« PreviousContinue »
construction charges in the courts, but the case has not yet been brought to trial.' Preparations are being made for constructing the Yuma Mesa pumping project which will be irrigated with water pumped from the main canal south of the city of Yuma. Negotiations are also pending with the Imperial Irrigation District to connect its system with Laguna Dam and provide better security for its water supply.
The Orland project in California has been practically completed · and forms the first unit of a larger Sacramento Valley project. Public notice on the Orland project was issued in 1916 and the first payments were made on the first day of December of that year and in one check by the association paying all of the accrued charges and assuming all risk of delinquency on the part of its shareholders. The project is prosperous and constantly growing in development. The only construction work remaining is a small amount of canal lining which was provided for in the funds covered by the current public notice.
The Grand Valley project in Colorado has been so far completed that water was delivered on a rental basis to portions of the land in 1917 and to a larger portion in 1918. About 5,000 acres have been opened to entry and occupied by settlers. Some extensions of laterals and betterment work on the new canals and laterals are under way. The agricultural operations are gradually extending and the results encouraging.
A contract has been concluded with the water users' association of the Umcompahgre project, Colorado, by which the United States will operate the project for a period of five years on the payment of the cost thereof by the water users' association. At the end of this period the project is to be opened under public notice, unless the period is further extended by the Secretary of the Interior. The construction of the project is practically completed, and only a few minor betterments are being made. The cultivation of the lands is gradually extending, and slow improvement is being made in the use of water, which is very wastefully applied to the lands. Efforts are being made to introduce the rotation system and to apply other methods of securing the best use of the water supply and thus reduce the growing menace of a rising water table and destruction of fertility of the land by excessive application of water. Agriculture is successful and the settlers are generally prosperous.
On the Boise project in Idaho, the Arrowrock and Deerflat Reservoirs have been completed and the canal system covers the main body of the project. Contemplated extensions will be gradually made to conform to better practices regarding the use of the water, which is sufficient for irrigating about 40,000 additional acres of land if used with reasonable economy. Public notice was issued in 1917, announcing the charges on the completed portion of the project and fixing December 1, 1918, as the due date of the first payment. This payment has been made by most of the water users, but some have filed protest and the water users' association is contesting these payments in the courts. The case has not yet come to trial.
In addition to the lands for which the United States has constructed irrigation canals, storage water to supplement the previous supply has been sold to the lands under the New York Canal and the Pioneer, Nampa and Meridian, and Riverside districts. Storage water was also furnished under special contract to the Farmers
Union Canal. Agriculture is successful and the settlers are generally prosperous.
The Minidoka project in Idaho, as originally planned, is completed, but several extensions are possible and desirable. Public notices are in effect upon the lands now served with irrigation water and the gravity lands of the project have formed an irrigation district which operates the canal system under contract with the United States. The pumping unit on the south side is operated by the United States. Agriculture is successful, the settlers are generally prosperous, and payments are being promptly made.
The Huntley project in Montana is practically completed and continues to hold its reputation of being one of the most successful and thickly settled projects of the service. Drainage work is being continued and has so far been successful in relieving the lands for which constructed. Construction payments are being regularly made.
In the Milk River Valley, Montana, water is being delivered from the St. Mary River to a canal constructed by the service diverting the St. Mary River just below St. Mary Lakes. This water is being used on a rental basis. Less than one-fourth of the available land is being irrigated.
On the Sun River project, Montana, the completion and seasoning of the canal and lateral system for 25,000 acres on the North Side are nearly, completed, and it is expected that water will be delivered to this tract in 1919. Dry farming has been practiced extensively in this region and the entrymen have protested vigorously against the irrigation system, although they entered their lands subject to payment therefor. There have now been two very dry seasons with accompanying crop failures on the dry lands, and it is believed that irrigation water will be better appreciated in the future. This project is a favorable location for a sugar factory.
The Lower Yellowstone project, Montana-North Dakota, is being operated on a rental basis and less than one-fourth of the lands for which water is available are being irrigated. Steps have been taken to form an irrigation district and arrange for permanent water rights for the lands to be included. A law adapted to such organization of districts was passed by the last legislature of Montana. This project is also a favorable location for a sugar factory.
The North Platte project in Nebraska and Wyoming continues to be one of the most successful of the reclamation projects. The interstate unit on the north side of the river has been opened under public notice, and is making payments regularly. Cultivation and improvement are steadily extending. Drainage is being constructed to relieve some localities where the water table is high, and considerable areas have already been relieved. The drainage problem, however, is neither extensive nor serious. The Fort Laramie Canal, on the south side of the river, is under construction, and water is being delivered to small tracts under rental order. It is expected that fifteen or twenty thousand acres will receive water service from the Fort Laramie Canal in 1919, and progressively more from year to year.
The Truckee-Carson project in Nevada is slowly extending its cultivated area, but on a considerable portion of the project the water table is high and drainage is needed. A local association in the neighborhood of Fernley has organized and entered into obligation to pay for drainage, and the drainage works necessary in that region
have been practically completed with successful results. The necessary organization on the south side of Carson River to secure drainage work has not been formed. Slow progress is being made in the settlement of the rights to the use of Lake Tahoe and the storage reservoir, and pending this settlement no further development is feasible.
The Carlsbad project in New Mexico is gradually increasing its cultivated area as the progress of drainage works continues and waterlogged conditions improve. Serious damage was done to the storage reservoir by a great storm in March, 1915; this has, however, been repaired and a new spillway constructed. Two subsequent years, 1917 and 1918, have been abnormally dry and the project has been perilously near water shortage throughout those seasons. No serious reduction of crop yields has occurred and a sparing application of water has resulted in some benefit from the lowering of the water table.
The Rio Grande project, in New Mexico and Texas, is one of the localities of largest operations under the Reclamation Service. Water is being delivered to nearly one-fifth of the lands from the storage reservoir at Elephant Butte. The work is being pushed on construction of the canal system and on the general drainage system of the valley. Much of the land for which water is available is waterlogged and à rising water table threatens other areas. The most urgent work on this project is the completion of the drainage system and the reconstruction of the lateral system by which water can be used more efficiently and economically and the rise of the ground water arrested.
The North Dakota pumping project has not been operated for several years, owing to the failure of the lands benefited to make payment therefor. Two successive dry seasons have demonstrated the necessity of irrigation and the landowners have taken steps to organize an irrigation district and secure the operation of the canal system. It is believed that this organization will be successfully accomplished.
The Umatilla project in Oregon has undergone rapid development in the last year, owing to the completion of the western extension and delivery of water therefrom. The lands cultivated under this extension are showing excellent results and development is expected to continue. Much trouble has been experienced by sand drifting into the canals, but this is being gradually overcome. Urgent requests are being made for the Government to take over the system of the Western Irrigation Co., which receives water from the same river and might by some additional construction receive storage water from the Government reservoir.
The Klamath project in Oregon and California is being extended gradually as the waters of Tule Lake recede. Drainage works are also being constructed to counteract the rising water table. Arrangements have been made with the owners of land around Lower Tule Lake for the reclamation of those lands under legislation now pending in Congress to include the public lands affected. This legislation is a necessary prerequisite to this development.
The Belle Fourche project in South Dakota is being extended gradually to cover more land and the lands already under cultivation are yielding satisfactory results. This project is a favorable location for a sugar factory. Some of the lands on the Belle Fourche project need drainage, but arrangements have not yet been made for the repayment of the cost and the plans are suspended awaiting such arrangements.
On the Strawberry Valley project in Utah the new system constructed by the Government is being operated by the irrigators under special contract and payments of construction charges are being regularly made. There are still some sales of rights in the Strawberry Reservoir to be made in order to return the entire cost of the project. Investigations for extensions and the use of water upon otherlands are in progress.
The extremely dry years of 1917 and 1918 throughout most of the West have broken all records in this respect and thousands of head of livestock and many private irrigation projects have suffered for lack of water. The Reclamation Service has experienced serious shortage on only one project, namely, the Okanogan project in northern Washington. The records of water supply for this project for 15 years prior to 1918 show a mean annual yield of 30,500 acrefeet and a minimum yield of 17,000 acre-feet. The yield for 1918 was less than 10,000 acre-feet, a large portion of which was necessarily applied to lands holding old vested water rights. An emergency appropriation of $125,000 was made by Congress in July, 1918, but little could be accomplished to relieve the water shortage. Pumping plants were installed at Salmon Lake and at Duck Lake, which to a limited extent relieved the shortage on some of the lands; but there will be considerable loss upon a portion of the area where the open sandy soil and subsoil have caused an acute condition and the abandonment of some of the farms.
The Sunnyside unit of the Yakima project, Washington, has been extended at the lower end, which is gradually coming under cultivation. The project as a whole is very productive and prosperous. Strong representations are being made to enlarge the main canal and extend it by means of pressure pipe across Yakima River to cover lands known as Kennewick high lands, now under pumping plants built by private capital. The system covering these lands is built largely of wood, which is in an advanced stage of decay and is in imminent danger of failure. The power supply is also unreliable and the service is being strongly urged to extend the Sunnyside system, which can cover this land by gravity. The land is largely in bearing orchards and failure of the water supply would be very disastrous.
The Tieton unit of the Yakima project is rapidly expanding and being devoted to general farming, contrary to first expectation. Although it is an excellent fruit country the practice is growing of planting legumes between fruit trees in order to produce additional revenue and to build up the fertility of the land. This use has resulted in the requirement of a greater quantity of water than was originally planned and it has accordingly been necessary to eliminate some of the uncultivated lands and to increase the capacity of the main canal. All charges have been assumed by the irrigation district organized on this unit and payments are being made regularly and promptly under public notice. The Yakima project as a whole is one of the foremost in general prosperity and in returning the cost of its construction.
The Shoshone project in Wyoming is being gradually enlarged by extension of canals on the north side of Shoshone River. The
drainage system is also being extended under contract with the water users to repay the cost in accordance with law. The project is very prosperous and payments are being made regularly under public notice.
SUMMARY OF CONSTRUCTION RESULTS. The following table gives in concise form many of the items which have been accomplished. It will be noted that in spite of labor and other conditions due to the war the total excavation for the yearis nearly as great as last year, being about 9,000,000 cubic yards, and that nearly 600 miles of canals and drains have been constructed.
Summary of construction results, June 30, 1918.