United States Reclamation Service.
The following is an abstract of an address delivered before the twenty-eighth annual convention of the American Water Works association, at Washington, D. C., by Arthur Powell Davis, chief engineer of the United States Reclamation Service: Nearly one-third of the area of the United States is arid, having a mean annual rainfall of less than 20 in. A large portion of this arid area occupying the Great Interior basin and the Southwest has a rainfall of less than 10 in. These arid regions are of little or no value for agricultural purposes in their natural state, being partially utilised for grazing and occasionally for mining. The artificial application of water to such lands, with the requisite care and cultivation, produces favorable results, owing to the great fertility of the soil and the large amount of sunshine with which the arid region is favored. These conditions render the reclaimed lands especially productive in fruits and other high grade products. Large areas have been reclaimed through private enterprise by the diversion of small streams upon the adjacent valleys; but the points where ;uch diversion was most easily accomplished have been finished, leaving the more difficult projects yet to be carried out. I,n many valleys the entire flow available in the late summer has been diverted, and further development is possible only through the storage of the winter waters and the occasional floods itt reservoirs where they can be held and applied to crops as needed. Irrigation development was checked during the last decade, owin^ to the difficulty of development, and in 1902 Congress passed what is known as the Reclamation Act, providing that the receipts from the sale of public lands should be devoted to water-storage and irrigation development generally, and that the cost of such works should be returned by the settlers upon the land benefited. Under the provisions of this act, many large projects have been undertaken, aggregating twenty-six in all. Storage-reservoirs are provided in most cases, and some of these involve structures of great magnitude. On Salt river, in Arizona, a great masonry dam is being built, which will be one of the most notable structures of the world. It will form a reservoir, with a capacity of 1,300,000 acre-ft.—about fifteen times the capacity of the Croton reservoir, near New York city, and larger than that of the Assuan dam in Egypt. On the North Platte river, in Wyoming, a masonry dam is nearing completion, which will form a reservoir, with a capacity of about 1,000,000 acre-ft., to irrigate lands in Wyoming and Nebraska. On the Shoshone river in Northern Wyoming the Reclamation Service is constructing a masonry dam, which will have a total height of 325 ft. above the lowest foundation, and will constitute the highest dam in the world. A large earthen dam is under construction in South Dakota, near Belle I’ourche, which will lie more than 1 mile in length and 115 ft. high. This will store the waters of Belle Fourche river to irrigate the lands in that valley. On the Colorado river, where it forms a boundary between California and Arizona, a diversion dam nearly 1 mile in length is now under construction to divert the water upon the adjacent valleys. Altogether, about $35,000,000 have been invested by this Service, and some of the projects undertaken have been brought to a point where water is being applied to the land. The area now under irrigation bv the United States is approximately 500,000 acres. This area will be more than doubled within a year, although it will take several years to complete the projects now under way. As a result of the operations of this Service, not less than 3,000 families have already taken up their homes in the desert. Seventeen new towns have been established, with a population of about 2,800.