San Francisco and the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Hearing held before the committee on the Public Lands of the House of Representatives, December 16, 1908, on House Joint Resolution 184 - Part IV.
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
The Chairman. Mr. Secretary, the committee would like to be informed, in a general way, the connection of your department with this granting of this revocable right of way, and as to what developed during the hearings had before you as to the necessities of the city of San Francisco in this matter, and also as to the effect of this water storage upon the park and the forest reserve, as to how it will affect the interests of the general public, as we must necessarily consider the interests of the general public in this matter, as well as those of the city of San Francisco.
Secretary Garfield. The application, as it was presented to me, came up on the motion for a reopening of the case, which had theretofore been closed by the action of my predecessor in declining to grant the request of the city to permit the use of the floor of this valley for storage purposes. I first made careful investigation of the law and the decision of the Attorney-
These gentlemen came to Washington and we went over in detail again the conditions that existed in that district. Those conditions, in brief, were these: The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts below had acquired and were using valuable water rights for the development of their irrigation projects. There were certain private holdings in the floor of the Hetch Hetchy Valley and in the surrounding park and forest reserve area. The city had acquired, by option, holdings in the floor of the valley to the extent as stated by its representative here, and had also acquired a number of holdings outside, as indicated by the representative. The points that I gave especial consideration to in determining what action the Government ought to take were these: The city of San Francisco had been making every effort to obtain for its citizens, and the citizens in the immediate surrounding vicinity there, the best, purest, and largest water supply. I took the view that, so far as the Federal Government was authorized, it should be of help to the citizens of any of these cities, not only San Francisco, but elsewhere, to enable them to obtain that kind of a water supply, believing that the domestic use was the highest use to which water could be put. There were, in connection with this question, a number of matters of difficulty; private interests-
The matter before me was simply whether or not the Federal Government ought to give the citizens of San Francisco an opportunity to use this valley and the adjacent valley, the Lake Eleanor site, for purposes of obtaining a domestic water supply, if those citizens deemed that this was the most available and the purest, and the question of cost was a matter for them to determine, not for the Government. I likewise considered most carefully, as the Government should, the question of the rights of the irrigating district below. They were not only valuable rights, but were likewise rights that had been very highly developed by the citizens in those localities, and, as I stated to the representatives of the city, I should take no action that did not absolutely protect the people who had developed the irrigation projects below there in their rights to use or impound the water upon which they had filed. As to the private property owned in the park and on the floor of the park, those were matters that I stated to them would have to be settled by submission of those matters probably to Congress, because I had no authority under the general acts to patent to the city of San Francisco the remaining unappropriated lands on the bid of the valley, nor could I without an act of Congress accept other property in exchange for those, and therefore the proposition was made that the city, having acquired these private rights, would offer in exchange, acre for acre, as nearly as could be exchanged on the smallest equal subdivision, land which it owned outside for the unappropriated land which remained on the floor of the valley. That proposition seemed to me an eminently fair one, because it not only cleared the question of title on the floor of the valley, but also cleared from the park and forest reserve area those private holdings which were now used for camping purposes by the private owners, under an arrangement with individuals or an arrangement with the Government. After a full consideration of all of these points to which I have referred I reached the conclusion, without any hesitation in my own mind, that it was the duty of the Federal Government to aid the city of San Francisco in this regard, if we could reach an agreement that was satisfactory to all the various interests concerned.
There was serious opposition on the part of a number of citizens, not only of California, but throughout the country, to any action by me that would, as they stated, abandon the Hetch Hetchy as a valley and destroy, as they felt, one of the great and wonderful natural beauties of that section of the country. I fully appreciated that feeling on the part of those gentlemen, and fully appreciated the obligation that Congress had placed upon me to preserve those tracts for the purpose, not only of the nation's playgrounds, but for the purpose of preserving the great curiosities and great beauty of that region. On the other hand, in weighing the two sides of this question, I felt that there could be no doubt but that it should be resolved in favor of the citizens of San Francisco, because this use of the valley would not destroy it as one of the most beautiful spots in the West. It would simply change the floor of the valley from a meadow to a beautiful lake, and it could be so constructed as not to interfere with the access of people to that portion of the park. It would mean, of course, that there would not be that same freedom in camping that there otherwise would be, because it would be necessary to protect the watershed there from pollution, but that would be the only interference with the opportunity of individuals to visit and enjoy that park. I therefore made the agreement which appears in the final decision which I made in this matter, which has been presented to you here this morning. That agreement was made after the most careful conference with the representatives of the irrigation districts and a final and unanimous agreement by all that we had protected fully the rights of these various interested parties. The provisions of the permit appear at the of the decision, I think nine or ten special clauses, and I believe have most carefully safeguarded the interests of the public in the issuing of this permit. The city of San Francisco obtains this right subject to very carefully drawn provisions.
These provisions, in brief, are that, in the first instance, they should come to Congress for this very purpose which the resolution we are considering intends to carry out, namely, to authorize the exchange of these lands. Thereafter the use of these lands is subject to the regulation of the Secretary of the Interior, and the only use which the city itself can permanently enjoy will be that which is necessary and appurtenant to the construction of the reservoir and the use for water purposes. In case the city fails to carry out the terms of the permit within the time specified in the last two clauses, then all the rights shall revert to the Federal Government, and the titles to all lands which they might have acquired will also revert to the Federal Government, so that it does not afford an opportunity for the city of San Francisco to use this permit for any purpose other than that which is stated in the permit itself, which has for its only purpose the use of water by the citizens of San Francisco. The rights of the people of irrigation districts below are well guarded, so that they will not be denied or deprived of the rights that they had theretofore acquired for irrigation purposes. The language of a condition of the grant was that this question should be submitted to the voters of the city, so that there should be the fullest and most careful explanation and understanding of this agreement with the Federal Government, and I am advised by the reports sent me by the city officials that that election has been held and the results up to this time have been adopted. I think that, Mr. Chairman, covers all, in brief, that has been done by the department.
Mr. Smith. I would like to ask one question which may possibly have been covered while I was out of the room; if so, I will not ask to have it repeated. Are any water appropriations for hydro-
Secretary Garfield. They are not.
Mr. Smith. Are there any appropriations on these streams?
Secretary Garfield. I am advised not.
Mr. Smith. None of the waters which the city would use are in any way used, or contemplated to be used, for electric generation?
Secretary Garfield. Except in so far as stated in the body of the grant, in clause 6:
Mr. Smith. What does that last expression refer to-
Secretary Garfield. The purpose was not to allow any interference with such power as the city might need for its own municipal purposes, excluding the right to sell electric power to private persons or to corporations. In other words, the city is not going into the electric business for sale, but it may develop such power as may be necessary for its municipal purposes.
Mr. Smith. That is a different proposition from the one involved in Los Angeles?
Secretary Garfield. Yes; it is.
Mr. Smith. What I want to find out is, are there any appropriations of water claimed by any individuals or corporations in this watershed, or along the same stream, that would be in any way affected by the accomplishment of this legislation?
Secretary Garfield. None that have been brought to my attention. I have no remembrance of any suggestion of any location, or attempted location, for that purpose. Can you tell me about that, Mr. Manson?
Mr. Manson. I know of no appropriation. But there is one point I would like to make clear, Mr. Secretary and Mr. Chairman: That is, that that was imposed by virtue of the fact that there might be a possibility that after this water got in control of the city ditches and canals and conduits, it might be reverted and not returned, if used for power, to the channel and go down to the irrigation districts which depended upon it and needed it, and in order to guard against the possibility of at any time in the remote future the city granting to anybody, or taking the authority itself, of diverting this water as it flowed outside of the limits of parks, and so on, for other uses, and not returning it to the channel of the Tuolumne River for use by the irrigators, that provision was inserted in very rigid form. What I wanted to find out was-
Secretary Garfield. None that I know of.
Mr. Smith. You would know if any had been?
Mr. Manson. No sir; I have not searched the records of Tuolumne County to find that out.