Hearing before the Senate Committee on Public Lands (Sixty-third Congress, First Session) on H.R. 7207, a bill "granting to the city and county of San Francisco certain rights of way in, over, and through certain public lands, the Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, and certain lands in the Yosemite National Park, the Stanislaus National Forest, and the public lands in the state of California, and for other purposes."
STATEMENT OF MR. EDMUND A. WHITMAN, OF BOSTON, REPRESENTING
THE SOCIETY FOR THE PRESERVATION OF NATIONAL
Mr. Whitman. I find that one great difficulty in this case is to get at the exact facts and have them understood alike. It is a pretty difficult proposition in 15 minutes to correct what I understand are misapprehensions, and I should like to address myself partly to the two Senators who have asked questions and to meet the points which they have suggested. It is more difficult because the Committee on Public Lands on the part of the House, after having listened most patiently to testimony, make the most extraordinary misstatements in their report. I am unable to see how they got by such a careful lawyer as Judge Baker. Let me call your attention to the statement on page 19 of the report on the part of the House Committee on Public Lands. I quote two lines:
There is not the slightest foundation for that statement, because the Sacramento River is pouring oceans of water into the sea that anybody can have for the pumping of it out. That is one illustration. Then, on the next page-
Mr. Raker. Right there I should like to interrupt. Does not the record show that the Board of Engineers of the Government themselves are restricting people taking water our of the Sacramento River to-
Mr. Whitman. That may be; but the report says that the other sources are now owned by power companies and corporations, and that is not correct.
Mr. Raker. That excludes all of them except those which the Government owns.
Senator Norris. Do you say-
Mr. Whitman. Of course, I am at the committee's disposal.
The Chairman. Interruptions will not be taken out of your time. You can use your pleasure about yielding or not, just as you see fit.
Senator Norris. Do you contend, Mr. Whitman, that the city of San Francisco ought to be required to take its water out of the Sacramento River?
Mr. Whitman. It is reported by the Board of Engineers as a perfectly proper source. Mr. Freeman would say so.
Senator Norris. Would it not be necessary to filter it?
Mr. Whitman. Yes; most water supplies of this country are filtered, sir.
Senator Norris. Do you know as a matter of fact that the supply from Sacramento River has already been used and is being used up to the limit?
Mr. Whitman. I do not, sir.
Senator Norris. Do not the hearings show that?
Mr. Whitman. They do not.
Senator Norris. I think they do.
Mr. Whitman. Then we differ as to that.
Senator Thomas. Just a question there. It will not be taken out of your time. Would not that argument apply equally to New York? There is plenty of water in the Hudson River. Why should not New York, instead of disturbing the supply of the Catskills and marring the usual beauties of that section, be required to get its water from the Hudson River, from which millions of feet are running, as Mr. Lincoln would say, unvexed to the sea?
Mr. Whitman. The city of New York, sir, was left to get its own supply in a business way; that is all.
Senator Thomas. San Francisco is trying to do the same thing.
Mr. Whitman. On the next page the report of the House committee goes on to say that Hetch Hetchy Valley was not in a national park at the time of the filing on this land by Mr. Phelan. Hetch Hetchy Valley was included in the original taking by Congress setting it aside as a national park.
Mr. Parsons. The Hudson River is salt water to Albany at high tide, I will say.
Senator. Thomas. There is a good deal of salt water in the Sacramento River, also, if I remember rightly.
Mr. Freeman. I will say, Mr. Parsons, as one of the engineers of the New York scheme, that we seriously considered filtering the Hudson River, at Poughkeepsie, but absolutely turned it down be cause manifestly, I will say,it was not so attractive as pure water. The same is true of the water supply of the community of which Mr. Whitman is a resident. We had the opportunity there of going to the Merrimac River, but it was considered that water polluted by the drainage of cities on the stream even after purification would not be nearly so attractive as pure, unpolluted water. So that the proposition was absolutely turned down.
The Chairman. Out of courtesy to everybody I will not permit interruptions by those who are not members of the committee unless they first apply to the chairman. I have no objection to questions, but counter statements greatly prolong the discussion.
Mr. Whitman. The city of San Francisco was directed by Secretary Ballinger to furnish the Army engineers all the information they asked about other sources. Mr. O'shaughnessy appeared before the Committee on Lands and was supposed to testify about what he knew. I did not find out until afterwards that Mr. O'Shaughnessy had reported to private parties in San Francisco that this Hetch Hetchy water, the Tuolumne water, could be stored 50 miles below the Hetch Hetchy and turned over to San Francisco at 60 per cent of the cost. That is one of the things that we are contending against. That is the report he made in private employment for Mr. Crocker, of San Francisco, and that was furnished to Secretary Fisher by Francis Burton Harrison, recently appointed governor of the Philippine Islands. I say with such misunderstandings as that, getting at the exact facts is most difficult.
Now, if I may answer Senator Ransdell, this part of the Yosemite National Park is very mountainous. A party goes in there to camp. They may find a little meadow where a few people can camp, but there is no place in the whole five or six hundred square miles in that northwest corner of the park where any number of people can stay at one time except on the floor of this valley, just as in the southwest corner of the park there is no one place where any number of people can stay at one time except the Yosemite Valley. They are simply flat floors surrounded by precipitous walls, and when you get by these precipitous walls you are in the mountains. Therefore when you flood this valley to a depth of 100 or 200 feet for 2 square miles you have cut out largely the use of that corner of the park, except for a few camping parties who might find a little meadow here or a little meadow there.
Now, to answer the question of the Senator from Colorado [Mr. Thomas] as to the need of San Francisco for this water: If you have been to San Francisco, sir, you know that there is a range of mountains close down to the city-
Senator Thomas. Unappropriated for purposes of irrigation?
Mr. Whitman. Unappropriated, and which they can use.
Senator Thomas. At what cost?
Mr. Whitman. I do not think that the cost has been figured, but that water is close at hand and can be obtained by the laying of pipes. There would have to be no long tunnels. It is an extension of the present source which the Spring Valley Co. and which the other company across the bay, the Bay Cities Co., were intending to develop. At any rate, there is at their back door 233,000,000 gallons a day which can be developed. That is mountain water. The present use of San Francisco and the people who live in that neighborhood is not over 100,000,000 gallons a day, so that the immediate supply at home is ample for over two million and a quarter people. There are now 750,000 people in that vicinity. So, sir, what this bill seeks to bring about is not an immediate supply to satisfy an immediate need or an immediate shortage of the city of San Francisco, but to provide for sometime in the distant future when that 233,000,000 gallons a day has been used up, which will be 50 or 60 years from now, according to the engineers. What San Francisco will do at that time they are now asking you to tell them, and they are asking you now to appropriate to them a portion of a national park. Nobody knows how that park will be used at that time, or how many people will be on the floor of the Hetch Hetchy Valley 50 or 60 years from now.
I have said, and I think those with whom I have discussed it have always said, that if San Francisco needs any part of the national domain she ought to have it i f she can not get a similar thing elsewhere; but she can get it at home, and the engineers of the local companies were providing for further water, either by going to the San Joaquin or going to the Sacramento.
The idea of mountain water has carried the people away. What is San Francisco asking for? She is not only asking to destroy the large use of this corner of the park, but she is getting an electric power which the engineers estimate is worth $45,000,000, and which Mr. Freeman says in his report is capable of developing 200,000 horsepower. What is it for? Well, they have recently started a municipal electric car line in San Francisco. I have no objection to San Francisco trying any experiment in municipal ownership that they see fit, but not at my expense as a citizen of this country.
Senator Norris. Mr. Whitman, it ought to be said here that the bill requires San Francisco to develop this horsepower.
Mr. Freeman. Certainly, for their own benefit.
Senator Norris. Yes. I think the general opinion is that they ought to be required to develop it, and that is one argument in favor of the proposition. Here is a lot of horsepower going to waste which ought to be developed, and the bill therefore requires San Francisco to develop this horsepower.
Mr. Whitman. Yes, sir; and they get it from the Nation.
Senator Norris. But it goes to the city.
Senator Chamberlain. It goes to the people closest at hand.
Senator Pittman. If the natural resources adjacent to each community were utilized for the benefit of nearly all the people in that community, such a benefit as furnishing with cheap power or furnishing them with cheaper and purer water, would not that be one of the very best uses to which public property could be put?
Mr. Whitman. I think so; yes, sir.
Senator Pittman. Is it not a fact that the water in the Hetch Hetchy will supply $45,000,000 worth of power?
Mr. Whitman. Yes, sir; $45,000,000 worth.
Senator Pittman. It will supply that much power to the adjacent country there. Is not that another great reason why that should be developed, instead of utilizing the coast-
Mr. Whitman. If I may answer that, is is not necessary in order to utilize that power to have a dam at Hetch Hetchy. That river is damable downhill for 50 miles. You can build any quantity of dams down below.
Senator Pittman. But you can not from the water supply in the coast range.
Mr. Whitman No; but I mean to say so far as the development of power is concerned that there is on the other rivers in that locality a quantity of power developed now.
Senator Pittman. You were comparing the coast-
Mr. Whitman. I agree that the coast range will supply water for drinking and domestic purposes.
Senator Pittman. You say that this project will flood a valley 2 square miles in extent?
Mr. Whitman Yes, sir.
Senator Pittman. And you know that there are some 1,500 square miles, approximately, in that beautiful Yosemite Valley?
Mr. Whitman. You have never seen it, sir, and I have, and most of it is unusable.
Senator Pittman. You know from the hearings that it contains approximately 1,500 square miles.
Mr. Whitman I have been there twice, but I say most of that 1,500 miles is not usable for camp purposes. It is largely rocky cliffs and mountains sides.
Senator Pittman. Then, as I understand your position, one of the arguments you use is that in order to save 2 square miles of camping ground you would compel the people in the vicinity of this natural resource to use water they would probably have to filter, water that the people of Boston and New York would not use-
Mr. Whitman. No, sir.
Senator Pittman. All for the purpose of preserving 2 square miles or more of this little mountain valley.
Mr. Whitman. No, sir; that is not the proposition.
Senator Pittman. For somebody to camp on.
Mr. Whitman. They are proposing now to take the coast-
Senator Pittman. Then there is a monopoly of water near San Francisco?
Mr. Whitman. A large part of it is in private ownership which they propose to buy.
Senator Pittman. You desire to compel all the people of that community to resort to that monopoly for their supply so as to save 2 square miles of valley?
Mr. Whitman. No, sir. The 2 square miles is the useful part of that corner. If you flood that, there will be no place for people to go except in limited numbers and a few at a time.
Senator Pittman. Have you ever been in that mountain range at all?
Mr. Whitman. I have been there twice, all over it.
Senator Pittman. I have hunted from British Columbia to the lower end of California and I have never experienced any trouble in finding a place to camp in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
Mr. Whitman. Now, when it comes to the question of cost, the report of the Public Lands Committee of the House gives about a $20,000,000 advantage. I may say to the Senator from Colorado, that if he will look at the Army report he will find that $20,000,000 is reduced to $13,000,000.
Senator Thomas. Suppose it is $1,000,000?
Mr. Whitman. Very good, sir.
Senator Thomas. I would very gladly save $1,000,000 to the people of California and San Francisco not if I could do so.
Mr. Whitman. That may be your feeling, sir, but let me analyze that. That saving of $13,000,000 is on the basis that the Hetch Hetchy water can be brought into San Francisco unfiltered. The experts testified before Secretary Fisher that, their judgment, the Hetch Hetchy water would have to be filtered within 50 years, because the public would demand it. That will coast them $10,000,000; so that you get down to a difference of $3,000,000, and the Army engineers will tell you that there has been no such accurate figuring that anybody can tell whether it is $3,000,000 or whether it is not.
Senator Thomas. They recommend this plan.
Mr. Whitman. They recommend this plan, and let me suggest why they recommend it. The Army engineers have been over that ground carefully. They say much of the San Joaquin Valley is very dry; there is a great deal of arid land there, and the rainfall is much less than it is to the north and in the Sacramento Valley. They tell you that every drop of water from these mountains, at some time or other, is going to be needed for the irrigation of farms.
Senator Thomas. I have lived in an arid country and pioneered all my life, and I think I know what the value of water is to that country. It is absolutely essential to civilization and, so far as I am concerned, I am always anxious to give the use of water to the people who have gone out into that arid country and converted the desert into populous communities and splendid agricultural regions; but if San Francisco wants that water and needs it, so far as I am concerned I would vote for it if it involved the obliteration of the whole Yosemite Park, because I think the absolute needs of men, women, and children are the preeminent and essential things in legislation.
Mr. Whitman. Let me point out to you that the Army engineers say that every drop of that water is needed for irrigation of the San Joaquin Valley. Therefore let us take it away from irrigation and live it to San Francisco for domestic purposes, although they have got water right at their back door.
Senator Norris. Right at that point, is it not so that if you should use this water to irrigate the San Joaquin Valley you would have to build this dam?
Mr. Whitman. No, sir.
Senator Norris. Could you utilize the flood waters without damming up the river?
Mr. Whitman. No, sir; but there are other places-
Senator Norris. Then, thewater would get away.
Mr. Whitman. No, sir; there are opther places which can be dammed.
Senator Norris. You would have to dam it somewhere?
Mr. Whitman. Somewhere, but not here necessarily.
Senator Norris. Could you build the dam at another place and get the power?
Mr. Whitman. I think not.
Senator Norris. But suppose you were going to use it for the purposes of irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley, would it not be desirable at the same time that you are developing it for irrigation to get the power from it, even though you were not going to do it for that purpose?Hearing before the Senate Committee on Public Lands (Sixty-third Congress, First Session) on H.R.7207, a bill "granting to the city and county of San Francisco certain rights of way in, over, andthrough certain public lands, the Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, and certainlands in the Yosemited National Park, the Stanislaus National Forest, and the public lands in the stateof California, and for other purposes."
Senator Norris. Would they not use a great deal of this power for pumping the water for purposes of irrigation?
Mr. Whitman. There is no need for that. They can flood the lands by gravity.
Senator Norris. Yes; but is it not true that when you conserve all the water in that country you would not then have enough for the complete development of all of the lands?
Mr. Whitman. The Army engineers say so. Therefore, it is the more extraordinary to me that this water should be taken away for San Francisco.
Senator Norris. Exactly, but it must be for the one use or the other. You were speaking just now of the requirements of the San Joaquin Valley, but the point I want to bring out is whether, even if that were true, you would not have your beautiful valley destroyed, and if it is not necessary to ruin it even if you use it for that purpose?
Mr. Whitman. No, sir; because other reservoirs could be built in the foothills.
Senator Norris. But you would lose this power, then, would you not?
Mr. Whitman. I am not prepared to say how much of that can be developed at the intermediate dam. This water is running downhill all the way.
Senator Norris. But power sites are not frequent. There is a great difference whether you build a dam in one place or build it in another. As I understand, this is the place for a dam.
Mr. Whitman. It is the cheapest place in the world to build a dam.
Senator Norris. That is one reason why we ought to build a dam there. That is a good reason for building it in this place. It is the cheapest place. Would you not concede that if you were going to build a dam you would try to hunt the least expensive place to build it?
Mr. Whitman. If it were purely a business proposition, yes; but when you come to take a part of the assets of the Nation I say that should be taken away from the whole Nation only upon the ground of the necessity of the people. If it becomes a necessity for the people, I agree.
Senator Norris. I agree with you there. You take it from the Nation, but I would rather take it from the Nation and give it to a municipality than I would to take it from the Nation and give it to some corporation to farm it out to the people.
Mr. Whitman. So would I, when it becomes a necessity; and any time San Francisco or its inhabitants need that dam they ought to have it. I say they do not need it at the present time.
Senator Norris. Is it not conceded that eventually, even if it were not used for San Francisco, it would become practically a necessity, in the course of time, for the full development of the country there?
Mr. Whitman. The use of the water of the Tuolumne River is certainly a necessity for the development of that country; but when you ask me to say that the must necessarily involve a dam at this Hetch Hetchy site, I say there is no such evidence before this committee or anywhere else. There are plenty of other dam sites among the foothills where water can be supplied, and Mr. O'Shaughnessy says so.
Senator Norris. I do not doubt that at all, but it seems to be conceded that this is the most available.
Senator Chamberlain. And this is the only place where water can be stored there.
Mr. Whitman. No, sir.
Senator Chamberlain. How far would you have to go to find another storage place?
Mr. Whitman. Let me read you a few lines from what Mr. O'Shaughnessy said in reporting to private parties in San Francisco on some irrigation project farther down the river. He said:
It is the water of the Tuolumne River that he proposes to put in these big foothill reservoirs.
The Chairman. Mr. Whitman, your time is about exhausted, but you have been interrupted so much that if you want a few minutes uninterruptedly now to wind up, I will agree that you may have it, unless some member of the committee objects.
Senator Thomas. I move that Mr. Whitman be given 10 minutes. I think he is entitled to it.
The Chairman. Unless there is objection to that it will be considered granted. If you want 10 minutes to close without interruption, unless there is some member of the committee who desires to ask you a question, you may go ahead.
Mr. Whitman. I have outlined in my remarks what I intended to say.
It may very well be, and I am prepared to admit, that some time in the future the necessity of the people of California will be such that not only will this Hetch Hetchy Valley be used, but the Yosemite Valley may be used. The pleasure of the people must give way to the necessities of life. I simply say, sir, that that time has not come, and that the city of San Francisco has plenty of water elsewhere which she can get cheaper, if she is only willing to do so.
Take the supply from the Sacramento River. It will cost less as an initial expense. Less money will be appropriated and spent in the next 10 or 15 years-
The engineers speak of the extra expense because they capitalize the pumping expense, and they say that means an expense.
Of course, each individual water taker pays a little more each year because the water has to be pumped, but that is merely because the engineers theoretically capitalize that sum. So that makes a difference.
Something has been said about a million and three-
Mr. Raker. $600,000.
Mr. Whitman. $600,000. The rest of this money was expended at Lake Eleanor, where they have a right to take water, and where they can still go ahead. They say now, however, "We were ill-
That is about their expenditure. So far they have paid $600,000 for land for which you and I would not pay $6,000. If you could see it, gentlemen, that is no argument to this committee.
If there is any question which any gentleman desires to ask me, I will be glad to answer. If not, that is all I care to say.
The Chairman. Does any member of the committee desire to ask Mr. Whitman a question?
Senator Thomas. I move that the committee take a recess until such time as the chairman shall fix. It is now nearly 1 o'clock.
The Chairman(to Senator Thomas). Incorporate the time in your motion.
Senator Thomas. I move that the committee take a recess until 2 o'clock.
(The motion was agreed to, and at 1 o'clock p. m. a recess was taken until 2 o'clock p. m., when the committee reassembled.)