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BOULDER CANYON PROJECT ADJUSTMENT ACT
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 1940
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to recess, at 10:30 a. m., in room 101, Senate Office Building, Senator Henry F. Ashurst, presiding.
Present: Senators Ashurst, McCarran, Hatch, Chavez, and Thomas.
Also present: Senator King.
Senator Chavez, you and Senator Hatch have some constituents that you wish to be heard; is that right?
Senator CHAVEZ. That is right, Senator. We have Governor Hannett, who is special assistant to the attorney general of the State, also attorney for the Water Commission of the State of New Mexico, and Mr. Thomas McClure, our State engineer.
Senator ASHURST. You may present them as you choose. Who is your first witness?
Senator CHAVEZ. We will have Governor Hannett first.
STATEMENT OF ARTHUR T. HANNETT, SPECIAL ASSISTANT
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW MEXICO
Senator ASHURST. Will you please give the reporter your full name and occupation for the record ?
Mr. HANNETT. Arthur T. Hannett, lawyer; post-office box 497, Albuquerque, N. Mex.; special assistant attorney general; attorney before the United States Supreme Court; also attorney general for a good many years, 25 or 26 years.
Senator ASHURST. Governor, you may proceed to make any statement that you wish.
Mr. HANNETT. As you gentlemen all well know, this particular bill has been debated over a period of years by the States involved. The four upper-basin States formed an organization—more or less of an organization—and employed an electrical engineer of national reputation by the name of Sands, also Mr. Tipton of Colorado, a hydraulic engineer, to advise us on the practical effect that this bill would have on the various States and the revenues produced from the sale of electric energy at Boulder Dam. Mr. Sands made
report, and from that report deduced certain conclusions. California, with its experts, differed on many of those conclusions. We held, as I said, numerous meetings, and the final meeting was held at Phoenix, Ariz.
New Mexico and its representatives felt at all times that under the original bill the rights and interests of the upper-basin States were inadequately protected. We feel that that is true as to this proposed bill.
At Phoenix, Ariz., the four upper-basin States, in a meeting, voted 2 to 2 as to whether the bill in the form then proposed would have the backing of the upper-basin States-Wyoming and New Mexico voting "No." The meeting broke up about midnight. Mr. McClure and I were leaving the next morning early, and I think it was about 4 o'clock in the morning when we had a conference with Judge Stone and Dr. Harlan H. Barrows of the National Resources Commission, in which we finally agreed that New Mexico would take the position that it would not fight the bill; but we wanted the record to show, and the record does show, that while we were not going to fight the bill we did not approve of it, nor did we claim to have the power to control any action that woud be taken either by our Congressman or our Senators.
I would like to make a brief statement as to why we feel that the bill as it stands now does not adequately protect New Mexico.
Under the terms of the bill, as we see it, based upon the report of Mr. Sands and Mr. Tipton, the State of California will benefit, over the period of time, not less than $100,000,000, probably $150,000,000. That is not a nebulous thing, it is capable of being figured out in dollars and cents. The States of Nevada and Arizona will benefit definitely, without any question, substantially $300,000 each year. Under the bill, as we see it, as far as the State of New Mexico and the other upper-basin States are concerned, there is nothing definite as to what any State is going to get.
We have gone along we have been a compact State, and we have gone along with the four upper-basin States, and our relations have been very pleasant, but we feel that this bill should have made some definite provision as to what New Mexico was going to derive, if anything. As it stands now, as we conceive it, we have not nothing under the old bill, and we think the old bill was inequitable.
We think the new bill is inequitable. We think, under Mr. Sands' report, it shows that instead of getting $500,000 a year we should receive $1,000,000 a year. That report was available to us at a meeting in Denver, and it was available at the Phoenix meeting, together with Mr. Tipton's report. At that time each of the four upper-basin States were in accord and backing up Mr. Stands' report, and it is our firm belief that it was a fair, able, and honest report. Utah was particularly vigorous in denouncing the bill, and Wyoming, likewise, and Colorado to some lesser extent.
When we met in Phoenix, Utah's position had been reversed and Colorado's position very much modified. Wyoming and New Mexico finally stood as opponents to the bill.
Senator McCARRAN. Wyoming and New Mexico were opposed to the bill?
Mr. HANNETT. Wyoming and New Mexico were opposed to the bill, I do not claim to have any technical knowledge either as a hydraulic engineer or as an electrical engineer, but from the discussions that we had, and from the study that I made of Mr. Sands' report—both our Senators have it, I still believe that that would have been an equitable basis for the distribution of this fund, that is the upper-basin States should have had the $1,000,000 a year instead of the $500,000, considering the benefits that have been definitely pegged down to Arizona, Nevada, and California. As it stands now we have an undivided interest in a fund which will be spent by a Government agency. Whether there will ever be a substantial development in New Mexico out of that fund is problematical.
It has always been our position that whatever New Mexico is to derive out of this should be pegged down like Nevada's rights are pegged down, and California's rights are pegged down. After all, the share we get, compared to the benefits of California, for instance, is trifling. When I say California will receive $100,000,000, that is the minimum. My guess is it is probably somewhere between $130,000,000 to $150,000,000, based on Mr. Sands report, a large part of which is highly technical, and I am not in a position to discuss the technical details.
Senator CHAVEZ. Governor, may I interrupt you right there? The Mr. Sands you refer to is an engineer of national reputation throughout the United States?
Mr. HANNETT. I understand he has a national reputation. He was selected by Judge Stone and Mr. Tipton, and we four upper-basin States paid them the honorarium that they asked. While I understand they differed widely in some of their findings with California engineers, I have no reason to question the fairness nor the integrity of the California engineers nor the good faith or the integrity of Mr. Sands. Perhaps somewhere between the figures of each lies the truth. I do not know; I am not an engineer.
I think that covers what I desire to say, unless there are some questions.
Senator CHAVEZ, Governor, you mentioned that, under the Sands report, $1,000,000 a year instead of $500,000 a year would appear more equitable to the upper-basin States.
Mr. HANNETT. That was the thought and the belief of all four upper-basin States at the Phoenix meeting.
Senator CHAVEZ. And you further contend, as a representative of the New Mexico water interests, that whatever amount it might be should be set up definitely in the legislation so that New Mexico may know just exactly what it is going to get?
Mr. HANNETT. That has always been our hope.
Senator Chavez. Whether it is part of the $500,000, or part of the $1,000,000 ?
Mr. HANNETT. Be it ever so small, we think we ought to know what it is, and that we are going to get it.
Senator CHAVEZ. And that the legislation should contain wording, or be clarified to such an extent that the New Mexico water authorities could decide as to what to do with their little mite?
Mr. HANNETT. That is exactly right.
Senator Chavez. Now, what particular projects, if any, did the New Mexico authorities have in mind with reference to this legislation?
Mr. HANNETT. We have three projects in mind: The Navajo Indian Tribe in San Juan County, an area that can be developed; there is a small area along the San Juan River in San Juan County, and some development on the Animas and La Plata. The project that we feel is of the greatest importance to the State of New Mexico is what is generally known as the San Juan-Chama diversion.
Senator CHAVEZ. Is there any source of water supply there by which New Mexico can avail itself of any rights it might have under the compact outside of the San Juan?
Mr. HANNETT. No.
Senator CHAVEZ. What is the situation, Governor, with reference to the water supply in the Rio Grande now between, say, the boundary of Texas on the south and the boundary of Colorado on the north?
Mr. HANNETT. The water supply has been inadequate. Texas sued the State of New Mexico. We had a long and expensive litigation. It has been inadequate at times. We finally entered into a compact, and during the negotiations for this compact the States of Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico entered into an agreement for a joint investigation. A large sum of money was spent by the States and the Federal Government on what is known as the joint Rio Grande investigation. New Mexico asked that the feasibility and practicability of the San Juan diversion and of the transmountain diversion into the Rio Grande be investigated, and a large sum of money was devoted out of that sum to this investigation, and it was found to be feasible and practical.
Mr. Debler, of the Reclamation Bureau, at a meeting held by the upper four basin States at Green River, Wyo., stated that its feasibility had been established, and that practically all of the engineering was completed except the final details for contractors' bids, and so forth, and obtaining the right-of-way.
Senator CHAVEZ, Governor Hannett, if I lead you on, you will understand it is not because we want to violate the rules of the court. Over here we are very informal, and it is only to refresh your memory on certain matters. A chart was introduced at the hearings here last week by Judge Stone which included what purported to be the project that Mr. Debler had in mind at the time that you had the gathering a Phoenix, wherein the San Juan-Chama diversion was not included. Have the New Mexico authorities at all times been insisting on this project being taken care of?
Mr. HANNETT. Absolutely. It is our principal stake in the Colorado River.
Senator Hatch. Governor, you have spoken about the interest of New Mexico and that it should be pegged out. Is that interest different from the other upper basin States? If so, explain it for the record.
Mr. HANNETT. Well, in a way it is. Colorado has some thirty-odd projects, I believe, and the other States have numerous projects. We have two very small projects and one major project. Our major project is such that unless we have assistance from some source other than the ordinary course of placing the burden on the landowner, in all probability our hope in this respect, and our desire will not be fulfilled, and the transmountain diversion will probably be a long time coming.
Senator HATCH. Well, now, as a matter of fact there must be some outside financing of that project?
Mr. HANNETT. Yes.
Senator HATCH. It can be placed in there with some outside financing?
Mr. HANNETT. No question about that.
Senator HATCH. This is the only chance, as far as any of us know, to get any funds for that purpose, is it?
Mr. HANNETT. That is right. That is what we have got in mind. I think it is important to Texas, too. It is important from an international standpoint, because of the ultimate shortage of water that is going to follow in the Elephant Butte district and the Juarez area in Mexico.
Senator HATCH. Under the treaty obligations with Mexico ?
Mr. HANNETT. The treaty obligations with Mexico. They have got the All-American Canal there. You are going to hear reverberations when they are going to start to hold the Republic of Mexico down to 30,000 acre-feet per year.
Senator CHAVEZ. Along those lines, of course, we all understand that the water you seek creates a right in the Western States. A suggestion has been made at the hearings here that one of the reasons for this bill is that possibly Mexico might appropriate some of the waters of the Colorado in the basin. Is not that the same position we take, that unless we avail ourselves of our rights now and within the near future make use of some of that water, we might possibly lose out to the lower basin States or the Government of Mexico?
Mr. HANNETT. That is right.
Senator CHAVEZ. I am going to hand you, Governor Hannett, a proposed amendment that I prepared. It might not be in the correct wording, but I want you to look at it and see whether it might cover more or less your views on this.
Mr. HANNETT. I do not like to read it without giving it some study. I would like to have a few minutes' time to consider it.
Senator CHAVEZ, Can we read it for the benefit of the Senators here? Of course, if it has to be changed it can be changed.
Senator ASHURST. Certainly. If you will, Mr. Clerk, you may read the amendment, please.
The clerk [reading]:
Amendment. On page 6, line 20, after the word "factors” and before the period, insert a colon and the following: “Provided, That any moneys appropriated pursuant to the authorizations contained in this subsection shall be available for (1) the completion by the Bureau of Reclamation of a survey of the transmountain diversion project on the San Juan River in the State of New Mexico and (2) for the construction of such project; and such project shall be designed so as to adequately provide for the irrigation needs of San Juan County, New Mexico, including those of the Navajo Tribe of Indians ; and, after providing for such needs, any water from such project remaining available for use shall be used as the State of New Mexico may determine."
Mr. HANNETT. I think that covers it.
Senator McCARRAN. Have you appropriations filed pursuant to a State law that would meet this amendment?
Mr. HANNETT. What do you mean?