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."
Mr. Lehane. Let me see whether this is for the benefit of Senators. We get our water right on the Tuolumne River from two filings on the river made by our board. One of the filings was for 5,000 second-
Senator Thomas. What is the duty of a second-
Mr. Lehane. I am glad to have that question asked of me, because if you ask that question of a man from San Francisco he would tell you 160 acres of something else; but when Mr. O'Shaunessy said it was 160 acres to Mr. Taylor, of Glenwood Springs, that representative said to him, "Well, Mr. O'Shaunessy, in western Colorado we only estimate for 50 acres."
Senator Thomas. Well, I think that was a little more than twice too much.
Mr. Lehane. It was three times too much. He also said that in the eastern part of the State-
I have a copy here of Wiel's water law in which the duty of water in the various States is collected. In almost all of the western States it is 70 acres. That is the duty-
This year by actual experience we have used the water, and it has run somewhere around 60 acres. In actual practice 60 acres to the second-
Senator Thomas. You are referring to the 6,350 feet provided for in the bill.
Mr. Lehane. Yes. Under the division which we have in accordance with our agreement with the Turlock-
Senator Thomas. And under some contingencies 4,000.
Mr. Lehane. That is in times of flood water and not under ordinary circumstances.
In our agreement with Turlock, the Modesto district gets 750 feet of that. The Garfield permit talked about 850 inches, but, as a matter of fact, the Garfield permit in no way regulates the supply of water between the two districts, which is governed by a contract between us. At the present time we divide it roughly about two to one. They take two-
Senator Thomas. Will this 2,350 second-
Mr. Lehane. It will.
Senator Thomas. You have no other source of supply?
Mr. Lehane. No, sir.
Senator Norris. Have you used more than that in the past?
Mr. Lehane. We have not used more than that in the past, and I will tell you why we have not.
Senator Norris. What I want to get at is the local situation. I do not know what your law in California may be on that. I do not think we can take away from you anything you are entitled to under the law, even though we said you are going to do it. Does this bill permit you to take that to which you are entitled under the law? That is what I want to get at.
Mr. Lehane. Here is what we think: We think that when we get there under a bill that gives us 2,350 feet of water and says that that is enough, and if we accept it we think we will have a mighty hard time to go into any court and convince them that amount of water is not enough for us.
Senator Norris. Have you filings?
Mr. Lehane. We have filings; yes, sir.
Senator Norris. Is there any contest over those filings?
Mr. Lehane. There is no contest over those filings. As I was saying, here is what I think would ordinarily happen. Suppose this Raker bill passes. Out of the dam they will turn out to us 740 feet of water. We are enlarging our ditches and we have been enlarging them for five years by little dinky annual taxes, with which we construct a flume at a time, you might say. It is just like the little dinky farmers handling of all those things. They just do it by piecemeal. They cut off the dog's tail a little at a time so it won't hurt him. Every year we put in a new flume or a new improvement, however. We make a fill, and then we concrete it.
This new ditch is big enough to carry fourteen to fifteen thousand second-
Senator Norris. How much water do those filings give you?
Mr. Lehane. They are filings on all that we could beneficially use.
Senator Norris. How much would that give you?
Mr. Lehane. If we used 70 inches, which is the statutory amount in a great many States-
Senator Thomas. What is your construction of section 11 of this proposed bill? I would like to hear you on that.
Mr. Lehane. I have no doubt it was put in with the best of intentions, but if any living human being can tell me where it will do us a particle of good, I will be tickled to death to hear it.
Senator Thomas. That is what I want to hear you on now.
Mr. Lehane. Tell us how the Raker bill is going to work for our advantage. They have the water in the Hetch Hetchy; they start downstream with it; it is their stored water, and they have filed on it, and will you tell me how we can take it away from them? At the present time we have no statutory method of defining our rights. We have a conservation law, held up by the referendum. The general impression is that it will not carry. However, it is a start in the right direction; but it is going to fall by the wayside, I guess. The result will be that we are going to be thrown into the courts, and we will fight and fight and fight with San Francisco over that water question. I know what that litigation means; I can look ahead and see no finish to it at all. This is what it will do: One ditch will litigate the next ditch; the next ditch will litigate the next ditch. And they will take that up with each other right around he ring, just in a circle.
Senator Thomas. Yes; I have been all through it.
Mr. Lehane. When they get through with that, some fellow on the ditch will start in with his neighbor. Maybe 300 farmers will be litigating all the time on this.
Senator Thomas. And they are apt to enforce their rights with a shotgun and a revolver, too.
Mr. Lehane. Yes; and every man will have a revolver and a shotgun.
Senator Norris. What I would like to get is your idea on this subject. Let me illustrate: Suppose instead of this being a San Francisco filing, some other water district filed on this water San Francisco is going to take. As between you and them he would not get it under your law. Have you any legal claim?
Mr. Lehane. We have absolutely no legal claim to the water in the Hetch Hetchy, and San Francisco has absolutely no legal claim to the water in the Hetch Hetchy.
Senator Norris. That is true.
Mr. Lehane. But we have the moral right to the water in the Hetch Hetchy, because we are on the Tuolumne watershed and it is a universally conceded matter that the water should go to the people on the watershed of the streams where they live.
Senator Norris. That looks like a reasonable proposition, but I want to call your attention just to this now. I think you have been represented here before the committee of the House and the Senate. You had a representative there. As I understand it-
Mr. Lehane. I wonder if that looks as though they were satisfied-
Senator Norris. I want to ask you now is or is not that true? Has not this delegation represented your people before the committee?
Mr. Lehane. I suppose I will have to explain it. That takes time, and valuable time, but I will do the best I can. In short words, this is how it happened. We sent down here last spring our representatives.
In the first place a number of us were very much exercised over this Hetch Hetchy question. We started in early on it to get our people wakened up to do something on the Hetch Hetchy question, because we knew the disposition of the San Francisco people, and we figured they would be here. You know what a farmer is. Actually the going off of an ordnance will not wake him up. He does not get good and busy until the thing has happened. You could not take any of those farmer people wake up at first. Finally they woke up, and they found that San Francisco was here.
A committee was rushed to Washington, and on that committee we had a new member for the Modesto irrigation district, and a new man does not pretend to be familiar with the water conditions. He said so. We have no engineer. We have been having revolutions out there in the water business; we had a new engineer; we came down here with an engineer. The engineer who represented us was Mr. Corey, from San Francisco. Mr. Griffin represented the Turlock irrigation district, and he is the champion handshaker of our country. They were supposed to represent both factions. They came down here, and this is what they did: Mr. Needham was employed by the districts. Mr. Church was on the ground, and I guess I will not be violating any confidence when I say this. At any rate the telegrams and letters were published in the papers out home. Word came home that San Francisco had an air-
Very well, what were we going to do? They suggested that we get together and compromise with the San Francisco crowd on this bill. See how many thousand miles we are away from Washington. No noise that we ever could make on the west side of the Rockies would come this far, unless it might be the Japanese question. It never gets to you. Very well. We wired back that we would decide when they got home. Then they started out on a trip up by Hudsons Bay or somewhere and did not get home until the first week in August. All this time we were champing on the bit to get at them, but we had to wait out of courtesy until they got home. We went out into the country with those fellows and debated this with the farmers. When they debated it they never got a farmer who was so favorable to the Raker bill that he would stand up and be counted. They could not get a single one.
The Chairman. Mr. Lehane, your time is up. If you want a few minutes more, I will grant it, but I hope you will try to conclude your statement in as short a time as possible.
Mr. Lehane. I was asked a question, and I have been answering it. The question is now, What are we going to do? I would have to say this-
Senator Norris. If they refuse to vote the bonds, you can not handle the proposition.
Mr. Lehane. This is what we are doing now. We tried to recall one of those fellows who was opposed to any movement of this kind. That took us over two years. Finally we did recall him; then they undertook to recall our fellows. They could not do it, but they kept us tied up so that we could not get this election on. It came on down to the election last November and then we wiped them up. There was nothing to it.
Now, what is going to happen to us? The man who has stayed up there all these years, the man who went in there with us, within 60 days after the general election last spring he faced around and was with the enemy again. And there we were. And there we were with no water and no water ditches and no nothing; and I tell you, Senator Thomas, talk about the man with the shotgun to settle the irrigation dispute-
What could we do when we went back? Our people were unanimously opposed to this Raker bill. We had to wait six months for the recall, and that time only elapsed only a few weeks ago, but just as quick as the six months were out we went after them, and as I said we were unanimous and we are unanimous, and if this committee here will give us a little time we will come down here with an official board, with official attorneys, official engineers, and we will make a showing to this committee and to this Congress that will put you on the right track. But if you give Hetch Hetchy to San Francisco now without any hearing of our claim you will have cut us right in two in the middle.
Senator Thomas. Does this 2,350 second-
Mr. Lehane. I will say that I can not say positively-
Senator Thomas. I know, but I am speaking beyond the 2,350 feet.
Mr. Lehane. Oh, yes-
They started in to post these notices about the time they built their big dam.
Senator Norris. Beyond those two filings which you have referred. San Francisco would have the right to the water upon which they have filed, would they not, under your California law?
Mr. Lehane. They would.
Senator Norris. Would they only have the right to take additional water and give you more water in the territory already protected?
Mr. Lehane. The House committee in its generosity permitted the district to increase their area. You will appreciate the magnitude of the generosity when you realize that they did not furnish them any water for the increased acreage.
Senator Thomas. I would like to know how many feet you claim you have a vested right to in there?
Mr. Lehane. Under the law of the State of California, if we develop within a reasonable way our water system, we could, for instance, file on 5,000 acre-
Senator Thomas. You say this section, Mr. Lehane, does not mean anything to you? Would it mean any more if we designated the number of second-
Mr. Lehane. Here is the danger we are in. It is not an imaginary danger at all. We are in danger that if we come in before Congress and consent to that bill and consent to 2,350 second-
Senator Norris. Of course, you are taking into consideration the fact that your rights are all secured to you, are you not?
Mr. Lehane. If we come down here and say that is enough, how would we show that it is not enough? I say it is not enough. I say that, as a fair-
Senator Norris. I understand that you have enough for that which you are now irrigating.
Mr. Lehane. We do not have enough, or even enough now, for our land. For instance, take the Government project up in Oregon, where they wet their ground every two weeks. In our country we have intense heat every summer. You must irrigate the ground frequently. When we have an irrigation problem of this sort we have to have a larger ditch,and as it is now it takes 30 days to get around. It takes them 30 days to get to my land. When they got to my alfalfa this spring it was as dead as a doornail. When the water was put it revived somewhat, but it did not do well at all. Now, on my land-
Another thing I want to say in that connection is this: Water and power are synonymous. Up there before the water conservation committee in Sacramento I heard a friend of mine who is not as popular in San Francisco with some people as somebody else might be, make an argument in favor of the conservation bill.
Senator Norris. You are referring to Francis J. Heney?
Mr. Lehane. Yes. I refer to Frank Heney. He made a talk on the beauties of water power as the power of the future. It was true, every word of it. There is no question but that in 25 years we will be using electricity for every power use in the State.
Senator Norris. That is just the point. Have you made a computation to ascertain how much per acre you would have to bond yourselves in order to build a dam at Hetch Hetchy and bring that water out to you?
Mr. Lehane. Now, I do not think that that can be computed accurately. But there is no question about that, that that is the cheapest water power in the Sierras, and there is no question but that the cost as estimated by Luther Wagner gives approximately what it will cost. We can bond ourselves for $65 an acre. Frank R. Davis, chief engineer of the Reclamation Service, says that it will cost about $8 or $10 an acre in the Carson-
Senator Norris. I wanted to get an idea about that because I want to know whether it is a practical proposition for you. How much will your land stand you now?
Mr. Lehane. Land right alongside is standing $56 an acre, and they are glad to get it.
Senator Norris. If you went up $2.50 how much money would that bring on the amount of land you have?
Mr. Lehane. If the Hetch Hetchy is as cheap as we think it is, and as everybody else thinks it is, it would give us 6 acre-
Senator Norris. I do not know the number of acres you own.
Mr. Lehane. We have 80,000 acres in the Modesto alone. Just a word there, in connection with the West Side. The West Side has 100,000 acres of land. All they want is power. Power synonomous with water. Here is what they intend to do and what they can do. They can go down to the lower end of the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento, put in a pumping plant at what they call Old River. They will pump that out at the San Joaquin and run it down to the West Side and raise all the crops they need.
The Chairman. I do not like to call time, but you have now existed your time by about 15 or 20 minutes.
Senator Ransdell. If we give you all the water you need how much would be left for San Francisco?
Mr. Lehane. If we had all the water we need for our country in there there would not be any of it left in Hetch Hetchy. I want to call your attention to the fact that Lake Eleanor and Cherry Creek are good for 200,000 acre-
As I suggested before, it is possible for this Senate to appoint a committee and go out there and make some kind of an equitable division of that water, in which we would not be yoked up to San Francisco in any business partnership. We do not want to see you let San Francisco take so much and at the same time leave our country a permanent arid waste.
Senator Ransdell. As I understand, you claimed to have filed now on 5,000 feet of water. That will take up a good deal of the water in the Hetch Hetchy, will it not?
Mr. Lehane. Yes. In our district there we need that water. For our own district, for the Modesto and Turlock districts, comprise 250,000 acres of land. In our district we have 20,000 acres that have no water. East of the Turlock district is 25,000 acres more without water. It is all level land. I am not talking of the rolling land. In time all that rolling land will be under cultivation. On the west side of the river is 100,000 acres of land. If you give us the Hetch Hetchy we would have adequate water for the full season on our two districts of 250,000 or 260,000 acres of land, and we could reclaim 100,000 acres of new land.
Senator Ransdell. That would consume all the water of the Hetch Hetchy, would it not?
Mr. Lehane. It would consume all the water of the Hetch Hetchy; and yet San Francisco would be getting from her present sources all the water that is necessary from Cherry Creek.
Senator Pittman. As I understand it, what you are really asking is that we do not permit the building of this dam to enable San Francisco to carry out its appropriation of this water?
Mr. Lehane. Well, this Congress has in its power absolutely to say.
Senator Pittman. I understand.
Mr. Lehane. This Congress can say where that water shall go. You have to choose between us and San Francisco.
Senator Pittman. Whatever vested rights or whatever inchoate rights you have there which you may perfect can not be diminished or taken away from you by any act of Congress.