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Return Flows of Green River

As has been shown above, the water rights of Wyoming describe something over 900,000 acres as irrigated or susceptible of being irrigated. Hay and grain are the principal crops in Wyoming and the irrigation period comes early and is unusually short, beginning about May 1st and practically ending August 1st, when harvesting begins. The gross duty of water is given in the co-operative report as varying from one to two acre feet for each acre irrigated. Assuming 1.5 acre feet of water per acre of land as the average, there would be a total diversion of 1,350,000 acre feet during the irrigation period. Only a portion of this water would be lost to users below. Much of the irrigated land in Wyoming lies in narrow strips bordering the streams. Often slopes are steep and the land is underlaid with porous subsoil resulting in a quick return to the streams of a large portion of the water used. Probably not less than one-half of the water now diverted so returns. This board believes it a safe assumption, well fortified by known results elsewhere, that when 900,000 acres are watered at least one-third of the water diverted, or over 400,000 acre feet, will return to the stream and be available for use on the lower river.

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Conclusions Immediate future development must primarily be the reclamation and settlement of the choice selection of bench lands. Viewed in the light of present economic and industrial conditions in the district considered, those are the lands whose reclamation appears most feasible from a commercial standpoint

Ultimate future development cannot be more than mere conjecture at this time. Progress will march hand in hand with development. Successful rural settlement will bring new social standards, and in industrial enterprises governed by developed and natural resources will find foothold. Costly imports of feed, so essential to the livestock industry of this district, will be reduced to a minimum. A new standard of prices and costs will inevitably result and bring forth in a new light the possibility and feasibility of future reclamation and development.

The result of every possible development in Wyoming will not be detrimental to the present irrigators below. On the contrary, it will tend to lessen the flood period of the lower Colorado river, and augment the normal flow, when irrigation demands are almost at a maximum.

The use of water along the lower Colorado is combined with a long irrigation period and a low duty of water. In Wyoming its use is confined to a short, early period, with a correspondingly high duty.

In comparing the relative value of water, its influence on the surrounding land must be considered. Along the lower Colorado the value is generally confined to the land actually irrigated. In Wyoming, on the other hand, the irrigated land has direct influence on, and greatly enhances the value of, the adjacent arid grazing land. The average value of an acre foot of water in the Green river basin of Wyoming is at least as great as anywhere along the Colorado river system.

Unaided settlement on irrigated bench lands in this region has been a practical failure despite low construction costs and favorable physical conditions generally surrounding projects. Better results in the future, under existing methods, cannot be expected.

There are important reasons for carrying out this development as a public enterprise.

Recommendations · We recommend:

First: That this development be undertaken by federal and state authorities in co-operation. To accomplish this, we further urge the passage of appropriate legislation, both by, Congress and state.

Second: That the Federal Government construct and operate the irrigation systems under the provisions of the United States Reclamation Act.

Third: That the state direct the sub-division, sale and settlement of the land, inaugurating a system of financial aid and practical advice to the settlers, including loans for essential farm improvement at low rates of interest with long-time amortized repayments.

Fourth: That the whole development be planned in advance so as to insure everything required for complete and harmonious community life; including the provision of homes for farm laborers, farm units of varying sizes, and plans for towns, roads and schools.

Fifth: That, to the irrigable area of each project, there be joined a continuous area of public grazing land in the ratio of about ten acres of grazing land to one acre of irrigated land. That settlers be given the use of this grazing land on conditions fixed by the federal or state authorities.

Sixth: That the first development undertaken be a unit of approximately fifty thousand acres, to be selected from the best areas of bench lands, after careful and detailed examination.

Respectfully submitted,

ELWOOD MEAD,
E. G. HOPSON,
J. B. TRUE.

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