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Opinion of the Court.
made under the usual designation for "Improving waterway connecting Puget Sound with Lakes Union and Washington," it was provided that this sum, together with the unexpended balance to the credit of the improvement, should be expended in dredging a low-water channel 10 feet in depth from Shilshole Bay through Salmon Bay to the wharves at Ballard (at the head of the Bay); with a further proviso that a board of engineers should be appointed by the Secretary of War to make surveys, examinations, and investigations to determine the feasibility and advisability of constructing a canal with necessary locks and dams, connecting Puget Sound with the lakes, of sufficient width and depth to accommodate the largest commercial and naval vessels, to examine the route for a similar canal connecting Elliott Bay with the lakes, and to report upon the relative advantages of all proposed routes; and it was declared that "Nothing herein shall be construed as the adoption of any project for the construction of a waterway connecting Puget Sound with Lakes Union and Washington." The Board reported, January 6, 1903, that a canal sufficient to accommodate the largest commercial and naval vessels was feasible, but not advisable, chiefly because of the great cost, estimated at over $8,000,000.
The act of March 3, 1905, 33 Stat. 1117, 1144, c. 1482, made a further appropriation of $125,000, limited to dredging the channel to Ballard.
Meanwhile, it appears, the people of Seattle had become discouraged about the prospect of obtaining Government aid, and therefore accepted the proposition of one James A. Moore to build upon the Government right of way a canal with a suitable timber lock, if the County of King would contribute $500,000 toward it; and an act of Congress of June 11, 1906, 34 Stat. 231, c. 3072, was secured, authorizing him to proceed with this work, subject to such conditions and stipulations as should be imposed by the
Opinion of the Court.
234 U. S.
Chief of Engineers and the Secretary of War for the protection of navigation and the property and other interests of the United States, to include provision for the discharge of waters from Lakes Union and Washington, and afford adequate protection against claims for damages for changing the level of Lake Washington, and subject to provisos which required that plans and specifications should be approved by the Secretary of War, that Moore and his assigns should be liable for any damage occasioned by the construction of the lock and canal by overflow, by a lowering of the waters affected, or otherwise, and that the canal and lock when completed should be turned over to the United States ready for use and free of all expense.
The Moore plan included a timber lock between the lakes, and seems to have contemplated another lock to be constructed by the Government at the mouth of Salmon Bay. Shortly after the passage of the act just mentioned King County pledged its credit to the extent of $500,000 in aid of the Moore project. A little later, however, the local interests inaugurated a movement for the installation of a permanent masonry lock in place of the timber lock, and legislative authorization was procured (act of March 18, 1907, Sess. Laws, p. 582), for the establishment of an assessment district in order to impose upon the shore lands benefited a part of the cost of the improvement. The same legislature supplemented the act of 1901 by a specific grant of a right of way over state lands between the lakes (act of March 16, 1907, Sess. Laws, p. 498).
About the same time Congress was again appealed to, and by act of March 2, 1907, 34 Stat. 1073, 1108, c. 2509, the Secretary of War was authorized to "make a survey and estimate of cost of said waterway or canal with one lock, with a view to the construction of the same, in conjunction with the county authorities of King County or other agency, of sufficient size to accommodate the largest commercial or naval vessels afloat; or, if deemed more
Opinion of the Court.
advisable, with a view to the construction of a canal of less dimensions, and to submit dimensions and estimate of cost of same, together with a report upon what portion of said work will be done or contribution to be made by said county or other agency." And the provisions of the act of June 11, 1906, were thereby so modified as to permit Moore or his assigns to excavate a channel from deep water in Puget Sound at the mouth of Salmon Bay to deep water in Lake Washington, in lieu of constructing the canal and timber lock specified in that act. In June, 1907, Moore assigned his rights to a corporation created for the purpose of taking them over and coöperating with the assessment district in carrying out the work proposed to be done by local agencies; and it appears that some preliminary work was done upon the ground. By act of Congress of February 6, 1909 (35 Stat. 613, c. 83), the time allowed to Moore or his assigns for completion of the canal was extended until June 11, 1912.
In view of the history of the matter, the phrase "waterway or canal with one lock" in the act of 1907 evidently indicated a lock at The Narrows, and a continuous waterway thence to Lake Washington; and so it was construed. Pursuant to the authorization of Congress, an elaborate report of a survey and estimate of the cost of the proposed waterway was made by Major Chittenden, of the Engineer Corps, under date December 2, 1907, and submitted with the approval of the Division Engineer to the Chief of Engineers at Washington. It was reviewed by the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and approved by them under date March 30, 1908, transmitted by the Chief of Engineers, with his approval, to the Secretary of War, and by the Acting Secretary transmitted to Congress under date May 20, 1908. It is this report and the accompanying documents which constitute House Doc. No. 953, 60th Congress, 1st Sess., Vol. 20, referred to in the act of June 25, 1910, 36 Stat. 630, 666, c. 382, above quoted. VOL. CCXXXIV-8
Opinion of the Court.
The project as thus submitted contemplated the construction of a double lock, to be located at The Narrows at the entrance to Salmon Bay, and an unbroken waterway through Salmon Bay and Lakes Union and Washington, the differences in level to be overcome by raising Salmon Bay and lowering Lake Washington approximately to the level of Lake Union. With reference to that part of the act of 1907 requiring report to be made as to what portion of the work would be done or contribution made by King County or other agency, the recommendation was that in lieu of a cash contribution the local interests should be asked to do a specific portion of the work. Major Chittenden proposed that the Government should build the lock, and that the local agency should excavate the canal. His recommendation to this effect was concurred in by the Division Engineer and by the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and the Board further recommended-"That the undertaking of the project by the United States be made contingent upon the furnishing to the Secretary of War of satisfactory evidence—First. That King County or other local agency will do the excavation in the waterway above the lock to the dimensions recommended. Second. That the said King County or other local agency will hold the United States free from any claims or damages on account of the grant made to James A. Moore or his assigns on account of the act of June 11, 1906. Third. That the said King County or other local agency will hold the United States free against any claims or damages on account of lowering the level of Lake Washington, raising the level of Salmon Bay, or any other alteration of the level of any part of said waterway."
As will appear by reference to the act of 1910, these recommendations were approved and adopted by Congress as a part of the project, and the appropriation, as well as the authorization of the contract, was confined to the construction of a double lock at the Narrows. From the fore
going review, it becomes evident that prior to this act all that was done by authority of Congress on the part of the Federal Government (aside from surveys and estimates and the acceptance of a conveyance of lands for the right of way of the canal), consisted of dredging work in Salmon Bay; and that the first construction work authorized in aid of the ship canal proper was that provided by the act of 1910, and was limited to the construction by the Government of a lock at the Narrows. It is further evident that at all times, and notably in the act of 1910, Congress has scrupulously refrained from authorizing anything to be done on the part of the Federal Government with reference to lowering the level of Lake Washington, raising the level of Salmon Bay, or otherwise altering the level of any part of the waterway, and that by the act of 1910 it was expressly provided that all responsibility for this should be assumed by King County or some other local agency.
Now, the Bilger suit, as appears by the decree therein already mentioned, was brought by parties who were owners of shore lands abutting upon Lake Washington, and riparian rights pertaining thereto, and the action was based upon the injury threatened to their property and rights by the material lowering of the water of that lake which was a necessary part of the public improvement. The defendants were the State, the County, and the contractor, and the object of the decree forbidding the further excavation of the canal was to prevent the lowering of the water to the detriment of plaintiff's property rights. There is nothing to show that the United States had acquired any rights as against these plaintiffs or other property owners of the same class, and any assumption by the War Department of responsibility for interfering with the natural level of the lake is inconsistent with the whole course of legislation to which reference has been made, and especially with the act of 1910. And this renders more