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852
IRRIGATION

course to the sea, rendering no service to mankind. Its upper waters are now stemmed by a masonry dam 178 ft. high, forming a large lake, at the eastern end of which is a tunnel 5700 ft. long, piercing the watershed and discharging 1600 cub. ft. per second down the eastern side of the mountains into the river Vaigai. No bolder or more original work of irrigation has been carried out in India, and the credit of it is due to Colonel J. Pennycuick, C.S.I. The dam and tunnel were works of unusual difficulty. The country was roadless and uninhabited save by wild beasts, and fever and cholera made sad havoc of the working parties; but it was successfully accomplished. The last of those given in the table above was not expected to be remunerative, but it should prove a valuable protective against famine. The system consists of weirs over the rivers Gulleri, Mahanadi and Rushikulya in the backward province of Ganjam, south of Orissa. From these weirs flow canals altogether about 127 m. long, which, in connexion with two large reservoirs, are capable of irrigating 120,000 acres. In 1901 the works, though incomplete, already irrigated 67,318 acres.

In addition to all these great engineering systems, southern India is covered with minor works of irrigation, some drawn from springs in the sandy beds of rivers, some from the rainfall of 1/2 sq. m. ponded up in a valley. In other cases tanks are fed from neighbouring streams, and the greatest ingenuity is displayed in preventing the precious water from going to waste.

Allusion has been already made to the canals of Sind. Elsewhere in the Bombay presidency, in the Deccan and Gujarat, there are fewer facilities for irrigation than in other parts of India. The rivers are generally of uncertain volume. The cost of storage works is very great. The population is backward, and the black soil is of a nature that in ordinary years can raise fair crops of cotton, millet and maize without artificial watering. Up to the end of 1896–1897 the capital spent on the irrigation works of the Deccan and Gujarat was Rx. 2,616,959. The area irrigated that year was 262,830 acres. The most important works are the Mutha and Nira canals in the Poona district.

In Upper Burma three productive irrigation works were planned at the opening of the century—the Mandalay, the Shwebo, and the Mon canals, of which the first was estimated to cost Rx. 323,280, and to irrigate 72,000 acres. The area estimated from the whole three projects is 262,000 acres, situated in the only part of Burma that is considered liable to famine.

In 1901, after years of disastrous drought and famine, the government of India appointed a commission to examine throughout all India what could be done by irrigation to alleviate the horrors of famine. Up to that time it had been the principle of the government not to borrow money for the execution of irrigation works unless there was a reasonable expectation that within a few years they would give a return of 4 or 5% on the capital outlay. In 1901 the government took larger views. It was found that although some irrigation works (especially in the Bombay Deccan) would never yield a direct return of 4 or 5%, still in a famine year they might be the means of producing a crop which would go far to do away with the necessity for spending enormous sums on famine relief. In the Sholapur district of Bombay, for instance, about three years’ revenue was spent on relief during the famine of 1901. An expenditure of ten years’ revenue on irrigation works might have done away for all future time with the necessity for the greater part of this outlay. The Irrigation Commission of 1901–1903 published a very exhaustive report after a careful study of every part of India. While emphatically asserting that irrigation alone could never prevent famine, they recommended an outlay of £45,000,000 spread over a period of 25 years.

See also Annual Reports Irrigation Department Local Governments of India; Reports of the Indian Famine Commissions of 1878, 1898 and 1901; Sir Hanbury Brown, Irrigation, its Principles and Practice (London, 1907).

VI. United States.—At the opening of the 20th century, during Mr Roosevelt’s presidency, the new “Conservation” policy (i.e. conservation of natural resources by federal initiative and control), to which he gave so much impetus and encouragement, brought the extension of irrigation works in the United States to the front in American statecraft (see Vrooman, Mr Roosevelt, Dynamic Geographer, 1909). Though the carrying out of this policy on a large scale was hampered by many difficulties, the subject was made definitely one of national importance.

On account of the aridity of the climate throughout the greater part of the western third of the United States, the practice of agriculture is dependent upon an artificial supply of water. On most of the country west of the 97th meridian and extending to the Pacific Ocean less than 20 in. of rain falls each year. The most notable exceptions are in the case of a narrow strip west of the Cascade Range and of some of the higher mountain masses. In ordinary years the climate is too dry for successful cultivation of the field crops, although under favourable conditions of soil and cultivation there are certain areas where cereals are grown by what is known as “dry farming.” The progress in irrigation up to the end of the 19th century was spasmodic but on the whole steady. The eleventh census of the United States, 1890, showed that 3,564,416 acres were irrigated in 1889. This included only the lands from which crops were produced. Besides this, there were probably 10 million acres under irrigation systems constructed in whole or in part. In 1899 the irrigated area in the arid states and territories was more than twice as great as in 1889, the acreage being as follows:—

Arizona 185,936
California 1,445,872
Colorado 1,611,271
Idaho 602,568
Montana 951,154
Nevada 504,168
New Mexico 203,893
Oregon 388,310
Utah 629,293
Washington 135,470
Wyoming 605,878
Total     7,263,813

In addition to the area above given, in 1899, 273,117 acres were under irrigation in the semi-arid region, east of the states above mentioned and including portions of the states of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma. The greater part of these lands was irrigated by canals or ditches built by individuals acting singly or in co-operation with their neighbours, or by corporations. The national and state governments had not built any works of reclamation excepting where the federal government, through the Indian department, had constructed irrigation ditches for Indian tribes, notably the Crow Indians of Montana. A few of the state governments, such, for example, as Colorado, had built small reservoirs or portions of canals from internal improvement funds.

The construction of irrigation canals and ditches was for the most part brought about by farmers joining to plough out or dig ditches from the rivers, descending on a gentle grade. Some of the corporations constructing works for the sale of water built structures of notable size, such, for example, as the Sweet-water and Hemet dams of southern California, the Bear river canal of Utah, and the Arizona canal, taking water from Salt river, Arizona. The cost of bringing water to the land averaged about $8 per acre where the ordinary ditches were built. The owners of extensive works were charged from $12 to $20 per acre and upwards for so-called “water rights,” or the privilege to take water from the canal, this covering cost of construction. Besides the first cost of construction, the irrigator was usually called upon to pay annually a certain amount for maintenance, which might often be worked out by labour on the canal. The cost ranged from 50 cents to $1 per acre; or, with incorporated companies, from $1.50 to $2.50 per acre and upwards. The largest expense for water rights and for annual maintenance was incurred in southern California, where the character of the crops, such as citrus fruits, and the scarcity of the water make possible