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Mr. McCARTHY. No, I think, Senator, that the taxpayers of the city of San Diego might be able to raise the question of legality.
Senator HICKENLOOPER. Maybe the taxpayers of San Francisco could raise it, but I am questioning whether the taxpayers of San Diego, having allowed the project to proceed and having received the benefits, aren't they bound by it?
Senator McCARTHY. I think they are bound. This indicates the importance of entering into a valid legal contraet. There are a number of legal minds here, and we all differ as to what could happen. We have a contract that, apparently, is not legal and is not valid. Now, there is a question whether or not the taxpayers of San Diego could commence action to have that contract repudiated after the aqueduct is finished. It would be a question then of whether the city of San Diego would have to pay the contract price or whether they would pay on a quantum meruit basis, and we don't know what this will be worth a year or 2 or 5 years from now. I think it is tremendously important that this be referred to the proper committee, as I think the law anticipates, and have the House and Senate committees determine the legality of this contract and the wisdom of the provisions of the contract.
Senator DowNEY. Mr. Chairman, I would appreciate the permission of the chairman of the committee to give me not more than 3 or 4 minutes to express myself on some of the remarks that have been made here concerning apparently the city of San Diego, and I assume its citizens. Such expressions as "the cookies have been stolen out of the jar,” and “the door having been padlocked after the horse was stolen," and the general tenor of the remarks reflecting upon the financial integrity and ability of the citizens of the city of San Diego. Senator FERGUSON. It was purely hypothetical.
Senator DOWNEY. It will not sound hypothetical to the citizens of San Diego and southern California. Now, I wish to say this: When the national-defense program started there were close to 300,000 people in the county of San Diego, who then had a safe and secure water supply in reservoirs that had cost 20 or 30 million dollars to construct, that would have safeguarded them for many years to come. As the result of the influx of thousands of marines and soldiers and sailors and other persons connected with the war, that water supply was entirely exhausted, and the Navy Department and the other governmental agencies were allowed to buy that water at almost one-half of what it would cost the citizens of San Diego to replace it-one-half. I have no doubt that the Navy and governmental agencies saved a substantial part of this $15,000,000 at the cost of the taxpayers of San Diego by taking their vital water in that arid country at far less than it could be replaced by the city of San Diego.
Now, I do not know that all of the Senators are yet convinced that a tragic crisis impends in San Diego if this aqueduct is not constructed. I do not wonder that citizens 3,000 miles away may not understand the conditions there existing, but I can personally assure this committee from my own personal investigtaion that there is a tragic and terrible water shortage impending in San Diego, and if for any reason this aqueduct is not constructed, the cost to the Federal Government itself might run into tens of millions, and the cost to the people of southern California into hundreds of millions.
Senator McCARTHY. May I interrupt the Senator? I am very much interested in this last part of your statement. The only evidence we have before us, except your own statement, is that there is presently sufficient water in the various reservoirs, sufficient water so that, if you have average rainfall over the next 612 years that water will not be depleted for 2,000 days, about 6 years.
Now, you make the statement that the situation is critical. One of your men made the statement that San Diego would be a desert very shortly if we did not have this aqueduct completed, but your own figures, the figures submitted by your engineers to this committee indicate that you do have sufficient water to last, roughly, 6 years. Is that not correct? I do think that you or someone should bring to the attention of this committee what the actual situation is, and not merely by opinion statements such as the ones you have just given us, but the actual facts so that we can look them over. Don't you think so, Senator?
Senator DOWNEY. I regret that the Senator was compelled to leave the committee hearing before those facts were put in evidence. They were put in evidence after he left.
Let me state that I do not pretend to be a water engineer, nor have I all of the figures exactly in mind pertaining to this issue, but I can tell the Senator in a general way what they are.
There are two large reservoirs there that under the plan have to supply half the water to San Diego. That is, San Vicente and El Capitan. This last summer I had the good fortune to go out thereor the bad fortune-and look at those two reservoirs. One of them that was built to hold, I think, 35,000,000,000 gallons, after being there for 4 or 5 or 6 years, only has between 4 and 5 billion gallons in it. The water is scummy and muddy. The reservoir is only about 10 percent filled. In that particular reservoir, Senator, it is doubtful if there is 1 gallon of potable water.
The other reservoir has about 11,000,000,000 gallons in it, but only 7 to, 8 billion gallons of that is potable; because, as you get down to the last 10 or 15 or 20 percent of any of our western reservoirs there is so much silt, so much dirt, so much vegetation, that you have a considerable percentage, maybe varying from 10 to 20 percent, that is not considered potable.
So, these two great reservoirs, I say to the Senator from Wisconsin, must supply one-half of the water for the city of San Diego, and there are only 7 or 8 billion gallons of water available, which, according to one authority, will be entirely gone by August, and according to another by not later than December. Those two reservoirs must supply one-half the water supply of the Government and of the city of San Diego, which is about 50,000,000 gallons a day. I say that because the remainder of the reservoirs only have conveying facilities, pipe lines, enough to take care of the other one-half. Regardless of how much there might be in the other reservoirs, there are not enough transportation facilities to take it into San Diego.
As far as the other reservoirs are concerned, there is a large amount of the water that is not potable; there is a large amount of the water that will disappear by evaporation. Now, as to how extreme that evaporation may be, let me say to the distinguished chairman that we may fill the reservoirs out in the West for 7 or 8 years; meanwhile we
may not have had to use those because we had had some other water supply, and that total capacity would have disappeared in that time in evaporation. The evaporation is great-very great. The longer the water is there, the greater the evaporation; the wider the expanse of water surface and, of course, the greater the degree of heat, the greater the losses through evaporation.
Now, I can only say to the Senators that I will be very happy to present all of these figures in detail. I have been over them. The other one-half of the water system, aside from El Capitan and San Vicente Reservoirs, might supply the city of San Diego and the governmental agencies for perhaps as much as a year if distribution facilities were installed, but we would immediately, and the governmental agencies would immediately be in terrible difficulty by the middle of the summer of 1948 or December 1948. I am not going to intrude further upon the committee at this time with that discussion; I will prepare the figures for the Senator from Wisconsin and for the committee if they desire them.
Senator McCARTHY. May I interrupt you there, 'Senator? I do not know how the chairman feels after all these figures have been thrown out here, but I personally at this time have no evidence before me—and I have gone through this complete testimony-I can find nothing there that impresses me that the situation in San Diego from the water standpoint is very critical.
Now let me make this clear—and I am sure the other gentlemen of the committee feel the same way—I do not think any of us intend to reflect on the people of San Diego or of San Diego County, or any of the people of your State. I have spent considerable time in San Diego. I like the people. But I do not think we are concerned with that. We are concerned with the sole question of whether or not the Navy had the right to spend $14,000,000 on this project in peacetime. That is the question with which we are concerned, and I say personally, under the present state of the evidence, I can see no emergency existing there. If you have that evidence, I for one would very much like to have it.
The CHAIRMAN. I am sure that no member of the committee intends to reflect on the good people of San Diego by reference to cookie jars or stolen horses.
Figures have been submitted by different witnesses showing the amount of water the reservoirs are claimed to contain. I think each member of the committee can examine those figures and make his own determination as to how long he thinks that water would last the city of San Diego, in the light of the testimony and the statistics which have been presented. I am sure that no member of the committee feels that more water would not be desirable, if not absolutely necessary to the welfare of the city, and I appreciate the efforts of the senior Senator from California to support this great city in its contentions, and to work for its welfare.
Are there other questions by the committee !
Senator HICKENLOOPER. I would like to ask Senator Downey a question. I happen to know from long association that Senator Downey is a lawyer, and a good one.
Senator DOWNEY. Thank you, Senator.
Senator HICKENLOOPER. I mean that sincerely. I just want to ask the Senator, don't you think—and I assure the Senator this is no
reflection on the integrity of any community in the keeping of a contract, and I think that was more or less a matter of assumption than a legal premise, perhaps—don't you think that in any event the matter of agreement of any magnitude at all should be, just as a matter of ordinary good practice and for the protection and understanding of the parties, reduced to writing—the specifications clearly set out! I believe the Senator will agree with that statement.
Senator DOWNEY. I will agree that that is generally true. And I will go further than that and say that in this particular case I think it is unfortunate that there was not some clearer memorandum evidencing the fact that the parties had gotten together.
Senator HICKENLOOPER. Wouldn't you agree that is is a very vital question in any contractual relationship, as to the authority of the parties and the possibility of avoidance, by perfectly legal means, as there are means of avoiding or means of refusing to continue the terms of a contract—wouldn't you agree that those papers should be carefully examined to see exactly what the clear implications of the terms of the contract are? That is without reflection on either side. The Government should be bound by a clear-cut, definite contract. The city of San Diego should be a party to a clear-cut, definite contract on its part, and we should thoroughly understand whether or not the Government can find a means of discontinuing its share of the contract, or whether the city of San Diego might find means or opportunity of discontinuing its share of the contract, and that should be a very important part of our considerations in proposing this agreement.
Senator Downey. I am wholly in agreement with what the Senator has said, and, Mr. Chairman, if you will only give me 2 or 3 minutes more I wish to say this to the distinguished Senator from Wisconsin. He says there is no evidence here showing the critical lack of water potentially for San Diego. Let me say to him that the results of investigations extending over months and years are here before him upon the integrity of the War Department—the Army engineers, whose integrity and ability are universally recognized. The Bureau of Reclamation, the Navy, and the other agencies concerned, all of them without one single exception, recite that there is a critical and desperate shortage there. These men are men who have studied engineering and irrigation for years, and have studied this particular problem, and I want to say to the chairman that if any issue is going to be made of this, I would like to have the right to bring the engineers in here from the Army and the Navy, and the men who have made this investigation, and show how critical the shortage is.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair will say there, as the Chair has said two or three times during this hearing, that there are no charges against the city of San Diego. What this committee has the duty of determining is whether the Navy Department acted legally in undertaking the construction of this aqueduct and in making the contract with the city of San Diego, and whether the Navy acted in an efficient, economical manner and in the public interest. The committee has no quarrel with the city of San Diego.
Senator DowNEY. I know that, and I want to say I deeply apprecite the courtesy of the chairman to me and to my witnesses, and the
courtesy of all the committee members, and if you will just allow me two or three minutes more I will conclude.
I want to say that when this desperate shortage developed, due to the fact that the governmental agencies were using one-half of San Diego's water supply, we cast around for the best thing to do, and I found that the total obligations, the total capital investment against the city of San Diego, including the obligation it would have to take on to pay the metropolitan district, this $15,000,000, and the other items—their existing plant and evertything—would run to about $80,000,000, and I just did not see how, in view of the crushing financial burdens for other purposes upon San Diego because of the warand I am referring now to schools, police protection, and that sort of thing—I did not see how San Diego could possibly carry this additional load; and since this Government had gotten San Diego's water for about one-half what it would cost to replace it, and since the Navy had $300,000,000 worth of installations there, involving hundreds of ships and hundreds of thousands of men, I thought it was up to the Federal Government, which was primarily carrying the burden of the war, to help carry this item. San Diego has to carry $70,000,000 or $80,000,000 in this.
What is the Federal Government doing? It is subsidizing us to the extent of interest on about $15,000,000 of the total investment. And, gentlemen, I want to say to you that if any miscarriage by nature, such as an earthquake or anything else, should destroy that aqueduct, the cost to the Federal Government to relieve its losses that would be occasioned by that might run into the tens of millions.
I want to say, Mr. Chairman, that I think the city of San Diego has borne a heavy burden-borne it very happily and with dignity and integrity—and I can assure all of the committee that in my opinion, if San Diego enters into any contract that contract would be carried out.
Senator HICKEN LOOPER Mr. Chairman, I would just like to observe this passing thought that runs through my mind—and there is no hostility in the question—I am just wondering if there would be any objection on the part of the citizenry of San Diego if the Navy pulled its installations out of there, and the military just stopped maintaining their establishments?
Senator DOWNEY. I think it would be a great relief to the citizens of San Diego if they could be restored to what they were 5 years ago. At that time it was one of the most beautiful, attractive cities in the United States. It now has 20,000 unemployed, a tremendous educational problem, a tremendous police problem. It is true that individual citizens have made considerable money as retail merchants, but on the whole, I think the city of San Diego has been hurt almost beyond redemption by the tremendous flood of war business there.
Senator THYE. I just want to make this one comment, that I am very much surprised that San Diego and its people are so different from any other community that I am acquainted with in the United States. I just want to make that observation.
Senator DowNEY. I understand, of course, what the Senator means by that, but