page 21


page 21
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21The danger from flood has been increased by steps taken in this development which made breaches in the natural levee which time and nature had built up in the junglelike growth of trees and vines and weeds that had caught the silt, and so built up a natural levee along the bank so high that only in very extreme floods did any water get through and then only a small quantity got through, but after the river turned out of its course and then turned back, instead of following the old channel of the river, it turned west across the deltaic plain with no natural growth to hold it in any particular place, which compelled the building of a high and costly levee to take the place of the protection of weeds and trees and brush (hat nature had created in the first place. That added to the great expense and difficulties of protection from breaches in the levee that might engulf the whole of that irrigated area in California. Just at present that danger is not so acute, because of what is called the Pescadero cut-off that has carried the river down the other slope of that deltaic ridge that extends across what was once an old arm of the sea, but there is another problem that I think ought to have the sympathetic interest of the whole country. That is the menace of the destructive loss of what has been developed there by the increasing danger of drouth [i.e., drought].When the Americans sought to carry out this development they found that the cheapest route for the canal was through Mexico, but in order to build that canal they had to get the consent of the Mexican Government, and the result was a concession which a company signed--not the United States but a private company--under which the right to divert a very large volume of water was granted, but with the condition that up to one-half of the water diverted must be supplied to Mexican irrigators if they desired and were in a position to use it.That was not a very serious matter as long as no water was used in Mexico, but the success of irrigation on the American side of the boundary led to the purchase of a large part of the irrigable land--not all of it--on the Mexican side of the boundary by a syndicate of enterprising Americans, and they have in recent years very rapidly extended the irrigated area in Mexico until last year there were about 200,000 acres irrigated on the Mexican side of the boundary and 400,000 on the American side. The area in Mexico is being extended, because there are great opportunities there for profitable agriculture, and the result of this was that in 1924, in the month of September, there was not half enough water to meet the needs of irrigators. When it was divided equally between the two countries it gave twice as much water to an acre of land in Mexico as it did to one in the United States, because the Americans had to spread their half over twice as many acres, and the result was disastrous to the American farmers. There was a loss running into millions of dollars in their crops and the records of the past show that the shortages are certain to occur.The Colorado is a stream which fluctuates very widely in its discharge, running, I believe, from 8,000,000 acre-feet in the lowest year up to 28,000,000 in its highest year. One of those years of extreme shortage now, with no regulation, would inflict a loss on the Imperial Valley that would go far toward building these works, because there are 60,000 people living there and their crops are

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