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Section 1 of H. R. 6035 provides for Federal construction of the San Luis unit works. This unit is on the west side of the San Joaquin River Basin along the eastern flank of the Coast Range. The lands to be served are in western Merced, Fresno, and Kings Counties in a strip about 65 miles long and 13 miles wide with the central portion about 30 miles southwest of Fresno.
The primary purpose of the unit, which would be integrated both physically and financially with the overall Central Valley project, is the preservation and expansion of irrigation in the unit area through the importation of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Some domestic and municipal water also would be supplied. The San Luis Reservoir would meet an important local recreation need. Preservation, and propagation of fish and wildlife resources also would be a project purpose.
Currently there are more than 400,000 acres within the unit area developed for irrigation. These acres are served by pumping from ground water which is seriously being overdrawn and lowered so that in any 1 year only à portion of the developed acreage actually receives water. The artesian water table has for years been dropping at an alarming rate, and it is estimated that under present conditions only 148,000 acres ultimately could be sustained in irrigation. An imported water suply is necessary to maintain even the present agricultural economy. Great improvement to the economy would be experienced by importation of this larger water supply. Domestic and municipal water supplies are also deficient. Existing supplies for these purposes are of poor quality, and in the case of the municipality of Coalinga potable water must be imported by railroad tank cars. The plan proposed would alleviate the domestic and municipal water problems.
The general plan provides for the utilization of surplus flows from the Delta area which, when supplemented by ground water, would provide a full irrigation water supply for 440,000 acres out of a gross service area of about 500,000 acres. It is estimated that 1,126,000 acre-feet of water from the main San Luis Canal plus 540,000 acre-feet from fround water pumping would be required for unit purposes. All would be utilized for irrigation except 22,600 acre-feet and 17,400 acre-feet which would be used for, respectively, municipal and domestic farm uses.
The plan proposed would utilize off-season capacity of the existing Tracy pumping plant and Delta-Mendota Canal to deliver surplus Delta water to the proposed San Luis pumping plant forebay. From there the water would be pumped for storage into the proposed 1 million acre-foot capacity San Luis Reservoir and for later delivery to the lands to be served. (It may be noted, in addition, that our plans call for the release of water from San Luis Reservoir to meet part of the demands in the Delta-Mendota Canal area in critical dry years when shortages would be shared by all Central Valley project water users.) When possible during the irrigation season, water would be pumped directly into the proposed 104-mile-long San Luis Canal for delivery to the unit distribution system. At mile 76 on the San Luis Canal, the proposed Pleasant Valley pumping plant would lift water into the proposed Pleasant Valley Canal to serve some of the higher elevation lands at the southern end of the unit area. An electrical distribution system to serve unit pumps; channels, levees, and flood works to protect project features; and relift pumps on the high sides of the main canals would also be required unit works.
In addition to these major works, which are recommended for Federal construction, a distribution system, an adequate drainage system, and deep wells for ground water pumping would be required. The last of these three items is proposed for non-Federal construction. The first two are recommended for either non-Federal or Federal construction. Suitable arrangement for their accomplishment prior to initiation of construction will be necessary to assure the success of the overall unit.
Section 1 of H. R. 6035 also provides that “Construction of the San Luis unit shall not be commenced until the Secretary has secured, or has satisfactory assurances of his ability to secure, all rights to the use of water which are necessary to carry out the purposes of the unit and the terms and conditions of this act." In view of the uncertainties created by certain recent decisions of the California Supreme Court which are now before the United States Supreme Court for review, this is an eminently wise provision.
Sections 2 and 3 of H. R. 6035 deal with the making of an agreement between the State of California and the United States under which the San Luis unit works would be designed, constructed (either initially or later), and operated to permit their use by the State for delivering water to areas beyond the San
Luis unit service area. Under the agreement contemplated by the bill, the State, among other things, would also make available to the United States a proper share of the funds needed for construction of the enlarged works; would transfer to the Government such lands and interests as it owns and as are required for joint facilities; would pay either an appropriate share of the operation and maintenance costs of San Luis unit works constructed or designed to be constructed for joint use and of other Central Valley project works which are of service to it or would pay a service charge in connection therewith; would be entitled to have transferred to it title to the San Luis unit works after repayment of the Central Valley costs assigned to the unit is completed ; and would, if it takes title to the unit works or if their care, operation, and maintenance are transferred to it, also take over, in effect, the obligations of the United States with respect to water service.
Provision for such an agreement, the terms of which will necessarily have to be negotiated in detail, is satisfactory to this Department and will, it is believed, go a long way toward resolving potential conflicts of interest which earlier review of the planning report by the State revealed. The terms of H. R. 6035 with respect to the contents of such an agreement are preferable to those of H. R. 2452 which, in addition, has the disadvantage of providing no authority for construction of the Federal San Luis unit as such under any set of circumstances.
Section 4 of H. R. 6035 deals principally with the construction of a drainage system for the San Luis unit and provides for the use of the system by others. While the provisions of the first sentence of this section (p. 7, line 23, through p. 8, line 8) are adequate to serve the San Luis unit and would not be objected to by this Department, it should be pointed out that the State of California is contemplating a master drainage plan for the entire west side of the San Joaquin Valley. In order to permit better coordination of the San Luis project drainage needs with this plan, we recommend that consideration be given to broadening the scope of this sentence by substituting for that portion of it which begins with “to enter" at the end of line 3, page 8, and closes with line 8 of the same page, language along the following lines : "to construct, operate, and maintain and to participate with others in the construction, operation, and maintenance of drainage facilities to serve the general area of which the lands to be served by the San Luis unit are a part. No such construction or participation in construction which involves the expenditure of Federal funds shall be undertaken by the Secretary, however, until a contract or contracts conforming generally to the provisions of the Federal reclamation laws and providing, among other things, for the advance or repayment to the United States of its expenditures therefor shall have been entered into."
The above comments on and suggestions with respect to H. R. 6035 are equally applicable to H. R. 7295. The latter bill is substantially identical to H. R. 6035 but also includes a provision relating to the construction of works to serve lands in Alameda, San Benito, and Santa Clara Counties. While we recognize the probable merit of serving this area, our studies to date have not been sufficiently detailed to permit our recommending the inclusion at this time of the H. R. 7295 provisions in legislation. In addition, the State of California has been actively interested in developing works in this area as a part of its Feather River project.
As is indicated in the planning report, to which reference has been made above, our studies show that the unit is economically feasible and has a very favorable benefit-cost ratio. The present indicated cost of the major works is about $305 million, and we suggest that the blank in line 24, page 8, of the bill be filled in with the expression “$305 million (January 1957 prices).” Virtually all of these costs are reimbursable. All those that are would be returned within 50 years from the time the San Luis unit goes into operation. Any additional costs incurred for distribution systems would be covered by the usual 40-year repayment-type contract.
The data called for by Public Law 801, 84th Congress, are attached for your information.
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there would be no objection to the submission of this report to your committee. Sincerely yours,
ROGER ERNST, Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
Mr. ASPINALL. The Chair wishes to make the following statement:
The legislation before the subcommittee today would authorize construction of the San Luis unit of the Central Valley project, California. Hearings on the San Luis project were held in the 84th Congress, in May 1956. Those hearings were printed and remain a matter of record before the committee. Copies are before each member. Technical details with respect to the project were given the committee at these previous hearings and are in the printed record and it is my hope that it will not be necessary to repeat all the technical aspects of the project.
At the time of the previous hearings the Department of the Interior had not submitted its project report and recommendations to Congress and the Department representatives could make no recommendation with respect to construction. Problems existed relative to joint use of certain San Luis works by the Federal Government and the State of California.
It is my understanding that continuing negotiations between the State of California and the Department of the Interior have resulted in general agreement with respect to construction of the San Luis unit and joint use of certain features thereof.
The Department of the Interior submitted its project report to Congress in December 1956, and in June 1957 submitted a report on the legislation, favoring enactment of H. R. 6035. Since H. R. 6035 has the approval of the administration, I suggest that testimony be directed to this bill although all the San Luis bills are before the committee.
We have scheduled 3 days for the hearings on this legislation. It is my hope that we will finish with the Department and State of California representatives today, hear those witnesses favoring H. R. 6035 tomorrow, and those recommending amendments thereto
or in opposition on Friday.
Now, as we study this project, we must keep in mind that there are several problems in the Central Valley of California and in the whole State of California, which are affected by this legislation, and those of us who have any questions pertaining to them should see to it that the questions are asked in the proper place.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Sisk, for any statement or any request that he may make at this time.
STATEMENT OF HON. B. F. SISK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Sisk. Mr. Chairman, my statement this morning will be very brief and I would hope that at a later time I would have an opportunity to place in the record a more extensive statement.
I would simply like to say this morning, Mr. Chairman, that I deeply appreciate the committee and you, as Chairman, giving us the time for this hearing, and I wish to express that appreciation on my behalf as well as on behalf of the State of California.
Since our last hearing on San Luis in 1956, there has been within the State a great deal of work carried on, a great deal of interest and concern by State officials as well as other independent individuals in
the State, in an attempt to resolve such controversies as have heretofore existed.
It is our belief that in a large measure many of those controversies have been settled and that the general purposes between this bill and similar bills will now receive general agreement. There will be, of course, as has been suggested, certain amendments offered but certainly I do feel we are in much better position to appear before your committee, and again, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the time that has been given to us for these 3 days of hearings.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I conclude my present statement.
Mr. ASPINALL. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Hosmer.
STATEMENT OF HON. CRAIG HOSMER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. HOSMER. Mr. Chairman, as a preface to these additional hearings relating to the San Luis project, I believe a general statement regarding California's water problems, together with a comparison and evaluation of the Hosmer bill, the Sisk bill, and the Kern County concept embodied in the Hagen bill, is in order. I hope it will be valuable to the committee in its deliberations on this important subject.
In the summer of 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese navigator who discovered California, dampened his beard with water from the San Diego River. From that hour to today men in California have fought and fretted over water.
Settlers early learned that the rich treasure within California's earth could be unlocked only by water, and more water. First, it was the Franciscan padres who dug wells and built crude irrigation ditches and dams along San Diego River after the arrival here of Father Junipero Serra by land July 1, 1769.
Then, about 1800, the padres there directed construction by Indians of the more elaborate Old Mission Dam and aqueduct, the first irrigation system in the Far West. Other missions built similar systems. These provided examples in acreage irrigation for American and European settlers who came in the 1830's and 1840's.
From 1850 to 1870, the first two decades of American occupation, southern Californians formed water companies to dig deep wells and to divert water from streams through ditches.
In the northern and central parts of the State, water also was diverted from streams, or drawn from artesian flows. It also was lifted from streams by steam-driven pumps. The gold rush accelerated water project development. Mining ditches subsequently were utilized to convey irrigation water long after the miners had departed.
The need for storage dams grew, especially in southern California. Several important dams were constructed or begun in the 1800's. After 1900, the remainder of the State also built large reservoirs and irrigation and flood control units.
From crude earth dams and ditches to massive concrete reservoirs and aqueducts, the progress of California has been the progress of water development. The ever-swelling tides of immigration demanded a heavier flow. New, gigantic industries added to the clamor for still more water.
Los Angeles insured its future supply by completing the Owens River project in 1913, and extending it in 1940. That water is drawn from the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Los Angeles also organized the metropolitan district with 12 other southland cities in 1928 to get water from the Colorado. The district, in 1941, completed the 242-mile Colorado River adqueduct.
San Francisco developed water through a project on the Tuolumne River on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, Oakland developed its water on the Mokelumne River, also in the Sierras.
In the last 20 years, the Federal Government has joined local California communities in building water projects. The largest of these is the Central Valley project. It is designed to supply water for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, to improve navigation on the Sacramento River, and to maintain suitable water quality, control floods, and produce electric power.
A clear understanding of California's water puzzles calls for some understanding of her water rights laws which became more complex and protective as people, industry, and agriculture crowded to the streams and rivers.
Before California was ceded to the United States in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican War, the area was under Mexican law.
Under Mexico, the doctrine of riparian rights governed the use of water, subject to the right of the Mexican Government to make grants and concessions on public lands where there were no riparian owners.
According to the common definition, a riparian right is based on ownership of land contiguous to a surface or underground stream, a lake, or a pond. The riparian right exists without regard to the use of the water or priority of use. The riparian owner has the right to use as much water as may be required for reasonable and beneficial purposes on his land.
Pueblo and riparian rights carried over from the Mexican rule to Yankee reign.
From the gold rush, miners conceived the custom of recognizing water rights based on appropriation. This custom was incorporated into State law by the first legislature after California was admitted into the Union in 1850.
An appropriative right exists without regard to the continuity of land to the water and is based on the taking of possession of the water for a beneficial use. The first user acquires a right to continue the use over subsequent appropriators. Such rights are applicable to definite bodies of surface water and to all ground water. They depend on use and may be lost by nonuse.
A prescriptive water right results from taking more water than a person had a right to take for at least 5 years.
An overlying right is the right of the owner of lands above ground water to use such water for reasonable and beneficial purposes on the overlying land.
Mother Nature's peculiar design for California, with its extreme of wetness and dryness, has made it necessary to plan water development on a statewide basis.