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CHAPTER 31

BUREAU OF RECLAMATION

1. Origin and Purpose

The Bureau of Reclamation (formerly the Reclamation Service), created in 1902, is a civil engineering, agricultural, and economic organization under the Department of the Interior, the functions of which are to examine, survey, construct, and maintain irrigation works for storage, diversion, and distribution of water for the reclamation and settlement of arid and semiarid Western lands, comprising about 40 per cent. of the entire area of the United States. It has been estimated that not over 5 per cent. of the arable land can be irrigated in any one of the Western states.? 2. History

There is evidence of prehistoric irrigation systems built by Pueblo Indians in Arizona and adjacent states. The Spanish conquestados extended the Indian canals. The Mormon settlers in Utah in 1847 were also active in reclamation work.3 Other private enterprises increased reclaimed lands to 50,000 acres in 1860 and to some 1,000,000 acres by 1880.4

The first congressional action relative to water rights on the public lands confirmed such rights, vested under local laws and customs. All patents, preemptions, and homesteads were made subject to such vested rights. Provision was made for the disposition of "desert lands” in California to entrymen who should irrigate them. This policy was extended two years later.8 Further extension of the policy imposed the obligation to expend at least $1 an acre in irrigation and cultivation. Rights of way through public lands were granted

' for irrigation ditches.10 By the Carey Act 11 the government offered to donate to the state such desert lands, not exceeding 1,000,000 acres in any one state, as the state should cause to be irrigated, reclaimed, and occupied. The scope of this act was extended.12

1 Act June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388). See Institute for Government Research, Service Monograph No. 2, pp. 132–168, for bibliography; also Guide to United States Government Publications, compiled by Walter 1. Swanton for Bureau of Education, 1918.

2 Institute for Government Research, Service Monograph No. 2, 1919, p. 2.
3 Institute for Government Research, Service Monograph No. 2, 1919, p. 2.
4 Institute for Government Research, Service Monograph No. 2, 1919, p. 4.
6 Act July 26, 1866 (14 Stat. 253, 8 9; R. S. § 2339 (Comp. St. § 4617]).
6 Act July 9, 1870 (16 Stat. 218; R. S. § 2340 [Comp. St. § 4618]).
7 Act March 3, 1875 (18 Stat. 497).
8 Act March 3, 1877 (19 Stat. 377 [Comp. St. $8 4674–4676]).
9 Act March 3, 1891, § 2 (26 Stat. 1095).

10 Sections 18 to 21, Act March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 1101, 1102) and Act Feb. 15, 1901 (31 Stat. 790 [Comp. St. § 1946]).

11 Act Aug. 18, 1894 (28 Stat. 422 [Comp. St. § 4685]).

12 Act June 11, 1896 (29 Stat. 434); Act March 3, 1901 (31 Stat. 1188 [Comp. St. $ 4687]).

Few of the states have taken advantage of the Carey Act, because of the lack of financial promise of such projects for investors. However, much actual development has been accomplished.13

In 1888 Congress authorized an investigation of the practicability of constructing irrigation reservoirs.14 Lands susceptible of irrigation were reserved from sale and entry.15 This policy was reversed.16 During the eight years preceding the passage of the Reclamation Act, the policy was to encourage state and individual reclamation development. Public interest was aroused by irrigation congresses and widely distributed reports. 17

President Roosevelt's message of December, 1901, urged comprehensive irrigation legislation and the 57th Congress passed the Act of June 17, 1902.1 Under this act the Secretary of the Interior organized the Reclamation Service, under the Director of the Geological Survey. On March 9, 1907, it was reorganized and made an independent service within the Department of the Interior.

On December 13, 1913, the Reclamation Commission was formed. In 1917 the Service was placed under the direction of the Director and Chief Engineer, whose title was later changed to Director. In June, 1923, the name of the Service was changed to Bureau of Reclamation, under a Commissioner.

3. Policy

The basic policy of the Reclamation Act of 1902 1 has been maintained. The fiscal policy was effected by the Reclamation Extension Act,18 providing for graduated payments extending over 20 years. Under legislation passed in 1924, payments on construction charges are based on the productive power of the land.19

4. Nature of Projects

An irrigation project consists of three primary undertakings: (1) Construction of such major works, as dams, canals, and tunnels, as may be required to bring the water to the area to be irrigated; (2) construction of such minor works, as ditches, required for distribution of the water to the users; (3) the settlement and economic development of the project.

5. Location of Projects

A vital consideration in the selection of a project and in planning the works has to do with the location and quantity of water. Data as to water supply are obtainable from the Geological Survey and from private surveys.

While formerly there was less inclination to consider economic conditions than the construction and legal aspects, it is now recognized that the proper solution of economic questions prior to the authorization of a project for construction is indispensable, if the projects are to be successfully settled and developed. 6. Withdrawal of Lands

1 Act June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388). See Institute for Government Research, Service Monograph No. 2, pp. 132-168, for bibliography; also Guide to United States Government Publications, compiled by Walter I. Swanton for Bureau of Education, 1918.

13 Senate Document No. 1097, 62d Cong. 3d Sess.
14 Joint Resolution of March 20, 1888 (25 Stat. 618).
15 Act Oct. 2, 1888 (25 Stat. 526).
16 Act Aug. 30, 1890 (26 Stat. 391 [C St. § 4697]).
17 Senate Doc. 41, 52d Cong. 3d Sess.; House Doc. 141, 55th Cong. 2d Sess.
18 Act Aug. 13, 1914 (38 Stat. 686). See, also, Act March 3, 1915 (38 Stat. 859).
19 Act Dec. 5, 1924 (43 Stat. [Comp. St. 1925, 8 4750g5]).

When the location of a project has been determined, the next step is to effect the withdrawal of such lands from entry under the public land laws, which is accomplished through the General Land Office. Lands withdrawn under what is called the "first form" are withdrawn absolutely as needed for irrigation works and subsidiary structures. Lands withdrawn under the "second form” are so reserved because they are "believed to be susceptible of irrigation from said works.” They are not withdrawn from entry under the homestead laws, as modified by the Reclamation Act, but are withdrawn otherwise. Either class of withdrawal affects only tracts under the control of the General Land Office, and not claims already initiated. If any of these claims or rights are abandoned or relinquished, the withdrawal automatically takes effect. So, also, any lands so withdrawn are restored to public entry, if it is found that they be not required for construction, operation, or maintenance. 7. Preliminary Survey

The preliminary survey, following the withdrawal of lands, comprises topographic and hydrographic features of the area, climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, frosts, character of the soil, etc.), settlement, transportation, and economic factors, and inquiries into vested rights in, and claims to, lands and the use of waters. Data as to available water supply are obtained from the Geological Survey 8. Water Users' Associations

Water Users' Associations heretofore have incorporated, each member holding stock in proportion to his acreage of irrigable land. Through them the government secures itself for the repayment of construction charges. The member usually mutually agrees :

(1) To turn over to the management of the association all water which he had heretofore appropriated, to be administered in connection with the additional water supply furnished from the government irrigation system;

(2) To make his former water rights, as well as the government water rights, appurtenant to the land irrigated;

(3) To pay the construction charges which might be imposed by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Reclamation Act;

(4) That such charges should be a lien on the land, which the association might enforce;

(5) To dispose of the lands he owned in excess of 160 acres, that being the maximum area under single ownership to which water might be supplied under the Reclamation Act. In some cases 80 acres was set as the maximum.

9. Irrigation District

An irrigation district is a public corporation, and is the result of the legislative application of the public municipal idea to the needs of irrigation. Among the reasons why an irrigation district organization is perhaps preferable to a water users' association are the following:

(1) The organization, financing, and operation of irrigation districts are fully under popular control.

(2) All lands benefited are bound to pay their proper share of the costs of the irrigation system, and a small minority of landowners cannot impede the development.

(3) All lands benefited become obligated at once, insuring a greater productiveness in crops and an earlier return of the cost.

(4) The irrigation district encourages all land to be put into cultivation to meet assessments, and so retards speculation.

(5) It simplifies the machinery for the collection of moneys due the United States.

(6) It affords the best security to guarantee the return of the cost of an irrigation project to the United States, and all in all it best meets the demands of the national irrigation law, that the estimated cost of federal irrigation works shall be repaid. 10. Construction

When the project has survived the foregoing preliminaries, and the Secretary has secured information in detail concerning the water supply, the engineering features, the cost of construction, land prices, and the probable cost of development, and has made a finding in writing that it is feasible, that it is adaptable for actual settlement and farm homes, and that it will probably return the cost thereof to the United States, congressional authorization is in order, and then the Secretary of the Interior may direct the preparation of plans and proceed with construction. 20

11. The Selection of Reservoir Sites

There are many considerations to be weighed in the selection of reservoir sites. Detailed surveys usually are made of several proposed sites.

12. Detailed Topographic and Land Map

As a preliminary to laying out the distributing system, a topographic map of the grounds about the head works of the main canal and a narrow belt along the line of the proposed canal and to the irrigable lands must be made, as well as maps showing boundaries of public and private tracts, townships, quarter section and meander lines. 13. Preparation of Plans and Specifications

Plans are made on the ground so far as possible. Specifications are prepared at the Headquarters Office in Washington. 14. Construction by Contract

Construction by contract is the rule by which the several sections of the work can be built more economically than by the Reclamation Service through its own personnel, where the character and amount of the work to be done can be defi

20 Section 4, subsection B, Deficiency Appropriation Act, for supplemental appropriations, year ending June 30, 1925.

21

nitely anticipated and described in the contract. In publishing for bids on the work, the widest publicity is attempted. The government goes to great lengths in revealing the conditions surrounding the project, that bidders may be properly forewarned of difficulties. Bids must be sealed, and they are opened publicly by a board of officers in the presence of such interested persons as care to be present.

Contracts provide that, in case of failure to execute the work properly within the required time, the government may declare the contract forfeited, take over the unfinished work, the plant and equipment, and finish the job at the contractor's cost.

The Secretary of the Interior sometimes finds it necessary to make contracts without competitive bidding.

Tasks are regularly inspected by Reclamation Service Engineers. 15. Construction by Bureau of Reclamation Personnel

Where construction involves many uncertainties and is liable to interruption by floods, as, for example, in building foundations of dams, if the character of the rock that may be found in the river bed cannot be ascertained readily in advance, an engineer of the Service is put in charge of the work; another engineer acts independently as inspector. 16. Subsidiary Activities to Serve Construction Personnel

Since reclamation enterprises usually are carried on in remote localities, it is necessary to operate various services for the personnel, such as messes, hospitals, stores, and recreational facilities. 17. Opening Projects

Upon completion of a self-sufficient unit of, and the whole of, the project, the Reclamation Service tests the works, and, when satisfactory, begins to deliver water to irrigable lands for which "rental” charges are made to owners of land within the project, which rentals have been authorized by Congress.22 This tentative use is expanded until the unit or project is deemed ready for formal opening, which is announced by the Secretary of the Interior, who, as to each irrigable acre of land in each new project, or a new division of a project, must issue two public notices relating to construction charges. “The first public notice shall be issued when the land is ready for settlement and will announce the construction charge per irrigable acre. The second public notice shall be issued when in the opinion of the Secretary the agricultural development of the project shall have advanced sufficiently to warrant the commencement of payment of installments of such construction charge. The second public notice shall fix the date when payments will begin on the construction charge announced by the first public notice, which date shall be not more than five years from the date of the first public notice." 23

21 See Committee on Irrigation of Arid Lands, Administration of the Reclamation Act. Hearing, Feb. 1-11, 1910. Washington Government Printing Office, 1910.

22 Act Aug. 13, 1914, § 11 (38 Stat. 686 [Comp. St. $ 4714a]).

23 Act June 17, 1902, 8 4 (32 Stat. 388 (Comp. St. $ 4703]), as modified by Act June 25, 1910, $ 5 (36 Stat. 835), and section 4, subsec. E, Deficiency Appropriation Act for supplemental appropriations, year ending June 30, 1925.

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