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Imperial Valley press and the Imperial press. (El Centro, Calif.) 1906-1907, July 07, 1906, Image 1

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn92070144/1906-07-07/ed-1/seq-1/

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Imperial Valley Press.
How It Has Cut Large Channels Through
the Imperial Valley
All Danger of Flood Forever Removed, and Excellent Drainage Pro
vided. Present Conditions and future Outlook
Clearly Stated.
One of the most interesting of the
many things that have taken place in
this Valley within the past eighteen
months has been the erosion of the
channels of New river and Alamo.
At the, time the pioneer settlers
came to this country neither of these
channels presented any serious obstacle
both of them being comparatively shal
low and easy to cross. The Alamo
channel in fact had a very imperfectly
defined course for much of the dis
tance through the Valley, while New
river was easily crossed at almost all
points along its course. But the cele
brated Mexican intake was cut in the
fall of 1904 and by the first of March,
1905, it had begun to divert a quantity
cf water from the Colorado river that
was in excess of that required by the
people of this Valley. So there began
to be a surplus flow which was turned
out through the New river and Alamo \
channels. During the entire season of
1905 the hydrographic branch of the j
Reclamation Service maintained- sta- j
tions'in the Valley -and the flow otboth\
New river and Alamo as measured
every week. These measurements |
were published in the Press each
week and careful track kept of
the gradual increase in the volume of
water coming to this Valley.
It will be remembered how the
amount of water diverted by the Mexi
can intake gradually increased as com
pared with the total flow of the river.
Beginning first at about 5 per cent.
it slowly rose to 8. then 10, 12 1-2, 15.
finally reaching 20 per cent, just as
the extreme height of the summer
flood was^reached last year. There
was a total discharge into Salton Sea,
according to Mr. .Hardy's- measure
ments, on July Bth, 1905, of 17653 cu
bic feet of water per second and there
was a channel crossing Water com
pany No. 6 carrying several hundred
second feet that he could not measure.
These amounts of water coming down
such small and imperfect channels as
New river and Alamo then afforded
soon overflowed their banks in places
and threatened to inundate considerable
farming land. However, as there were
not then any waste gates into the Ala
mo channel from Sharp's heading
most of the water went out that way
and the Alamo was the problem that
worried people. The conditions pre
sented on that stream caused the Cali
fornia Development company to aban
don the idea of damming the stream
and taking water from its channel for
delivery to Imperial Water company
No. 5 and to construct a main canal
for that purpose from the Alamo chan
nel above Sharp's heading. The vol
ume of water that found its way down
the Alamo threatened great damage to
the level lands about Mesquite Lake
basin where the rrser has no banks of
consequence. So a new channel was
decided upon which should prevent the
Alamo from entering Mesquite Lake at I
all. The work of keepin? the Alamo
in its new channel and compelling it to
erode a runway -for itself outside of
Mesquite Lake was entrusted to "Scot
ty" Russell. It was about as strenu
ous a fight as anyone has had with a
river in these parts for many a day
and for a long time the issue was in
doubt, but finally the man triumphed.
Since then the water has eroded a
channel of sufficient capacity to make
everything safe. This Alamo channel
has also cut its way back to Sharp's
heading and presents a perfect safe
guard against floods for the East side
while also furnishing ample drainage.
Since the completion of the structures
at Sharp's heading the amount of wat
er* turned down Alamo river has been
regulated by the big 80 foot waste gate
and has never been enough to further
erode the banks or do any damage.
In fact, there are now three good
wagon bridges over, the Alamo in addi
tion to the bridge on the waste gate at
Sharp's heading. While, the Alamo
was the interesting stream and the one
presenting the critical features in 1905
that stream is. now under complete con
the New river^ th"at>has> been* giving Vus r
the most concern during the^pr^sent^
season and that now presents the prob
lems that are to be solved. It will be
remembered that when the volume of
water in the Colorado decreased last
year the proportion of the water divert
ed by the Mexican intake increased
until on Oct. 7th, 1905, the entire flow
of the river was diverted and the old
channel became dry. But at that time
the total flow of the river was only
6000 cubic feet per second, which was
much less than had been diverted pre
vious to that time when the river was
at flood stage. The cut in the bank
for the diversion of the Colorado in.
Mexico was made and the first water
turned through it on Oct. 7th, 1904.
On Oct. 7th, 1905, just one year to a
day, the entire flow of the river was
diverted, and that too, despite the ef
forts made to control it. Well, the
surplus water arriving in the Valley
was mostly turned through the waste
gates into New river so that stream
was kept up at a pretty good flow dur
ing the periods of low water in the Col
orado last winter. But this flow of
water was causing the channel to erode
just the same. The river cut out the
banks at Brawley and beyond carrying
out the flume to Number Eight first
and then washing away the bridges.
For nearly or quite a year past the
only means of crossing the river at
Brawley or reaching Number Eight
has been by means of an aerial cable
stretched across the river from which a
cage was suspended in which the pas
sengers traveled back and forth across
the seething flood; Not only did the
No. 8 people do all their visiting across
the river by this means but they 'sent
all their crops to market in this manner.
Grain, cantaloupes, hogs and cattle
have been sent to market over the wire
sable and latterly since the failure of
vater in Number Eight the settlers
iiave transported their teams, wagons
md household belongings over the
same wire. When the erosion of New
river channel carried away the flume
by which Number Eight had been sup
plied the farmers quickly remedied the
loss by building a canal to tap the New
river at a point above where the ero
sion had reached. But as time went
on and the flow of the water continued
the erosion kept up, creeping slowly
back up New river and rendering more
and more difficult the work of convey
ing water to No. 8. So when Mr.
Rockwood announced that he would
not be able to close the Mexican in
take and return the Colorado river to
its old channel till after the annual
floods of this summer it became ap
parent that great changes would cer
tainly take place in the geography of
this Valley within a very short time.
The recurring floods of last winter
and early spring soon made it clear
that practically the entire flow of the
Colorado would be discharged through
this Valley into Salton Sea.. And the
control held over the Alamo channel
by the splendid structures at Sharp's
heading made it clear that this im
mense'volume of water must go through
New river. The water rose and flood
ed all the lands south of the main can
al in Water company No. 1. The
people turned out and worked on the
canal, turning its bank into a levee.
Still the water rose and the levee was
built higher and higher. Soon it be
came apparent that the volume of wat
er would be so great that levees could
not hold it. It was then decided to
turn attention to assisting New river in
excavating its channel. The riverhad
cut back to a, point about -five miles
was -undertaken.* ; it was then pouring
over^hard clay -formation which ap*
peared to be almost too hard- to wash
away. However, a few well directed
shots with dynamite removed the hard
formation and started the river on its
wild career. The progress made, and
the enormous work done by the water
since that time has been truly wonder
ful. Not only has the river eroded a
channel averaging more than a quarter
of a mile wide and perhaps fifty feet
deep for a distance of at least 25 miles
up-stream from the point where the
first blasting was done but the immense
volume of water discharged through
this means has further eroded the
channel below thai point till in many
places it is 100 feet deep and one half
mile wide.' With the cutting out of
this channel the possibility of getting
water Into the canals of Water com
pany No. 8 vanished and the abandon
ment of that thrifty and enterprising
settlement became inevitable. Mean
time before the cutting back process
had reached; a point to afford relief the
entire area of Imperial Water company
No. 6 was inundated except about three
sections of land where the farmers
erected levees for their protection.
The flood destroyed their canal sys
tem when it overflowed their land and
now although the cutting back of the
channel of New river has drained the
wat6r off their lands it has also cut off
their means of water supply by enter
posing its immense channel across their
canal system. There is also another
channel which has cut its course across
Number Six. This channel joins the
main channel of New river just south
of Silsbee and runs around by Signal
mountain, crossing the Mexican line 5
or 6 miles west of Calexico. It is not
known just how far back into Mexico
this channel has progressed but the
fact that it is discharging as much wat
er as the main channel is pretty good
evidence that it is drawing from the
same flood and cutting rapidly. In its
progress in cutting back the main chan
nel the floods carried away a portion
of the main canal at the Evergreen
heading and turned Brawley and a
large part of Number One without wat
er for several days. The promptness
with which this break was- repaired and
the comparatively small amount of
damage that resulted is a good evi
dence of the virility and alertness of
Mr. Cory and the present management
of the California Development com
pany. The work of the river in carry
ing away Mexicali and threatening Ca
lexlco has been a sight to attract the
people for mHes and has been visited
by many Valley residents. There has
been illustrated the thing that is hap
pening all along the river channel. Af
ter the water has eroded its channel to
such a depth that the water surface is
20 to 30 feet below the land level then
erosion is all the more likely to occur.
The formation is likely to be sandy and
soft below the water level and thus be
quickly washed away. The removal
of this underpinning leaves the great
tall bank without foundation and it
breaks off and tumbles into the river.
As the river lowers its course it is li
able to cut out bends for itself in order
to produce the proper grade on which
that volume of water should run. In
this way vast amounts of earth is cut
out and washed away. The experi
ence of Mexicali is being repeated at
dozens of places in the desert solitude.
The cutting back in New river channel
is progressing rapidly, the overpour be
ing now at least one mile beyond Mex
cali and apparently taking a "bee line."
The cutting back of this channel and
/has'ndw become the point of interesf
to pur people.;. The immense volume
of water which has' been discharging
through New river has all come down I
across Mexico from the Mexican in
take. The fact that no more water has
reached Sharp's heading than could be
safely cared for argues that the rest of
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Buy One of These
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Deeded Land
Adjoining El Centro
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Easy terms.
El Centro, California
this great volume has been carried off
by the New river. And the further
fact that trie amount of water "arriving
at Sharp's heading has lessened, while
the volume carried by New river has
increased indicates that the means by
which the water is conveyed from the
Alamo channel above Sharp's heading
to the New river above Calexico has
been improved within the past two
months. On May 3d last, in company
with Messrs. Schee and Bothwell of
the directorate of Imperial Water com
pany No. 5 we visited Sharp's heading
and examined the Alamo channel from
that place to tne Mesa in Mexico. The
water was then just ready to overflow
the banks and nothing but the prompt
work of the California Development
company in building a levee across the
five miles reaching from the Number-
Five heading to the Mesa saved the
Eastside from a destructive flood. At
that time, May 3d, the Colorado river
was discharging about 45,000 cubic
feet of water per second, all of which
was coming to this Valley.
On last Saturday, June 30th, Messrs.
Schee and Chaplin, of Number Five,
again visited Sharp's heading and ex
amined the Alamo channel along the
same route traveled by Mr. Schee and
ourself on May 3d Mr. Schee In
forms us that the water level in the
Alamo channel five to seven miles
above Sharp's heading is at least six
inches lower and the current much
more sluggish on June 30th than it
was when we were there May 3d. The
total discharge of the Colorado river
on June 30th was more than twice as
great as it was on May 3d and fully
u twice as much water-. was-reachlngjhis. #
: valley. 1 The' facVtha4 : tiieyamount ' of
water reaching Sharp's . heading ' e^was?
decreasing has been noticed by Mr.
Walksr, the zanjero of the California
Development company for Water com
panies No. 5 and No. 7. It has also
been noticed that the amount of water
Continued to Second Page
NO. 13

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