Water Supply of the United States.
This was the subject of a very interesting lecture by Maj. J. W. Powell at the special meeting of the National Geographic society at Geographic hall, in the builders’ exchange, March 6. The audience was a small but appreciative one, and before Maj. Powell appeared President Hubbard expressed his regret that so few had attended what he considered the most interesting meeting of the season.
Of the several many-colored charts arranged about the platform Maj. Powell first referred to that illustrating the mean annual rain fall in inches, which showed how the natural irrigation, most excessive in Florida, where the average fall is eighty inches annually, gradually decreased in a northwesterly direction to the Rocky mountains, in whose valley, in some places, there is a mean annual rain fall of from none to ten inches. In the west, he said, the farmer is dependent upon artificial irrigation from streams and wells, and all industry is found clustered about the rivers, the arid regions being deserted by man and beast. By another chart it was shown that the western lands still held by the government comprise a belt almost identical with the arid region ; that the central section, only lately improved, in soil coincided with the semi-humid belt, and that the great agricultural portion of the country was almost identical with the rainy portion of the east. Maj. Powell explained how the physical characteristics of the country had influenced it politically and how irregularly nature had diffused industry.
A map of the western half of the United States illustrated that a line drawn along the 95th meridian divided the country into the dry-farming section in the west, and the naturally irrigated section in the east, practically making an equal division of territory. The most striking computation was put into a chart of proportions of improved land to total area. The table gave the following list of States and a few foreign countries : Denmark (seventy-six per cent.), Illinois. Iowa, Ohio, Great Britain, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Kentucky, Vermont, Missouri, Connecticut, Kansas, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Virginia, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, West ‘Virginia, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, District of Columbia (about twenty-six per cent, cultivated), Alabama, Minnesota. The United States, as a whole (fifteen per cent.), Arkansas, Maine, Louisiana, California, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Colorado, Oklahoma, Canada, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico and Arizona, the last of which only has a very small fraction of one per cent, of its territory cultivated. Major Powell considered Southern California the greatest agricultural spot on earth, and pictured its gardens and orchards, abundant with nature’s sweetest fruits.