John Muir et al.
The Voters of San Francisco
Keep this secret till tuedsday
This is issued by citizens who are interested solely in the welfare of San Francisco and who have no interest whatever in any water supply available for San Francisco.
TO THE VOTERS OF SAN FRANCISCO:
Almost all of our citizens favor a municipal water supply. We want the best there is---acquired on the best terms possible and for the least cost.
The IMMEDIATE QUESTION before the people is the HETCH-HETCHY SUPPLY. The following are SOME OF THE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT VOTE BONDS FOR OR FAVOR THIS PROPOSITION :
FINANCIAL REASONS AGAINST THE PROJECT.
ARE YOU WILLING TO BOND THIS CITY FOR MORE THAN SEVENTY-FIVE MILLION ($75,000,000.00) DOLLARS AND INCREASE THE TAX RATE 75 TO 100 CENTS ON EVERY HUNDRED DOLLARS?
DO YOU WANT TO RAISE TAXATION BEYOND ENDURANCE? --- CHECK ENTERPRISE? - PARALYZE INDUSTRIES? - REPEL INVESTORS FROM YOUR DOORS? - BUILD UP A WALL THAT WILL KEEP OUT MONEY AND PREVENT THE EMPLOYMENT OF LABOR?
DO YOU WANT THE CITY TO SPEND MILLIONS ON A ONE-SIDED AND GROSSLY UNFAIR PARTNERSHIP WHEREBY IRRIGATION DISTRICTS ARE GUARANTEED MORE THAN ONE BILLION FIVE HUNDRED MILLION GALLONS OF WATER PER DAY AND SAN FRANCISCO IS ALLOWED ONLY WHAT IS LEFT?
If you do not want all these evils and worse to befall this city, pause a moment to read what follows:
BONDS of San Francisco ALREADY AUTHORIZED-
*1904 Bonds sold and outstanding ......... $ 3,436,000.00
1908 Bonds authorized and partly sold ......... 18,200,000.00
ADDITIONAL BONDS REQUIRED in the near future for new City Hall,additional sewers, streets, parks and playgrounds, etc., total atleast ........... 10,000,000.00
CITY ENGINEER'S ESTIMATE OF COST OF HETCH-HETCHY SYSTEM..... 43,774,150.00
Grand Total . . . . . $75,410,150.00
OR City Engineer's estimate of cost of Spring Valley plant and Hetch-Hetchy as auxiliary system ......... $51,186,660.00
This would make a Grand Total of ...... $82,822,660.00
Remember that under the Charter THE CITY CAN NOT AT PRESENT BOND ITSELF FOR MORE THAN $68,206,249.65. DOES NOT THIS TREMENDOUSLY EXPENSIVE SCHEME SPELL BANKRUPTCY AND RUIN?
But the real situation is even worse. DID YOU EVER KNOW OF A MUNICIPAL OR GOVERNMENT PROJECT WHERE THE ACTUAL COST WAS AS LOW AS THE ESTIMATE? Our City Hall cost $13,000,000.00, or more than four times the original estimated cost!
The Panama Canal is going to cost over a hundred millions more than, and about double the estimated cost! EVERY MUNICIPAL WATER SYSTEM YOU EVER HEARD OF COST FROM A THIRD TO A HALF MORE THAN THE ESTIMATED COST! The new Los Angeles water and irrigation system was estimated to cost $23,000,000.00, and the actual cost will be nearer $50,000,000.00.
ARE WE ANY WISER HERE IN SAN FRANCISCO?
The City Engineer is anxious to keep his estimates as low as possible: He says the Hetch-Hetchy project will cost $43,774,150.00 or $51,186,660.00. Do you for one moment imagine that we can keep down the cost to anything like that amount? JUDGING FROM THE EXAMPLES THAT HISTORY GIVES US, IT WILL COST MORE NEARLY $75,000,000.00!
* It must also be kept in mind that there are about $14,000,000.00 more of the 1904 bonds authorized and uncancelled that may still be sold, which would make the grand total $90,000,000.00.
THERE IS A LIMIT TO THE FINANCIAL CREDIT OF THIS CITY. DO YOU WANT TO FORCE THE LIMIT, AND JEOPARDIZE PROJECTS OF REHABILITATION?
DO YOU KNOW THAT FOR EVERY MILLION DOLLARS IN BONDS THE CITY ISSUES, THE TAX RATE GOES UP ABOUT ONE PER CENT per year on every hundred dollars' assessed value, for interest charges alone? And THAT FOR $75,000,000.00 BONDS, 75c WILL BE ADDED EVERY YEAR TO THE TAX RATE FOR INTEREST CHARGE? And this does not provide for paying off the principal! A SINKING FUND MUST BE PROVIDED FOR THIS PURPOSE THAT WILL ADD STILL MORE TO THE TAX RATE, AND ALTOGETHER NEARLY DOUBLE IT.
But the Hetch-Hetchy advocates will say, "The water rates will pay a part of this heavy tax." It amounts to the same thing. You are only paying out of another pocket. COMPETENT ENGINEERS ESTIMATE THAT THE ENORMOUS COST OF CONSTRUCTION OF THE HETCH-HETCHY SYSTEM WILL GREATLY INCREASE AND PERHAPS DOUBLE THE WATER RATES.
The advocates say, "We are now only voting on a matter of $600,000.00 bonds." True-but it follows, as the night the day, that YOU MUST EITHER FOLLOW UP THIS ISSUE BY VOTING BONDS FOR THE FULL $50,000,000.00 or $75,000,000.00 REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE SYSTEM, OR YOU WILL BE THROWING AWAY YOUR $600,000.00. According to the terms of the grant, unless the time is extended, which is doubtful, the FIFTY OR MORE MILLIONS REQUIRED WILL HAVE TO BE SPENT INSIDE OF TEN YEARS, AND DURING THAT TIME WE COULD NOT GET ONE DROP OF WATER FROM THIS SYSTEM.Voter, ponder well over these facts before you cast your vote!
PHYSICAL REASONS AGAINST THE PROJECT.
WE WANT THE PUREST WATER WE CAN GET FOR SAN FRANCISCO. WE WANT IT IN UNLIMITED QUANTITY. WE WANT IT FROM THE CHEAPEST SOURCE, CONSISTENT WITH QUALITY AND QUANTITY.
AS TO QUANTITY, THE HETCH-HETCHY SUPPLY IS DEFICIENT.
The city of San Francisco entered into a binding agreement under the direction of Secretary Garfield, providing that-"The city and county of SAN FRANCISCO . . . WILL NOT INTERFERE IN THE SLIGHTEST PARTICULAR WITH THE RIGHT OF THE MODESTO Irrigation District AND THE TURLOCK IRRIGATION DISTRICT TO USE THE NATURAL FLOW OF THE TUOLUMNE RIVER and its branches to the full extent of their claims as follows: TURLOCK IRRIGATION DISTRICT, 1500 SECOND FEET; MODESTO IRRIGATION DISTRICT, 850 SECOND FEET; these districts having respectively appropriated the foregoing amounts of water under the laws of the State of California.
"To the end that these rights may be fully protected, San Francisco will stipulate not to store nor cause to be stored, divert, nor cause to be diverted from the Tuolumne River or any of its branches, any of the natural flow of said river when desired for use by said districts, for any beneficial purpose, unless this natural flow of the river and tributaries above La Grange dam be in excess of the actual capacities of the canals of said districts, even when they shall have been brought up to the full volume named, 1500 second feet for the Turlock Irrigation District and 850 second feet for the Modesto Irrigation District.
"The city and county of SAN FRANCISCO WILL IN NO WAY INTERFERE WITH THE STORAGE OF FLOOD WATERS, in sites other than Hetch-Hetchy and Lake Eleanor BY THE MODESTO AND TURLOCK IRRIGATION DISTRICTS or either of said districts for use in said districts, and will return to the Tuolumne River above the La Grange dam, for the use of said irrigation districts, all surplus or waste flow of the river which may be used for power."
Let us see what this means. We must keep in mind the fact that THE IRRIGATORS ARE GUARANTEED 2350 CUBIC FEET PER SECOND -WHICH IS MORE THAN A BILLION FIVE HUNDRED MILLION GALLONS PER DAY -THAT SAN FRANCISCO CANNOT INTERFERE WITH THE STORAGE OF FLOOD WATERS BY THEM - THAT THE IRRIGATORS ARE NOW BUILDING A DAM TO STORE SUCH FLOOD WATERS -THAT THEY ARE ABOUT TO APPLY TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR FOR OTHER RESERVOIR SITES ON THE MAIN RIVER AND OTHER STREAMS ABOVE HETCH-HETCHY - THAT THESE SITES ARE NUMEROUS AND THAT HE HAS INTIMATED TO THE ATTORNEYS FOR THE IRRIGATION DISTRICTS THAT HE WOULD GRANT THESE RIGHTS WHENEVER THEY APPLY FOR THEM -THAT THERE ARE OTHER PRIOR WATER-RIGHTS ALL ALONG THE RIVER - THAT MANY YEARS (nearly one half the time) THE AVERAGE ANNUAL FLOW OF THE ENTIRE RIVER IS LESS THAN 2350 SECOND FEET -that in the year 1898 the average flow was only 1182 second feet, and in the years 1899, 1900 and 1902, it was only a little more than 2000 second feet. WITH UNLIMITED RIGHT OF STORAGE FOR THE IRRIGATION DISTRICTS, AND WITH THE GREAT WASTAGE THAT IS BOUND TO OCCUR, WHERE IS SAN FRANCISCO GOING TO "GET OFF" AFTER SPENDING $50,000,000.00 OR MORE for a system tied up by these harsh conditions?
The shrewd attorneys for the irrigation districts drafted this stipulation, giving the districts the right to store unlimited quantities of flood water so as to give them, as nearly as possible, a steady flow of 2350 second feet throughout the year.
THE REPORT OP FITZGERALD AND MARX DOES NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THIS UNLIMITED RIGHT OF THE IRRIGATION DISTRICTS TO STORE WATERS.
No wonder that a fear has been expressed that the city has been inadvertently dispossessed of the cream of the rights: The people of San Francisco are placed at the mercy of the irrigationists who are to have the first call upon the water supply.
SOUND BUSINESS JUDGMENT, COMMON SENSE, and THE CREDIT OF THE CITY DEMAND that the NEAREST sources of supply SHOULD BE FIRST DEVELOPED TO THE FULLEST CAPACITY. If the city cannot get the Spring Valley plant on fair terms, then CONDEMN IT in the courts. Prof. Geo. Davidson, Col. W. W. Heuer, U. S. A., and some of the most eminent engineers in America are authority for the fact that this supply can be increased to over 100,000,000 gallons daily, ample for years to come, by adding nearby sources that are now going to waste.
The purity of the water can be insured by filtration near the point of use, which every self-respecting city in the world is doing to-day.
IF THE SPRING VALLEY CONTINUES TO BE UNREASONABLE, AND CONDEMNATION PROVES UNWISE, THERE ARE OTHER SOURCES OF WATER SUPPLY FOR SAN FRANCISCO, AMPLE IN QUANTITY, PURE IN QUALITY, AND ECONOMICAL.
San Francisco stands at the confluence of two large rivers and directly opposite the great roof of the Sierra, down which pour numbers of streams of pure water, whose sources are protected by forest reserves. Both to the north and south on the Coast innumerable streams waste in the ocean. IT IS DOUBTFUL IF ANY CITY OF HER SIZE IN THE WHOLE WORLD POSSESSES A GREATER NUMBER OF AVAILABLE SOURCES. The late Col. Geo. H. Mendell, a most eminent hydraulic engineer, reports on fourteen available systems.
Just to the north, a power company has already diverted the waters of the Eel River towards this city into the Russian River Basin. This supply is nearer than the Hetch-Hetchy supply and will be developed to 225,000,000 gallons' daily capacity. There is ample storage—the water-rights are perfect, and the water runs to waste at the power gates. It can be had by this city for the asking. A M. Hunt, an engineer thoroughly familiar with the city's water problem, estimates that 60,000,000 gallons per day can be brought to San Francisco, for approximately $12,500,000 or FOR A LITTLE MORE THAN ONE THIRD WHAT THE CITY ENGINEER HAS ESTIMATED THE SAME AMOUNT CAN BE BROUGHT FROM LAKE ELEANOR (Hetch-Hetchy system).The distributing systems would cost the same in each case.
Another company, operating on the Stanislaus River in the Sierra, WITH STORAGE CAPACITY GREATER THAN HETCH-HETCHY VALLEY, and protected by a forest reserve, WITH DAMS CONSTRUCTED AT NO EXPENSE TO THE CITY, will deliver the same amount of water from the Sierra at less cost than the Hetch-Hetchy system, where dams must be built and valuable rights purchased. This company at one time offered to build a complete transmission line to San Francisco for actual cost plus 10 per cent, and to guarantee all titles and a maximum supply of water equal to any possible requirements.
The Mokelumne, and various American and Yuba River systems lie still further to the north, and insure that THE CITY WILL GET PLENTY OF WATER WHEN SHE NEEDS IT.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul. The Hetch-Hetchy Valley is a mountain temple next to Yosemite, the finest and greatest in the National Park. Should it be submerged, as proposed, it would be made inaccessible and its beauty destroyed. If preserved in pure wildness, it will attract admiring multitudes from all parts of the world and add not only to the wealth and glory of this proud State, but also bring fame and money to San Francisco.
LEGAL REASONS AGAINST THE PROJECT.
THE IRRIGATIONISTS HAVE A STRANGLE HOLD ON THE HETCH-HETCHY SUPPLY UNDER THE FEDERAL GRANT. This water is the life blood of those districts. Without water, life perishes, andthe land becomes semi-arid.Do you imagine that these people are gcing to sit by complacently and allow us to take that which will impoverish them and destroy their homes? We could never get the water we have guaranteed them by stipulation, and litigation would be endless.
The law under which the Hetch-Hetchy rights were granted by the Secretary of the Interior provides that they "may be REVOKED BY HIM or his successor, in his discretion, and SHALL NOT be held to CONFER ANY RIGHTS, or easement, OR INTEREST in, to, or over any public land, reservation or park." IS THIS THE KIND OF RIGHT THIS CITY WANTS TO SPEND MILLIONS ON?
The city is compelled to dam Lake Eleanor first, and yet Mr. Wm. Ham Hall refuses to sell any of his prior power rights on that stream. Mr. Phelan, the father of the Hetch-Hetchy scheme, says this power is necessary for pumping the water over the Coast Range. We would have to resort to expensive condemnation proceedings to get it. Even if the city could develop power, it is prohibited by the terms of the federal grant from selling to its own citizens, but must sell it to the farmers of Stanislaus County at cost. WHY WAS THE CITY PREVENTED FROM SELLING POWER AND LIGHT TO ITS OWN CITIZENS?
As we go north of Hetch-Hetchy, the water becomes less necessary for irrigation, the rainfall greater, and rights less valuable. COMPLETE AND ABSOLUTE RIGHTS TO MANY OF THE SOURCES MENTIONED AS AVAILABLE FOR THIS CITY HAVE BEEN AND WILL BE GUARANTEED THE CITY, UNDER BOND SUFFICIENTLY LARGE TO INSURE PERFECT TITLE, WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS, COMPLICATIONS, OR ANY ONE-SIDED PARTNERSHIP WITH ADVERSE IRRIGATION INTERESTS.
WHEN WE GET READY, AND THE CITY HAS GROWN AND CAN BEAR THE HEAVY BURDEN OF BONDING FOR UNTOLD MILLIONS TO SECURE A DISTANT WATER SUPPLY, WE WANT ONE THAT IS NOT UNDER THE ABSOLUTE CONTROL OF THE GOVERNMENT AND TIED UP WITH ADVERSE INTERESTS.
WE WANT THE BEST THERE IS.
CHARLES C. MOORE, ESQ., President of San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, has expressed himself as follows:-"We hear the point of view of the city authority advocating the purchase of the Hetch-Hetchy water-rights, confident of obtaining a plentiful water supply, confident of obtaining the necessary large amount of money, some fifty, YES, MORE LIKELY SEVENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS, by floating bonds on the credit of the city. There is a strong sentiment in this town in favor of maintaining that unique position we have held all these years, of having San Francisco stand as it does today, the city with the smallest bonded debt per capita, and the lowest percentage of mortgage debt compared to the assessment roll, of any city in the American Union. Let the bond borrowing power of the city be devoted to streets, sewers, and auxiliary fire system, public buildings, and schools."
Our salt-water fire protection system is already under way.
We firmly believe that the public interest at this time does not call for this chimerical water project that will cost untold millions of dollars, and that will add nothing to the immediate convenience, safety or strength of the city. On the contrary, THE RESULTING TAXATION WOULD DRIVE COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OUT OF THE CITY LIMITS.
The personal motives behind this Hetch-Hetchy project have never been fully disclosed. The policy of the promoters of the Hetch-Hetchy scheme has been to exclude all other systems. If they had been entirely fair in the matter, they would have given exhaustive and careful consideration to every available source, and THEY WOULD HAVE SELECTED SEVERAL OF THE BEST AND SUBMITTED THESE TO A VOTE SO THAT YOU MIGHT DECIDE FOR YOURSELVES WHICH WATER SYSTEM YOU PREFER. Instead of this they are trying with undue zeal to commit the city to the Hetch-Hetchy project, whether or no.
The question is put straight up to you, Mr. Voter, and you can not evade it-VOTE AGAINST THE HETCH-HETCHY PROJECT AND BONDS.
The undersigned have no interest whatever in any source of water supply available for San Francisco, but sign this protest as citizens interested in the welfare of the city.
JOHN MUIR, J. N. LeCONTE, WM. F. BADE, E. T. PARSONS, J. K. WILSON,WM. H. CROCKER, JAS. R. KELLY, WM. E. COLBY, E. R. LILIENTHAL, R. M. HOTALING,LEON SLOSS, WILLIAM THOMAS, R. M. TOBIN. J. D. GRANT, JOHN HERMANN,
[San Francisco ?]
Original letter dimensions: 28 x 43 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir et al. to The Voters of San Francisco, [ca.1908 Oct]." (1908). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 5558.
Reel 17, Image 0967
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