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whether miners or agriculturists, may file affidavits, plans, and maps in sapport of their respective claims. Further hearings, upon notice to all parties of record, may be granted by the commission when necessary.
The commission also publishes the following suggestions, instructions, and information for preseut guidance of those concerned. These instructions are subject to such modification as experience may suggest.
The petition must, in addition to fulfillment of the requirements of the law, contain, or be accompanied by, a full description covering the following points and by such maps as may be required for illustration of the question, namely:
The name, location, and extent of the mining ground; the route of travel thereto; the river which the drainage of the mino reaches and the names of the tributaries which it follows; the height of the bank to be inined; the character of the gravel; the source of the water supply; the length, fall, and dimensions of the ditch; the length of the mining season; the number of inches of water proposed to be used and under what pressure; the daily duration of mining proposed, whether for twenty-four or fewer hours; the fall of the sluice in 12 feet; dimensions of sluice and the amount of gravel to be handled in an hour; the character of restraining barriers existing or proposed; a description of the site for impounding detritus; its area and capacity; position and character proposed for the barrier.
Brevity and clearness are to be studied in these descriptions.
The above-stated information may be sufficient to enable the Commission, in some cases, to dispense with maps, but in all cases of importance maps of the mining ground and of the reservoir sites will probably be necessary, and in all cases will probably expedite the action of the Commission. The Commission prefers, for expedition, but does not at present insist, that each case should be presented by a mining or civil engineer capable of giving necessary information.
It will expedite matters if all the miners in one particular locality will preparo and present their petitions as near as possible at the same time, in order that the mines may all be examined during one visit of the Commission.
In cases of a joint petition contemplated in section 11, there should be a separate statement from each individual mine as to its proposed output, amount of water, etc., the same as provided for a single petition.
All maps, plans, petitions, or writings of any description on file in the office shall bc open for examination by any interested party.
On a day following the date fixed in the advertisement, provided in section 12, the Commission or a committee thereof will attend in its office to meet the petitioners and contestants, for the purpose of gaining, by inquiry, such explanation as may be pecessary for a full understanding of the case.
The Commission does not invite oral addresses and prefers that all questions submitted for its consideration be presented in writing.
The office of the Commission is for the present established in room 89, Flood building, San Francisco.
-All communications should be addressed to Maj. W. H. Heuer, Corps of Engineers, room 89, Flood building.
Table showing applications to mine by the hydraulio process.
[Received by the California Débris Commission.]
ravine; of rock, brush,
spillway cut in rock.
and logs across the consolidated.
mouth of an old hy.
draulic pit. N. C. Tully. 2, 160,000 South Yuba River. Dam 80 feet high, in
Scotchman Creek, built
ley Creek A. Steinberger. 1,520,000 Middle Yuba Brush and earth dam
across mouth of old hy.
draulic pit. B. Below
50,000 Middle Feather Stone dam in Hopkins
tunnels stopped with
in Howard Creek, with
side spillway in rock.
Daus in Whisky Creek
and North Fork of Slate
Creek. Eureka Mining Co. 553,000
Dams of timber, in Saw
In the circuit court of the United States in and for the ninth circuit, northern
district of California, Hon. Wm. B. Gilbert, judge.
UNITED STATES, COMPLAINANT,
WEDNESDAY, October 5, 1892. GILBERT, J. This is a suit for an injunction brought by the United States as complainant against the defendant corporation. Tlie essential averments of the bill are that the mining company is engaged in hydraulic mining in Nevada County and dumping its débris and tailings in such a way that the same flow into the South Yuba River, a tributary of the main Yuba River; thence into the main Yuba River; thence into the Feather River, and thence into the Sacramento. That the Yuba River is navigable from Marysville to its mouth, and Feather River is navigable from the mouth of the Yuba to the Sacramento, and that the Sacramento is nav. igable from its mouth to the mouth of the leather. That heretofore extensive hydraulic mining had been carried on upon the western watershed of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which had done great injury to the navigable streams referred to, and that the hydraulic mining, as conducted by the defendant, had dono great injury to said navigable streams, and the continuation of it will further materially contribute to the injury complained of.
The answer of the defendant denies that it was dumping débris or tailings from its mining operations so that the same flowed into the said rivers; but it alleges that it has erected extensire impounding works by means of which it impounded upon its own lands and within its own mines all material likely to injure the navigation of said streams, and that it would continue to impound such mining material so long as it should continue its mining operations, and that the same would remain permanently impounded and restrained in such a manner as not to injure the navigation of such streams. A large amount of testimony was taken on behalf of the respective parties, and the case is now to be decided upon final hearing.
It remains to be considered whether, under the allegations of the bill and the evidence introduced on behalf of the respective parties, an injunction should issue as prayed for.
The operations of the mine of this defendant corporation was enjoined by a decreo of this court in 1881, in the suit of Woodruff 18. North Bloomfield Mining Company, and that injunction still remains in force. In the decree an intimation was made that if in the future the defendant corporation should show to the court that it had constructed impounding reservoirs which would successfully impound its mining dlébris the decree might be modified so as to permit the operation of the mine. The defend. ant, since that decree anal before the commencement of this suit, had established anı wis nising the system of impounding works referred to in its answer to the bill. The question of fact now to be determined is whether or not, with the use and operation of the impounding works, mining débris escapes from the defendant's mino into the navig:lle waters of the Yuba, the Feather, or the Sacramento so as to tend to impair or injure the navigability of those streams. It becores necessary, therefore, to carefully consider the construction and operation of the impounding device. At the time of the injunction in 1881 the North Bloomfield Mining Company, by the use of its monitors and its system of placer mining, had made an excavation on its grounds which was in lengtli nearly a mile, in width from 500 to 1,000 feet, in depth varying from 150 to 100 feet.
There was no considerable stream of water running through this excavation, and there was no natural outlet to the same. The tailings and debris from the mine bad been discharged through a shaft which was sunk through solid rock near the center of the excavation. This shaft was 80 feet in the perpendicular and connected with a tunnel cut also through the solid rock, a distance of nearly half a mile, and opening into Humboldt canyon, which lies considerably below the level of the excavation. The total cost of the tunnel and shaft was in the neighborhood of $500,000. The impounding works were constructed by utilizing the excavation, the shaft, and the tunnel. The impounding area is divided by a dam into two impounding basins, each of about 20 acres in extent, which may be called the old and the new basins. The surface of the old basin lies at an aititude of abort 100 feet above that of the new. The mining operations are all carried on at the upper end of the excavation. The mining is cione upon two levels or benches, one at an elevation of about 100 feet above the other. The debris from the upper mining level is carried on that level to the old impounding basin. The débris from the lower mining level is intended to be impounded in the new basin. Near the lower end of the old basin an inclined shaft has been sunk to connect with the tunne), and its use is to allow the escape of water after all material likely to injure navigation shall have been deposited in the basin. A similar outlet is made in the now impounding basin, and both these outlets are cribbed up from the bottom, so that a thin sheet of water from the surface only can cscape. The operation of the old reservoir has been tested and a considerable amount of débris has been deposited within it.
The dam which separates the basins is constructed across the excavation and prevents the débris from running back from the old basin into the new basin and the lower levels of the mine. The operation of impounding has been conducted in the following manner: The débris from the mining on the upper bench, consisting of gravel, sand, and comminuted clay, together with sufficient water to carry the same, has been conducted by a sluico, with a tolerably swift current, down to the upper edge of the old impounding reservoir, and thero discharged into the pond or lake. It has been found that the heavy material is deposited first, the lighter sand and gravel are carried somewhat farther, and when the current strikes the body of water in the pond nearly all the remaining material carried by the water is deposited, forming a bench across the upper end of the depositing pool, which presents an almost perpendicular wall from the surface to the bottom. The water on striking the pool is diffused through it and its current apparently ceases. It has the effect to raise the water in the pool and to cause a constant outpour from its surface over the edges of the lower crib.
There are three objections urged against the operation of this impounding reservoir: First, that it does not successfully remove from the water the inaterial which is carried in suspension, and that the water which escapes by the cribs takes with it material which becomes deposited in the lower streams and injuriously affects the navigability of the same. Second, that the dam across the excavation is not of durable material and is liable to break. Third, that the cribs are liable to break or decay, and the impounding material may thus escape into the streams below.
Upon the first of these objections the evidence, although voluminous, is not to any considerable extent conflicting. The water that escapes through the cribs is discolored with very fine particles of comminuted clay which are held in suspense. It is impossible that water that has once fairly come to rest in the pool and has then been drawn off from the surface through the cribs should carry with it any sand or anything other than the lightest material. The evidence goes to prove that the fine clay held in suspense in the water, and which causes its discoloration, is of specific gravity very little greater than water, and that it will remain in suspense so long as the water moves with the velocity of a mile in two hours.
The evidence further shows that this material is carried in a state of suspense through the Yuba, the Feather, and the Sacramento rivers, and into the ocean. It does not appear that at any point on those streams the water comes to rest or the clay which it carries is deposited in an appreciable quantity.
After taking into consideration all of the evidence, I am convinced that after the water which conducts the mining débris shall have once come to rest so as to deposit all the sand and heavier material that is carried in suspense, leaving only the light, floculent particles of clay, which give it its color, no material will be subsequently deposited from it unless it is brought to rest and so remains for a period longer than it has remained at rest in the impounding pool.
Second. Is there danger to be apprehended from insufficiency of the dam which separates the old from the new impounding basin? The dam is constructed of brush and small trees, carefully laid so that the butts form the outer wall. It is made by layers, as the pool fills up and as the deposited débris requires it. The interstices between the layers of brush are filled in with the gravel, saud, and clay deposited from the flume. The dam as it now stands presents a wall nearly 100 feet high, which seems to be a compact, solid mass of gravel, sand, and clay, with the brush interwoven so as to hold in place. If thero were great pressure upon this dam, if it were a dam across a torrential stream, if its breaking or carrying away would discharge into the stream below the debris that has accumulated, it would appear to be clearly insufticient for the purpose intended, but the evidence together with a personal inspection of the dam convinces me that there is no great pressure upon the dam. The heavy material deposited has not only accumulated about the dam but for a considerable distance below, and the mass appears to be now in the process of recementation and solidifying, which already, to a considerable extent, has restored it to the condition of the material in the surrounding hills. If this dam should break it is difficult to see where injury could result, for the impounded material, if it moved at all, could only escape into the new impounding reservoir. It is plain that there is no danger from winter torrents. The mine is not in the bed of a mountain stream. The amount of water which naturally falls into this excavation is small, and even in a winter torrent it must either all escape by the cribs or siinply accumulate and form a lake within the walls of the excavation.