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stantly repeated applications late into each season while the crops are growing.
There are in the Tulare and San Joaquin Valleys four and a half to five million acres of lands which might be brought under irrigation if the water supply were sufficient. Not more than half of this area is well adapted to farming by irrigation, and fully one-fourth is decidedly not well suited. If the State should make an apportionment of her waters this fourth would demand its share.
During the past year the lecturer had made and caused to be made many observations upon the flow of the streams into these valleys from the Sierra, and was enabled to make very fair estimates of their volume in ordinary seasons as well as in the past exceptionally dry
of the land is not well suited for cultivation by irrigation; the water supply is insufficient to bring all of this land under cultivation for years to come; the population is not here, could not be brought here and endowed with the necessary skill and industry to prevent the failure.
Irrigation must grow a gradual and a healthy growth. Great works do not make successful irrigation enterprise.
The flow of all the streams from the Stanislaus to the Kern River, inclusive, was, during March, April, May, and June, of eighteen hundred and seventy-seven, equivalent to an average of twenty to twenty-one thousand cubic feet of water per second. In the ordinary season their volume averaged during the corresponding period about double the quantity. In the month of October of the past year but one thousand and twenty cubic feet of water per second were flowing from the mountains above ground in all the streams spoken of-not more than enough to fill one good-sized canal.
Although on the different soils the duty of this water will vary greatly, it might be expected to irrigate, on the average, per cubic foot, per second, flowing for four months, first year, thirty acres; fifth year, one hundred acres; tenth year, one hundred and sixty acres; fifteenth year, one hundred and eighty acres; twentieth year, two hundred acres. The porous qualities of soil are not alone to blame for this deficiency in duty of water, but the cultivators themselves are, and will be even more at fault. At the rate of two hundred acres per cubic foot, there was enough water in the streams to irrigate the four million acres of lands even in this dry year. But at the rate of thirty acres to the cubic foot, which is all we can expect for the first year, under the present conditions, there would not be, even in ordinary seasons, much more than enough to irrigate thirty per cent of the irrigable lands.
Therefore, it seemed to the lecturer that the system of districting the irrigable lands of these valleys must be a progressive and not a predeterminedly rigid one. And the waters should be apportioned according to the duty they will do on the different soils, and such apportionments should be corrected annually, as the ground becomes filled up, and the duty may be increased.
Our population is deficient in number, and much wanting in skill necessary to prosecute irrigation to advantage. General irrigation in California must be preceded by general immigration. If the State forces one she must force the other. In the opinion of the lecturer the State should do everything in her power to straighten out the water-right and irrigation questions by establishing method, as far as possible, but should not guarantee interest on bonds of irrigation districts, for the reason that every possible district would immediately organize, want its bonds guarantied, and if the State guarantied for one she would have to do so for all. The result would be disastrous failure to produce out of the lands the values necessary to meet the demands upon them, for the very good reasons that much
Mr. Ostrom-Mr. Arrowsmith, you are partially acquainted with the object in view of this committee. I will state, this committee was appointed by the Legislature to ascertain views in regard to the washing in our river channels, the filling, if any, in the Harbor of San Francisco, and a general investigation of that subject. I presumo that it would be as well for you just to make a statement of your knowledge, and in your own way, as concisely as possible, and then if gentlemen have questions to ask they can do so.
Mr. Arrowsmith-Well, I would merely state that some two years since I had occasion, for a particular purpose, to make some examinations on Bear River and its tributaries, in regard to the amount of mining that was done on that stream. I collected some information at that time which I will give you. In the course of that investigation I visited every mine that was then working on Bear River and its tributaries, and estimated the quantity of earth which was being moved daily, and I started in with the estimate that an inch is estimated to move one hundred and thirty-five cubic feet, or five cubic yards, in twenty-four hours through a sluice having a grade of six inches to the box. But I took, as a basis to work on, the amount of four cubic yards for twenty-four hours. I have found that on Bear River twenty thousand inches of water were used on Bear River and its tributaries during the working season, that is, one hundred and sixty days of twenty hours each, assuming the data as correct that eighty thousand cubic yards move daily, or thirteen million cubic yards per year, during the one hundred and sixty days. I made an examination at Bear River Dam, which is the dam conducting the water from Bear River into the Bear River Ditch, and as near an estimate as I could make from an examination there, and from the ditch tender, I found out that the amount of tailings passing the dam of the Bear River Ditch daily, was twenty-nine thousand cubic yards, or four and a half million cubic yards per
Then the amount of debris deposited on the farming lands below Bear River Cañon is estimated at sixty-three and a half mil
lion cubic yards, that is to say, itemized, ten thousand acres covered three feet in depth; to which is to be added the fall of the original channel of the river, from the cañon to Feather River, twenty miles in length, two hundred feet in width, and twenty feet in depth. This amount would find its way to the valley in about thirteen years. The quantity of debris remaining in the channel of the river and its tributaries yearly, would be eight and a half cubic yards, which would be an amount sufficient to raise its bed four and a half feet each year, three hundred feet wide, and thirty miles in length. Of my estimate of the materials, about one-third of the wash is sand and gravel-about one-third of the whole. And this, with what are called the "slickens”-sand, gravel, and slickens--are the only materials that have been deposited in the valley below the mouth of the cañon. It was estimated that the quantity of land still liable to be covered at the mouth of Bear River was thirty thousand acres.
Mr. Waters—Is that amount so situated that the same cause would create a like effect as it has on the other ?
Answer—Yes, sir. I would state in connection with this that the farmers on Bear River, and on those valley lands, have been obliged to raise levees for the purpose of protecting themselves against the encroachments of the debris, but every season those levees broke, and more or less land continues to be covered over. At least fifty thousand acres are liable to be injured by this debris. The estimate of the number of acres I estimate from information that I have obtained on the ground; I know nothing about it from my own observation there.
Mr. Waters--Would any reasonable system of levees prevent this permanently, or would it only be a temporary prevention, if the same cause keeps on to produce the same effects?
A.-An idea was suggested for the construction of a canal from the mouth of Bear River Cañon down to the tules, and to have all this debris carried down to the tules and cover them up; but it struck me at the time when the proposition was made that no canal of a sufficient grade could be obtained on those level lands there, and with the quantity of water that would keep the material moving; and if that should not be the case, why the canal, like the channel of the river, would fill up just in the same way; so 'I didn't think that at all practical. The only remedy that suggests itself in my mind was for either the miners, who were engaged in those portions on Bear River and its tributaries, to bind together and purchase all the lands subject to overflow, or have the State or some other party extinguish those titles.
Mr. Ostrom-Did you notice in regard to the channel of Bear River; did you notice the old channel ?
A.-I crossed that old channel in eighteen hundred and fifty-one. I recollect where the old channel was-at Johnson's Crossing.
Q.-Did you notice any changes ?
A.-Oh, yes! Entirely filled up. You could not tell where the channel was.
Q.-It was entirely filled up?
A.-Well, the original channel, as I recollect it at that early day, the river had come down through those valley lands, and there was a gulch there that was, perhaps, one hundred and fifty to two hun
dred feet in width, from surface to surface, and from fifteen to twenty feet in depth. I recollect we had to go to the bed of the stream, and then up again on the opposite side. Now, it is entirely obliterated. There is probably no channel of Bear River now; the water just spreads itself.
Q.—You did not prospect to see how deep that debris was over that bottom land?
A.-Oh, no! It was impossible. Represented to me from one to fifteen feet in depth.
Mr. Waters—Could you tell by any trees, fruits-trees seen-how deep the debris was?
A.-No; I could not tell. I cannot form any idea. I know it could not be less, on the average, than three feet.
Mr. Ostrom-You are acquainted with the channel of the Sacramento River--familiar with it?
A.-No, not familiar, no sir—from no examinations that I have ever made. In fact, I will say that I know very little about it.
Q.--You know nothing in regard to the harbor ?
Q.Did you state what object you had in going up and making those investigations?
A.-I merely mentioned the fact that I had gone there to make examinations. I have no objections in stating the object, if you desire it. I went up there in the interests of the farmers living at the mouth of Bear River.
Mr. Waters--While you were making that investigation at the instance of the farmers, did you confine your inquiries, to the farmers, or did you also make inquiries of persons interested on the other side of the matter?
A.-Well, I went up there to gather information in regard simply to the quantity of material and the mines that were at work, and also to get the names of the parties.
Mr. Garber-Is this land that is covered entirely ruined?
A.--Oh, yes! Entirely ruined. There is nothing on all the portion that I saw-nothing but a growth of willows. Nothing but moisture-no soil. Simply a gravel and sand bank.
Mr. Ostrom-I would like to ask you, Mr. Arrowsmith, if you obtained your information in regard to the quantity of earth washed from the miners themselves ?
A.—No, sir. I made inquiries, of course, of the miners, but I made my own estimate as to the quantity washed. Of course it was a mere approximate; I could not arrive at any conclusion. These facts, I think, that I have stated, are tolerably reliable.
Q.—You gathered them from information you got from the miners themselves?
A.-—Yes, and from measurements that I made.
Mr. Byrne-How did you ascertain–from what source of information did you ascertain--the quantity of debris that was passing the Bear River Ditch?
A.-I stated, at the time, that the tender at the ditch informed me that he was obliged to sluice out, twice every day, a length of ditch twelve hundred feet in length, and six feet wide, and five feet in depth; beside which he had a settling reservoir, which he sluiced out once a week, and that was two hundred feet square and some twenty feet deep. Then the gate in the blockade was continued in
the opening when there was plenty of water; then the water was running over the dam continually. Of course I could get the quantity very well from the depth and the settling of the reservoir.
Q.--How much time did you devote to that investigation ?
Q.--You went there at the request of the farmers owning land on Bear River?
Q.-This estimate was immediately preceding the institution of the suit now pending, in which Mr. Keyes is interested?
The next witness was
CAPTAIN WILLIAM CORLETT.
Mr. Ostrom--Captain, we are here, as a committee from the Legislature, trying to gather facts in regard to the filling of the Sacramento River, or others, if any, and the filling of the harbor, or any portion thereof, if any. Any facts that you know, or any statement you can make in regard to this matter you will proceed to make in your own way and manner, as briefly as possible.
Capt. Corlett—The Sacramento River has filled up. When I first went up the river there was from the slough up--well, take from the lower end of the slough, there was from twelve feet to five fathoms of water in the river, and I have seen that a boat that would run in three feet of water could not get up. From the upper land then there was seven feet of water at low water, and now we have not got over five.
Q.--How long have you been on the river, Captain?
A. I have been on the Sacramento since August, eighteen hundred and forty-nine, up to last July. Since that I have been on the Vallejo route.
Q.-About what time did the river commence shoaling?
A.-It commenced shoaling in eighteen hundred and fifty-threethat is, sir, if you noticed it. It commenced shoaling gradually in eighteen hundred and fifty-three, and in eighteen hundred and fiftyeight we had to keep the channel. I think it was in eighteen hundred and sixty-three, when, in going to Sacramento, the Chrysopolis couldn't get any further up than the R Street levee.
Q.-Well, how was the general tendency of the filling-was it more rapidly of late years?
A.-It has been of late years, yes, sir; and every heavy winter it would fill more. Probably it won't fill so much next summer, because there was no sediment coming down. There was no sediment last year-no washing last year; very likely we won't get as much filling in the river this year. When we have a good summer in the mines--these hydraulic mines--then a great deal of sediment comes down.
Q.-Do you know anything in relation to the filling of the bay or any portion of it?
A. San Pablo Bay-Suisun Bay fills more or less. It is filling a great deal, from Collinsville near Benicia. There is a bar made in Suisun that is now quite an island; for the first fifteen or sixteen years you could not tell there was a bar there by shoal water; there
never was less than four feet of water around there; now at low water it is quite an island. The channels are getting narrower in the bay.
Q. Do you think that this filling endangers the Harbor of San Francisco, or do you think it ultimately will be dangerous to it?
A.-Well, ultimately will injure our bar outside; but the Harbor of San Francisco, there is a tendency. Whether yet, a person could hardly tell. We have from ten to twelve fathom of water here in the harbor now. The only way I can tell anything about that is when there is no hold in the ground-ships drag their anchors, and sediments settling in the harbor make a very poor hold in the ground. I think it will eventually injure the harbor.
Mr. Garver-Now, according to your judgment of it, you state that Suisun Bay is filling very rapidly-a great deal?
A.--Yes, sir. It is assuming the form of channels. Forming islands; that of course creates, channels.
Q.-Now, what will be the effect, when Suisun Bay is filled, on San Pablo Bay ?
A.-Well, it will naturally fill portions of it.
Q:-You think, then, that it will have the same effect that it is now having on Suisun ?
A. - It will have the same effect in time. That is, it will within the range of Palmetto Point and the Brothers, and Palmetto Point and the Straits.
Mr. Kercheval–Of course we are not looking to the next year, or twenty or fifty years; we are looking to what the final result will be if hydraulic mining is carried on for the next fifty or one hundred years, and increases as it has now-what the effect will eventually be on the Harbor of San Francisco?
A.-Well, it will have the effect of shoaling it up, and shoal up San Pablo Bay, too. It will take time, of course. Of course they won't do it as rapidly as Suisun Bay.
Mr. KerchevalWe are not making this inquiry for a year or two, but for
the great future. Mr. Waters—What average relation does the water have at the present day to that in eighteen hundred and forty-nine and fiftytake it from the mouth of Steamboat Slough above Rio Vista, on the Sacramento; what average relation of depth?
A.--Well, to average that, for instance, there are some portions that had four and five fathom in it. Now, at the Hickox, we don't have over ten feet at any time; and down below-well, from Freeport down, we had from four to five fathom until we got to the slough, and all from the slough five fathom; now in the summer' time we have hardly got over five or six feet in some portions of it.
Mr. Ostrom-I presume you recollect in forty-nine to sixty-six and sixty-seven, there used to be strong opposition. At those times, I presume you recollect, vessels would run side by side right in with the greatest velocity, with just as much steam as they could carry. Well, what is the difference now?
A.-Places where steamboats ran at that time are dry now.
Q.-Well, does that filling seem to be general in the various channels that you are acquainted with?