« PreviousContinue »
mile; and the work of the United States Geographical Surveys, conducted under the direction of the War Department, has also shown the same fact to exist.
The longitude of Fort Yuma, established by the United States Boundary Commission in 1849, upon which the longitude of the eastern boundary of the State south of Lake Tahoe has depended, according to a compilation and examination of data made under my direction, is about three miles in error, and from this cause the State area is very materially reduced from what it has been supposed to be.
The southern boundary of the State, supposed to be a straight line, or are of a great circle, between two fixed points in latitude and longitude, according to compilations and examinations made under my direction, is not thus straight, but has in it a “jog," or offset, of about one mile at a point about midway on its course,
I simply report these facts. Of their importance you will judge. The first enumerated, at least, is evidence of a clear loss of territory to the State and to the Counties of El Dorado, Alpine, and Mono, at least.
STATE ACTION IN IRRIGATION.
While the State may hesitate to undertake the construction of either irrigation or reclamation works, or any other works directly affecting or to the exclusive benefit of local or particular interests, the treatment of its main streams for purposes of arterial drainage in each natural drainage district, the development and conservation of the waters of its streams for purposes of irrigation, and the regulation of their diversion for purposes of irrigation, are duties which she cannot long neglect.
Let it be remembered that there is a wide distinction between the improvement of the low water navigation of rivers in the interest of commerce—the work which the General Government undertakesand the treatment of such rivers as the Sacramento and San Joaquin, for instance, for the development of good arterial flood drainage in their districts--work of a class which the General Government has never undertaken, and which neither the people individually nor the reclamation districts can effect.
Work which means not only the engineering or practical improvement or development of the rivers themselves, as flood carrying channels, but the regulation (not construction or maintenance) of private or district works of reclamation and land or corporate drainage, so far as these affect these streams as flood-carrying channels, and also the management of the streams and their outlets and relief escape ways, when in high flood, for their development, protection, and the general good of the whole system of works and lands adjacent.
There is an equally wide distinction to be made between the work of keeping waters off from private lands by the building of leveeswork which individuals and associations of land owners should undertake, and the improvement of public channels to carry away public flood waters-work which the State must undertake if it is ever to be accomplished.
There is also a wide distinction to be made between public watersthose flowing in public streams-which should be guarded by the State, and controlled in their apportionment to claimants thereof,
and waters which rise on private property, and which are generally regarded as part of that property, and subject to the control of its
If the public waters are to pass into the hands of corporations, or associated or individual appropriators, for use in irrigation, the transfer of right should be upon such terms as will protect the future irrigators of the State, and the interests of the people generally who have no water rights. The present laws have no such safeguards. I respectfully call your attention to what has been said by the State Engineer on this subject in former reports.
The establishment of a system of control and direction, which will relieve the Courts of many vexatious suits, and which will inspire confidence in and add stability to irrigation property, need not constitute an attack on existing claims of right, and need not bear heavily upon or embarrass the users of public waters. The effect, under a wise system, would be felt gradually; all parties concerned would as gradually become used to it, and recognize in State control the only means of protecting the interests of each, as it has proven in every old irrigation country in the world.
In this connection I have no measure to urge or advocate, believing it to be the best interests of the cause of irrigation, to have the subject thoroughly understood by the people, and to have measures emanate from them or their representatives in legislature.
In making the recommendations and suggestions herein embodied, I view the situation in this way:
Three chief objects may be assigned for the ordering of this work:
(1.) The accumulation of information concerning and discussion of the subjects mentioned, to guide or refer to in legislation.
(2.) The accumulation of data concerning, and the discussion of the subjects mentioned, for the information of the owners or workers of lands requiring irrigation or reclamation, or drainage.
(3.) The accumulation of information concerning, and the discussion of the subjects mentioned, for the benefit of the people at large and for scientific purposes.
In my judgment, in closing the work as herein suggested, quite enough will have been done to be acted upon as a guide in legislation by those who desire to avail themselves of it, if the results are made available by publication, and enough will have been done to enable the people of the State to judge of the expediency of thus using it, or of its value to them in other respects, before more money is expended upon it. With the completion and publication of the report and maps as hereinbefore recommended, although the subjects of investigation opened up by the instructions in the law will by no means have been exhausted, in my judgment, the usefulness of the State Engineering Department, as at present organized, will have ceased, and for reasons appended, unless the information at hand and to be acquired is to be utilized by the State in the regulation of drainage and irrigation affairs, or other duties be put upon the officer, the office of State Engineer should be abolished.
And, although it will be impossible to complete the publication of the State maps before the next session of Legislature, and unless you may deem it expedient to impose other duties upon the State Engi
neer, I respectfully suggest that it may be well to provide at the present session for the abolition of the office at the expiration of the fiscal years for which the closing appropriation is now recommended, leaving the matter of its re-creation on some other basis, freed from all complications, for future consideration.
I reflect that the gauge of success in public measures is their popularity; that favorable public sentiment for a work of this kind is only to be secured by the public production of useful results; and that the irrigation investigation, as yet, has resulted in the publication of mere reports of progress, and some suggestions for legislation which it was thought might be timely.
I remember that, though it is true that any results which could have been put forth as final previous to this time must have been based on superficial examination and insufficient observation, the public cannot be expected to have knowledge of the fact, for this is
novel work in a new country where the great necessities for it have not been forced upon the public attention by practical experience of a dense population in an irrigation region.
Knowing that there are interests in the irrigation counties which may regard with disfavor any prospective interference whatever with water right affairs, and which may look upon this irrigation investigation as likely to effect such interference, I reflect that the activity of the few may produce a sentiment adverse to this work while yet its public value is not apparent.
I remember that the course which I have been obliged, under the law, to pursue with respect to the use of the partial results of the work, may have awakened decided sentiment unfavorable to its continuance; and in this connection, I call your attention to the correspondence with his Excellency Governor Perkins, appended hereto.
If I am wrong in this as a general supposition, at least I know that had there been any provision of law under which I could have let data in this office go into the hands of water appropriators, or would-be water appropriators for their private use, there would be a number less of individuals who think the work is of no practical value to the people, and to that extent it would be more popular than it is.
Knowing, or believing these things, and appreciating their possible influence on public opinion before the time can elapse which is necessary to have this work understood, I set aside my own belief in the future value of the work marked out in the law creating the office of State Engineer, and thus conclude to recommend its closure at the expiration of the term mentioned, and upon the expenditure of the appropriation now recommended to be made-the earliest practicable point of time and the least possible amount of moneyand await the result of the publication of what has been accomplished.
As authorized in the instructions to the State Engineer, already quoted, the work of this department is designed, not only to accomplish for the irrigation and reclamation interest that which was directed—the solution of the special problems involved--but, incidentally, to do for agriculture in general all that a geological or mineralogical survey, such as the State Mineralogist is now gradually accomplishing, will do for the mining interest, and to furnish the State Mineralogist with a much needed basis for his work. It will serve as a basis for all future physical examinations and studies; it
will put at the disposal of the people a reasonably correct and complete set of maps of the State; it will make possible the construction of correct county maps at a minimum of cost to each individual county; if faithfully and intelligently carried to completion, it would furnish an official account of the agricultural resources and condition of the State, which, spread abroad, would form the best advertisement of the State which could be made.
If the results to be put before the public within the next two years appear to uphold these claims for the work, the department now organized as one for investigation alone, may be re-created on its own merits in the future, if it is required, for other and more practical purposes, and these investigations also may be carried forward and completed for the whole State. All of which is respectfully submitted.
WM. HAM. HALL,
SACRAMENTO, March 20, 1882. His Excellency GEORGE C. PERKINS, Governor:
Sir: I ask your attention to a question in connection with the work in the State Engineer Department, and as the law organizing the department expressly says that the State Engineer shall act under the direction of the Governor, I desire to be instructed therein.
This work was organized as a special “investigation of the problems of irrigation.” The chief apparent motive for its prosecution, as urged at the passage of the bill, so far as I am informed, and as evidenced in the law itself, was a necessity for a correct general understanding of the subject of irrigation, and knowledge of the field for irrigation in this State, in order that the people of the State and their representatives in the Legislature might appreciate the necessities and peculiarities of the irrigation interest, and thus be enabled to legislate to the best advantage for it and the State at large.
It had been urged by many persons that the State should undertake the construction of irrigation works. Again, that a law should be passed organizing the irrigable portions of the State into irrigation districts, each district to construct its own works.
And these are only a sample of the multitude of propositions and plans that were put forth to regulate the development of irrigation in general, and the practice in detail,
The Legislature had been asked repeatedly to pass ineasures respecting irrigation, deemed by some of its members absolutely necessary, and by others unreasonably radical, and had put forth various enactments which proved of no avail, to meet the necessities of the irrigation interests.
Although constituting in area a large portion of the State, the irrigation counties, being sparsely settled, had but a small proportion of the total representation in the Legislature, and the complaint was general that the members from the other portions of the State did not understand the subject, and that the irrigation interest suffered by reason of this non-appreciation. On the other hand, it was alleged that there was not always à unanimity of sentiment or opinion, as to exact measures, amongst the members who did represent the irrigation regions, and this doubtless contributed to the failure to provide such statutory regulations as would protect and foster this interest. The immediate demand, then, was for such data as would guide legislation, and hence the inauguration of this investigation was provided for.
Whether or not the members of the Legislature who favored the measure really appreciated the field of work which was opened up when the instructions to the State Engineer were made into law, I am unable to say; the presumption is, of course, that they did. The fact is, that an "investigation of the problems of irrigation of the plains" in California is a large operation; it embraces a study of the water supply for irrigation, of the lands to be irrigated, of the practice of irrigation itself, and a search for rule and precedent in drawing conclusions for a report. California is a big State; the mere operation of completely mapping out the field from existing data, and collecting superficially a knowledge of the physical facts to be considered, would take much time and money.
From the very commencement of this work applications have been received for special information to be furnished to persons interested in different localities. A survey could sometimes not be completed before an application would be made for a copy of the notes and maps of its results. It seemed quite clear to me that the satisfaction of such demands was not the object contemplated by the law under which the State Engineer was called upon to act.
I have regarded the data collected as the property of the State, for its purposes as hereinbefore indicated. I have believed that it was my duty to embody the substance of the results into a final report to the Legislature, which report could be published with maps, etc., and be sold, as were the reports of the State Geological Survey, to reimburse the State, in part at least, for the production. “I have thought that just so soon as the results of this work were turned over to private persons or companies for their use in detail, just that soon it would be said that the work was being carried on for the immediate personal benefit of a very few citizens. Hence, in reply to numerous applications for data I have answered in the negative, and have endeavored calınly to give reasons for this action which would satisfy the applicants, and, so far as I know, this rule has not been departed from with respect to the information collected by the State irrigation investigation ; and such information has not gone out of this office except when it has been called for in Court, or transmitted to the Legislature in the progress reports made.
Now, if immediately upon the completion of a survey or examination it would not have been right to turn over its results to individuals, at what moment from that time to this could the rule have been changed? The Legislature has done nothing to authorize such action. vision for special publication of the results of the works was struck from the appropriation bill at the last session, and a recommendation to authorize the publishing of reports from this office as other reports are published before special authorization by the Legislature- was not acted upon.
Other and more applications for data are at hand at this time, from Keru, Fresno, and Tulare Counties. The applicants generally offer to pay for the information, or to pay for the clerical work necessary in its preparation for their use. One applicant offers to publish, for the general information of everybody, the map with respect to a certain river, and surveys out from it, so that all in its neighborhood may equally have access to it. Another says, that a great big section of the country, and the people therein, would be benefited by the preparation of the matter