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Senator KENDRICK. Mr. Carr, the original authority by Congress for the compact between the states, included seven States, did it not?
Mr. CARR. Yes.
Senator KENDRICK. And was there later authority given by Congress for any agreement for a lesser number of States?
Mr. CARR. No, sir.
Senator KENDRICK. Is it your opinion that the failure of one of the States to ratify the compact would in any way invalidate the effect upon those States that had ratified it?
Mr. Carn. Not if they all agreed to that form of ratification and Congress approved it. I understand that Congress will approve a compact between the States after the States have approved it.
Senator KENDRICK. Was that part of the original authority, that Congress should approve the compact after the different States had approved it through their legislatures?
Mr. CARR. Yes; the situation requires that, Senator, so that nothing the States do is effective until after Congress gives its consent to the compact.
Senator KENDRICK. You would see no occasion for anxiety in reference to the dates upon which the compact would be effective and the fact that those dates did not coincide? The States in the upper basin, in other words, as I understand it, ratified immediately; that is, their ratification became effective immediately. Now, California ratified with a reservation as to the date the ratification became effective, the understanding being that it would become effective when the Government authorized the building of the Boulder Dam. You would see no danger in such a difference in the terms of ratification ?
Mr. Carr. Not the slightest. No more than two years ago Colorado ratified at one time, Nevada at another, Wyoming at another; they did not ratify the same day.
Senator KENDRICK. Each one in their tu'n ratified in a way that the compact became effective immediately after the action by the legislature? Mr. Carr. When all of them had ratified. Senator KENDRICK. Oh, when all had ratified.
Mr. Carr. Yes; but they did not any of them ratify on the same day, so I don't think there is any danger in that.
Senator KENDRICK. I am sure they did not, but the spirit of the ratification was somewhat different. There is a reservation here.
Mr. CARR. No; it simply defers the effective date.
Senator KENDRICK. The question in my mind is whether it would be effective unless approved by the other States.
Mr. CARR. I haven't any doubt but what it is effective if Congress passes the legislation that will be submitted, that California's ratification will become effective immediately and binding on the State.
Senator KENDRICK. You think that should be a part of the bill providing for the construction of the dam?
Mr. Carr. Yes, sir; I think so.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee is thankful to you, Mr. Carr. The next witness will be Mr. Earl C. Pound, president of the Imperial Irrigation District, who will discuss flood control and its effect on the Imperial Valley.
STATEMENT OF EARL C. POUND, PRESIDENT IMPERIAL IRRI
Mr. POUND. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I will discuss the flood situation only as it affects the Imperial Valley and not as it affects other valleys and communities, nor will I discuss the bearing of silt content in flood water or the interference and lack of cooperation by either the Mexican Government or the American owners of Mexican lands.
The Colorado River is essentially a United States stream from its source to the southeast corner of California, where for 18 miles it becomes the international boundary between Arizona on the east and Lower California, Mexico, on the west. The balance of its course to the Gulf of California is entirely through Mexican territory.
Imperial Valley and the whole Colorado Delta is built up by the deposit of silt for thousands of years, and the soil itself is therefore very easily eroded by flood water.
Pilot Knob is the most southerly peak of the Chocolate Mountains and is located at the very southeastern corner of California on the Fest bank of the Colorado, and from this point south there is no formation on either side of the river to prevent it from rapidly changing its course.
The intake of the Imperial canal system is at Pilot Knob, about 100 miles from the Gulf of California, at elevation 124 feet above sea level, while the Salton Sea, situated in the northern part of Imperial Valley, about the same distance from Pilot Knob, lies 250 feet below sea level. On account of the relative elevations of the river at Pilot knob, the Gulf of California, and Salton Sea the force of gravity is continually trying to pull the river toward the Salton Sea.
Most of the irrigated area in Imperial Valley is below sea level, and any flood water coming into the valley must remain there until it is removed by the slow process of evaporation and can not, as in other localities, be drained off after the flood is over.
In the forming of the delta region an alluvial cone was built up, extending from an elevation of 124 feet at Pilot Knob on the northeast to an elevation of only 26 feet at Black Butte, an extinct volcano near the Cocopah Mountains, in Mexico on the south west. This ridge is the only barrier which separates the Gulf from the Salton Sea.
The delta contains many channels: The Alamo, New River, Paradones, Bee, Pescadero, Hardy, and the Colorado itself. Each at times have carried much flood water. During the flood of 1905 to 1907 the Alamo and New River carried the entire flow of the Colorado to the Salton Sea. The Bee River carried most of the flood water into Volcano Lake Basin from 1909 to 1921, from whence it flowed into the Gulf through the Hardy and other smaller channels.
From the beginning of settlement in the Imperial Valley it has been and still is necessary to build and maintain protective works against floods. In 1903 a dam was built on this delta ridge near Black Butte across New River, which at that time was a very small channel, to prevent flood water from going north into the Imperial . Valley Basin.
In 1907, 12 miles of river-front levee, known as the C. D., was built by the Southern Pacific Co., commencing near the international
boundary and running southward. This levee was extended 25 miles by Government appropriation under direction of Col. J. A. Ockerson and is called the Ockerson Levee. Only 8 miles of this levee have been of use in our general protective system.
The Volcano Lake Levee was commenced in 1908 and was strengthened, raised, and extended annually until 1921. In 1916 a standard-gauge railroad track was installed on the levee and extended to a connection with the main line of the Inter-California Railway, to facilitate rock hauling from Pilot Knob quarry, as well as from Black Butte for revetting Volcano Lake Levee. During these 13 years the levee was built up about 15 feet, and Volcano Lake basis to the south of the levee silted up to such an extent that it was deemed impossible to longer maintain the levee.
When it became evident that the Volcano Lake Levee could not be held through another flood season, the Pescadero cut was made to divert the flood water into the Pescadero Basin. A dam was constructed across the Bee River to force the water through the artificial channel, and since that time very little flood water has reached Volcano Lake. Afterwards the Pescadero Levee, 6 miles in length, was built paralleling the Pescadero cut.
The Bee River Levee, 6 miles in length, connects the Ockerson with the Pescadero, making, together with the C. D. Levee, a continuous river-front levee of 32 miles, all equipped with standard-gauge railroad track and heavily revetted, in some places 35 cubic yards of rock per lineal foot.
Since 1921 the fight against the floods has all been made at the river front on this 32 miles of levee. It is believed that we will be able to maintain this levee against all ordinary floods until the Pescadero Basin is filled with silt, which is estimated at 10 to 15 years, but to do so requires continual watching at all times, and the dumping of thousands of cars of rock during each flood season.
The Saiz Levee, 25 miles in length, was built to connect the C. D. Levee along the river front with the Volcano Lake Levee.
The protective system now consists of the C. D., Ockerson, Bee, and Pescadero Levees, a total of 32 miles of river-front levees, which is the first line of defense; 25 miles of Saiz Levee, the second line of defense; and 16 miles of Volcano Lake Levee, which is our third and last line of defense. Fifty miles or more of these levees are heavily rock revetted and 55 miles of standard-gauge railroad track is maintained.
We have located three quarries for revetment work on the levees. The first quarry was located in the mountains at Black Butte to revet the Volcano Lake Levee. The Cocopah quarry was located in the mountains a few miles west of Black Butte to secure larger and better material. The third and main quarry is located at Pilot Knob. The Pilot Knob quarry is close to our headquarter's camp. A train load of rock is always ready to be sent down the levee on a moment's notice.
Two locomotives, two steam shovels, a locomotive crane, a hoist, ballast spreader, a fleet of gasoline speeders, and 10 automatic dump cars are maintained at Andrade, always ready for immediate use. This entire equipment is maintained exclusively for flood protection. In addition, a large, well equipped machine shop, commisary and storehouse are maintained to facilitate the work. Other equipment is at times rented from the S. P. Co.
In 1905 the great disastrous flood occurred, caused by an uncontrolled diversion about 4 miles below the present intake. The whole river left its channel, flowed down the Alamo depression, spread over a large area, and eventually again concentrated itself into the New and Alamo Channels and ran into the Salton Sea, inundating 280,000 acres of land of which 170,000 acres are still under water. This flood cut off the supply of water for all lands west of New River, causing thousands of acres to return to the desert from which it had been reclaimed; washed away houses and other buildings, improvements, livestock, hay stacks and growing crops, cut washes through irrigated farms, destroyed irrigation canals and farmers' head ditches; washed away a portion of the town of Mexicali and threatened the city of Calexico.
This flood also cut the channels of Alamo and New River and tributary washes so as to make it impossible to ever reclaim 30.000 acres of otherwise good agricultural land. New River channel cut back from the Salton Sea 40 to 60 feet deep to a point several miles south of the international boundary line, and at the rate of recession when the closure was made in 1907, would in a very few months have entirely cut off the irrigation and domestic supply from all Imperial Valley. This in turn would have caused the immediate abandonment of all the towns and ranches and the eventual return of all reclaimed area of the valley to its former desert state.
The United States Government was and is interested in this situation not only from its functions as the general government, but from its proprietory interest in the Laguna Dam, which is the diversion works for the Yuma reclamation project. The recession coming back from the depths of Salton Sea would have in a comparatively short time undermined and taken out the Laguna Dam which is built on quicksand—bedrock being too deep to be reached with the foundations of the dam.
In 1911 Colonel Ockerson completed his levee from its connection with the C. D. Levee running south 25 miles at an approximate cost of $1,000,000. In the same year flood broke through the middle portion of this levee, making two-thirds of it permanently useless.
In 1914 the Volcano Lake levee broke about 712 miles from the west end, destroying several thousand acres of crops, flooding a construction camp during the night, destroying its provisions and feed and making it impossible to stop the flood, which found its way into New River channel, where it tore away highway bridges and irrigation structures.
The Saiz levee has been overtopped many times and much damage done to growing crops.
Many breaks have occurred in the river front levee, but so far it has been possible to build around these breaks so that no large channels have been cut by them, but in one flood when the river was carrying 200,000 second-feet, it was necessary to construct sack levees around the intake to save it and the headquarters camp.
On another occasion the district engineers were surveying for levee construction when the river suddenly broke through and spread for miles over the flat lands of the delta, forcing the entire party to climb into thorny mesquite trees. After three days one of the men swam to higher ground and secured aid.
At another time a large section of levee caved into the river marooning a whole work train for several weeks.
These are but incidents in the great flood fight we have been continually waging, and serve only to show how impossible it is to forestall the freakish floods of the Colorado.
On the river levee the greatest danger lies in the water undermining the levee, which at times works very rapidly on a rising flood, and if not immediately stopped by dumping trainloads of rock, the levee, track, and all slip into the river, and there is then no protection from the immediately following flood. The river at times and in some places scours to a depth of 40 feet below the normal bottom of the stream, and will sometimes move the river laterally several hundred feet toward the levee, and even through it, in a single day. It is hard to conceive the tremendous force of this river on the rampage.
The total cost of all protective works and break closures runs into millions, but it is impossible at this time to determine all costs of levees and closures. The Southern Pacific put in a claim of $1,600,000 to the United States for closing the 1905–1907 break, which was done at the direct request of President Roosevelt. Colonel Ockerson expended a million dollars, appropriated by the United States Government, and the Imperial irrigation district to date has expended approximately $4,000,000 exclusively for flood protection.
The actual physical damage done by floods in Imperial Valley is very great. Fifty thousand acres in New and Alamo Channels are rendered valueless for farming. One hundred and fifty thousand acres of good agricultural land is still under the water of the Salton Sea, making 200,000 acres, which at a conservative value of $100 per acre is $20,000,000. Crop and property losses are estimated at $3,000,000; loss of use of land previously reclaimed, $2,000,000 : making a total actual determinable loss of $25,000,000
The loss of financial prestige to the valley is not the least. The Federal Farm Loan Board refuses to make loans here because of flood danger. Other financial institutions likewise either do not loan here or loan only at usurious rates, and this makes even short-time loans bear a high rate of interest. The average rate of interest on loans in Imperial Valley is 9 per cent per annum, which is at least 2 per cent above the rate justified with the flood menace removed.
During the past 20 years there has been an average of approximately $20,000,000 in loans in Imperial Valley, and 2 per cent excess interest on $20,000,000 for this period equals a net loss of $8,000,000.
The loss and damage does not stop here. There is always the possibility that floods from both the Gila and Colorado Rivers might come at the same time. This has not happened since the settlement of Imperial Valley. Each river has at times carried 200,000 secondfeet, and if such floods should coincide no protective works now built or contemplated, other than the Boulder Dam, could prevent damages hundreds of times greater than all previous floods.