Ivanhoe Irrigation District v. Madera Irrigation District v. Steiner Madera Irrigation District v. Albonico Santa Barbara County Water Agency v. Balaam 8212 125

Decision Date23 June 1958
Docket NumberNos. 122,s. 122
PartiesThe IVANHOE IRRIGATION DISTRICT and the State of California, Appellants, v. . The MADERA IRRIGATION DISTRICT and the State of California, Appellants, v. Carl F. STEINER et al. The MADERA IRRIGATION DISTRICT, Appellant, v. Phillip and Jane E. ALBONICO. The SANTA BARBARA COUNTY WATER AGENCY, Appellant, v. Maurice A. BALAAM et al. —125
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr. B. Abbott Goldberg, San Francisco, Cal., for appellants.

Mr. John F. Davis, Washington, D.C., for the United States, amicus curiae.

Messrs. Harry W. Horton, El Centro, Cal., Alvin J. Rockwell, San Francisco, and Denslow Green, Madera, Cal., for appellees.

Mr. Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

These four cases present issues of basic importance to the federal reclamation laws. The Supreme Court of California has refused to confirm certain contracts entered into between two state irrigation districts and a water agency on the one hand and the United States on the other,1 finding the contracts invalid on several grounds. Ivanhoe Irrigation District v. All Parties and Persons, 47 Cal.2d 597, 306 P.2d 824; Santa Barbara County Water Agency v. All Persons and Parties, 47 Cal.2d 699, 306 P.2d 875; Madera Irrigation District v. All Persons, 47 Cal.2d 681, 306 P.2d 886; Albonico v. Madera Irrigation District, 47 Cal.2d 695, 306 P.2d 894. Specifically involved are parts of two statutory enactments: Section 5 of the Reclamation Act of 1902,2 pro-

viding generally that no right to the use of water shall be sold for lands in excess of 160 acres in single ownership, and § 9 of the Reclamation Project Act of 1939,3 providing, inter alia, for the repayment to the United States of funds expended on the construction of reclamation works, and authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to make contracts to furnish reclamation water at appropriate rates for irrigation. The opinion of the Supreme Court of California turned on an interpretation of a third provision, § 8 of the Reclamation Act of 1902.4

That section provides that the Act is not to be construed as interfering with state laws 'relating to the control, appropriation, use, or distribution of water used in irrigation.' It further provides that in administering the Act the Secretary of the Interior 'shall proceed in conformity with such laws * * *.' The California court held that this provision required the application of California law, and finding the provisions of the contracts contrary thereto, it refused confirmation. The water districts and agency involved, joined by the State of California, appealed, and we postponed the question of jurisdiction to the merits. 1957, 355 U.S. 803, 78 S.Ct. 12, 2 L.Ed.2d 26. We have concluded, for reasons hereinafter set forth, that we have no jurisdiction over the appeals. Treating the papers as petitions for certiorari, 28 U.S.C. § 2103, 28 U.S.C.A. § 2103, we grant certiorari. On the merits, we deem the contracts controlled by federal law and valid as against the objections made.

I. The Background of the Litigation.

This litigation involves a dispute between landowners on the one hand and the combined State and Federal Governments on the other. As the Attorney General of California points out, there is no clash here between the United States and the State of California. Quite to the contrary, the United States and the various state agencies, with commendable faith and steadfastness to one another, have embarked upon and nearly completed a most complicated joint venture known as the Central Valley Project. There have at times been differences, but these are inevitable in the everyday implementation of

such a giant undertaking. On the whole the parties have kept the ultimate goal firmly centered in their joint vision.

Central Valley is the largest single undertaking yet embarked upon under the federal reclamation program. It was born in the minds of far-seeing Californians is their endeavor to bring to that State's parched acres a water supply sufficiently permanent to transform them into veritable gardens for the benefit of mankind. Failing in its efforts to finance such a giant undertaking, California almost a quarter of a century ago petitioned the United States to join in the enterprise. The Congress approved and adopted the project, pursuant to repeated requests of the State, and thus far has expended nearly half a billion dollars. The total cost is estimated to be as high as a billion dollars.

The saga of this project is fascinating. California has two somewhat parallel ranges of mountains running south from its northern border for two-thirds the length of the State. Known as the Sierra Nevada on the east and the Coast Range on the west, they converge on the north at Mount Shasta and are joined by the Tehachapi Mountains on the south, thereby forming the Central Valley Basin. The basin extends almost 500 miles between these ranges, from Shasta to Bakersfield, and has an average width of 120 miles, including more than a third of the area of California. The main valley floor, comprising about a third of the basin area, is an alluvial plain some 400 miles long and averaging 45 miles in width. The Sacramento River, with headwaters near Mount Shasta, flows south into San Francisco Bay, draining the northern portion of the basin. The San Joaquin River, which rises above Friant in the south, runs first west then north to join the Sacramento River in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, both finding a common outlet to the ocean

through San Francisco Bay. See United States v. Gerlach Live Stock Co., 1950, 339 U.S. 725, 70 S.Ct. 955, 94 L.Ed. 1231.

Rainfall on the valley floor comes during the winter months 85% from November to April—and summers are quite dry. At Red Bluff, just south of Mount Shasta, the average is 23 inches, while south at Bakersfield a scant 6 inches fall. The climate is ideal with a frost-free period of over seven months and a mild winter permitting production of some citrus as well as deciduous fruits and other specialized crops. The absence of rain, however, makes irrigation essential, particularly in the southern region.

In the mountain ranges precipitation is greater, and the winters more severe. The Northern Sierras average 80 inches of rainfall and the Southern 35 inches. The Coast Range experiences much less. In the higher recesses of the mountains precipitation is largely snow which, when it melts, joins the other runoff of the mountain areas to make up an annual average of 33,000,000 acre-feet of water coming from the mountain regions. Nature has not regulated the timing of the runoff water, however, and it is estimated that half of the Sierra runoff occurs during the three months of April, May, and June. Resulting floods cause great damage, and waste this phenomenal accumulation of water so vital to the valley's rich alluvial soil. The object of the plan is to arrest this flow and regulate its seasonal and year-to-year variations, thereby creating salinity control to avoid the gradual encroachment of ocean water, providing an adequate supply of water for municipal and irrigation purposes, facilitating navigation, and generating power. The plan is now nearing completion and is actually in partial operation in some areas.

The completed project is built around these two great rivers, and includes a series of dams, three of which—

Shasta, Folsom, and Trinity River—will furnish electric power. The state water plan contemplates that eventually 38 major reservoirs scattered at various points in this part of the State will store an estimated 30,000,000 acre-feet of water. The Shasta Dam and Reservoir sits at the head of the table on the north. With a capacity of 4,500,000 acre-feet of water, it, along with tributary dams and reservoirs, will control the floods from that area. The Trinity River, with headwaters west of Shasta on the western slope of the Coast Range, drains into the Pacific Ocean. A dam now under construction near Lewiston will impound some three-quarters of a million acre-feet of water which, by means of a tunnel, will be partially diverted into and supplement the waters of the Sacramento River lying to the east and across the mountains. The water supply facilities along the Sacramento River will regulate its flow, store surplus winter runoff for use in the Sacramento Valley, maintain navigation in the channel, protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from salt intrusion from the Pacific, provide a water supply for the Contra Costa and Delta-Mendota Canals, and generate a great deal of hydroelectric energy. The Contra Costa Canal services the south shore of Suisun Bay from Antioch to Martinez with water from the Delta for domestic, industrial, and irrigation use. The Delta-Mendota Canal transports surplus Sacramento River water to Mendota Pool on the San Joaquin River, 120 miles south of the Delta. The water is pumped from the Delta to the canal along the foothills of the Coast Range and by gravity it runs to the pool at Mendota. This exchange of water replaces that diverted from the San Joaquin by the dam at Friant. This latter dam forces the entire flow of the San Joaquin into Millerton Lake which has a capacity of 520,000 acre-feet of water. It is diverted from the lake by the Madera Canal to

the north and the Friant-Kern Canal to the south. The former extends about 37 miles in length and services the Madera District, while the latter supplies water to the Ivanhoe District and others to the south. It will extend south about 160 miles to a point near Bakersfield, which sits at the foot of the Central Valley's enormous table.

The power facilities of the project will, when finally completed, have a capacity of near a million kilowatts. Transmission lines, steam plants, and other essential facilities will be...

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    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • April 26, 1984
    ...power. [Citation]." (Ivanhoe Irr. Dist. v. All Parties (1957) 47 Cal.2d 597, 644, 306 P.2d 824, revd. on other grounds 357 U.S. 275, 78 S.Ct. 1174, 2 L.Ed.2d 1313, rehg. den. 358 U.S. 805, 79 S.Ct. 10, 3 L.Ed.2d 94.) In fact, the Legislature has explicitly withheld this power from the Commi......
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