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LETTERS OF TRANSMITTAL.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, December 5, 1918. SIR: In compliance with the provisions of section 2 of the act approved June 17, 1902, entitled "An act appropriating the receipts from the sale and disposal of public lands in certain States and Territories to the construction of irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands," I have the honor to transmit the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Reclamation Service. Respectfully,
FRANKLIN K. LANE, Secretary. The SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, D. C., September 19, 1918. SIR: Transmitted herewith is the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Reclamation Service, covering the work completed and in progress during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1918. Very respectfully,
. A. P. DAVIS,
Director and Chief Engineer. The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT
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GENERAL DISCUSSION. DEVELOPMENT OF RECLAMATION PROJECTS. Including considerable tracts of land under private canals, dependent in whole or in part on the Government works for water, the total area to which the United States could deliver water during 1917 from the works built under the reclamation law was about 2,000,000 acres, of which the project statistics covered an area of approximately 1,500,000 acres. Of this slightly over 1,000,000 acres were actually irrigated. This was an increase of 50,000 acres over that irrigated in the season of 1916. The entrance of the United States into the European war in the spring of 1917 presented a situation necessitating an increase in the production of food by every feasible method, but the season was already well advanced and all that could be done under the circumstances is represented by the above figures.
The efforts to increase the production were continued during 1918, and where cultivation could not otherwise be secured some of the uncultivated public lands were leased temporarily to those who would cultivate. This materially increased the production on the projects by utilizing land that would otherwise be vacant and by placing these lands in the hands of men who were generally stronger financially than the average settler and able to secure a greater return the first year.
Incidentally the experience in this linie has proved this policy to be very beneficial. The leasing method brings the land into cultivation under terms by which it is cleared, leveled, supplied with farm ditches, broken up, and cultivated so that the sod is well rotted and the land reduced to a better state of tillage, and the chances of success on the part of the future settler thereby greatly increased. Experience has demonstrated that it would be a wise policy to continue this practice of preparing the lands for the incoming settler irrespective of war requirements. By leasing the land for two or three years this service is secured without cost to the United States and with great benefit, not only to the settler but to the Government, in better security for the repayment of construction charges by the settler. This policy is being gradually and carefully extended where it can be done without interfering with the natural course of settlement on the projects, always keeping in mind the interests and requirements of the actual settler, whose welfare and prosperity are the first concern of the law and its administration.
PRINCIPAL OPERATIONS ON THE PROJECTS. The principal work of the Reclamation Service during the past year has been the operation of the various projects which have been constructed or partly constructed by the service. Next in importance have been the continuation and extension of drainage work where required to prevent injury of reclaimed land and to lower the ground water where this has become injurious. In addition, numerous minor extensions of projects have been constructed, bringing under irrigation increased acreages where these could be made productive in the immediate future.
The general policy has been not to undertake new projects or any large extensions of existing projects unless it would be possible thereby to bring about increased production of food and forage in the immediate future. This policy has been prompted by the necessity of conserving the labor and.materials of the country for essential industries and those contributing to the winning of the war.
In accordance with this policy, the work of constructing a reservoir on the Tieton River in the State of Washington, which was started before the United States entered the war, was recently discontinued. Experience had shown the impossibility of keeping the labor forces anywhere near the economical point and the organization was accordingly disbanded and the work brought to a close to be resumed after the end of the war.
The only new project undertaken recently is the King Hill project in southern Idaho, where private capital had constructed an irrigation system but was unable to complete it. The constructed works, built largely of wood, were rapidly falling into decay and the community settled under the project was threatened with ruin by the failure of their water supply. The original investors lost their entire investment and the State purchased the works under foreclosure. These were turned over without cost to the United States and the process of reconstruction and completion was started in 1918 and is now in progress. The old work has failed at several points and it is probable that if the United States had not stepped into the breach the water supply would now be cut off and the crops destroyed. Important repairs have been made and the work of reconstruction is well under way.
The Salt River project, Arizona, has been turned over to the water users' association to operate, and the association has by contract been granted the income of the power plants constructed in connection with the project. It is in a very prosperous condition. Its construction is completed and its connection with the Government is confined to occasional inspection and supervision and the collection of construction charges.
On the Yuma project, Arizona-California, the construction work has been confined to small extensions of the lateral system, drainage work, and river front protection. The project is in the most prosperous condition it has ever been, the average gross yield of cultivated lands being over $100 per acre and many of those best handled running far above this figure. Public notice announcing construction charges was issued in 1917 and first payments fell due on December 1 of that year. Most of these have been paid, part of them under protest. The water users' association is contesting the payment of