Senator PHIPPS. That is the greatest protection you have to-day against the danger of flood? Mr. FORRESTER. It sure is. Senator PHIPPS. To the valley! Mr. FORRESTER. Yes, sir.
Senator PHIPPs. Now, how long do you suppose that will furnish protection, continue to furnish protection before it begins to silt up and you get back to the old condition?
Mr. FORRESTER. It is hard to tell on that because the Pescadero down in there, if it fills up we are up against it again. It is the mud that plays havoc with us; it isn't so much the water, it is the mud. I have seen that mud when it was just like banks, just come down the ditch.
Senator PHIPPS. Well, I hope we will see that territory to-morrow.
Mr. FORRESTER. I will show it all to you, because I know every crook and turn of this country. I have been with every reclamation man in this section of the country.
Senator PHIPPS. All right.
STATEMENT OF SAM BOBINSON, PRESIDENT OF THE CON
SERVATION CLUB, OF IMPERIAL VALLEY, CALIF.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Robinson, you are a resident of Imperial Valley? Mr. Robinson. Yes, sir; I have lived here 19 years. The CHAIRMAN. What is your occupation? Mr. ROBINSON. Farmer; I have farmed here 19 years. The CHAIRMAN. What acreage do you farm? Mr. Robinson. Two hundred acres. The CHAIRMAN. On the American side?