- § 661. Creation of commission; appointment of members; vacancies; powers generally
- § 662. Organization; compensation of members; rules and regulations of procedure; traveling expenses
- § 663. Territorial jurisdiction over hydraulic mining; hydraulic mining injurious to navigation prohibited
- § 664. General duties as to plans for protection of navigation
- § 665. Survey for debris reservoirs; study of methods of mines and mining
- § 666. Noting conditions of navigable channels
- § 667. Annual reports
- § 668. “Hydraulic mining” and “mining by hydraulic process” defined
- § 669. Petition by hydraulic miners
- § 670. Surrender to United States of right to regulate debris of mine
- § 671. Petition for common dumping ground, etc.
- § 672. Notice of petition for dumping grounds, etc.; hearing
- § 673. Order by commission directing method of mining, etc.; expenses of complying with order; exemption from mining taxes
- § 674. Plans for and supervision of work required by order; permit to commence mining
- § 675. Conditions precedent for commencement of mining operations
- § 676. Allotment of expenses for common dumping grounds; location of impounding works
- § 677. Limitation as to quantity of debris washed away
- § 678. Modification and revocation of permit to mine
- § 679. Violation of permit to mine; penalty
- § 680. Examination of mines; reports
- § 681. Repealed.
- § 682. Malicious injury to works; injury to navigable waters by hydraulic mining; penalty
- § 683. Tax on operation of hydraulic mines; “debris fund”; advances by mine owners; storage for water and use of outlet facilities
- § 684. Cooperation by commission with State authorities
- § 685. Construction by commission of restraining works, etc.; use of debris fund
- § 686. Construction of restraining works in conjunction with State
- § 687. Use of State dredge and appliances in river and harbor improvements
A commission is created, to be known as the California Debris Commission, consisting of three members. The President of the United States shall, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint the commission from officers of the Corps of Engineers, United States Army. Vacancies occurring therein shall be filled in like manner. It shall have the authority, and exercise the powers set forth in sections 662 to 685 of this title, under the supervision of the Chief of Engineers and direction of the Secretary of the Army.
Said commission shall organize by the selection of such officers as may be required in the performance of its duties the same to be selected from the members thereof. The members of said commission shall receive no greater compensation than is now allowed by law to each, respectively, as an officer of said Corps of Engineers. It shall also adopt rules and regulations, not inconsistent with law, to govern its deliberations and prescribe the method of procedure under the provisions of this chapter. While traveling on duty the officers of the commission shall receive the mileage allowed by law.
The jurisdiction of said commission, in so far as the same affects mining carried on by the hydraulic process, shall extend to all such mining in the territory drained by the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems in the State of California. Hydraulic mining, as defined in section 668 of this title, directly or indirectly injuring the navigability of said river systems, carried on in said territory other than as permitted under the provisions of this chapter is prohibited and declared unlawful.
It shall be the duty of said commission to mature and adopt such plan or plans, from examinations and surveys made prior to March 1, 1893, and from such additional examinations and surveys as it may deem necessary, as will improve the navigability of all the rivers comprising said systems, deepen their channels, and protect their banks. Such plan or plans shall be matured with a view of making the same effective as against the encroachment of and damage from debris resulting from mining operations, natural erosion, or other causes, with a view of restoring, as near as practicable and the necessities of commerce and navigation demand, the navigability of said rivers to the condition existing in 1860, and permitting mining by the hydraulic process, as the term is understood in said State, to be carried on, provided the same can be accomplished, without injury to the navigability of said rivers or the lands adjacent thereto.
It shall further examine, survey, and determine the utility and practicability, for the purposes hereinafter indicated, of storage sites in the tributaries of said rivers and in the respective branches of said tributaries, or in the plains, basins, sloughs, and tule and swamp lands adjacent to or along the course of said rivers, for the storage of debris or water or as settling reservoirs, with the object of using the same by either or all of these methods to aid in the improvement and protection of said navigable rivers by preventing deposits therein of debris resulting from mining operations, natural erosion, or other causes, or for affording relief thereto in flood time and providing sufficient water to maintain scouring force therein in the summer season; and in connection therewith to investigate such hydraulic and other mines as are or may have been worked by methods intended to restrain the debris and material moved in operating such mines by impounding dams, settling reservoirs, or otherwise, and in general to make such study of and researches in the hydraulic mining industry as science, experience, and engineering skill may suggest as practicable and useful in devising a method or methods whereby such mining may be carried on as aforesaid.
The said commission shall from time to time note the conditions of the navigable channels of said river systems, by cross-section surveys or otherwise, in order to ascertain the effect therein of such hydraulic mining operations as may be permitted by its orders and such as is caused by erosion, natural or otherwise.
Said commission shall submit to the Chief of Engineers, for the information of the Secretary of the Army, on or before the 15th day of November of each year, a report of its labors and transactions, with plans for the construction, completion, and preservation of the public works outlined in this chapter, together with estimates of the cost thereof, stating what amounts can be profitably expended thereon each year. The Secretary of the Army shall thereupon submit same to Congress on or before the meeting thereof.
For the purposes of this chapter “hydraulic mining” and “mining by the hydraulic process” are declared to have the meaning and application given to said terms in the State of California.
The individual proprietor or proprietors, or in case of a corporation, its manager or agent appointed for that purpose, owning mining ground in the territory in the State of California mentioned in section 663 of this title, which it is desired to work by the hydraulic process, must file with said commission a verified petition, setting forth such facts as will comply with law and the rules prescribed by said commission.
Said petition shall be accompanied by an instrument duly executed and acknowledged, as required by the law of the said State, whereby the owner or owners of such mine or mines surrender to the United States the right and privilege to regulate by law, as provided in this chapter, or any law that may be enacted after March 1, 1893, or by such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by virtue thereof, the manner and method in which the debris resulting from the working of said mine or mines shall be restrained, and what amount shall be produced therefrom; it being understood that the surrender aforesaid shall not be construed as in any way affecting the right of such owner or owners to operate said mine or mines by any other process or method in use in said State on March 1, 1893: Provided, That they shall not interfere with the navigability of the aforesaid rivers.
A notice specifying briefly the contents of said petition and fixing a time previous to which all proofs are to be submitted shall be published by said commission in some newspaper or newspapers of general circulation in the communities interested in the matter set forth therein. If published in a daily paper such publication shall continue for at least ten days; if in a weekly paper in at least three issues of the same. Pending publication thereof said commission, or a committee thereof, shall examine the mine and premises described in such petition. On or before the time so fixed all parties interested, either as petitioners or contestants, whether miners or agriculturists, may file affidavits, plans, and maps in support of their respective claims. Further hearings, upon notice to all parties of record, may be granted by the commission when necessary.
In case a majority of the members of said commission, within thirty days after the time so fixed, concur in the decision in favor of the petitioner or petitioners, the said commission shall thereupon make an order directing the methods and specifying in detail the manner in which operations shall proceed in such mine or mines; what restraining or impounding works, if any, if facilities therefor can be found, shall be built and maintained; how and of what material; where to be located; and in general set forth such further requirements and safeguards as will protect the public interests and prevent injury to the said navigable rivers and the lands adjacent thereto, with such further conditions and limitations as will observe all the provisions of this chapter in relation to the working thereof and the payment of taxes on the gross proceeds of the same: Provided, That all expense incurred in complying with said order shall be borne by the owner or owners of such mine or mines: And provided further, That where it shall appear to said commission that hydraulic mining may be carried on without injury to the navigation of said navigable rivers and the lands adjacent thereto, an order may be made authorizing such mining to be carried on without requiring the construction of any restraining or impounding works or any settling reservoirs: And provided also, That where such an order is made a license to mine, no taxes provided for in this chapter on the gross proceeds of such mining operations shall be collected.
Such petitioner or petitioners must within a reasonable time present plans and specifications of all works required to be built in pursuance of said order for examination, correction, and approval by said commission; and thereupon work may immediately commence thereon under the supervision of said commission or representative thereof attached thereto from said Corps of Engineers, who shall inspect same from time to time. Upon completion thereof, if found in every respect to meet the requirements of the said order and said approved plans and specifications, permission shall thereupon be granted to the owner or owners of such mine or mines to commence mining operations, subject to the conditions of said order and the provisions of this chapter.
No permission granted to a mine owner or owners under this chapter shall take effect, so far as regards the working of a mine, until all impounding dams or other restraining works, if any are prescribed by the order granting such permission, have been completed and until the impounding dams or other restraining works or settling reservoirs provided by said commission have reached such a stage as, in the opinion of said commission, it is safe to use the same: Provided, however, That if said commission shall be of the opinion that the restraining and other works already constructed at the mine or mines shall be sufficient to protect the navigable rivers of said systems and the work of said commission, then the owner or owners of such mine or mines may be permitted to commence operations.
In case the joint petition referred to in section 671 of this title is granted, the commission shall fix the respective amounts to be paid by each owner of such mines toward providing and building necessary impounding dams or other restraining works. In the event of a petition being filed after the entry of such order, or in case the impounding dam or dams or other restraining works have already been constructed and accepted by said commission, the commission shall fix such amount as may be reasonable for the privilege of dumping therein, which amount shall be divided between the original owners of such impounding dams or other restraining works in proportion to the amount respectively paid by each party owning same. The expense of maintaining and protecting such joint dam or works shall be divided among mine owners using the same in such proportion as the commission shall determine. In all cases where it is practicable, restraining and impounding works are to be provided, constructed, and maintained by mine owners near or below the mine or mines before reaching the main tributaries of said navigable waters.
At no time shall any more debris be permitted to be washed away from any hydraulic mine or mines situated on the tributaries of said rivers and the respective branches of each, worked under the provisions of this chapter, than can be impounded within the restraining works erected.
The said commission may, at any time when the condition of the navigable rivers or when the capacities of all impounding and settling facilities erected by mine owners or such as may be provided by Government authority require same, modify the order granting the privilege to mine by the hydraulic mining process so as to reduce the amount thereof to meet the capacities of the facilities then in use; or, if actually required in order to protect the navigable rivers from damage or in case of failure to pay the tax prescribed by section 683 of this title within thirty days after same becomes due, may revoke same until the further notice of the commission.
An intentional violation on the part of a mine owner or owners, company, or corporation, or the agents or employees of either, of the conditions of the order granted pursuant to section 673 of this title, or such modifications thereof as may have been made by said commission, shall work a forfeiture of the privileges thereby conferred, and upon notice being served by the order of said commission upon such owner or owners, company, or corporation, or agent in charge, work shall immediately cease. Said commission shall take necessary steps to enforce its orders in case of the failure, neglect, or refusal of such owner or owners, company, or corporation, or agents thereof, to comply therewith, or in the event of any person or persons, company, or corporation working by said process in said territory contrary to law.
Said commission, or a committee therefrom, or officer of said corps assigned to duty under its orders, shall, whenever deemed necessary, visit said territory and all mines operating under the provisions of this chapter. A report of such examination shall be placed on file.
Any person or persons who willfully or maliciously injure, damage, or destroy, or attempt to injure, damage, or destroy, any dam or other work erected under the provisions of this chapter for restraining, impounding, or settling purposes, or for use in connection therewith, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not to exceed the sum of $5,000 or be imprisoned not to exceed five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court. And any person or persons, company or corporation, their agents or employees, who shall mine by the hydraulic process directly or indirectly injuring the navigable waters of the United States, in violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
Upon the construction by the said commission of dams or other works for the detention of debris from hydraulic mines and the issuing of the order provided for by this chapter to any individual, company, or corporation to work any mine or mines by hydraulic process, the individual, company, or corporation operating thereunder working any mine or mines by hydraulic process, the debris from which flows into or is in whole or in part restrained by such dams or other works erected by said commission, shall pay for each cubic yard mined from the natural bank a tax equal to the total capital cost of the dam, reservoir, and rights-of-way divided by the total capacity of the reservoir for the restraint of debris, as determined in each case by the California Debris Commission, which tax shall be paid annually on a date fixed by said commission and in accordance with regulations to be adopted by the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Treasurer of the United States is authorized to receive the same. All sums of money paid into the Treasury under this section shall be set apart and credited to a fund to be known as the “debris fund”, and shall be expended by said commission under the supervision of the Chief of Engineers and direction of the Secretary of the Army, for repayment of any funds advanced by the Federal Government or other agency for the construction of restraining works and settling reservoirs, and for maintenance: Provided, That said commission is authorized to receive and pay into the Treasury from the owner or owners of mines worked by the hydraulic process, to whom permission may have been granted so to work under the provisions thereof, such money advances as may be offered to aid in the construction of such impounding dams, or other restraining works, or settling reservoirs, or sites thereof, as may be deemed necessary by said commission to protect the navigable channels of said river systems, on condition that all moneys so advanced shall be refunded as the said tax is paid into the said debris fund: And provided further, That in no event shall the Government of the United States be held liable to refund same except as directed by this section. The Secretary of the Army is authorized to enter into contracts to supply storage for water and use of outlet facilities from debris storage reservoirs, for domestic and irrigation purposes and power development upon such conditions of delivery, use, and payment as he may approve: Provided, That the moneys received from such contracts shall be deposited to the credit of the reservoir project from which the water is supplied, and the total capital cost of said reservoir, which is to be repaid by tax on mining operations as provided in this section, shall be reduced in the amount so received.
For the purpose of securing harmony of action and economy in expenditures in the work to be done by the United States and the State of California, respectively, the former in its plans for the improvement and protection of the navigable streams and to prevent the depositing of mining debris or other materials within the same, and the latter in its plans authorized by law for the reclamation, drainage, and protection of its lands, or relating to the working of hydraulic mines, the said commission is empowered to consult thereon with a commission of engineers of said State, if authorize
Said commission, in order that such material as is now or may hereafter be lodged in the tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems resulting from mining operations, natural erosion, or other causes, shall be prevented from injuring the said navigable rivers or such of the tributaries of either as may be navigable and the land adjacent thereto, is directed and empowered, when appropriations are made therefor by law, or sufficient money is deposited for that purpose in said debris fund, to build at such points above the head of navigation in said rivers and on the main tributaries thereof, or branches of such tributaries, or any place adjacent to the same, which in the judgment of said commission, will effect said object (the same to be of such material as will insure safety and permanency), such restraining or impounding dams and settling reservoirs, with such canals, locks, or other works adapted and required to complete same. The recommendations contained in Executive Document Numbered 267, Fifty-first Congress, second session, and Executive Document Numbered 98, Forty-seventh Congress, first session, as far as they refer to impounding dams, or other restraining works, are adopted, and the same are directed to be made the basis of operations.
The Secretary of the Army, in expending appropriations in the preparation for and construction of works for the restraining or impounding of mining debris in the State of California, is authorized to enter into an agreement that the contractor shall look solely to the State of California for one-half of such expense, to be paid out of said State’s appropriation, and the United States shall in nowise be liable for said one-half.
The Secretary of the Army, in carrying out the provisions of any Act of Congress, providing for the restraining or impounding of mining debris in California, may, in his discretion, when in his judgment the aggregate of appropriations already made by said State and Congress and available therefor are sufficient to complete the same, undertake the works necessary thereto by hired labor and by purchase of supplies and materials therefor, and may accept payments on account thereof as the work progresses under and according to the provisions of the acts of the legislature of said State for such purposes.
The Secretary of the Army is authorized to accept from the State of California the use of any dredger, or appliances owned or controlled by said State, conformably to any offer thereof by the said State; and the Secretary of the Army is authorized to use any such dredger or appliances in any river or harbor improvement that may be prosecuted therein by the United States, either on the part of the United States alone or conjointly with said State: Provided, That nothing shall be paid to the State of California for the use of said dredger, and that nothing herein contained shall create any liability against the United States.