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To the settler it is particularly important to develop his entire farm. His water charges are based on the total irrigable area, not only the part actually watered. His chances of making these pay-, ments and meeting the overhead expense of his farm operations out of his receipts for crops and live stock are materially improved when he has brought his whole farm into production. In 1914 the water users irrigated 760,000 acres, but the irrigable areas of their farms totaled very close to 1,000,000 acres. Thus the total crop value, while enormous in the sum and averaging $23.50 per acre cropped, drops to $16.50 per acre irrigable; that is, for each acre of these farms liable to charges.
The measures adopted to encourage the development of idle project lands include the policy of pushing the projects to completion and formal opening as rapidly as funds permit, the assessment of a minimum operation charge per acre whether the land is irrigated or not, provision for enforced subdivision of large private holdings, and easier terms of payment so as to permit the settlers to employ their resources in building up their farms.
An important change in the reclamation law was made early in the past fiscal year by the enactment of what is commonly called the reclamation extension act. This law is designed to mitigate the adverse conditions affecting many of the settlers on the Government projects.
The original reclamation act required the settlers to repay the cost of construction in 10 years. When that act was drawn it was thought it would render the payments small enough so that the water users might meet them from their farm revenues. Experience proved this to be overoptimistic. The law provided no control over the settlement of the project lands. Any citizen with a homestead right could enter a farm. Many came to the projects without sufficient funds to weather the unproductive period in developing irrigated land. In some cases the settlers came long before the works were completed, and exhausted their resources in living expenses before water was ready. Still others paid high prices for private lands under the projects, burdening themselves with heavy interest charges on deferred payments. The conditions were aggravated by an increased cost of construction in most cases over the estimated figures, due mainly to the general rise in the cost of labor and materials during the time when most of the construction work was done.
The reclamation extension act aims to alleviate conditions by making the farmers' repayments much smaller each year, extending them over 20 years instead of 10, and graduating them so as to make the charges during the first few years less than the average. It is too early to determine the full effect of this important change in the
law, but it has given immediate relief to many of the settlers and renewed hope of permanent success.
The policy has been continued of making every possible effort to maintain cordial relations and a cooperative spirit between the irrigators and the department. The water users, individually or through their associations, have been freely consulted with regard to plans before proceeding with new work.
An important step in the same direction has been the appointment of boards, chosen equally by the water users and the department, to review the cost of all past work with a view to making any proper readjustments in charging these costs to the various projects. A central board reviews the reports of the various projects. These reports are now being filed, so that it is impossible to determine the results as yet. It is clear, however, that at least some minor adjustments will be found proper, and it is believed this extensive inquiry will meet the statements frequently made in the past of illegal and gross overcharges.
The construction work of the service has been carried on vigorously during the year, and a number of the largest projects brought nearly to completion. The field of usefulness has been broadened by work done in cooperation with numerous States, districts, and other organizations, thus extending the capacity of the available funds.
To promote economy and efficiency in the field work, a central office has been established at Denver, Colo., in charge of the chief of construction, and much of the executive and fiscal work formerly scattered over the various projects has been concentrated there.
The following table gives in concise form many of the items which have been accomplished to June 30, 1915.
Summary of construction results, Reclamation Service-Continued.
82 Telephone lines.
....number.. 1,069 Transmission lines.
429 Power developed: Water...
30, 276 Steam...
.cubic yards.. 115, 599, 284
7,585, 948 Class 3, rock.
6,964, 136 Total.
..do.... 130, 149, 368 Coal mined..
tons.. 52, 680 Riprap.
1,023, 398 Paving.
...square yards.. 615,583 Concrete placed.
.....cubic yards.. 2,674, 977 Cement used.
barrels.. 2,501, 382 Coment manufactured by Reclamation Service..
..do.... 338, 452 Sand-cement manufactured by Reclamation Service.. do.... 1,177, 215
100, 432, 925 15, 166, 359
6,668, 156 917, 792
6,067,391 896, 745 113, 168, 472 16,980, 896
39, 474 13, 206 616, 493 406, 905 564, 037
51,546 1,933, 263 741, 714 1,965, 499 535, 883
BUREAU OF MINES.
Purpose and aims of the Bureau of Mines.—Under the terms of its organic act, as amended February 25, 1913, the Bureau of Mines is directed to conduct inquiries and investigations relating to the prevention of accidents and the increase of safety and health among workers in the mineral industries, and to the prevention of waste and the increase of efficiency in the development and utilization of mineral resources.
These inquiries and investigations are obviously fundamental and deal with problems of the highest national concern. In the conduct of its work the bureau's efforts are directed solely toward the lic good. It aims to advance the welfare of all those who labor in the mineral industries, and to benefit those industries and the public.
Chief features of the Bureau of Mines. In the five years since its establishment, from July 1, 1910, to June 30, 1915, the Bureau of Mines has given chief attention, under the terms of appropriations made by Congress, to investigating the causes and prevention of coalmine explosions and to safeguarding the lives of coal miners. Also, coals and other mineral fuels belonging to or for the use of the Government of the United States have been analyzed and tested with a view to increasing efficiency in their utilization, and investigations have been undertaken looking to greater safety and the prevention of waste in the metal-mining, metallurgical, and miscellaneous mineral industries. General examinations of several oil and gas fields of the country have been made with a view to eliminating
or greatly reducing large wastes of natural gas in those fields, and during the past year a preliminary organization for the purpose of investigating some of the urgent metallurgical problems has been effected. In addition, various problems incidental to the investigations mentioned have been attacked.
The death roll among miners in the United States continues far larger than it should be, but during the calendar year 1914 the fatalities in coal mines were 331 less than during 1913, and there is every reason to believe that, as the work of the bureau demonstrates the practicability of lessening the dangers of mining, the death rate from accidents will decrease.
In the effort being made to increase safety and efficiency in the mining industries the following general plan of cooperation between the National Government and other large agencies has been adopted: (1) That the National Government conduct the necessary general inquiries and investigations in relation to mining industries and disseminate in such manner as may prove most effective the information obtained and the conclusions reached; (2) that each State enact needed legislation and make ample provision for the proper inspection of mining operations within its borders; (3) that the mine owners introduce improvements with a view to increasing safety and reducing waste of resources as rapidly as the practicability of such improvements is demonstrated; and (4) that the miners and mine managers cooperate both in making and in enforcing safety rules and regulations as rapidly as these are shown to be practicable.
Prevention of coal-mine explosions.-As the most urgent work before the bureau at its establishment was the investigation of the causes and the possible prevention of gas and dust explosions in coal mines, the bureau attacked this problem in different ways, by mine investigations, by chemical and physical tests in the laboratory, and by large-scale tests; also it took up the study of such preventive measures as experience had suggested.
For conducting necessary large-scale tests with inflammable gas and with coal dust the bureau has equipped a small experimental mine at Bruceton, Pa., 12 miles south of Pittsburgh. At this mine various methods of rendering coal dust harmless have been tested. Devices used in Europe have been improved and new and more effective devices have been designed. Through the use of these improved devices it is practically certain that explosions can be prevented from spreading through a mine.
Improvement of mining explosives.-As a result of the bureau's work, only explosives that have been approved by the bureau as permissible are used in gaseous or dusty coal mines in a number of States. Nearly 19,600,000 pounds of these explosives was used in