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is placed in operation will be not less than the amount available under existing conditions of river development, it shall be the exclusive responsibility of the appropriate authority or authorities of said State to distribute available United States share of waters of the Rio Grande in such manner as will comply with said stipulation.
Mr. Selden. Thank you, Senator. We are pleased to have heard from you.
STATEMENT OF HON. 0. C. USHER, A REPRESENTATIVE
Mr. Fisher. Mr. Chairman, before you conclude for the record I want to state that as author of the bill as far as I am concerned—of course, I realize the committee will redraft this bill in a number of respects—let me say I am quite willing to accept the proposed amendment. I think it would be well to take into consideration the suggestion made by the Senator who just testified.
I want to make one other brief statement with particular reference to the testimony by Mr. Mills, and two or three others where reference was made to the estimated cost of the conservation storage.
As I recall, Colonel Hewitt developed that subject but, just to nail it down in the record, I have before me a letter from Colonel Hewitt dated August 12, after H.R. 8080 was introduced in which he answered certain questions I submitted to him, one of which was this:
What is the estimated United States share of the cost of the conservation, storage at Diablo?
The United States share of the cost of the conservation storage proposed at the Diablo site is estimated to amount to $12 million on the basis of the incremental method of allocation, with flood control a prime requisite in the project.
Mr. Kilgore. With respect to the proposed language of the amendment, I think there is no question but that everyone who is here has a common understanding of what is intended and I have no doubt but what the able members of the staff and the subcommittee, and their working with us that we will be able to arrive at a satisfactory answer.
Mr. Selden. Are there any further statements or questions?
If not, let me say again that we have enjoyed having you gentlemen with us here today and we appreciate the statements that you have made.
The meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 5:55 p.m., the committee adjourned.)
(The following statements were submitted for inclusion in the record:)
Statement Of Gerald D. Becker, City Attorney Of And For The City Of Eaole:
Serious doubt is entertained as to the existence of a parallel example, as a precedent, with respect to a U.S. boundary and treaty dam project of this nature—one having assigned to it the set of priority purposes specified by the terms of the basic treaty—upon which logically might be predicated repayment of construction expenditure whereby an existing, incorporated city of a State, heretofore, presently, and hereafter dependent upon the boundary of waterfor domestic and municipal purposes, would be required to pay for such waters by reason of the construction and existence of a Federal treaty dam within the source of its water supply.
The position of the incorporated city of Eagle Pass, Tex., therefore, is essentially this:
1. The practical need for including substantial U.S. conservation capacity at Amistad Dam■ is dictated by a combination of circumstances. The 1945 treaty between the United States and Mexico provides that there will be such storage capacity as is needed to conserve the maximum quantity- of the waters of the Rio Grande. The Government of Mexico can be expected to have conservation storage at Amistad. The agreement between the Mexican section and the U.S. section of the International Boundary and Water Commission provides for such storage. Thus, U.S. storage is founded upon entirely different reasons than those which would dictate conservation storage being included in Corps of Engineers or reclamation projects.
2. It is not contemplated that any additional land be put in irrigation within the city of Eagle Pass. The gain in conservation water will be slight, indeed; and to impose upon municipal inhabitants, any burden in the form of repayment of the conservation storage costs would be entirely inequitable. The benefit resulting from proposed conservation storage at Amistad Dam bears no ordinaryrelationship to the cost of the storage; hence it would not be economically feasible to assess that by cost on land under irrigation which land would gain very little in the way of increased water.
3. U.S. conservation storage at Amistad Dam, other than by virtue of the treaty obligation referred to above, appears mandatory if U.S. water users and diverters are to protect the position they now hold against an adverse set of circumstances which could result if Amistad were to be constructed to provide such conservation storage space for Mexico but none for the United States. Under the provisions of the treaty between the two countries, the division of water in storage is arrived at by a measurement of the water as to its tributary source in accordance with specified percentages of ownership of water by the respective countries, from certain named tributaries. This basic rule applies so long as the total conservation space in a given reservoir is not being used; and as a result one country may, for a period of time, be permitted to use the storage capacity belonging to the other country, in storing such measured water, so long as the excess storage does not deprive such other country of her own needed storage potential.
4. By operation of the treaty, when the total storage capacity of a given reservoir is reached, the ownership of the water therein would then revert to the two respective countries in a percentage fixed by the treaty, without distinction as to the sources of such water or who may have "owned" it prior to reservoir capacity having been reached. For practical purposes let it be imagined that Amistad Dam were constructed with conservation storage space for Mexico but none for the United States. Mexico could, as she wished, release her stored water from Amistad for recapture in the downstream storage capacity at Falcon Dam, thereby raising the total water storage at Falcon to the conservation iimitation of the reservoir; and this, by operation of the treaty, would result in the United States losing title to any water which might then be in storage in Falcon under U.S. ownership, if that amount of water exceeded the allowable U.S. storage at Falcon.
5. It is submitted that to require water users and diverters on the U.S. side to pay for conservation storage at Amistad would be to require such citizens of the United States to defray the cost of a treaty obligation of this country, which treaty obligation does not produce any material conservation benefit to such citizens but produces, on the other hand, serious consequences to them if there is no U.S. storage at Amistad Dam, by taking from them a water storage capacity and potential which they now have.
6. Historically and geographically, the city of Eagle Pass is situated on the U.S. bank of the Rio Grande by virtue of the availability of river water so vital to the existence of such municipality and others similarly situated (estimated total, approximately 500,000 inhabitants) below the Amistad site. Upon or subsequent to the construction of Amistad Dam, to require such a city to commence and continue to pay for use-priority water, so vitally needed for municipal and domestic purposes, would virtually penalize the municipality, and its inhabitants in turn, for there existing—a use penalty inequitable, impractical, and wholly without the intent of the basic authority: the treaty, itself.
7. Since, to date, the city of Eagle Pass at such location, upon the U.S. bank of the Rio Grande, in the main has enjoyed an adequate supply of municipal waters therefrom and has based the evolution, planning, and extensive cost of its water storage and distribution system upon the past and present free diversion of available water from the Rio Grande, it would not be consistent with experience or logic (nor with the intent of the treaty, as has been mentioned) to have the city's inhabitants pay for the flood control feature of the proposed Amistad Dam under the label or upon the basis of repayment for the storage features not needed by it or by its inhabitants.
It is our position that there should be no municipal repayment obligation with respect to the portion of the cost of Amistad allocated to conservation. The Amistad Dam project looms physically and legally distinct from the ordinary Bureau of Reclamation or Corps of Engineers project, as is hereinbefore elucidated.
Statement or C. I. Haven Of Edinburg, Tex., Manager And Engineer Of Hidalgo County Water Control And Improvement District No. 1
My name is C. I. Haven. I am manager of Hidalgo County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, post office, Edinburg, Tex. I am a graduate civil engineer of the University of Illinois. I moved to Hidalgo County, Tex., in September of 1920 and have resided there continuously since that time. I have been a farm operator and presently own open land and a citrus grove. I have been with the district as engineer and later as manager since January 1937.
The district's pumping plant is located on the Rio Grande at Penitas, Tex., about 60 river miles below Falcon Dam. The district furnishes water for domestic use and to irrigate 35,000 acres within its boundaries and pumps water from the river for other water districts and individuals to irrigate 55,000 additional acres. The district also furnishes municipal water from its canals to the city of Edinburg, Tex., with a population of 19,000.
The district will in October of this year pay off the last of the bonds issued to improve the canal system by installing concrete canals and underground pipelines. The audit value of the canal system is $3,500,000 and the replacement value at present day costs would be in excess of $5 million.
The people in our district feel that they do not want to oppose the construction, of Amistad Dam for humanitarian reasons but they also feel very strongly that they should not be called upon to pay for something that is a Federal responsibility under the treaty with Mexico. They are also opposed to any payment due to the fact that the falling water at the dam for generating electricity can be sold for enough money to pay the cost assessed against conservation storage, in a reasonable period of time.
In my present position as manager of the water district I am in close contact with many farm operators and know their economic condition is such that they cannot pay increased costs for water and continue to operate.
Statement Of Richard Wiesehan Of Mcallen, Tex., President Of The Board Of Directors Of Hidalgo County Water Control And Improvement District No. 1
My name is Richard Wiesehan. I am now and have been for the past 4 years president of the board of directors of Hidalgo County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1. I am also a resident owner and operator of Rio Grande Valley irrigated land in Hidalgo County, Tex.
In partnership with my brothers we own and operate approximately 900 acres of irrigated land. Farming operations began in 1925 by my father, now deceased. Our operation includes not only raising crops on irrigated land but also harvesting and packing vegetables for fresh market consumption. In our crop year of 1959 our expenditures for water and labor was in excess of $129,000, over $140 per irrigated acre.
In conversations with other landowners and farmers I find them all opposed to any repayment for conservation storage because the margin of profit has dwindled in recent years; increased labor and transportation costs are but two of the many items which have reduced margins of profit for farmers of irrigated land in this area. We do respectfully object to any increase in the cost of our irrigation water by reason of construction of Amistad Dam.
Statement Of Elton Key, Mission, Tex., A Director Of Hidalgo Cocnty Water Control And Improvement District No. 7
My name is Elton Key of Mission, Tex. I am a farmer in the western part ■of Hidalgo County, and a director of Hidalgo County Water Control and Improvement District No. 7. This small district irrigates about 19,000 acres of lands. It is successor to a private irrigation company, and its lands have been irrigated for about 45 years. All of the revenues of this district come directly from taxes and water charges levied on the farmers.
We farmers in the Rio Grande Valley are literally fighting for economic survival. I believe my own case is representative. I own some land, I rent some land which I farm as a tenant, and I care for some groves belonging to others on a contract basis. During the past several years, except immediately following the flood of late 1958, water has been in short supply. In 1957, for instance, I farmed most of my land as dry farmland. In that year, I planted 30 acres of tomatoes instead of my usual 130-140 acres because of the scarcity of water in the foreseeable future.
This land that I farm has been farmed as irrigated land for years. It was irrigated long before Falcon Dam was built. But the continuous impounding of the waters of the Rio Grande upstream, and the continuous expansion of ir* rigated acreage, has continuously diminshed the water supply available to the old irrigated tracts. This has reduced our revenues, but it has not reduced •our water district taxes or water charges. These have increased, because we liave had to improve our irrigation facilities to use the now scarce water supply more efficiently, and we now bear the considerable expense of a court allocation of the water available for irrigation.
These two factors, the scarcity of water and increasing costs, have put the farmer of the lower Rio Grande Valley in a financial squeeze. I am in debt, and I have been in debt for years. The same is true of everyone I know who is wholly dependent on agriculture for his livelihood. The economic pressures on us farmers have been increased by the price structure; growing costs have risen steadily, while the prices paid the farmer for vegetables and citrus fruits liave been almost uniformly poor.
Amistad Dam will not increase our water supply; in fact, it will create the threat of further expansion of the irrigated acreage upstream. Although we recognize the necessity for such a dam, we respectfully suggest that the dam should not be allowed to decrease our water supply, which is inadequate now, and its cost should not be borne by us.
We do not have the financial means to pay any more water charges. We certainly cannot survive with less water. Amistad Dam will not help us. We respectfully ask you that it be authorized in such a way that it will not Tiurt us.
Tstatement Of Rex Flanagan, Edinburg, Tex., President Of The Board Of Directors, Hidalgo County Water Control And Improvement District No. 15
My name is Rex Flanagan. I live near Edinburg, Tex. I am president of the board of directors of Hidalgo County Water Control and Improvement Districe No. 15.
I own 70 acres of irrigated land and operate 850 acres of irrigated land. Of this amount, 170 acres is comprised of citrus groves. The balance is used in the production of cotton, vegetables, and sorghum grains.
I represent 32 landowners residing in the following States: Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Illinois, and Nebraska.
All of this land is heavily bonded for roads, schools, and water delivery facilities. The land in the lower Rio Grande Valley comprises about 95 percent of the irrigated land that uses water from the Rio Grande River. I feel that Amistad Dam is necessary for flood control but do not feel that it should be used as a conservation storage dam, and if same is used for that I feel that the water should be reserved for the lands now under irrigation below said dam.
I also feel that if the United States and Mexico build the dam as a conservation storage dam that the cost of same should not be the responsibility of the people using the water but the responsibility of the two nations.
Statement Of E. E. Gibson, Edinbubg, Tex., Manager, Hidalgo County Water Control And Improvement District No. 15
My name is E. E. Gibson. I am manager of Hidalgo Comity Water Control and Improvement District No. 15 comprising 31,000 acres of irrigated land. This land is heavily bonded, in fact each acre of land is bonded for $120 per acre.
I feel that conservation storage in Amistad Dam will be such a negligible -amount that the district or our property owners should not be asked to help finance the $12 million, more or less, set aside for conservation storage in Amistad as we have no assurance that we will benefit by this water.
As the records show, each acre of land irrigated in the Rio Grande Valley uses approximately 2 acre-feet of water per acre to raise its crops, and anything that holds our water above will tend to cause us to lose water that we would otherwise get and badly need as we have over 700,000 acres in lower valley "under irrigation.
Statement Of Eldin Longwell, Edinbubg, Tex., A Director Of The Hidalgo County Water Control And Improvement District No. 15
My name is Eldin IiOngwell. I am a director of Hidalgo County Water Control and Improvement District No. 15. I am also a member of the board of the La Sara Independent School District, and I am on the board of directors •of the Texas Citrus Mutual, a citrus growers' organization comprised of approximately 2,000 members.
I own 240 acres of irrigated land. I farm 890 acres of irrigated land. Of this amount, 200 acres is in citrus groves. Of the land I farm, there are 35 owners residing in the following States: Texas, Missouri, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, California, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
All of this land is heavily bonded for roads, schools, and water delivery facilities. The land in the lower Rio Grande Valley comprises about 95 percent of the irrigated land that uses water from the Rio Grande River. I feel that Amistad Dam is necessary for flood control but do not feel that it should "be used as a conservation storage dam, and if same is used for that, I feel that the water should be reserved for the lands now under irrigation below said Idam.
I also feel that if the United States and Mexico build the dam as a conserTation storage dam that the cost of same should not be the responsibility of the people using the water, but the responsibility of the two nations.
.statement Of Mark Redford, Edcouch, Tex., General Manager, Hidalgo And Willacy Counties Water Control And Improvement District No. 1
My name is Mark Redford. I reside at Edcouch. in Hidalgo County, Tex. 1 am a landowner and also for the past 18 years have been manager of an irrigation district in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I have been actively engaged in farming and truck growing in the valley since 1926. Since 1954, I have "been general manager of Hidalgo and Willacy Counties Water Control and Improvement District No. 1, having its territory in the counties of Hidalgo and Willacy in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
This district has been in operation for 21 years, supplying water from the Rio Grande River for irrigation and domestic purposes on 69,100 acres of land within its boundaries, and supplying water for domestic and municipal needs to the city of Raymondville and the villages of LaSara and Lyford in Willacy County and the villages of Hargill and Monte Alto in Hidalgo County.
There are approximately 4,000 farm units in said district. This district has an investment of over $6 million in its plants and facilities paid and payable out of bond issues, of which there are $1,875,000 in bonds still outstanding. Of course, said district is absolutely dependent on the U.S. share of water from the Rio Grande for its supply and in many previous years the supply has been inadequate because of drought.
I am thoroughly familiar with the sentiment of the people within my district, based on a great deal of study and consideration which has been given to the proposal to construct a dam between Del Rio, Tex., and the point of discharge