The files contain the official transcripts of two federal trials regarding water use in the Imperial Valley and the non-enforcement
of two provisions of the original Reclamation Act of 1902. The provisions concerned a 160-acre land size limitation and a
residency provision. The provisions required those seeking federal water benefits to sell off land in excess of 160 acres
and to be residents on or near the land they wished to irrigate. The first trial concerned the 160-acre limitation and was
titled, "United States vs. Imperial Irrigation District," (December 1-3, 1970) and would eventually reach the United States
Supreme Court. The second trial concerned the residency requirement and was titled, "Yellen vs. Secretary of Interior," (April
25-26, 1972). Included within the transcripts are the testimony of landowners, government officials, economists, and land
and water use experts. Additionally, the transcripts contain legal arguments regarding the admission of evidence, intervention
into the case by the landowners, and other legal issues.
The Reclamation Act of 1902 authorized the United States government to create water projects to help open arid lands to small
farmers. The original act included provisions to ensure wide distribution of the benefits of federal projects and to prevent
land speculation and monopolies. These provisions are at the center of contention in the two trials contained in this collection.
Section 5 of the Reclamation Act provided that no right to the use of water for land in private ownership should be sold for
a tract exceeding 160 acres to any one landowner. Section 5 also required that recipients of federal water benefits live on
or near the land that was irrigated.