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Last year the Mexican corporation furnished water to about 190,000 acres of land in Mexico. This year it is furnishing water to about 217,000 acres of land in Mexico, and we have every reason to believe that this development will continue from year to year until nearly a million acres is irrigated in that country with water that is needed in the United States. All this is being done without protest of the United States or without any treaty or legal obligations in any manner concerning this water for irrigation.
And this morning one of the Senators asked a witness a question as to additional lands being brought under cultivation and creating a competition. Now, I might say, gentlemen, that whenever land is brought under cultivation in Mexico it means competition to the American farmer, just the same as if it were land brought under cultivation in the United States; and if this water is needed in the United States for Americans on American land, if they can use the water profitably, even though it creates competition, isn't it in the point of wisdom to have that competition on American land rather than across an imaginary line in a foreign country?
Senator PITTMAN. Mr. Childers, I was the one who asked the question, and I don't want you to misunderstand me.
Mr. CHILDERS. Yes, sir.
Senator PITTMAN. You gave an improper construction to the purport of my question.
Mr. CHILDERS. Well, I am sorry, Senator, if I misunderstood you.
Senator PITTMAN. I stated at the time that I was in favor of impounding all the water at Black Canyon that could be impounded.
Mr. CHILDERS. Yes. Senator PITTMAN. And I was in favor of the All-American Canal. Mr. CHILDERS. Yes. Senator PITTMAN. Now, you possibly misunderstood me. Mr. CHILDERS. No; I am not to put that construction on it, Senator. Senator PitTMAN. I said that those who are opposing the building of any dam on the Colorado River are opposing it on three grounds. One ground is that we have enough irrigated land in the United States already. They are not only opposing it on the Colorado River but they are opposing every reclamation on that ground. That is public knowledge; it has appeared in some statements made in the last great campaign. They are also opposed to the creation of hydroelectric power by the Government. The only position I was taking in the matter was that I regret exceedingly that California has seen fit to place reservations on this matter, because it does not aid our western Senators and the Congressmen, in my opinion, in obtaining the building of a dam, but diverts the argument from it. There isn't any question but if they do build a dam there that they are going to look to receiving money back to pay for it; and there are only two sources to obtain that money back—that is, from irrigation and the creation of hydroelectric power. What we should do, in my opinion, is leave it to the Government to determine what is the economic size of that dam and what is the economic amount of water to be impounded. I believe that they would say it would be a minimum of 30,000,000 acre-feet, but, in fact, the Reclamation Department has stated that the economic amount of water to be impounded is 34,000,000 acre-feet; but you are involving another question; and while you are on the legal question I will ask you this: If there is a treaty between the State governments, and after the treaty has been signed and one of those governments places a condition on it, does that change the compact ?
Mr. CHILDERS. It does not change the compact, Senator, if it is a condition. In other words, if a condition is such as changes the terms of the instrument, of course, it is not a ratification. If it simply bases the ratification upon the happening of an event, it is a ratification, and the ratification becomes binding
whenever that event happens.
Senator PITTMAN. Let me ask you this question: Suppose, for instance, that the State of Colorado ratified this compact upon the theory that there would be only 10,000,000 acre-feet impounded and you would come back now and state that the Government had to impound 20,000,000 feet, would the legislature of Colorado have a right to reconsider their action in the matter?
Mr. CHILDERS. The legislature of any State has the right to reconsider a sanction until it is binding on all of the States.
Senator PITTMAN. Don't you fear that there may be some action by the other States? Mr. CHILDERS. Not very greatly, Senator.
Senator PITTMAN. Now, let's take, for instance, where this same kind of treaty came up and see if you recollect it. At the time that the Versailles Treaty was before the United States Senate, it was contended that no matter what might be the effect of those reservations, that those reservations had to be agreed to by the other contracting powers before there was a treaty.
Mr. CHILDERS. I am not entirely familiar with that, of course, but if those reservations went through the operation of the treaty, undoubtedly that would be true; if they went to the time or the condition of when it would take effect, I rather doubt that it would be true.
Senator PITTMAN. Well, I hope it is not true, because I hope that the other States will say that it is not a material change and agree to it. I am simply stating that we are now, in the West here, as everyone out here knows, having a life and death struggle for the conservation of our waters out here, and we know it. And while I am entirely agreed upon impounding all of this water, am entirely agreed on your All-American Canal, as a matter of legislative strategy, I have constantly feared one State attempting to impose conditions upon the Federal Government in the building of a Federal dam. I was asking these questions because I was wondering what you would advise in the event the Attorney General of the United States would make a ruling on the matter to the effect that in the event some of the northern States in this section should come out and state that there had been a change, that the Federal Government was released from the treaty. And that is the reason we were asking those question. If we could get them to build a dam that would impound 19,000,000 acre-feet of water instead of 20,000,000 and it would pass Congress, would you be in favor of passing it?
Mr. CHILDERS. That would hardly be a ratification on the part of California, because it provides for 20,000,000. As I understand, the 20,000,000 was selected because the lowest estimate that anyone up to that time, and so far yet as I know at this time, has made is about 25,000,000 acre-feet at that point. Now, the lower basin is dependent upon storage. As was said awhile ago, the low flow of the river is exhausted. The very existence of these projects, and indeed the cities of the South are dependent upon the storage of the river flood waters. We have no quarrel whatever with the upper basin. The only thing we want is to make the compact of some use to the lower basin. To approve it without some provision for storage or put it another way, if no storage provision is made at any time, the compact means nothing to the lower basin, only a quitclaim deed to our waters.
Senator PITTMAN. Would 10,000,000 acre-feet be of any benefit at all?
Mr. CHILDERS. The storage of 10,000,000, Senator, would not be of benefit for this reason: It requires something like that to simply regulate the flow of the river for flood purposes. Now, a dam that would only hold a maximum of 10,000,000 would be empty a good deal of the year in order to take care of the flood when it comes. Now, it is a fact you get up above something like eight or ten million acre-feet, and that is when you begin to get some storage.
Senator PITTMAN. Do you mean to say that if all of the engineers agree that the storage of 10,000,000 acre-feet would remove the danger permanently of making a sea out of Imperial Valley that that would be of no benefit!
Mr. CHILDERS. No; I am talking about storage now, Senator, not flood waters. I say that the compact was approved on condition that storage of 20,000,000 acre-feet be authorized. Now, flood control is another thing. But when you say all engineers agree, I think, like attorneys, they hardly ever all agree, but it seems to be agreed that it takes some eight or ten million to act purely as river regulation, or, in other words, flood control. They also agree that that does not control the flood. For this reason, strange as it may seem, our big flood menace is not water, but it is the silt that Mr. Dowd was just talking to you gentlemen about.
Senator PITTMAN. Suppose you had 10,000,000 acre-feet there impounded in the flood season, wouldn't the letting out of that 10,000,000 feet regulate the flow down to prevent a shortage of water?
Mr. CHILDERS. It would tend, I presume, to so prevent. It would not prevent, for the reason, as I tried to indicate a moment ago, that if it is purely for flood control, the gate, as I understand the engineers' reports, must be kept open and let the reservoir empty quickly, because the Colorado River is a flashy stream. rdinarily in May and June and early July we have high water; sometimes we have it at other times of the year, and in order to be sure that we are not going to have a flash that will overflow its banks, as I understand, a purely flood-control reservoir which would have eight or ten million acre-feet would have to be kept as nearly empty all the time as possible.
Senator PITTMAN. I don't so understand it, but I wanted to ask you about the proposition. I think the only reason for increasing it above 10,000,000 feet, as I read the reports, the only reason, is because it is cheaper so to do for the Government and provides a means by which the Government could get its money back.
Mr. CHILDERS. That is partially true. On the other hand
Senator PITTMAN. Hydroelectric power, I am in favor of it, and I am satisfied the Government will be in favor of it, but whether the capacity should be 15,000,000 acre-feet, or sixteen, or seventeen, or eighteen, or nineteen, or twenty, we don't know, and it is an engineering proposition. That is the reason I regretted that you put any definite figures in there. We are going to all contend for as much as we can get.
Mr. CHILDERS. We hope we will get it, Senator. The CHAIRMAN. Will you now conclude your statement? Mr. CHILDERS. I have just one more sentence here that I will read. All this is being done without protest of the United States or without any treaty or legal obligations in any manner concerning this water for irrigation.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Childers, when do these contracts with the foreign corporation expire?
Mr. CHILDERS. In perpetuity so far as the contract is concerned.
The CHAIRMAN. Would there be any change in the operation of the present canal if the Government should construct for the water users the All-American Canal!
Mr. CHILDERS. I assume, Senator, that so far as the district is concerned it would be abandoned. The contract provides that of the water that is carried into Mexico one-half of it must be left there if demanded. We are under no obligation to carry any water into Mexico. And if that necessity were obviated we would not, of course, deliberately carry water down there that we might give it away.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, as I understand, the irrigable acreage in Mexico would receive no water in case of construction of the AllAmerican Canal ?
Mr. CHILDERS. No; I would not so understand it, Senator, that would be the legal situation in the absence of treaty; but we take it that the Government of the United States is going to be fair with Mexican lands, as we hope they will be, and the lands that are actually receiving water will continue to receive water in some form from this river.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator from Colorado.
Senator PHIPPS. Mr. Childers, your irrigation district at the present time is under agreement with the United States Government to take its heading from Laguna Dam instead of from the present point below Yuma?
Mr. CHILDERS. Yes, sir.
Senator PHIPPs. And taking it from the Laguna Dam you would be getting the other waters of the Colorado and no water from the Gila River; is that correct!
Mr. CHILDERS. That would be true; I think that is, generally speaking, true, anyway. We take very little water; the Gila, as I understand it—and I think it is correct-is more of a menace to us than it is of a benefit, because it is undependable; it comes down in great flashes once in a while. Most of the time it is wholly dry. I believe for two years we received no water, until two weeks ago there was a small amount came down the Gíla.
Senator PHIPPS. This flood menace from the Gila that you have contended with in the past, do you expect that to be cured by the Government dam that has been authorized on the Gila?
Mr. CHILDERS. I understand there is two or three projects on the Gila that will probably, at least, very materially remedy that situation. Now, the Gila, if I remember correctly, we never have had but one serious flood from the Gila. A number of years ago, in January, I think it was, we had a large flood come down the Gila.
Senator PHIPPS. A former witness testified that the Gila came down at times to the extent of 200,000 second-feet.
Mr. CHILDERS. That is exactly what I am talking about, Senator. And I think at one time we have had that condition. Of course, when that happens it is quite a serious condition. However, the Gila comes up quickly and goes down quickly. Even if it flowed into the Imperial Valley it would not inundate the valley by any means. It is a thing, of course, that we want to get rid of, and the construction of a weir that has been authorized on the Gila will very likely take care of it.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Mr. Chairman.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Has the contract you were speaking of been incorporated in the record ?
Mr. CHILDERS. I think it was in Washington last winter, but if it has not, I will be very glad to furnish a copy, and I will attend to that, Senator, so we may have it.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. So that the record may speak clearly, so we may understand it-In whom is the title to the stock of the corporation ?
Mr. CHILDERS. It is in five directors of the district, whoever they may be at the time.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Are the directors the legal or equitable owners?
Mr. CHILDERS. Well, we would say legal owners.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Do they hold the title in trust, or do they hold it as legal owners-in personal ownership? There seems to be a confusion in the record in regard to that matter.
Mr. CHILDERS. Yes, there is. And it is a matter that is somewhat delicate. The contract provides that stock can not be held by a foreign state or country. Senator SHORTRIDGE. What contract?
Mr. CHILDERS. The contract as between Mexico and the Mexican Corporation.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Yes, I see.
Mr. CHILDERS. Now, as I said awhile ago, we have endeavored to live up very strictly to the terms of that contract.
It has never been decided; we have not attempted to decide just what the effect of the district directors holding that stock might be. They hold it and we assume that they own it.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. The contract is in writing, and it will appear in the record ?
Mr. CHILDERS. Yes, I will furnish a copy of it for the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Childers. The next witness is R. W. Shoemaker, who will discuss the value of power in the AllAmerican Canal. Mr. Shoemaker, will you take the stand ?