H[enry] M. McDonald


William F. Bade


Henry M. McDonald




STOCKTON, CALIF., November 19, 1913.

Dr. W. F. Bade,
Berkeley, Cal.

Dear Sir:

Thinking that very possibly you may be pleased to receive information respecting the legislative situation relating to the so-called Raker bill, which grants certain rights connected with Hetch Hetchy to the City of San Francisco, I would say that the bill, as you may know, was passed by the House of Representatives about September 1st last, is now before the Senate, is to be taken up on December 1st and voted on December 6th.
The situation in the Senate relating to the bill, as disclosed by correspondence with Senator Poindexter, a vigorous opponent of the measure, is that approximately one-fourth of the members of the Senate are avowed advocates of the bill, that a lesser number -- about fifteen -- are unalterably opposed to its passage, while the majority of the members of the Senate have not taken -- at least openly -a positive position respecting the Hetch Hetchy proposition.
The attitude of these Senators seems to be that, if an adequate supply of water for the City of San Francisco cannot be secured from a source other than Hetch Hetchy, the necessities of a great city like San Francisco being paramount, the city should be granted the right to secure its water supply from Hetch Hetchy.
Hence, the importance of bringing to the attention of the members of the Senate a source of supply for San Francisco, at least equal and, if possible, superior in desirability to Hetch Hetchy.
As indicating the importance of this procedure Senator Works recently stated in a letter to Judge L. W. Falkerth of Modesto, Cal., "I have tried to impress on your people the necessity of showing that San Francisco can get a water supply elsewhere." Senator Works, also, says in his letter, "If San Francisco can secure the necessary water supply from sources that will not deprive others of the beneficial use of it, she should not be allowed to take any water from the San Joaquin Valley."
Fortunately, a source of supply greatly superior in many respects to Hetch Hetchy can be secured by uniting the available supplies from the South Eel River and Putah Creek water-sheds -- the northerly section of which catchments is located in the Coast Range of mountains about 120 miles directly north of San Francisco.


"This joint source of supply presents the following advantages over Hetch Hetchy:
1. A supply of 450 million gallons daily entirely dependableas against a possible 400 million gallons daily from Hetch Hetchy,
2. Reservoir storage capacity fully double the utmost possibleto be supplied by the entire Hetch Hetchy Reservoir capacity.
3. Length of aqueduct to be constructed 75 miles as againstHetch Hetchy's 180 miles.
4. Estimated cost of construction $40,000,000as against Hetch Hetchy $77,400,000
5. Time required for construction 4 years as against 10 yearsneeded to build the Hetch Hetchy system.
6. The report of the California State Conservation Commissionshows that less than 500 acres are under irrigation along the entire South Eel River-Putah Creek aqueduct. Hence, irrigation rights of minor importance are involved and these can be readily extinguished by purchase. On the other hand, the taking of water from Hetch Hetchy in dry years, as per the report of the Advisory Board of Army Engineers, submitted to the Secretary of the Interior February 19, 1913, will unquestionably ruin the products of 370,000 acres fertile land involving tremendous financial losses upon the owners.
It is believed that, if the advantages of the Eel River-Putah Creek source of supply are presented to the members of the Senate through the medium of a report made by an engineer of standing, such report being based upon a field survey of the entire line of the proposed aqueduct, as well as the facts ascertained by the engineer in chief through a personal examination of the sources of supply and the line itself, a sufficient number of the members of the Senate, who would otherwise vote for the Raker bill, on being informed through the engineers report that an adequate supply of water for the City of San Francisco can be secured from a source other than Hetch Hetchy, will cast their votes against the Raker bill to defeat it. Corps of engineers, therefore, about October 10th last, were placed in the field. These engineering corps have just completed a survey of the entire line of the South Eel River-Putah Creek aqueduct.
Mr. George S. Nickerson, the engineer in chief, is now completing his report. This report admirably sets forth the facts heretofore stated in this letter in reference to the South Eel River-Putah Creek source of water supply. It is proposed to place a copy of this report in the hands of each U. S. Senator, President Wilson, members of his Cabinet and other public men, before the Raker bill is taken up for consideration by the Senate.

It is also desired to furnish, on or before November 25th, the editors of influential newspapers throughout the country, who are opposed to the Raker bill, with copies of Mr. Nickerson's report. This, in order that public sentiment may be more thoroughly aroused against the Raker bill than is now the case.
It is fully apparent that, if the Raker bill is passed by the Senate on December 6th, the City of San Francisco will be permanently given the privileges which it seeks in connection with Hetch Hetchy. On the thoer hand, if the bill is defeated in the Senate, the City of San Francisco will be forever barred from entering Hetch Hetchy. Consequently, if the bill is to be defeated active and strenuous work must at once be done by those opposed to the raid upon Hetch Hetchy.
The outlay connected with the engineering, field work, the preparation and publication of Mr. Nickerson's report, will approximate $2,500. Two hundred and fifty copies of the report will be printed. It is desired to secure subscriptions for copies of this report, - the money so secured to be devoted to meeting the outlay just indicated.
Will you not, therefore, kindly subscribe for one or more copies of the report at $10,00 per copy? If you should deem it desirable to do this, please accompany your subscription with a check made payable to the order of George E. Catts, President Stockton Savings Bank, Stockton, California, who will see that the money received is devoted to the payment of expenses incurred in preparing and printing Mr. Nickerson's report. The copy or copies of the report subscribed by you will be mailed you about November 25th.
I may say I believe the presentation of Mr. Nickerson's report to the members of the U. S. Senate will prove more effective than any other instrumentality in defeating the Raker bill.
I take pleasure in enclosing copy of speech recently delivered at a meeting held under the auspices of the San Francisco Woman's Civic Center for the purpose of discussing the Hetch Hetchy proposition. City Engineer W. W. O'Shaughnessey and City Attorney Percy V. Long advocated the spoliation of Hetch Hetchy, while C. H. Miller, a San Francisco engineer of high standing, and I spoke in opposition to the Raker bill.
I hand you herewith copy of my speech solely for the reason that it may possibly give you some information respecting the San Francisco water supply question.
Trusting that you may deem it desirable to respond to the foregoing appeal for subscriptions for Mr. Nickerson's report,I am

Very truly yours,


Stockton, Calif.

Date Original

1913 Nov 19


Original letter dimensions: 27.5 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 21, Image 0998

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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3 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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