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William Hammond Hall

William Hammond Hall (1846-1934) is credited with the first proposal of an integrated flood control system with levees, weirs and bypass channels for the Sacramento Valley after his appointment as the first California state engineer.

His background as a field engineer, draftsman and hydrographer led to his appointment in 1878 when the Legislature created the Office of the State Engineer, a position that would be responsible for water planning. During his term he is also credited for navigation improvement projects for river commerce and compiling research and studies on hydraulic mining impacts and irrigation data.

He also proposed to reform the state’s water rights system. “He argued for public ownership, regulation and control of the state’s waterways and against public funding of irrigation works that he felt should be borne by private irrigation districts,” according to online historical data by the California Department of Water Resources.

He resigned in 1888 after criminal proceedings for misuse of state funds, but was cleared of wrongdoing and continued his work in engineering as a private consultant.

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