MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
We are asked to relieve the United States from six awards by the Court of Claims as just compensation for deprivation of riparian rights along the San Joaquin River
This is a gigantic undertaking to redistribute the principal fresh-water resources of California. Central Valley is a vast basin, stretching over 400 miles on its polar axis and a hundred in width, in the heart of California. Bounded by the Sierra Nevada on the east and by coastal ranges on the west, it consists actually of two separate river valleys which merge in a single pass to the sea at the Golden Gate. Its rich acres, counted in the millions, are deficient in rainfall and must remain generally arid and unfruitful unless artificially watered.
Water resources there are, if they can be captured and distributed over the land. From the highland barricade at the north the Sacramento River flows southerly, while from the Yosemite region at the southeast the San Joaquin River winds northeasterly until the two meet and consort in outlet to the sea through estuaries that connect with San Francisco Bay. These dominating rivers collect tribute from many mountain currents, carry their hoardings past parched plains and thriftlessly dissipate them in the Pacific tides. When it is sought to make these streams yield their wasting treasures to the lands they traverse, men are confronted with a paradox of nature; for the Sacramento, with almost twice the water, is accessible to the least land, whereas about three-fifths of the valley lies in the domain of the less affluent San Joaquin.
To harness these wasting waters, overcome this perversity of nature and make water available where it would be of greatest service, the State of California proposed to re-engineer its natural water distribution. This project was taken over by the United States in 1935 and has since been a federal enterprise. The plan, in broad outline, is to capture and store waters of both rivers and many of their tributaries in their highland basins, in some
Both rivers afford navigation—the Sacramento for a considerable distance inland, the San Joaquin practically only at tidewater levels. The plan will have navigation consequences, principally on the Sacramento; but the effects on navigation are economically insignificant as compared with the values realized from redistribution of water benefits.
Such a project inevitably unsettles many advantages long enjoyed in reliance upon the natural order, and it is with deprivation of such benefits that we are here concerned.
Claimants own land parcels riparian to the San Joaquin.
Uncontrolled grass lands involved in the claims are parts of a large riparian area which benefits from the natural seasonal overflow of the stream. Each year, with predictable regularity, the stream swells and submerges and saturates these low-lying lands. They are moistened and enriched by these inundations so that forage and pasturage thrive, as otherwise they can not. The high stage of the river, while fluctuating in height and variable in arrival, is not a flood in the sense of an abnormal and sudden deluge. The river rises and falls in rhythm with the cycle of seasons, expansion being normal for its time as curtailment is for others, and both are repeated with considerable constancy over the years. It should be noted, however, that claimants' benefit comes only from the very crest of this seasonal stage, which crest must be elevated and borne to their lands on the base of a full river, none of which can be utilized for irrigation above and little of it below them. Their claim of right is, in other words, to enjoy natural, seasonal fluctuation unhindered, which presupposes a peak flow largely unutilized.
The project puts an end to all this. Except at rare intervals, there will be no spill over Friant Dam, the bed of the San Joaquin along claimants' lands will be parched, and their grass lands will be barren. Unlike the supply utilized for nearby crop and "controlled" lands, the vanishing San Joaquin inundation cannot be replaced with Sacramento water. Claimants have been severally awarded compensation for this taking of their annual inundations, on the theory that, as part of the natural flow, its continuance is a right annexed to their riparian property. 111 Ct. Cl. 1, 89, 76 F.Supp. 87, 99. The principal issues are common to the six cases in which we granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 883.
I. NAVIGATION OR RECLAMATION PROJECT?
The Solicitor General contends that this overall project, and each part of it, has been authorized by Congress, under the commerce power, as a measure for control of navigation. Claimants on the other hand urge that although improvement of navigation was one objective of the Central Valley undertaking as a whole, nevertheless construction of the Friant Dam and the consequent taking of San Joaquin water rights had no purpose or effect except for irrigation and reclamation. This, it is claimed, was not only the actual, but the avowed purpose of Congress. On these conflicting assumptions the parties predicate contrary conclusions as to the right to compensation.
In the Rivers and Harbors Act of August 26, 1937, § 2, 50 Stat. 844, 850, and again in the Rivers and Harbors Act of October 17, 1940, 54 Stat. 1198, 1199-1200, Congress said that "the entire Central Valley project . . . is . . . declared to be for the purposes of improving navigation, regulating the flow of the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento River, controlling floods, providing for storage and for the delivery of the stored waters thereof . . . ." The 1937 Act also provided that "the said dam and reservoirs shall be used, first, for river regulation, improvement of navigation, and flood control . . . ."
But it also is true, as pointed out by claimants, that in these Acts Congress expressly "reauthorized"
When it "reauthorized" the Central Valley undertaking, Congress in the same Act provided that "the provisions
The Central Valley basin development envisions, in one sense, an integrated undertaking, but also an aggregate of many subsidiary projects, each of which is of first magnitude. It consists of thirty-eight major dams and reservoirs bordering the valley floor and scores of smaller ones in headwaters. It contemplates twenty-eight hydropower generating stations. It includes hundreds of miles of main canals, thousands of miles of laterals and drains, electric transmission and feeder lines and substations, and a vast network of structures for the control and use of water on two million acres of land already irrigated, three million acres of land to be newly irrigated, 360,000 acres in the delta needing protection from intrusions of salt water, and for municipal and miscellaneous purposes including cities, towns, duck clubs and game refuges. These projects are not only widely separated geographically, many of them physically independent in operation, but they are authorized in separate acts from year to year and are to be constructed at different times over a considerable span of years. A formula has been approved by the President by which multiple purpose dams are the
We cannot disagree with claimants' contention that in undertaking these Friant projects and implementing the work as carried forward by the Reclamation Bureau, Congress proceeded on the basis of full recognition of water rights having valid existence under state law. By its command that the provisions of the reclamation law should govern the construction, operation, and maintenance of the several construction projects, Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior to proceed in conformity with state laws, giving full recognition to every right vested under those laws.
It is not to be doubted that the totality of a plan so comprehensive has some legitimate relation to control of inland navigation or that particular components may be described without pretense as navigation and flood control projects. This made it appropriate that Congress should justify making this undertaking a national burden by general reference to its power over commerce and navigation.
The Government contends that the overall declaration of purpose is applicable to Friant Dam and related irrigation facilities as an integral part of "what Congress quite properly treated as a unit." Adverting to United States v. Willow River Co., 324 U.S. 499; United States v. Commodore Park, 324 U.S. 386; United States v. Appalachian Power Co., 311 U.S. 377; United States v. Chandler-Dunbar Co., 229 U.S. 53, the Government relies on the rule that it does not have to compensate for destruction of riparian interests over which at the point of conflict it has a superior navigation easement the exercise of which occasions the damage. And irrespective of divisibility of the entire Central Valley undertaking, the Government contends that Friant Dam involves a measure of flood control, an end which is sensibly related to control of navigation. Oklahoma v. Atkinson Co., 313 U.S. 508.
Claimants, on the other hand, urge that at least the Friant Dam project was wholly unrelated to navigation ends and could not be controlled by the general Congressional declaration of purpose. They point out that, although
Since we do not agree that Congress intended to invoke its navigation servitude as to each and every one of this group of coordinated projects, we do not reach the constitutional or other issues thus posed. Accordingly, we need not decide whether a general declaration of purpose is controlling where interference with navigation is neither the means, South Carolina v. Georgia, 93 U.S. 4, nor the consequence, United States v. Commodore Park, supra, of its advancement elsewhere. Similarly, we need not ponder whether, by virtue of a highly fictional navigation purpose, the Government could destroy the flow of a navigable stream and carry away its waters for sale to private interests without compensation to those deprived of them. We have never held that or anything like it, and we need not here pass on any question of constitutional power; for we do not find that Congress has attempted to take or authorized the taking, without compensation, of any rights valid under state law.
On the contrary, Congress' general direction of purpose we think was intended to help meet any objection to its
We cannot twist these words into an election on the part of Congress under its navigation power to take such water rights without compensation. In the language of Mr. Justice Holmes, writing for the Court in International Paper Co. v. United States, 282 U.S. 399, 407, Congress "proceeded on the footing of a full recognition of [riparians'] rights and of the Government's duty to pay for the taking that [it] purported to accomplish." We conclude that, whether required to do so or not, Congress elected to recognize any state-created rights and to take them under its power of eminent domain.
We are guided to this conclusion by the interpretation placed on Congress' Acts by the Reclamation Bureau, which, in administering the project, has at all times pursued a course impossible to reconcile with present contentions of the Government. From the beginning,
Of course, this Court is not bound by administrative mistakes. If the Government had contracted to pay for rights which are nonexistent, it would not preclude us from upholding later and better advised contentions. But when a project has been regarded by the highest Executive authorities as a reclamation project, and has been carried as such from its initiation to final payment for these rights, and Congress, knowing its history, has given the approvals that it has, we think there is no ground for asking us to hold that the provisions of the Reclamation Act do not apply. We hold that they do apply and we therefore turn, as that Act bids us, to the laws of the State to determine the rights and liabilities of landowner and appropriator.
II. CLAIMANTS' RIPARIAN RIGHTS UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW.
The adversaries in this case invoke rival doctrines of water law which have been in competition throughout California legal history. The claims are expressly based on common-law riparian-rights doctrines as declared by California courts. The United States, on the other hand,
The governing water law of California must now be derived from a 1928 Amendment to its Constitution
Upon acquiring statehood in 1850, California adopted the common law of England as the rule of decision in its courts when not inconsistent with the Federal or State Constitutions or State legislation. In the middle of the Eighteenth Century, English common law included a body of water doctrine known as riparian rights. That also was the general Mexican law, if it had any lingering authority there, but see Boquillas Cattle Co. v. Curtis, 213 U.S. 339, 343; Gutierres v. Albuquerque Land Co., 188 U.S. 545, 556, except for a peculiar concession to "pueblos." Indeed, riparian-rights doctrines prevailed throughout Western civilization.
As long ago as the Institutes of Justinian, running waters, like the air and the sea, were res communes—things common to all and property of none. Such was the doctrine spread by civil-law commentators and embodied
Riparian rights developed where lands were amply watered by rainfall. The primary natural asset was land, and the run-off in streams or rivers was incidental. Since access to flowing waters was possible only over private lands, access became a right annexed to the shore. The law followed the principle of equality which requires that the corpus of flowing water become no one's property and that, aside from rather limited use for domestic and agricultural purposes by those above, each riparian owner has the right to have the water flow down to him in its natural volume and channels unimpaired in quality. The riparian system does not permit water to be reduced to possession so as to become property which may be carried away from the stream for commercial or nonriparian purposes. In working out details of this egalitarian concept, the several states made many variations, each seeking to provide incentives for development of its natural advantages. These are set forth in Shively v. Bowlby, 152 U.S. 1. But it may be said that when California adopted it the general philosophy of the riparian-rights system had become common law throughout what was then the United States.
Then in the mountains of California there developed a combination of circumstances unprecedented in the long and litigious history of running water. Its effects on water laws were also unprecedented. Almost at the time when Mexico ceded California, with other territories, to the United States, gold was discovered there and a rush of hardy, aggressive and venturesome pioneers began. If the high lands were to yield their treasure to
The adventurers were in a little-inhabited, unsurveyed, unowned and almost ungoverned country, theretofore thought to have little value. It had become public domain of the United States and miners regarded waters as well as lands subject to preemption. To be first in possession was to be best in title. Priority—of discovery, location and appropriation—was the primary source of rights. Fortuitously, along lower reaches of the streams there were no riparian owners to be injured and none to challenge customs of the miners.
In September, 1850, California was admitted to the Union as a State. In 1851, its first Legislature enacted a Civil Practice Act which contained a provision that "in actions respecting `Mining Claims,' . . . customs, usages, or regulations, when not in conflict with the Constitution and Laws of this State, shall govern the decision of the action."
In California, as everywhere, the law of flowing streams has been the product of contentions between upper and lower levels. Thus when Matthew Irwin built a dam and canal on the upper San Joaquin for appropriating water to supply miners, downstream settler Robert Phillips tore
The United States, as owner of the whole public domain, was such a proprietor, and the decision made appropriations vulnerable to its challenge. It also left the pioneers in position of trespassers. They were taught that the tenure of their preemptions and appropriations was precarious when, in 1858, the Attorney General of the United States intervened in private litigation to contend in federal court that the land in dispute was public, and asserted generally a right to restrain all mining operations upon public land. His intervention was successful, an injunction forbade working the mine in question, and a writ issued under the hand of President Lincoln directing military authorities to remove the miners. United States v. Parrott, 1 McAll. (C. C.) 271.
Demands of mining and water interests that the Federal Government relieve their uncertain status were loud, but went unheeded amidst the problems that came with civil war. But after the war closed, the issue was again precipitated by a bill introduced at the request of the Secretary of the Treasury to have the United States withdraw all mines from the miners, appraise and sell them, reserving a royalty after sale. This the Secretary believed would yield a large revenue and the public lands would help pay the public war debt. However, the private interests prevailed. The Act of July 26, 1866, 14
This section was expounded by Mr. Justice Field in Jennison v. Kirk, 98 U.S. 453, as foreclosing further proprietary objection by the United States to appropriations which rested upon local custom. This Court regarded the Act as "an unequivocal grant" for existing diversions of water on the public lands. Broder v. Water Co., 101 U.S. 274. Thus Congress made good appropriations in being as against a later patent to riparian parcels of the public domain, and removed the cloud cast by adverse federal claims.
While this was being accomplished, changed conditions brought new adversaries to contend against the appropriators. The Homestead Act of 1862 had opened agricultural lands to preemption and set up a method of acquiring formal title. 12 Stat. 392. Farms and ranches appeared along the streams and wanted the protection that the common law would give to their natural flow.
In 1886 came the decisive battle of Lux v. Haggin, 69 Cal. 255, 10 P. 674. Haggin organized an irrigation company and claimed the right to appropriate the entire flow of the Kern River for irrigation and to destroy any benefits for riparian owners downstream. The court held that the doctrine of riparian rights still prevailed in California, that such right attached to riparian land as soon as it became private property and, while subject to appropriations made prior to that time, it is free from all hostile appropriations thereafter. Thus California set itself apart by its effort to reconcile the system of riparian rights with the system of appropriation, whereas other arid states rejected the doctrine of riparian rights forthrightly and completely.
The Twentieth Century inducted new parties into the old struggle. Gigantic electric power and irrigation projects succeeded smaller operations, and municipalities sought to by-pass intervening agricultural lands and go into the mountains to appropriate the streams for city supply. Increasing dependence of all branches of the State's economy, both rural and urban, upon water centered attention upon its conservation and maximum utilization.
This objective seemed frustrated by the riparian-rights doctrine when, in 1926, the California Supreme Court decided Herminghaus v. Southern California Edison Co., 200 Cal. 81, 252 P. 607, and this Court, after argument, dismissed certiorari for want of a federal question, 275 U.S. 486 (1927). That case involved just such questions as we have here. Southern California Edison projected
This ruling precipitated a movement for amendment of the State Constitution and thus brought to a focus a contest that had grown in bitterness and intensity throughout the arid regions as both populations and property values mounted. The doctrine of riparian rights was characterized as socialistic. Wiel, Theories of Water Law, 27 Harv. L. Rev. 530 (1914). The State Supreme Court said the law of appropriation would result in monopoly. Lux v. Haggin, supra, at 309, 10 P. at 703. If the uneconomic consequences of unlimited riparianism were revealed by court decisions, so the effects of unrestrained appropriation became apparent where the flow of rivers became completely appropriated, leaving no water for newcomers or new industry.
A Joint Committee of the California Legislature gave extended study to the water problems of that State and careful consideration of many remedies. Among other
We cannot assume that this Amendment was without impact upon claims to water rights such as we have here, for, as we have seen, it was provoked by their assertion. Neither can we assume that its effect is to deprive riparian owners of benefits it declares to continue or unintentionally to strike down values there was a studied purpose to preserve. We are only concerned with whether it continued in claimants such a right as to be compensable if taken. But what it took away is some measure of what it left.
Riparianism, pressed to the limits of its logic, enabled one to play dog-in-the-manger. The shore proprietor could enforce by injunction his bare technical right to have the natural flow of the stream, even if he was getting no substantial benefit from it. This canine element in the doctrine is abolished. "The right to water or to the use or flow of water in or from any natural stream or water course in this State is and shall be limited to such water as shall be reasonably required for the beneficial use to be served, . . . ." This limitation is not transgressed
We assume for purposes of this decision that the prodigal use, inseparable from claimants' benefits, is such that the rights here asserted might not be enforced by injunction. But withholding equitable remedies, such as specific performance, mandatory orders or injunctions, does not mean that no right exists. There may still be a right invasion of which would call for indemnification. In fact, adequacy of the latter remedy is usually grounds for denial of the former.
But the public welfare, which requires claimants to sacrifice their benefits to broader ones from a higher utilization, does not necessarily require that their loss be uncompensated any more than in other takings where private rights are surrendered in the public interest. The waters of which claimants are deprived are taken for resale largely to other private land owners not riparian to the river and to some located in a different water shed. Thereby private lands will be made more fruitful, more valuable, and their operation more profitable. The reclamation laws contemplate that those who share these advantages shall, through water charges, reimburse the Government for its outlay. This project anticipates recoupment of its cost over a forty-year period.
The Supreme Court of California has given no answer to this specific problem. But in the light of its precedents and its conclusions and discussions of collateral issues, especially in Peabody v. Vallejo, 2 Cal.2d 351, 40 P.2d 486; Lodi v. East Bay Municipal Utility District, 7 Cal.2d 316, 60 P.2d 439; Hillside Water Co. v. Los Angeles, 10 Cal.2d 677, 76 P.2d 681; Gin S. Chow v. Santa Barbara, 217 Cal. 673, 22 P.2d 5; Meridian, Ltd. v. San Francisco, 13 Cal.2d 424, 90 P.2d 537; Los Angeles v. Glendale, 23 Cal.2d 68, 142 P.2d 289, we conclude that claimants' right to compensation has a sound basis in California law. The reclamation authorities were apparently of that view as the Miller & Lux contract would indicate.
We recognize that the right to inundation asserted here is unique in the history of riparian claims. Where the thirst of the land is supplied by rainfall, floods are detriments if not disasters, and to abate overflows could rarely if ever cause damage. But, as we have pointed out, uncommon local conditions have given rise to the singular rule of California. The same scarcity which makes it advantageous to take these waters gives them value in the extraordinary circumstances in which the California
We think the awards of the Court of Claims correctly applied the law of California as made applicable to these claims by Congress.
III. OTHER ISSUES.
The Government also assigns as error determination of the date from which interest is to be allowed. The Court of Claims adopted as the date of taking the first substantial impoundment of water which occurred on October 20, 1941, even though it had not then prevented benefits from reaching the property. The contract between the Government and Miller & Lux contemplated this as the date of taking, for it puts the $511,350 in escrow to protect the Government against suits "initiated prior to the sixth anniversary after the initial storage or diversion." Since the Government itself has adopted this date for the expiration of its protection by contract, we see no reason why it should challenge the Court of Claims for use of the same date for accrual of the claims. Regardless of how this might have been fixed in the absence of such an administrative determination, we decline to set aside the finding on this subject.
Second, the Government claims that the court below misconstrued reservations in the deeds between the three claimants and Miller & Lux. It is not apparent from the facts we have recited that the Government is the real party in interest as to this question, which seems to be in the nature of a private controversy between claimants and Miller & Lux. In any event, it presents a question of conveyancing and real property law peculiar to this one case, and depending on local law. It is not a question of general interest, nor is there any manifest error, and we accept, without review, the finding of the Court of Claims thereon.
The judgments are
MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurs in the judgment and opinion except that he agrees with MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS that interest should not be allowed.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I think it is clear under our decisions that respondents are not entitled to compensation as a matter of constitutional right. For we have repeatedly held that there are no private property rights in the waters of a navigable river. See United States v. Appalachian Power Co., 311 U.S. 377, 424; United States v. Commodore Park, 324 U.S. 386, 390-391; United States v. Willow River Co., 324 U.S. 499, 510. That is true whether the rights of riparian owners or the rights of appropriators are involved. See Gibson v. United States, 166 U.S. 269; United States v. Rio Grande Irrigation Co., 174 U.S. 690. As the Appalachian Power case makes plain (311 U.S. 424, 427), the existence of property rights in the waters of a navigable stream are not dependent upon whether the United States is changing the flow of the river in aid of navigation or for some other purpose.
Nor can respondents' rights to recover be founded on the Acts which appropriated money for the Central Valley project. They created no independent right in any
The same is true in this case. For example, § 2 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of August 26, 1937, 50 Stat. 844, 850, provided that the Secretary of the Interior "may acquire by proceedings in eminent domain, or otherwise, all lands, rights-of-way, water rights, and other property necessary for said purposes." Authority to pay for water rights is, of course, not to be construed to mean an assumption of liability to pay.
Congress, to be sure, has full power to relinquish its immunity from suit for the taking. See Ford & Son v. Little Falls Co., 280 U.S. 369, 377; United States v. Realty Co., 163 U.S. 427, 440. And I think it has done so—not by the Acts appropriating funds for the project but by the Reclamation Act of 1902. 32 Stat. 388, 43 U. S. C. § 371 et seq.
The Act applies solely to the 17 western States. It deals with reclamation projects, as its title indicates. The Central Valley project is such a project.
Section 8 thus respects "any vested right" acquired under state water laws relating to irrigation, in "any interstate stream or the waters thereof." When such rights will be destroyed or interfered with by a proposed reclamation project, authority is found to acquire them under § 7. The customary method of acquiring the water rights is to file a notice of appropriation pursuant to state law.
The legislative history of the Act is not particularly instructive. The House Committee reporting the bill said that "Section 8 recognizes State control over waters of nonnavigable streams such as are used in irrigation." H. R. Rep. No. 1468, 57th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 6. There is no other evidence, however, that the framers thought the scope of the bill so narrow. When the Act was recommended in 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt was careful to suggest that there should be protection for "vested rights" and respect for state laws. 35 Cong. Rec. 6677, 6775-6776. There are statements to the same effect by Representative Mondell, who was in charge of the Bill in the House (35 Cong. Rec. 6678-6679) and by Senator Clark of Wyoming (35 Cong. Rec. 2222). The clause in § 8 according protection to "any vested right acquired" under state laws was added to the Bill by Committee amendment on the floor of the House. 35 Cong. Rec. 6762.
Whether § 8 authorizes payment for water rights riparian to navigable waters has not been authoritatively determined by the courts.
Whatever doubts there may be are for me dispelled by the administrative practice under the Act, as summarized
The Commissioner concluded that it has been the almost invariable practice of the Bureau to file notices of appropriations under state law without regard to whether the stream involved was navigable or nonnavigable.
This Court has often emphasized that weight is to be given to the interpretation of a statute made by the administering agency. See United States v. American Trucking Assns., 310 U.S. 534, 549; Labor Board v. Hearst Publications, 322 U.S. 111, 130. This long course of practice by the Bureau of Reclamation resolves any doubts and ambiguities that arise from the history and wording of the statute.
I conclude that Congress by § 8 of the Reclamation Act agreed to pay (though not required to do so by the Constitution) for water rights acquired under state law in navigable as well as nonnavigable streams. As the Court holds, respondents under California law have a
I do not think the claimants are entitled to interest. When the Government assumes a liability by statute, interest is not allowable unless specific provision is made for it. United States v. Goltra, 312 U.S. 203, 207; United States v. Hotel Co., 329 U.S. 585, 588. A different rule obtains when the United States takes property protected by the Fifth Amendment. Seaboard Air Line R. Co. v. United States, 261 U.S. 299, 306. The present water rights, though not protected by the Fifth Amendment, are ones which the United States has agreed to pay for under §§ 7 and 8 of the Reclamation Act. Sections 7 and 8 contain no provision for the payment of interest. The Act refers to state law to determine whether a water right exists, not to ascertain the measure of damages for the taking.
Development of the water resources of Central Valley was initiated by the State of California. Cal. Stat. (1933) 2643. Studies were made of the feasibility of federal participation, and although there was no accompanying appropriation, the first congressional authorization in connection with the project was contained in the Act of Aug. 30, 1935, 49 Stat. 1028, 1038. In this Act, on the representation of the Chief of Engineers that, as to the Friant Dam phase, "No benefits would accrue to navigation from this development," (House Doc. No. 191, 73d Cong., 2d Sess. 3; and see Comm. on Rivers and Harbors, H. R., Doc. No. 35) Congress limited its approval of federal participation to purely navigation works in the northern part of the valley, and authorized a federal expenditure of $12,000,000 in the construction of Kennett Dam on the Sacramento. When it "reauthorized" the entire project, Congress provided that, when appropriated, this $12,000,000 should be exempt from the reimbursement requirements of the reclamation law. Act of Aug. 26, 1937, § 2, 50 Stat. 844, 850.
"That nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting or intended to affect or to in any way interfere with the laws of any State or Territory relating to the control, appropriation, use, or distribution of water used in irrigation, or any vested right acquired thereunder, and the Secretary of the Interior, in carrying out the provisions of this Act, shall proceed in conformity with such laws, and nothing herein shall in any way affect any right of any State or of the Federal Government or of any landowner, appropriator, or user of water in, to, or from any interstate stream or the waters thereof: . . . ."
To the extent that it is applicable this clearly leaves it to the State to say what rights of an appropriator or riparian owner may subsist along with any federal right.
"The Bureau of Reclamation does recognize and respect existing water rights which have been initiated and perfected or which are in the state of being perfected under State laws. The Bureau of Reclamation has been required to do so by Section 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902 ever since the inception of the reclamation program administered by the Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation has never proposed modification of that requirement of Federal law; and on the contrary, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Secretary of the Interior have consistently, through the 42 years since the 1902 act, been zealous in maintaining compliance with Section 8 of the 1902 act. They are proud of the historic fact that the reclamation program includes as one of its basic tenets that the irrigation development in the West by the Federal Government under the Federal Reclamation Laws is carried forward in conformity with State water laws. Ample demonstration of the effect of this law and policy of administration, in action, has been given in connection with the Central Valley Project. Water filings made by the State have been obtained by the Bureau of Reclamation by assignment, and vested water rights have been acquired by the United States by purchase, the considerations amounting to millions of dollars and being agreeable to the vendors—all in conformity with State laws. Further, other water rights of landowners which will or may be affected by the operations of the project are being analyzed and appropriate adjustments, giving full recognition of the rights of the landowners, are in the process of being worked out."
"It is hereby declared that because of the conditions prevailing in this State the general welfare requires that the water resources of the State be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent of which they are capable, and that the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use of water be prevented, and that the conservation of such waters is to be exercised with a view to the reasonable and beneficial use thereof in the interest of the people and for the public welfare. The right to water or to the use or flow of water in or from any natural stream or water course in this State is and shall be limited to such water as shall be reasonably required for the beneficial use to be served, and such right does not and shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use or unreasonable method of diversion of water. Riparian rights in a stream or water course attach to, but to no more than so much of the flow thereof as may be required or used consistently with this section, for the purposes for which such lands are, or may be made adaptable, in view of such reasonable and beneficial uses; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed as depriving any riparian owner of the reasonable use of water of the stream to which his land is riparian under reasonable methods of diversion and use, or of depriving any appropriator of water to which he is lawfully entitled. This section shall be self-executing, and the Legislature may also enact laws in the furtherance of the policy in this section contained."
The Commissioner notes that there are special circumstances concerning the lower Colorado River projects which explain the single exception. The Act authorizing Hoover Dam required that it be used first for "river regulation, improvement of navigation, and flood control," and only thereafter for irrigation. 45 Stat. 1061. Moreover, the Colorado River Compact assures an adequate supply of water for the project. The Commissioner points out that while no rights have been acquired on the lower Colorado under § 7, "a search of Bureau records fails to disclose any instance on that river in which the Bureau in connection with any of its projects failed or refused to recognize or make compensation for water rights validly established under State law."
Another possible exception is the decision of the Department of Interior not to purchase a power right on the Spokane River on the ground, among others, that the right affected navigable waters. Yet, in the past, the Bureau instituted appropriations on that river also.