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COLORADO RIVER BASIN

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1924

UNITED STATES SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON IRRIGATION AND RECLAMATION,

Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10.30 o'clock a. m., in the committee room of the Committee on Commerce, Capitol, Senator Charles L. McNary presiding.

Present: Senators McNary (chairman), Phipps, Oddie, Shortridge, Walsh of Montana, Ashurst and Kendrick.

Present also: Senators Johnson of California and Representative Swing.

The committee thereupon proceeded to tue consideration of the bill S. 727, which is here printed in full, as follows:

[S. 727, Sixty-eighth Congress, first session]

A BILL To provide for the protection and development of the lower Colorado River Basin

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That for the purpose of regulating the lower Colorado River and controlling the floods therein, providing storage of water for irrigation and other beneficial uses, securing the development of electrical power, and providing homes for honorably discharged men and women of the United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps who served therein during the war with Germany, the war with Spain, or in the suppression of the insurrection in the Philippines, the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and empowered to construct a dam and incidental works for the purpose of providing a reservoir at or near Boulder Canyon on said river, adequate for the purposes aforesaid, and to acquire by proceedings in eminent domain or otherwise all lands and rights of way necessary for the said reservoir and incidental works; also to construct a main canal and appurtenant structures located entirely within the United States, connecting the Laguna Dam on said river with the Imperial and Coachella Valleys, in California ; also to construct such other canals and structures as may be required for the delivery of water from said reservoir and said river to lands in the States of Arizona, Nevada, and California, which said Secretary may find practicable of irrigation and reclamation therefrom, and to acquire by proceedings in eminent domain or otherwise all rights of way necessary for such canals and structures : Provided, however, That no expenditures for the construction of canals or appurtenant structures authorized hereunder shall be made until the lands to be irrigated thereby shall have first been legally obligated to repay their propero portions, as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior, of the total costs thereof to the United States in accordance with the terms of repayment prescribed in the act of Congress approved June 17, 1902, entitled “ An act appropriating the receipts from the sale and disposal of public lands in certain States and Territories to the construction of irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands,” and acts amendatory thereof or supplementary thereto, hereinafter referred to as the reclamation law.

SEC. 2. That the Secretary of the Interior is empowered to receive applications for the right to use for the generation of electrical power portions of the water discharge fro msaid reservoir and available for the generation of

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electrical power at said dam, and, after full hearing of all concerned, to allocate to such applicants such portions of such power privileges as in his judgment may be consistent with an equitable distribution thereof among the various interested States and among the various interested communities in each State. The said Secretary, in making such allocation, may give consideration to the plans of the various applicants, having regard to their relative adaptability to utilize such power privileges in the public interest, and at reasonable cost to the communities served : Provided, That subject to such allocations he shall give preference to applications made by political subdivisions.

SEC. 3. That the said Secretary is authorized to make leases of the power privileges so allocated, limited to fifty years, on such terms and under such regulations as he may prescribe, and to fix what he may find to be a reasonable compensation therefor. Upon or after the expiration of any such lease, or renewal thereof, the United States may take over the property of the lessee which is dependent for its usefulness upon the continuation of the lease, and if it shall do so shall pay to the lessee its net investment in the property taken, not exceeding the fair value thereof at the time it is so taken, with reasonable severance damages to property of the lessee not taken. Such net investment or fair value and damages, if not agreed upon, shall be fixed by a porceeding in equity in the district court of the United States in the district in which property, or some part thereof, is situated. If the United States does not exercise its right to take over such property, the Secretary of the Interior may renew the said lease for not more than fifty years, or in his discretion may make a lease under the terms hereof to a new lessee, upon the condition that such new lessee shall pay to the former lessee such net investment and damages determined as aforesaid. If such property is not taken over by the United States, or such new lessee, or such lease renewed, the said Secretary shall extend such lease from year to year until such property is so taken over or such lease renewed.

Compensation for leases, renewals, extensions, and new leases shall be fixed with a view to the United States receiving such payments and revenue therefrom, as, with the payments and revenue from rights disposed of under section 4 hereof, will cover all expenses of operating and maintaining the said dam and incidental works and in addition thereto reimburse the United States for the entire cost of such dam and incidental works within a period of not to exceed fifty years from completion thereof.

SEC. 4. That any such political subdivision, instead of entering into a lease, may, as the consideration for such power privileges as may be allocated to it as above provided, pay to the United States in annual installments, during such period not exceeding twenty-five years as may be agreed upon, a total sum which shall bear the same proportion to the cost of constructing such dam and incidental works and acquiring lands and rights of way for said reservoir and incidental works, as the water allocated to such political subdivision bears to all the water available for the generation of power at said dam, together with a like proportion of the annual expense of operating and maintaining such dam and incidental works, and interest at the rate of 5 per centum per annum on the unpaid portion of such proportionate part of such cost. Any or all of the installments of such proportionate part of such cost may be paid in advance. The right to use for the generation of electrical power the water so allocated, shall continue after the completion of the payment of such proportionate part of such cost, so long as such political subdivision shall pay annually such proportionate part of such expense of operating and maintaining such dam and incidental works. The said Secretary is authorized on such terms and under such regulations as he may prescribe to make any contracts which may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this section. The title to said dam and incidental works and reservoir site shall forever remain in the United States. Until the completion of said dam and incidental works the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to use any money received under this and the preceding section for the construction of said dam and incidental works.

SEC. 5. That the right to develop power from the water in any canal constructed under this act, at points along such canal, shall belong to the districts, communities, and lands which contribute to the construction costs of such canal and appurtenant structures, in proportion to their contributions: Provided, That so long as any money is owing to the United States on account of the construction of said canals and appurtenant structures, the Secretary of the Interior shall control the disposition of said rights to develop power and the net proceeds from any power development in said canals shall be applied upon such construction charges and covered into the Treasury of the United States, and credited to the various districts, communities, and lands in accordance with their interests in said canals.

Sec. 6. That no part of the cost of the construction of said dam or incidental works, or the acquisition of lands or rights of way for said reservoir or incidental works, shall be charged against any lands to be irrigated therefrom, but the total cost of all irrigation canals and appurtenant structures which may be constructed hereunder shall be charged equitably against such lands, in accordance with the benefits they derive therefrom as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior.

SEC. 7. That the dam and reservoir provided for by section 1 of this act shall be used, first, for river regulation and flood control; second, for irrigation and domestic use; and third, for power.

SEC. 8. That nothing contained in this act shall be construed as limiting, diminishing, or in any manner interfering with any right of the States above said reservoir, or of the citizens of said States, to the use of the waters of said Colorado River or its tributaries.

Sec. 9. That all lands of the United States found by the Secretary of the Interior to be practicable of irrigation and reclamation by the irrigation works authorized by the terms of this act shall be withdrawn from public entry. Thereafter when such works shall have been so far constructed as to permit the delivery of water to any portion of said withdrawn lands which the Secretary of the Interior shall deem proper to open for entry, such portion of said lands shall be opened to entry in tracts, varying in size, but not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the provisions of the reclamation law, and any such entryman shall pay the proportionate share, as determined by the said Secretary, of the construction cost of the canal or canals and appurtenant structures constructed for the irrigation and reclamation of said lands, as provided for by this act, such construction cost to be paid in such installments and at such times as may be specified by the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the provisions of the said reclamation law: Provided, That all persons who have served in the United States Army, Navy, or Marine Corps during the war with Germany, the war with Spain, or in the suppression of the insurrection in the Philippines, and who have been honorably separated or discharged therefrom or placed in the Regular Army or Navy Reserve, shall have the exclusive preference right for a period of three months to enter said lands; and also, so far as practicable, preference shall be given to said persons in all construction work authorized by this act: Provided, That in the event such an entry shall be relinquished at any time prior to actual residence upon the lands by the entryman for not less than one year, lands so relinquished shall not be subject to entry for a period of sixty days after the filing and notation of the relinquishment in the local land office, and shall, after the expiration of such sixty-day period, be subject to entry by the first qualified applicant.

SEC. 10. That for the purpose of constructing said dam and incidental works, canals, and appurtenant structures, and acquiring lands and rights of way therefore, there is hereby authorized to be appropriated from any moneys in the Treasury, not otherwise appropriated, such amounts as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of this act, not exceeding in the aggregate the sum $70,000,000, to be appropriated from time to time upon estimates made by the Secretary of the Interior and transferred to the reclamation fund established under said reclamation law. All moneys received under leases and contracts authorized by sections 3 and 4 of this act, in excess of the expense of operating and maintaining said dam and incidental works, and not used for construction as provided in section 4 hereof, shall be covered into the Treasury of the United States. All moneys transferred from the General Treasury to the reclamation fund, and used for the construction of any canal or appurtenant structures authorized under this Act, shall be repaid by the districts, communities, and lands benefited thereby, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby empowered, after a full hearing of all concerned, to allocate the costs of any such canal and appurtenant structures among the various districts, communities, and lands served thereby, according to the benefits derived therefrom.

SEC. 11. That nothing in this Act shall be construed as modifying in any manner the existing contract, dated October 23, 1918, betewen the United States

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and Imperial irrigation district, providing for a connection with Laguna Dam ; but the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to modify the said contract, with the consent of the said district, or to enter into a new contract or contracts with the said district or any private corporation or any corporation subsidiary to said district, in order to provide for the construction, in accordance with the terms of this act, of a canal, canals, and appurtenant structures. adequate to serve the lands of said district, and other lands that may be served thereby, and to equitably allocate the costs thereof.

SEC. 12. That wherever the words “political subdivision" or political subdivisions” are used herein they shall be understood to include any State, district, municipality, or other governmental organization.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order.

These hearings are held agreeable to the request of the two Senators from California and Congressman Swing. Hearings have been held in the House, rather extensive in their nature, and it is the hope of the chairman-and I believe I speak for the committee that there be as little duplication as possible in the record. To that end I have requested and have received a promise that a brief synopsis of the House hearings is to be handed to the members of this committee during the next two or three days.

Senator Johnson of California introduced Senate bills 24 to provide for the protection and development of the lower Colorado River Basin. Congressman Swing introduced the companions bith a the House, and on the 13th of this month Congressman Fredericks introduced House bill 10723. These bills will be considered in the hearings, as well as the general proposal to construct the Boulder Canyon Dam in the Colorado River.

On the 17th of March past I received from the Secretary of the Interior a report containing his views and certain proposals with respect to this project, which I should like to have placed in the record.

(The document referred to by the chairman, being a letter from the Secretary of the Interior, dated March 17, 1924, is here printed in full, as follows:)

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, March 19, 1924. Hon. CHARLES L. McNARY, Chairman Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation,

United States Senate. MY DEAR SENATOR: Herewith is transmitted findings of engineers engaged in surveying the Colorado River Basin, together with their detailed technical observations, bearing on S. 727. Attached hereto is a copy of their conclusions.

The Colorado River Basin has been under observation, survey, and study, and the subject of reports to Congress since the close of the Civil War. More than $350,000 have been expended by the Bureau of Reclamation since the Kinkaid Act of May 18, 1920. More than $2,000,000 have been expended by other agencies of the Government. The time has arrived when the Government should decide whether it will proceed to convert this natural menace into a national resource.

The scope of this subject in many directions, its urgency in some, and its opportunities for developments, together demand the determination of a definite Government policy. Not temporary expedients, but plans comprehending the immediate necessities and those of succeeding generations, especially for power, which is now the pressing necessity of this country as a whole and is going to become an acute problem for the territory within distris bution distance for electrical energy of the Colorado River.

The engineers' estimates tell us that the energy equivalent of a man-day can be produced at Boulder Canyon for 2 mills (0.2 cent). At a modern steam-electric plant located, for illustration, at Needles, Ariz., using coal or oil, the total cost of a man-day of energy would be a cent and a half. ,

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