San Carlos Irrigation Project
The Commitee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 966) for the continuance of construction work on the San Carlos Federal irrigation project in Arizona, and for other purposes, having considered the same, report thereon with a recommendation that it do pass with the following amendment:
That the Secretary of the Interior, through the Indian Service, is hereby authorized to construct a dam across the canyon of the Gila River near San Carlos, Arizona, as a part of the San Carlos irrigation project, as contemplated in the report of the chief engineer of the Indian irrigation service submitted to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs on November 1, 1915, at a limit of cost of $5,500,000, for the purpose, first, of providing water for the irrigation of lands alloted to Pima Indians on the Gila River Reservation, Arizona, now without an adequate supply of water and, second, for the irrigation of such other lands in private ownership, as in the opinion of the said Secretary, can be served with water impounded by said dam without diminishing the supply necessary for said Indian lands: Provided, That the total cost of the project shall be distributed equally per acre among the lands in Indian ownership and the lands in private ownership that can be served from the waters impounded in said reservoir.
Sec. 2. That the construction charge assessed against the Indian lands shall be reimbursable to the Treasury of the United States on a per acre basis under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of the Interior may prescribe, and there is hereby created a lien against all such lands, which lien shall be recited in any patent issued therefor, prior to the reimbursement of the total amount chargeable against such land: Provided, That after said project is completed, the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized, in his discretion, with the approval of the Pima Indians, to sell at public auction, at not less than the appraised value thereof, such surplus lands not now allotted within said Gila River Indian Reservation as he may determine to be irrigable from return and drainage waters, the proceeds of such sales to be deposited in the Treasury to reimburse the United States in part for the construction charge assessed against the Indian lands.
Sec. 3. The construction charge as fixed for the lands in private ownership under the project shall be paid in annual installments of $3 per irrigable acre beginning with the fifth year after the Secretary of the Interior shall, by public notice, declare the project to be completed and continuing until the total construction charge is fully paid: Provided, That no part of the sum provided for herein shall be expended for construction on account of any lands in private ownership until an appropriate repayment contract, in form approved by the Secretary of the Interior, shall have been properly executed by a district organized under State law, embracing the lands in private ownership irrigable under the project, and the execution thereof shall have been confirmed by decree of a court of competent jurisdiction, which contract, among other things, shall contain an appraisal approved by the Secretary of the Interior, showing the present actual bona fide value of all such irrigable lands in private ownership fixed without reference to the proposed construction of said San Carlos Dam, and shall provide that until the construction charges against such lands shall have been fully paid, upon any and every sale of the land or any interest therein, 50 per centum of all moneys, credits, and property received therefor above the value thereof as shown by said appraisal, shall belong to the United States to be credited in reduction of the construction charge against the land so sold, and the Secretary of the Interior may convert into money through legal process, if necessary, any such credits or property so belonging to the United States; and all public lands irrigable under the project shall be entered subject to the conditions of this section which shall be applied thereto: Provided further, That no part of any sum provided for herein shall be expended for construction on account of any lands in private ownership until all areas of land irrigable under the project and owned by any individual in excess of one hundred and sixty irrigable acres shall have been conveyed in fee to the United States free of encumbrance to again become a part of the public domain, under a contract between the United States and the individual owner providing that the value as shown by said appraisal of the land so conveyed to the United States shall be credited in reduction of the construction charge thereafter to be assessed against the land retained by such owner; and lands so conveyed to the United States shall be subject to disposition under the homestead law when so ordered by the Secretary of the Interior.
Sec. 4. 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; and the money hereby authorized to be appropriated shall be available for the acquiring of necessary right of way by purchase or judicial proceedings and for other purposes necessary in successfully prosecuting the work to complete the project.
First, That the Pima Indians had an adequate water supply for the irrigation of their lands prior to the time that the United States acquired jurisdiction over the Gila Valley. This is proven by the writings of many travelers who visited the Pima villages and there found the Indians producing crops more than sufficient for their needs.
Fourth. That in order to make the San Carlos project a success and secure the repayment of the money appropriated for its construction it is necessary to include approximately an equal area of land now owned by white people.
Several members of the Committee on Indian Affairs personally inspected the Gila River Indian Reservation and the San Carlos Dam site in May, 1920, and at that time became convinced of the feasibility of the project.
The dam will be located in the canyon of the Gila River at a place where the greatest depth to bedrock is only 23 feet. The height of the dam will be 200 feet--180 feet to the spillways--and will impound 760,000 acre-feet of water. The total cost of the dam including flowage damages is estimated by the engineers of the Indian Service to be not more than $5,500,000. The total expenditure will extend over a period of about five years.
The average flow of the Gila River at San Carlos is 380,000 acre-feet, or sufficient to provide about 4 acre-feet annually for 80,000 acres of land. The land to be irrigated is extremely fertile and will produce abundant crops. The transportation and marketing conditions are good. The success of the Salt River reclamation project, where the conditions are practically the same, gives an assurance that like results can be obtained under the San Carlos project.
The enactment of this legislation is indorsed by all of the national Indian welfare organizations and by other friends of the Indians throughout the United States as an act of long-delayed justice to a most worthy tribe of Christian Indians.
The evidence before your committee shows that the Pima Indians have always been friends of the white people and ever loyal to the United States. The military operations against the Apache Indians in Arizona cost the Federal Government more than $42,000,000, over seven times the cost of the San Carlos Dam, while not one dollar was ever expended for warfare against the Pimas.
The amendment proposed by your committee makes it certain that the San Carlos irrigation project shall be constructed primarily for the benefit of the Pima Indians and that only such part of the stored water as can not be beneficially used by the Pimas may be made available to lands in private ownership.
The amendment further conforms to the terms of legislation recommended for all new irrigation projects in the report recently submitted by the committee of special advisors on reclamation to the Secretary of the Interior, consisting of Thomas E. Campbell, James R. Garfield, Elwood Mead, Oscar E. Bradfute, Julius H. Barnes, John A. Widtsoe, and Clyde C. Dawson.
The amendment provides, first, for the organization of an irrigation district to avoid dealing with the individual owners of private lands; second, for an appraisal of the privately owned lands at their present value and an enforceable contract that whenever any land is sold one-half of the increase in price shall be paid to the United States to reduce the construction charge; and, third, a limitation of the area in one ownership to 160 acres. It is the opinion of your committee that these provisions will not only hasten the repayment of the cost of the project but will materially curtail land speculation.