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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."

The Chairman. Now, Mr. Lehane, the committee will hear from you.

Mr. Lehane. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I hope you will excuse me if I do not make as connected a statement as you might wish. I left home sick, and I have been in poor shape ever since. It is almost impossible for me to present even an outline of my view of this matter in the time allotted to me. However, I will try and skeletonize it as well as I can. There are some things in connection with this matter of which you will have to ask me afterwards, because it will be impossible for me to more than merely touch upon all the points that are involved.

I have here telegrams that have been sent to Senator Myers, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Lands, and I will read them. The first is as follows:

Modesto, Cal., September 23, 1913.

Henry L. Myers,
Chairman Senate Public Lands Committee, Washington, D.C.:

We, the undersigned committee, representing the water users of the Modesto irrigation district, 475 of whom have signed a petition to the effect that the lands tributary to the Tuolumne River are able and willing to store the Hetch Hetchy waters, and asking and urging that the Senate postpone action on the Raker bill and appoint a commission to investigate and report on our claims. Paid petition was signed by 99 per cent of the water users to whom presented. W. C. Lehane, of this committee, will represent us in person before your committee.

Levi Winklebleck,
Acting Chairman.

Mr. Winklebleck is head of the Dunkard settlement 5 miles east of Modesto, and when you get a Dunkard out rustling with public sentiment you may know that he has something at stake.

The next telegram I wish to read is from Mr. Thomas Caswell, and is as follows:

Modesto, Cal., September 23, 1913.

Henry L. Myers,
Chairman Senate Public Lands Committee, Washington, D.C.:

The undersigned, representing the water users of the Turlock irrigation district, 100 of whom have this day signed a petition setting forth that lands contiguous to the Tuolumne River are ready and able to store the waters of the Hetch Hetchy, and request that the Senate postpone action on the Raker bill and appoint a committee to investigate and report on our claims. Said petition was signed by 98 per cent of the water users to whom it was presented.

Thomas Caswell.

Now, here is a telegram from the west side of the river, from the chamber of commerce at Crows Landing, which is as follows:

Crows Landing, Cal.,September 23, 1913.

Henry L. Myers,
Chairman Committee on Public Lands, Washington, D.C.:

The chamber of commerce of Crows Landing urge delay in the passage of the Raker bill until you investigate the claims of the land on the west side of the San Joaquin River to water or power. W.C. Lehane will appear before you in our behalf.

W.P. Witten, Secretary.

I will say, gentlemen, that the Modesto irrigation district lies north and west of the Tuolumne River. The Turlock irrigation district lies south and east, and the Turlock irrigation district is twice as large as our district. We have 81,000 acres; they have 176,000 acres. On the west side of the Tuolumne River is a strip of country, probably 8 or 10 miles wide, which runs down the San Joaquin River, down beyond Tracy. They are organized there now into what is known as the Tracy district.

I notice that district has been referred to in the House hearings as a "cooked-up district." Three years ago I was present at a meeting in Fresno, where we tried to organize a district, the Waterford district, which I also represent here. I have a letter in my pocket from the secretary of that district, which is a fully organized district, and which lies east of Waterford.

Five years ago, when I first purchased land near Modesto, I was solicited to buy land in the Waterford district, but at that time I could not figure out where they could get water, unless they took it out of the Tuolumne River, and I was not aware at that time that they would attempt to get water for the Waterford district; and if the Hetch Hetchy is granted to San Francisco they can not get water.

Our position is this: First, that if you give this water to San Francisco we farmers down there will not have water enough to irrigate our lands. I say "we farmers" because I am a farmer. Every year I have gone out with a shovel to help distribute the water and to help in checking it, and I own land in a good many States. We homesteaded in northwestern Iowa when I was a boy. I have always owned land and taken an active interest in land matters. Therefore what I have to say to you to-day I say largely from personal knowledge; not only personal knowledge of farming in California and of irrigation of California, but of irrigation in Idaho, Utah, and elsewhere.

Senator Norris. Now, Judge, would you rather not be interrupted, or would it bother you to have me ask you a question or two?

Mr. Lehane. I believe I would rather you would let me finish my statement, for the reason that I can only just give a little outline of our condition. I will be glad then to answer any questions I can. The first question that would naturally arise to a person's mind is this: You say "you have not got water enough that your rights will be affected." I want to say in that connection that year I paid taxes on property in the city of Modesto which the city assessor said was worth between forty-five and fifty thousand dollars, and he based his assessment on a 50 per cent property value. I am here before you this afternoon because I think if the Raker bill passes I will get the worst financial blow I ever got in my time. I am not a rich man, and I owe money.

The question is whether they will need all this water. I want to answer that in the light of experience and actual experiments and practice. I have a booklet with me here that shows Stanislaus County, the most beautiful county in the State. If we had water for the full season there is not a word or a statement in that booklet that wold not be verified. What is the actual condition? We have water for only half the season. We begin irrigating in March-we make a cutting in April, and we make another cutting in May, and the next cutting some time in June, and a later cutting in July.

Senator Norris. You are speaking of alfalfa?

Mr. Lehane. Yes; I am speaking of alfalfa. Alfalfa is our chief crop. We are the leading dairy county because we have the best alfalfa in the State. There is one creamery there in Modesto which makes four or five thousand pounds of butter a day. We are a town which has grown from 2,000 to 7,000 people in 10 years. We have just built a six- story hotel. You do not find that in every town of 7,000 population. We are not the most prosperous part of the State of California, and we never can be if our water is taken away from us. We went in there, all of us, with the understanding that the water of the Tuolumne River belonged on the Tuolumne watershed, and we have built that country up. We went into that on the understanding that whenever we needed the water we could get it by storage. I will come to the story in question in a moment. The first thing, of course, is the use of the water. During the first part of the year when we have water, as I have explained to you, we have water for three irrigations. During those three irrigations we practically use 2 feet of water. I have the Government reports on the Orland system. Last year I looked over that system, and it is the finest I have ever seen. They irrigate up until the last of September, and from the report issued by the Reclamation Service it is shown that they use 4 feet of water every year, and the report shows that on the 30th of June of last year they had used a little less than 2 feet of water. The balance of that water they used in the balance of the season. The point that I wish to make is that half of the water we use must be used between the latter part of the season and the 1st of July.

Our water users are going on trying to perfect their system. You may say,"Didn't you know that all the time when you went in there; didn't you expect anybody else to go in there, too"? I answer, No, sir; we did not."

A big volume of water comes down and we expect to store that water. We have already put down a little storage reservoir in the foothills. It has seeped out and evaporated so badly that it is a question whether it will be of any value at all or not. We hope it will. We have spent $8.50 a foot in getting ready to store water. So far we have not been able to store that water.

Where are we going to get water? Apparently I now come into conflict with the nature lover, but here is the point where perhaps we might fight. Mr. Whitman, in his testimony before the House committee, said if the irrigators below the Hetch Hetchy prove affirmatively that there was no other site wherein they could store water to irrigate their lands that he would give us the right to use the Hetch Hetchy Valley. I presume if Congress would do what our board of trade has asked the Senate committee to do, and appoint a committee and give it power and authority to investigate our conditions out there-which has never been done yet by any Congress-that we would make a showing from our actual conditions, so that this Congress or this Senate could determine as a matter of fact whether we had any reservoirs sufficient to store enough water to take care of our lands. Speaking for myself, I do not think we have, but I have no right to say so positively, because that has not been worked over from an engineering basis.

This I do know: That in the report here Mr. O'Shaunessy, in testifying before the House committee, said that 60 per cent of the flow of the Tuolumne River over the La Grange Dam would be back of their dam in Cherry Creek in the Hetch Hetchy, and in Lake Eleanor. Will you size up what that means to a fellow down there who has been figuring on that water all these years-60 per cent of the flow of the Tuolumne River would be back of their dams. How much do we need? I am talking now of the Modesto irrigation district alone. How much do we need for the balance of our season? I have been over the Oreland system, as I said; I bought some land up there. I know the Modesto irrigation district; there is very little gravel in the Oreland district; it is very heavy clay; while take our land, it is more heavy, and that means that we need 2 feet more water, and 2 feet more water is 160,000 acre-feet of water, and the Raker bill says we can buy our water from San Francisco. Imagine us buying 160,000 acre-feet of water. We know that is a check; we know there is nothing to it. Our farmers don't need to be told that the Raker bill has nothing in it for them; they know that the Raker bill has nothing in it for them. They say "What are you talking about, anyhow; you are talking as though you wanted water, and yet how can you get water?"

I will tell you how you can get water. If you are giving away Government lands and Government dam sites, give it to us. Everybody around here to- day has agreed that the Hetch Hetchy is the cheapest dam site in the Sierras. You know that every little while somebody rears up and talks about $77,000,000. Everybody says $77,000,000, and yet everybody is agreed that that is the best dam site in the Sierras. Why Engineer Wadsworth estimates in this year in the report, and he figures it a little over $3,000,000. Last fall, in the hearing before Secretary Fisher, the others brought down here with them Luther Wagner, of San Francisco. I do not suppose Luther Wagner will be given much credit by any of the engineers within the sound of my voice. They never do that. But he was the engineer who designed the La Grange Dam. He was the first engineer to survey the Lake Eleanor site for the city of San Francisco, away back in the early nineties, and he is the engineer through whom John Hays Hammond and William Ham Hall sold Lake Eleanor to San Francisco. He came down here last fall. The minutes of our board show that we employed two local engineers to go up to San Francisco and get the best talent they could find. They brought down Luther Wagner, because he was familiar with conditions down there. When I went up there to see him, he just took down Mr. John R. Freeman's report and opened it, and if you will just open it at page 113, I think, you will see a diagram of the Hetch Hetchy Dam all set out. They surveyed that all out just about two years ago this September.

I said to him "Mr. Wagner, how expensive will it be to build that dam," and he figured around for a couple of hours and this is what he told me when he got done figuring, and this is just as good an estimate as any other engineer's report. He said, "I can build that for less than $1,500,000." "Well," I said, "Wadsworth says $3,000,000." "Well," he said, "you know when you build up there in San Francisco $2 does not buy you $1 worth of service. You know that." I said to him, "Well, now then, what else do you suppose we will have to buy; we will have to build roads." He said , "Yes; you will have to build roads," but he said, "I have built lots of roads in the Feather River country and the matter of road building is not a very expensive thing. There is not much of that that you need figure on as the heavy expense."

Then I turned over to the book here and found that it is estimated that it would cost San Francisco for the Hetch Hetchy Dam, about $1,700,000. You will read it here in the House report. They will talk it to you- they just put it up to you everywhere you go.

When I got down to business I found out all about it back here in the testimony before the House committee. Here is what I read: Mr. Long testified that they paid $81,000 for 720 acres in the valley, and they paid $92,000 for what was needed from the Government and was to be used for camp sites, etc. Their total investment for Hetch Hetchy purposes up to date is $172,000, but for bluffers they are the best in the world. They talk $1,750,000, which is just 10 times as much as it really is. I understand some of them are charging up to the Hetch Hetchy everything they have to spend for high-priced engineers in the investigation of that project and all that expense. We have not spent anything like that, but we have an interest in the Hetch Hetchy Valley, and while we are not as wealthy as they are, we have an interest that is just as valuable to us. We have to spend a great deal of money too in trying to protect ourselves. You say "They already have two-thirds of the valley." I can show you-I will not take the time to refer to the page. I would lose too much time by doing that-but you will had it all here in this report. If I only had a few minutes more time than I have I would turn to it and read it to you. I could go all over this thing and refer you to the page and read it to you. When I came down here, clear across the continent, I supposed I was going to have plenty of time to present this matter to you. But when I got here I found that this short time you are giving me now was all the time you could spare for me to present the demands of the farmers in my country.

Why can not we store the cheapest water there in the Sierras. The Turlock irrigation board is bonded right now for less than $15 per acre; the Modesto irrigation board is bonded for about $20 per acre; right across the river on the San Joaquin they are bonded for $56 per acre, and the right above us, between us and the La Grange Dam, is the Waterford irrigation district, organized with 20,000 acres, lying ahead. They would be tickled to death to be bonded to get water. We would use the districts right around in there, as shown by these telegrams, and the farmers are anxious and willing to get in and bond their lands to take from the Hetch Hetchy a water supply for that dry land.

I was very much pleased to hear the gentlemen express his tender solicitude for the land close up to the Tuolumne River and his statement that it ought to be protected. I feel that I have friends on this committee; I feel that I am at home here; I feel that I am at the right place. Whenever I would go to San Francisco, they would talk to me very much like you would talk to a hayseed and a farmer. At least I have come to the place where the farmer is the party at interest; where a bunch of farmers trying to make homes can have their claims considered. We want to show you, and we can show you, that we need all this water for our lands. It seems to me that it is not their to us to have San Francisco take the water which the man on the little 40- acre piece needs to make a living with. It means everything to him. He went in their a tenderfoot from the East. When he went there, what did he see? He saw that big river, and he was told "Why, there is all the water you want when you need it," that is what the real estate men say. They say, "The water goes with the end." That is their battle cry. Then, just as that man begins to feel rich and prosperous some fellow comes along in August, and it is as dry as a bone, and says: "What the matter?" The farmer says:

Well, next year we are going to get our reservoir." We are trying to do what we can, but it takes five years to do what a business man would do in a year.

Yet in spite of all the obstacles, in spite of all the opposition, we have made progress, we have made development in the last 10 years which is something phenomenal, and I think as great, if not greater, than that which has gone on all over the State of California, and, if you will just give us this water, I know that we will make my section the most prosperous part of the United States. The question is, How can you do this thing? It is the easiest thing in the world. The district will issue bonds. We built the dam, the La Grange Dam, in common with the Turlock side. We are making progress there. We have come to a time when we must consolidate lots of our interest in the work of the irrigation districts. We are going to work pretty soon. We are beginning by employing an expert engineer. The cooperative plan is coming stronger and stronger up there every day. In our irrigation deals we have to have high-priced talent. Our interests are all together. We have hired a man who goes out and follows legislative matters; we have hired another man who goes out and assists in other matters; we are getting to cooperate in all those matters. Now we can do things we could not do 10 years ago, because we have learned how to do them.

Now, I want to say one word about the west side. The west side does not expect to get water out of this river, because it would have to pipe it across the river.

Senator Norris. What do you mean by the west side?

Mr. Lehane. I mean, the west side of Stanislaus County and San Joaquin County, which lies on the west side of the San Joaquin River. It is a strip of land usually 10 or 12 miles wide, extending clear down the river.

Senator Thompson. Have you a map?

Mr. Lehane. I have a map, but it only covers a portion of the west side. You will notice there a little fringe [indicating]. That represents the strip to which I am referring. The soil is most beautiful black loam, the finest soil that ever lay outside of doors. Right in here is 50,000 acres of land, of which 25,000 acres would be glad to come in.

Now, I will tell you just what you people could do if you wanted to do it, and what you people could do if you would let us do it. We could store 300,000 acre-feet of water up in the Hetch Hetchy Dam. I do not know how much water power that would generate. San Francisco has the greatest habit of putting everything in a kind of conglomeration in here. For instance, they include the Eleanor Cherry Creek, and Hetch Hetchy; they always put their figures all together, so that when you talk about 100,000 horsepower or 200,000 horsepower we never know whether they mean Hetch Hetchy alone or Eleanor and Cherry Creek. They always fix those things up together; just like their investment of $1,750,000. I want to say right now, while we are talking about that, if you let us have Hetch Hetchy, San Francisco still has all she needs in Eleanor and Cherry Creek. They are very valuable to San Francisco. Mr. Long testified that they paid $1,000,000 for something that only cost $100,000.

Somebody intimated that they were buncoed. As a matter of fact, if they would go ahead and develop the water power in there in Cherry Creek and Lake Eleanor they were not buncoed, and that water power would be worth many times what the investment was. But they not only want Lake Eleanor and Cherry Creek, but they want to take the last available site away, take away our water and our power, and you tell about giving things to the people. I want to know what is the matter with the people of our country down here. We have miles and miles of country. What is the matter with giving the water to the people to put on that land? It belongs to us just as much as it does to the people of San Francisco. In fact, it is all we have. The people of San Francisco have the whole Sacramento Valley to go into and get power. The people of San Francisco have the whole Sacramento Valley to go to and get water; and I tell you it was an unfortunate day for us when they turned their covetous eyes upon our country. It was an unfortunate day for us when they determined they would make a depredation upon us.

Senator Thompson. What is the population of your district?

Mr. Lehane. I think it is something like thirty-odd thousand in the country. You must remember that we have just started to grow. Water only came in there 12 years ago. Here is 100,000 acres of and, and to show you how we grow-last fall I subdivided a piece of property. On the first 70 acres seven families settled. I subdivided. Across the road another man subdivided. On my subdivision a man who formerly lived there lived there for 50 years-homesteaded-and his house was the only house on 1,100 acres. The first 100 acres I sold was settled upon by seven families. There is no limit to the ability of our people to produce in that country if you give us water for the full season.

Senator Norris. Where do you get your water now?

Mr. Lehane. We get our water out of the Tuolumne River, about 2 miles east of Modesto.

Senator Norris. Of course, we can not deprive you in this bill of anything to which you are entitled under the law. You have your vested rights under the California statutes.

Mr. Lehane. We are getting all that we are entitled to under the agreement we have. Of course, we did not know in the beginning of this inquiry that we were not to be allowed to introduce any evidence. We had no means of knowing of the agreement which was entered into by you gentlemen this morning. I would like, and I would be glad, to submit to you an annual report on irrigation and drainage by the Department of Agriculture.

Senator Chamberlain. Were not you people before the House committee?

Mr. Lehane. I was not before the House committee.

Senator Chamberlain. Those who represented you were before the House committee, were they not? Were you not represented?

Senator Thompson. I think that is fact.

Senator Thomas. Yes; they were all there. We can read their statements in the hearings.

Mr. Lehane. You can all get those things, but in candor, gentlemen, how many of you are going to look for them. As a matter of fact, a United States Senator, with all the press of business on him that comes here, will not look unless the explosion sounds like a giant firecracker. Unless that happens it is never heard.

Senator Thomas. That report of Elwood Meade refers to a great industry out in the arid West, and a number of us on this committee are from that section of the country. I am familiar with Mr. Elwood Meade's work on that subject.

Congressman Raker. In addition to that the gentlemen who represented these irrigation districts before the committee had the report of the Conservation Board of California, which contains about 1,500 pages, clear up to date.

Statement of Mr. W.C. Lehane of California Continues
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