« AnteriorContinuar »
AMITY CANAL, ARKANSAS VALLEY, COLORADO simple, inexpensive, and final determina- again, the precedents in one case being tion of their relative rights to a stream, or overturned in another, and the result, for protection of those rights when once instead of promoting a just and final setestablished. Sooner or later, therefore, tlement, too often makes it almost imposthe extension of the irrigated area leads to sible. Along some rivers assessments for a lawsuit. This may take the form of a meeting the expenses of lawsuits over proceeding to quiet titles, an injunction water rights are levied against the shareagainst a rival ditch or canal, or a suit for holders of ditches as regularly as those damages for interfering with vested rights. for keeping the banks in repair. A volume It seldom if ever happens that the first suit could be filled with examples of the waste, includes all the appropriators on a stream. uncertainty, and abuses which are insepaUsually one ditch-owner brings suit against rable from the present lack of public cona neighboring one above near enough to trol of streams. be seen. There may be scores of others fifty In 1890 a number of the irrigators on or one hundred miles away equally respon- Spanish Fork River, in Utah, brought sible for the shortage, but they are out of suit to quiet their title to its water. Two sight and are ignored. Meantime, no matter years later the decision establishing their what the result of this litigation, the use rights was entered on record. In 1893 of the stream is constantly being extended. other irrigators on the same stream brought There will be parched fields under other suit to have the titles to its waters again ditches, and other suits are instituted. quieted. That lasted five years. In ten Sometimes all the irrigators of one com- years the titles have been quieted four munity will unite against a district above times, and another lawsuit to again settle or below; and in one way or another the them has just been instituted. Whether legal warfare over water rights goes on the water rights or the litigants will first with little interruption. Where the num- be put to rest is as yet uncertain. ber of these rights runs into the thousands, The fatal defect of all these court adjuas they do on many rivers, the opportuni- dications is the disregard of public interest ties for controversy are simply unending. in streams. The very fact that it is The same issues are fought over and over ignored makes it necessary that an effort A WYOMING SHEEP RANCH, BEFORE IRRIGATION be made to explain what this involves. parties who want the property. It may That the rain and snow from which rivers be intelligent and honest, or it may be the are formed are public property can scarcely reverse. In either case the rights and be denied. That the river itself originally interests of the community outside the belonged to the public seems equally true. parties to the suit have no consideration. That the transfer of this property to pri- This is a direct temptation to collusion vate ownership or private control equiv- and fraud. Those seeking to acquire alent to ownership should be made by some extravagant rights have been known to public officer, and that the title itself agree with each other as to the amount of should come from either State or General water each will claim, and in accordance Government, seems reasonable, because with this agreement sworn proofs of rights they are the only agencies having sover- to many times the volume diverted or the eign powers. Water in the arid State is capacity of the stream to furnish are subof far more value than land. Why should mitted to the court and approved without not rights to its use be determined, like protest. titles to public land, by some tribunal Another evil is the fact that it affords specially created to represent the sovereign no protect.i. for the small appropriator authority? The rights acquired in court of water against the assaults of stronger adjudications are of a wholly different or more litigious claimants of the same nature. There the assumption is that no supply. The creation of homes ought not one has any interest in streams except the to involve an unending lawsuit to prelitigants. The testimony on which de- serve them, but that is what the building crees are based is all furnished by the of an irrigation-ditch now too often does. The following extract from a brief filed consumers under his own canal, or he in behalf of an appropriator of water for can rent or sell it to other canal-owners. his farm of thirty acres, which had been Those familiar with the results of granttaken away after an uninterrupted use of ing free and perpetual franchises in great twenty-five years, is only one of scores of cities can form some conclusion regarding instances known to the writer where, as the wisdom of this wholesale surrender to the outcome of this court warfare, the private control of the most vital element weak have gone down and the strong of Western development. It is a policy survived :
long since abandoned by the irrigation To permit the decision of the trial court countries of Europe, where the best results to stand, simply means the ruination of the have not come from granting rights to appellant's home, and becomes authority for ditches and canals at all, but to the lands future robberies. The corporation has been permitted, at the hands of the court, to obtain
on which the water is used. Some canal that which law, common sense, even a limited companies sell perpetual rights in the
FOLSOM CANAL, AMERICAN RIVER, CALIFORNIA knowledge of irrigation, and the evidence in water they acquire to the owners of the the case does not authorize.
land covered by their works. On one Except in Wyoming and Nebraska, stream three canals furnish water to 1,356 rights to streams can be acquired only by farms. Why should the right to this water ditch-owners. Sometimes they also own have been given to the three canal-owners, the land watered, but not always. There and not to the 1,356 settlers who applied is no provision, except in the two States it to beneficial use ? Why is not the user above named, by which the owner of of water as much entitled to liberal treatirrigated land, who is also a ditch-owner, ment as the canal-builder who diverts it? can appropriate directly the water his Those who look on prevailing tendenland needs.
cies with apprehension believe that titles The ditch or canal owner, however, to water for irrigation should not belong can acquire a perpetual right. He pays to either individuals or corporations, but nothing for it. Once acquired, he can should be attached to the land where sell or rent the water appropriated to used, and be inseparable therefrom. They believe this because to let one man own as the dominant element of Western socithe water which another must have in ety, or be a free gift to those who make a order to live is almost certain to lead to public return for their use. acts of injustice and oppression. If, on The healthfulness and charm of the the other hand, rights to water go with arid region, and the remarkable profits of the land, the ownership of streams will irrigated agriculture, make it inevitable always be divided, like the land, among a that its valleys are soon to be the home multitude of proprietors. Ditches and of a dense population. The time is not canals will be a great public utility, like far distant when the San Joaquin and the streets of a town, and compensation Sacramento Valleys of California will must be based on the service rendered. each support a million people. The MisSuch rights can work no injustice to any souri and its tributaries will, within the one, while water monopolies will be ren- next half-century, irrigate more acres than dered impossible.
does the Nile to-day. In order to pro
vide for this, the present haphazard develThis issue is being fought out with an opment should give way to a system which intensity of feeling commensurate with will provide for the storage of floods, the the value of the property to be controlled. public supervision of streams, and the The result will determine whether West- enactment of laws which will give perern agriculture will be corporate or co- manently to each farmer his just share of operative; whether rivers shall become an the river on which the returns for his labor instrument for creating a great monopoly, depend.
The Channel Bell
By Julian Hinckley
Through the roar of the storm-swept ocean, and the break of
the foaming seas,
When winter holds her power, and the days are cold and short,
hold in port,
In the calm of the silent ocean, robed in the waves of fog,
When never a breeze does stir the mist, and the dead waves
rise and fall,
By Mary Tracy Earle N the marsh round the Island of entertain him, and the turmoil was unusuLaurels, in far Cypress Creek, little ally wild. In the midst of it Madame
Melanie Dolbert knew secret chan- Antoine came to the cabin door. nels along which she could paddle in her " Where is Melanie ?" she demanded of pirogue, parting the reeds as she went. the world at large in high-keyed French. No one frequented these ways but Melanie, Antoine was chopping wood. . He and she told no one, for there did not looked furtively at the creek landing. seem to be another person in the world Melanie's pirogue was gone. He shrugged who would have cared to slip silently his shoulders. “Oh, she is going soon to through the marsh as she did, looking at return,” he said, with an effort at nonchaall the still, slow things that live there, or lance. “ She is going to return in time to to lie quite motionless and stare up at the help.' blue sky while the fragrance of the slen- Ah!" Madame Antoine mocked. “I der marsh-lilies filled the air around her expect her, me—yes! When the rice is like companionship. At home they sel hulled, and the chickens prepared, and the dom asked Melanie where she went. Her children made clean—when Father Henri mother, Madame Antoine Dolbert, was a himself is arriving, then the dear little small, active body, whom her creole neigh- Melanie is going to arrive to partake of bors called courageuse. She was always the dinner-is it not ?" busy with the cooking or the sewing, while Melanie meanwhile was paddling at Hortense, the daughter next to Melanie, ease through one of the broadest of her was equally busy taking care of the crowd channels, and for once she was not alone. of younger children who were not yet able Victor Paul lay in the bottom of the to take care of themselves. Hortense was pirogue, staring aimlessly to and fro after her mother in miniature, just as coura- the waving reeds. Victor Paul was one geuse and almost as quick-tempered and of the many small Dolberts. He was two sharp-tongued. But, although Melanie years and a half old, large, and habitually was the oldest child, she had none of quiet. He could and did cry whenever these desirable qualities; her mother de he thought it worth while, but, having spaired of her; but her father, from a found nothing in life that struck him as standpoint which Madame Antoine could worth talking about, he had never spoken not understand, was wont to call her his a word. Just why he loved Melanie, who little saint. Father Henri, the visiting did not pay him the slightest voluntary priest, could see both sides; he advised attention, it would be hard to say; but Madame Antoine to be patient, and, as perhaps, like his father, he was tranquilMadame Antoine could not possibly be ized by her quiet; that day he had shown patient when an idle person was within his fondness by following her down to the sight or earshot, Melanie was allowed to creek and wailing as she pushed off. roam at will with only an occasional cap- Melanie told him to go home. He underture or challenge as she slipped away stood well enough, but he stood immovable from the house toward the woods or the and grief-stricken, and lamented with a creek landing. She never failed to come certain calmness which gave no promise home when she was hungry, if she did not of an end. Melanie did not wish to take come before, and the family learned to him back to the house, for then she hercontent itself with that somewhat limited self would be detained; but it would not knowledge of her days.
do to leave him on the bank. The least Father Henri, priest of three parishes, of three evils was to place him expedidid not hold services every Sunday in the tiously in the bottom of the pirogue, where little church below the ferry on Cypress he lay quite still and smiled. Creek, and the Dolberts did not enter- It did not prove altogether unpleasant tain him every time he held service, but to have him there. She could depend now he was coming and they were to upon his reticence, and he made an