Title
The Raker Act

Legislation granting San Francisco the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley was first introduced in 1909. It failed. Teddy Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior James Garfield had given his approval a year earlier for a dam to be built eventually. However, new Interior Secretary Richard Ballinger had referred the decision to Congress where pressure from John Muir's Sierra Club, the Century magazine, and the New York Times was persuasive. In 1913 San Francisco returned with new legislation far better armed and allied. Portions of the bill introduced in the House of Representatives by John Raker of California are given below. Raker had the support of William Kent of Marin County, California, who only recently had donated a significant grove of redwoods to the United States to be named in the honor of his friend, John Muir. The Secretary of the Interior in the new Wilson administration was Franklin Lane, a former city attorney for San Francisco. The bill moved quickly through a special summer session of Congress called to consider tariff legislation. President Wilson signed the bill into law in December. Opposition from preservationists was limited by the hastily called hearings on the bill and by John Muir's declining health. He died the following year.

HETCH HETCHY RESERVOIR SITE

AN ACT GRANTING TO THE CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO
CERTAIN RIGHTS OF WAY IN, OVER, AND THROUGH CERTAIN
PUBLIC LANDS, THE YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, AND
STANISLAUS NATIONAL FOREST, AND CERTAIN LANDS
IN THE YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, THE STANISLAUS
NATIONAL FOREST, AND THE PUBLIC
LANDS IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA,
AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

AN ACT Granting to the city and county of San Francisco certain rights of way in, over and through certain public lands, the Yosemite National Park, and Stanislaus National Forest, and certain lands in the Yosemite National Park, the Stanislaus National Forest, and the public lands in the State of California, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there is hereby granted to the city and country of San Francisco, a municipal corporation in the State of California, all necessary rights of way along such locations and of such width, not to exceed two hundred and fifty feet, as in the judgment of the Secretary of the Interior may be required for the purposes of this act, in, over, and through the public lands of the United States in the counties of Tuolumne, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, and Alameda, in the State of California, and in, over, and through the Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest, or portions thereof, lying within the said counties, for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining aqueducts, canals, ditches, pipes, pipe lines, flumes, tunnels, and conduits for conveying water for domestic purposes and uses to the city and county of San Francisco and such other municipalities and water districts as, with the consent of the city and county of San Francisco, or in accordance with the laws of the State of California in force at the time application is made, may hereafter participate in the beneficial use of the rights and privileges granted by this act: for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining power and electric plants, poles, and lines for generation and sale and distribution of electric energy; also for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining telephone and telegraph lines, for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining roads, trails, bridges, tramways, railroads, and other means of locomotion, transportation, and communication, such as may be necessary or proper in the construction, maintenance, and operation of the works constructed by the grantee herein; together with such lands in the Hetch Hetchy Valley and Lake Eleanor Basin within the Yosemite National Park, and the Cherry Valley within the Stanislaus National Forest, irrespective of the width or extent of said lands, as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be actually necessary for surface or underground reservoirs, diverting and storage dams; together with such lands as the Secretary of the Interior may determine to be actually necessary for power houses, and all other structures or buildings necessary or properly incident to the construction, operation, and maintenance of said water-power and electric plants, telephone and telegraph lines, and such means of locomotion, transportation, and communication as may be established; together with the right to take, free of cost, from the public lands, the Yosemite National Park, and the Stanislaus National Forest adjacent to its right of way, within such distance as the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture may determine, stone, earth, gravel, sand, tufa, and other materials of like character actually necessary to be used in the construction, operation, and repair of its said water-power and electric plants, its said telephone and telegraph lines, and its said means of locomotion, transportation, or communication, under such conditions and regulations as may be fixed by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture, within their respective jurisdictions for the protection of the public lands, the Yosemite National Park, and the Stanislaus National Forest:

Provided, That said grantee shall file, as hereinafter provided, a map or maps showing the boundaries, location, and extent of said proposed rights of way and lands for the purposes hereinabove set forth:
Provided further, That the Secretary of the Interior shall approve no location or change of location in the national forests unless said location or change of location shall have been approved in writing by the Secretary of Agriculture.
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Sec. 4. That the said grantee shall conform to all regulations adopted and prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior governing the Yosemite National Park and by the Secretary of Agriculture governing the Stanislaus National Forest, and shall not take, cut, or destroy any timber within the Yosemite National Park or the Stanislaus National Forest, except such as may be actually necessary in order to construct, repair, and operate it said reservoirs, dams, power plants, water power and electric works, and other structures above mentioned, but no timber shall be cut or removed from lands outside of the right of way until designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture, respectively; and it shall pay to the United States the full value of all timber and wood cut, injured, or destroyed on or adjacent to any of the rights of way and lands, as required by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture:
Provided, That no timber shall be cut by the grantee in the Yosemite National Park except from land to be submerged or which constitutes an actual obstruction to the right or rights of way or to any road or trail provided in this act:
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Sec. 6. That the grantee is prohibited from ever selling or letting to any corporation or individual, except a municipality or a municipal water district or irrigation district, the right to sell or sublet the water or the electric energy sold or given to it or him by the said grantee:

Provided, That the rights hereby granted shall not be sold, assigned, or transferred to any private person, corporation, or association, and in case of any attempt to so sell, assign, transfer, or convey, this grant shall revert to the Government of the United States.

Sec. 7. That for and in consideration of the grant by the United States as provided for in this act the said grantee shall assign, free of cost to the United States, all roads and trails built under the provisions hereof; and further, after the expiration of five years from the passage of this act the grantee shall pay to the United States the sum of $15,000 annually for a period of ten years, beginning with the expiration of the five-year period before mentioned, and for the next ten years following $20,000 annually, and for the remainder of the term of the grant shall, unless in the discretion of Congress the annual charge should be increased or diminished pay the sum of $30,000 annually, said sums to be paid on the first day of July of each year. Until otherwise provided by Congress, said sums shall be kept in a separate fund by the United States to be applied to the building and maintenance of roads and trails and other improvements in the Yosemite National Park and other national parks in the State of California. The Secretary of the Interior shall designate the uses to be made of sums paid under the provisions of this section under the conditions specified herein.
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Sec. 9. That this grant is made to the said grantee subject to the observance on the part of the grantee of all the conditions hereinbefore and hereinafter enumerated:

(a) That upon the completion of the Hetch Hetchy Dam or the Lake Eleanor Dam, in the Yosemite National Park, by the grantee, as herein specified, and upon the commencement of the use of any reservoirs thereby created by said grantee as a source of water supply for said grantee, the following sanitary regulations shall be made effective within the watershed above and around said reservoir sites so used by said grantee:
First. No human excrement, garbage, or other refuse shall be placed in the waters of any reservoir or stream or within three hundred feet thereof.

Second. All sewage from permanent camps and hotels within the watershed shall be filtered by natural percolation through porous earth or otherwise adequately purified or destroyed.

Third. No person shall bathe, wash clothes or cooking utensils, or water stock in, ruin any way pollute, the water within the limits of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir or any reservoir constructed by the said grantee under the provisions of this grant, or in the streams leading thereto, within one mile of said reservoir; or, with reference to the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, in the waters from the reservoir or waters entering the river between it and the "Early intake" of the aqueduct, pending the completion of the aqueduct between "Early intake" and the Hetch Hetchy Dam site.

Fourth. The cost of the inspection necessary to secure compliance with the sanitary regulations made a part of these conditions, which inspection shall be under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, shall be defrayed by the said grantee.

Fifth. If at any time the sanitary regulations provided for herein shall be deemed by said grantee insufficient to protect the purity of the water supply, then the said grantee shall install a filtration plant or provide other means to guard the purity of the water. No other sanitary rules or restrictions shall be demanded by or granted to the said grantee as to the use of the watershed by campers, tourists, or the occupants of hotels and cottages.
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(m) That the right of said grantee in the Tuolumne water supply to develop electric power for either municipal or commercial use is to be made conditional for twenty years following the completion of any portion of the works adapted to the generation of electrical energy, as follows: The said grantee shall, within three years from the date of completion of said portion of the works, install, operate, and maintain apparatus capable of developing and transmitting not less than ten thousand horsepower of electric power for municipal and commercial use, said ten thousand horsepower to be actually used or offered for use; and within ten years from the completion of said portion of the works not less than twenty thousand horsepower; and within fifteen years therefrom not less than thirty thousand horsepower; and within twenty years therefrom not less than sixty thousand horsepower; unless in the judgment of the Secretary of the Interior the public interest will be satisfied with a lesser development. The said grantee shall develop and use hydroelectric power for the use of its people and shall, at prices to be fixed under the laws of California or, in the absence of such laws, at prices approved by the Secretary of the Interior, sell or supply such power for irrigation, pumping, or other beneficial use, said prices to be not less than will return to said grantee the actual total costs of providing and supplying said power, which costs shall be computed in accordance with the currently accepted practice of public cost accounting, as shall be determined by the Secretary of the Interior, including, however, a fair proportion of cost of conduit, lands, dams, and water-supply system; and further, said grantee shall, before using any of said water for the purposes of developing hydroelectric power, file such maps, surveys, field notes, or other data as may be required by law, and shall conform to any law existing and applicable to said subject or development of said hydroelectric power for municipal or commercial uses.
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(r) That in case the Department of the Interior is called upon, by reason of any of the above conditions, to make investigations and decisions respecting the rights, benefits, or obligations specified in this act, which investigations or decisions involve expense to the said Department of the Interior, then such expense shall be borne by said grantee.

(s) That the grantee shall file with the Secretary of the Interior, within six months after the approval of this act, its a acceptance of the terms and conditions of this grant.
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To Start You Thinking

1) The Raker Act gives San Francisco the rights to water and power generated by the Hetch Hetchy system. Describe the provisions of the act prohibiting the sale of water or power by San Francisco.

2) The act prescribes sanitary conditions for Hetch Hetchy water. As a San Francisco supervisor what regulations would you implement to see that the sanitation provisions of the Raker Act were met?

3) How does the bill provide for regulation of its provisions by the United States government?

Notes

"Hetch Hetchy Reservoir Site", Hearing before the Committee on Public Lands, United States Senate, 63rd Congress, First Session on HR 7207 as found at the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

Last modified in April, 2017 by Rick Thomas