Glenn County - Tehama County - Colusa County , California.
(c) 2001, Mike Barkley


[As much as anything, this drives home the dire situation in which the upstream riparians find themselves. This is not the water company, this is not a democracy, the power is not subject to a vote or the reversal by a vote, or the influence of the press or friendship or community interest, or the common sense wisdom of a jury. At any given time two men who are not accountable to anyone, the Water Master and the Judge, have absolute control over the life and death of our ranches. Their every order is law, and for all practical purposes unappealable.]

[This is a transcription of items on file at the court. I've made every effort to present the content precisely, but not the form.]

September 26, 1947

Mr. E. A. Garland,
Stonyford, Colusa Co.,

Dear Sir:

Mr. E.A. Wright of Elk Creek has come in to see Judge Del M. Lemmon concerning your recent letter to him about the installation of a water meter. After listening to Mr. Wright, Judge Lemmon has instructed me to write this letter to you.

It seems that Mr. Wright is entitled to 172 acre feet of water per year, and the amount that he uses for his bathroom facilities is less than 1/2 of 1%. In view of the fact that this amount of water is so insignificant, and the expense of putting in a meter so great, and since he is also entitled to some of the water for watering cattle like the other property owners, the matter of the installation of a meter and the instructions as to the time of turning the pump on and off becomes petty and ridiculous.

I repeat, I am writing this letter at the direction of Judge Lemmon and expect the entire matter as to Mr. Wright be dropped.

Very truly yours,


By [cannot read signature], Deputy Clerk.
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[printed stationery]
STONYFORD. CALIF.[end of pre-printed] September 29, 1947

Judge Dal M. Lemmon,
United States District Court,
Post Office Building,
Sacramento, California.

RE. U.S.A. v H.C. Angle et al in Equity No. 30

Dear Judge Lemmon:

With regards to the letter received dated September 26th. signed by your Deputy Clerk Evensen (I am not sure of the name) relative to Mr E.A. Wright's complaint as to my demands upon him. [sic]

The demand I made upon Mr Wright was at the suggestion and advice of Assistant U.S.Attorney, Mr Emmet J. Sewell with whom I consulted before acting. This is in accordance with suggestion given me by the late Frank H. Kerrigan, former Judge of your Court.

Many of the water users here are continually requesting the use of a small amount of free water [*], they all have a good reason and all have a different idea as to what a small amount of of water is and if I let one have a little the other needs a little more, and where is one to draw the line--how much is a little water? If any one is entitled to free water, all others have the same right, in my opinion and Mr Wright knows this. One small user, if it would stop there would not amount to much but if all the water to those who want free water were to be added it would make a sizable amount. The U.S.Bureau of Reclamation complain that I am not strict enough.

I do believe you realize what an embarrassing position your decision places me. [sic]

At pages 116 and 117 [?] of the printed decree in the above case it limits, one right, to the maximum number of stock that shall be permitted to drink from the stream, which gives an idea of the value placed on a small amount of water.

When I took over here 16 years ago, there was trouble

Judge Lemmon - 2 - U.S.A. v Angle et al

everywhere and I was threatened in all ways from having my nose punched to being shot if I set foot upon some of their property, but with patience, the same fair and just treatment to all; to day with the exception of one other (and with a little more time he will come around) Mr Wright is the only one that does not co operate 100%, a great difference from when I started and as far as Mr Wright is concerned he shall receive the same fair and just treatment as any one else, to me he is just exactly as good as any one else but not one bit better and I do not and have not asked anything from him that I do not ask and expect from all others, whether it involves l000 acre feet of water or 1/4 of an acre foot but to date Mr Wright has refused to co operate in any way.

If I now have to give favors to Mr Wright that I refused others for years it will undo much of the fair treatment, all alike, that I have tried so hard and so long to accomplish and feel I have quite well succeeded besides losing the respect of those I have associated with these years.

At I the bottom of page 176 of the printed decree in the above case is set forth the proceedure [sic] for dealing with any order issued by the Water Master that is considered unjust.

Mr Wright's complaint is the first ever received by your Court since I have been on the job and I have only had to bother your Court with two cases that I havn't [sic] finally been able to handle.

From the above I ask you to reconsider your decision in the E.A.Wright matter.

I should liked [sic] to talk this matter over with you but at the present time, due to the low water, I have a part of the stream on rotation and while all is going smoothly it seems that if I got out of sight, some adjustment is needed.

Very truly yours

/s/ E. A. Garland

E.A.Garland Water Master

[* FREE WATER - over the past 70 years from time to time Reclamation or OUWUA or the Water Master have used this "free water" argument to their advantage. This is a false and deceptive argument. The land owners paid for the water when they bought their ranches and built their irrigation systems. The people who are getting the "free water" are OUWUA and Reclamation, because they are taking every drop that is not actually used by the riparians. Over the decades since the decree, usually less than half of the 12000 or 13000 acre-feet allowed upstream users has ever been taken by them, and OUWUA or Reclamation or other downstream appropriators have taken the remainder, the biggest "free water" seizure in the watershed other than the Decree itself.]
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October 1st, 1947

Mr. E. A. Wright,
Elk Creek,
Colusa County, Calif.,

In re: U.S. vs. Angle No. 30 - Eq.,

Dear Sir:

This morning Judge Dal M. Lemmon received a letter from Mr. E. A. Garland, the Water Master.

After reading the letter, Judge Lemmon instructed me to write to you concerning the procedure for dealing with any order issued by the Water Master that is considered unjust. In this regard, Mr. Garland referred to the bottom of page 176 [175?] of the printed decree. So please look at the procedure that should be followed in this regard.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Garland.

Very truly yours,

C. W. Calbreath, Clerk

Deputy Clerk.
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[right or wrong, it's probably not a good idea to send a letter like this to the Court, especially since the Water Master is appointed by the Court to carry out the Court's Decree.]

[printed letterhead]
ELK CREEK OPERATOR [end of letterhead]

November 25,1947.

Dal M. Lemmon, United States District Judge,
Post Office Building,
Sacramento, Calif.

Dear Judge Lemmon:

Several months ago when I saw you in Sacramento you told me to disregard the order of the local Water Master, E. A. Garland, to install a meter to measure the part of my 172 acre feet of water I was using to flush two toilets and water the few head of stock I kept up at the ranch house, which ammounted [sic] to a small fraction of 1% of my allotment.

At that time you instructed your clerk to write the Water Mster and inform him how petty you considered his action in the matter; and told me to write you if I had any further trouble with Garland.

Since then he has, as far as I know, never come to the ranch house; and the one time I met him in the P.G.&E. office in Willows he did not speak to me tho the local manager and engineer with whom he was talking both said hello to me.

Yesterday someone with "United States Marshall" on his car's license plates served me with an order to appear in your court December 1st at 10 A.M.

The whole thing is nothing but the case of a most petty bureaucrat whose head has swollen or become so addled that he not only attempts to dictate most arbitrarily to me, one of his direct employers, but to you, the representative of the court which appointed him and on whose sufferance he holds his job.

He has on several occasions stated to me that to all intents and purposes he was the United States District Court.

Certainly he is doing nothing to enhance the prestige and dignity of that court.

On the basis of my contacts with the little man I have become convinced he is a psychopathic case.

yours truly,

/s/ EAWright

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November 28th, 1947

Edward A. Wright, Elk Creek, Glenn County, California

In re: U. S. vs. H. C. Angle, Eq. 30

Dear Sir:

Your letter of November 25th, 1947, addressed to the Hon. Dal. M. Lemmon, has been turned over to me for reply.

I have been instructed by the Judge to advise you and your attorney, if you have one, to be present at the time and place as specified in the order to show cause heretofore issued herein and served upon you.

Very truly yours,

C. W. Calbreath, Clerk.

Deputy Clerk
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Return to Stony Creek Water Wars.

--Mike Barkley, 161 N. Sheridan Ave. #1, Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817