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AND FARMER. VOL 1. WRIGHT IRRIGATION DISTRICT LAW THOROUGHLY TESTED BY THE COURTS-PRONOUNCED CONSTITUTIONAL BY THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT-DOUBTFUL POINTS ADJUDICATED BY TliE STATE SUPREME COURT— BROUGHT INTO DISPUTE BY CONSCIENCELESS SPECULATORS. SATISFACTORY IN ITS WORKINGS WHEN GIVEN A FAIR TRIAL California has upon its statute books a law passed in ISB7, and amended more or less every two \ ears ever since, that has been dis (Missed and cussed by the general public to a greater extent than any other law ever enacted in this State. This law at the time of iis enact ment was decidedly a new departure so far as irrigation laws go in the United States. It was. however, de manded by several irrigation State conventions which were composed of 1 the leading irrigationists of the State. That the law was imperfect in some respects has always been con- 1 ceded by its friends, and that it is an Impossibility to enact a perfect sys- j tern of irrigation l:".s for irrigation districts is also a true statement, be cause no human laws are pel feet and because there were features that Bhould have been Incorporated into the law that the people were not n ady to concede. One of the weak points of the law was the fact that a board of directors selected from ordinary farmers of limited experience In financial mat ters were called upon to negotiate a million of dollars worth of bonds and tnen construct an irrigation system out of the proceeds received there from. Another weak point was the fact that for speculative purposes a tew men would locate In an arid country, file on a water right, organ ize a district, authorize the Issuance Of bonds, and then sell the water right tiling to the district for a large block of the bonds. In other cases the transaction wou.d not be so bare-faced, but still the dealing between the district and certain hading citizens would have all the elements of speculation re gardless of ..e lights or interests of i he persons who owned the land or to whom the land might afterwards he sold. There are other weak points. Tin 1 distriit bonds were often issm d for many times the asscsed value of the district when organized, and the bur d. n of taxation fell so heavily on the land owners who could not sell their land as rapidly as they hoped, that financial ruin stared them in the face. In such cases the bonds were not considered of value by investors, and they were frequently hawked about for any old thing that they might hi ing. generally in absolute violation of law. These are the weak .-ides of the question. Because of these weak points, there were many districts that went to ruin before they had an opportunity to issue any bonds, and "Water is King-Here is its Kingdom." IMPERIAL, CM.. SATURDAY. DtXEMBtR 21, 1901. still others that were wrecked after such issue of bonds, Out of about forty districts organ ized in this Stale, only four or five are today in good running order and on a solid financial foundation. These few districts arc standing monuments of the fact that the law is a pood one, and u> wrecked districts are monuments of the fact that a good law may work ruin by its mal administration. That the law is a good law from a legal point of view is demonstrated Till. IMPERIAL DISTRICT SCHOOL — SUM MSB OF 1901, HELD UNDKK A HAMAIIA — WITH TI-'.NT I OH ISK WIIKN NKKDSD — I'OKTY SCHOLARS IN ATTENDANCE. by the fact that the Supreme Court of the United States has pronounced it. constitutional. Not only has the highest court in Hie land sustained the validity of the law. but nearly, or quite, every clause in the law subject to attack has been adujdicated by the Supreme Court of the State of California. There was a time when the law was so popular that bankers and financiers — while they were some times afraid of it— dare not come out openly and criticise it or criticise the Irrigation district bonds. At a later date the fight against the law became so vigorous and per sistent. urged on by the large land owners of the San Joaquin Valley. that there were few who dared to openly defend the district system and all sale of bonds was stopped, which caused the utter ruin of many irriga tion districts, and the financial ruin extended to in ividuals who were land owners in irrigation districts where there was no system of irriga tion, although in some cast's bonds were outstanding for a parttallj con strm ted system. Thai there are several districts now in successful operation is evi dence that the law rightly adminis tered is susceptible of good results It is a system in which the owner o! the land to be Irrigated absolutely owns and manages the system. a. ..1 controls the water to irrigate ih.it land, and such owners of land get their irrigating water at cost— if there has boon no mistakes made in securing or building the Irrigation system. The Alta Irrigation District in Tu lare county, is an illustration of one of the successful irrigation districts formed under the Wright Irrigation District Law. This district. When formed, purchased the 78 canal a.d \\i distributing system, paying tin v lor with the bonds of the distrii These people had no exii'.riinentr to try in the construction of a gre;>t s > stem. It was alread] mostly emu pletcd. The people under (his system are satisfied and contented witli t'.e present district program. The Turlock and Modesto districts, located in Merced and Stanislaus counties, are also very successful. The Turlock system is completed for the irrigation of 176,000 acres, and the success is so great that the dis trict s now able to refund its bonded debt at five per cent. The Modesto district system is not yet quite completed, but it soon will be, when its debt wll also be refund ed at five peir cent. This district is nearly as large as the Turlock (lib trict. Both of these districts united in constructing a dam across the Tuo lumne River, ninety feet in height — both districts taking water from the same source of supply, dividing the stream equally between the two dis tricts. Most of the districts illegally formed, or corruptly formed in some cases, are dead, and there are no ruins to mark the fait that they ever had an existence. while a few dis tricts that ought to havt been dead long ago are still lingering ghosts in the courts not having been decently buried as yet Now that the wheat has been sop arattd from the chaff and there is always more chaff than Wheat — pub lic attention is again being turned to the benefits Of the irrigation district System. The mstakes that were so numerous in the forming of the forty districts which were formed during the late boom, when nothing could be done without a tinge of wild specula tion being connected therewith, can now be avoided. Those mistakes have all been pointed out by the courts in numerous cases of litiga tion. There should be no more wild Spec* ulation in irrigation matters. There should be no irrigation systems formed that do not furnish cheap water to those who desire to use it. Prior to 1875 the only irrigation companies in California were close corporations^ whore a set of capital "sts owned the system and sold M use of the water to those who desired, v to use it. For the control .of this (lass of corporations a law was nfteiS wards enacted requiring boards of su pervisors and boards of trustees of Incorporated cities and towns to an nually, in February, fix the rates at which companies should soil water to consumers in their respective juris diit tons. in 1876 tiie system of mutual water companies gradually came into exist ence as a necessity of the times. Tliese companies were incorporated to furnish water to their stockhold ers only at COSt. Such corporations. When so formed, could not deliver water to any one not a stockholder at any price. Most of the prominent irrigation water companies now in Southern California are formed on this basis. Over such corporations, according to a decision of the State Supreme Court, the Board of Supervisors have no jurisdiction so far as fixing water rates is concerned. There were and are serious objec tions in many localities to the Mu tual Water Company system. A per son may own a tract of land in a lo cality that is irrigated by a mutual water compan* system ami he may conclude to buy no water stock and therefore he can get no water. In such a case there is a dry desert in the midst of a large cultivated area. In the case of an irrigation district all land owners in a given area must come into tile district and their lands must bear their proportion of the burden to reclaim the entire area. This is right. This is just. The Wright District Irrigation Law has passed through B fiery ordeal and has come out as one of the tried laws of the land. A better law might be pro- cured, but no better law for the man agement of irrigation systems has as yet found its way upon the statute books of any of the States of the Union. No. 36.