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Mr. H. T. Cory, prominent engineer of the West and sometimes adviser to the Interior Department on reclamation projects and a man who had much to do with the Colorado River, in his exhaustive discussions of that river before the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1913 (see Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, December, 1913, pp. 1213, 1214), says:

* * *

Assuming a given discharge, and conditions of equilibrium, the bed of the river will have a given slope, the water will have a certain velocity, and will carry a certain quantity of sediment, none of which will exceed a definite size or specific gravity. When the velocity slackens, resulting in carrying less silt, the bottom will rise with increasing slope until equilibrium is again established. * * * As the river builds the delta farther and farther into the Gulf of California, the bed must rise all along the line, of course, taking averages of considerable periods of time.

The prolongation of the beds of the Mississippi and the Colorado by the projection of their respective deltas has, in a way, the same effect on the raising of the bed of the river that the construction of a low dam would have on the channel above it.

These are sufficient quotations to show that recognized engineering authorities support the contention that silt-bearing streams, flowing in channels which do not contain obstructions, either natural or artificial, will seek to establish, throughout that entire section of the stream, a normal grade which will give the water a velocity sufficient to carry its silt burden without scouring the bed. This may be called the natural slope of the bed. When this slope or grade is interfered with the stream at once starts to readjust its bed, upward or downward, as the case may be, seeking once more to reestablish a natural or normal grade, and, given sufficient time, the readjustment of the bed will be effected from the point where the interference took place back up the full length of the stream to the next insurmountable barrier in its bed.

This is what seems to have happened on the Colorado River. The Government constructed the Laguna Dam, 17 miles above Yuma, with an elevation of 12 feet above normal low-water surface. The first year resulted in the basin back of this dam being completely filled with silt. But the river did not stop with merely running a horizontal line from the top of the Laguna Dam back until it struck the former normal slope of its bed, but it continued thereafter. to raise its bed farther and farther back-bringing it nearer and nearer to a uniform and continuous slope or gradient from the top of the Laguna Dam upstream past the front of the Palo Verde Valley for a distance of more than 100 miles.

There seems to be no question but that this raise in the bed of the river, following the construction of Laguna Dam, contributed directly to the break in 1922 and the resulting losses of $1,000,000, and also that most of the expenditures on river front protective works after 1909 were necessitated by the same cause.

But, aside from the liabilities for past damages, the Government has now assumed the flood control problem on the lower Colorado River. It has made substantial contributions to the other communities on this river in connection with their expenditures for protective works. Palo Verde Valley is the only community of any size on the lower Colorado that has been left to fight its own flood battles alone. The committee feels that the Government should accord Palo Verde Valley the same treatment it has given to Yuma Valley and Imperial

Valley. This bill leaves the Government's contribution less than half that actually expended by the settlers in the construction of levees and protective works.

This contribution will save to the country the life of an important community, created by the courage and hardihood of pioneer settlers. The committee feels that, under all the circumstances, the Government owes an obligation to assist Palo Verde Valley-an obligation that it ought to have performed heretofore-and one that it most certainly should render now, unless it is willing to see 3,000 people lose their homes and life savings and a thriving community turned back to the desert.

The favorable report of the Interior Department is as follows:

Washington, February 14, 1931.


Chairman Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation,

House of Representatives.

MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: In compliance with your request of December 3 for a report on H. R. 13575, which is a bill that would provide for the protection of the Palo Verde Valley, Calif., against injury or destruction by reason of Colorado River floods, I transmit herewith a memorandum on the subject that has been submitted by Commissioner Mead of the Bureau of Reclamation. After a review of the proposed measure, I agree with Doctor Mead.

Very truly yours,


Washington, February 14, 1931.

Receipt is acknowledged of the letter of December 3 from Hon. Addison T. Smith, chairman Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, House of Representatives, requesting an expression of opinion regarding the merits of H. R. 13575, "a bill for the protection of the Palo Verde Valley, State of California, against injury or destruction by reason of Colorado River floods."

I am advised that the Palo Verde irrigation district of Riverside County, Calif., has need of assistance in making repairs and betterments to its levee system for the protection of about 79,000 acres of irrigable land from the floods of the Colorado River; in the past 20 years the district has expended about $2,400,000 in flood-protection works and has exhausted its available cash and credit for continuing such work; and that unless means can be found to put the levee system in good condition the entire community may have to be abandoned and heavy losses will be then sustained by property and district bond owners.

The Palo Verde Valley, in 1921, had a population of upward of 5,000 people and 40,000 acres in productive cultivation. A disastrous inundation of the valley in 1922, following a number of preceding breaks, did the farmers great actual damage and impaired the community's credit on account of possibility of recur rence of loss. The further expenditures necessary to restore the river to its channel and build up levees and the failure of many farmers to return to their lands and homes resulted in an increased tax burden falling upon the remaining settlers, with the result that the tax burden to-day has reached a figure, I am advised, of approximately $20 per acre, which is more than the agriculture of this valley can afford.

It has been contended by some that the building of the Laguna Dam, 60 miles below the south end of the Palo Verde Valley, has intensified the flood problem of that community. The Government engineers do not agree with this theory. There are other engineers who contend that the building of a rigid bar across the river in the form of the Laguna Dam, raising the water 12 or 14 feet above the low flow of the stream, has, by checking up the river to that extent, decreased the gradient of the channel between Palo Verde and Laguna Dam, thereby slowing up the flow of the river and resulting in the dropping of an increased amount of the heavy silt burden carried by the river, thus raising its bed in front of the Palo Verde Valley.

But whether any influence can be directly attributed to the Laguna Dam or not, it is the intention of the Government in carrying out the Boulder Canyon

project either to substantially increase the height of the Laguna Dam or to build a new diversion dam closer to Palo Verde in order to get a higher take-out for the All-American Canal which is to be built for the benefit of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys. This new activity may possibly throw a burden upon the Palo Verde Valley, although the possibility is speculative, and is not credited by our engineers. If so, this might furnish additional reason for the Government's coming to its assistance. However, if such assistance is so given, the Government should be relieved of all claims or liability, if any, on this score. To cover this, a release from the district and the property owners is provided for in substitute bill hereinafter suggested.

When the Boulder Canyon project was authorized by Congress it thereby declared a policy of Federal control of the flood problems of the Colorado, which is an interstate, international navigable river. When the dam is completed and in operation it is believed that not only will the storing of large quantities of water reduce the height of all floods but the release of clear water from the reservoir will result in the picking up of the silt which now chokes the channel of the river in its lower regions and result in a gradual deepening of its bed with increased security to all communities on the lower stream. These beneficial results, however, can not be anticipated in a substantial degree for several years after the dam is completed.

The critical period for the Palo Verde community is therefore between now and the time when the Boulder Canyon project is put into operation. Immediate work for the strengthening and raising of the river flood protective levees is necessary. The area will also require relief from the heavy tax burden, which was incurred in large part in fighting the river and which is to-day greater than can be borne by the community. The Federal Government donated $1,100,000 for the construction of levees for the protection of the Imperial Valley, which is the next community below Palo Verde on the California side. The Government has also aided the Yuma Valley, the next community below Palo Verde on the Arizona side, with contributions to the extent of more than $735,000 for its flood protection. The Federal Government has so far made no expenditures to aid the Palo Verde Valley. If a corresponding assistance had been given to the Palo Verde at the time when it was needed the valley might not now be in its present condition.

Adequate water rights, fertility of soil of the 79,000 acres which are embraced within the district, the long growing season, close proximity of large markets are factors which, under normal conditions, would afford security for a reasonable bonded indebtedness against lands of this valley. However, under conditions that exist to-day, with the continued threat of flood, with the rapidly decreasing number of taxpayers, with the valley's finances exhausted by its long fight against the river, the probable course of events will be the driving out of most of the present owners and the acquisition of the entire lands and water rights by the bondholders or some organization representing them. To permit this valley to revert to waste areas with the resultant loss of the life earnings of the settlers would be an economic waste which should be prevented, if it can be prevented within sound economic principles and past governmental practices. The bondholders, on the one hand, and the Government, on the other, may cooperate to save this community. To do so the oustanding bonded indebtedness must at least be cut in half and a reduction of the tax must be made to an amount which the present landowners can pay.

It should be understood that any sums paid over to the district by the United States under this act will be used for the retirement of bonds on such a cooperative basis.

Representatives of the bondholders, landowners, and district officials have expressed a willingness to abide by the results of any economic survey the Government may make to determine just what the settlers can afford to pay. Therefore, any relief undertaken by the Government should be made contingent upon at least equal contributions from the creditors of the district. It is accordingly suggested that a provision be inserted in the bill giving the Secretary of the Interior full authority to determine the ability of the district to pay and that the creditors of the district be required to reduce their claims against the district to that amount.

The bureau is informed that on July 1 title to 30,000 acres in the Palo Verde Valley will pass to the district because of delinquent tax sales. What is to be done with this land, how it is to be sold, to whom, and on what terms, is a matter of interest to the Government, if Government assistance is to be given. The way these lands are handled can directly contribute to the future welfare of

the community. The district should be required, as a condition precedent to Federal assistance, to acquire title to these lands and to sell them at an appraised value not to exceed the accrued taxes, interest, and penalties, on easy terms with preference given to former owners. Under the State law the district can do this. Furthermore it would be exceedingly helpful if the holders of the outstanding indebtedness also would create a financing company to assist the returning settlers to get started again. It is believed this can be arranged.

In accordance with the foregoing it is the recommendation of the Bureau of Reclamation that all after the enacting clause be stricken out and the bill be rewritten as follows:

"That for the protection of the agricultural communities in the Palo Verde Valley, State of California, against injury or destruction by reason of floods or changes in the channels of the Colorado River, the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to rehabilitate and maintain, through such agency and in such manner as he may deem most appropriate, such river front protective works between said valley and said river as he may find best suited to serve that purpose: Provided, That the Secretary may, in his discretion, take over, operate, and maintain such existing works as he finds in place and adaptable to his plans and pay to the owners the reasonable value thereof as may be determined by him; and there is hereby authorized to be appropriated from moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated such amounts as the Secretary of the Interior may deem necessary for carrying out the provisions of this act, not exceeding the sum of $1,000,000, at the rate of $200,000 annually for five years beginning with the fiscal year 1932, as reimbursement of past expenditures by the district for flood protection; and there is also authorized to be appropriated such additional sums as the Secretary of the Interior may from time to time find necessary for the future construction and maintenance of flood protection works: Provided further, That no part of said money shall be appropriated or expended until an agreement satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior shall have been entered into between the holders of at least 85 per centum of the outstanding bonded indebtedness of the Palo Verde irrigation district and the district, whereby said holders consent to the reduction of said indebtedness to a sum which the Secretary of the Interior finds is not in excess of the district's ability to pay: Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior, as a condition precedent to the expenditures authorized herein to be made, shall require the said district to agree that whenever any lands in said district shall be sold for unpaid taxes and the title to such lands shall have been acquired by the said district the district shall cause said lands to be appraised at their fair value, not exceeding the sum for which they were sold, plus taxes which have accrued on the same since the date of said sale, and shall offer said lands for resale at said appraised price; and the last owner, or his heirs at law, executors, administrators, or assignees, shall be given preference as purchaser for a period of one year after the date of said tax sale to the district: Provided further, That none of the moneys herein authorized shall be expended or contracts for the expenditure thereof be made unless and until there shall have been executed by the Palo Verde irrigation district, authorized by the land owners thereof as may be required by the laws of the State of California, or in a manner satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior, an instrument in writing whereby said district releases and quitclaims to the United States any and all claims and/or causes of action which the district and/or its land owners now have or may hereafter have against the United States or against any other party whatsoever on account of or arising out of the placing, heretofore or hereafter, by the United States, or under its authority, of any obstructions whatsoever in the Colorado River at any point not higher than 10 miles above the Laguna Dam as now located: Provided further, That in said instrument the district shall agree to hold the United States, its officers and agents, harmless against any and all claims and/or causes of action which have been or may be asserted by land owners of said district on account of said actions done or to be done by the United States or under its authority: And provided further, That no liability of any kind shall attach to or rest upon the United States because of floods or flood waters of the Colorado River.

"SEC. 2. That the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to perform any and all acts and to make such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this act into full force and effect."

ELWOOD MEAD, Commissioner.



FEBRUARY 23, 1931.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. SMITH of Idaho, from the Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, submitted the following


[To accompany H. R. 16976]

The Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 16976), to provide for the disposition of power revenues on Federal Irrigation projects, having carefully considered the same, recommend its passage with the following amendments:

Page 1, line 4, strike out the word "a", and insert "an incidental", preceding the words "commercial power"

Page 2, line 3, after the word "such", insert "incidental".

Page 2, line 8, after the word "having", strike out the word "a", and insert the words "an incidental".

Page 2, line 17, after the word "any", strike out the word "commercial".

Page 2, line 20, after the word "otherwise", insert the words "for the creation of commercial power,".

This legislation provides for the adoption by a general act of Congress of a policy which has been adopted on several irrigation projects in the appropriation bills of March 4, 1929, and May 14, 1930, and is in accord with the earnest recommendation of the Interior Department, as indicated in correspondence printed below.

This will relieve the farmers on irrigation projects from the expense incurred in the construction of power plants and one-half of the cost of the dam, and provides that the proceeds from the sale of power developed incidental to the construction of a reclamation project shall be used to reimburse the Government, first for the construction of the plant, second for the construction of the project, and thereafter the proceeds shall go into the reclamation fund.

HR-71-3-VOL 2-66

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