University of California Berkeley
FT LIB PI
Sidney T. Harding
A LIFE IN WESTERN WATER DEVELOPMENT
Edited by Gerald J. Oiefer
Statewide Water Resources Center, University of California
in cooperation with the
Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, Berkeley
- K V
S. T. Harding 1949
All uses of this manuscript are covered by an
agreement between the Regents of the University
of California and Sidney T. Harding, dated U
December 1967. The manuscript is thereby made
available for research purposes. All literary
rights in the manuscript, including the right
to publish, are reserved to the Bancroft Library
of the University of California at Berkeley. No
part of the manuscript may be quoted for publi
cation without the written permission of the
Director of the Bancroft Library of the University
of California at Berkeley.
The following interview is one of a series on "The Oral
History of California Water Resources Development" sponsored by
the Water Resources Center of the University of California and
conducted at the Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses of the Uni
versity during 1965, 1966, and 1967. In setting up the project,
the nature and scope of the work was described as follows:
The basic purpose of this program will be to
document historical developments in California s water
resources by means of tape recorded interviews with men
who have played a prominent role in this field. Much of
the published material on California s water resources
describes engineering and economic studies of specific
water projects. Little, however, is devoted to the
concepts, evolution of plans, and areas of authority
exercised by various interested Federal, State and local
For example, there is little reference material
with regard to the transition of administration of the
Central Valley Project from the State of California to
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1930 s.
Similarly, the negotiations leading to contracts for
water between the State of California and the Metropol
itan Water District of Southern California are not
documented. Yet, both of these agreements had profound
effects on water resources policy in California. Re
corded interviews can piece together these important
links in California s water resources history. The
resulting material will provide a valuable fund of infor
mation for researchers in the years to come.
The Berkeley project is under the faculty direction of
J.W. Johnson, Director, Hydraulics Engineering Laboratory;
Professor, Hydraulic Engineering, and David K. Todd, Ph.D.,
Professor of Civil Engineering. Gerald J. Giefer, Librarian,
Water Resources Center Archives, is responsible for the inter
viewing and processing of the manuscripts which are being
handled in co-operation with the Regional Oral History Office of
the Bancroft Library. Final manuscripts are available for
research at the Water Resources Center, UCIA; Department of
Special Collections, Library, UCIA; Department of Special
Collections, Library, UC Davis; Water Resources Center Archives,
UC Berkeley; The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley; and the Regional
Oral History Office, UC Berkeley.
Included in the series at this date are Harvey 0. Banks,
Sam Leedom, and Sidney T. Harding. The researcher is also
referred to oral history interviews on California water develop
ment done previously by the Regional Oral History Office with
Frank Adams, Louis Bartlett, Stephen Downey, William Durbrow,
Herbert Jones, Charles Lambert, and J. Rupert Mason.
Willa Klug Baum, Head
Regional Oral History Office
15 September 1967
Regional Oral History Office
Room 486 The Bancroft Library
University of California
AUTHOR S PREFACE
This autobiography and oral history has grown like Topsy.
Started at the request of the Water Resources Center Archives
of the University of California for tape recorded interviews covering
my experience in various water matters, it has expanded into a hist
ory prepared by myself covering the procedures relating to water in
which I have participated.
It is difficult to appraise the value of such a record. To me,
its preparation has been the source of much interest and enjoyment.
It has been prepared in my recent, less active years when I had time
to review my records and check dates and other factual items. To
others, its value may be generally limited to those who may be
interested in the background of current procedures in the same areas
that I have covered.
The interest in this history will diminish in time and at some
point in the future the record here may not be worth preserving. Even
present interest may not justify inclusion of some of the matters in
The Water Resources Center Archives has assisted in and encour
aged the preparation of this material. The function of the Archives
is to collect and preserve Material relating to the history of water
development in the West, primarily in California. It is performing
this function effectively. In any such effort there is invariably
involved the question of what is worth preserving. Too literal an
interpretation can result in the Archives becoming a museum rather
than a reference library. Too strict a selection of the material to
be preserved can result in the loss of essential records. The
answers to such questions are already needed in relation to the past
125 years of California history. It is safe to assume that this
problem will become magnified in the next 100 years, when the volume
of available material may encroach on the space available for its
preservation. The problems involved in the indexing of these mater
ials so that items may be retrieved will increase as the volume
of these materials increases.
I made four taped interviews prior to starting this history.
In my opinion, these interviews were reasonably well organized
and representative of the results that can be expected from such
interviews. They had the usual tendency to skip from one subject
to another without definite breaks. The following history is better
organized in regard to placing all discussion of each topic in one
place. A comparison of this extended history with the taped inter
views may indicate the relative merits of these two forms of approach.
Probably few whose record it is desired to preserve will have the time
to prepare such a detailed history.
Among the incentives which influenced me in undertaking the
preparation of this material was the current tendency of economists
and political scientists to review our past water history and to be
critical of the actions taken. Water development in California has
not been free from mistakes, but results secured under conditions
at the time should not be judged by the standards of today. In my
opinion, th ability and integrity of those who made past decisions
on our water problems was fully equal to that of the current academic
reviewers. It is a source of irritation to me to read & supposedly
scholarly article on. our water development written by someone who
has never been in a position where he had to make the decisions on
which such developments depend. The use of hindsight to describe
how much better it would have been if different decisions had been
made lacks consideration of the conditions at the time the decisions
The present authors in this field are generally too young to
have been active in the 1920 s or, for many of them in the 1930 s.
It would be difficult for some commentators to place themselves in
the position of responsibility for the decisions in these earlier
years. Actions then had to be based on what could be accomplished
with the resources then available. The current (1967) surplus of
public funds usable for almost any purpose with limited responsibility
for their repayment is a recent development.
The early progress with the finances then available established
the development on which present projects are based. If progress
had been delayed until development could be made under present day
standards we would not have developed the economy required to
finance the present programs. To criticize our early water programs
is similar to contending that we should not have built the two lane
highways which have been superseded by the freeways. Without the
traffic developed by the early highways, we would not have needed
or been able to finance the freeways.
My period of active participation in water matters in California
began in 1912 and has continued to date (1967)- This period has seen
the gradual extension of the participation of the state in the control
of the use of its water supplies, and the deterioration of the economic
standards for federal projects of both the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An interesting story could
be written tracing the history of each of these developments. A
detailed history would require extensive search for the contributing
legislation and administrative actions relating to this record.
The results of these changes could be demonstrated from a review
of the highlights of their history.
Looking backward, I do not think that I could have been engaged
in more interesting work during the past 55 years than my activities
in water matters. Like all work which produces visible results,
there is a material interest in the progress being made. To an
unusual extent water controversies in arid areas bring out different
attitudes and actions by its participants than most other lines of
activity. Working in water matters is a sure way to secure an
education in human nature that it would be difficult to secure in
other lines of work. I am very grateful that my life span and
activities fell into this field during these past years.
No comments on my experience in water matterswould be complete
without an expression of my high regard for the pioneers who started
water development in California on its way. The early project
leaders worked under difficult conditions and had to be rugged
individualists to survive. At the same time the early workers in
federal and state investigations included some very high type
individuals. I came into this work in California in time to get to
know men like C.E. Grunsky, Wm. Ham, Ball and Marston Manson f
early California engineer sj and O.K. Gilbert and I.C. Russell
of the U.S.G.8. I also had a chance to meet such men as L.A. Nares of
the Kings River and Jastro of the Kern County Land Co. Among the
older attorneys with whom I worked or worked against were E.J.
McCutcheon, James Peck, and Edward Treadwell, all interesting indi
viduals of diverse personalities. My work for the state engineer
during the period when much of the policies of the state s parti
cipation in the development of its water supply were being established
gave me a part in these developments. Ky work for ton. F. McClure and
Edward Pfyatt while each was state engineer gave me a high opinion
of their integrity and ability.
This history is lengthy. In addition, the procedures in
which I participated on Kings River from 1938 to 1952 were numerous.
Its own history became so lengthy that it has been separated from
these accounts of other matters. It is always difficult to decide
where to stop in preparing such a record. Many minor procedures have
been omitted. Perhaps some of those that have been included should
also have been omitted.
There are numerous references in this history to items in my
bibliographical file. These items are numbered. My bibliographical
file contains the various reports, books and articles I have written.
There are over three hundred items in it. This file will be given to
the Water Resources Center Archives and should be retained intact for
use in connection with this history. By references to the bibliographical
file in the history some duplication is avoided. The numbering system
used for the items in the bibliographical file is generally by date of
preparation. Shorter materials in some cases have been grouped with
several having the same reference number.
Many thanks are due and gladly given to Prof. J.W. Johnson,
Gerald Giefer, and the Water Resources Center Archives staff for
encouragement and assistance in the preparation of this record.
S. T. Harding
Professor of Irrigation, Emeritus
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Statistical Record 1
Marriage and Descendants 7
Work in 1911-191^ 8
Teaching at the University of California 10
Reminiscences of My Engineering Practice 12
Lassen County Investigation 1915 lk
Minidoka Project 1915 15
Work in 1916 20
Testimony for Crocker-Huffman L & W Co. 20
Irrigation Pumping Articles 21
Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District 21
Truckee River Adjudication 22
Pumping From Lake Tahoe 27
Carson River Adjudication 29
Washoe Project 30
Interstate Compact Negotiations 32
Truckee -Carson I.D. 1959-62 34
The Feather River in 1918 36
Work for the State 1920-30 ^2
Investigation in Kern County 1919-20 kQ
Tulare County Investigations 1920-22 53
San Jacinto River Investigations 1920-22 57
Proposed Prison Sites in the San Jacinto Area 62
Mono Basin 63
California Water Storage Districts 72
Kern River Water Storage District 78
Buena Vista Water Storage District 87
San Joaquin River Water Storage District 97
Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District 111
Kings River Water Conservation District 117
The Herminghaus Case 122
Bulletin 11 - Ground Water Resources of the
Southern San Joaquin Valley 136
Irrigation in the Sierra Foothill Areas
Nevada Irrigation District
Irrigation Service of Utica Mining Co. 152
General Comments on Foothill Areas 154
The Montague Water Conservation District 156
Association of Western State Engineers l6l
Twentieth Annual Convention, Resolution No. 8 l66
Land Classification in the San Joaquin Valley 1929-31 173
Bulletin 29 - San Joaquin River Basin 178
Permissible Costs for Irrigation Water 178
Gin Chow Case for Santa Barbara }.8l
Union Sugar Co. Case 185
The State Land Settlement Colonies 186
The Walker Case 195
Cleary s Final Report of June 30, 1931 197
Results after 1931 198
General Comments 200
Proposed Sutter Irrigation District 205
Oakdale Irrigation District 208
Berkeley Olive Association 211
Federal Land Bank Reports in 1933 220
Ventura Co., Orange Co., Santa Clara Valley W.C.D.,
Hollister and San Juan Valleys and Morgan Hill
Gilroy Area 221
Work for the State of Oregon 223
Walla Walla River Case 223
Klamath Lake Case 225
Central Valley Project, Miscellaneous Matters 227
Possible Surplus Water from Kings River 228
C.V.P. Report for U.S.B.R. in 1930 230
C.V.P. after 1935, Procedural Reports 232
The Barrows C.V.P. Studies 23k
Hearing on C.V.P. in July 19^k 237
Testimony on S912-80th Cong. 1st Sess. on Acreage
The Hassle over the C.V.P.
Report in 1936 for National Water Resources Committee on
Missouri River down to and including the Platte
Work in Arizona 251
Work for Verde Irrigation District 251
Work for Buckeye Irrigation Co.
Gate Storage at Horseshoe Dam 259
Work for the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District 260
Work for Safford Municipal Utilities 26l
Work for the Madere Irrigation District 262
Working with Barnes 263
Reports for Madera Irrigation District 266
Groundvater from the San Joaquin River 270
Other Matters 27 1
General Comments 27^
Work on Utah Lake 277
East Bay Water Co. vs. Mclaughlin 285
Water Conservation Conference, Chicago Sept. 7-8, 19^ 293
Report on Wagon Wheel Gap Reservoir on Rio Grande in Colorado 301
State Operation of the C.V.P. 307
Work for the Palo Verde Irrigation District 313
Work for Monterey County Flood Control and Water Conservation
Bulletin 52 and Continuing Ground Water Investigations 32k
Storage Investigations 325
Nacimiento Project 328
Relations with San Luis Obispo County 331
Acquirement of Nacimiento Reservoir Lends 333
Nacimiento Water Right 33k
General Investigations of Water Resources of Monterey
Salt Water Intrusion
Pajaro River Area 351
Conclusion of My Work 352
National Water Policy, 1950 EUC Report 355
The 19^9 ASCE Committee 358
The EJC Report of June 1950 360
Comments on Report of President s Commission 367
Scheidenhelm Committee 369
Actions in 1951 by EJC 370
ASCE Actions on EJC Report 371
Activities After 1951 373
Bureau of Reclamation Reorganization in 1953 373
October 1953 Meeting with McKay 375
Resources for the Future Conference 377
The Second Hoover Commission Report 377
Report of President s Advisory Committee Dec. 12, 1965 380
The EJC Report - Hindsight 381
Work for the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District,
Agreement Between Lower Tule River Irrigation District and
Crocket and Genibogy 386
Work for the Vista Irrigation District 391
Work on Bechtels 1 1955 Report on the Feather River Project
Work for San Bernardino Valley Conservation District
Work for Alameda County Water District
State Bulletin 8l
Storage on Arroyo Del Valle kl2
Work Relating to the San Francisco Water Department klh-
The South Bay Aqueduct kl.6
Report on Supplemental Water Supplies for North Santa Clara
Valley and Related Service in San Benito and Santa Cruz
Bulletin 58 - Northeastern Counties Investigations ^31
Consulting Board on Dam at Bidwell Bar Site ^38
Agreement of May l6, 1960 between USER and the State D.W.R.
Relating to Division of Water in the Delta
Work for the State Reclamation Board
Work on Cache Creek Settling Basin
Work on Colusa Weir Settling Basin
Work for Denver Water Department, 1953-55
Report of Consulting Board on Drainability of Lands in the
Missouri-Souris Project in North Dakota
Report on Drainability of Lands in the Oahe Unit of Missouri
River Basin Project
Work in Western Kansas in 1912
Work in Owens Valley for Los Angeles
Report for Carlsbad Municipal Water District
Work for Suburban Water Systems
Economic Report on Cawelo Water District
Appraisal of Value of Water Rights of Boulder Creek Division
of Citizens Utilities Co. of California
"Water in California"
Enclosed Lakes of the Great Basin 500
Evaporation from Water Surfaces 50^
The Pacific Southwest Water Plan 513
Professor Harding sets forth the circumstances which prompted
this memoir in the Author s Preface. Mrs. Baum, in the Preface,
explains how the work fits into a larger project concerned with
detailing the history of water development in the State. It
remains to me as editor merely to say that it has been a privilege
to work with Professor Harding.
Gerald Giefer, Librarian
Water Resources Center Archives
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SIDNEY T. HARDING
This autobiography has been prepared for the purpose of recording
the history of various items relating to water developments in vhich
I have participated. It also includes the usual statistical detail
such as date of birth etc .
In response to the request of the Water Resources Center Archives
of the University of California at Berkeley in 196^, I made several
recordings relating to different items in the history of water in Cali
fornia. These were satisfactory for their intended purpose but lacked
continuity. In this autobiography I have correlated these recordings
into this more complete record of my participation in events relating
to water resources during the nearly 60 years of my activity in this
These comments were not prepared for publication. The matters
covered may have usefulness when placed on record, where they may be
accessible to anyone who may have need for the background history of
any of the events discussed. Such occasional need does not justify
general publication. The Water Resources Center Archives represents
a publicly available depository in which such records may be preserved
for any such future needs.
Born October 20, 1883 in Brook^ie^Mass. Son of Henry J.
Harding and Alice Twichell Harding. Both parents were descendants of
New Englanders extending back prior to the Revolutionary War. The
national background on both sides was English.
The family home in 1883 was in Wichita, Kansas. My mother had
returned to the home of her parents for my birth and returned to
Wichita when I was about six weeks old. While born in Massachusetts,
I have little claim to "being an actual New Englander.
I had an older sister Adaline who was born in Wichita in i860.
She married Clive C. Whittaker and lived in Kansas until the 1950s.
She died in Phoenix, Arizona in 1958.
Wichita in 1883 was a rough and rapidly growing town. It had one
of the wildest of the western booms during the 1880s. My father was
employed in the office of the city engineer. When the boom "busted"
in the depression of the early 1890s, the family, of necessity, moved
to Dallas, Texas, where ray father worked for the city engineer. In
189^- a move was made to Tyler, Texas where father became superintend
ent of the privately owned water system. In 1898 the family returned
to Wichita. The family home there had been retained during the Texas
migration. Father again worked for the city engineer and, shortly
after the return, became city engineer, holding the position until his
Schooling through one year of high school was secured in Texas.
In Wichita after 2 years in the Wichita High School, I transfered to
the preparatory school at Fair-mount College, then a small Congregational
school, n^w Wichita State University. After graduating from the pre
paratory school in 1901, I remained for one year of college at Fairmount.
In the fall of 1902 I went to Ann Arbor and became a student in
Civil Engineering at the University of Michigan. As a result of the
one year s college work at Fairmount, I was able to secure credit
for nearly a year s units at Michigan. By carrying extra units I was
able to graduate in three years with the class of 1905-
Mother became ill during the simmer of 1903 and I remained with
her until her death, on October 3, 1903. This resulted in my enrolling
about 3 weeks late in the fall semester at Ann Arbor. I was ab]_: to
make up the missed work.
In the spring of 1905 my funds ran out and I went to work for
Prof. Gardner S. Williams. I was carrying 19 units and worked after
noons and Saturdays on Prof. Williams engineering practice. This
included computations for the tables in Williams and Hazen s Hydraulic
Tables. Whenever I have used these tables over the years, it has
reminded me of this work.
I continued to work for Prof. Williams after graduation, mainly
on surveys for a hydro-electric plant on the Huron River near Ann
Arbor. While a student I was paid 25 cents per hour. On my gradua
tion this was raised to 30 cents and later to 35 cents. I lived com
fortably on this renumeration and saved money. Costs were similarly
low at that time.
In November 1905 I went to work for the U.S. Lake Survey with
headquarters in Detroit. This is the branch of the U.S. Army Engineers
having charge of navigation on the Great Lakes. This work included
harbor surveys, hydrology of the Great Lakes and, during the season
of 1906, special surveys at Niagara Falls. In 1906 there was much
public concern regarding the effect of the diversions for power on
the scenic qualities of Niagara Falls. The work there included deter
minations of the division of the flow of Niagara River between the
American and Canadian Falls, the rate of recession of the Horseshoe
Falls and surveys of Niagara River to Lftke Ontario. This was interes
ting work. Also Niagara Falls was an interesting place for a young
man to spend the summer.
By the spring of 1907, I thought that I needed more varied
experience and I became a draftsman for the Russel Wheel and Foundry
Co. in Detroit. This firm fabricated structural steel. Detroit in
the summer is hot and sticky and vorking over a drafting board was not
attractive to me after having spent ray previous years mainly out doors.
Fortunately I received an offer of appointment from the then U.S.
Reclamation Service for work on the Yakima Project in Washington. I
could see that structural drafting had no future for me and I quickly
The offer at Yakima said it was for a hydraulic computer and
draftsman. When I arrived and reported I was told that the only
vacancy was as a cost keeper which was dignified by the title of
cost engineer. I was a long ways from home and, of necessity,
accepted. Cost keeping on construction work was not generally
regarded then as professional engineering. I learned later they
had tried several individuals with varying background on this work
without good results. As a last resort they asked for an engineer
but disguised the real intent by calling the work by a different title.
I remained as cost engineer for nearly a year. While I under
took this work with reluctance I secured more benefit from it than I
have secured in an equal period of time in any work I have done. The
construction program included all types of work. I made monthly trips
over all jobs, prepared comparative cost reports and took the progress
In 1908 I was transferred to construction, first, briefly on the
repairs of the Clealum Dam. In September 1908 I was made resident
engineer on the concrete lining of the Tieton Main Canal. This was
a canyon side location. The lining was precast on the canyon floor and
transported to place in the canal. 7or the steep slopes and limited
working space available this design was successful. This canal has
been in operation for over 50 years and is still giving good service.
We had never heard of slump, water-cement ratios or other modern terms.
We used Taylor and Thompson s book on concrete and designed our mixes
on the curves it recommended. The resulting mixes were tested by their
workability in the V thick walls of the concrete shapes.
This concrete lining had been let under contract. Progress had
not been satisfactory and the contract was suspended. The work was
being handled by force account. After the takeover, the contractors
superintendent was employed by the Reclamation Service and placed in
charge of the construction operations, and the resident engineer was in
charge of the inspection and the compliance with the specifications. The
only trouble with this form of organization was that both reported to the
same project engineer. Specifications which increased the cost without
being essential to the quality of the product were difficult to enforce.
A good quality of work was secured even though such specifications as
those relating to variations in size of the shapes were not as rigidly
enforced as they had been under the contract.
During the winter of 1908-09, when the concrete lining in the
Canyon Division of the project was shut down, I was transferred to
office work and canal location in the Valley Division. I went back to
the Canyon for the 1909 season and remained until the completion of the
Tieton Main Canal late that year.
Feeling the urge to try other work, I resigned from the Bureau
of Reclamation and looked for other opportunities. I secured a pros
pective position as resident engineer of a Carey Act project in Utah,
scheduled to start construction in the spring of 1910. This gave me time
to revisit Wichita and Detroit. When I returned to Salt Lake City early
in 1910, the project there was unable to complete its financing and other
work had to be found.
Father had registered for the drawing for homesteads in the opening
of the Uintah Indian Reservation in Eastern Utah in 1905. He drew a low
number and had homesteaded near Roosevelt. I bought land there in 1908
and 1909 in anticipation of the construction of the Moffatt Railroad
through the Uintah Basin. This railroad has never been built. I later
sold part of this land and part was eventually allowed to g < for taxes.
I retained some of this land until 19^, when I deeded it to my children.
It is leased for oil but is strictly wildcat. I learned some useful
lessons about land speculation from this experience.
The spring of 1910 was the end of the active promotion of new Carey
Act irrigation projects, as the market for their bonds collapsed with
the failure of the leading Chicago bond house, Trowbridge-Niver, which
had been active in this field. I could not find work in Utah and I went
on to Denver. I kept busy for the next year on whatever work I could
find in Colorado. This work included subdivisions, surveying, land
office practice, canal location in Routt County, land classification and
power site investigations for the U.S. Geological Survey, winter railroad
construction in southern Colorado (23 below zero), and inspection of the
Point of Rocks Dam of the North Sterling Irrigation District in north
In May 1911 I was appointed an irrigation expert in the Irrigation
Investigation of the then Office of Experiment Stationsof the U.S. Depart
ment of Agriculture and placed in charge of this work in Montana and
North Dakota. An office was established in Helena and work on a general
report on irrigation in Montana was begun. This report was published
in 1915 as Bulletin 103 of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station
entitled "Irrigation Development in Montana."
MARRIAGE AND DESCENDANTS
While working in Detroit in 1907, I had met Miss Evelyn Rosso of
Mt. Clemens, Michigan. While visiting there in the winter of 1909-10
we became engaged. Due to the uncertainties of my employment at this time
our marriage was deferred until 1911. Miss Rosso was teaching school in
Highland Park, Detroit. As soon as I had secured a more permanent posi
tion in Montana and had gotten started in the work there, I returned to
Mt. Clemens. Our marriage took place June 28, 1911. Our first home
was in Helena, Montana.
Helen June Harding was born in Berkeley on June 29, 1912. Henry
Howard Harding was born there on June 12, 19l and Stephen T. Harding
on Aug. 8, 1919 Helen Harding is now Helen Harding Bretnor. She is
a research librarian on the staff of the Bancroft Library of the
University of California at Berkeley.
Henry Harding married Ruth Muirhead on July 10, 1939- They have
three daughters; Barbara, born March 21, 19^-1* Marcia, born June 17,
1 9*4-2 and Sarah born November 9, 19^-5- Barbara graduated from USC in
1963 and married George McMeem Dec. 27, 196^. Marcia married Hugh Ellis
on Sept. 8, 1963 and has a daughter Jennifer. Sarah will be a Junior
at USC in Sept. 1965. Barbara has been employed in the advertising
research department of the Los Angeles Times. They live in Pasadena
where her husband is in the school department. Marcia lives in Berkeley.
Her husband works in the Radiation Laboratory on the hill.
Henry Harding has been in the lumber business in Orick and Arcata.
He lives in Eureka.
The Harding Family, June 1941
Left to right: daughter Helen; Sidney; wife Evelyn; daughter-in-law
(Henry s wife) Ruth; granddaughter Barbara Jane; son Henry; son Stephen.
Stephen T. Harding is with the Harron, Rickard and McCone Co. in San
Francisco. This company handles machine tools. He was half way
through UCLA when he volunteered for service. After assignment to the
Presidio in San Francisco, he attended officers training at Fort Sill,
Okla., became a second lieutenant in the field artillery and saw over
2 years service in the Pacific combat areas. He came out of the ser
vice a captain, remained in the reserve and is now a lieutenant colonel
in command of his local reserve unit. He lives in El Cerrito.
Stephen married Joyce Openshaw on June 6, 19^2 while in the ser
vice at the Presidio. Stephen D. Harding was born on May 21, 19^3
and Jane Harding on July 23, 19^- Stephen D. Harding is now a student
at Hayward State College. Jane will be a senior in the El Cerrito High
School in September 1965.
WORK 1911 TO 1914
At the end of the field season of 1911* I vas transferred to
Berkeley, Calif, to work on a survey of the irrigation resources of
California being made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cooperation
with the California State Conservation Commission. In this work I pre
pared the inventory of the water supply of the state and the portion of
the report relating to Central California. The results were published
in Bulletin 25^ of the Office of Experiment Stations and in the reports
of the state commission.
This investigation was the first comprehensive effort to prepare
an inventory of the water and land resources of the state. It found
about the same total area of irrigable land that has been found in later
surveys, but the portion of this acreage which it was estimated could
be irrigated was only about one-half that now planned. In 1912 the
height of dams considered feasible was very much less than that of the
dams nov being built. The costs then considered to be feasible for canal
systems precluded planning the conveyance of water from areas of origin
to areas of surplus land. For the date at which it was made, this report
represents a sound inventory of the resources which it covered. That its
results have been superseded in the fifty years after its completion,
illustrates the futility of trying to foresee the changes that may occur
over such time periods. Todays conditions had not been conceived in
1912; it may be that the conditions fifty years from now will be equally
different from these of the present.
On completion of the work in California in 1912 I was transferred
to Kansas to undertake a survey of irrigation opportunities in the
western part of the state. Following the field work on this assignment,
I was transferred to Washington, D.C. for the winter of 1912-13. While
there the Kansas report was completed and published as S.D. 1021, 62d Cong.
3d Sess. During this winter I also prepared naterial for inclusion in
Bulletin no. 126 by my chief, Samuel Fortier, entitled "Concrete Lining
as Applied to Irrigation Canals" published in 191^.
In the spring of 1913 I was assigned to Billings, Montana to
undertake experiments on the effect of the use of different amounts of
water on crop yields. Fields under farm conditions were secured,
different quantities of water used and the resulting yields measured.
I also made measurements of the flow in various types of irrigation chan
nels in different parts of Montana to determine the value of their friction
factor "n" Kuttefs formula. At the end of this field season I was
again transferred to Berkeley for the winter where I worked on my
reports and other matters until May, 191^
While in Berkeley during the winter of 1913-1^ an opening on
the faculty of the University of California became available in its then
Irrigation Department. Mr. A.E. Chandler, who with B.A. Etcheverry
comprised this department, resigned to leave at the end of the 1913-lk
academic year. I was appointed Assistant Prof, of Irrigation to begin
teaching in August
TEACHING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
I was s. member of the faculty of the University cf California
at Berkeley in active teaching from 191k to 19^9, advancing from
assistant professor in 19lk to associate professor in 1918 and professor
in 1925. In 19M-U5 and 19U5-U6, following the retirement of Prof.
Derleth, I was Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department. I retired
on June 30, 19^-9* after reaching the minimum retirement age of 65 in
October 19^8. My teaching extended continuously over a period of 35
years. My title was Professor of Irrigation.
The courses I taught included Irrigation Practice, Water Rights
and Organizations and Operation and Maintenance of Irrigation Systems.
In addition during World War I, I helped out in the instruction in survey
ing and in World War II in courses in engineering economics, general
water supply and sewage engineering.
I wrote the text book for use in my irrigation courses. "Operation
and Maintenance of Irrigation Systems" was published in 191? by the
McGraw-Hill Book Co. "Water Rights for Irrigation" was published by the
Stanford University Press in 1935- Vol.1 of Irrigation Practice and
Engineering 1 by B.A. Etcheverry was used as the text in the courses in
irrigation practice until 1933. A second edition of Vol.1 by Etcheverry
and Harding was then published by McGraw-Hill. I did nearly all of the
writing of this revision.
These texts continued to .be used in the courses I taught until my
retirement in 19^-9- They have not been revised and are all now out of
A condition of my original appointment on the university faculty
was that I vould be able to do consulting work in addition to my teaching.
During the teaching terms such outside work was to be subject to the
approval of the chairman of the Irrigation Department in order that it
would not interfere with my university duties. At other times I was
free from university obligations. Throughout my teaching term I parti
cipated in outside engineering work in the general fields of irrigation
such as: water supply, water requirements, water rights, and project
organization. This practice included work in all of the western states
with a greater extent of it in California.
Additional detail regarding the Irrigation Department and my
part in it are contained in the history of the Department which I
recently prepared at the request of the Water Resources Archives.
When California passed its registration act for Civil Engineers
in 1925.> I was among the early applicants and secured Registration no.
Ilk- which I still have. In later years I secured registration in
Arizona, Utah and Colorado when the work I was doing in these states
made such registration advisable.
I joined the American Society of Civil Engineers as a junior
member in 1905 and progressed through the various grades to the present
Fellow. I was a director from District 11 from 19^9 to 1951. I also served
two terms as a member of the Executive Committee of the Irrigation
Division including being its chairman.
When the association of Western State Engineers was organized in
1928 I was appointed one of the two Associate members for California by
State Engineer Hyatt and continued such membership for about 25 years.
I attended the meeting of the National Reclamation Association in
Boise in 1933 and have continued to be a member since. I have attended
all but a few of its annual conventions.
I have participated in the activities of the California Irrigation
Districts Association since 19lU. At the meeting in Fresno in April
196^ I was given one of the Association Certificates of Honor for service
to the association.
Additional comments on the larger items of this consulting practice
are included in the later portions of this autobiography. These relate
mainly to the assignments where my participation enables me to make
comments that may be useful to anyone seeking the history of these local
REMINISCENCES OF MY ENGINEERING PRACTICE
As previously stated I was active in consulting work in the
general irrigation "field during my teaching and after my retirement from
the University. My experience prior to joining the University faculty
has already been covered.
The remaining portion of this autobiography is mainly a history of
the work with which I have been connected in my consulting engineering
practice. It has been prepared primarily as a history of water develop
ments of which I have had direct knowledge during the last 50 years.
While my engineering work has extended over 60 years, the more responsible
portion had its beginning when I became a faculty member at the University
of California in 191^.
The rest of this report represents reminscences relating to con
ditions and events during the period covered. The emphasis is on these
events rather than on my part in them. Its purpose is to make
available the record of these matters as I participated in them and
as I had the opportunity to know those who directed the developments
that have been made in this period.
The larger part of these reminiscences relate to California
matters but they are not limited to this state. Matters in which I
participated in other states are included. My own experience has
been limited to the western portion of continental United States with
some activities in matters relating to national water policies.
A generally chronological arrangement has been used. Events
have been discussed in the time sequence in which I have followed them
through to the end of my connection with it, in order that the results
may be more easily followed.
No strict rules were set to control what would be included. The
purpose has been to preserve information which might not be recorded
elsewhere and to present points of view that might be overlooked by
I have no thesis to support or image to create. As nearly as
I have been able, my accounts of events are as accurate and impartial
as I can make them. The record presented is from my own participation
and, is factually correct to the best of my knowledge. I do not claim
that I have been active in these matters, many of them controversial,
for so many years without acquiring opinions of my own or prejudices
against some individuals and policies. I have tried to subordinate
any personal bias and to distinguish between statements of record and
performance from my individual views of the individuals involved or
LASSEN COUNTY INVESTIGATION 1915
In 1915 Lessen County made a cooperative agreement with the U.S.
Reclamation Service for an investigation of its water resources and
their development. Work was begun on this work. Garfield Stubblefield
handled the water supply and I handled the land classification. When
Lassen County did not meet its share of the costs the work was suspended.
This work has been long forgotten. It is discussed briefly in
the 15th Annual Report of the U.S.R.S. for 1915-16. Only two points
are worth recording here. Stubblefield and I ran a fly line from
what is now Frenchman Reservoir in Sierra Valley to make a
rough estimate of the cost of diverting Last Chance Creek through Bfcck-
with Pass to Long Valley tributary to Honey Lake. It could be done
but at a cost probably greater than its value. At that time Sierra
Valley had a well developed agricultural economy based on the use of
its unregulated stream flow. It has continued this economy without
showing sufficient interest in securing additional stored water to
purchase the use of Frenchman storage. The State s project is now
being justified as recreation.
The second item, largely of personal interest to me, was my first
acquaintance with Eagle Lake. The lake was relatively high in 1915
and had recently submerged trees around its southern shore. This
was the beginning of my interest in Eagle Lake. In 19l6 I made
reports for the State Water Commission on applications then pending
in this area. Later I made ray own observations on Eagle Lake extending
to the present time. These results are included in my report on "Recent
Variations in the Water Supply of the Western Great Basin" published
in 1965 by the Water Resources Center of the University of California.
MINIDOKA PROJECT 1915
The Minidoka Project of the U.S. Reclamation Service serves
lands on both sides of the Snake River below American Falls. It
was one of the earlier U.S.R.S. projects and was operating when the
Reclamation Extension Act was passed in 191^.
On the north side of the river around Acequia was a considerable
area of blow sand which had been included in the project. The
settlers were having difficulty handling these lands and were using
7 to 9 acre feet per acre per year irrigating them.
The Washington D.C. direction of the U.S.R.S. could not under
stand why any land should need to use such large amounts of water.
A provision was included in the 191^ Extension Act requiring operation
and maintenance charges to be on an acre foot basis instead of an
acreage basis. It was thought in Washington that putting such
charges on a quantity basis would result in greater care in the use
of water and the reduction of waste.
When the 1915 and M rates were set on the U.S.R.S. projects,
difficulties arose where there were wide variations in the soils
within the projects. If a uniform charge per acre foot was used the
resulting costs to sandy lands of large water use would be more than
the settlers could meet and the better lands of smaller use and generally
greater return would secure their water under favorable terms.
To meet these conditions some projects adopted a sliding scale
with the price for the first acre foot per acre set high enough to
return the major part of the necessary income and additional water
placed at lower rates.. In some cases the rates were raised for
quantities of use considered to represent waste. This type of rate
enabled the lands requiring more water because of their texture to secure
the water they required at a rate they could afford to pay.
The 1915 and M rate on the North Side Minidoka Project was set at
60 cents for the first acre foot per acre and 5 cents for all additional
water. This is a gravity system and the total costs were relatively low.
Even this rate resulted in the sandy lands paying about 50$ more than the
best lands .
Difficulties in settler relations in Montana had resulted in the
appointment of I.D. O Donnell, a successful farmer and manager near
Billings as Supervisor of Irrigation for the Montana project of the U.S.R.S.
His success there resulted in his being given the same position for all
U.S.R.S. projects. In 1915 the situation on the Minidoka project came to
his attention and he asked that the U.S.D.A. arrange to have me make a
study on how much water the sandy lands there really needed. I had known
O Donnell in my work for the U.S.D.A. near Billings in 1913 and 191*1 and
had made experiments on the use of water on his farm. I had just finished
the Lassen Co. work and was available. I went to Idaho and spent six
weeks irrigating these sandy lands, measuring their use of water and
taking soil moisture samples to see how much water the soils could retain.
The results were included in a report to the cooperating parties.
These soils consist of about 5 feet of light sand over a coarser
heavier sand. It was found that only about U inches depth of water
could be retained from an irrigation regardless of the depth applied.
Well prepared land could be irrigated without using over k inches depth
of irrigation. Any additional water applied percolated to the ground
More convincing to the land owners than the results of my/ soil
moisture samples was the effect on the alfalfa. In July this crop would
begin to wilt on the 12th day after the last irrigation regardless of the
depth of water that had been applied. By measuring the depth of irrigation
on the different checks I could show the farmer that the heavy applications
did not carry the crop any longer than the smaller ones.
As a result of these investigations in 1915> the rates in 1916 were placed
on a zone basis. Three zones were used, the minimum charge in each being
75 cents per acre foot, for which 1, 3 and 6 acre feet per acre respectively
were supplied in each zone. For water in excess of these minimum amounts
a uniform rate of 15 cents per acre-foot was charged. These minimum
deliveries were intentionally made somewhat less than the requirements under
good practice in each zone.
In connection with this work I also visited the Umatilla Project in
Oregon which was having serious trouble with its sandy lands. Some of
the Umatilla lands required irrigation at 5 or 6 day intervals. The area
of this project was later reduced to eliminate the lands which could not
be farmed profitably.
In 1915 alfalfa was the only crop that could be grown on the blow
sands around Acequia. It was necessary to keep these soils continually
moist until the crop reached a stage where it could control the blowing.
Rye would be sown and the alfalfa planted in the stubble. Even at best
seedings would be lost and levelling would be required. Once having
secured a stand, it was necessary to leave it in as long as reasonable
yields could be obtained. These lands were productive of good yields once
a stand was secured.
In 1919 there was controversy between the land owners in the different
zones regarding the operation of the project. The local irrigation
district had taken over the operation of the project. The demands of the
sandy lands at the upper end of the project had taken so much of the supply
that deliveries to the lower end were inadequate. Litigation had been
started to break the zoning system. I was asked to investigate the situa
tion to see if some way could be found to avoid this internal controversy.
I spent a couple of weeks on the project, talked to both sides and finally
got them into a meeting where they agreed their trouble had been a break
down in operation and was not the fault of the zoning. It was agreed that
excess deliveries to the upper lands would be restricted until base service
had been made to the lower lands. The litigation was dropped.
Over the years I have visited this area several times. Time has
accomplished a marked change in the blow sands of 1915- They have been
used for annual row crops with good yields. Enough humus has been built
up to overcome the soil blowing. The area round Acequia now has the
usual appearance of a prosperous farming area.
As a result of this experience with these sandy lands I have always
had an interest in experience elsewhere with similar soils. Some
such areas overcome their tendency to blow; some do not. The Umatilla
Project, as mentioned, included some lands that had to be abandoned.
Some Columbia River areas near Pasco have not been successful. Some
sandy lands on the Sunnyside Project have improved. Fernley Bench on
the Newlands Project has not changed materially.
I have not been able to find a test which could be applied to sandy
land in advance of its irrigation which would determine whether it will
blow or not when levelled for irrigation. Some indication can be secured
from the way the soil may have drifted around its native vegetation.
Apparently the dividing line between enough fines to bind the soil and a
deficiency is too indefinite to be s nown by a mechanical analysis of the
soil. Grain texture may be a factor.
The problem of the irrigation of blow sands has been diminishing
since 1915- Present projects are too costly to inclxide lands of large
water requirement even if they are productive. Only vhere deep percola
tion losses can be recovered should such lands be served.
The effort to secure improvement in the use of water by placing the
operation and maintenance charges on an acre-foot basis in the 191^-
Extension Act was not, in my opinion, a success. Costs of and M on
the then Reclamation Service projects were generally in the order of $1
per acre per year. The cost per acre-foot of the water received was
much less than the cost of the labor required to apply it to the land
even though going rates for irrigators then vere about $^0 per month and
found. (Found means board and room). I was offered seasonal employment
at this rate in 1913 by one of the land owners near Billings on whose
farm I was conducting irrigation experiments for the U.S.D.A. The farmers
could not see economy in using additional attention to the water during
the irrigations or in spending money for improved land levelling under
the then conditions.
Since 191^ the costs of water and of labor and land preparation
have all increased. It is still necessary to compare the costs of saving
water against the costs of accomplishing the saving. The greater factors
in securing improved irrigation practice and reduction in the amount of
water used, have been and are, the better yields obtained with more
uniform irrigations and the prevention of damage to the land from over
irrigation and the resulting need -for drainage.
WORK IN 1916
My work in 1916 did not include the start of any major undertakings .
TESTIMONY FOR THE CROCKER HUFFMAN L&W CO.
I was an expert witness in a damage claim case against the Crocker
Huffman Land and Water Co., in 1916 testifying for the company. This
case involved the loss of an orchard as a result of high ground water.
This was claimed to have been caused by seepage from an adjacent canal
of long usage. Their irrigated area above the canal had recently been
increased and its percolation loss had been more than the natural drainage
could remove. The jury gave the plaintiff a substantial award which was
later reversed on appeal.
James Peck was the attorney for the company. This case was a test
for several other similar claims that would be made if it was successful.
It was expected that the plaintiff s neighbors would be his supporting
witnesses. To meet this situation Peck sent one of his assistants into
the area as a phonograph salesman incognito. He called on the neighbors,
demonstrated his wares, made a few sales and got into general conversation
with them. Among the subjects discussed was the pending suit against the
company. When these neighbors appeared as witnesses and found the salesman
participating in the trial and ready to cross- examine them on their pre
vious statements to him, their testimony was much less helpful to the
A peg model of the ground water elevations in the area involved had
been made. This was used in the trial. After covering my general results
Peck asked me a hypothetical question which included the main facts in the
case. It took him 15 minutes to ask this question. It ended by asking my
conclusion on vhat had caused the high water table and why I had reached
this conclusion. I took a minute or less to answer his direct question
and then took ^5 minutes to explain the why, using the peg model to
demonstrate the conditions. The opposing attorney made efforts to
stop my arguing the case from the witness stand, but the judge permitted
me to proceed when I stated I had not completed my answer to the preceding
The Crocker Huffman system was the predecessor of the present Merced
Irrigation District. The District later bought the public utility system,
constructed Exchequer reservoir and extended the irrigated area.
IRRIGATION PUMPING ARTICLES
The Journal of Electricity Power and Gas was a weekly engineering
magazine published in San Francisco covering the field of its title.
Recognizing the growing interest in irrigation pumping the editor,
Arthur Halloran, in 1916 asked me to edit a section on this subject.
I tackled the job. I was expected -to fill two pages. I had never
realized that weeks went so fast and that it took so much material to
fill two pages. We did pretty well for a few months and then stopped
the regular department by mutual consent.
I was able to secure a number of good articles from those active
in this field but had to prepare much of the material myself. I have
all of these articles bound in a volume which is included in my bibli
ography file. At least I learned a lot from this experience.
SUNNYSIDE VALLEY IRRIGATION DISTRICT
In 1917 the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District asked me to make a
study of the water requirements of the lands in this district. I spent
6 veeks there in June and July. This district was the successor to a
private canal company which had been acquired by the U.S. Reclamation
Service. The canal was extended and improved and additional water
provided by storage. The lands that had been served had different
classes of water rights. The water to which these lands were entitled
involved their needs for beneficial use.
I spent my time there irrigating lands of different texture and
topography. My report discussed the soils which I considered had
different water requirements and their reasonable needs. The results
were used in their operation and maintenance rates.
In later years the water requirements of the lands in this district
became the cause of action in litigation which became Ickes T&. Fox,
300 U.S. 82 (1937). Secretary of the Interior Ickes had tried to charge
$1,000,000 of the cost of additional storage for the Kittitas Unit to
the Sunnyside unit based on his findings of their contract rights under
the old canal company contracts. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the
extent of these rights based on beneficial use was a matter for state
determination and that the Reclamation Service was only the conveyor of
the water which the land owners owned. I did not testify in this case
although both sides made use of my results.
If I had testified in this case my sympathies would have been with
the District. Any testimony I would have given would have been based
on the results of my work on the project. It is my understanding that
the attorney for the District had the case on a contingency basis and
avoided incurring any avoidable costs.
TRUCKEE RIVER ADJUDICATION
In 1917 I was retained to prepare the technical testimony on the
water requirements of the lands receiving water from the Truckee River.
This case had been brought by the U.S. to adjudicate these water rights
in order to determine the remaining water supply available under the
priority of the Truckee -Carson (now Newlands) Project. I was retained
by the U.S.
This began work relating to the project which continued intermittently
until 1962. It included this adjudication, similar work on the Carson
River, and later work for the Truckee Carson Irrigation District in the
negotiations relating to the attempt to formulate a compact between
California and Nevada, relating to the interstate division of these waters.
This whole story is related here.
In the summer of 1917 I made a soil survey of the lands of the defen
dants served from the Truckee River. In this I was assisted by E.P.
Osgood, an engineer of the Reclamation Service. This began an association
with Osgood on field work and in general interest in the enclosed lakes
of the Great Basin which lasted until his death in 1962. Osgood was a
unique personality, a dissenter from many of the accepted common opinions
but a loyal friend and tireless worker. Working with him was an experience
to be remembered.
In the work on the Truckee River we secured the use of lands on which
we handled the irrigation in order to have our own direct results on their
water requirements. Osgood handled the irrigation under my general
programming. We irrigated some land in the Experiment Farm of the Uni
versity of Nevada one year and secured alfalfa yields larger than they
had secured under their program. We had agreed to reimburse the University
for any reduction in yield that we might cause but were not able to collect
for the excess. To get the types of soil we desired we irrigated some
lands on the farm of the Nevada State Hospital, east of Reno. We secured
good results where we were able to avoid too much cooperation by some of
All of the results of this work were used in preparing a water re
quirement classification of the lands having Truckee River rights based
on the soil texture. The testimony regarding the extent of the right of
each land owner was based on this classification. The decree in this
case recognized differences in the water requirement based on soils
although the amounts desired were larger than those I had recommended.
Overall the decree represented about a ten per cent reduction from
the past average practice.
The testimony regarding the water requirements- of the lands in the
Truckee-Carson Irrigation District was presented by D.C. Henny, Super
vising Engineering of the Reclamation Service who had knowledge o^ the
project during much of its^history.
The defendants in this case were represented ty several different
attorneys. Among them was Patrick McCarran later U.S. Senator. His
family had a ranch in the Truckee River Canyon above Wadsworth. In
McCarran s cross examination of my testimony I found that I knew more
about his ranch than he did. Another attorney, Sardis Summerfield,who
had prepared for the case by reading reports on irrigation and getting
acquainted with technical terms which he then asked me to define. I
enjoyed his cross examination. When he asked me what evapo- transpiration
of the lands involved was, I replied that this term did not have a
then recognized single meaning but that if he would define the meaning
he was using I would be glad to apply it to these lands. All present
enjoyed his efforts to define a term he did not understand himself.
After a lengthy trial the court issued a "Temporary Restraining
Order" or temporary decree on Feb. 13, 1926. The U.S. had recommended and
the court agreed that the decree should be put into effect on a tentative
basis so that any defects that might be developed in its operation could
be more readily corrected. Harry Dukes was appointed water master and
successfully administered the decree until his death in 1938. Later
when Boca Reservoir was constucted provisions relating to its use were
included in the decree by stipulation. The final decree is dated Sept.
The tentative Truckee River decree is one of the earlier decrees in
which an effort was made to base the extent of beneficial use on the
needs of the different soil types. On the projects the lands were
divided between bottom and bench areas with different allowances to each.
In the Truckee Meadows the decrees were to each land owner with the
amounts adjusted generally in proportion to my water requirement
The Truckee River decree defined the rights in terms of acre feet
per acre. This practice had been used in the adjudications made in
Oregon under their water code adopted in 1909- Earlier decrees had
usually been in terms of the rate of diversion with or without a limita
tion on the length of the irrigation season. Typical of earlier decrees
were those in M <ntana which were in terms of a miners inch per acre all
lands included. In 1925 I was chairman of a committee of the Irrigation
Division of the A.S.C.E. which assembled results on the terms used to
define the extent of irrigation rights in adjudications. The committee
prepared a report which was published in Vol.90, Trans. A.S.C.E. p.107^
(1927). Like usual committees the chairman did almost all of the work.
The use of the present water codes in nearly all of the western
states has reduced the need for general adjudications of all rights on
each stream. New rights acquired under the permit and license system of
such codes are defined at the time their permit terms are issued. To make the
administration of streams having both old rights acquired before the adoption
of such codes and new code rights effective it was necessary to define the
old rights. Such adjudications were frequent in the period from 1910 to 1925.
The Truckee River decree is also one of the first ones in which the
U.S. Department of Justice asserted the claim that the U.S. could withdraw
unappropriated water, similar to its withdrawal of public land for federal
purposes. The decree did not define the basis on which the finding for the
Truckee Canal was based. There was no difference in the amount of the U.S.
claim under its withdrawal theory or under its proof under state law. This
was my introduction to this federal claim which has continued to date with
much concern to the holders of rights acquired under state law. It is
still unsettled. This is a larger subject than can be adequately discussed
I was also retained to prepare the testimony on water measurements
for the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation on the lower Truckee River. Some
land was being irrigated by the Indians and there were additional irrigable
lands in the Reservation. The decree defined the Indian right in agree
ment with my testimony on the requirements of this area. The Indian Service
made no claim in this case that the Indian had rights to have water continue
to reach and maintain Pyramid Lake for fish or recreational purposes. The
lake is within the reservation and under the control of the Indians. Such
claims have been asserted recently in the compact negotiations. It will be
interesting to see if the U.S. is bound by a decree of the federal court.
Questions relating to the nature of the water rights of the Indians on
Reservations are still active and not finally resolved.
The rights decreed to the Indians in the Truckee River have a pri
ority of 1859> the date the reservation was created. These rights are
limited to defined amounts of use. The decree stated the extent of
the total right for all of the irrigable land considered to be serve-
able from the Truckee River but restricts the use in any year to the
same rate of use for the area actually irrigated. This decree is also
limited to use of these lands by the Indian and ceases when and if
these lands nay be transferred to others if the lands are released from
the Indians and disposed of to others.
There was an early canal which diverted from the Little Truckee
River to Sierra Valley. This was not included in the Truckee River
Adjudication. In discussions regarding its inclusion, among the U.S.
sta^f in 1917, it was decided that it had been out of use long enough
to represent abandonment and it was not made a defendant. In later
negotiated procedures a right to this diversion has been recognized.
PUMPING FROM LAKE TAHOE
The Truckee River decree includes the operation of the outlet
gates at Lake Tahoe. This had been the subject of an earlier stipulated
decree. This earlier decree was included in the Truckee River decree.
It provides for the joint operation of Lake Tahoe ^or the maintenance of
flow for the power plants along the Truckee River (Floriston rates) and
the fluctuation of Lake Tahoe within a 6 foot range above its rim.
Efforts were made by the U.S. to negotiate a larger control of the fluctu
ation of Lake Tahoe in 1918 and 1919 by the negotiation of flowage ease
ments vith the riparian owners around the lake. A few such easements were
secured but their extent was too small to justify an attempt to condemn
The area of Lake Tahoe is relatively large in relation to its
inflow. In periods of deficient runoff the inflow may be less than
the evaporation and the lake may fall below its rim. This has occurred
within the period of record on the lake. In 192U, 1929, and 193^ pumping
from the lake to maintain flow in the Truckee River was permitted by the
riparian owners on the lake. In 1931 the lake fell below its rim and
Nevada interest sought to secure permission to pump again.
A meeting was called in San Francisco on July 21, 1931 to consider
this situation. Governors Rolph of California and Balzar of Nevada
jointly presided. No agreement on pumping was reached and there was no
pumping in 1931- There has been no pumping since 193^ although the lake
has lowered to or below its rim since 193^. With the present extent of
development around Lake Tahoe the mechanics of securing the consent of
the large number of parties involved make any future pumping improbable.
When efforts to pump were being made in 1931, Governor Rolph
appointed Major A.M. Barton as his representative. Barton was the mana
ger of the S^.ate Reclamation Board. He was not familiar with Tahoe
conditions at that time and asked me to advise him. I sat in on the
meetings leading up to the one on July 21. This meeting was held at the
Palace Hotel with the two governors at an elevated table. Governor Balzar
sat on the left flanked by his advisors. Governor Rolph sat on the right
with Barton at his right and myself at Barton s right. When t a question
would be raised from the floor Rolph would turn to Barton for an answer
and Barton would turn to me. I would supply the backgound vhich Barton
would relay to Rolph. While this process was slow, we succeeded in
helping Rolph avoid making any inappropriate statements. Attorney
General U.S. Webb participated from the audience and carried much of
California s case. It was an interesting experience.
CARSON RIVER ADJUDICATION
In 1927 I was asked to prepare testimony for the U.S. on the water
requirements of users from the Carson River for use in the case of U.S.
vs Alpine Land and Reservoir Co. This was a general adjudication suit
which had been filed on May 11, 1925. The users in the Carson Valley
had been constructing reservoirs on the upper drainage area. It was
thought that the total storage might reduce the inflow to Lahontan
Reservoir and deplete the water supply of the Newlands Project.
I undertook this work. It included preparations for testifying
on the water requirements of the Newlands Project as well as on the
lands of the defendants. I made a soil classification of the irrigated
areas. I testified in 1929 on the water requirements of the Project.
The field work in the Upper Carson Valley was done mainly in 1930. I
testified on the water requirements of the lands of defendants in 1937.
A proposed decree was issued in 1951- To date there has been no final
decision in this case.
The Newlands Project uses surplus water to irrigate areas in the
former Carson Sink and Lake for pasturage. This soil is very heavy and
feed production in relation to the water used is small. The landowners
operate these areas as a community pasture. Costs are low. In testify
ing on the needs of the Project in the Carson River adjudication I
declined to testify on the water requirements for these pastures as a
beneficial use. Such testimony was presented by other witnesses. The
irrigation of these pasture lands represents a desirable use of water
that would otherwise be evaporated. I did not consider that a claim
should be made ^or a priority for such irrigation that could prevent
the irrigation o* crop lands of greater productivity.
In the Carson River case the U.S. made the same claims regarding
the right of the U.S. to withdraw water from appropriation that it had
made in the Truckee Riv-?r case. Copies of the U.S. briefs came to the
attention of interests in Alpine Co., Calif. This U.S. claim resulted
in opposition to the proposed decree by California interes-ts and to
date has prevented securing a final decree. It is now Uo years since
the complaint in this case was filed with no final results as yet.
This delay is adverse to everyone s interest. It is my opinion that a
final decree could have been secured in this case within a reasonable
period of time if the procedure had not been used to make an attempt to
secure a decision favorable to the theory of federal control over unappro
My direct work on the Carson River adjudication ended vith tr
completion of my testimony.
In an effort to find a project to make additional use of the water
supply of the Truckee and Carson Rivers, the Bureau of Reclamation devel
oped a plan called the Washoe Project. A report was completed (H..D.181,
8Uth Cong. 1st Sess.) and such a project was authorized in 19??; ; . : ubli.
Law 858, 8kth Cong. Chap. 809-2d Sess. 3*1-97. This authorization net
provided that repayment of irrigation charges for construction for lands
in excess of lo acres for any owner shall be subject to payment of in
terest. For lands of any owner of less than l6o acres, the usual inter
est free terms of the Reclamation act are to apply. This method of
meeting the excess land coatroversy is intermediate between the no
delivery to excess lands and the complete waiver of the excess land
limitations that had. b^n made in some other projects.
I had no direct part in matters relating to the report on the
Washoe Project. It has been a factor in my wor.;, later discussed,, on
the interstate compact and for the Truckee-Carson I.D. on its internal
T ie vfashoe Project, proposed storage on the Little Truckee River in
California and on the Carson River in Nevada. Its main source of revenue
would have been from the power plant at the Stampede Reservoir.
Th ore has been no construction to dp to on the Tfashoe Project except
p or the Prosser Reservoir. This reservoir on thr: Little Truckee has
been built ^or fish benefits. Its storage is to be used to replace
releases ms.de from Tahoe for the maintenance of . is a flows 1.; tVu: Truckee
. rer above Truckee at times when such Tahoe releases would not
p or other purposes .
In an effort to r ind a unit of thr; Washoe Project wh.L - ; .,.;/
constructed on the Carson "Uver the U.S.B.ii. hs-.;: bee/i investigate P.O; the
Watasheamu stor-^o, on the i iast Carson, niove Gardnerville. Tho .-.tored
water would, in part, be diverted to the V. ,-st Carson to supply supple-
.al water there. The power to be ^r-nerated wo jlr! ^roviO.-. a na.ior
part o. p the repayment .
This project, to be feasible, requires thcit the ; vie ^ls Project
divert more Truckee River water in order to rele^ -o Carson River vat ^r
whi.cli it now stores in Lahontan Reservoir. This, in turn, wouiKL reduce
the Truckee River water available for storage at thr 1 Stampede site.
The Upper Carlson Valley is a well developed area with an established
economy. It is short of late summer water but has operated, -profitably
many years. Supplemental water will have value but in not a necessity.
The ^uture demand for additional water in this area for municipal use
around Reno may requr.-s all of the remaining supply that can be developed
on the Truckee River. In my opinion, the future overall needs of this
genera. area may make the Carson River portion of the Washoe Project, as
proposed, unattractive .
INTERSTATE COMPACT NEGOTIATIONS
The problems relating to the increased development around Lake
Tahoe and those involved in the proposed Washoe Project led to suggestions
that California and Nevada should negotiate an interstate compact cover
ing the use by each state o f these waters. This was expanded to include
the Truckee, Carson and Walker Rivers. The required authorizing legisla
tion was secured, the state commissions appointed and negotiations "b -jun.
These negotiations have been under way about ten years. No draft of a
compact has been completed for submission to the state legislatures and
to congress for approval.
In 1959 the Truckee Carson I.D. requested me to advise them regard
ing their interests in such a compact and to attend the meetings of the
compact commission in their behalf. I undertook this assignment and
attended the meetings -for about a year.
Nevada and California were discussing terms which would be acceptable
to them with only limited presentation of the position the U.S. might
take. The U.S. is a major party on all three streams. Not only does it
have the Newland Project but it has Indian Reservations and Vish and Wild
Life claims in Pyramid and Carson Lakes. In view of this situation I
asked R.J. Newell, the Federal representative and the Chairman of the
Joint Commission to see if he could secure a statement from the Depart
ment o r Interior of the terms of a compact that would be acceptable to it.
The direct federal interests are all within the Department of the Inter
ior. As Congressional approval is required to make any interstate com
pact effective I considered such a statement of position was basic to
Mr. Newell agreed to make such an inquiry. He later told me that
he had sought such an expression from Secretary Seaton and had been ad
vised not to raise any such issues at that time. That time was July
1960 and the presidential campaign was under way. There were conflicts
between the three affected divisions of the Department of the Interior
and the Secretary apparently did not want to attempt to resolve them
during the campaign.
In view of this political aspect of the negotiations for a compact
I could see no further usefulness in my attendance at the CommissiTi
meetings. I advised the T.C.I.D. that, in my opinion, it was not worth
their costs and my time to attend further negotiations. The District
agreed and I ceased my attendance .
In my opinion, the need for this compact is not urgent. Present
development has proceeded under existing conditions. The principal
problems relate to Lake Tahoe. These have become emotional as well as
technical. As the greater part of the runoff originates in California,
Nevada can only secure the water California does not retain. If Califor
nia increases its use of water to an extent that Nevada considers to be
injurious to her, court procedures are available to resolve such specific
The meetings of the Commission which I attended usually had an
attendance of about 50 interested parties. Some appeared to be sincerely
attempting to reach a constructive result; some appeared to be interested
in delaying progress. Harvey Banks, as California Director of Water
Resources, was -Che main spokesman for California in the discussions
through 1960: his suggestions were directed toward securing progress
and the chances of reaching a solution diminished materially when ne
resigned at the end of 1960.
The problems of Lake Tahoe are the result of trying to retain its
pristine conditions and have a large summer population around its shores.
These two items are conflicting. People create sewage and sewage
creates pollution. In Try opinion, the proposed standards of treatment
of sewage that may be discharged into the lake and the alternate of
exportation of all sewage from the Basin both fail to recognizet the
economic conditions involved.
A compilation of the man power that has been used during the ten
years of these negotiations in comparison with what has been accomplished
would be interesting. In my opinion neither the T.C.I.D. nor myself
have lost anything by my dropping out in 1960.
A word of appreciation should be expressed for R.J. Newell, the
Chairman. He has presided with patience and mild insistence on progress.
TRUCKEE-CARSON IRRIGATION DISTRICT 1959-62
In 1959 when the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District asked me to
participate for them in the interstate compact proceedings for the District,
I was also asked to advise them regarding matters that were pending re
lating to the Washoe Project. I undertook such work.
The Truckee-Carson I.D. functions under its repayment contract with
the Bureau of Reclamation. This 1926 contract defines the water supply
the District is entitled to receive from the water rights of the U.S. on
the Truckee and Carson Rivers. It also defines the total area of pro
ject lands which may be irrigated.
The T.C.I.D. is the lowest divertor on both the Truckee and Carson
Rivers. It develops power from its diversion from the Truckee River. ,
No other user is injured by use by the T.C.I.D. as all water the T.C.I.D.
gets has already passed the diversions of others. The rights of other
lands under the Truckee River decree are generally senior to those of
At times o^ surplus flow the T.C.I.D. receives excess water. It
makes such use as it can of this surplus for power and pasturage. It
runs excess water through its canals as a convenience in their operation.
These practices have resulted in the appearance of wasteful use and an
opinion by outsiders that the T.C.I.D. has an excessive water supply.
Tn periods of shortage the T.C.I.D. has eliminated the excess
diversions and has operated on standards of practice comparable to
those in the Upper Carson Valley and the Truckee Meadows. Actual use
of water delivered to the farms represents as good a standard of irriga
tion practice as that of other uses of these two streams.
If the Watasheamu storage sho\ild be built on the Carson River it
will require changes in the present operations of the T.C.I.D. To make
this new unit feasible it will need to be permitted to store water within
the storage rights and capacity of Lahontan Reservoir. Such storage of
summer flow for later release for winter power development will not be
harmful to the T.C.I.D. provided this stored water is returned to Lahon
tan after its use for power. Such operations can be worked out but will
require a carefully prepared operating agreement if future conflicts are
to be avoided.
From 1959 to 1962 I worked intermittently on these matters for the
T.C.I.D. Among my recommendations I urged that the District should de
cide whether it wanted to bring its water right area up the full 87,500
permitted under its 1926 contract with the U.S.B.R. or vhether it preferred
to have a more dependable supply for a somewhat smaller area. I recommended
some increase from the then water right area of about 70,000 acres and
immediate action to replace tax foreclosed lands with other lands of better
quality. The area actually oeing irrigated was 55,000 to 60,000 acres.
At my last meeting with the Board of the T.C.I.D. on June 25, 1962
this program was approved for immediate action. By November 1962 no pro
gress appeared to have been made. As I saw no benefit to the T.C.I.D. or
to myself -from a continuation of any further activity on my part on these
matters, I advised the District of the termination of my work for them
under date of Nov. 5, 1962. I have had no further part in these matters
since that date. It is my understanding that matters relating to the
192^ T.C.I.D. contract with the U.S.B.R. have become involved in the com
pact proceedings since 19^2. In my opinion this contract in its present
form is binding on both parties and its terms are not a proper subject for
discussion in the compact negotiations.
THE FEATHER RIVER IN 1918
In 1938 the stream flow of the Feather River was well below its mean.
This condition applied generally to northern California. World War I was
under way and there was an active effort being made to increase food pro
duction in order that the U.S. might be able to assist in feeding its
allies. A -federal war food administration had been created with broad
general powers in this field.
The two main canals diverting from the Feather River in 1918 (and
also to date) were the Western and the Sutter Butte. The Western Canal
was owned by the Great Western Power Co. which also owned Lake Almanor
and the power plants along the river. This company was later acquired
by the PG&E.
The Sutter Butte Canal operated as a public utility selling water
to land owners in its area of service. It was under the jurisdiction
cr* the then California Railroad Commission (now the P.U.C.). This com
pany had been organized mainly to serve lands to which water rights were
sold as a means of securing irrigated land values for the lands. The
earlier areas served consisted of general crop areas adjacent to the
west bank o"*" the leather River extending ^rom the diversion to south of
Gridley. Later when rice irrigation was developed on the clay adobe lands
to the west, service was extended to such lands.
Mr. Tulloch was the local manager of the Sutter Butte Canal Company.
He had been manager of the Tulloch Ditch on the Stanislaus River. Gordon
Hall was president of the company. Tulloch had secured his experience
on a canal system where the extent of its service enabled him to carry
its records in his head. He was adverse to written records. When he
moved to the Sutter Butte Canal he could still follow his former system.
However as the extent of service increased after rice production in the
western part of the service area expanded, Tulloch s filing cabinet be
came inadequate to contain all of the information needed. Hall asked me
to attempt to help Tulloch out when the water shortage in 1918 became
I went to Gridley and tried to secure enough information to enable
me to get started taking some of the load. I found that the only source
of the information I needed was an interview with Tulloch. This added
to the burden on his time without producing useful results. As a result
I devoted myself to an attempt to secure measurements of the diversion
and main uses of water which were needed in the canal operation.
The Sutter Butte Canal in 1918 served its earlier vater right con
tract lands devoted to general crops and its more recent area growing
rice. The rice needed large amounts of water. When the shortage occurred
the general crop lands ^elt they should have a priority in the use of the
available supply. The situation was becoming critical in June when the
ponding of the rice checks increased the demands for this crop.
This was also the controversy between the Western and the Sutter
Butte canals. The Sutter Butte Canal had the prior right but its diver
sion was downstream -from that of the Western Canal. The diversion dam
of the Sutter Butte Canal was the result of past repairs and had a rela
tively large amount of leakage. It could not hold the river high enough
to divert the desired flow into the Sutter Butte Canal without letting
a. large amount of water pass on downstream. Emergency repairs were
attempted but could not be made effective in the short time available.
When the Sutter Butte Canal attempted to compel the Western Canal
to let water down or its diversion, the Western Canal pointed to the
leakage in the Sutter Butte dam and told the Sutter Butte Canal there
was enough water in the river for their needs if they would divert it.
This situation was also getting rough.
The deficient runoff in 19l8 reduced the output of the hydroelectric
power plants and resulted in a power shortage. The Great Western Power
Co. was in a relatively favorable position with its Almanor storage to
meet the overall power needs. All power in California was pooled under
a power administrator. H.G. Butler was appointed to this position under
authority of the R.R.C. and with the consent of the power utilities. He
had authority to control the release of Almanor storage so that it would
produce the maximum power output at the times of greatest need.
Another factor in the diversion by the Sutter Butte Canal was the
operation of the Big Bend power plant a few miles above Oroville. This
plant had about 800 acre feet of forelay storage. This was used to
enable this plant to operate mainly on the peak load hours. The result
was that when the daily average flow of the leather River at Oroville
was 1500 second feet, the actual flow during the day would vary from
about 300 to 2,000 second feet. There was not sufficient pondage in
the Sutter Butte diversion dam to reregulate this flow.
All o^ these matters were pending toward the end of June 1918.
There was concern that these conflicts would prevent securing maximum
crop production from the available supply of Feather River water. The
War Food Administration stepped in with the support of the R.R.C. and
took over the administration of the river. I was appointed water master
on June 29, and told to allocate the available water supply to s<-"" re
maximum help in the war effort. The War Food Administration ruled that
production o f rice was more essential to the war effort than the pro
duction of alfalfa.
In World War I there was widespread support for an all out effort
to help in any available way. I had ample authority to back up any
actions I might take. It was necessary to disregard individual entitle
ments and assign the available supply where it would do the most good.
At the time I was appointed the most urgent need was the filling
of the rice checks. The available supply was divided between the two
canals so that the rice areas under each were served. This took about
three weeks. During this period some alfalfa had to have its irrigation
deferred with some limited amounts of reduction in its yield. When the
rice checks were filled, the demand for this crop was reduced and the
needs of all crops could "be met. In 1918 rice practice consisted of 3 or
U flushing irrigation to get the rice high enough to stand submergence
"before the checks were filled. Present practice fills the checks earlier.
Under present practice the conditions of 1918 would be largely avoided
as the rice checks would be filled before the period of major demand for
general crops .
As water master I worked closely with Butler, the power administra
tor. We had an understanding that, if I had to call for storage release
^rom Almanor, he, as power administrator, would have the water released.
We also had an understanding that I would not call for storage release
at a time when it was not needed for power use except to meet an emer
gency if one should arise. Actually no releases not usable for power
were required. As indicated above, the operations of the Feather River
Watermaster in 1918 were above and beyond the principles of civil law.
There was no time to define or to recognize prior rights. The resulting
damage was kept to a minimum.
To the credit of all concerned, particularly of the water users,
none of my actions were ever attacked by anyone having water rights on
the river. The program followed was accepted as a part of the neccessity
of the war.
The only difficulty which I had was a minor skirmish with the Fish
and Game people. The Sutter Butte Canal had a rack type fish screen
across the canal near its head with a narrow opening between the bars.
It was not possible to keep this screen clear of the fine debris in the^
water such as leaves. As a result it required a loss of head o^ about
6 inches to force the discharge through the screen. The diversion of the
canal was about 900 second feet. The upstream elevation of the water
could not be increased to offset this loss of head with the then available
diversion dam. Consequently the fish screen was reducing the diversion
obtainable bv about ^0 second feet. In view of these conditions,. I
ordered the fish screen to be removed.
When we had it about one-half out, the local game warden and one
of his higher ups appeared on the scene and started to order me to
replace the screen. They were unable to define the injury to the fish
that would result if the diversion was not screened. I refused to re
place the screens and they threatened legal action leading to my impri
sonment if convicted. I then offered to replace the screen if they
would take the responsibility of telling the War Food Administration and
the public of the extent of their interference with the war effort.
That was the last I heard of replacing the -fish screen during my period
as water master. After the emergency had passed the screen was replaced.
As soon as the peak demand for filling the rice checks had been
met, conditions settled down and the services of a water master were no
longer required. I ended my active control on July 18, 1918 but would
have been available later if need for further services had arisen.
These three weeks as water master were busy times. While there
was general support for the methods being used, the habit of taking ad
vantage o f a chance to get some extra water required continual vigilance
to see that the instructions I issued were followed.
This was a very interesting experience. While the methods used
would not be condoned except under war emergency conditions, the results
illustrate what can be accomplished when all interests work for the
common good. The spirit in support of World War I in our rural areas
was very strong. This was the first war in which the population
had been involved and in which their sons were being drafted to fight.
The home support was all that could be asked.
Later in 1918, when the records on the river operations became
available, I made an analysis o^ them for the Sutter Butte Canal Co.
The filling of Lake Almaqor had been continued after the time when the
stream flow at Oroville had decreased below the irrigation demand. This
may have been unintentional and the result of a lack of overall river
After 1918 the Gutter Butte Canal Co. made repairs on its diversion
dam which reduced its leakage. In later years the Canal Co. has sold
different parts of its system to local irrigation districts for opera
tion b the districts. Irrigation from Feather River weathered the
deficient water supply of 1931 and ] 93U without the controversies that
occurred in 1918.
WORK TOR THE STATE 1920-1930
In the 1920s much of my engineering work was for the State o" Cali
fornia under an appointment as Irrigation Engineer,, Special Investigations.
The work was under the direction of the State Engineer under the various
titles used during this period. This work began under W.F. McClure and
continued after his death in 1926, briefly under Paul Bailey and more
actively under Edward Hyatt.
This work fell into two general classifications. One was the dir-*c-
tion of the field work and the preparation of reports on different water
supply investigations. The work in Kern and Tulare Counties are in this
group. The other consisted of the supervisory and regulatory activities
of the state engineer, particularly those relating to the water storage
districts. The assignments of larger work are described individually
The duties of the State Engineer in the procedure relating to the
water storage districts included not only the review o^ their engineering
feasibility but also conduct of their elections and approval of the dis
trict plans. The responsibility ^or these actions rested with the State
Engineer. To assist him in conducting hearings and other duties there
were two executive directors. These were V7.P. Boone of Fresno and
D. Joseph Coyne o^ Los Angeles. Mr. Boone was chairman of the Kings
River Water Association. Mr. Coyne was a lawyer. I acted as the engi-
neer for the state in reviewing the plans proposed relating to the
organization of these districts and later their final projects plans.
The Water Storage District Act includes procedure by the State
Engineer covering hearings on the sufficiency of the organization peti
tion, actions on the proposed boundaries including petitions for inclu
sion or exclusion of lands, and a -finding that the lands to be included
are susceptible of irrigation from a common source. The State Engineer
also conducts the elections on the district organization. As the State
Engineer had no one on his staff at that time with experience in con
ducting elections I *"ell heir to this work in addition to the duties
relating to more direct engineering matters. In effect I was secretary
to the State Engineer in water storage district matters as well as con
The Water Conservation District Act was passed for use on Kings
River. It provided for three or more irrigation districts to combine
in the construction of joint works, particularly storage. The administra
tion of the act was placed with a State Irrigation Board created by
the act. This Board consisted of the State Engineer as Chairman and the
same two executive directors of the Water Storage District Act. This
act was passed in 1923. A petition for the organization of the Kings
River Water Conservation District was presented. The board met and
organized on June 12, 192U. I was appointed the secretary of this board.
This Kings River District was the only one filing a petition with this
board. Its procedure continued for several years and then was dropped.
I continued to hold the position of secretary during all of the activity
of this board. Details relating to the Kings River procedure are included
later in the general Kings River discussion. As ray work for the State
Engineer relating to the water storage and water conservation districts
included recommendations relating to official actions by the state re
garding their organization and financing, I did not take other work on
projects which might come before the State Engineer for his semi- judicial
action. The larger part of my consulting practice during the 1920s was
for the state. These districts procedures became dormant during the
1930s and I resumed a more general engineering practice.
The work for the State Engineer in the 1920s was under very congenial
conditions in the main. The extent of the discretionarv authority of
the State Engineer in these district procedures was greater than that
for irrigation districts. The main policy standards were set while Mr.
McClure was State Engineer, survived during Mr. Bailey s relatively
brief tenure and were continued under Mr. Hyatt.
The provision in the water storage district act that the lands to
be included must be found to be susceptible of irrigation from a common
source was interpreted to include beneficial results from irrigation.
Susceptibility because the area proposed to be included was physically
serviceable from the common source was not accepted unless the lands
proposed for inclusion were also susceptible of producing crops and
returns from which the costs could be met. This issue was important in
some proposed districts which included lands of high alkali content or
shallow depth to hardpan. Exclusions of such lands were required as a
condition of approval of the boundaries of some of the proposed water
storage districts. The conditions affecting each district are discussed
later in the comments on ??ach district.
This concept regarding the quality of land includable in a proposed
district had not been enforced in past practice and encountered
opposition in some of the proposed districts. Mr. McClure stood firmly
behind my land classifications and the boundaries of the districts were
adjusted, vhere ner-ded, in accord with these results.
Another responsibility assigned to the State Engineer under the
water storage district act was the appointment of directors to fill
vacancies between elections. There were some individual vacancies that
occurred and were generally easily filled. In three districts the plan
involved the purchase of the existing irrigation systems from their
owners who were also large land owners in the district. As voting in
water storage districts is on a property basis these owners had elected
their representatives on the district board. When negotiations for the
purchase of the existing canal systems were undertaken, the attention
of the districts was called to the conflict of interest statute. These
districts were advised that a purchase of these systems by their existing
boards would not be approved. The directors having a conflict of interest
resigned. I was assigned the task of canvassing the local eligibles and
selecting for recommendation to the State Engineer names for appointments
to these vacancies. While this was an interesting assignment it required
much effort to sift the local recommendations to find individuals whose
business experience was commensurate with the scale of responsibility
involved and who had the confidence of the area in their fairness and
ability. Such appointments were made. Two of these three districts did
not complete their plan and were dissolved. The other is still operating.
The water storage district act provides that assessments shall be
proportional to the benefits. Such districts were expected to construct
storage for use on lands having varying extents of present water supply
with the benefits proportional to the amounts of supplements.! water
needed. For such conditions a benefit basis of assessment is" logical.
In order to determine the benefits to be derived from the project
worKs it is essential that the service to be received be defined. In
two of the larger water storage district planning to acquire the several
existing canal systems in the service area, the proposed district plan
did not define the existing and proposed service with sufficient defi-
niteness to enable an assessment based on benefits to be made. On
this basis I recommended the rejection of these plans and was supported
by the State Engineer. We were threatened with court action and other
dire consequences but the decision of the State Engineer stood in both
districts. Both areas have now proceeded under other plans.
When the activities relating to the water storage districts slackened
in the 1930s, Hyatt asked me to prepare reports on the procedure relating
to each of the districts and also a report of the general procedural
practice and standards that had been used. I did this and such reports
were filed in the State Engineer s office. Copies are also in my file
of reports which I have prepared.
This procedural work for the State Engineer was not technical
engineering except in reviewing districts plans. It might be called
human engineering, as much of the work involved included the problems
of the personality of the individual with whom I had to deal. Many
amusing anecdotes could be recited relating to some of these individuals.
In the 1920s the water leaders were usually individuals with strong
enough personalities to stand out in their local areas. They had been
used to proceeding without state regulation. Some of them did not
recognize that when they changed to a public -form of organization to
which the state had extended the taxing power and other public privileges,
they also were placed under public supervision in order to see that
these powers and privileges were not abused.
In the 1920s the authority to decide these matters was vested in
the State Engineer. Action could be secured promptly without lengthy
procedural delays. It is my opinion that this power was not abused,
that the actions taken were in the public interest without considering
their political effects, and that the state was fortunate in having
during this period two State Engineers, McClure and Hyatt, having a
high sense o~f their responsibility and the courage to do their duty as
they saw it. As for myself, I consider that it was a privilege to have
been able to participate in these procedures. It was my responsibility
to provide the State Engineer with the correct factual material on which
to support my recommendations. It is a satisfaction to me that in the
controversies that were involved, no material defects were found in the
conclusions in my reports. This does not mean that there was agreement
with my conclusions because the differences were vehement and lengthy in
some cases. It was a satisfaction in the 1930s to have some of the
major opponents thank me for the earlier actions which avoided their
going ahead with development that would have been in difficulties in
the depression o f the 1930s.
Additional comments on the separate investigations and procedural
matters relating to my work for the state during the 1920s are made in
the discussions of the individual items which follow. These are arranged
generally in a chronological order based on the time the particular work
began and carrying it through to its end.
INVESTIGATIONS IN KERN COUNTY 1919-20
Concern regarding the ground water lowering that was occurring in
northern Kern County began to be felt before the end of World War I.
Observations of ground water elevations were begun by the Kern County
Land Co. under the direction of their consulting engineer, H.L. Haehl.
The land company had begun the sale of land in the Shafter-Wasco area
and many wells were beginning to be used to supply irrigation water.
The political situation in Kern County in 1919 was involved. Mr.
Jastro was the manager of the Kern County Land Co. He had been chairman
of the County Board of Supervisors for many years. There had not been a
turnover in the Board of Supervisors for many years. There had been a
turnover in the Board of Supervisors following Grand Jury inquiries in
1916. The Kern County Farm Bureau had become a factor in county matters
under its president J.J. Deuel. Antagonisms had been built up over
the years between the dominant land owner in the irrigated area of the
county and the small farm operators. The older irrigated areas had
been colonized by the land company using the common colony system.
Land purchases included a considerable portion of English emmigrants.
The parents of Harry Barnes, who had field charge of the state s 1920
work in Kern County, had been early English settlers in this area.
In 1919 there was active agitation for improvements in the irrigation
conditions in the areas served from Kern River. There was support for
storage to improve the usefulness of the Kern River runoff and some pre
liminary work had been done on storage at the present Isabella site.
There was also a general hassle over the need for drainage on the
south side of tho river in the general Panama area. High water table
conditions there were reducing crop yields in what had been a productive
area. The areas not needing drainage indulged in critical comments on
the irrigation practices that had caused this condition. This had aroused
a defensive complex in the high water table area and opposition to drainage
of my kind.
A report on the local situation had been made in 1919 by A.L. Fellows.
He recommended storage. Kern River, like other California streams, is
subject to wide variation in its runoff, in some periods continuing over
several years. The available records in 1919 of the runoff of Kern River
happened to consist of a first half of smaller runoff and a second half
of larger supply. To enable storage to be accumulated to meet shortages
in the deficient period, Fellows reversed the order of the recorded
runoff, and assumed that the more favorable period had occurred first.
This simple action materially improved the storage yield as storage
capacities up to 1,000,000 acre feet was being considered.
During 1919 these local water matters were very actively under
discussion. Charles Lee was chairman of the State Water Commission.
The Commission was asked to make an investigation of the situation.
However the commission lacked funds for such work. W.F. McClure was State
Engineer and had some funds. After much discussion an agreement was
made under which Korn County, the Kern County Land Co. and the Tejon
Ranch Co. each contributed $5,000 to be matched by $5,000 of state
funds to be used by the state in making an investigation of the water
resources of the San Joaquin Valley portion of the County. The actual
investigations were limited to the eastern San Joaquin Valley portions
of the County, primarily Kern River as it was the only substantial
source of water supply. It had been understood that Miller and Lux
had also agreed to contribute $5,000 to this work. Efforts that were
made later to collect this contribution were unsuccessful.
After the arrangements for this Investigation had been made, I was
asked to take charge of the work under employment by the State Engineer.
I accepted and began organizing the program in December 1919-
It was apparent that the main item on which adequate information
was lacking was the ground water. Observations on wells on a wider
scale than the Land Co. was covering wers programmed. Two field engi
neers were secured to cover the areas north and south of Kern River.
The records of the surface stream flow were available for a longer
period than had then been secured on most other California streams.
Under the terms of the Miller-Haggin agreement, a. record of the flow
of Kern River at First Point was required for river operation. A.K.
Warren was the hydrographer under this agreement. Records beginning
in 189^ were available.
Kern River at First Point has a sandy bottom in which there if a
continual movement of sand waves. Mr. Warren developed methods of
measurement adapted to these conditions. His methods were compared
with the measurements we made in 1920 and found to be reliable. Mr.
Warren continued his work on Kern River until his retirement. This
record represents what may be the longest continuous record secured by
any one individual on any California stream.
The field work continued through 1920. Funds were short and the
program had to be adjusted to their amount. We had three engineers
at Bakersfield, Barnes continuously and others (Arthur Dunlop, Harvey
Kilburn, Earl Storie and Don Baker) for various periods. We checked the
topographic survey of the Isabella site and excavated a trench across
the site of the then proposed concrete dam. I was responsible for the
direction of the work. We needed autos for the -field men but lacked
money to buy them. The county let us have some model T : s that they
were going to turn in on nev ones and we got one army surplus Model T.
I wrote the report and McClure found an additional $2,500 for the cost
of its publication as Bulletin 9 of ohe State Department of Engineering.
Its title is "Water Resources of Kern River and Adjacent Streams and
their Utilization". The total cost of this work, including the pub
lished report in 1920 was $22,500. The above detail has been included
here as an illustration of what could be done at such costs at that time.
Bulletin 9 presented an inventory of the water supply of this area
that has not been changed essentially by the records of the ensuing
1*5 years. Its conclusions on the area which this water supply could
irrigate have also not been materially modified by later results. Its
recommendations of where the available water should be used have been
generally followed. The forms of organization and the areas they should
include have been changed by the later availability of imported water,
first the C.V.P. and now the State project.
Following the completion of Bulletin 9 and- the passage of the
water storage district act, such districts were organized for the
areas of service of both the First Point rights and the Second Point
rights. Their story comes later under the discussion of these districts.
Another result of Bulletin 9 w &s to show quantitatively the con
ditions of ground water overdraft that existed in the north Kern area.
This, with similar results in Tulare County (see later discussion)
served to -focus public attention on the need -for some source of addi
tional water and to secure support ^or beginning the general studies
by the state that eventually resulted in the C.V.P.
An item in the 1920 ground water situation in north Kern County
that has generally r- scaped public recognition was the action of the
Kern County Land Co. in stopping further sales of its lands when the
adequacy of the ground water supply cane into question. The Land
Co. had been selling its lands in the Shafter-Wasco area. The ground
water draft on these lands exceeded the replenishment. As soon as the
consulting engineer of the Land Co., H.L. Haehl, had enough results to
confirm such an overdraft, the Land Co. on his advies 1 stopped further
sales. There was a continued demand for such lands and this action by
the Land Co. deserves commendation. The last large sale was what had
been known as the Hoover Ranch. The Land Co. retained its lands under
the Lerdo Canal until the construction of storage at Isabella and the
transfer of water released by users south of the river provided a
water supply for these lands. They are now being served by the North
Kern Water Storage District.
Against the background of conditions in 1920 it is my opinion
that the Kern County report (Bulletin 9) represents a real contribution
to the progress in this area in determing what water supply was locally
available and where it could best be used. No basic errors have been
found it its conclusions over the ^5 years since this work was done.
This work did not involve any objective except to determine the facts.
The state at that time was not proposing construction of irrigation
works by the state and the Bureau of Reclamation had not entered this
The results of the 1920 Kern County investigations should be
judged by the conditions at the time the work was done. All conclusions
had to be based on applicable cost limitations. At that time
the Federal Land Bank was reducing the amount it would loan if the
borrower s pumping lift for alfalfa exceeded 65 feet .
The deep well turbine was then relatively new and lacked much of
its present efficiency and economy. Bond issues for irrigation districts
exceeding $50 per acre were considered to be questionable.
The progress that has been made in the pumping of ground water is
illustrated by our 1920 conclusions relating to the feasibility of
securing a ground water supply from the finer sands at the lower end of
the Kern River delta. It was recognized that there was available
ground water in this area. A few wells had been drilled and equipped
but their operation had been unsatisfactory. The gravel envelope type
of wells were beginning to be used but experience had not developed
the success that is now secured.
In our report we conceded the availability of ground water at
reasonable lifts in this area but did not include it in the water supply
to be developed. This conclusion was based on the lack of successful
pumping at that time. We concluded that successful methods of extracting
this supply would be found but deferred counting on it until they had
become a demonstrated success. Such a position may seem strange at
the present time but it illustrates the progress that has been made in
the last ^5 years. Successful wells in this area are now routine.
TULARE COUNTY INVESTIGATIONS 1920-22
The conditions in 1920 in Tulare County were similar to those in
Kern County. In both areas the increase in ground water pumping was
resulting in an overdraft. In addition the action of the Lindsay-
Strathmore Irrigation District in pumping from lands along the Kaweah
River for conveyance to the District had resulted in what is generally
referred to as the "Lindsay- Strathmore case". There was much local
concern over the issues involved in this case and also in its effect
on the inter- community relations of the areas involved.
After the Kern County investigations had been organized, similar
interest developed in Tulare County. A cooperative program between
the county and the state engineer was worked out and a similar water
supply study was undertaken. This was financed by contributions of
$5000 each by the county and the state for work in 1920.
Similar funds were provided for 1921. Part of the local con
tribution was provided by the local Water Users Association. The
final costs were about $22,000. This covers 2 years field work and
the publication of the report. The report is Bulletin 3 of the Division
of Engineering and Irrigation entitled "Water Resources of Tulare County
and their Utilization".
This work was organized with G.H. Russell handling the Kaweah
River area in the northern part of the county aud Chester Marliave
the Tule River and adjacent small streams in the southern part of the
county. I was asked to direct the work and wrote the report.
The desire for this investigation was greater in the Kaweah River
area than in the southern part of the county. The Lindsay-Strathmore
case was under trial. It was the hope of some of the interested parties
that if the state came in to make an impartial study of the situation
that some acceptable basis for settling this law suit could be found.
The first requirement for any basis of settlement of such a con
troversy is a complete knowledge of the facts. We organized the work
to secure the facts leaving any proposals relating to the law suit
until we had the facts and also had sounded out the attitudes of the
parties. Mr. Russell was a very good man for the Kaweah River part
of this work. He was a good listener and got along well with both
sides. Later he was for many years chief engineering appraiser for
the Federal Land Bank at Berkeley. Mr. Marliave was stationed in
Porterville. His work there aided in securing public recognition of
their water problems. He later became chief geologist for the state
in its water investigations and after that a consultant.
This Tulare County vork brought out the overdraft on the ground
water in the areas of the county not directly recharged from some of
its streams. The specific results are contained in the report. The
report was a factor in securing support for the general investigations
of the state seeking a source of imported water to meet this overdraft.
These general investigations eventually led to the C.V.P.
A part of the results of this Tulare County investigations which
is not inluded in Bulletin 3 was the work done in trying to find a
basis for settling the Lindsay-Strathmore case. I handled this part
of the work. After the newness of the states entry into this area
had begun to wear off, I began to discuss with both parties the terms
which they might consider acceptable for a settlement. I did not
propose any terms until I had found out the position of the parties.
I found both sides firm in their position and too far apart to compromise
their differences. Both sides wanted to talk about the terms the other
side would have to accept as a basis of settlement.
In negotiations attempting to reconcile differences, it has been my
experience that progress is not made on this basis. Real progress
may be made if the parties are ready to discuss the concessions they
will make instead of what the other party must do. We found no common
meeting ground in this conflict and proceeded to complete our investi
gations on the water supply of the county.
In hindsight some observers of the Lindsay-Strathmore case have assumed
that a settlement should have been obtainable without the large costs
of the different trials or that the plefntiffs were supporting a dog in
the manger position. An understanding of this case requires a recognition
of the human factors that vere involved as veil as the legal principles
applicable to the controversy.
The Lindsay- Strathraore District developed its citrus area using
its local ground water. The overdraft resulted in ground vater lowering
and an increase in the salt content of the water pumped. The area faced
abandonment of producing acreage unless outside water could be secured.
Stephen Kieffer entered the picture with a plan to buy land above the
Kaweah River diversions and install wells to produce water to be con
veyed to the District. This water bearing land was bought and the system
The lower diverters on Kaweah River brought suit to enjoin this
pumping on the ground that the water pumped would deplete the stream
flow reaching their diversions. In the earlier stages of the suit there
were statements made which aroused community Dealings to the point where
neither side could retreat. The District disclaimed that their opera
tions affected the river. The lower users were equally insistent on it.
The case went to trial. Lindsay secured outside lawyers and expert
witnesses to support their position. The lower canals used local talent.
H.H. Holley did the engineering work on the case for the plaintiffs;
H.L. Haehl, B.A. Etcheverry, Thomas Means and others were experts for
Lindsay. W.R. Bailey carried much of the legal load for the plaintiffs.
Lindsay had former California supreme court judge Sloss and others.
The trials were lengthy. One trial was completed before Judge
Wallace of the Tulare County Superior Court. After the completion of
the trial, Lindsay secured his disqualification based on his ownership
of land in Visalia whose value might be affected by the outcome of the
case. This disqualified! on has resulted in local judges avoiding
trying local water cases. An outside judge was appointed and started
to hear the case when it was found that some relative had a lot in
Lindsay and he withdrew. Judge Stephen was eventually appointed, tried
the case, and made the decision which was appealed and became the final
decree. Total costs o"f all of these procedures was reported to be about
$1,500,000. The decision became final in 1935-
When the decision became final and the lower canals had won,
they did just what they had told me they would do in 1922. The lower
canals were willing to let Lindsay have water for its survival once
the plaintiffs rights had been recognized b.. r the courts. If Lindsay
had won the law suit other similar pumping along the upper Kaweah River
could have materially reduced the down stream river flow. The plaintiffs
were resolved that they would establish their legal position before they
would compromise the suit. Having won they then made a settlement which
enabled Lindsay to secure water until C.V.P. water became available.
SAN JACINTO RIVER INVESTIGATIONS
In 1921 there were controversies pending between the five areas
and users of the San. Jacinto River. Litigation was pending in the court
and protests had been filed against applications before the State Water
Commission. Charge s H. Lee was then the Executive Member of the Water
Commission and attempted to get the five parties to agree on some settle
ment. The lack of factual results on which to base such a settlement
became apparent. In June of 1921 I was asked to make an examination
o^ this situation and to advise the Water Commission whether the avail
able information would enable them to act on the pending applications
and if the conclusion on this item was no to prepare an outline of the
investigations that would be needed to supply support for such action.
I spent about a week in the area and on July 18, 1921 submitted a
preliminary report t "Water Supply Conditions on San Jacinto River
Drainage Area and Outline of Investigations Recommended to be Undertaken.
This report recommended that field investigations should be made covering
at least one year s water supply and use. It suggested cooperative
financing of the costs by the local interests and the state.
Tha five parties involved were (l) the Lake Hemet Water Co., then
a public utility serving lands around Hemet and owning the Hemet rese-
voir; (2) the Fruitvale Mutual Water Co., serving lands around San
Jacinto and spreading water of the San Jacinto River to replenish its
ground water draft; (3) Lake Elsinore area interests represented by
the Elsinore Valley Water Users Association desiring to maintain inflow
to support the recreational value of the Lake; (U) the Temescal Water
Co., having pumping rights along the San Jacinto River near Ethanac
in the Ferris Valley area and conveying the water pumped to its area
o f service around Corona; and (5) the Ferris Valley area represented
by the Ferris Valley Chamber of Commerce seeking a source to augment
its overdravn ground water.
After further discussions among the parties an agreement was made
under which each of the five local interests contributed $1000 and the
state $3000 toward the cost of an investigation Scheduled to continue
"or one year. As the State Water Commission supplied 2/3 of the States
contribution, the general direction of this work was placed with the
Commission. Mr. R.H. Jamison was secured to handle the field work.
I was asked to take general direction and to prepare the report.
The estimated budget for this work called for one field engineer
at a salary of $250 per month, plus $150 per month for auto and other ex
penses and $100 per month for general expenses, a total of $6000 for
one year. To allow for part tine help such as rodmen and for printing
the report , $2000 was added to make a total estimated cost of $8000.
Tills detail is given here as an illustration of what could be secured
for such costs under the 1921 value of the dollar.
The agreement was completed and field work started in October 1921.
The wells to be observed had been selected before the large runoff
which occurred in December 1921. The work covered a year of above
average water supply.
The report on this work is entitled, San Jacinto River Hydro-
graphic Investigation, 1922". It was dated December 1922. The State
Water Commission had been succeeded by the Division of Water Rights in
the Department of Public Works, the office had been moved from San
"Francisco to Sacramento and Charles H. Lee had been succeeded by H.A.
Kluegel, as Chief of the Division. This report was not given a bulletin
number. Copies were distributed to the interested parties in the affected
area. This work is discussed in Part III of the Biennial Report of the
Division of Water Rights dated November 1, 192U, p.?8.
This report was primarily a water supply inventory of the area
covered. It strongly urged adjustment of points of difference between
the conflicting interests by negotiation rather than by litigation.
Following the completion of the report meetings were held with
the interested parties seeking agreement on an allotment of the avail
able water supply among the conflicting interests. The five principle
parties on July 13, 1923 requested the Division of Water Rights i pre
pare a tentative schedule for the use of the waters of the San Jacinto
River. After further meetings such a schedule was prepared in September
192U and circulated among the parties. Mr. Edward Hyatt had become
the Chief of the Division of Water Rights. The parties had 60 days
on which to comment on this allotment. I did the main work in the
preparation of the September 192^ allotment.
After further discussions with the parties a Second Tentative
Allotment was prepared under my authorship. This made some adjust
ments in the first allotment to meet the comments of the affected
parties. In 1926 there was further discussion of the allotment between
the Lake Hemet Water Co. and the Fruitvale Mutual Water Co. I prepared
a tabulation of stream and diversion records applicable to these two
users in 1926. In August 192?, following further discussions among
the parties I prepared a revised tentative allotment between these
As a result of their investigations and negotiations the pending
local litigation was allowed to lapse. The Temescal Water Co. built
storage in Railroad Canyon above Lake Elsinore and reduced its draft
on the ground water in the Ethanac area. The State took action on
the applications before it in harmony with these results.
In later years this area has joined the Metropolitan Water Dis
trict and is receiving Colorado River water. All that the 1922 inves
tigations could do was to define the existing local supply and assist
in reaching local agreements on its use. This was accomplished. It
also brought out the inadequacy of the local sources of supply to meet
the needs of the area but could not at that time even suggest where
additional water might be obtained.
The observations, particularly on ground water in 1922, have
furnished a useful basis for comparison with conditions in later years.
Such observations can only be made for current conditions and, if not
secured, cannot be replaced by future activities. One of the items
of usefulness of the 1922 work was the ground water inventory as of
The 1922 San Jacinto investigations represent an illustration of
desirable cooperation "between local and state agencies seeking a reason
able solution to involved local conflicts. It was a very satisfying
experience to myself. Its results were only secured by the combined
efforts of all parties concerned. Mr. Hyatt, who presided at the meetings
following the completion of my report, was a very patient and effective
negotiator. He held the parties in open discussions without letting
the proceedings get out of hand until agreements were reached.
Nearly all of the individuals active in these proceedings are gone
now. None were merely obstructive in their attitude although all of
them were assertive of the interests of the area they represented.
PROPOSED PRISON SITES IN THE SAN JACINTO AREA
A-fter the completion of the San Jacinto Investigations just
described, the state was seeking a site for a nev prison in Southern
California. Numerous sites were offered for such use. The specifica
tions of the state called for a site on which there could be from 500
to 1500 acres of irrigated crops and a domestic requirement of 150
G.F.D. per capita for a population o f 5,500. This represented a re
quirement of about 1.1 second feet and 300 acre-feet per year.
Tb - sites offered to the state were referred to the State Archi
tect Tor a report on their water supply as well as their other fea
tures. Because of my previous work in the San Jacintc area, Mr. George
B. MacDougal, the State Architect, asked me to report on the wat^r
supply of the proposed sites there. I made reports in September
1930, Aucust 1932, December 1932, and March 1926, covering a total
of 11 sites.
These reports were relatively routine in character. None of the
proposed sites was purchased by the state. Several o^ the areas were
in the side valleys adjacent to the main valley and lacked an adequate
water supply both in quantity and quality.
The one site on which I reported favorably, proposed to use stock
in the- Fruitvale Mutual Water Company as the source o^ its water supply.
This was rejected on legal grounds. At that time the state cou3d not
own assessable stock in corporations. This limitation has since been
removed under some conditions.
It was necessary to secure analyses of the ground water proposed
to be used. In one case a report was required for the Selection Board
immediately following my fieU work. I took the water samples to the
Rubidoux laboratory of the state for analysis. They properly insisted
on a detailed analysis which would take a week. On my urging they
agreed to use more rapid procedures and have the results for me the
next morning. The day having been hot, I had used the same water to
quench my thirst. About midnight this water made its own report by
intestional action. While I secured the results of the analysis the
next doming, I already had reached my conclusions on the quality of
the water -for prison use.
The site finally selected was that at Chino. The selection board
considered many sites before making this decision.
In August, 1921, the grand jury in Mono County requested th^
state to make an investigation of conditions relating to the develop
ment of Rush and LeeVining Creeks. This request was referred to W.F.
McClure, the State Engineer. Mr. McClure, in turn, asked me to make
the field investigations and to report on their results. The field
work was done during the summer of 1922. Discussions with the federal
agencies involved extended through the ensuing months and my report
was not completed until December 12, 1922.
There were two main issues involved. The Cain Irrigation Co.
had secured rights of way grants on public land for the reservoir
sites on Rush Creek under the March 3> 1891 act and amendments. This
act granted such storage rights of way for irrigation use, but per
mitted subsidiary use for power. These grants were permanent. Grants
of rights of way for power purposes at the time these grants were
secured were limited to 50 year revocable licenses. As the water
stored in these reservoirs was used for power in the non-irrigation
season, there was a question whether their use violated the terms
under which they had been obtained.
The power development on Rush and LeeVining Creeks was owned by
the Nevada California Power Company, and was operated under lease by
the Southern Sierras Power Co. The first company distributed and
sold power in Nevada and the second served users in Southern California.
The Cain Irrigation Company owned the irrigated lands, the canals,
and the storage rights at Gem and Agnew Lakes. All three companies
had a common ownership. The lands under the Cain Irrigation Company s
canal were very porous pumice soil requiring the use of very large
amounts of water for their irrigation.
The second issue involved the use of stock in an irrigation
company as proo f of the water supply for desert land entries. Such
entrymen had been located in the Pumice Valley and a water company
organized for their service. The U.S. Land Office had refused to
accept ownership of such stock for desert entry proofs.
A separate, but generally related matter was the withdrawal of
public lands in this area by the U.S. Reclamation Service for irriga
tion purposes, and the cooperative study made by the service with
funds supplied by Los Angeles.
My field work was delayed until July 1922, when access to this
area was more easily secured. Copies of my reports and related
material are combined in Item 31 in my Bibliographical File. All of
these were filed with the State Engineer at the time they were made.
On the issue of the rights of way grants for storage at Gem and
Agnew Lakes, I recommended procedure to cancel these grants on the
ground that they were not being used in accordance with the terms
under which the grants had been made. This recommendation was not
approved by the attorney for the U.S. Forest Service and was not acted
upon by Mr. McClure. Nothing was done on this portion of my report.
If the rights of way under the 1891 act had been cancelled, the
power company could have secured a license under the procedure of
the 1920 Federal Power Act. It would not have lost any of its expen
ditures on these projects, but would have been brought into conformity
with the terms under which such public lands could be used.
The water rights on Rush and LeeVining Creeks had been adjudicated
in 1915- The decision on Rush Creeks is Case No. 2091 in Mono County.
The trial had been conducted and the decision made b.y Judge Hancock
of the San Joaquin County Court who had been assigned to this case
in place of the Mono County Judge. Judge Hancock left the bench and
was attorney for the South San Joaquin irrigation district which makes
his Rush Creek decree additionally hard to understand.
This Rush Creek decree was a strange decision. The details are
discussed in my report. It granted completed rights to uses in 1915
which had not been put to use then or by 1922. There was a similar
decree on LeeVining Creek.
These decrees gave the Power Co. control of all of the waters of
these tvo streams. Rights to the appropriation for the desert entrees
were denied. These decrees were not appealed. It v^s claimed . >at
the time for appeal was allowed to expire as a result if a misunder
standing among the affected parties. A well supported appeal would,
in my opinion, have resulted in a reversal of these decisions.
The effort to secure title to the public lands south of Mono
Lake followed the practice then commonly used. A mutual water company
was formed to supply the water needed for proof on the entries.
Prospective entrymen were sought and located on entries for a fee by
the promoters. As residence on the land is not required under desert
entries, this appealed to many as an opportunity to get land on favor
^or areas having a feasible water supply, and cost for irrigation
together with good land, such developments could and have been successful.
In this area the mutual company lacked a water supply and the lands
to be served were very porous pumice deposits. Records on similar ad
jacent lands showed use of water of about ko acre feet per acre per
season with very limited crop production.
As fast as the proofs on these entries reached the U.S. Land Office
they made investigations and rejected the proofs. This did not deter
the promoters who then organized another mutual water company and
re3.ocated other entryrren on the lands whose proof had been rejected.
As it took the U.S. Land Office about six months to make its investi
gations and decisions, there was time for this process to be followed.
The earlier desert entry activity was largely handled by W.D.
McPherson. Although he was not active in this matter at the time of
my work, he had been the main source of the grand jury action. Mr.
J.B. Clover operating from Los Angeles controlled the Rush Creek Mutual
Ditch Co. and was still seeking to sell stock to entrymen. I had met
Mr. Clover in Denver when I was working in that area in 1910. He was
engaged in similar activities there then.
I recommended rejection of desert entries on the area south of
Mono Lake having such porous soils, on the basis that these lands
were not irrigable practically, and that the use of water on them
would not meet a reasonable standard of beneficial use. No specific
action was taken on my recommendation on this matter. The withdrawal
from entry of these lands by the U.S. Reclamation Service ended such
entries during the per5 od of withdrawal.
/mother matter discussed in my report which had not "been directly
covered by the grand jury action vas the withdrawal of public lands
in Mono Basin by the U.S. Reclamation Service ir :.Q20. These lands
were withdrawn under the authority of the Reclamation Act. This with
drawal removed the withdrawn lands from the jurisdiction of the other
federal land agencies .
Mr. Harold Conkling had been transferred from the U.S. Reclama
tion Service Office in Denver to make the investigations of a proposed
project to divert Mono Lake water to Owens Valley, presumably for use
there for irrigation. The work was done in cooperation with the City
of Los Angeles. Such cooperative investigations were usually made on
a 50-50 division of the costs. In this case Los Angeles paid nil of
Conkling s report estimated that 1^0,000 acre feet per year could
be diverted through an eleven mile tunnel to Long Valley reservoir in
the Owens Valley at a cost of about $8,000,000. It was estimated that
the use of this water for irrigation could only meet one-fourth of this
cost. The remainder would have been met from the use of this water
In my report I concluded that the U.S.R.S. withdrawal of public
land in the M o no Basin was outside the proper purposes and function
of the Reclamation Service and that it should be cancelled. No action
was taken at that time on this recommendation. It was apparent that
if Mono Basin water should be diverted to the Owens Valley it would
continue on to Los Angeles for municipal use. The U.S.R.S. was being
used to secure land withdrawals not related to an irrigation project.
The reports in my bibliography file (No. 31) contain the detail
supporting my final report. During this work Frederick H. Fowler
was the engineer representing the Forest Service. Walter L. Huber
had been the Forest Service engineerj he had entered private practice
and was then consulting engineer for the Southern Sierra Power Co.
Both were helpful in ray work but both were naturally watchful of the
interests of their employers.
The matters involved in Mono Basin are also discussed in my
"Comments on Economic Evaluation of Water, Part II...
Contribution No. ^2, Water Resources Center, University of Californ
ia..." (p. 6-9-) The cooperative study with Los Angeles is discussed
in the annual reports of the U.S.R.S. (19th pAl^, 20th p.UoO, 21st
p. 120, and 22nd p. 138).
While this investigation and report was an interesting assign
ment, it was not productive of specific results. However it repre
sents an introduction to the later record of developments in this area.
The City of Los Angeles had been in litigation with the Southern
Sierras Power Co. over its right to condemn the power Company s plant
in the Owens River Gorge. The city wanted to build a reservoir there.
The company claimed it was in public use and not subject to condemna
tion. The company won. To block Los Angeles from diverting Mono
Basin water to Owens Valley, the power crompany hurriedly built a power
plant on lower LeeVining Creek on a section of school land to which
it had fee title. The U.S.R.S. withdrawal prevented the power company
from securing rights of way over public lands. Eventually the city
negotiated the purchase of the power company s properties which it
needed and built its Mono Basin project. The lower LeeVining Creek
plant is now abandoned.
The power company naturally resented the use by the U.S.R.S. of
its land withdrawal powers as an aid to Los Angles in its controversy
with the company. A. P. Davis was the director of the U. S.R.S. and
responsible for the cooperative agreement with Los Angeles uoder which
this was done. Senator Phipps of Colorado Springs was president of
the power company and also a U.S. Senator from Colorado. Secretary
of the Interior Work came from Colorado Springs and may have secured
his appointment through the support of Senator Phipps. Secretary
Work asked for Davis resignation. Davis offered to resign if he might
include in his letter of resignation that he was resigning at the
Secretary s request. Work objected to this and wanted the resignation
to appear to be voluntary. After considerable hassle -f-he Secretary
removed Davis. This action resulted in a protest by the engineering
profession. Mr. Davis published a statement dated July 11, 1923
giving his version of this situation. A copy of this statement is in
the Water Resources Archives in Berkeley. Mr. Davis personal reputa
tion was sufficiently high that his standing was not hurt by his dis
missal. The facts of this situation have not been seriously questioned.
He immediately found other employment and later became the chief engi
neer of the East Bay Municipal Utility District and selected and con
structed its Mokelumne River project. Later he was given Reclamation 1
Hall of Fame nomination No. 6. These nominations were given by the
U. S.R.S. as a reward to those of long and distinguished service in
the service. This was an appropriate recognition by the Reclamation
Service of the value of the services of Mr. Davis. This was awarded
after the controversies regarding his dismissal had passed. Mr. A. P.
Davis was succeeeed by D.W. Davisjformerly governor of Idaho. The
latter did not last long. D.W. Davis was the first politician to
become head of the U. S.R.S.
I had met A. P. Davis while working for the U.S.R.S. in 1907-09-
He vas highly regarded In the service for his straight forward approach
to problems as they arose and his willingness to make decisions. I
was a minor contributor to the defense fund raised among engineers in
his behalf at the time of his dismissal.
In 192^, a petition for the organization of the Indian Wells -
Fremont Water Storage District was presented to the State Engineer.
I was asked by the State Engineer to prepare the report on the feasi
bility of the proposed district. This was done in September 192U.
My report is Item 36 in my Bibliography file. A hearing on the peti
tion was held at Mojave on July 25, 192^.
John T. Whistler had made a report for the land owners on this
proposed project. He planned to secure his water supply from the
tributaries of Mono Lake and bring it to the District through the Oven?;
Valley. It was obvious at that time that any such diversion from the
Mono Basin, if made, would be used in Los Angeles. The plan proposed
for this district was not feasible for the irrigation proposed, al
though the lands to be included would be productive with a water
sXipx>ly. I recommended against the approval of the organization of the
Indian Wells- Prement W.S.D. This recommendation was approved by Mr.
McClure and the petition was rejected. This procedure occurred prior
to the purchase of the Power Co. rights in Mono Basin by Los Angeles.
The proposed district would have had to acquire these rights in order
to secure water for its project. These costs plus the high construc
tion costs that would be required to divert and convey the water to
the proposed district exceeded the value of its use for irrigation.
There was no further activity on this proposed project after its re
jection by the State Engineer.
The City of Los Angeles in connection with its Mono Basin Project
brought suit to condemn the rights of the riparian owners around Mono
Lake who might be injured by the lowering of the lake which would re
sult from its diversion. This case was tried in Placerville in
about 193^- The jury desired to view the areas involved and were
taken on a trip to Mono Lake during the later stages of the trial.
As the trial had cost the city some $100,000 at this time, the jury
was insured for this trip to cover the loss if injury to any of them
should require a retrial. No injuries occurred.
Later Los Angeles constructed its project to divert Mono Basin
water into Lake Crowley ^or regulation and conveyance to Los Angeles.
Diversion began in 19^0. The extent of this diversion and its effect
on Mono Lake are described in my report on Mono Lake of August, 19^2.
This report is a part of those I have made on the enclosed lakes in
the Great Basin.
The active issues in 1922 in the Mono Basin have now been resolved.
The power company retains the use of Rush and LeeVlning Creeks for
power development above the elevation of the diversion to Owens Valley
by Los Angeles. The city has the use of the Mono Basin water supply
that is divertible by its system. Additional irrigation in the Mono
Basin has not been made. The present results represent the best uses
of these water supplies. Irrigation in the Mono Basin, even on good
lands, has very limited yields and returns due to the short growing
season. On the Pumice Valley lands irrigation would not be a bene
CALIFORNIA WATER STORAGE DISTRICTS
By 1920 California had reached that stage in its water develop
ment where storage vas needed to enable a larger part of the runoff
to be used for irrigation. This need and the opportunities to satisfy
: vere largely applicable to the Sierra, stream:? in I- he Sa.n Joa iuia
Volley. While the snow storage in these streams Increased tue pro-
port i. on of the annual runoff which occurred during the irrigation
season, the snow wit produced more water than could be used directly
during its recurrence from April to June with deficient flows in the
later summer months.
More economical storage could be secured i. f all of the diver-
si :ns on any stream could combine in the construction of joint .stor
age war* . Where all use -from a stream was under one system, as on
the Merced River, such storage could be built by a Wright Act irri
gation dist?- <:t . Where on]y two irrigation districts were involved,
storage could be; developed on a contractual basis between the two
districts. This was done by the Modesto and the Turlock Districts on
the Tuolumne River and the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Districts on
For streams in th- 3 southern San Joaquin Valley, more canal sys
tems were involved and there was need for a form of district to con
struct the storage and distribute the stored water among the partici
pating systems on a wholesale basis without engaging in any activity
within the areas served by the individual canal z. This need was
greatest on the Kings and Kern Rivers.
To meet this need, the legislature in 1915 passed an act providing
for the organization of districts to construct storage. This act
was found to contain unconstitutional features arid was repealed. It
was succeeded by the water storage district act of 1921. In Tarpey
vs. McClure 190 Cal 593 * the State Supreme Court sustained the con
stitutionality of the 1921 act on March 13, 1923. Following this
decision, action proceeded on the petitions for the organization of
the vater storage districts which had been previously filed. It is
the 1921 act with its later amendments which has been used for this
form of district.
Some o p the procedures under the water storage district act
have been mentioned in the previous discussion of my work for the
State Engineer from 1920 to 1930. The water storage act places all
o^ the organizational procedure of such districts under the State
Engineer (now the Director of Water Resources). The State Engineer
passes on the sufficiency of the organization petition. He hears
petitions for inclusion of additional lands and for exclusion of
lands included in the organization petition. He passes on the engi
neering feasibility and the susceptibility of the included lands to
irrigation "from the proposed water supply.
The costs of the investigations by the State Engineer are paid
by the proponents o f the proposed district who are required to pro
vide a bond to cover such costs when the petition for organization
As previously described, I was appointed the consulting engineer
for the State Engineer on water storage district matters. My accounts
were submitted to the State Engineer and when approved were submitted
to the proponents of the district who then paid me directly. No
difficulties arose under this procedure in my work under this act.
The State Engineer set the amount of the bond he would require from
the proponents. This amount was based on the estimated costs for
the individual district.
There were four early water storage district procedures in the
1920 s. The first was the Kern River W.S.D. covering lands served
by the First Point rights on Kern River. fChe Buena Vista W.S.D.
including lands served by the Second Point rights in the same river;
the water storage district in the Tulare Lake Basin; and the San
Joaquin water storage district including the lands served from the
river by Miller and Lux and those planned to be served in the Madera
I.D. were the other three. While the act was intended to be used on
King s River, this area secured the passage of the Water Conservation
District Act to meet their needs and proceeded later to use this act.
Each of these districts is discussed separately later.
I made the following general reports to the State Engineer on
the water storage district act procedure: "Policy in Passing on
Feasibility," 8 pages, 1922; "Adoption and Carrying Out of Plan,"
7 pages, 192^; "Basis of Voting," 10 pages, 1927; "Procedure of
State Engineer," 32 pages, 1923.
Copies of thes reports were filed with the office of the State
Engineer. Copies were also included in my bibliographical file,
Item 33. These reports should be consulted for a complete discussion
of the matters covered. The following comments touch a few of the
Voting in water storage districts was on a property ownership
basis. Each voter had one vote for each $100 of assessed land value
on the county tax roll. Costs were to be distributed in accordance
with the benefits received. It was expected that the amount of stor
age required by each canal system in a water storage district would
vary inversely with the extent of its direct flow supply. This would
result In variable benefits which could be equalized most effectively
by an assessment based on benefits rather than on land areas or values.
The areas expected to be included in the proposed water storage
districts included large land ownerships. Some areas had only a limited
number of local residents. The property qualification basis of voting
Cfi-ve s.1] land owners a voice in proportion to their land interest in
the district. Both the method o r voting and the basis of assessment
in t;ie water storage district act are the same as those that had been
used for many years in the reclamation districts formed to reclaim
overflow lands where residents within the unreclaimed areas were lack
ing and where the size of the individual land ownership varied.
The property qualification for voting appeared to be simple to
apply. All that would be needed would be to secure a copy of the
last county assessment for the included lands. This part was lengthy
but not complex. However, the next group of questions involved who
would be entitled to cast the vote. Corporations could vote by re
solution of their boards authorizing someone to cast their vote,
partnerships required agreement among all partners or a definition
o r " the individual interest of each partner. Lands being purchased
under contract on which title had not passed raised a question regard
ing who could cast their vote. This was usually handled by the seller
giving a proxy to the buyer. Ownerships under guardianships, trusts,
etc., presented additional problems. The matters were more involved
in the areas seeking organization as water storage districts than
they had been in the reclamation districts as the number of owners
was larger and colonization had preceded the organization of the
water storage districts.
To meet the district s financial needs until it could prepare
arid adopt a plan for its proposed work in which assessments could be
levied, the districts were given authority to levy a flat rate assess
ment not to exceed $.50 per acre. A second assessment of $-50 per acre
could be levied if approved by the State Engineer. The receipts under
this assessment could also be used to reimburse the sponsors of the
district for their pre- organization costs.
As assessment based on benefits may be difficult to levy where
many owners and variable degrees of benefit are involved. The water
storage district act provides a board of three assessors to determine
the assessment of each ownership. The report of the assessors is
subject to equalization by the two executive directors under the water
storage district act and the president of its district board. When
it becomes final the levies by the district are expressed in terms of
a percentage o p the total benefits. This assessment is the one levied
to distribute the estimated total cost of the district plan after such
a plan has been prepared and adopted.
To assist the State Engineer in holding hearings, etc., the water
storage district act provides for two appointed members to constitute
a board of three. However, the board members do not have equal author
ity. The final responsibility rests with the State Engineer. The
conduct of hearings can be assigned to the associate members. Mr.
McClure usually asked the other two members to sit with him when he
conducted hearings. The two associate members appointed under the
act were W.P. Boone of Fresno and D. Joseph Coyne of Los Angeles. Mr.
Boone was chairman of the King s River Water Association and Mr. Cloyne
was an attorney practicing in Los Angeles.
The following discussion of water storage district procedure is
applicable to the p orm of the act in effect up to and including 1928.
It includes the amendments of 1927. My own active handling of these
procedures covered the period to 1928. Some changes have been made
by later amendments to the act. Any present procedures should be
based on the present form of the water storage district act.
The situations that rose in the State Engineer s administration
in the 1920 s o^ the water storage districts then before him can best
be described by individual districts. While there were similar mat
ters involved, each of these districts also had individual problems.
KERN RIVER WATER STORAGE DISTRICT
The history of this district to September 1, 1928, is covered
in a report I made to the State Engineer on that date. This report
is Item 2 in Binder 33 of my bibliographical ^ile.
Tl:e Kern County Farm Bureau had been active in securing the
investigations which resulted in Bulletin 9. It had been hoped that
an adequate water supply was available for one large district includ
ing the lands which were served under both the First Points and Second
Point rights and additional lands as well. My conclusion in Bulletin
9 was that the water supply was not adequate for a total area of more
than 300,000 acres. Miller and Lux as the Second Point owners pre
ferred to have a separate district. A petition was presented for a
water storage district to use the First Point water under the recently
enacted water storage district act. The hearings on the sufficiency
of this petition extended through 1922. There were petitions for
exclusion and for withdrawal pS names that had been signed on the
petition. The water storage district act had some uncertainties in
its provisions. The Tejon Ranch, too, had wanted to have some of
their lands included and fought the procedure for the proposed district.
Mr. McClure s order approving the petition for organization was approved
on July 20, 1923- This put into effect the procedure for the election
on the organization.
This was the first election under the water storage district act.
The vote was to be on a basis of a vote ^or each $100 of assessed
value on the county assessment roll for land. This election was
placed with the State Engineer. The State Engineer 3 office had not
had any experience with the conduct of such elections.
As I had done the work on the hearings on the organization
petitions and was familiar with the area of the proposed district
and acquainted with those active in the organization procedure, I
was assigned the Job of conducting the election. It was also an
entirely new experience for me.
The organization of this district had become controversial in
the areo.. Under the property basis of voting, the Kern County Land
Company had h6% of the votes, enough votes to carry the election.
As they were in favor of the organization of the district, the elec
tion was sure to carry if it could be conducted so that it could not
be successfully attacked on legal grounds.
This le-^t me with the responsibility for avoiding any legal
grounds for voiding the election in the face of known opposition by
the attorney for the Tejon Ranch Company. I went to the County Clerk
for help. He was very cordial, but explained that this election was
political dynamite and he could not afford to take any active part
in it. However , he offered to give me any informal advice he could
and let me have a room from which to operate.
The voting list required the preparation of a list of owners and
their assessed valuation. I employed a local title company to prepare
this voting list. I had to segregate it by precincts, arrange the
voters list alphabetically and assemble each voter s total vote when
more than one piece of land was owned in a precinct. The area of the
proposed district was about 250,000 acres. In spite of the dominant
ownership of the Kern County Land Company, there were about 5,000
ownerships in the proposed district. Help was secured from Carlisle
and Company of San Francisco on the form of the ballot, tally sheets,
etc., which were printed by this company.
The Kern County Land Company did not campaign for the district
as they had the votes needed to carry the election. There was or
ganized opposition which had a free field to accuse anyone of any
thing. Although the State Engineer confined himself and his staff
to their statutory duties under the act, he was accused of favoring
the Land Company and other wrong actions. In the hopes of at least
supplying correct factual information, I spoke to the joint meeting
of the Bakersfield service clubs on October 26, 1923, discussing
mainly the functions of the State Engineer under the water storage
The election was held on November 10, 1923- This was a Satur
day. The act called for the polls to be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
on the day of the elction. I was at the courthouse in Bakersfield,
available by telephone to answer questions that might arise regarding
voting. Such questions kept coming in regarding who could vote ,
property having various complications of ownership. Some specific
answer had to be given on the spot as the voter was waiting to have
it decided. I made more judicial rulings in one day than a court
would make in six months.
In the afternoon, a precinct near Wasco phoned in that many of
their voters were Seventh Day Adventists and would not vote on Satur
day until after 6 p.m. The polls were only scheduled to remain open
then to 6 p.m. I told the election board to have the Adventists at
the voting place before 6 p.m. and then to let them vote beginning
at 6:01 p.m. under the provisions in the general election code that
all voters at the polls at the time they closed were entitled to
vote before the polls were finally closed.
The election carried by a vote of 68,^65 to 21,929, an apparent
ratio of over 3 to 1. However, if the vote of the Kern County Land
Company is deducted, the remaining vote was 10,222 for and 21,929
against, or a ratio against of 2.1 to 1. The total vote cast repre
sented 73$ of the eligible voters and k-vtfo of the eligible vote of the
voters other than the Land Company. Probably many small owners fore
saw the result of the election and did not vote.
In 192^ a suit was filed contesting the legality of the organi
zation of the district. This was filed after the six-month period
allowed for filing such a suit had expired, and it failed. I attended
the hearing on this suit with the applicable records, but was not
called on to testify.
Thus ended an adventure on my part into a strange field outside
of my previous experience. The work done was that prescribed by the
statutes without fear or favor of either side. It was gratifying
that the effort to overturn the election was not successful. I have
always felt that it would have stood up even i^ the contest had been
brought within the statutory period. As in all such matters, the
experience I gained was mainly in a better understanding o^ human
nature and what makes some people act the way they do. The conduct
of this election was no place for anyone with a thin skin.
Following its organization, the Kern River Water Storage District
appointed A.L. Trowbridge as its engineer and proceeded with the
preparation of its district plan. This was not completed until 1928.
A draft of the proposed plan was submitted informally to the State
Engineer in advance of its official adoption by the district. I
reviewed the advance draft in a memorandum dated October 27, 1920.
In this memorandum, I had misinterpreted a portion of the district s
plan. When this came to the attention of the State Engineer, ray
memoranaum of October 27, 1928, was recalled. My memorandum of
December 10, 1928, is the corrected review o^ the proposed report
of the district.
I made a report to the State Engineer dated September 1, 1928,
covering the history of the Kern River water storage district to that
date. This included the pre- organization record and the earlier part
of the district s activity prior to the preparation of its plan.
Before the district plan had been completed, questions were
raised regarding the application of the conflict-of-interest statutes
to any purchase of the existing canal system by a district board of
directors on which "ive of the seven members were employed by the
Kern County Land Company whose systems were to be acquired. It was
concluded that any such purchase would come within this statute and
invalidate the purchase contract. The five Land Company directors
resigned. Under the water storage district act, the State Engineer
fills vacancies that occur between elections.
I was assigned the job o" finding suitable and eligible successors.
This required securing recommendations, interviewing prospective appoin
tees, and, in some cases, trying to secure consent to be appointed
and serve from some o r the more desirable ones that had been recom
mended. There were 36 individuals specifically considered for these
-five appointments. Additional names were suggested but not investigated.
The problem was to secure directors qualified to serve by their past
business experience who were not, in some way, involved with the Land
Company or committed to opposition to the plan. Small land owners
who had opposed the organization of the district and were recognized
as anti-district arid anti-Land Company were not considered to be
suitable for these appointments. It was felt that the appointees
should be capable o f the business judgment required and neither
strongly anti or pro district to an extent that would affect their
conclusions on the proposed district plan.
I made a 22-page report to the State Engineer dated November 30,
1927, regarding "Appointments to Fill Vacancies on Board of Directors
of Kern River Water Storage District". This report discussed both
the criteria used in selecting recommended appointees and the indivi
duals considered. It explained the reasons for not recommending some
of those suggested and also for the selection of the n ive recommended
appointees. The "ive recommended were appointed.
On August 2h, 1928, the majority of the revised Board of Directors
approved a report which it instructed the Chief Engineer of the
District to prepare and file with the State Engineer. At the State
Engineer s suggestion, this report was submitted informally in advance
of" the official Ailing in order that the State Engineer might have
additional time ^or its review. This was done on October 19, 1928.
A copy of this report had been loaned for examination prior to this
I was asked to review this proposed plan for the State Engineer.
My report on "Proposed R -port of the Kern River Water Storage District"
was dated December 10, 1928.
In my report (31 pages) I discussed various features of the
report and concluded that in its form it did not meet the require
ments of Section 17 of the Water Storage District Act. Section 17
contains the specifications regarding the standards which a district
plan report is required to meet. The specific points on which tno
proposed report was de r icient were discussed in some detail in my
report. Revision of the proposed report before it was formally -filed
The objections made to the proposed district plan were largely
based on its inadequacy for defining the individual land owners
benefits resulting from the plan. The Water Storage District Act
requires that the cost of the district works be assessed to the
individual land areas in accordance with the benefits received. To
enable such an assessment of benefits to be made on a basis which can
stand up requires that the plan define the services to be received and
their cost in specific and definite terms. It was my conclusion that
this proposed plan did not meet this statutory standard.
The State Engineer transmitted a copy of my report to the District.
Having been submitted informally, he did not need to reject it offi
cially. He indicated that an acceptable plan would need to meet my
The Kern River Water Storage District objected to my report of
December 10, 1928, but did not take official action on it. On further
consideration of its program the District decided not to proceed
under the Water Storage District Act. The District was later dissolved.
My report of December 10, 1928, was my last extended work on
this District. Events in the ensuing years have not altered the con
clusions reached in 1928. Had the Kern River Water Storage District
attempted to proceed under its 1928 proposed plan, in my opinion,
difficulties and eventually litigation would have developed which
would have hampered if not prevented its progress. The depression
of the 1930 s, while not a ^actor in my report, would have made
successful progress additionally difficult.
When the Kern River Water Storage District was dissolved, the
Kern County Land Company brought rate cases to increase the rates
"or its public utility systems. Previously, the rate had been $0.75
per second -foot per day. This vas recognized as being below the cost
o^ service. The Land Company was a major consumer under its own sys
tem. It did not seek a rate increase while the plan for a large dis
trict was under active effort. w hen this plan failed it sought rate
The program proposed by the Kern River Water Storage District
included drainage in the general south side area, transfer of excess
use there to lands having an inadequate water supply north of Kern
River and the regulation of Kern River by storage at Isabella. The
Land Company secured a substantial increase in its utility rates.
Some consumers south of the river abandoned their utility service
and put in wells. This helped provide local drainage and released
water for transfer to other areas. To this extent, the purposes of
the District plan were accomplished.
When the 193^ v lood Control Act was passed and the Federal
Government accepted the responsibility for flood control on a non
reimbursable basis, the Kern River situation was materially changed.
In 19^ storage at Isabella was authorized as a flood control project.
This storage has been built as a multipurpose project. Recently
agreements have been reached on the costs allocated to irrigation.
The area north of Kern River under the Galloway and Lerdo Canals
was later organized as the North Kern Water Storage District. It has
contracted for much of the irrigation use of Isabella reservoir.
General agreements have been reached on the operation of Isabella
storage between the ^irst and Second Point users and the lower rights
including Tulare Lake.
Kern River has now reached what may be considered as the full
development of its own water supply. Water is now being imported
by the C.V.P. and will be imported by the State. The local ground
water supply is generally in full use. Thus over more than forty
years, the Kern River areas have accomplished their objective in the
~ull use of their local water supplies.
Looking back, it is probable that the conditions on Kern River
today would have been reached without the State investigation in 1920
and the lengthy water storage district procedure. The present re
sults are th<- natural product of the physical conditions involved.
They would have been reached by some process if the State had not
participated in the 1920 s.
The above conclusion, however, does not detract from the use ill
ness of the State s work in this area. While the same results might
have been secured by other means, the State supplied the basic in
ventory of water supply and the area it could serve. It also, under
the Water Storage District Act procedure, declined to approve a pro
gram of development that was not adequately prepared. To this extent,
the State helped the area avoid a form o^ 1 organization and a program
that would probably have delayed the results- that have now been
It is my opinion that the activities and actions of the State
Engineer in Kern River matters is an example of the proper functioning
of this office. It cooperated with local agencies in investigating
the resources and outlining their development. It acted in the public
interest in declining to approve a plan inadequately worked out. In
;he 1920 s, the State had no program of its own to affect its local
e. tionc and it could operate as a disinterested but informed agency.
BUENA VISTA WATER STORAGE DISTRICT
The Buena Vista Water Storage District was organized lay the
owners of the Second Point water rights on Kern River. Miller and
Lux owned nearly all of these water rights and also nearly all of
the lands which they served. Water was stored in Buena Vista Lake
below Second Point. It was anticipated that the Second Point rights
might participate in the storage then being proposed at Isabella. A
district form of organization would be in a better position to finance
I made a report to the State Engineer dated July 1, 1928, entitled
"History of Buena Vista Water Storage Project". I had handled all of
trie procedural matters relating to this district for the State Engi
neer and prepared this report to place these matters on record. A
copy o^ this report and of other reports I have made relating to this
district are in my bibliography file, Item 3^-
T"ie petition for the Buena Vista Water Storage District was filed
August 9, 1922. It then included 125,890 acres. In May, 1923, I made
a report for the State Engineer on the "Feasibility of Proposed Buena
Vista Water Storage District". I concluded that it was proposed to
extend the available water supply over too large an area. Miller ana
Lux had agreed to give a preference in service to the lands south of
Wasco Road with only flood water service to the lands north of this
road. It was concluded that the service that would be secured by the
lands north o-" Wasco Road would be insufficient to support their in
clusion in a district. I found that the District as proposed did not
meet, a reasonable standard of -feasibility, practicality and utility.
ily conclusion was supported by tde State Engineer.
The recommendations in my May, 1923 report were not favorably
received, by the proponents of the District and matters were dead
locked until December, 19^3> when Miller and Lux expressed a desire
to "ind a basis which the State Engineer would approve.
There were two main points at issue. One was the adequacy of
the available water supply for the areas it was proposed to serve.
The second was the quality of much of the land proposed to be included
north of asco Road.
On January k, 192^.> & n inspection of these lands vas made with
T.P. Wittscheri, attorney for Miller and Lux and J.F. Clyne, their
superintendent. Mr. Clyne agreed on the ground that the alkali con
tent (.>" the lands I had questioned made them non-irrigable. Based
on this advice from their own superintendent, Miller and Lux agreed
bo the exclusion o^ these lands.
Miller and Lux had constructed a relatively large canal north
from Tasco Road to remove surplus waters from the Goose Lake area.
This canal had only limited usefulness at best and would have had
less i f the lands north of Wasco Road were excluded ^rom the District.
Mr. J. Leroy Nickel had been mainly responsible for the expenditures
on this canal. He was Henry Miller s son-in-law and had become presi
dent o^ Miller and Lux on Miller s death. Nickel was anxious to re
tain some land north o^ Wasco Road in the District to furnish an
appearance of usefulness for the canal. Largely to save fsice -"or
him in this matter a row of sections in King s County at the north
end o" 1 * this canal were allowed to remain in the District. These lands
were of suitable quality. They were included in the District as organ-
i.7^,].. Later, Miller and Lux recognized the difficulty of serving this
isolated area and those lands were withdrawn from the District.
The concession relating to these King s County lands resulted
in the consent of Miller and Lux to the exclusion of the other lands
north of Wasco Road. The organization of the amended District was
approved by the State Engineer. Its organization election on June
23, 192^, carried with no opposing vote.
The District was not active in the earlier period after its
organization as it waited to see what plans might be worked out for
a joint storage with the Kern River Water Storage District. In 1925*
there was a change in the control of Miller and Lux resulting from
its refinancing of its own indebtedness. Mr. James T^ickett became
manager and began the sale of Miller and Lux lands. This refinancing
was more directly related to the San Joaquin River Water Storage
District and is discussed in the comments on that district. In order
to make its lands in the Buena Vista Water Storage District more
readily saleable, it was essential that the irrigation system be in
the ownership of some form of District organization. W.C. Hammltt
prepared a valuation of the properties the EL strict proposed to acquire.
His report was dated September 6, 1926.
Hammitt s valuation was based on the usual estimated cost of
reproduction of the works to be acquired. Miller and Lux had built
large flood discharge canals which were also used for irrigation.
The y -ardage in these canals at reasonable costs per cubic yard re
sulted in a relatively high cost per acre for the lands in the District,
As the water supply was subject to deficiencies, I reported to
Paul Bailey, the State Engineer, that the system to be bought
did not, in my opinion, have a value to the land of over $25 per
acre. Bailey accepted this recommendation. The District was advised
that this would be ac large fi bond issue for the purchase of
these works as the State vould approve.
Tills result was accepted by the District and the purchase price
was reduced to this basis. As Miller and Lux owned about 90$ o*" the
land and the irrigation system, this was largely a matter of book
keeping for them. The lower bond issue made the lands more readily
saleable at some increase in land price.
Miller and Lux were also required to transfer title to the
water rights to the district. This was finally done on a basis
accepted by Attorney General U.S. Webb. The plan was approved, the
election on its adoption carried unanimously and the district took
over the irrigation system.
The original directors of the Buena Vista .-later Storage District
were Miller and Lux employees. These resigned and were replaced by
others before the purchase of the irrigation system. The same pro
cedure was used here as in the Kern River Water Storage District.
I canvassed the available appointees and made recommendations regard
ing the appointments to be made. These were followed.
The next procedure relating to the Buenz Vista Water Storage
District was the certification of its bonds. The amount was $9^2,000
on 50,^00 acres o^ land to be assessed. The area in Buena Vista Lake
was included in the District, but was not to receive water and was
riot assessed. I made a report on this bond issue for the State Engi
neer in June, 1929. Mr. Edward Hyatt was the State Engineer at this
The Miller and Lux lands in the Buena Vista Water Storage Dis
trict were included in the general trust deed securing the two issues
of mortgage bonds on the Miller and Lux properties. It was necessary
to secure waivers of this mortgage to give a prior lien to the District
"bonds. My report recommended certification of the District bonds
subject to the completion of these waivers. The waivers were secured
and the bonds certified.
Miller and Lux retained the District bonds which it received
in payment for the irrigation system sold to tiie District. Miller
and Lux paid most of the taxes in the earlier years of the District.
The,-- received main3.y their own money back as interest on the bonds.
In 1935* Miller and Lux arranged to sell the District bonds it
held through Stone and Youngberg, a bond firm in San ^rancisco. I
vas asked to prepare a report on these bonds b,y Stone and Youngberg.
? V; r- port was dated April., 1935- A copy is in my bibliography file.
I!, is report 2 in Item 3^> This report was p avorable.
After making my April, 1935 report on the bonds, there were
some: changes made in the lease of lands in Buena Vista Lake suggested
by the legal advisors ofi the bond dealers. To include these changes,
I nade a supplemental report in -July, 193^- This report, was made for
two of the Los Angeles bond firms who were selling the bonds there
for Stone and Youngberg. This report is also in my bibliography
file. It is No. 1 in Item 3^-
The July, 193^, report on its bond issue was my last work on
the Buena Vista Water Storage District. In the ensuing years, the
District has operated successfully, has met its bond payments and
has joined in the general Kern River agreement relating to oturage
at Isjjbella. It is now (August, 19^5) considering purchasing addi
tional water from the Slate project. It is understood that no final
decision on such a purchase has been made at this time.
Among the more controversial matters relating to the "Buena
Vista Water Storage .District was the refusal of the State Engineer
to approve the inclusion of lands north of Wasco Road. This refusal
was based both, on a lack of adequate water supply and the poor qual
ity of the trough lands in this area. Even if the water supply had
been adequate these lands were not considered to be susceptible o-f
irrigation under a practical standard in which the land would need
to be susceptible o* producing crops which could meet the costs o^
its Irrigation. The poorer of thes lands were of the type described
as self-rising" in which the alkali, largely black alkali type,
results in a loose, puffy surface. I have seen no reason to change
ny conclusions in the years since the exclusion of these lands was
To the east of Buena Vista Water Storage District, the Semi-
tropic Ridge includes ]ands o p somewhat higher elevation on which
some areas have been reclaimed by the application o~" gypsum. These
lands are not, in ay opinion, comparable with t he excluded trough
lands north o"*" Wasco Road.
In 195^j when the State water project appeared to be a reality,
a District was proposed covering the Semitropic Ridge and adjacent
areas. This district extended north of Wasco Road and included lands
that had been excluded from the Buena Vista Water Storage District.
A petition ^or the organization of the Semitropic Water Storage
District was filed on April 28, 1958. A report on this proposed
district was prepared by the Department of Water Resources in June,
1958. This was published b.,, the Department as Report on Proposed
Semitropic Water Storage District".
About 225*000 acres were included in the proposed district.
The State s land classification is stated to have been made in
considerable detail" (p. 52). "All but about 1,UOO of the 22^,000
acres within the proposed district are susceptible of irrigated
agricultural development . The 1,UOO acres considered to be non-
irrigable consist mainly o 4 * small stream channels. About 12,000
acres oT the irrigable lands are of excellent quality and will pro
duce a wide range o^ climatically adapted crops. Some 166,000 acres
although having adequate soil depths, are limited in their crop adapt
ability and productivity by excesses of soluble salts and exchange
able sodium. The remaining ^5,000 acres, in addition to being
affected by salts, also have shallow soil depths or very fine tex
tures", (p. 53)
The report continues (p.53~^)j "The degree to which the saline
and alkali lands are affected by concentrations of salts varies from
slight to very heavy. Conditions are such that some could be brought
into production rather easily, while other areas would require ex
tensive reclamation to make them productive. The more adversely
affected lands would require large quantities of amendments and
water for leaching purposes. In the areas of finer textured soils,
very little crop production could be expected for several years.
It is doubtful if any o^ 1 these seriously affected lands would ever
be reclaimed beyond a point where they would produce any but medium
or shallow-rooted crops".
The report discusses the reclamation of these alkali lands by
the addition of gypsum and leaching. One acre foot of water was estimated
as the amount of water required to dissolve and to make effective one ton of
the calcium- carrying amendment (p. 56). A total of 608 soil samples
were analysed and the tons per acre of gypsum required to reclaim
the top two feet of soil were computed. Twenty-eight individual
categories, ranging -"rorn five to fifty-one tons of gypsum required
were used. The average retirement was found to be 2k tons per acre
with a total of 4,kOO,OGG tons for the entire area (p. 57). An acre
of 63,850 acres was found to require thirty or more tons per area
? gypsum (p- 59)- It was estimated that 195,970 acres would ulti
mately be irrigated (p.fe). This is about 83$ of the gross area.
A concrete pipe conveyance and distribution system was planned
at an estimated cost o f about $50,000,000 (p. 78). This is about $2^0
per acre. Total annual costs were estimated to be $13 per acre for
the distribution system (p. 79)-
Under land Reclamation" (p. Si), is the following statement:
"Physically, practically all of the lands in the proposed dis
trict, appear to reclaimable, although the time required and cost will
vary considerably. Profitable levels of production have been reached
in "rom three to five years on the lands developed in recent years,
but five years or longer may be needed before this level is reached
in the more seriously affected areas and on the lands having less
desirable physical characteristics."
The average cost of reclaiming the alkali lands was estimated
to be $750 per acre including an average cost of $250 per acre Tor
tlie raw land (p. 83) and $150 per acre for crop losses during the
period of reclamation.
The report recognizes that "reclamation and land development
involves a sizeable investment", (p. 83)- However, other factor;:- are
mentioned, such as income tax deductions for annually recurring costs
associated with reclamation, and through cost sharing under the
Agricultural Conservation Program (p.8^)j market values ^or developed
land, as then understood, were $500 to $1,000 per acre.
Payment capacities for we.tor were estimated on the basis o^ the
crop yields in Kern County as shown by the reports o^ the
County Agricultural Ccmaissioner. For V and VS lands comprising
(VP the district, the payment capacity was estimated to "be $21.00 per
acre -foot, ^or the poorer Vhs, Vis and Vps lands, the estimated
payment capacity was $15.00 per acre (p. 80). Deducting $5-25 pe*"
acre -foot for the cost o: r distribution leaves $9-75 to $15-75 P e r
acre foot payment capacity at delivery from the State canal. The
district, average would be $1^.75 per acre foot (p. 89).
At the time this report was prepared, the cost of state water
had not been announced. It was thought that this price would be
within the payment capacity and tte report concluded that the district
project, was feasible (p.89)
It is, therefore, indicated that the proposed project, so "ar
as it can "be defined at the present time, possesses this essential
element of feasibility . June 30, 195&" (p. 9*0 -
The maps included in report show the irrigated area in
195^. These lands were in the eastern part of the district. Only
a minor area was shown just north of Wasco Road in the area rejected
for inclusion in the Buena Vista Water Storage District. The land
classification map shows the lands rejected for the Buena Vista Water
Storage District as having limited crop adaptability due to salts
and cither fine texture or shallow depth. The map showing the esti
mated gypsum requirements shows these lands generally in the one to
-fourteen tons per acre. The largest requirements, thirty tons or
more, are mainly in the northern part of the District.
In its Bulletin No. 119-8, dated September, 19^3, the Department
o p Water Resources estimated that the water toll, per acre foot at the
California Aqueduct near Tupman where the Semi tropic Water Storage
would receive its supply, will vary from $10.00 in 1968 to $12.00
in 1990. Adding the estimated $5-25 per acre foot cost of distri
bution gives an average cost at the -"arm delivery of $15.25 per acre
foot in 19^8. This estimated cost can be compared with the the esti
mated payment capacity in the 1958 report of $21.00 per acre foot
"or tue better lands and $15.00 for the poorer lands. The average
ability to pay For the entire Semitropic Water Storage District
exceeds the estimated cost of state water, but the estimated costs
exceed the ability to pay of about 20$ of the district land.
This extended review of the Semitropic Water Storage District
has been made in an effort to see what support might be presented
*"or the reversal o^ the 1928 conclusions regarding the -feasibility
of the irrigation o^ the trough lands north of Wasco Road. These
lands wore rejected in 1923 for inclusion in a district which would
have a relatively low cost of water. In 1958, they were found to
be feasible for inclusion in the high cost Semitropic Water Storage
These lands have not changed materially in the thirty years
between these two results. Some advances have been made in alkali
amendments although the costs of such reclamation may exceed the
value of the reclaimed land.
It is still my opinion that the action in 1928 was justified
and that it was in the interests of the Buena Vista Water Storage
District to have these lands excluded. It is also still my position
that the best interests of the better lands in the Semitropic Water
Storage District will be served by the exclusion from its area of
the low quality land now in its boundaries including the trough lands
north o^ Wasco Road.
SAN JOAQUIN RIVER WATER STORAGE DISTRICT
This District included the areas in the Madera Irrigation Dis
trict and the Miller and Lux areas served from the Son Joaquin River.
This account includes the earlier work I had done relating to the
Madera Irrigation District prior to the water storage district work
as well as the later San Joaquin River Water Storage District.
My -"irst work relating to the Madera area was the preparation
of a "Preliminary Office Report on the Possibilities of Forming an
Irrigation District in Madera County, California", dated January 11,
191^. This report was prepared for the irrigation investigations of
the U.S.D.A. It discussed generally the lands, water supply and irri
gation system relating to such a district. It was prepared for use
by a local committee considering the organization of such a district.
An irrigation district containing about 350,000 acres was organized
in 1920. In 1921, this district voted $28,000,000 in bonds to con
struct storage on the San Joaquin River at Millerton (now Friant).
Storage on the San Joaquin River required the determination of
the prior appropriations and the riparian rights on the river. Efforts
to reach such a determination resulted in ai agreement to organize a
water storage district to included both the Madera I.D. and other lands
served by diversions ^rom the San Joaquin River.
Prior to this agreement a petition had been presented for the
organization o^ the San Joaquin Water Storage District, including
about 550,000 acres under the Miller and Lux canals. This was pro
tested by the Madera I.D. When the compromise was worked out, the
Sun J ja iuin Water Storage District procedure was dropped and the San
Joamiin River Water Storage District was started.
The petition f or the larger district was filed on January 18,
1923. Tiie engineering studies were actively undertaken by W.C.
famine tt "or Miller and Lux, Harry Barnes for the Madera I.D. and my-
sei" for the State Engineer.
The proposed district included about 950,000 acres. The boun
daries had been drawn in accordance with the compromise agreement and
included much poor land. The poor lands were generally of two classes,
a shallow hardpan area in the eastern portion of the Madera I.D. and
the Miller and Lux grass ."lands or swamp pasture areas.
The Water Storage District Acts required the State Engineer, in
approving the petition for the organization or a water storage dis
trict, to certify that the lands to be included were susceptible of
irrigfition from a common source. This requirement was interpreted
by Mr. McClure, the State Engineer, to mean more than physical suscepti
bility o p being irrigated from the common source. He considered that
"susceptible meant economically susceptible, and that the lands on
which the District supply would be used had to be capable o p producing
crops which would meet the costs.
I prepared two reports on the history of the San Joaquin River
"Trvter Storage District. One was a summary of this history to July 1,
1923. A copy of this is No. 6 of Item 3Y of my bibliography -file.
A more complete report was entitled Records of the Relation of the
State Engineer s Office to the San Joaquin River Water Storage District
This is No. 7 in Item 37- It consists o^ three parts. Part I covers
matters prior -to organization; Part II from organization to presenta
tion of Plan o" May 25, 1925: arid Part III from "Abandonment of Plun
or May 72, 1925 to Reorganisation o p Board of Directors, September 7.
h General Items to July 1, 192-3 1 .
These reports describe the procedure relating to the District
and the conflicts between the State Engineer s interpretation of his
responsibilities under the Water Storage .X strict Act. It is not
necessary to repeat all o r this history here. Basically, the Dis
trict took the position that the authority o f the State Engineer was
limited to checking names on the petition and other routine items
wituout discretionary authority to modify the proposed boundaries
or to pass on the merits o p the proposed plan. At the first hearing
on the petition, ^or the San Joaquin Water Storage District, Edward
Treadwell, the attorney for Miller and Lux, became quite emphatic in
Ills accusations regarding the position a" the State ^ngine^-r. Mr.
McClure maintained his position and dignity. Later, representatives
r> f Miller and Lux apologized for Mr. Treadwell s conduct. Milton
farmer, who was the attorney for the Madera I.D. and 3.ater r or the
San Joaiuin River Water Storage District, also tried to coerce Mr.
Me C lure to change his position. This did not work either. I was in
the middle o r these controversies supplying Mr. McClure with the
supporting material -for his position.
When I first began to work -"or Mi 1 . McClure, I was told that I
might not be able to count on his staying with a position under
-ttack. I have seen him tested many times in the controversies re
lating to the water storage district procedure. He never gave way
under any of these attacks and always supported me in any actions I
took which he had approved. It was a pleasure to tii - .e part in these
matters with this kind o p support.
When the State Engineer had advised the San Joaiuin Water Stor
age District that he would not approve the organization o f the Dis-
i-.rict as proposed because of the inclusion of poor lands, there was
a heated reaction which gradually cooled off. Later, the District
proposed that a board o*" three should be appointed to revise the
boundaries. This was to consist of Mr. Hatnmatt for Miller and Lux,
Harry Barnes or the Kadera I.D. and myself for the State Engineer,
Mr. McClurs agreed to such a board. However, a^ter the agreement
had been made, the District set a thirty-day limit on the completion
of the land classification. I declined to be bound by this time limit
and Kamnatt and Barnes proceeded, Hammatt covering the Miller and
Lux lands and Barnes the Madera I.D. area. Later, I reviewed their
results and we agreed on a revised district boundary.
When this board was proposed and Mr. McClure had named me to
represent him, Mr. Nickel of Miller and Lux proposed that he should
also name me to represent them in order to save the expense o~f the
third man. Mr. McClure pointed out the reasons why this would not
be proper; if ae had not, I would have declined the double duty.
When it had been agreed that the boundaries should be revised,
Mr. Nickel wanted the board to start immediately. Mr. Hammatt ex
plained that he was committed getting married the next week and tak
ing a two-week honeymoon. Mr. Nickel commented that it only took
on", day to get married and this was no excuse for delay. Mr. Hammatt
took his honeymoon. This remark had particular interest coming p rom
Mr. Nickel, as the one day in his life which determined his whole
future was the day he married Henry Miller s daughter.
The area in the San Joaquin River Water Storage District as
MrLit proponed was about 933*000 acres. About 332,000 acres were
excluded. This reduced the Madera T.D. area included in the-,- Water
Storage District to about 200,000 from 375,000 acres. The remainder
was nearly all. the exclusion of vhiat were called the Miller and Lux
grass lands. This terra was used to distinguish these lands from the
cropped lands. These grass lands were generally on the areas subject
to overflow ^rom the San Joaquin River or from canals. They received
whatever water might be available in excess of the demands of the
crop lands. The grass lands had not been levelled and were -flooded
to toe depths needed to submerge their areas. The forage produced
was usually of poor quality and low value.
In November, 1923> I prepared a report on "Feasibility of Pro
posed San Joaquin River Water Storage District". This was prepared
"or the State Engineer in compliance with Section 5 of the Water
Storage District Act. A copy of this report is Item 35 in my bibli
Tn tills report, I found the proposed district o^ 933*000 acres
not to be feasible. At the time this report was made the revision
of the boundaries had been completed. I p ound that the resulting
55^,000 acre district was feasible if adequate agreements could be
reached on matters of values and water rights a.nd recommended its
approval for organization.
The next question was how to exclude lands that were included
in the organization petition. There was no question regarding th^
authority of the State Engineer to exclude lands if the owner peti
tioned for exclusion. Securing such petitions ^rom all of the owners
o f the lands to be excluded was recognized as impractical. Abandoning
this district and starting a new district also meant delay and costs.
The lawyers finally agreed that an exclusion bv the State Engi
neer without petition by the owner would stand if th? owner did not
protest prior to the District s organization. This was done. No
owner protested. The District went to the organization
election with the reduced area. The election carried and was not contested.
Following its organization, the District established its of "Pice
in Los Banos, appointed Harry Barnes its engineer and Milton Farmer
Its attorney. Although the nine District directors divisions had
been adjusted to give Miller and Lux four directors and the other
land owners ^our with the ninth selected by the other eight, Miller
and Lux took over the direction of District policy and action.
The preparation of a District plan was undertaken. In April,
192^.. the State Engineer had advised the District that, in his opin
ion, the water storage district act required that a district plan
be based on determined prices for works to be purchased rather than
on estimates o* what the cost o" works to be purchased might be.
In 1925, the District made available to the State Engineer
the material it planned to use in its district plan and asked for
comments regarding its adequacy. A brie review of this material
was made in April, 1925- This indicated that the District did not
have the material necessary to complete an adequate plan and the Dis
trict was so advised. The District, however, attempted to present a
plan dated May 22, 1925- This plan was authorized to be submitted
by Resolution No. 7^ of the District board and to be "iled in compliance
with Section 1? of the California Water Storage District Act.
The May 22, 3925, plan was so obviously faulty in its omissions,
inconsistencies and infeasible costs for some areas that it was
rejected by the State Engineer. The District threatened action by
attempting to secure a writ of mandate to force its acceptance. No
legs] Hclvion, however, was taken.
In rejecting the May 22, 1925, plan, Mr. McClure o^ferod to have me
review the plan in detail and to point out its defects. This o-Pfer
was accepted and resulted in my report o-f September 1, 1925, on the
Proposed Plan of the San Joaquin River Water Storage District as
Submitted Informally to the State Engineer by Resolution No. 76 of
the Board o" Directors of the San Joaquin River Water Storage District".
T~;ls is Item 37a o^ my bibliography file. This report reviewed the
details o* the proposed plan.
It was my conclusion, as expressed in the September 1, 1925,
report, that tlie proposed plan lacked the required essentials o ** a
statutory plan. Its defects would require correction before the
requirements o^ the Storage District Act could be met. It was also
concluded that i r a proper plan were completed based on the appraisals
used in the proposed plan, it would result in an in^easible proj:--:t.
The statement was made, "If matters of water rights are adjusted
equitably snd if existing properties can be acquired at a price
representing their reasonable value, this project is feasible. The
general nature of the adjustments required and the costs are discussed
at length in the report".
My report contained 167 pages. This length enabled the proposed
plan to be discussed in detail.
Efforts to reach an equitable adjustment of the various issues
involved outside o^ litigation were urged, ^or such a large and
involved project, only a plan prepared with the full understanding
and approval o^ the conflicting interest could expect to succeed.
Prior to the completion of my report o^ September 1, 1925> there
were discussions and correspondence between the District and the State
Engineer. The State Engineer returned the proposed plan to the Dis
trict. It had been submitted informally and McClure wanted to avoid
any later claims that the sixty-day period for his review was running.
On June 5, 1925, the District board voted to recall the May 22 plan
and accepted Mr. McClure s offer of cooperation.
The details of the actions relating to the May 22, 1925, proposed
plan are included in my report of July 1, 1923, Part II on the relations
o* the State Engineer to the District.
Much of the controversy over the proposed plan related to the
appraisal o" the Miller and Lux properties to "be acquired by the
District. The District employed A. Kempkey to participate in these
negotiations for them and Miller and Lux employed ^red H. Tibbetts
bo repres e nt them. Mr. Nickel insisted that these two reach an agree
ment on a purchase price. Such an agreement was reached.
The proposed plan had a total estimated cost of $31,500,000.
This was about equally divided between the purchase of existing works
and water. rights and the construction of new vrrks . The purchase of
properties was divided nearly $10,000,000 for water rights and nearly
$6,000,000 r or physical properties.
As a result of the objections to the proposed price of the Miller
and Lux properties, the District appointed a board of review consist
ing of Messrs. Haehl, Hermann and Etcheverry to report on these
prices. The District attempted to make it appear that the selection
of the members of this board had been approved by Mr. McClure. The
details of this matter are contained in Part III of my July 1, 1923,
report (Part III, No. 7 in Item 37 of my bibliography file).
A^ter the rejection of the May 22, 1925, proposed plan, when
it was planned that an effort would be made to prepare an acceptable
plan, it was recognized that such a plan would require the withdrawal
of the Miller arid Lux members of the District board. This was necessary
to avoid the conflict o" interest statute.
This was a similar situation to that which had arisen previously
in the Kern River Water Storage Project. It was similarly handled.
The Miller and Lux directors resigned, I drew the job of finding their
successors and my recommendations were appointed.
A factor in the prodeedings relating to the San Joaquin River
Storage District was the financial position of Miller and Lux. When
Henry Miller died in 19l6, Miller and Lux had no mortgage debt. His
inheritance taxes were about $U, 000, 000. This was borrowed. J.
Leroy Nickel replaced lenry Miller as president of Miller and Lux
and attempted to operate the properties. These operations resulted
in -further borrowing arid by 1925^ the indebtedness had increased to
about $15,000,000. If the District plan had gone through, Miller
and Lux would have received sufficient payment for the properties to
bo sold to the District to have placed them in a much improved posi
tion. When the plan for the District was not approved Filler and
Lux negotiated two mortgage loans. These were in the form of bonds
sold to the public. One was for $15,000,000 secured by their Cali-
^ornia lands and the other was for $10,000,000 secured by their water
rights and their lands in other states. These issues were approved
by the Superintendent of Banks, although I had recommended that they
should include a provision that if bonds were issued for which these
lands were the security, when any of these lands were sold, the land
bond should be retired, in an equal amount. This was unacceptable
to those handling the Miller and Lux bond issue and was not required
b c the Superintendent of Banks.
The Miller and Lux bond issues included a provision that repre
sentation of the bond holders should have a majority on the Miller
and Lux board of directors. This was done and the liquidation
of Miller and Lux properties to pay off the boixd issues was begun.
James Fickett was placed in charge of this program. Eventually
enough properties were sold to retire these bond issues. Miller
and Lux still had substantial assets left after payment of these
A recent aftermath of the partial liquidation of the Miller
and Lux properties has been the litigation among the present
generation heirs over claimed fraud in sales which were made.
The story of this litigation is outside of this account of the
San Joaquin River Water Storage District and is available in the
court records. It resulted in financial settlements and a very
large legal fee to the attorney who worked up the case. My only
comment is that I worked with Judge Woolley, then attorney for
Miller and Lux, during the District procedures. In my opinion,
if there were improper actions taken in selling Miller and Lux
lands to favored buyers at too low prices, it was done without
participation by Judge Woolley. Judge Woolley was a director
of Miller and Lux during the period of these sales.
Following the rejection of its proposed plan in 1926, the
District continued some activity until 1929* when its board of
directors resolved to request the attorney- general to bring
dissolution proceedings. Provision for such action is included
in the Water Storage District Act. This was done and the District
was dissolved. Thus ended an unsuccessful effort to develop stor
age on the San Joaquin River by a local organization for use on
lands served from the River or the adjacent lands.
The organization of the Madera Irrigation District had been
maintained during the Water Storage District activities. When
the Storage District was dissolved, the District resumed its
efforts to secure water for its area.
The State Engineer had been subject to extensive criticism
for the position he had taken on the acceptance of the proposed
plan of the San Joaquin River Water Storage District. As I was
the author of the reports on which such actions were based, I
had to meet similar attacks. It was then my opinion that the
position taken was in accord with the terms of the Water Storage
District Act and in the public interest. I have seen no reason
to change this opinion in the forty years since these actions were
While the actions of the State Engineer on the District plan
were unpopular in the 1920 s, the attitude within the District
area changed in the depression of the 1930 s. If the proposed
plan had been carried out in the 1920 s, the District would have
been subject to the same financial conditions which caused defaults
in so many California irrigation districts having similar bond
changes to meet. During the 1930 s, some of the more active oppo
nents of the State Engineer s action in the 1920 s expressed their
thanks for such actions which had prevented the proposed plan from
being completed. The actions taken in the 1920 s were based entirely
on the then conditions without foresight regarding what occurred
in the 1930 s. These actions were supported by the conditions
in the 1920 s alone. Looking back now, they are additionally
If the proposed plan of the San Joaquin Water Storage District
had been carried out, the conditions which the Central Valley
Project would have had to meet would have been more difficult to
work out. The grass land water rights would have been in use on
crop lands and not available for purchase. Additional exchange
water would have had to be pumped from the Delta. Storage at
Priant would have been needed with a larger capacity than the San
Joaquin River Water Storage District would have constructed. En
largement of this storage would have been more complex than original
Miller and Lux has sold its San Joaquin and King s River Canal
System to a recently organized irrigation district in its area. The
C. V. P. exhange agreement gives Miller and Lux a more favorable
water supply than they had previously. The Madera I.D. area is now
served by the C. V. P. under terms more favorable than it could
have secured as a separate district financed by its own bonds.
The present conditions in the former area of the San Joaquin
Water Storage District are all more favorable than they would have
been if the proposed plan of the 1920 s had been carried out. It
is still my opinion that the actions of the State Engineer in the
1920 s represents a realistic and courageous facing of the responsi
bilities of the State Engineer as then defined by statute.
My work on the San Joaquin River Water Storage District also
brought me into contact with the general affairs of Miller and Lux.
Some comments on their mortgage bond results have already been made,
as it had relationship to District matters. Some of the items of
bearing on the District include the following. These may have some
Edward Treadwell was the attorney for Miller and Lux prior
to the death of Henry Miller. His employment was under an annual
contract for his services. When Henry Miller died, Treadwell
handled the inheritance tax procedure for the estate. After this
matter had been completed, Treadwell submitted a bill for his ser
vices to the estate. Payment was refused on the ground that his
services came within his annual contract with Miller and Lux. Tread-
well brought suit and won. As I remember it, the fee was $300, OCX).
The inheritance tax was about $U, 000, 000. It was reported that the
jury expressed regret that Treadwell had only sued for $300,000;
they would have like to have given him more. This reflects the attitude
then prevailing toward Miller and Lux. Mr. Treadwell was replaced
at this time as attorney for Miller and Lux.
Another indication of the difficulty of Miller and Lux secur
ing impartial juries is shown by their experience with cattle rust
lers. Killing a Miller and Lux steer for meat was not locally con
sidered to be a crime. When such rustlers were caught, convictions
^y J U *T trial were almost impossible to secure. Miller and Lux are
reported to have adopted the practice of prosecuting for trespass
and securing injunctions against the individuals accused from fur
ther trespass on Miller and Lux lands. This gave the accused
individuals one free offense, but placed any later offenses within
the discretion of the judge for contempt of court without jury trial.
Henry Miller had a rule that no one should be refused food
at his camps. Those seeking meals were required to wait until the
employees had eaten when they could eat second table. As they ate
off the dishes of the first table, the Miller and Lux camps came to
be known as the Dirty Plate Route. The Miller and Lux lands vere
sufficiently extensive that a tramp could almost eat his way the
length of the San Joaquin Valley.
In the 1920 s, I worked on a case involving the Montague
Water Conservation District vs. Duke, tried at Yreka. Duke was
a very interesting character of the pioneer type. He claimed to
have been Henry Miller s body guard for many years. I do not know
the actual history of such services by Mr. Duke, but the story
lost nothing in his telling of his experiences. Duke was raising
Hereford bulls at the time of the Montague case.
Treadwell wrote a biography of Henry Miller entitled "The
Cattle King," published in 1931 by the MacMillan Company. Treadwell
called this a dramatized biography. It is well-written and gives
a good insight into the character of Henry Miller and his accumula
tion of the vast Miller and Lux properties. This was written after
Treadwell s litigation with the heirs. It is evident that this
later controversy did not affect Treadwell s admiration for his
TULARE LAKE BASIN WATER STORAGE DISTRICT
This material relates to the above named district through its
organization period when my contacts with it were "based on my work
for the State Engineer in his procedure under the Water Storage
District Act. These matters were internal to this district.
Later matters in which I represented the Tulare Lake Basin
Water Storage District in procedures relating to its four tributary
streams are discussed separately later.
A petition for the organization of the Tulare Lake Water
Storage District was filed on August 30, 1923- Hearings were held,
the petition approved and an election on organization was held
October 10, 192^. This District proposed to regulate the inflow
to Tulare Lake in a sump reservoir within the lake area. About
175>000 acres were included in this District.
There had been conflicts of interest among some of the larger
land interests in the Tulare Lake area. After the Tulare Lake Water
Storage District was organized these conflicts were compromised and
an agreement to organize a larger water storage district in the lake
area was reached. The Tulare Lake Water Storage District was dissolved
by court order on July 29, 1927.
The petition for the enlarged Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage
District was filed on October 7, 1925. A plan filed April 20, 1927,
by the new district was rejected for lack of a definite basis of
benefits and other details (Bull. 21, p. 38l).
This first plan was revised, filed, accepted and proceeded
to assessment in 1928. I was one of the three assessors. The other
two were George A. Atherton of Stockton and Stanley Abel, a super
visor in Kern County. There were no protests at the equalization
hearing and the assessment became official.
One of the terms in the lake agreement on which the organization
of the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District was based was that
there should be eleven directors divided as specified among the var
ious interests. The State Engineer considered this number to be too
large to be desirable but accepted it. It was considered that the
advantages of the agreement outweighed the unwieldiness of the Board.
The plan involved purchase of land in the lower lake area for
use as a reservoir. An option to purchase this township (1/2 fee and
1/2 easement) was completed prior to the adoption of the plan. As
no such purchases recurred after the organization of the district,
it was not considered that the conflict of interest statutes applied.
The selling interests were represented on the compromise board.
There were some points of difference between the State Engineer
and the proponents of this district in the organization procedure.
These were worked out by agreement. Among these were actions on
petitions for inclusion and exclusion. Some boundary changes were
made from those contained in the petition.
In my work for Mr. McClure on the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage
District, I received the same full support that I received in all
other matters. Following Mr. McClure s death on June 22, 1926, Paul
Bailey became State Engineer for a short period. Bailey would meet
with the proponents of the district and agree to actions without
advising me of the results. Where such actions! represented changes
in policy, I found myself trying to enfirce action which had been
rescinded. This difficulty was removed when Edward Hyatt became
State Engineer. I was on the point of quitting when this change
occurred. As the proponents of the district were paying for my
services for the State Engineer (as provided in the Water Storage Dis-
trict Act) and as I had already done most of the organizational engi
neering, I tried to stick it out and did.
The record of all of the procedure relating to these two dis
tricts was filed in the office of the State Engineer. When I retired
from work for the District in 1953.> I turned over to the district my
correspondence and other pertinent materials. I also gave Stanley
Barnes of J.G. Boswell and Company copies of nearly all of the reports
I had made, including those relating to its early procedure. Any
detail items that may be needed should be ^cund in these sources.
Boswell and Company is now the largest land owner in the Lake.
Tulare Lake has had a long story in its reclamation. As early
as diversions from its tributary streams began to diminish its inflow,
reclamation around its margins began. This area was subject to wide
variations in its inflow with similar wide variations in its area and
crop opportunity. By the time of the organization of the water stor
age district, the average inflow had been reduced to a point where
submergence of crop land could be controlled except in years of ex
cessive stream flow. The incentive behind the organization of the
storage district was the desire to improve the frequency and extent
to which these lands could be cropped.
Early reclamation in Tulare Lake involved large risks and, when
successful, large profits. This situation attracted individuals
willing and able to take such chances for the chance that such pro
fits could be made. Recognizing these conditions, they accepted the
results when losses occurred.
Reclamation in Tulare Lake was not practical on small areas.
This necessarily led to the ownership of large tracts. Residence
in Tulare Lake was also not practical in the early years due to the
danger of becoming flooded. Equipment could be moved in and out but
home improvements were not safe. The lack of underground water supply
for domestic use was, and still is, a deterrent to local settlement.
Early crops were mainly grain. This could be seeded in the fall
and in some years harvested before the heavier runoff of the succeed
ing year. Much grain was lost by submergence befor* it could be har
vested. Crops were "mudded in" as the water receded being planted in
the exposed areas and grown by the moisture retained from the pre
ceding submergence. Only annual crops were suited to these conditions.
The conditions in Tulare Lake required operators able to make
decisions quickly. Word might be received that inflow was on the way.
An immediate decision on whether to try to hold the levee, to abandon
the area or to try to harvest ahead of the rising water had to be
made without reference to some committee for debate. These condi
tions naturally attracted individuals able to operate under these
conditions. They were a hardy group that had the pioneer spirit and
the pioneer opposition to restraint by others.
The independence in their own operations resulted in the con
flicts that arose in the lake. If another levee broke first, it
might supply sufficient outlet that your own levee could be held.
There are stories of breaks that may have been aided by competing
interests. It is difficult to determine how much of this Is now folk
lore and how much is fact. Placing guards on levees was practiced
both for watching the water andto avoid trespass by others.
No history of Tulare Lake would be complete without mentioning
A.D. Schindler. Mr. Schindler had been an engineer for the Santa FP
Railroad and had become acquainted with Tulare Lake in his work on
their line in the valley. He left the railroad and secured backing
for the development of lands in the Tulare Lake Basin. This backing
was from a group which came to be known locally as the Santa Fe
crowd. The King s County Development Company was formed and acquired
lands in the lake largely in its northeast portion-
Schindler was a good operator. He developed the early plans
for the lake and undertook to carry them out. Others were also
active in other portions of the lake. However, during the organiza
tion period, Echindler was recognized as the general leader.
Like similar pioneers, Schindler had his own ideas and was used
to having his own way. In the organization of the District, various
differences with the requirements of the State occurred. I repre
sented the State Engineer and handled the detailed contacts with the
proponents of the District. These included various sessions with
Schindler, some of which reached the table thumping stage. No matter
how emphatic he might become, Schindler was never personally abusive.
I regard our acquaintance and I think our friendship as one of my valu
Early engineers working in the lake area included Max Enderlein
and Harmon Bonte. Roy May came a little later. Enderlein wore out
an auto showing the engineers of the State Reclamation Board over
the lake area in 1916 and was appointed as a member of the Board of
Assessors for the Board in assessing benefits for their projects in
the Sacramento Valley. Etcheverry and Hermann were the other two
members and dominated the Board. Bonte, in later years, was with
the Irrigation District Securities Commission and Stone and Youngberg.
Roy May was County Engineer of King s County as well as engineer of
the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District at the time of his
death on January 19, 19^7.
In ray later work for the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District,
I prepared a history of the water supply of Tulare Lake. This included
what I could assemble on its past fluctuations and conditions. It
is entitled, "Inflow to Tulare Lake from its Tributary Streams," August,
19^9- It summarized the available records and reports with estimates
of the inflow from 1850 to date (129 pages). It is Item 8U in my bib
The Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District made some payments
on its purchase of the sump lands and then allowed them to revert to
their former owners. The district has operated to represent the lake
area in its negotiations with the water rights on King : s River and its
other tributaries. Its early plan has been superseded by later pro
grams based on the storage that has been built on its four tributaries.
The Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District has performed a
useful function for the lake area and for the entire South Fork of
King s River from its organization. It has furnished a common meeting
place in which local differences could be resolved and a united front
presented for its area. It has not constructed internal works or oper
ated the division of water which reached the sump. Its results, in my
opinion, have well justified its organization and the costs for its
THE KINGS RIVER WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
In 1923 the legislature passed the Water Conservation District
Act which enabled a group of other forms of public agencies to join
in the construction of common works of benefit to all of the included
units. This act was designed to fit the conditions on Kings River
where about twenty different canals systems were considering joining
in storage at the Pine Flat site. The number of separate units in
volved made a stronger form of organization than a simple partnership
desireable. Such storage could have been handled under the water
storage district organized under the Water Storage District Act.
However, in the water storage districts the costs are allocated to
each individual land owner in accordance with the benefits secured
from the district plan. On Kings River, the units desired to use
their local units to distribute the costs to the individual land
owners in accordance with the particular form of district act under
which they were organized.
The Water Conservation District Act provides that all of the
included units shall be organized public agencies. On Kings River
nearly all of the units were California irrigation districts. However,
the three south Kings canals (Peoples, Last Chance and Lemoore) were
mutual water companies. It was proposed that irrigation districts
should be organized to take over these mutual water companies.
The organization of a water conservation district is initiated
by- a petition signed by at least three of the units so included. The
act creates a Board of three members to conduct the district pre-
organization procedure. This board consisted of the State Engineer
as chairman and the two executive directors provided for in the Water
Storage District Act.
The Conservation District Act requires the election oft an organi
zation to carry in all of the units to be included. The allotment of
the costs are made by the Board prior to the election on organization.
This makes it essential that there be a definite plan on which depend
able cost estimates have been made and that there is an enforceable
agreement on the service each unit will receive.
A petition for the organization of the Kings River Water Conser
vation District was filed on June 12, 192^. On this same date, the
State Irrigation Board met and organized. W.F. McClure as State Engi
neer was chairman and W.P. Boone of Fresno and D. Joseph Coyne of Los
Angeles were the other two members. Mr. Boone was chairman of the
Kings River Water Association and did not participate in the legal
actions of the Board. As I was doing the engineering work for the
State Engineer on this proposed project, I was appointed secretary
of the board.
A hearing was held at Fresno on July l6, 192^ and the sufficiency
of the petition was approved. The Kings River Water Association under
took the engineering studies required for the district plan. George
L. Swendsen was the engineer and manager for the Fresno District,
Harry Haehl represented the lower areas on the North side of Kings
River and Max Enderlein the lower areas on the South side. Swendsen
also represented the Alta and the Consolidated Districts. I repre
sented the State Engineer and worked with these local engineers. I
also handled the procedure matters as secretary of the board.
From July l6, 192^ to May k, 1928, a total of eleven adjourned
hearings were held. These generally were progress meetings. However,
at the hearing on July 9, 1926, the proponents were advised that a permanent
river schedule was a prerequisite to the organization of the district.
The river was then being operated under a schedule dividing the first
two thousand second feet of river flow. A schedule covering the total
diversions was required if the storable flow was to "be defined. The
Board also advised the proponents that it would be reluctant to hold
further hearings unless progress on such a schedule could be shown.
Four further hearings were held. At the hearing on May k, 1928,
the Board closed its hearings and suspended its activities on the peti
tion until the proponents were ready to proceed. I, as secretary and
engineer, was instructed to assemble the records and file them in the
State Engineer s office. This was done.
This was the last heating held on this district. By the time the
proponents were ready to proceed, they had decided not to use the
Conservation District Act for their project. The project as proposed
in the 1920 s has not been carried out as a Water Conservation District
Act under the 1923 Act. Pine Flat was later constructed under the 19^-
authorization as a flood control project.
I prepared a report entitled "History of Kings River Water Conser
vation District from Presentation of Organization Petition on June
192U to May 1928". This report is No. U in Item U7 in my bibliographical
file. In October, 192^, I had prepared a short report on the "Status
of Water Rights on Kings River", which covered the schedule and
progress on a more inclusive schedule. This report is No. 10 in Item
Swendsen, Haehl and Enderlein made what became known as the Engi
neer s Report of May 1926. This report recommended a schedule for
this river. The schedule adopted in 1927 "by the main river and North
Fork units was based on this report. The South Fork users did not
accept their allotment under this schedule at that time and did not
become a party to the 192? agreement.
The procedure under the proposed Kings River Water Conservation
District was not productive of an organization or the construction of
storage at Pine ?iat. To this extent it failed to meet its objectives.
This procedure was useful, however, in securing action on the Kings
River Agreement of 1927 which defined the relative water rights of
the parties to this agreement. By insisting that any storage at Pine
Flat would have to be based on defined rights to the direct flow as a
necessity for river operation, the Irrigation Board performed a useful
service of sufficient value to the Kings River area to justify its
The Water Conservation District Act of 1923 has not been used
p or any other projects. It is not probable that conditions on any
other California streams will result in its use. The Irrigation
Board named in the Act was carried for several years in the directory
of the State Organizations. My name as secretary was included in this
list. I used to receive occasional mail as secretary from those who
saw this listing and thought the Board might represent a prospective
customer for their products. This listing was eventually dropped.
The preceding discussion has been limited to the procedure in
the 1920 s relating the proposed Kings River Water Conservation
District. I had done work previously on Kings River in 1912 in the
preparation of the Central California portion of the investigations
of the irrigation resources of the state and during World War I for
the War T^ood Administration in getting the injunction against
diversion by the Lakelands Canal removed. I also did wcsrk on Kings
River concurrently with the conservation district procedure in the
1920 s as a part of the preparation of Bulletin 11, "Ground Water
Resources of the Southern San Joaquin Valley" . This is discussed
separately later. My work on the organization of the Tulare Lake
Basin Water Storage District has already been discussed.
After 1930, my work on Kings River was done as consulting engi
neer for the Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District. This is des
THE HERMINGHAUS CASE 200 Calif. 8l, 252 Pac. 607(1926), 275 U.S. 1*86(1927)
When storage for power purposes was planned on the upper San
Joaquin River, the power companies made contracts with Miller and Lux
permitting such storage to be operated under the terms of these con
tracts. The contracts included schedules under which the stored water
was to be released as well as the conditions under which the reser
voirs could be filled. This power development was made by different
power companies and at different times. By the 1920 s all of the
power development on the San Joaquin River, except on the North Fork
and at the Kerckhoff plant, the lowest plant on the San Joaquin River,
had come into the ownership of the Southern California Edison Company.
The power company had also made contracts with some of the other
riparian land owners on the San Joaquin River above the mouth of the
Merced River. These contracts were needed under the interpreta
tion of the rights of riparian owners to receive the natural flow of
the streams to which they were riparian.
The regulation of the stream flow for power use resulted in a
net benefit to lower direct flow diversions . A larger part of the
stream flow, as released after storage for power, occurred within
the irrigation demand than the natural flow. While such power stor
age represented a net benefit over-all, the riparian owner could en
join the storage if it resulted in a detriment to him. The riparian
owner was not required to offset other benefits under the inter
pretation of riparian rights by the California court.
The Herminghaus Ranch contained about 18,000 acres. It was on
the south side of the San Joaquin River a short distance above Fresno
Slough. It was used for overflow pasturage. It had been rented by
Miller and Lux for $1 per acre per year. This represented a total
net income after county taxes of about $12,000 per year. This repre
sents a total value of $2^0,000 if capitalized at 5#.
Herminghaus had no diversion works on the San Joaquin River.
Some overflow channels that received water at the higher routes of
river flow transversed the Herminghaus land and discharged their sur
plus water into Fresno Slough or onto the lower San Joaquin river.
This overflow had always occurred, as Lt. George H. Derby describes
such southwesterly flowing channels in 1850. (Ex. Doc. 110 Sen.
32d Cong. )
To maintain the Herminghaus overflow, it was necessary to have
the higher rates of stream flow continue to come down the river. The
inlets of the overflow channels required various rates of flow in the
river before flow would occur in the overflow channels. A river flow
of 5000 senond feet was required to enable substantial overflow to
The Edison Company had not made any contract permitting their
power storage with the owners of the Herminghaus lands. The title
to these lands had passed to the daughters of the original Herminghaus.
One of these daughters was married to P.H. Bottoms who was the active
spokesman for their interests.
The power company and Bottoms could not reach an agreement on
a riparian contract and a suit to enjoin the power storage was filed
on behalf of the Herminghaus owners. This suit was tried in the T resno
County court before Judge J.E. Woolley. Judge Woolley s lower court
decision was dated in 1926. It upheld the riparian claims of Herming
haus to have the flow of the San Joaquin River reach their lands. This
right was upheld regardless of the relative benefits that could be made
of the water by the riparian owner in comparison with the benefits
to the upper appropriation.
While" Judge Woolley s decision had support under his interpreta
tion of the decisions of the California Supreme Court, the re
sults were so extreme that it could not be allowed to stand without
an appeal to the Supreme Court. Such an appeal was made by the
This case involved such an extension of the rights of riparian
owners that it attracted wide-spread attention. Following the decision
in Lux v. Haggin in 1886 (69 Cal. 255) which recognized riparian rights
in this state, the later court decisions had generally tended to es-
pand the extent of riparian use that could be made under riparian
rights, although there were a few cases that gave some hope that some
measure of reasonableness would be required in the use by riparian
owners. The lower court decision in the Herminghaus case, if upheld,
would have eliminated paractically any standards of reasonableness in
In the appeal of the Herminghaus case, a considerable number of
other parties filed briefs as amici curiae . This is where I became
involved in the case as I represented the state engineer, Mr. McClure,
in the discussions of the issues involved. My part was the supplying
of factual material relating to the effect this decision would have on
the beneficial use of water on non-riparian lands.
The appeal of the Herminghaus case was first argued before the
California Supreme Court on Jan. 15, 1926 and re-argued on July 29,
1926. It was decided by the Court on Dec. 2U, 1926. The decision was
written by Judge Richards. Petitions were filed for rehearing which
were denied and this decision became final in the state court. The
original decision of the Supreme Court was signed by the required
four judges. Judge Shenk dissented. The decision denying the peti
tion for rehearing was by a decision of k to 3 of the seven judged.
Following the final decision in the California Supreme Court,
the Rdison Company filed a petition for a hearing before the U.S.
Supreme Court. This was granted and an argument was held October 6,
1927- The arguments by Edward F. Treadwell for the Power Company were
heard in the morning. The arguments by the attorneys for Herminghaus
were to have been heard in the afternoon. On the opening of the
afternoon session, Herminghaus was advised by the court that they
would not need to present their arguments as the court had already
decided against the Power Company.
The account of this argument in the Fresno Bee of October 7 ,
1927 includes the following:
"Edward F. Treadwell opened the argument for the company but
encountered a constant flow of questions from members of the court,
who expressed doubt whether questions were presented which the court
had the right to review.
"He consumed all the time allotted his side for argument trying
to establish that federal questions were presented which brought the
case within the jurisdiction of the court.
"At the conclusion of his argument the court took recess for
luncheon, and upon returning, notified riparian owners along the
river, who had won in the state s court, that it would not be neces
sary for their counsel to reply, indicating that it had concluded no
federal question was presented upon which it should pass and that the
case must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction."
There were two main issues involving public interest in the
Hermlnghaus case. There were first the standard of reasonableness,
if any, applicable to use of water on riparian land, in contracts
between riparian owners and appropriators, and second, the extent to
which storage for future use was within the riparian right.
On the -first issue there was wide-spread support for some res
triction on riparian rights based on more than merely "The pleasure
of its prospect" . Only some of the more favorably located riparian
owners sought such an unlimited standard of use for riparian lands.
If this had been the only general issue involved, support for the
Power Company in its appeal of the Herminghaus case would have been
widespread and emphatic.
In an effort to -find a basis on which its storage could be judged
on some degree of beneficial use in its contest with the lower riparian
owner, the Edison Company attempted to claim it was also a riparian
user. It based this claim on the actual ownership of a small area
in its reservoir and its position as a licensee of the major owner,
the United States. Not only did the Power Company need to prove that
it was operating as a riparian right on riparian lands, but it also
had to prove that its use came within recognized uses which riparian
owners were entitled to make.
Generation of power from the direct stream flow was early recog
nized as within the riparian rights. Exercise of such a right by the
early grist mills operated by water power was a usual practice. The
mill pond storage used by such plants was also recognized as within
the riparian right. Such ponds would be filled during the night to
provide a larger power flow on the following day. This type of fore-
bay storage has only a small capacity and the time of storage is short.
The Edison Company sought to secure court approval of the expan
sion of the previously recognized forebay type of storage to their
large capacity reservoirs based on seasonal or future use. The large
reservoirs involved in this case materially modified the seasonal
flow of the river and had little relationship to the previously recog
nized forebay storage.
Based on the parties to the Herminghaus case alone the public
interest would not have suffered if the position of the Power Company
on future storage had been upheld. However, such a decision in this
case would have become a precedent on other streams where its effect
would have resulted in major losses.
While the riparian owners had the right to prevent appropriative
upstream diversions which would reduce the flow at their land, this
right could be lost by failure to assert it and adverse use by the
appropriator under conditions which would establish a prescriptive
right. The major part of the irrigation diversions were made by canals
diverting to non-riparian lands with their points of diversion above
the main areas of riparian land. Many of these diversions had become
prescriptive against the lower riparian owners. They would not be
prescriptive, however, against upstream riparian rights and their
priorities would not be effective aginst upstream use if such use was
based on riparian rights.
For these reasons, if the Power Company had been able to esta
blish its storage for future use as a riparian right, they could have
operated it without regard to the appropriative downstream rights.
To prevent such results the irrigation interests participated in the
appeal of the Herminghaus case in opposition to the Power Company in
its position on storage for future use as a part of its claimed
This position on the part of the irrigation interests vas taken
only a-^ter extended discussion among the irrigation interests. Former
Supreme Court Justice Warren Olney, Jr. presented the arguments for
the power companies. By this time the other power companies were
supporting the Edison Company in its position. The Irrigation District
Association, through its committee of attorneys, spoke for the irri
gation interests. Former Senator Harris of Fresno was the attorney
for the Kings River Water Association and was a major participant.
A.E. Chandler was attorney for the Corcoran I.D., which had a high
schedule right on Kings River and could be materially affected by
any upstream riparian storage .
When the Power Company position had first been presented, I was
working for the State Engineer OH matters on both the Kings and
San Joaquin Rivers. Its effect could be foreseen on these streams.
I prepared a report for the State Engineer, dated October 1, 1925,
entitled "Effect Which Would Result From the Establishment of the
Right to Store as part of the Rights of Riparian Owners on the Feasi
bility of Proposed Irrigation Projects on San Joaquin and Kings Rivers".
This 70 page report is no.l in Item 40 of my bibliographical file.
In it I discussed both the principles involved and the effect of their
adoption on the appropriative rights on those two streams. This re
port was made available to the Kings River Water Association and the
attorneys committee for the I.D.A.
Having made this report and taken a position in opposition to
that of the power companies, I participated in the meetings of these
two groups in the defense of its conclusions. I was a non-lawyer
arguing against a group of attorneys. Chandler was effective in
arguing against the legal right of a riparian owner to store
future use and I provided the physical effects of such a right.
Olney had nearly succeeded in getting Harris to file a brief sup
porting the power company position when a general meeting of the
attorneys committee o* the I.D.A. was held in San Francisco on Octo
ber 12, 1925. Much o p the time at this meeting was spent opposing
my conclusions on the effect such a right would have. On this factual
side I had an advantage over Judge Olney as a result of my familiarity
with the runoff of the streams involved.
After an extended discussion, the attorneys of the I.D.A. voted
to oppose the extension o-f riparian rights to storage for future use.
A subcommittee was appointed to prepare a brief for submission to the
State Supreme Court for the I.D.A.
Spencer Burroughs was then the attorney for the State Water
Commission and had sat in on these meetings. He had supported my
position. It was thought that a brief by the State would be helpful
in opposition to a riparian right to future storage and Burroughs was
asked to draft such a brief for submission to Attorney General Webb
for his submission to the court. Burroughs agreed to do this.
When the meeting adjourned, Burroughs asked me to prepare a draft
of such a brief emphasizing the policy side of the effect of a right
of a riparian owner to store for future use. I agreed to prepare such
a draft. I did this and Burroughs accepted it and submitted it to
General Webb as I had prepared it. General Webb read it and asked me
over to discuss it with him. I went and he told me he had expected to
have to rewrite my draft but that when he read it he could not find
any place where anything needed to be changed.
General Webb submitted the brief and argued in its support at
the hearing. The power company attorneys attempted to argue against
some of the points raised in the brief. On Jan. h, 1926, I prepared
a discussion of the points raised by the opponents for General Webb.
This is No. 3 of Item *K) in my bibliographical file.
The brief -for the state had to be submitted by the Attorney
General as the legal representative of the state. Not being admitted
to the bar, my name could not be used as its author. This was fully
understood and expected by me. I was glad to be of whatever assistance
I could without regard to authorship credit.
In later meetings where the Herminghaus case was discussed, Gen
eral Webb was very generous in his acknowledgment of my assistance
in preparing the brie f. It was a pleasure for me to have had this
opportunity to work with him on this case.
The I.D.A. brief was submitted by their legal committee. Like
usual similar committee efforts, it was mainly the work of one author.
In this case this was A.E. Chandler. It was a solid brief analysing
the cases on which the claim for a riparian right to store for future
use was based and showing them to be of minor forebay type rather than
for future use.
In its decision in the Herminghaus case, the Supreme Court up
held the lower court decision. It denied the right of a riparian
owner to store for future use but granted rights to the power company
for storage in the forebays of its several plants. The portions of
the lower court decision relating to the right of a riparian owner to
use water without any restrictions of reasonableness as against an
appropriator was upheld.
The power companies did not accept the decision (relating to stor
age for future using being outside of "the riparian rights) in the
Herminghaus case as being final. The same position was argued in
later cases. This portion of the Herminghaus case was reaffirmed in
Senaca Consolidated Gold. Mines Co. v. Great Western Power Co., 209
Calif. 208 (1930). It was made more explicit in Colorado Power Co.
v. Paci-fic Gas and Electric Co. 218 Calif. 559 (1933). Such storage
for future use can now be accepted as being outside of the right of
riparian owners in California.
The portions of the Herminghaus decision upholding the right of
a. riparian owner to have the full flow of a stream continue in order
that he might receive the benefit of the overflow of a small part of
the total flow without requiring constructed diversion works, and the
broad statement regarding the riparian owner not being limited by any
rules of reasonableness in contests with an appropriator were so ex
treme that there was extensive public alarm regarding the ability to
make a reasonable use of the water of the state required for its dev
elopment without having to pay excessive tribute to unreasonable ri
parian owners. Much effort was expended in legislative hearings and
other meetings in seeking a remedy for this situation.
The testimony in the Herminghaus case was to the effect that a
flow of 5000 second feet in the San Joaquin River was needed to result
in flow in the Herminghaus sloughs and the flooding of their lands
which the same extent of irrigation could be secured by a controlled
diversion of 150 second feet.
In the Herminghaus decision, the court had stated that the ri
parian right, as they had recognized it in California, could only be
changed under an exercise of the police power of the state, if this
should be found to be required for the general welfare of the state.
This expression was used as the basis for a constitutional amendment
restricting all uses of water to reasonable and beneficial purposes.
After much discussion over its detail wording, what has become known
as the Constitutional Amendment of 1928 was drafted, passed by the
legislature and adopted by the voters at the election of November 6,
One of the amusing aftermaths of the successful accomplishment
of the 1928 amendment was the surprisingly large number of persons
who claimed to be its author. I was active enough in those proceed
ings to know what was going on and to put in my two-bits worth on the
wording to be used. In this I was only one of many. Actually the
1928 amendment was the composite result of all of these efforts and
no one individual can claim its authorship. Its benefits were large
enough to include credit for all who participated. I also took a
minor part in the election on its adoption.
The first case to reach the State Supreme Court in which the
interpretation of the 1928 amendment was at issue was Gin Chow v.
Santa Barbara, 217 Calif. 673- I had been a factual expert witness
in this case but had no part in its legal arguments. This was a good
case in which to test the applications o^ the amendment and it was
supported by the Supreme Court. The Gin Chow decision was amplified
and made more definite on additional items in Peabody v. Vallejo, 2
Calif. (2d) 351. I had no part in this latter case. The 1928 Con
stitutional Amendment has also been recognized by the U.S. Supreme
Court. (United States v. Qerlach Live Stock Co., 339 U.S. 725 (1950).
Item ko in my bibliographical file includes a draft of the state s
brief in the State Supreme Court, comments on the arguments raised
against this brief and comments on the decision as well as my report
on the effects that could result if a decision that a riparian owner
Gould store for future use. Those have "been discussed in the pre
ceding parts of this account. In addition I have included in Item
ko, copies of some of the correspondence relating to the state s
brief and other matters relating to the case.
An interesting aftermath of the Herminghaus case was the liti
gation over the legal fees of the attorneys for Herminghaus. These
attorneys were John W. Preston, who later was a justice on the Cali
fornia Supreme Court and James F. Peck, a veteran lof many suits
against Miller and Lux. Peck had been attorney for the Stevinson lands
near the mouth of the Merced River.
Preston and Peck had the Herminghaus case on a contingency fee
basis. While the suit was brought to secure an injunction against
the operation of the parts of the Edison Co. projects for which public
use had not intervened, it was recognized that its purpose was to
secure compensation to Herminghaus for the alleged damages to his
riparian rights .
After the decision by Judge Wooley in the lower court, an in
junction had been granted against the operation of the newer Edison
Company works and the case was under appeal. The Edison Co. made a
financial settlement with Herminghaus under which the injunction
would be waived for one year during the appeal. The reported price
was $160,000 for this waiver. As this payment had been secured as
a result of the decision, Preston and Peck received their contingency
percentage of its amount. The next year a similar agreement was made
at a reported price of $100,000 and the attorneys received their
percentage of this payment.
When the Supreme Court upheld Judge Wooley 1 s decision and injunc-
tion, the Edison Company negotiated a purchase of the Herminghaus
lands at a reported cost of $50 per acre for 17,000 acres, making a
total price of $850,000. This, at that time, was a liberal price
for this grade of land having an annual net lease earning of $12,000
per year. This price represented relief from the injunction rather
than the value of the land acquired.
The purchase of these lands was the result of the decision but
was not a requirement of the decree. It was necessary on the part
of the Edison Company in order to secure usefulness from their ex
penditure in the enjoined works.
The Herminghaus heirs did not pay their attorneys their contin
gency fee on this $850,000 purchase price, contending it was a separ
ate transaction from the case. In 1928 Preston and Peck brought suit
for $259,000 as their fee on the purchase of $873,200. This repre
sented a 33 1/3 1 contingency basis.
This suit was tried and Preston and Peck won and collected their
fee. They had not tried this case themselves. Theodore M. Stuart
had represented them in this trial.
In 1932 Stuart brought suit against Preston and Peck for $5^,^00
attorneys fees for the trial of the case in which Preston and Peck
were awarded a $273,23^.50 judgment against the Herminghaus heirs.
This is a 18.5$ fee.
Clippings relating to these suits are included in Item ho of my
bibliographical file. I do not have a record of the outcome of Stuart s
suit, but it is my recollection that he won.
All that would be needed to make this method of collecting legal
fees become a real comic opera performance would have been for Stuart
to have used another attorney to try his case with this attorney suing
for his fees and so on indefinitely.
The Herminghaus case was renumerative to those who brought it to
trial. Looking back, the public benefits exceed those costs. This
case resulted in the 1928 constitutional amendment under which riparian
rights were placed under reasonable control so that they could no lon
ger extract tribute from other developments in excess of their reason
The opposition to riparian rights on the part of the public as
shown in the Herminghaus case, was not based on opposition to reason
able use by riparian owners. The irrigation of riparian lands under
their riparian rights represents an equal public benefit to the irri
gation of an equal area of similar lands under appropriation rights.
The opposition to riparian rights was based on the ability of riparian
lands to block other uses of water not reasonably needed by the ripar
BULLETIN 11 - GROUND WATER RESOURCES OF THE SOUTHERN SAN JOA^UIN VALLEY
The legislature authorized investigations of the water resources
of the state and preparation of a plan for their development in 1921.
This work was undertaken by the state engineer. An organization was
set up in his department, and the work was begun. Eventually these
investigations resulted in what has become the Central Valley Project
of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The public support for these investigations came largely from the
areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley where the rapidly increasing
use of ground water was resulting in the overdraft on the locally
As previously discussed, I was in charge of investigations "or
the state engineer in Kern and Tulare Counties before those general
studies were authorized. When the reports on these two counties pro
vided quantitative results relating to the ground water overdraft,
the state asked me to prepare a report on what was then known relating
to the ground water resources of the whole southern San Joaquin Valley.
I undertook this assignment. The result is Bulletin 11 of the
Divisions of Engineering and Irrigation and of Water Rights, "Ground water
resources of the Southern San Joaquin Valley", 192?.
For the purposes of Bulletin 11, the southern San Joaquin Valley
was defined as the area from the San Joaquin River south. I had
covered the east side of this area in my previous work in Kern and
Tulare Counties and on Kings River in the procedure of the Kings River
Water Conservation District. For the east side of the valley, Bulletin
II represents mainly bringing these results to the date of the report.
Bulletin 11 was prepared in 1925 and 1926. At that time information
on the ground water conditions on the vest side was meager. Some
development had been made in the Mendota area.
Bulletin 11 represents an inventory of what was then known re
garding the ground water resources of the area covered. It should
be judged on the basis of the time at which it was prepared. It
served its purpose in the general investigations then being made by
the state. Quantitative results were derived which indicated what
could be expected to occur with increasing ground water draft depen
dent on the local supplies alone.
In 1925 quantitative studies of ground water supplies in Cali-
fornia were relatively new. Conkling was working on his San Gabriel
investigations. The U.S. Geological Survey s Ground Water Research
was being expanded under Meinzer. The U.S.G.S. had had work underway
for some years in the Santa Clara Valley, but the slowness with which
their results had been made available resulted in the demands for local
area studies being met by the state.
When local interest in its ground water supply was aroused by
reports of ground water lowering about 1920, the first result had
been to select observation wells so that the amount of change could
be recorded. This had been done by Mr. Haehl in Kern County for the
Kern County Land Company in 1919- It had also been done by some of
the Kings River systems a year or two later. The state s investiga
tions in Kern and Tulare counties followed the same practice.
While such well records were initiated as the natural first step
in the ground water investigations not so much thought had been given
at that time to the ways in which such records could be used in deter
mining whether an overdraft existed,and if so, its amount. When I
began the work for the state, I asked each agency collecting well
records what use they had made of the results and how they planned to
use them in preparing an estimate of the amount of the overdraft. I
^ound little attention had been given to this use of the results.
This is not a criticism of those collecting the records. It is a
reflection of the youth of this branch of water supply engineering.
When I began this work for the state, the state did not have a program
relating to use of well records. Such well records have
obvious usefulness in showing whether the ground water is going up or
down and how much the changes were in vertical elevation. The tran
slation of these results into the volumes of water represented by such
fluctuations and the amounts of overdraft had to be worked out as we
In studying the well records , I found that there were areas -for
which the surface water supply was being measured so that this supply
could be compared with the resulting ground water fluctuation. As the
water supply varied from year to year, the annual ground water fluctua
tion could be compared with the water supply. Trials of this procedure
indicated reasonably consistent results and it was used in Bulletin 1.1.
It was recognized that a given water supply for an area only
half irrigated would produce different ground water fluctuations than
if the entire area was served. The water supply was expressed in terms
of the acre feet per acre for the area it served. This could then be
plotted against the mean change in the ground water elevation for the
period covered by the water supply.
Some well readings were made on a monthly basis but many wells
were measured only in the Spring and in the Fall. It was found that
the Fall records gave more consistent results. The year ending after
the close of the irrigation draft came before the season of the re-
charge from the winter water supply. It also included the period of
use o* 1 the runoff of the preceding season. The best results were
received where the available records included years in which the
ground water both rose and fell. In 192^ the runoff was very defi
cient and the water supply in nearly all areas lowered naturally.
The year 1922 had a better water supply and many areas showed a ground
When the annual rise or fall of the ground water was plotted
against the supply received in acre feet per acre irrigated, the
points for each year usually fell near enough along a straight line
so that a trend line could be drawn. Where such a line crossed the
point of zero ground water fluctuation indicated the amount o" water
supply required to maintain the ground water. This also represented
the consumptive use of the crops grown in the area. The slope of the
trend line indicated the specific yield of the ground water volume
drained or filled.
As an illustration if the trend line crossed the zero of the
ground water fluctuation at a supply of 2 acre feet per acre, such a
supply would be required to maintain the ground water. In a year in
which the supply exceeded 2 acre-feet per acre, the ground water would
be expected to rise and conversely in a year having a smaller supply
it would be expected to lower.
If the trend line indicated that in such an area in a year when
the supply was only 1 acre foot per acre, the ground water would lower
(> feet, the indicated specific yeild of the area drained would be
\C 2/3 per cent.
This method is sound where the total water supply is known. For
the areas used, the surface supply reaching the area was measured.
The ground and ground vater slopes vere relatively small and the rate
of movement appeared to be slow. Areas of overdraft did not appear to
be materially aided by inflov from higher areas induced by the ground
water lowering. On the Kaweah Delta lowering in the outer portion
prior to 1925 had occurred without drawing out the higher portions.
This method of analysis would be most effective in areas where the
ground water inflow and outflow were relatively small or where they
were nearly equal in amount.
This method would also be effective only in areas where the ground
water reflects the use on its overlying area. Areas pumping from be
neath confining strata fed from a distant source would not respond to
surface use on the area. The method works best on open delta forma
tions where the ground water reflects the surface use directly and
quickly. Areas having ground water at a relatively shallow depth are
best suited to this method.
The years used should have about the same extent of irri
gation. It is not essential that all of the area is irrigated. If an
area has a consumptive use of 2 acre feet per acre and only one-half
of the area is irrigated, in a year in which the supply is only 1.5
acre feet per acre the ground water will lower by an amount required
to supply the remaining 0.5 acre feet per acre from the entire area.
This lowering would be only one-half the amount of ground water lower
ing that would be required for the same rate of surface supply if all
of the land was irrigated. The extent of the area irrigated with a
given supply expressed in terms of acre feet per acre will change the
slope of the trend line but will not affect the point of its inter
section with the line of zero ground water fluctuation.
The years which were used in the preparation of Bulletin
11 were those in which the ground water was relatively shallow in the
method of estimating the water supply required to maintain the ground
water elevation. There were areas having a surface
water supply so that material ground water lowering had not occurred.
The percolation losses resulting from irrigation reached the ground
water directly and quickly and was reflected in the ground water ele
vation within the annual time periods used.
In an area where the ground water inflow from higher areas might
be limited to its natural supply and where draft on its lower side
might have resulted in ground water lowering, increased ground water
slope and outflow, the method used would not take into account such
outflow. Indications that this condition existed was -found in only
one area. The lands under the Galloway and Beardsley canals north
of Kern River received a variable water supply in the years used in
Bulletin 11. The ground water draft in the Shafter Wasco area was
steepening the outflow slope. Some ground water outflow to the Shafter
Wasco area might be taking place under the then conditions.
For the conditions at the time Bulletin 11 was prepared, it was
^ound that the indicated consumptive use was about 1 2/3 acre feet per
acre for areas mainly in trees and vines and 2 to 2 1/U acre feet per
acre for forage crops. Similar values were used in the early state
reports on the Central Valley Project.
At present larger values are in use in this area for the amount
of consumptive use. The actual amounts being used are shown in the
various state and U.S.B.R. reports on the proposed units of their pro
jects. This does not mean that either the Bulletin 11 or the present
results are in error. The difference, in my opinion, is in the differ
ence between the 1925 and the present conditions.
In 1925 an average alfalfa yield of 3 1/2 to U tons per acre was
as large as could be counted on. In recent years the Agricultural
Commission of Kern County reports an average county-wide yield of
7 tons. This increased yield is the result of additional fertiliza
tion and other improved practices. It requires increased use of water
to provide the increase in yield. Similar factors enter for some
other crops such as the increase in present cotton yields.
Another factor affecting the Upper Kings River areas is the
general change in their ground water conditions. In 1925 much of
this area needed drainage. The lands under the older Kings River
rights received enough water to maintain this condition. In the last
30 years the increased pumping west of Fresno Slough has lowered the
deeper ground water pressure sufficiently to increase the ground water
gradient from its recharge area on the upper Kings River delta. This
increase in grade has resulted in ground water movement from the re
charge area which did not occur in 1925- The U.S.G.S. in W.S.P. s
1360G "Ground Water Conditions in the Mendota-Huron Area, Fresno
and Kings Counties, California", discusses these conditions.
In W.S.P. 1360G it is estimated that this induced ground water
inflow to the Mendota-Huron area in 1951 was of the order of 200,000
acre-feet per year. This represents an increased demand on the ground
water in the east side areas of recharge and an increase in the supply
now available in the west side area. The water supply of the Fresno
I.D. which was generally equal to its 1925 demand is now,
under these induced conditions, inadequate to meet botn the require
ments of the District area and this recently created ground water outflow.
In recent years trie ground water in the ^resno I.D. has lowered gener
ally from a deptn of about five feet in 1925 to about 50 feet at present.
Bulletin 11, at the time it was prepared, represented what was
then known relating to the ground water conditions in the area covered.
As such a summary it served a useful purpose in the . planning of
projects to relieve the water shortage on the east side of the valley.
Now, forty years later, Bulletin 11 has remaining usefulness
mainly as an inventory of 1925 conditions from which the changes
that have occurred since 1925 can be determined. It also is useful
in indicating the extent to which the technology of ground water in
vestigations has advanced since 1925-
In addition to the continued observation of ground water eleva
tions on a generally expanded scale since 1925* there have been major
advances in the knowledge of the underground formations and the condi
tions under which ground water is confined and moves within the
area. In 1925 the available well logs were usually in general terms
as the well driller had noted changes during the drilling of the well.
The Corcoran clay, or the diatomaceous clay as it is called in W.S.P.
lU69, had not been identified in 1925> although it was recognized that
some confining material was required to create the artesian conditions
in the valley trough.
In 1925 there was much concern regarding the length of time
i overdrafts could continue without depletion of the ground water
supply. This concern was both physical and economic. It was physical
in that pumping equipment available made lifts of 300 feet about
the limit that would be considered mechanically feasible. It was
economic in that costs of pumping made such lifts unprofitable
for general crops. There was recognition that the ground water supplies
usually extended to greater depths than it would be feasible to pump
them and physical exhaustion of the supply was not expected to occur.
Another matter of concern in 1925 was the changes that might
occur in the quality of the ground water as overdraft continued. The
experience in the Lindsay-Strathmore I.D. had shown one area in which
deterioration in the quality of the local ground water had occurred.
Looking back now forty years later we can review the extent
to which anticipations have been realized.
The improvement in the mechanical equipment used in ground water
pumping, both in dependability and in economy together with increased
yields and crop prices^ have enabled ground water pumping to be contin
ued to depths that would not have been
attempted in 1925- Some abandonment of crop production resulting
from increased costs has occurred on lower yielding soils or for crops
of lower return. Overall the present extent of pumping under condi
tions of high lift is much greater than was anticipated in 1925-
Problems relating to the quality of the water pumped as the ground
water has lowered have not been as severe as it was thought might
occur. Such deterioration in quality is an ever present threat, how
ever, where strata of good quality may become exhausted and the draft
has to come from the poorer remaining strata.
Although imported water was not received through the Friant Kern
Canal for about 25 years after 1925, no efforts were made to restrict
new irrigation using the ground waters of the areas of overdraft. The
rate of ground water lowering could have been reduced if the draft had
been limited to supplying the area irrigated in 1925- The results
that could be served by restricting the area irrigated were known and
the desirability of such restriction as a means of maintaining this
draft until imported water could be secured was recognized. The
failure to attempt such restrictions was the result of the system of
title to the use of percolating ground vater which had become esta
blished in California. The correlative rights of overlying oweners
gave each such owner a right to use his share of the available ground
water supply. The complications of attempting to enforce legal re
strictions on owner use and the uncertainties of securing legal re
strictions on use prevented any attempt to adjudicate the ground water
use between individual users. The Raymond Basin decision came a^ter
Friant Kern canal water was being delivered into this area.
Attempts by the state to secure control over the ground waters
in this area have not, as yet, been successful. Investigations have
shown the large volume of ground water that is stored underground.
This volume is several times the surface storage capacity it is Va-
sible to construct on the tributary streams. The coordinated use o^
the surface and underground storage could enable larger deliveries to
be made during periods of deficient stream flow. These overall physi
cal advantages of coordinated operation are recognized. The economic
advantages have not been fully investigated but to some extent there
may be economy in coordinated use.
Plans to coordinate the use of surface and ground water supplies
have made only limited progress to date. This has been the result of
the natural desire of each area to retain control of its own use of
water. The U.S.B.R. sells its C.V.P. water to local units without
trying to control its use within the unit except that the amount sold
is based on the needs of the unit for the supplemental water and in
cludes consideration of the units existing supplies. The state s
activities in investigating the extent of ground water storage and its
coordinated use have resulted in a feeling in some areas that the
state was seeking to secure control of its use for coordination with
its overall state plan. This feeling, to date, has prevented progress
in this matter.
When the demands -for water in the state approach its available
supply there will be an increased demand for the full use of all parts
of the supply. Areas having available ground water storage can draw
on this source in periods of deficiency in surface sources and release
some of their surface supplies for other use. Physically such coordina
tion can be beneficial.
The problems in this field, to date, have been largely related to
the control of the operation of such coordination. The local areas
naturally want to retain control of their own une of water. They do
not consider that they should be required to incur added costs for
pumping and to furnish ground water storage capacity without compensation.
The present Director of Water Resources has not lessened the concern
of the local areas in his statement that eventually water rights wiil
be rights to a given quantity of water regardless of its source.
At present there is not sufficient need ^or the coordinated use
of the ground storage of the southern San Joaquin Valley to supply the
incentive needed to overcome the problems that are involved. If the
advantages of such coordination become sufficiently great to provide
such an incentive, some practical working basis for its accomplishment
may be found. The chances for finding such a basis will, in my opinion,
be improved if the right and desirability of leaving a maximum of local
control are recognized.
IRRIGATION IN SIERRA ^QOTHILL AREAS
There were two precedures relating to irrigation in the Sierra
foothills in which I was involved in the 1920 s. The principal point
at issue in both of these cases was the extent to which such foothill
lands were irrigable. The earlier case involved the Nevada Irrigation
District. The second case related to the Utica Mining Company, which
served lands around Angels Camp. In both of these areas former mining
ditches had served some irrigation uses. When mining declined the
irrigation demand was insufficient to provide revenue with which to
maintain the canal systems. The Nevada District sought to provide
Increased irrigation. The Utica Mining Company, a public utility,
sought to abandon its irrigation services. Both cases involved, the
practicability of serving foothill areas where the percentage of land
that was feasibly irrigable was small and the cost of distribution was
Both of these matters have now been determined and the issues
involved are no longer pending. The results relating to the general
question of the feasibility of irrigation in this type of land are
pertinent to the general issues now active relative to the water re
quirements of the areas of origin and the preferences in serving a
water supply which such areas may claim. The physical conditions
have not changed during the last Uo years materially. There have
been material changes, however, in the political and economic conditions.
NEVADA IRRIGATION DISTRICT
In 1922 the recently organized Nevada Irrigation District
had an application pending for a license to develop power. The Federal
Power Commission held hearings on the application which was contested
by other claimants to the water the K evada Irrigation District pro
posed to use.
The Empire Mine was located within the Nevada I.D. It sought to
have its lands excluded from the District on the grounds that if de
fault should occur on the District lands, their mineral rights would
require them to meet the District s default as a tax sale would in
clude both surface and subsurface title.
This issue was eventually settled by the exclusion of the lands
of the Empire mine from the Nevada I.D. before the District bonds were
voted. I prepared some material ^or use by the Empire Mining Company
in support of their petition for exclusion.
The owners of the Empire Mining Company also owned lands on San
Juan Ridge including the Malikoff area which had been heavily hydrau-
liked prior to the injunction against such mining. There were exten
sive gold bearing gravels remaining which could be mined if a water
supply remained available for such use and a means of storing the
debris could be found. The proposed plans of the Nevada I.D. would
divert to the District water from the sources formerly used on San
Juan Ridge. I prepared a report on those water supplies and on the
Nevada I.D. for the owners of San Juan Ridge. I testified in the
Federal Power Commission hearing on February 1922. The Excelsior
Water and Power Company was also a protestant against the Nevada I.D.
The Federal Power Act requires that in contests for licenses
the Commission shall give preference to the applicant who proposes
to make the most complete use of the resources involved. It is also
required to give preference to public forms of organization. The
Nevada I.D. qualified as a public agency; the other contestants did
not. The contestants, however, claimed that they would make a more
complete use of the resources, power and water, than the Nevada I.D.
In this contest I was asked to report on the extent of the land
in the Nevada I.D. which it was feasible to irrigate. This required
a classification of the District of about 200,000
acres. Similar classifications were made by the District and other
contestants. The District s results gave a higher irrigable area than
the others. My results were among the lower ones.
The Power Commission decided in favor of the Nevada I.D. It sold
bonds and built its upper power system including Bowman Lake storage.
It conveyed its upper water to the power plants of P.G.&E. The
P.G.&E. paid the District for the use of this water based on the power
it could generate from it on its way to the District. These payments
were expected to meet the bond payment charges as it was realized the
extent and character of the irrigated lands could not meet more than
their own internal irrigation costs. The history of the Nevada Irri
gation District to 1928 is in Bulletin 21, "Irrigation Districts in
The Nevada I.D. became in default on its bonds in the depression
of the 1930 s. Adjustments were made with its bond holders reducing
the interest rate on the bonds. At present the District is construct
ing additional water supply and power facilities under a new bond
issue and contract with the P.G.&E. During the depression I purchased
3 bonds of the Nevada I.D. at a price of about $40. The reduction of
the interest rate to 3$ on the face value leaves a favorable rate on
the price at which I purchased these bonds. Under the readjustment
now scheduled to be made, on the completion of the present program, I
will receive face value for these bonds when they are called or
exchanged for new bonds. Like other properties such as lands, etc.
there were good opportunities for purchases at depression prices by
those able to finance them-
The history of the Nevada I.D. to 1928 is well described in
Bulletin 21. Two results justify comment in relation to the irrigability
of this type of foothill lands. One of these is the slow rate at which
the area actually irrigated has increased and the small percentage
of the gross area of the original Nevada I.D. which is now irrigated
after over 30 years of District operation. The second is the small
costs for delivery of water to the district boundary to oe met witnout
assessments on the land. It was found that assessments on the land to
meet costs for the improvement of the distribution system resulted in
large delinquencies. This result occurred in an area where the cost
of the original ditches had been met from their early use for mining.
The prices paid by the District for these mining systems were relatively
The record of the Nevada I.D. since the 1920 s has not been as
favorable in regard to the increase in its irrigated area as the Dis
trict anticipated in its earlier reports. In my opinion this record
is characteristic of what can reasonably be expected in the develop
ment of this type of foothill land.
The preceding discussion relates to the area of the original
Nevada I.D. In 1926 the original area of the District of about 200,000
acres was increased by the addition of nearly 70,000 acres in Placer
County. This annexed area had been served by the P.G.&E. The Placer
County area is also foothill land but it had a greater extent of actual
irrigation than the original area of the Nevada I.D. This annexation
occurred after the completion of the work I had done in this area, and It
did not have a part in it. In general the ridges in the Placer County
area are more rounded and have lesser slopes than those in the original
area of the Nevada I.D. They were more extensively developed at the
time of their inclusion in the Nevada I.D.
The experience of the Nevada I.D. in its ^0 years of activity
illustrates the difficulties of developing irrigation in the foothill
type of land. Much of the area is steep or has shallow soil over
hardpan. Th part of the cost of a distribution system extending OV er
a whole area which the small part of the land which is actually irrigated can
meet is limited.
prior to the operation of the Nevada I.D. the
areas irrigated under the old mining ditches were small and had not
been increasing materially. The improvements in the distribution sys
tem made by the Nevada I.D. have not resulted in a rate of increase
in the irrigated area large enough to meet distribution charges.
While the conditions in the original area of the Nevada I.D. are
not as favorable generally as those in the Placer County lands which
it included later, the original area is fully equal to similar foot
hill lands further north. The Placer County area includes the foot
hill deciduous fruit areas which produce the green fruits marketed in
the summer season.
The overall interests of the state will not be harmed by the pro
vision of a water supply for the foothill areas which can be practically
and profitably irrigated. Unlimited reservations of water for such
areas where the probabilities of such future use are remote arid un
certain will prevent more economic uses of the reserved water, in the
generation of power and in the irrigation of equally desirable crops
in the lower main Central Valley floor or elsewhere.
IRRIGATION SERVICE OF UTICA MINING COMPANY
The Utica Mining Company (Hobart Estate, Owner) owned old company
ditches in the vicinity of Angels Camp. Water was diverted from tri
butaries of the Stanislaus River and used for power, irrigation and
domestic purposes in the 1920 s. The power was sold for general use
after the closing of its mine at Angels Camp.
This property had been built for mining purposes. Some irrigation
use was supplied to lands adjacent to its main canals or on short
branches. The extent of the irrigation use which the Company had been
able to secure was insufficient to provide enough reserve to meet the
operating costs. The Company operated as a public utility. The Com
pany could see no prospect that its irrigation service could earn a
return and brought proceedings before the Railroad Commission
seeking permission to abandon the irrigation part of its operations.
It did not seek to abandon its municipal service to Angels Camp or its
The land owners in the area of service opposed this application
and contended that there was sufficient irrigable land under the ditches
to make their service profitable if efforts to serve these lands were
made by the Company.
I was employed by the Utica Mining Company in 192? to investigate
and classify the area of service and to report on the feasibility of
expanding their irrigated area. In May 1927 I made a report on Fea
sibility of Increasing the Area Irrigated by the Ditches of the Utica
Mining Company". In June 1930 I made a report entitled, Conditions
in Other Foothill Irrigated Areas". Both of these reports are in Item
Ul of my bibliographical file. I also testified in the hearings before
the R.R.C. My work was mainly on the land classification. Mr. Harry
Haehl did the engineering relating to the valuation of the properties
used in the irrigation service. Mr. James Ballard did the engineering
work for the Utica Mining Company needed to provide both Mr. Haehl and
myself with our "basis data.
The areas available for irrigation in the service area of this
utility were found to be scattered and limited in extent. Any rate
for water which would provide a return for the company would be greater
than the value of the service to these lands. The small scattered
areas being served were not paying water charges which would meet the
costs of their own service without any costs for the use of the main
canals. On this basis it was my opinion that the company was entitled
to abandon this part of their utility obligation.
To compare the conditions under the Utica Mining Company system
with those in other foothill areas, I investigated the foothill area
from Tuolumne County to the Brown s Valley I.D. The results are in
my June 1930 report and do not need to be repeated here. I found
generally that only limited increases in the areas being irrigated
were being made in these foothill systems and that the returns from
the service to the lands being served were not meeting the costs.
A similar report made today on these other systems would find
only limited changes in the 1930 conditions except in a few cases
where additional storage and distribution works have been materially
subsidized. There have been some improvements in the systems having
The Utica system offered to give its irrigation canals to its
users with water from the main canal to meet their irrigation use.
Those owners recognized that they could not maintain and operate this
service at a reasonable cost and declined to accept the offer. The
3.R.C. did not approve tae abandonment of the irrigation service of
the Utica Mining Company in these proceedings.
Since these cases ended the situation has been worked out locally.
The P.G.&E. has acquired the power plants and appurtenant canals.
Irrigation has not increased materially in this area in the ensuing
30 years a^ter the effort to abandon the utility obligation. Adjust-
tnusts have been made with the land owners on some of the areas of
GENERAL COMMENTS ON ^OOTHILL AREAS
Both the Nevada I.D. and the Utica Mining Company have worked
out their local problems in the years since the work I did
in these areas was completed. In neither area are the present pro
blems relating to public policies affecting the areas of origin o^
particular di^iculty. Each area has existing water supplies for
its probable irrigation demand under water rights that have a suffi
ciently early priority to be established or under later dates which
will probably not be subject to serious attack.
For these areas, the results that have been presented may have
some historical interest. They do represent examples of the actual
results of efforts to expand irrigation in the foothill area . This
is useful in the general discussions of the ultimate water demands
o f these foothill areas of origin, and the reservations of water which
Should be made to meet such future needs.
The area o f origin problem ^or the Sierra foothill areas includes
both the legal or policy standards that should be used in reserving
water r or their -future use and also its practical applications in
terms of how much o!* the foothill areas will actually use water and
what will be the extent of its water requirement. I have discussed
the legal and policy standards of the area of origin preferences in
"Water in California" which I published in 1960. This discussion
does not need to be repeated here. The comments made in this book
are, in my opinion, ft ill applicable.
Looking at the practical side it is my opinion that the extent of
the future demand for water for irrigation in the Sierra foothills
has been overestimated. This area has had extensive ditch systems
built for mining widely distributed within the areas considered to
be climatically adapted to orchard irrigation for some 100 years.
In this time these areas have made only a limited use of
such supplies for irrigation. Economic conditions may change but
the physical handicaps of these areas wiil remain. It is not to be
expected that extensive irrigation development will occur. The
recent increases in water supply and canals for irrigation have been
limited in extent and substantially subsidized in cost.
Si so far as the area o^ origin reservation relates to the Sierra
foothill areas, it is my opinion that quantitatively it has been over
emphasized. The sound and the fury of its discussion have exceeded
its importance as a factor in the total use of the state s water
supply, ^urther discussion of this subject is included later in my
comments on Bulletin 58 "The Northeastern Counties Investigation".
The preceding comments relating to the area of origin reservation
have been restricted to the Sierra Foothill areas where there have
been opportunities during the last 100 years to develop irrigation
from available systems constructed for mining. For the North Coastal
Areas, where the area of origin preference is also an active issue,
the physical and historical conditions differ and the results of an
area of origin preference may be different.
THE MONTAGUS WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT
The Montague Water Conservation District is located in the Shasta
Valley adjacent to the town of Montague. It used the optional pro
vision in the irrigation district act permitting it to call itself a
water conservation district. This provision was placed in the law and
was used by the Montague district in the hope that the name Conserva
tion District would receive a more favorable reaction in the bond mar
ket than the term Irrigation District. There had been defaults in the
bonds of some California irrigation districts. Otherwise the conserva
tion district functions under the same statutes as the irrigation
I participated in two procedures for the Montague W.C.D. The
first related to a law suit seeking to secure additional water from
Parks Creek mainly for storage in the district reservoir on Shasta
River and the second was testimony for the District in opposition to
the_protestfl against the adjudication of the rights to the water of
Shasta River made by the State Division of Water Rights. Both pro
cedures may have some historical interest . The issues in both cases
are now closed.
The sponsor of the Montague W.C.D. was Dr. Dwinell. Without his
leadership and persistence the district would probably not have been
organized and its works constructed. Dr. Dwinell was very highly re
garded both locally and among others who knew him. He was a good
friend of Mr. McClure and of people prominent in San Francisco s legal
and financial activities. His standing enabled him to promote the
district and finance its works. Dr. Dwinell was a man of high principles
with a desire to help his community. While the project did not realize
his hopes, in my opinion, this was the result of the physical condi-
tions rather than the fault of Dr. Dwlnell.
The history of the Montague District to 1928 is described in Bulle
tin 21, Irrigation Districts in California, p. 56. I began work on the
Parks Creek case in 192J and testified during 1928. Further procedure
resulted in additional work on this case in 1931. The contests on the
adjudication by the state were heard in the superior court in November,
The stream flow of the Shasta River at the district reservoir site
was insufficient for the district s needs. Parks Creek is adjacent to
Shasta River near the reservoir. There was a ditch between the two
streams through which water from Parks Creek could be diverted to the
reservoir. Below this point of diversion, Parks Creek was used to
irrigate the Duke Ranch. W.D. Duke raised bulls and pastured the lands
he irrigated. Much of his land was riparian to Parks Creek and he based
his claims on his riparian rights. On this basis, under prevailing
decisions, Duke could claim title to all of the flow of Parks Creek
which might be of any value to him. Duke was not, at that time,
limited by any standard of reasonableness in contests with an appro-
priator. The 1928 constitutional amendment had not been passed when
Duke filed his suit to enjoin the proposed diversion by the Montague W.C.D.
My part in this case for the Montague District was to prepare
testimony on the reasonable needs of Duke s land which he could bene
ficially use. Any surplus flow of Parks Creek would be divertable by
the district without any injury to Duke.
My work on this case was mainly directed to a determiniation of
the reasonable requirements of the Duke lands from which the surplus
could be defined. I went over the lands and prepared conclusions on
on this issue. The results are contained in my report, "Water Require
ments of Lends of W.D. Duke Supplied From Parks Creek." This report is
Item k2 in my bibliographical file. It is dated March 1928.
Duke was an interesting character. He claimed to have been
Henry Miller s bodyguard for many years. Whatever his background may
have been, it lost nothing in the telling. During the trial, the
evenings were usually regaled with Duke s reminiscences.
In my testimony in 1928 I described the areas and conditions under
each of Duke s diversions. For one area he had testified regarding
irrigation. I had found the flume down and the irrigation abandoned.
Duke was probably sincere in his testimony, but he aid not spend
much time on his land and was not as familiar with the actual
conditions as I had become in my field work.
Duke resented my contradiction of his testimony. In 1931 in
further procedure in this matter he refused to let me go on his land
for additional field work. This is the only case in my experience
where the attorney with whom I was working had to get a court order
permitting me to examine lands at issue in litigation. Such refusal
by a land owner will usually react against him if it is brought out
in the trial. Duke raised bulls, and I did my field work on foot.
My main problems were to get over the lands without argument with the
bulls. The fields were large and the fences far apart. There was
only one instance where I had to best a bull to the fence. The herd
of bulls generally paid no attention to me unless there were cows in
sight. This was another case of showing off before the women.
Duke secured an injunction in the 1928 case. In 1931 the district
sued to condemn the right to divert the surplus flow of Parks Creek.
I also testified in this case. It was this later case in which the
attorney secured the court order permitting me to go on Duke s land.
The State Division of Water Rights completed its findings in the
adjudication of Shasta River in 1928. These were made available to
the claimants and a period of time in which protests could be filed
was allowed. A number of protests were filed, mainly to increase
their own rights with some objections that the finding for others
were too liberal in area or rate of use. These contests were heard
by the superior court of the county. Some of the protests, if allowed,
would have increased the diversions which were adverse to the Montague
District. I was asked to prepare rebuttal testimony to those protests
for the district and did so. In this I appeared as a witness for the
district. Actually I was practically appearing as a supporting wit
ness for the Division of Water Rights. The court upheld the findings
of the Division.
The lands in the Montague W.C.D. consist largely of separated
areas in which alluvial material has been deposited on the underlying
lava. The canals which were excavated through this alluvial material
were subject to leakage. Much work and cost were required to reduce
these losses in the district s main canal.
The dam at its reservoir on Shasta River is a hydraulic fill.
This is one of the last of this type and size built in California.
D.C. Henny of Portland, Oregon was the consulting engineer and John
Beemer was the resident engineer. The dam has fulfilled its purpose.
However, when storage began and the water rose in the reservoir, leakage
occurred through the lava rock abutments. After considerable grouting,
much of this leakage was checked. I have not had contact with the district
in recent years but in the earlier years of reservoir operation it was
only partly filled in order to avoid excessive leakage.
The lava rock ridge between the reservoir and Duke s land on
Parks Creek was relatively narrow. When storage in this reservoir
began leakage to Duke s land also occurred. Duke secured the return
of some of the water which the District had condemned.
The runoff of Shasta River at the reservoir site is subject to
wide variations in different years. The State Division of Water Rights
was adjudicating the water rights on Shasta River when the District was
being organized and developing its plan. The state made a report on
the water supply it considered would be available to the district. As
this report was more optimistic than that of the engineer of the Dis
trict, F.H. Tibbetts, ne u sed the state s estimate. When the District
applied for certification of its bonds, it could show that its esti
mates of its water supply were those of the state. The District Se
curities Commission did not have much of a basis on which to question
these results. This illustrates what may occur where the state is both
engineer and judge of the feasibility of projects. A similar situation
will now occur when the District Securities Commission passes on bond
issues of irrigation districts which will purchase water from the
state project under contracts which will have been made with the Direc
tor of the Department of Water Resources who is also a member of the
Irrigation District Securities Commission.
The Mhntague W.C.D. has not occupied a major position in the deve
lopment of the water resources of the state. It has had its own local
problems. Their handling by this district can have usefulness in other
projects having similar conditions. While my work for the District
was a minor factor in its development, it had its interesting features
which I enjoyed.
THE ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN STATE ENGINEERS.
This association was formed as the result of a meeting in Denver
in 1927 which was attended by seven of the vestern state engineers. They
recognized the common interests of their duties and the advantages
which could result from cooperative actions. Such actions required
meetings for discussions ofi the policies involved in order that agree
ments could be reached on the positions to be taken.
A second meeting was called in Salt Lake City on October 29-31,
1928. The seventeen western state engineers completed the organiza
tion and held their First Annual Meeting. A constitution was adopted
and officers for the ensuing year elected. The proceedings of this
f irst meeting were published by the Association. This organization
has continued to date. Its annual proceedings represent a file of the
subjects that were of active concern to the members, over the years
The membership consists of the state official in charge of the
water activities of the state. The titles of these officers vary in
the different states, but in 1928 the more usual title was state
engineer. At present the engineering work of the statec is more
generally divided between separate branches of engineering such as
water and highways and the titles designate the duties of each agency.
While not covered in its constitution, it was agreed at the first
meeting that the Association would avoid discussion and action on
matters which were controversial between the states. This was perti
nent in 1928 as Colorado River controversies, particularly between
Arizona and California, at that time were pending. The general
observance of this rule over the years has been a main factor in the
continued maintenance of this organization. There have been enough
matters of common interest to justify the organization. The voting
in the association is limited to the one member for each state. To
enable each member to have others from his state available to assist
him on matters vhich might arise, provision was made for tvo associate
but non-voting members from each state. This is where I came into
the picture as Hyatt appointed me as one of the two charter associate
members from California. I continued as an associate member through
the periods of tenure of Hyatt and Edmonston until 1955- I attended
the first meeting and nearly all of the meetings while I was an associ
The charter members are listed in the Proceedings of the First
Meeting. None now hold their positions. Of the 17 all but
three are known (to me) to have died anlmy information on these three
is not up to date. Of the associate members I remained a member longer
than any of the other associates. I may now be the last surviving
charter associate member.
Over the years the association of Western State Engineers has
been affected by the changes that have taken place in water policies
and activities. In 1928, federal activity was mainly limited to the
Bureau of Reclamation and it was limited in its funds to certain re
ceipts of the federal government from its land sales and oil leasing
activities. The state engineers were mainly concerned with the pro
cedural practices of their offices and the earlier meetings included
discussions of such matters.
The members were cooperating with the U.S.G.S. on stream mea
surements and in the earlier years of the Association were concerned
about the delays in the publication of the annual results. A considerable
part of one early meeting was devoted to putting N.C. Grover, then
head of the Surface Water Branch of the U.S.G.S.,on the grill over
the delay. The annual water supply papers were then three or more years
overdue. This discussion resulted in improvement in the time of
Another question then active was the extent to which federal
agencies should comply w^-fch state procedures in the acquisition of
water rights for federal projects. The U.S.B.R. had its Sec. B.
requirement. The federal government had used its control over rights-
of-way over public lands to block some developments adverse to federal
projects. I was asked to prepare a paper assembling instances when
failure by the federal agencies to conform with state water rights
law was claimed. I asked each state engineer to supply me with the
record for his state. I compiled these results in a paper presented
at the fourth meeting in Sacramento in 1931. It is in the proceedings
of that meeting and was reprinted in 195?" in the "Conference on Legal
Problems in Water Resources" sponsored by the University of California
School of Law at Berkeley. This reprint was an appendix to a paper
on the "Western Water Rights Settlement Bill of 1957"by Charles E.
Corker. A copy of this report is No. 1 in Item 87 of my bibliographical
I presented a talk on the "Probabilities of the Drought Cycle" at
the 1926 meeting of the association in Santa Fe. This is included in
the Proceedings of the Ninth Meeting in that year. It is also No. 2
in Item 86 of my bibliographical file. The drought of the early 1930 s
had resulted in much interest in the probability of its recurrence
and whether it could be predicted on some cyclic basis.
Beginning in 1937, the Association adopted a practice of having
each state present a ten minute talk on the current matters in the
state. These were presented by the state engineer or some one repre
senting him. In some years these talks were assigned a general topic
to be emphasized, such as ground water. In 19^8 I prepared and pre
sented the statement for California at Flagstaff. This is in the
Proceedings for this year. A copy is No. h in Item 87 of my biblio
During the 19^0 s when Strauss was Commissioner of Reclamation,
the engineers in the Bureau of Reclamation had been down- graded in
policy matters. The older engineers in the Bureau were being pushed
aside. The politicians who had taken over did not dare to interfere
with the design and construction of the project works as a failure of
Bureau structures would have reacted against the whole organization.
This situation was particularly bad in California while Richard
Boke was regional director here. I tried to help some of the former
graduates of the Irrigation Department of the University who were work
ing for the Bureau to hold their jobs and still retain their
engineering integrity until changes in the Bureau might be secured.
I was going to the 20th Annual Meeting of the Association of
Western State Engineers at Boise in September 19^7 On the way to
the meeting I tried to phrase a resolution which would call attention
to this situation and not be so strong that the state engineers would
be afraid to pass it. I worked up a draft and on arrival took it up
with Hyatt. He agreed with the draft but did not offer much hope
that it would pass. He offered to present it to the resolutions
committee, however, and he did.
Alfred M. (Long Tom) Smith of Nevada was chairman of the resolu
tion committee. My draft did not receive the approval of the resolu-
tions committee when first presented. Smith offered to report it
vithout recommendation and let the Association as a whole vote on it.
The chances did not look good but this was all I could expect to get
from the resolutions committee.
The second night of the meeting, members of the House Committee
on Public Lands were in Boise on their usual annual tour of federal
projects. There was a joint dinner of the committee and the association.
Congressman Miller of Nebraska, in his talk at the dinner, stressed the
difficulty Congress was having getting reliable information from the
present Bureau of Reclamation witnesses.
The next day the congressional committee went on a trip to see
Anderson Dam. Some state engineers, including Hyatt, went along.
Hyatt left me his proxy for the Association meeting when the resolu
tions were to be considered. This entitled me to speak in support of
the resolution I had drafted.
The Bureau was represented by Asst. Com. Kenneth W. Markwell.
Markwell had been an engineer in one of the depression agencies but
was not a previous Bureau engineer. After the resolutions approved
by the resolutions committee had been reported and passed, Smith re
ported roy resolution without a committee recommendation. I used the
comments of Congressman Miller to support my position. Markwell
argued against me.
The state engineers were familiar with the situation in the Bureau
and recognized the merits of the resolution. However, Bureau funds
had become such a large factor in many of the western states that the
engineers were afraid of the reactions through their governors if they
took any critical action relating to the Bureau.
After the discussion of the resolution was ended a vote was taken.
It carried 10 to 6. Mark Kulp of Idaho was the president of the Associa
tion that year, as well as State Reclamation Engineer. As soon as the
meeting was over, he gave the resolution to the A. P. who put it on the
news wire. This blocked any "cold feet reactions and the resolution
Like mast similar resolutions this one did not produce any world
shaking results. It was a satisfying expression of the feeling, then
wide-spread among the engineers, of their dislike for the political
control of the Bureau. It was reprinted in the Western Construction
News for October
The resolution is as follows. Anyone familiar with the situation
in 19^7 will recognize the balancing of commendation o f the work of
the Bureau and condemnation of those responsible for its loss of
TWENTIETH ANNUAL CONVENTION, ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN ENGINEERS, RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, the Bureau, of Reclamation has established an out
standing reputation as an efficient and economical Federal Agency,
devoted to the development of the West; and,
WHEREAS, the welfare of the Western States requires that the
agency representing the Federal government in its reclamation
work be experienced in such work, and loyal to the purposes
and policies on which the accomplishments and reputation of the
Bureau of Reclamation have been established; and,
WHEREAS, changes during recent years in the personnel of
the directing staff of the Bureau of Reclamation have resulted in
replacements of experienced men and the introduction of debatable
policies, based on questionable social theories; and,
WIJERSAS, the loss of confidence by Congress in the present
administration of the Bureau of Reclamation was apparent in recent
Congressional hearings and action on appropriations for the Bureau:
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Association of Western
State Engineers at its twentieth annual meeting, in Boise, Idaho, on
September 11, 19^7, that the direction and control of the Bureau
of Reclamation be returned to those experienced and qualified for
such work, in order that the standing of this organization may not
further deteriorate, t > the great detriment of the Western States,
which have such a vitsl interest in the work of the Bureau.
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the President o^ the United
States be urged to restore the Bureau of Reclamation to the management
and direction of those capable of maintaining the high standing of the
Bureau and the confidence formerly held in it by Congress and the
people of the Western States.
On October 21, 19^7j Secretary of the Interior Krug wrote to
Mark Kulp objecting to Resolution No. 8 as passed at the Boise
meeting and asking Kulp to specjfy details regarding what the
association meant in the several clauses of the resolution. On
November 28, 19^7., Kulp replied, sending copies of his answer to
the members of the association. Kulp s answer is worth including
here . It follows :
Boise, Idaho, November 28,
Hon. J.A. Krug
Secretary of the Interior
Washington, D. C.
Dear Mr. Krug:
I have your letter of October 21st, 19^7, addressed to me
as President of the Association of Western State Engineers, and
requesting my advice and counsel as to your interpretation of the
general references in Resolution No. 8 as passed by the Association
in its 20th Annual Meeting in Boise, Idaho.
Resolution No. 8 must be considered as an expression of the
composite reaction of a majority of the members of the Association
to existing conditions. I have no information as to the individual
reactions of the various members. Some may have been thinking in
terms of personalities, some of particular incidents of policies,
and others may have been influenced by successions or accumulations
of unsatisfactory situations.
We must assume that your staff and subordinates are loyal tc
you and carry out your policies. Any policy that threatens the
rights of the states to administer and control their water resources
is unsatisfactory to the members of this Association, although the
individual members of the Association may have divergent ideas as to
the specific policies as they interpret them.
Very truly yours,
MARK R. KULP
I had another interesting time at the 19*^8 meeting of the
association in Flagstaff, Arizona. Governor Warren had requested that
neither Hyatt nor Zander attend for California. I was paying my own
way and not subject to the Governor s approval of out of state travel.
This was the year Warren was hopeful of presidential consideration.
Hyatt gave me his proxy for the Flagstaff meeting to help
insure that there would be a quorum for any official actions. I
arrived in Flagstaff for the meeting and found an urgent phone call
from Hyatt. The Governor did not warn; a California vote to be
cast by anyone representing California on any controversial subject.
What this meant was that no such vote should lose any votes for
Warren in any of the other states. I agreed to refrain on any
The main controversial matters were those relating to the
Colorado River. The association had avoided dividing its members
on such matters . To try to avoid any controversy in the program I
went to the Arizona members and proposed that we agree that neither
Arizona nor California would make any reference to Colorado River
matters during the meeting. They agreed. I then went to the
other Calif ornians at the meeting and told them of this agreement.
Mike Dowd and Ray Matthews were there from the California Colorado
River Board. They were itching for a fight but agreed that they
would not start it. I think they hoped that Arizona would break
the agreement. All went well until the breakfast on the final day
when some Arizona publicity agent placed material at each place
presenting Arizona s position. The responsible Arizona representatives
hustled around and collected these before they caused trouble.
I have always been grateful for the attitude and action of the
Arizonans in this matter.
In 1950> there was great interest in national water policy. My
part in the activities of the Engineers Joint Council is discussed
National water policy was a natural subject on which the association
of Western State Engineers could speak with background and authority.
By 1950, the amount of federal money being made available in the
western states for water development had resulted in the desire to
continue to receive such funds outweighing the principles relating
to the policies being used. The Association took no active part in
this widespread discussion.
I was asked to discuss the activities of Engineers Joint
Council relating to national water policy and the president 1 s temporary
water resources policy commission at the 23rd Meeting of the Associa
tion in Santa Fe in 1950. I did this, reviewing the development of
the demand for definite and consistent policy standards for all of
the federal agencies. My paper is published in the Proceedings for
this year of the Association, pp. 55-6l. A copy of my talk is No. 5
in Item 8? of my bibliographical file.
The Association at its 1950 meeting passed a resolution asking
the President s Water Resources Policy Commission to give primary
consideration to a uniform policy and procedure for all federal
water development agencies. It did not specify any details of
policy except general recognition of state laws, compact procedure
and local management. This resolution was a "safe" one which would
not get the Association into any controversial difficulties. Neither
was it specific enough to be of much help to the President s Commission.
In my opinion, the Association defaulted where it could have been
During the depression in the 1930 s, the members had difficulty
securing travel costs from their states to separate meetings of the
Association of Western State Engineers. To keep the Association
alive it was necessary to hold the annual meetings at the same place
as the National Reclamation Association, usually on the day preceding
the NRA meeting. As many members were on NRA committees these meetings
were usually poorly attended and without much program. In these years
the interests of the western states were largely in securing federal
funds and the NRA was more effective in this than the Association
of Western State Engineers. Later the Association was able to go
"oack to separate meetings with a better organized program.
The Association has been organized and operating long enough
now to enable its accomplishments to be appraised. I have not
attended any of the meetings since 1960, but have been in general
touch with its later results.
In my opinion the most effective years of the Association were
from its organization until the Depression restricted its activity.
Its activities in those earlier years were directed to the specific
duties of their offices such as water right procedure and their
cooperative work with federal agencies such as the U.S.G.S. In
the depression the emphasis politically in the western states was
on securing increased emergency relief funds for irrigation projects.
Efforts by the state engineers to secure better procedures in project
investigations were not favorably received by the federal agencies.
Usually the governors were not inclined to support any efforts to
improve the project engineering if it involved any risk of reduced
federal allotments. At present the individual state water engineers
have had their influences reduced by the preponderance of federal
projects. The western states, other than California, have not had the
resources to make adequate investigations of their own water development.
The Association of Western State Engineers can perform useful
functions if they can secure political support in their individual
states so that they can speak with weight. To do this will require
filling the positions of state engineer with individuals having the
standing needed to secure such authority and influence. In the
eleven Colorado River and Pacific Coast states there is now increased
activity in inventorying their own resources and needs. This
should lead to increased stature for those in charge of such work.
I thoroughly enjoyed the over 25 years of my associate
membership and activity in the Association of Western State Engineers.
I found it an effective means of keeping in touch with legislation
in the other states and their water right practices. This was directly
useful in my teaching of Irrigation 101 and 106, the water rights and
organization courses. The personal associations were also very
pleasant as I had contacts with many of the members in my own
practice in their states. The state engineers, particularly in the
earlier years of the Association, were an interesting group. Those
earlier members would be lost in this era of unlimited funds.
LAND CLASSIFICATION IN THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY, 1929-1931
The earlier investigations by the state, which led to the plan
for the Central Valley Project, had not included a classification of
the lands in the areas to be served. When the investigations o^ a
state program were underway in the 1920 s, Paul Bailey had an
engineer traverse the valley east to west on the township lines
and estimate the percentage of poor lands for which water would not
In 1929 the state had drawn a line around the upper edge of the
valley land in the southern San Joaquin Valley and planimetered
the gross area included. This area was being used as the basis for
the estimated water requirements of this part of the Valley.
In my work for the state engineer in the 1920 ! s, I had
classified the lands in the proposed water storage districts and
on Kings River. From these results it was apparent that there
were sizeable areas which could not meet the cost of imported
water due to the poor quality of their soils.
I called Hyatt s attention to this condition and recommended
that the state s program should not attempt to serve such lands.
This naturally led to a need for a definition of where such lands
were and their extent. A classification of the valley lands was
needed. This in turn led to the question of who should make the
classification. The program of the state s investigations required
that the results of such a classification should be available in
There was no time for a detailed soil classification. Much of
the area was already covered by U.E.D.A. Soil Surveys. What was needed
was a reconaissance type of classification of irrigability. The main
factors which would eliminate land from a state project would be
depth of soil, topography and alkali.
As I had raised this question and had already classified a
substantial part of the Southern San Joaquin Valley , I was asked to
make this classification. I agreed to do this and began work in June,
1929. The standards to be used were first adopted. I then started
to cover the area from the San Joaquin River south, using the
results of my former work and filling in the remainder.
As I was due to resume my teaching when the University opened
in August, time was short. The greater need was for results on the
lands on the east side in the valley trough. These were the lands
then under consideration for service from the Central Valley Project.
I covered these by the middle of August. This required my working
long days, 7 days a week.
The classification was made by auto, driving all roads and other
entries to the land. As the work was done in the summer, the growing
crops furnished an index of the land quality particularly where alkali
was involved. The report on this area was completed in September,
1929. A copy is Item ^8 in my bibliographical file. The resulting
map is also included in this item.
The September, 1929 report covers lands south of the San Joaquin
River except for some west side lands which were covered during the
1929-30 Christmas recess. Harry Barnes made the classification of the
lands which had been included in the proposed San Joaquin Water Storage
District. I later covered the valley lands north of the Merced River.
I also later covered the east side foothill lands north of the San
Joaquin River. The later supplemental reports are in Item ^9 of my
The several reports on the valley floor lands in the different
parts of the San Joaquin River Basin were combined in Appendix A of
Bulletin 29 of the State Division of Water Resources. A copy
of Appendix A of Bulletin 29 is Item U8a in my bibliographical file.
Bulletin 29 is item 62. The results were also included under Land
Classification, p. 101 of Bulletin 29. Plate V is a map of the San
Joaquin Valley showing the areas of each land class ^rom one to five.
In this classification, five classes of lands were used starting
with Class 1 for lands without defects that materially reduced
their value under irrigation and ending with Class 5 "for lands of
such poor quality that the probability of any future use was regarded
ar^ too remote to justify consideration. Letter symbols were used
with the class numbers to indicate the basis for the classification
in Classes 2 to 5- The letters used were (l) a for shallow hard-
pan areas, (2) b for high alkali content, (3) c was a special class
to cover the slough and channel cut lands in the valley trough,
(U) d for roughness and (5) e was for general deficiencies usually
for soil other than or in addition to alkali or hardpan.
This 1929 land classification served a useful purpose in the
preparation of the state s plan for the Central Valley Project. Its
specific use was to eliminate from the service planned under this project
those lands which could not be expected to be able to pay the cost. of
imported water. At that time, and in the adopted plan of the state
for its Central Valley Project, all types and areas of service were
expected to pay their allocated costs in full. The Central Valley
Project Act provided for financing the project with revenue bonds
and it was specifically stated that there was not state liability
for costs. For such conditions only lands able to meet their full
costs should be included, in the service area.
This 1929-1930 land, classification recognized similar elements
to those used in later classifications by the state and the U. S.
Bureau of Reclamation. It was obviously made on a much less detailed
scale than has been used in recent work. It was adapted to the time
available for its completion and met its time schedule.
During the past fifty years, I have been involved in land class
ifications of irrigable lands in numerous western areas. I was a
member of the advisory board on the Northeastern Counties Investigation
for the state. The board reviewed the standards of land classifi
cation then being used by the state. I was also a member of two
consulting boards of the U. S. Reclamation Service on large projects
in North and South Dakota. These will be discussed separately
later. I think that I can properly claim familiarity with^ and a
part in the development of the practice of classification o?
irrigated and irrigable lands over the period of my activity.
It is my opinion that, while it has now been superseded by more
detailed classification, the 1929-30 work had a usefulness well in
excess Q-P its cost. The standards used were similar to the
practice of the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation on its proposed
projects. Full use was made of the U. S. Soil Surveys then available.
However, a land classification for irrigation goes beyond the soil
inventory of the U. S. Soil Survey and interprets the physical texture
findings of the Soil Survey in terms of the economic feasibility of
I had an opportunity to review my 1929-30 land classification
in the San Joaquin Valley in 1955 while acting as one of the consult
ants for Bechtel in their review of the State Water Plan. I went
over the areas which in 1929-30 had been questionable to see what
development had occurred since 1930- While the area irrigated from
ground water had increased materially since 1930, there had been only
limited increases in the areas having a ground water supply where the
land had been classified in Classes 3 or lower in 1929- The area of
the largest increased use on lower quality land was on S .onitropic
Ridge in Kern County. 3y heavy applications of gypsum some of
these lands on slight ridges with better drainage had been reclaimed
and were producing satisfactory crops. Financial accounts from which
the economy of such results could be appraised were not secured and
have not been included in the state s later reports on these areas.
The advantage of the low price at which these lands had been acquired
could well be more than offset by the costs of reclamation and the
period of reduced yield until reclamation had been accomplished.
Even with large subsidies for the cost of irrigation now usual
in projects of the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, the charges for water
in our remaining projects are becoming more than any but the best
lands with good crop adaptability can expect to meet. A rigid
classification to eliminate the lands which cannot meet such stand
ards is an essential in these projects. From contacts in 1965 with
some of the units expecting to receive water from the present state
project, it appears to me that this standard has not been enforced in
"fixing the boundaries of some units.
Bulletin 29, San Joaquin River Basin, (1933) of the State
Division of Water Resources was a more detailed follow-up to
Bulletin 25 covering the State Water Plan. Its purpose was
to present results which had "been condensed in Bulletin 25-
Included in Bulletin 29 as Appendix A was my land classification
of the San Joaquin Valley. In addition I prepared drafts of
shorter discussions of land classification to be included in the
OTHER WORK ON BULLETIN 29
During the preparation of Bulletin 29, I was also asked to
comment on the drafts being prepared for other portions of the
report. Many of these were verbal. When a draft of the whole bulletin
had been prepared I was asked to review it and comment on its
contents. I did this in a rather detailed report with specific
suggestions for changes.
The materials relating to my work on Bulletin 29, other than
Appendix A, are in Items 51 and 1^9 of my bibliographical file.
My comments on Bulletin 29, other than those relating to land
classification questioned some of its general tone. It was my
opinion that some less favorable features of the plan had not been
covered as fully as those that were more favorable. The details of
these matters are in Item 1^9. Hyatt s letter thanking me for the
thoroughness of my review is also included.
PERMISSIBLE COSTS FOR IRRIGATION WATER
During the preparation of Bulletin 29 there was much discussion
regarding whether the irrigated areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley
to be served by the proposed state plan could meet the costs of such
service. An office report had been prepared for the state
engineer by P. H. Van Etten, dated March 25, 1931 entitled,
"Economics for Initial Development as it affects the Individual
Land Owner in the Upper San Joaquin Valley." I had been assenting
material on my own in t lis field during 1930 and completed a
memorandum on "What can San Joaquin Valley Lands Afford to Pay for
Water," in March, 1931- I was asked to comment on Van Etten s
report and did so in a report on "Price Land Owners can Afford to Pay
for Direct Benefits of Service from Proposed Immediate Initial Unit
in the San Joaquin Valley of the Comprehensive Plan." This report
was datedMay, 1931- Both of these reports are in Item 51 of my
Frank Adams had also prepared Bulletin 3^ for the Department
of Water Resources entitled "Permissible Annual Charge for Irrigation
Water in Upper San Joaquin Valley." He used the difference between
all costs except water and the gross return to derive the net return
available to use in paying for water.
At that time
average gross crop returns were about $100 per acre and costs,
except water, about $90 per acre, leaving about $10 per acre available
for what is now called the "repayment capacity."
Crop prices varied materially in the late 1920 s. A variation
of 10$ in the gross returns could make 100$ difference in the
I based my conclusions largely on the costs of water which
were being incurred and met by the existing uses. This included the
costs that were being incurred for ground water pumping. It was
recognized that citrus could pay a higher rate than other crops
but }. price differential based on the crop on which the water
was used was not considered to "be workable.
The resulting prices that could be paid -for water varied with
the assumptions that were made. In general $3-00 per acre foot
canal side appeared to be as high as could be secured ^or the
dependable supply. A lower rate for recharge and of * season
water w:.:s also discussed.
Some years later when the USBR fixed its rate -for CVP
water it used $3-50 per acre foot -for Class 1 or dependable
service water and $1-50 per acre foot -for Class 2 or irregularly
available water. This somewhat higher rate is consistent with
the improvement in economic conditions which had occurred when
the US3R rate was set.
These 1931 rates discussed in Bulletin 29 have been made
obsolete by the inflation and other factors since the 1930 s.
They are in marked contrast to the ability to pay rates now in
use by both the USBR and the state. T ie method of using the
di^-ference between the average gross crop returns and all costs
except water is still in general use. The state derives its
results by adopting a crop pattern -for the area being considered
and deriving the costs and returns for each crop in this pattern.
T". C USBR is using a similar general basis except that it is
applied to ^arm units selected to be typical of the expected
practice in the area. In general the USBR .results are somewhat
lover than those jf the state. T -iis is to be expected as t : .e USB/?
necessarily bases its p arm programs on units not exceeding 1^0
ecres and loses the economic benefits that result from larger farm units
"or many crop conditions.
GIN S. CHOW vs. SANTA BARBARA
217 Calif. 673 (1933)
This case was brought "by a group of riparian owners on the
Santa Ynez River to en.join the proposed enlargement o^ the Gibraltar
Reservoir which was above their riparian lands. The original
storage at Gibraltar bad become prescriptive against these owners.
Santa Barbara proposed to increase the storage capacity at Gibraltar;
such increase storage had not been built or used.
These owners sued to enjoin its use before public use had
occurred. Such public use would have limited the recovery o^ the
lower riparian owners to damages.
James Peck was the attorney for the riparian owners. H.H.
Henderson o f Stockton was his engineer. Peck and Henderson had
secured contingency fee contracts with some forty riparian land
owners who were joined as plaintiffs. The contract provided that
peck would pay the costs o^ the trial to be reimbursed ^rom the first
awards that might be secured. He was also to receive a percentage
of any excess of the awards over the costs. To protect themselves
in their collection under these contracts P w ck had recorded them,
rhnderson was named to share in the awards also.
James Irving of Riverside was the principal attorney for Santa
Barbara and Raymond Hill was the directing engineer. The case went
to trial in 1929- The witness who prepared the testimony on the
character of the riparian lands did not present an adequate
classification o^ their irrigability and I was risked to examine
each ownership of these lands and testify regarding the value of
the "low o r th- Santa Ynez River for their irrigation. This involved
a classification of what part o p these riparian lands was
irrigable and the feasibility of its irrigation with the available
stream "low. Much of these lands were on mesas or terraces above
the stream and the feasibility of pumping to the necessary elevations
was a ^actor in their irrigability.
The flow of the Santa Ynez River then available to these lands
consisted of that remaining after the past diversions by Santa
Barbara. Gibraltar Reservoir controlled all of the flow at its
dam except some excess winter run- off not useful for direct
The trial vas under way in October, 1929 when I began the field
work. I was teaching in the University. I had to commute on week ends
for field work going down on the night train to Surf, being met there
about 5 A.M., working Saturday and Sunday in the field and coming home
on the Sunday night train.
I testified in this case on November lU and 15, 1929- On
cross examination Peck asked questions regarding the character of
the land of each o* 1 the plaintiffs. I had my notebook at hand and
could glance at it before answering. The judge had the aerial
photos of each piece before him as I testified and checked my
answers as I made them. This worked well until I had covered all
but k or 5 of the areas. Then Peck insisted that I answer from
memory without referring to my notes. Irving protested and the
lawyers argued for some time before the judge ruled that if Peck
insisted on a memory answer he was entitled to it. If my memory
was incomplete or in error it could be taken care of on re -direct
While the lawyers were arguing this matter T was busy
memorizing the descriptions of the remaining ownerships so I did
not care - .lich way the judge ruled. It was not necessary to use
re-direct examination on the descriptions.
When Henderson undertook to testify both as a direct witness
on his field work and as an expert in expressing opinions, he was
challenged as "being an interested party as a result of his interest
in the contingency contracts. He WES disqualified as an impartial
expert "but was perraited to testify on ^actual matters without
The account of the testimony in this case is interesting rather
than important. This was a contested trial that lasted over 6 weeks.
Peel; did not pay his share of the court reporters charges. The
reporter sued the plaintiffs and collected. Peck should have paid those
charges under the terms of the contingency contracts. This result
caused the expected dissension between the plaintiffs and their
The lower court judge decided in favor of Santa Barbara and
denied the injunction against raising Gibraltar. The plaintiffs
appealed. The decision of the California Supreme Court on the
appeal in 1933 sustained the lower court.
The trial in this case occurred after the 1928 constitution
ammendment had been passed but before it had been construed by
the supreme court. This case was the first to reach the Supreme
Court in which the 1928 ammendment was at issue. The court
sustained the ammendment holding that all use of water in
California was subject to reasonable standards o~f use. The
plaintiffs in the Gin Chow case were found not to meet such a
standard in the riparian usage they could make of the available
flow of the Santa Ynez River.
Later cases have fully established the 1928 constitutional
amendment as applicable to all types of use. This has effectually
met the previous disadvantage of appropriators in contests with
riparian owners .
UNION SUGAR COMPANY CASE
The plaintiffs in the Gin Chow case owned lands above
Robinson s Bridge. Another separate suit was brought by land
owners in the Lompoc Valley. The Union Sugar Company was the first
named plaintiff in this suit. The cause of action was the reduction
in the recharge of the ground water in the Lompoc Valley that it was
claimed would result from additional storage of the run-off of
the Santa Ynez River.
In July, 1930 I made a classification of the lands involved
and prepared a report in November, 1930 entitled "Progress Report
on Irrigable Area and Water Requirements for Consumptive Use for
Lands on Santa Ynez River and Tributaries." T : iis is Item 1*4-8 in
my bibliographical file. The field work for this report was done
in the summer of 1930 when I could devote more nearly continuous
time to it and did not involve the commuting of the Gin Chow case.
This case never reached trial. In the construction o^ the
Cachuma Project the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation agreed to a
schedule of releases for recharge in the Lompoc: Valley which should
remove the cause o r action of this suit. This is a commendable
result. The re should be no further use for my 1930 results in
litigation. They may supply a useful inventory as of 1930 for
use in comparison with the development at later dates.
THE STATE LAND SETTLEMENT COLONIES
When Elwood Mead returned from his work in Australia and
became Professor o 4 * Rural Institutions at the University of California,
he proposed that California should undertake land settlement colonies
similar to those he had administered in Australia. As a result
of his energy and influence, California established a Land
Settlement Board in 191? and bonds to provide funds were voted.
Mead became Cnairman of the Board.
A search was made for suitable areas -for colonies and a part
o f tne Stanford Rancn near Chico was selected for t;ne first. This
became known as tne Durham Colony as Durham was tne nearest, town
to tne area.
When the Durham colony was opened ^or settlement in 191ti there
was an active demand for land. Tne states program had been widely
publicized and the units sold quickly. The progress at Durham resulted
in an additional bond issue and a search for a second colony. Delhi
war; selected and opened for settlement in 1920. The land demand had
slackened and only part of the units sold readily. The rest moved
slowly and the class of settlers accepted was not equal to that at
Progress at Durham was generally good during the 1920 s. These
were good lands secured at favorable costs for land and water. At
Delhi the lands were sandy and more difficult to subdue. The Delhi
lands had been purchased at what was then a relatively high price
for this type of land. A concrete pipe distribution had been
constructed, also at a relatively high cost. The Delhi settlers
were faced with these high total costs with similarly high annual
costs. The production of these lands in the early years of operation
did not provide sufficient net income to meet the annual payments.
By 1925 the Delhi Colony was in financial difficulties. It
had become evident that some adjustment was required. The Legislature
in 1925 approved a partial write-off. This helped but did not
remedy the basic difficulties of the colony.
The State Land Settlement Board had consisted of members
not otherwise employed by the state. This type of Board was used
in the earlier years o" colony purchase and establishment. Later
the Board was changed to consist of the State Directors of Pub?.! a
Works, Agriculture, and Finance. Administrative control was
placed in a Division of Land Settlement in the Department of
Agriculture. Chas. W. Cleary was Chief o p this Division. He
had been a member of the Legislature. Cleary was capable and
conscientious and did all that anyone could do to bring the
colonies out of thrir troubles.
In 1923 the members of the Land Settlement Board were Bert B.
Meek, G. H. Hecke and Alex R. Heron.
When the problems relating to Delhi and Durham became acute in
1923 it soon became evident that the members of the
Land Settlement Board did not have time to give them the attention
which they needed. This condition is inherent in any attempt to
get additional service from existing state officers who are already
fully occupied with their main functions.
Cleary being in the Department of Agriculture had a direct
contact, with Mr. Hecke and could keep him more fully advised
regarding his work. The other two members o r the Land Settlement Board
felt the need for a closer contact than they had time for themselves
and desired someone reporting to them to participate in the details
o f any plans that might be proposed. Mr. Meek first used the State
Engineer, Edward Hyatt, for this. Hyatt asked me to help him.
Gradually I came to report more directly to Mr. Meek and eventually
practically to hold his proxy on the Board for matters leading up
to official action by the Board. Mr. Heron used one of his accountants,
Mr. Rouble, in a similar capacity for the Department of Finance. Mr.
Rouble limited his activities mainly to auditing accounts. Cleary
and I had the main work to do on developing proposals for adjustment.
I had followed the activities of the state in these two colonies
fairly closely and with much interest from their beginning but had
not had any direct part in them. Elwood Mead was responsible for the
program arid dominated its execution. As he was on the University
faculty, use was made of other faculty members. Charles Shaw made
reports on the soils of tracts proposed for purchase. Frank Adams was
active in assistance to Mead. David Weeks came to California because
of his interest in aiding such settlements and worked on the program.
Weeks later joined the faculty.
These colonies received wide publicity and were hailed as the
answer to giving settlers of limited means a chance to secure a
farm of their own. They were expected to set a model in this field
which would be compared with the results that were being secured in
land development under private practices.
When I began active work on these colonies in January, 1929,
it was apparent that the main problem was at Delhi . Durham was
insisting on a reduction in their indebtedness to the state if
adjustments were granted to Delhi but the Durham settlers were not
in the distress 0? many of those at Delhi. All o^ these procedxires
took place prior to the adoption of the extensive relief practices
of the federal government which were inaugurated in the Depression
of the 1930 s. Settlers unable to meet their state payments had no
alternate except to become delinquent. The state had not enforced
foreclosure although some settlers who could see no chance of
becoming solvent had moved to other areas.
It soon became evident that adjustments could not be made
equitably on a uniform basis using average conditions. Each
settler was a separate case. To have reduced the remaining indebted
ness by some uniform percentage for all settlers would have
penalized the individuals who had struggled to maintain their
payments. All proposals for adjustment had to be worked out
individually to determine what their effect would be. As there were
about 230 active accounts at Delhi this was quite a burdensome job.
The work of making those individual studies fell to me. The
proposed plans were given letters to designate them. We worked
our way down the alphabet. The final settlement was based mainly
on Plan W.
The state had provided agricultural advice which was carried
to the point of approaching agricultural management of the individual
settlers farm plan. The planting of peaches was recommended and
there was a substantial acreage of this crop. It was found that
those trees on the sandy soils of Delhi were subject to little leaf.
The settlers claimed that the state should repay them for the costs
they had incurred on these orchards as they had been planted on the
state s advice. Cleary and I rejected this claim and were supported
by He eke and Meek.
Among the settlers at Delhi were a group of disabled veterans.
These were able to operate their -farms. One was reported to
have won the county wrestling champion shir ..<f his weight. This
group claimed that they should receive special consideration.
This was a touchy subject politically. When It was under discussion
Kr-cke told me that any plan that did not give this group what
they asked for would be political suicide. Not being subject to
political pressure, the disabled veterans were treated the same as
other settlers in all of the plans on which I worked.
E. G. Adams of Merced was the assemblyman from the Delhi
area. He was active in seeking adjustments for the Delhi settlers.
As any settlement resulting in loss to the state would be brought
before the legislature for review and possible change, it was
necessary to consider the legislative reaction to any plan that
might be proposed. It was considered that the best chance of
legislative approach would be secured if any plan proposed was
equitable as between individual settlers and could be supported, on
its merits. There was no legislative interference in the work
preparing the plans for settlement of the indebtedness to toe
state. The first work which I did on Delhi and Durham was to
make a preliminary study on the overall conditions in each colony.
Based on my conclusions from this work I was asked to undertake
-"urther work. This began Jan. lU, 1929 and was actively pursued
until May, 1929- Matters then became dormant until September, 1929,
when negotiations with the settlers became active. Work on my part
was iritcrmittant from September, 1929 to April, 1930. By this time
the negotiations had become political and I dropped out as my work
was no longer useful and I had no desire to participate further.
The final terms were worked out by the B .o .rd.
I made no formal reports in my work on Delhi and. Durham. Some
memoranda were prepared -for my own use which have not been typed.
Conclusions are stated in some of the correspondence. These with
some other pertinent materials are collected in It<;m 150 of my
bibliographical file. This item differs "rom nearly all of the
items in this p ile in that it does not contain a p orrnal statement
or report. There was no need of a complete report during my work
as we proceeded on a day to day basis seeking an acceptable form of
settlement. Also a^ter settlement had been accomplished the terms
o f settlement spoke for themselves.
The published material relating to these two colonies is
extensive. Their history has been the subject o*" a doctoral thesis
at the University. There is no no>ed of repeating such available
material here. The -following discussion relates mainly to ray own
part in getting the state out from under its obligations to the
settlers in these two colonies. Instead o^ the usual adjustment
o p indebtedness where the debtor seeks a compromise representing what
he can afford to pay, the adjustments became a matter of the best
terms for the state which the settlers would accept for their
remaining obligations to the state.
The difference in the conditions in the two colonies makes their
separate discussion desirable. Trtis had been done.
Although this was the second colony it determined the policies
relating to state action and is more readily discussed first.
When the Land Settlement Board sought an area for its second
colony some 80 locations were offered. The Board narrowed this list
to our for final decision. One o p these was Miller & Lux lands at
Buttonwillow, now largely the Buena Vista Water Storage District. This
was rejected because Miller & Lux. wanted to sell a larger acreage than
the Board was able or willing to buy. Another site was in the Holland
tract in the Dolta. This was rejected reportedly because one member
of the Board objected to putting a colony behind a reclamation levee
with its possibility of a break. The third tract in the -final list
does not come to mind, I think that it was another delta area. The
Wilson land in the Turlock Irrigation District was finally purchased.
The results in seeking the second colony site illustrate
the general land situation in California in 1920. While some 80
tracts were offered, the Board found only four that met their needs
to the extent that involved final consideration. By 1920,
attractive areas of U,000 to 8,000 acres in one ownership
having good soil and available water were generally developed
and in use. The Board indicated that it would like to place its
second colony in southern California but -found no tracts there
suited to its needs. Much of the land development in California
had been aided by the availability of tracts in one ownership
resulting from the land grants of the Spanish and Mexican governments.
The attractive land grants were generally in use by 1920. The effort
of the State to find a site for the second land settlement colony
in 1920 practically marked the end of the colony land development
practice -for irrigated land in California.
The State bought 8,600 acres at Delhi at an average price o*"
$96 per acre. The Report of the State Land Settlement Board of
Sept. 30, 1920, states (p. 26)
"The soil experts of the University reported that
this area is suited to intense cultivation both p or farm
and orchard products. Its lack of development and the
price at which purchased was due to the sandy and broken
character of t \e land, making it difficult to prepare
for irrigation and hard at the start to grow crops. The
Board s initial difficulties illustrate this."
In my work for the state I went into the early reports and
records. I found that the soil report of Pro"f. Shaw and his rec
ommendations were based on the purchase of somewhat better soils
than those in the area -finally acquired.
The Delhi colony was located on an area in the Turlock Irrigation
District, which had had water available for many years. While
other areas in the District had developed, this area had remained
unused. There was some development on similar soils around Ballico
near Delhi. This had been settled by Japanese. They had succeeded
there by low initial investment, hard work and a restricted standard
of living during the development period.
There had been other areas in which the irrigation of similar
lands had been undertaken prior to 1920 from which much could
have been learned. Such areas included the Umatilla, Minidoka,
and Sunny side Projects of the U.S. Reclamation Service. The results
on sandy lands in these areas, if known and used, would have caused
caution to have been used in undertaking a colony at Delhi.
Experience prior to 1920 and since ha.s shown that sandy lands
can be successfully irrigated under proper conditions. A period o f
reduced yield is usual while the soils are being built up. Initial
investment must be relatively low to keep annual costs down during
the early years. Delhi invested the cost of full development
before the land was sold to the settlers and the high fixed charges
in the early years were in excess of what could be made from the
land. There was experience available in 1920 from which the later
results at Delhi could have been predicted.
Another factor at Delhi was the pipe distribution system.
The irregular elevations of the land made a pipe system desirable.
One was planned with adequate sizes for good service. As a result
of the shortage o f "funds the concrete pipe system built had reduced
sizes and could not deliver efficient sizes of irrigation heads in
much of the area.
A -factor contributing to the failure at Delhi was the extent o f
advisory services supplied to the settlers. This service approached
the control of the decisions which should remain with the land owner.
The state could exercise such controls as a condition in loans
that were needed. In 1920 -farmers generally had been pioneers and
above the average in their self-reliance. Many of the settlers
lacked farming experience and needed advice. By the late 1920 s
many of the settlers had lost their own initiative and expected
the state to solve their problems.
The Durham colony was generally good land with an adequate
water supply. Some hardpan land which it had been necessary to
acquire in order to secure the area desired for the colony was
sold in large farm sizes and was not a part of the colony. The colony
made good progress until 1929- It had been widely hailed as the
answer to the problem of close settlement where owners of limited
financial resources could secure a farm under -favorable payment terms
with helpful guidance and advice by the state. The colony was
visited b.: many from other states and countries having land settle
ment problems. In its earlier years, Durham lived up to its adver
tised standing as a model colony.
Durham started under the local management of Geo. Kreutzer.
He had gone to Australia with Mead and had returned to the United
States to take part in his land settlement projects here. Kreutzer
had established himself in this field and had a reputation of his
own in it. He was one of the few and perhaps the only one who
had acquired standing for himself while working for Mead. Mead
was inclined to take credit for the accomplishments o^ those
working under him. It was a complaint by those who had worked p or the
Irrigation Investigations o^ the U.S.D.A. while Mead was its chief,
that Mead received the recognition resulting from their work. Tnis
was not the case, however, where Mead desired public standing
r or the reports such as Bulletin 100 on Irrigation in California.
In Bulletin 100 each area covered was reported under the authorship
of some one having recognized standing here. It was also not the
case when Mead became Commissioner of Reclamation and inherited
a staff which included many already having established reputations
of their own.
One of the settlers at Durham had bought a released unit
sometime after the first settlement of the colony. This unit
had been sold to him by Kreutzer. This settler, H.M Walker, later
brought suit to recover his expenditures and also damages from
the state on the grounds that there had been fraud in the
representations made to him by the state s agents. This case
came to trial while I was working on the adjustment of payments
and I was asked to prepare testimony for the state on the merits
of this case.
I made an examination o^ the Walker unit, reviewed what had
occurred in the sale and prepared expert testimony in the case. The
plaintiff s case came first. Walker testified making bitter
charges against Kreutzer and his honesty. Mrs, Walker also testified,
fainting while on the stand. At the time I regarded this as a stunt
designed to influence the jury. Several of Walker s neighbors also
testified charging Kreutzer with having known facts about Walker s
unit which he did not disclose at the time of sale. The trial
lasted about two weeks. I sat through most of it. It was
pitiful to have to sit there and watch its effect on Kreutzer. He
had put in some o* the best years of his life trying to help
these same people who now turned on him in an effort to help one
of them secure damages from the state. Kreutzer was so depressed
that he would hardly talk to anyone during the time out of court.
He died shortly afterward. His case represents the nearest to
dying of a broken heart of any that I have encountered.
The Walker land had some drainage problems which could have
been solved. These were explained to Walker before he bought. I
testified regarding his land, supporting the value at which it was
sold to Walker. I had expected an attack on my testimony in the
cross-examination and was prepared to meet it. Instead, Peters,
Walker s attorney, tried to get me to agree that I was the leading
authority in this field in the United States. I contended that I
was qualified, as I had to do to support my testimony, but refused
to say I was the best. This is the only time in my experience where
an opposing attorney tried to increase my qualifications.
When the case reached argument to the jury, Peters reviewed
his fulsome praise of my qualifications. Walker had had no expert
witness. Peters pointed out this difference and began his arm
waving. Here was the great and rich state able to afford to bring
the greatest living authority into the case in their support while
the poor settler could only afford to rely on the voluntary testimony
of his neighbors. Needless to say I did not become elated at his
praise. Peters probably had the case on a contingency basis and
did not want to incur the cost for experts on his side .
As expected the jury gave Walker a substantial award. The case
was appealed and reversed. It was not retried.
CLEARY S FINAL REPORT OF JUNE 30, 1931
The results of the State s experience in its venture into
supervised land settlement are reviewed and analyzed in the Final
Report of the Division of Land Settlement dated June 30, 1931 by
Chas. W. Cleary, its chief. It is not essential that these details
be repeated here as this report is generally available. The
accepted loss to the state in 1931 on an investment of almost
$3,100,000 was about $2,500,000. This represents a loss of almost
80$> of the investment.
Mr. Cleary s conclusions regarding the practicability of state
sponsored land settlements such as those at Delhi and Durham are
well expressed in his final report (p. 18, 19). He states:
"The land settlement venture has apparently well
demonstrated that anything that offers a substitute for or
that tends to weaken individual effort and initiative
to that extent promotes failure in individual enterprise
and dissatisfaction in community activity. The
conclusion is unavoidable that few human beings
are fashioned from sufficiently rugged fiber to
withstand the weakening influences of paternalism;
that few can resist the temptation to lean too heavily
on a paternal government where the opportunity
offers. Strong personalities were manifestly
weakened by the years under State land settlement
This statement was made in 1931 based on his experience in
managing the Delhi and Durham colonies during the period of their
liquidation. This was prior to the extensive forms of general
relief established during the Depression and now rampant in the Great
Society and the War on Poverty. Human nature does not change
basically and Cleary s comments in 1931 are applicable today.
RESULTS AFTER 1931
Delhi and Durham have been on their own now for over thirty
years and the record to date enables comparison of results under the colony
system of the State with those upon operating on their own respon
After the 1931 adjustments had been completed the further
administration of the colonies was placed with the Division of
State Lands, Department of Finance. This office handled all state
lands at that time. Taere were some unsold lands and the state
held some mortgages. Where the mortgages remaining on the settlers
units qualified for Federal Land Bank loans, such loans vere
placed on the land and the State received payment.
The largest area remaining in the title of the state vas the
part of the Delhi Colony which had not been subdivided or sold.
An office was maintained in Delhi to dispose of this and other
lands there. Governor Rolph appointed the father of his daughter-
in-law to have charge of this office.
I have not seen any final accounting for these two state colonies
after all accounts had been closed. All indebtedness to the state
that remained in 1931 should now have been fully paid. Such a
final accounting would show the extent to which the state actually
realized the assets remaining after the 1931 adjustments. The
gross returns less the continued cost of administration may have
been relatively small.
At Delhi, a local improvement district had been organized to
take over the distribution system of the colony. Such local
districts within the Turlock Irrigation District were numerous.
The Turlock Irrigation District put in some irrigation wells in
the colony area to augment the limited capacity of the state s
concrete pipe system. The Turlock Irrigation District also treated
the land owners in the colony the same as any others. They met
their charges and district taxes or suffered the same penalties
as other landowners. R.V. Meikle was the manager of the Turlock
Irrigation District and gave the colony the same service that other
areas received. Meikle has told me on several occasions that the
colony area was required to meet and has met the same rules that
apply throughout the district and has not caused any special problems
in district operation.
At Durham, a mutual vater company was organized and each settler
received stocks for use on his land. This company has also operated
without unusual difficulties since 1931-
Over the years since 1931 I have occasionally driven around
in the colony areas for general observations. I drove over both
areas in 1965. In general appearance both areas are not different
from adjacent similar lands. The present buildings in the former
colonies are as modern and as well kept as in other areas. Overall
both areas indicate a degree of prosperity fully as great as other
areas in their vicinity.
The settlers at both Delhi and Durham have benefitted by
getting out from too close control by the state of the matters
which the individuals should decide for themselves. When their
responsibilities were returned to the settlers they have shown
the same ability to meet them that is shown by farmers generally.
The preceding discussion has covered my participation in the
adjustments at Delhi and Durham with some general comments. My
part in working out the results of various plans that were
proposed was primarily directed toward advising Mr. Meek regarding
policy decisions he needed to make as a member of the Land
Settlement Board. I worked closely with Mr Cleary but participated
to only a limited extent in the actual meetings with the settlers
committees. Mr. Cleary did not mention my part in the final results
in his final report. Such mention was not essential to the purposes
of his report.
When I began my work for Mr. Meek it was recognized that major
losses to the state at Delhi vere unavoidable. It was hoped that
such losses at Durham could be kept within reason. My function was
to advise Meek whether the various plans proposed were equitable
to the state and between the individual settlers. It was recognized
that to be successful any plan would have to have the approval of a
high percentage of the settlers. It was also hoped that a plan
could be secured under which the state could recover such part of
its investment as the settlers could afford to pay.
I had the full support of Meek during all of my work on
these colonies. He stood for the above basis in the meetings of
the Board. The recognition of the other two members of the Board
that Meek would not agree to an inequitable adjustment between indivi
dual settlers or for the state probably aided in securing more
equitable terms for all parties in the final agreement than would
otherwise have been obtained.
Mr. Hecke generally followed Cleary s recommendations but
was inclined to regard getting a final settlement as being more
important than holding the settlers for what they could reasonably
pay. Mr. Heron appears to have had political plans for himself, sncl to have
been more interested in the publicity he could secure. At some
meetings he proposed some newsworthy plan that might occur to
him just before the reporters had to leave to make their afternoon
editions. This would be used in the papers and credited to Heron,
altuough it might have been something that had been considered and
discarded by the rest of those representing the state. Heron was
not available for the pre-meeting sessions at which policies to
be followed were worked out .
The settlements Anally made at both De] hi and Durham were the
result of the ideas and work of many individuals. No one individual
was responsible for it all. Mr. Cleary deserves the largest amount
of credit for the results. He worked long, ably, and patiently
on the settlement finally achieved. I would give Mr. Meek the
second place in credit for the results. An assist should be
given to Governor Young who stood behind the Board and resisted
pressure to write-off all indebtedness to the state. Elwood
Mead who was responsible for the settlement program was not around
when the going got tough.
My part in this work may have hid some effect in securing
somewhat more favorable terms for the state in the final settlement.
The procedures were kept from getting out of hand until the final
negotiations were reached. When Plan W had been accepted at Delhi
and was ready to be submitted to the Legislature some further
concessions were made to secure favorable action. These were
political in which I did not care to be a party and I terminated my
work prior to the final terms.
The 1931 adjustment of the finances at Delhi and Durham represents
the penalty the state paid in order to be relieved of further
obligations to these colonies. The price paid by the state was
high. The price paid by many of the settlers in lost savings, lost
years, and lost ideals was also high. An adjustment on any terms
was better than further effort to operate on the colony basis. It
is my opinion that both the state and the settlers gained by the
state s purchase of release of its obligations in the 1931 adjustment
although the terms were relatively liberal to the settlers.
The 1931 adjustment of these colonies was based, as it had to
be, on judgment reached at that time. At present hind sight can
be applied to its terms. This adjustment was made at the start of
the depression of the 1930 s but before its relief measures had
been put into effect. If Delhi and Durham had remained a state
responsibility in the 1930 s there would have been a demand for
major relief for the support of the settlers. The cost to the
state of such relief would have been high. Wnile the extent of
the coming depression was not realized in 1931, the state was
immensely fortunate in being able to complete these adjustments
before the full impact of the depression was felt.
The 1920 s were regarded as less favorable to agriculture than
previous periods. Crop prices declined after World War I. Looking
back now, the conditions in the 1920 s were not so bad for
agriculture as they have been at some times since. If Delhi and
Durham failed in the 1920 s, colonies operated on similar theories
could not have been expected to succeed at any later times.
Various explanations have been offered regarding why Delhi
-;>d Durham failed as supervised colonies. Some have said that it
was due to Mead s having gone to Australia again in the 1920 s
and to his successors not being able to manage the colonies
successfully. Others have claimed that it was the result of the
unfavorable attitude of C.M. Wooster while he was chairman of
the Land Settlement Board. It is my opinion that the failure
of these colonies was not the fault of any individual and that
no one could have made them & success. Additional state funds to
pour into the colonies would huve prolonged their life, but would
not have resulted in their success.
It is my opinion that the failure of Delhi and Durham was the
result of attempting to replace the individual initiative of the
settlers by managed direction. Such controls replace the responsi-
bility of the individual and lead to his loss of ability and interest.
The American type of settler was not adapted to this practice 50
years ago. It is my hope that he will never become adapted to it.
It is my opinion that Delhi and Durham would have failed
sooner or later regardless of the individuals in charge in the
Land Settlement Board or on the colonies and regardless of their
physical advantages in soils or crop adaptability. While the poor
land at Delhi accelerated it failure, the good land at Durham only
postponed its fate.
The experience of the State in its two land settlement
colonies in the 1920 s has had at least one benefit. It has been
effective in preventing the state from again undertaking similar
projects. If the type of settlement in these two colonies could
not succeed in the 1920 s when self-reliance was still the American
tradition it could not be expected to succeed today under the
present policies of free assistance. If Delhi and Durham can
continue to keep the State from undertaking similar ventures in them,
the losses o." the State in these colonies will have been well repaid.
In the concluding paragraph of his final report, Cleary has
expressed the above thought very clearly. He states:
"If because of the lessors learned in State land
settlement the citizens of California are led to scru
tinize more carefully in the future idealistic theories
proposed before adopting them as functions of govern
ment the expense involved in the land settlement
venture will have proven a good investment."
PROPOSED SUTTER IRRIGATION DISTRICT
In August, 1931, I began an investigation for an irrigation
district in the Peach Bowl area of Sutter County. This district
would have extended from the area served by the Sutter-Butte Canal
on the north to the Tudor area on the south and from the Feather
River on the east to the ricr* lands on the west. About 26,000
acres were canvassed for their use of water and their crops.
The source of water supply was the underlying ground water.
At this time, B.B. Meek was the head of the California Lands
Co. which had been organized to handle the lands owned by the Bank
of America. The bank had acquired much land by foreclosure and had
established a separate company to handle it. Mr. Meek had urged
that such an investigation be made. A committee of the land
owners had been formed to sponsor this work. On Meek s recommenda
tion T vas employed to make the investigation. Some previous
promotional work had been done in this area by Milo Williams but
no action had been taken.
The Bank of America paid half the cost and the other land
owners raised the other half by voluntary contributions. Mr. Dunning
Rideout of the Rideout Branch of the Bank of America in Marysville
was chairman of the committee and all funds passed through his hands.
I went over the area on August, 1931 > and named a lump sum price
at which I would do the work. This was accepted and am agreement
drawn. I employed C.R. Loucks to make the field canvass of the
existing pumping plants and crops. Loucks had worked for Harry Barnes of
the Madera Irrigation District and for the San Joaquin River W.S.D.
My report was completed in November, 1931- Some field work was also
done by W.A. Laflin.
This work represented a standard type investigation of
sources of supplemental water supply for an area that was concerned
with the effect of its draft on itB underlying ground water.
There were alternate sources of water supply that might be secured.
Distinctive local features were the relatively flat slope of the
land so that some booster on a concrete pipe systems would have been
needed to provide adequate grade. Below a depth of about 200 feet
salty water was encountered in some areas. This appeared to be
residual water retained when this area was a part of the ocean.
As the result of these investigations I recommended the
organization of a 22,000 acre irrigation district with local
improvement districts to meet the conditions in the different
parts of the district. This would have met the estimated
-v^rdraft at relatively low costs. Nothing was done toward the
organization of such a district.
My main report was dated November, 1931- This is Item no. 53
in my bibliographical file. A summary of this report was prepared
Dec. 15, 1931- The state read the ground water elevations in 1932
and I prepared a memorandum on these results in February, 1933-
These two items are in Item 5^ of my bibliographical file. In
19^-8, when the state was making its investigations for a state
water plan, I made available all of my results for their use. This
gave the state the records in 1931 "to compare with conditions in 1948.
Am imterestimg and to me an amusing part of my agreement
covering this report was the insistence of the committee that I
should prepare the report in terms that were understandable by
laymen. This was a clause in the agreement. I did not know how
this provision would be enforced as I knew of no standards by
which the ability of laymen to understand could be defined.
However I was not concerned over this clause as the members of
the committee were all intelligent operators and if ray report
had not been understandable by them the fault would have been
with my writing of the report.
This area has continued since 1931 with only limited local
additions to its water supply. The water rights on Feather River
in this area were not well defined and shortages in diversion
would probably have occurred in some years. At present with
Oroville Dam under construction and the preference to areas of
origin, adequate water should be available for this area. It can
participate in the state project if it desires to secure additional
The work I did in 1931 for the area was one of the earlier
studies of ground water conditions for areas in the Sacramento
Valle.v . The problems here were not critical and the areas have
operated successfully since 1931 without undertaking any major
works. The report in 1931 had value in excess of its costs to
the landowners in supplying them with detailed results regarding
their conditions and needs although it did not lead to any specific
actions in securing additional water.
OAKDALE IRRIGATION DISTRICT
In May, 1931, I made a report for the State Bond Certifi
cation Commission on a proposed bond refunding program for this
District. This report is Item 52 in my bibliographical file.
The Oakdale Irrigation District with the South San Joaquin
Irrigation District were the first larger districts to be organ
ized and built under the revised irrigation district act. They
both diverted from the Stanislaus River. Their distribution
systems were built about 1915 and later they built joint storage
at Melones. Under the Irrigation District Act, the bond issues
of these districts were subject to approval by the Bond Certification
Commission. In 1931, the Oakdale District had sold general bond
issues totaling $2,^-00,000 and an issue of $1,100,000 of storage
bonds to which the net income from power produced at Melones was
The first maturities on these bonds began in 1931- The district
had met its interest charges to date but was concerned regarding its
ability to meet its approaching bond retirement schedule. It
proposed to refund its earlier issues so as to postpone maturities.
My report related to the ability of the district to meet its
The Oakdale Irrigation District contained about 72,000 acres.
Only about 30$ of this area was irrigated in 1931. About 60$ of
the district consisted of hardpan lands, generally rolling with
shallow soil. Ladino clover was being tried in a preliminary way
on some of these lands. The main irrigation was on the other
district lands which were of good quality.
The principal problem of the District related to its hardpan
lands. Taxes on these lands through che 1920 s had been met although
only limited irrigation had been developed. By 1931j the speculative
conditions of the 1920 s were over and, many of these land owners, even
if willing, would not have been able to continue to meet the district
I went over the District s program and policies and worked out
a basis on which I concluded it might meet its outstanding bond
requirements. This included increased taxation in Oakdale which
was included in the district, postponement of some improvements,
and higher relative taxes on the better soils.
At the time of my report the extensive program later adopted
by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for refinancing irrigation
districts was being discussed but had not become operative. Also
at that time, the preference of the Malones storage bonds on the
power earnings was in effect and this income could not be used
to meet charges on the earlier bond issues.
My report was not favorably received by the district. By
the time it was available, refunding district bonds at a lower
rate of interest and reduced principal had become a hope. The Oakdale
District became in default on its bonds and was later refinanced
by the B.F.C. Also later the courts found the preference of
power bonds on power revenue invalid.
My report on the Oakdale Irrigation District represents one
of the last efforts to maintain the integrity of the out
standing irrigation district bonds. It failed in the face O F prevai
ling conditions. In my opinion, the will to meet their bond charges
was largely lost when relief became available. Undoubtedly many
districts could not have met their bond payments under the later
extended period of depression. This depression also created the
desire of the bond holders to get a quick settlement on whatever
terms they could secure rather than to hold unproductive securities
for a long period of recovery.
BERKELEY OLIVE ASSOCIATION
The following account of my experience with the Berkeley Olive
Association s procedures before the California Railroad Commi
ssion has little historical interest or importance. It represents
the results of an engineer in proceedings
usually performed by the lawyer. The results approach
a comic opera situation. I enjoyed the experience and accomplished
some results useful to the Association.
The Berkeley Olive Association was formed by a group of
owners of olive orchards west of Oroville. The tract had been
promoted and the land sold by B. B. Meek. The owners were largely
faculty members at the University of California and the University
of Nevada. Among Berkeley members were Etcheverry,Hyde, Minor,
Plehn, Leuschner, and Hatfield. I had known about their property
but had had nothing to do with it until after the 1931 dry season.
In 1931> the deficiency in run-off had resulted in limitations
on the irrigation supply received by the Association. They were
a contract user under the Powers Canal which also supplied
municipal service to Oroville. The Powers Canal was a public
utility which had been owned by the PG&E and sold to the California
Water Service Co. in 192?. This canal received its supply from
the Miocene Ditch.
When the B.O.A. could not secure satisfactory results in
their complaints over their service, they asked me to make an
investigation and report on their water supply and water rights.
I started this work in November, 1931> ar *d my report was completed
in February, 1932. It is Item 55 in my bibliographical file.
The canals in this area had been built for mining purposes.
Water was diverted from the West Branch of the North Fork of the
Feather River. The Hendricks Ditch diverted to Butte Creek to
supply the De Sabli and Centerville power plants on Butte Creek.
The Miocene Ditch supplied the Lime Saddle and Coal Canyon power
plants. The Powers Canal received the discharge of the Coal
Canyon power plant. It served a few irrigation users, including
B.O.A. in route to Oroville for municipal use.
All of these systems had been owned and operatedby the PG&E.
In 1927j the PG&E sold a group of the municipal water systems which
it owned to the California Water Service Co. The Oroville system was
included in this group. This sale included the entire Powers
Canal and all service from it.
In my report I recommended seeking to settle the differences
involved first by negotiations, second by procedure before the
California Railroad Commission and third, if necessary, by
litigation in court. I also recommended submitting my report
to the attorney of the B.O.A. for an opinion on the legal issues
involved. This was done. The attorney was Stephen Downey of
No settlement by negotiations was reached and the attorney
was directed to prepare a complaint to bring the controversy
before the R.R.C. As this complaint would be based primarily
on the facts regarding the water supply and service I was asked to
make the preliminary draft. I did this, it was reviewed by Downey,
rephrased and filed on July 1, 1932. It became Case 3292, the B.O.A.
vs. the California Water Service Co. and PG&E.
In the usual course of such procedure it was set for hearing
on Sept. 20, 1932 at Orcville. I continued my preparation of
testimony for this hearing.
Shortly before the date set for the hearing Downey fell from a
horse and received a severe bump on his head. He could not conduct
the case at the date set. I was asked to appear both as the
representative of the B.O.A. and to testify in the hearing. It is
not necessary to be a member of the bar to appear before the R.R.C.
although it is a big advantage in most cases.
I had little choice except to accept. It had been set before
an examiner along with three other matters. The examiner had told
me that the B.O.A. matter would come up last. I was sitting in the
hearing room not expecting to be reached until noon when the hearing
was called to order at 10 a.m. To my surprise the B.O.A. case was
called first. Before I could start my presentation the attorneys
for the PG&E and the California Water Service Co. got the floor
and made a motion to dismiss the B.O.A. case on the grounds that
its complaint was defective. These claimed grounds were mainly
procedural. I had only general knowledge in this field and was
not sure whether they were giving me the works or whether they
had merit in their claims. When I got a chance I argued against
the motion the best I could, keeping going in an effort to prolong
the argument until noon when I could get some legal help.
The PG&E had induced several other attorneys to appear in
support of their position. These included the San Francisco
attorney of the U.S. Power Commission who appeared in behalf of
the water supply of the Plant Introduction Garden at Chico. This
Garden used s >me West Branch water that had been diverted to Butte
Creek. I silenced him by asking him for his authority to appear.
He had not secured authority from any federal higher ups. Attorneys
-for other land owners on Butte Creek also made appearances and
argued in support of the motion. There vere seven lawyers who
spoke against the B.O.A. In between I argued using anything I
could tnink of in opposing the motion. We kept going until the
By noon I had concluded that the worst that could happen, if
the examiner granted the motion to dismiss, would be that the B.O.A.
would have to start over with a new complaint which could be
drawn to avoid the grounds on which the original complaint had
"been dismissed. I decided that there was a good chance the motion
would be denied.
When the hearing resumed after lunch, I got the floor and
demanded a decision on the motion claiming that too much time had
been spent arguing it and I wanted to get on with the case. This
was a little rough on the examiner as I had been the one who had
dragged the argument out in the morning. The opponents also were
ready for a ruling on the motion. The examiner denied the motion to
dismiss and we proceeded with the hearing.
This detail has been related here because this procedure
took me by surprise. To this day I am not sure whether the
attorneys were spoofing me for not being a lawyer or whether they
thought they had real grounds for dismissal. The fact that they
had secured the attendance of so many other attorneys inclines me
to the opinion that they thought they could get the case dismissed.
The ^un was not all over wnen testimony began. I called a
preliminary witness to identify some documents I needed to use in
my testimony and then put myself on the stand. To preserve the
form o r the record, I asked myself a general question regarding the
issues of the case, ask-d if I had made an investigation of the
properties and operations involved and to state the conclusions
I had reached. I then started on the presentation of my material
without further questions.
All went well for a while until one of the opposing lawyers
objected to my testimony using the usual grounds, irrelevant,
immaterial, and not within the issues. I had to argue against
his motion to strike. Tie examiner ruled in my favor a couple of
times and I proceeded. Fianlly one of the opposing attorneys
attacked my testimony on the ground that he could not tell when
I was testifying and when I was arguing. I countered this by
offering to have everything I had said considered to be under oath
if the attorneys would accept the same rule for their arguments.
This was rejected by the opposing attorneys. I then offered to
rise from the witness chair when I was arguing and to be seated
when I was testifying. This also was rejected. I managed to
get in all of my exhibits and testimony. The testimony of the
B.O.A. was completed at this first hearing on Sept. 20 and 21, 1932.
The opposing attorneys then asked for the usual time to prepare
their testimony. Later hearings were held.
The principal issues in this case were the extent of the
water supply dedicated to public use throught the Powers Ditch
and the omission of the agricultural users from the transfer
proceedings in 1927-
The testimony showed that during the water shortage in 1931,
the PG&E had diverted water to Butte Creek that should have been used
to supply the Powers Canal. I secured the records of the PG&E
to support this claim. When Paul Downing was testifying for the
PG&E he admitted that it had been "embarassing" to the PG&E when it
had found out that this had been done.
When the PG&E sold several of its municipal water supply
systems to the Calif ornia Water Service Co. there had been the
usual hearing on the transfer. This was a consolidated hearing
for all of the systems that were involved. Notices of this
procedure had been sent to the cities whose systems were being
transferred. However, no notice was sent to the consumers outside
of these cities such as the B.O.A. I contended that the B.O.A. was
entitled to a reopening of the transfer proceedings to present a
showing on how its service would be affected by the transfer. The
transfer case, Application 13^29, was reopened and combined with
Case Wo. 322.
There were a number of adjournments in Case 3292. It was
finally submitted. I filed the opening brief for the B.O.A. on
June 29, 193^ and the closing brief later in 193^. The Commission
made its Decision 28l62 on Aug. 6, 1935-
My opening brief is Item 66 and my closing brief is Item 65
in my bibliographical file.
I felt that the R.R.C. decision did not give consideration
to all of the matters raised in these cases and I asked for an
argument in bane before the full membership of the Commission.
This can be done only where one member of the Comission may have
heard the case. This request was granted and the argument was
held on Nov. U, 1935-
Decision 29398 dated Dec. 21, 1936 was the close of Application
13^29 and Case 3292. In this decision, the Commission denied my
application ^or a rehearing on Decision 23l62. It made one minor
correction in Decision 28l62 but turned me down on the other points
I had raised.
In spite of my very eloquent (?) and just (?) argument to
the Commission in bane, I got nowhere in reopening the issues
involved. The closure of this case came five years after the 1931
During the procedure on Case 3292 I had found that the
contract for service o f the B.O.A. was expressed in terms of
miners inches with a 6 inch pressure (1/^0 second foot) and the
B.O.A. was being billed in terms of k inch pressure (1/50 second
foot). I filed a rate case to correct this. I limited this to a
general rate case for the irrigation service from the Powers Canal
in order not to get involved in municipal water rates in Oroville.
The B.O.A. rate complaint became case No. 3558- In order
to remove any question relating to the form of procedure the
Commission on its own motion made its own case (No. 3612) in the
rates involved. These two cases were consolidated for hearing.
Case 3558 was filed April 10, 1933. Hearings were held in Oroville
June 22 and July 13, 1933- The Commission s Case 36l2 was filed
between these two hearings. Both cases were submitted without
briefs on July 13, 1933- Decision 26351 was dated Sept. 18, 1933-
A rehearing was granted on petition of the B.O.A. and held on Feb.
l^j 193^ These cases were then resubmitted.
Briefs were filed under the resubmission. I prepared the
opening brief of the B.O.A. dated Feb. 23, 1934. It is Item 6k
in my bibliographical file. I also prepared the reply brief for
the B.O.A. dated March l6, 193^- This is Item 63 in my bibliographical
file. On September 11, 193^ the Commission in Decision 273^6 affirmed
its Decision 26351. This ended this case.
I made the following statement at the Annual Meeting of the
B.O.A. in February, 1937-
"On December 21, 1936, the Railroad Commission
made its final decision in the case filed in 1932
covering the shortage in service in 1931- This
case has been submitted for over a year. No essential
change was made in the earlier decision on which
argument had been granted. The Commission refused
to find a dedication of additional water but stated
it would supervise service should similar shortages
arise in the future. The Berkeley Olive Association
has been held to have equal service rights with other
irrigation users and it has also been held that the
California Water Service Company should operate its
pump in Oroville at such periods. Under these
rulings it is felt that serious shortages in the service
to the Association will not arise and that the water
supply available to the Association is adequate and
dependable for its needs."
In these procedures I encountered what I considered to be
inertia or indifference on the part of the engineering staff of
the R.R.C. Murray Mackall was then in charge of the hydraulic
engineering section. Bill Stava was the next in line. Mackall
opposed the rate case. I had been negotiating a voluntary
adjustment of the B.O.A. rates with the California Water Service
Co. and thought I was making progress. When the California Water
Service lost interest in these negotiations I found Mackall had
advised the president o? the company that the B.O.A. could not
qualify to "bring a rate case. At that time I felt he was trying
to avoid the work he would have to undertake if such a rate case
I learned a side of R.R.C. procedure in these cases which
engineers seldom get to see. The result did not enhance ray
opinion of the Commission and its staff. When the R.R.C. was
given expanded duties in 1911 the first members appointed by
Gov. Hiram Johnson represented a very high type of individual.
Over the years the appointments, in my opinion, have not maintained
this high standard. It happens that the terms of members of the
Commission expire a few days before the end of the Governor s term.
This gives an opportunity for an outgoing governor to appoint members
to the Commission just before he leaves office. In some cases it
appears that such appointments may have been based on preceding
political service rather than the value of the appointee s service
on the Commission.
While the B.O.A. was not successful in securing a decision
supporting its claims regarding its rights of service, the extent
to which it pressed these issues and the character of the operations
in 1931 which was brought out in the hearing were sufficient so
that the conditions in 1931 have not been repeated in later equally
dry years. The reduction in rates has also been helpful. All in all,
in my opinion, it was worth while to have made the effort.
FEDERAL LAND BANK REPORTS
In 1933, the terms of federal land bank loans were modified
to permit shorter term loans on less permanent security. The
previous farm mortgages had usually been for forty years. This
required that the mortgaged land have a dependable water supply for
this period. The federal land bank, in its western branches, had
established engineer-appraisers who made investigations and reports
on the water supplies offered as security for land bank loans.
The engineer-appraisers were started soon after World War I.
J hn T. Wliistler was the first chief of this group. He had been
project manager of the Truckee Carson I.D. when I had been working
on its water right adjudication and asked me to suggest engineers
for positions in the regional banks. I suggested G.H. Russell, who
became engineer-appriser in Texas and J. Winter Smith who went
Later when the constitutionality of the Federal Land Bank Act
was in court these positions were discontinued. I secured Russell
to handle the field work for the state in northern Tulare County
in 1920, and Smith returned to California and later became manager of
the state s Delhi land settlement colony.
When the so-called commissioner s * emergency loans were
authorized in 1933 as a depression measure, the engineer-appraisers
had been re-established. Russell was chief for the Berkeley banks.
The volume of work required to meet the demands for these loans
exceeded what the regular staff could do. It was decided to use
outside engineers to make general reports on local areas having
similar water supply conditions.
Most of the problems of the banks relative to the new loans
vere in areas where ground water was used as the source of the
irrigation supply. Overdraft was occurring in many of those areas.
The bank needed advice on whether the existing sources of supply
represented a safe risk for 20-year loans.
I was asked to make reports for the land bank in 1933 on the
relation of local water supply to the security of federal land bank
loans. I spend much of the summer of 1933 on the field work involved
and made five reports which are in my bibliographical file. These are:
No. 57 Water Supply of Ventura County in Relation to Federal
Land Bank Loan, Sept. 1933.
No. 58 Water Supply of Orange County in Relation to Federal Land
Bank Loans, Sept. 1933.
No. 59 Water Supply of Santa Clara Valley Water Conservation
District in Relation to Federal Land Bank Loans, Nov. 1933-
No. 60 Water Supply of Hollister and San Juan Valleys in
Relation to Federal Land Bank Loans, Dec. 1933-
No. 6l Water Supply of Morgan Hill-Gilroy Area in Relation
to Federal Land Bank Loans, Dec. 1933-
For Item 59> I also made a supplemental report in May, 193^
using the ground water records for 1933 which had then become
available. It is included in Item No. 59-
In these reports I estimated the rate of change in the elevation
of the ground water that could be expected to occur under the
probable pumping draft of the next 20 years. Consideration was
also given to the quality of the ground water. Recommendations
were made on the basis that should be used in making loans in
As the ground water conditions varied in the different parts
of these areas, my recommendations also varied. In a few areas
I advised against loans, but generally the ground water supplies
appeared to be adequate for the next 2p years without an extent
of lowering or change in quality to endanger the security of 20
The period of the loans made on the basis of these reports has
now elapsed. In some cases supplemental sources of water supply have
been secured. I know of no cases in which the water supply became
exhausted within the period of these loans.
These reports served a useful purpose at the time they were
made. They may have some interest as a basis for comparison of
conditions then with these in later years. These reports were
based on the record secured by others as time was not available
to make independent observations. These reports did, however,
bring together , available information in a more complete
form for each area than had been done at that time by other
The commissioner loans made in the 1930 s were a material
aid to many land owners in increasing their borrowing so that
they could hold on until better times.
WORK FOR STATE OF OREGON
WALLA WALLA RIVER CASE
In 1934, the case brought by the State O~P Washington against
the State of Oregon ^or an equitable apportionment of the waters
of the Walla Walla River came to trial in Walla Walla. Being a
case between sovereign states it was heard by a master appointed
by the U.S. Supreme Court. Will W. Ray of Salt Lake City was the
I was asked to prepare testimony for Oregon in this case on
March 12, 193 1 *. I flew to Portland on March 28. It was a rough
flight. The pilot got off course and flew over Honey Lake.
However, we missed Mt. Shasta and made Medford. I worked on the
report and in the field until April 5 when I testified.
Geo. T. Cochran and C. Ci. Randall were the attorneys for
Oregon. I had known the State Engineer, Chas. F. Stricklin, in
the: Assoc. of Western State Engineers and had been asked to work
on the case on his recommendation. John Cunningham was the attorney
for Washington. James G. Woodburn, then on the faculty of the
Agricultural College at Pullman, was the engineer for Washington.
O.W. Powers of the Oregon Agricultural College at Corvallis and
A.M. Piper of the U.S.G.S. were also witnesses for Oregon.
This was a very pleasantly handled Controversy. The hearing
was very dignified and polite. The cross-examination was courteous.
I had been used to some pretty rough cross-examination and had to
adjust myself to the change.
I spent the few days I had available for preparation in
analysing the facts and issues. To expedite the trial, the two
states had stipulated to the uncontested facts. These stipulations
were binding on both sides and I could accept them as proven in
The main issue was the amount of water reasonably needed for the
irrigation of the orchards near Milton, Oregon. These were very coarse
soils requiring very frequent irrigations. The parties had
stipulated to the need of irrigation on these lands at seven day
intervals. I used this result with the length o 4 the irrigation
season to derive the necessary number of irrigations and multiplied
this by the minimum reasonable depth per irrigation with which these
lands could be irrigated to derive the seasonal acre-feet per acre
reasonably needed. This result supported the previous local
adjudication in Oregon and was used by the master to support his
finding taat use in Oregon was reasonable.
Oregon won the case in a decision in 193^ holding Washington
was not entitled to restrict existing uses in Oregon.
I did not have time to prepare any report on my work on this
case before testifying. I did, however, prepare an outline of my
testimony with the supporting notes. This file is Item No. 151
in my bibliographical file.
Tne master Will W. Ray was the attorney for one of the Associated
Canals pumping from Utah Lake. In J.93Y, on his recommendation, I was
engaged to prepare testimony in a general adjudication case then
pending on Utah Lake. This is described in a later portion of
This case was the beginning for me uf some very pleasant
acquaintanceships. T formed a ^riendship with Judge Cochran
which continued r or many years. He had made many of the adjudications
for Oregon, under its 1909 water right code. He became a member in
1939 of the commission to review conditions on the USER projects.
The report of this commission formed the basis p or the Reclamation
Act of 1939. In Aug- 1965, I stopped in La Grande, Oregon and saw
his life long -law partner, Colon R. Eberhart. Judge Cochran died
in 19^U. He had been a very useful citizen.
After this case was over, Cunningham, the attorney for
Washington, and I used to meet cordially at N.R.A. conventions.
He later asked me to review Washington state legislation he was
preparing. Woodburn later went to the University of Wisconsin where
he is now (19^5) dean o^ the civil engineering department.
This case was a model in decorum.
I enjoyed all of my work on it.
KLAMATH LAKE CASE
This case involved damages resulting fr.-m a break in a levee
on Klamath Lake. The defendant was the S.P. Co. and the plaintiffs
the State 0? Oregon and others. I was asked by Oregon to work on it
- n or the state. I began in May, 19^2 and made trips there into 19^3.
The case was settled by negotiation. I did not make any formal
reports and did not testify.
The S.P. crosses an eastern arm of Klamath Lake on a fill to
save distance. To prevent flooding behind this fill, a local
tributary stream was channeled to the Lake betwen levees and through
an opening in the R.R. fill. The S.P. load become responsible for
the maintenance of these levees. A break occurred which flooded the
state highway. Oregon sought to recover for its repair.
The issue was one of negligence in maintenance. I collected
what information I could and concluded the S.P. had been negligent.
When it looked as if the case might go to trial, the attorney
for the S.P., who had not been told I was already working on the
case for Oregon, called me up to see if I would work on it for the
S.P. T told him I was already on the case and suggested that the
S.P. might find a negotiated settlement advisable. The case was
settled shortly after our talk. The extent to which my talk with
the S.P. attorney may have influenced the settlemeat remains
unknown to me. I^y chief recollection of this case is the cold
wind that blew during some o^ my winter ^ield work. I worked mainly
with the engineers o r the Highway Department.