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Nature's method of conservation of water by stora^. Lake Tahoe, in 
the Sierra Nevada on the boundary between California and Nevada, typical 
of the mountain lakes whose storage capacity can be increased at relatively 
small cost. 
















The Chester S. Lyman Lectureship Fund was established in 1910 
through a gift to the Board of Trustees of the Sheffield Scientific 
School by Chester W. Lyman^ Yale College, 1882, in memory of 
his father, the late Professor Chester S. Lyman, for many years 
Professor of Physics and Astronomy in the Sheffield Scientific 
School. The income of this fund, according to the terms of the gift, 
is used for maintaining a course of lectures in the Sheffield Scientific 
School on the subject of Water Storage Conservation. The present 
volume constitutes the second of the series of memorial lectures. 

It is to be noted that the lectures upon which this volume is 
founded were delivered in 1913, at a time when the lecturer was 
director of the Reclamation Service. Before the material could be 
completed for publication many changes took place, the world war 
began and the manuscript was necessarily laid aside in order to 
concentrate on work more or less directly connected with the war, 
and on the preparation of data for reconstruction studies made 
under the auspices of the National Research Council. On the sign- 
ing of the armistice, the material was again taken up and pushed to 
completion, a new setting being given to it by the conditions which 
had developed. 



In this Day of Opportunity following the great world war, 
our people are calling for wise planning, for creative effort, 
for nation-wide cooperation, for economic administration, — all 
based on wider knowledge dependent upon increased study and 
research to furnish additional needed facts. The national 
wealth, present and prospective, has been mortgaged to pay the 
vast debts resulting from the war. We know that the burden 
can be lifted if we wisely employ the resources which nature has 
lavished but which we are so wastefuUy using. We must call 
to our aid science and scientific management, — in its true 
sense, — to save some of the enormous losses in fertility of the 
soil, in timber, in fuel, and in other natural resources, and to 
add to our income. The load of debt may ultimately prove a 
benefit to future generations, if in discharging it we learn the 
lessons of greater thrift and effectiveness in employing rather 
than in wasting our children's birthright. 

Each citizen, taxpayer, and voter is concerned; upon him 
rest the obligations of providing the ways of discharging the 
war debts and at the same time of increasing the prospects of 
the present and future prosperity. It is to these people, to the 
home builders, to the plain citizens, that this message is ad- 
dressed: it is hoped to interest them in the things w^hich not 
only affect them immediately as breadwinners, but which give 
them a larger view of their opportunities. Especially is this 
desirable at the present, when the period of reconstruction has 
set in and when every thinking person is aroused to the need of 
his taking part in the changes going on about him. As stated 
by Lloyd George there is now an "opportunity for reconstruc- 
tion of the industrial and economic conditions of the country 
such as has never been presented in the life of the world. The 
whole state of society is more or less molten." "There is no 
time to lose." 


Why emphasize this particular subject of water resources 
or of hydro-economics? Why this rather than some other 
branch of science and its application? While all fields should 
be explored, yet if only one may be selected, there is probably 
no one in which larger immediate results may be obtained than 
in that which relates to the one mineral or substance, vital to 
all life and industry, and yet which because of its very common 
occurrence has perhaps been relatively less subject to careful 
study than others. While much is known, yet there is more to be 
discovered ; while much has been done, there is probably no one 
substance upon whose conservation and use depends a larger 
share of life, health, and prosperity. 

But why a general book on the subject? There are already 
scores of textbooks, scientific publications, reference works, 
and encyclopedias. There is, however, apparently no one dis- 
cussion of the subject designed to present the field of conserva- 
tion and use of water in connection with a consideration of the 
all-important question, will it pay? Will the results be worth 
while, not merely in money but in other substantial gains to 
humanity, such as better surroundings, better sanitation, or 
higher aesthetic values? 

Do we not already have fairly complete knowledge of the 
facts ? In some fields, yes — in others we find that in attempting 
the larger projects we run into the twilight zone or fog of 
doubts which must be cleared by the light afforded by careful, 
thorough research by investigation into fundamentals. It is 
vital under our democratic government that the ordinary citizen 
fully appreciate this fact and that he do his part toward stimu- 
lating research or providing means for continued extension of 
the bounds of human knowledge. 

The apology for adding another book to the load of a weary 
world is to be found in the hope that in some way the plain 
citizen above described may be induced to look in a broad way 
upon these important matters and to add his favorable indorse- 
ment to the efforts of scientific men and investigators in ascer- 
taining more definitely the facts which may be utilized by 
engineers and promoters in developing and utilizing the natural 
resources of the country for the common welfare. 


In preparing this material, free use has been made of the 
assistance generously extended by many colleagues in the United 
States Reclamation Service, the United States Geological Sur- 
vey and others in various departments of the government and 
in the University of Illinois. The primary inspiration for the 
effort is that arising from the conservation policies of Theo- 
dore Roosevelt and his associates in this work, notably, W J 
McGee, the student of soils and waters, and from Gifford Pin- 
chot, the founder of the Yale Forest School, and for many years 
forester of the United States ; also from the activities of Sena- 
tor Francis G. Newlands and especially from the effective work 
of Geo. H. Maxwell, the executive committeeman of the National 
Irrigation Association. Data and description have been freely 
furnished by Charles E. Brooks, editor of the United States 
Weather Bureau ; by N. H. Darton of the United States Geolog- 
ical Survey; and by Victor E. Shelford of the University of 
Illinois. Kindly assistance and advice have been had from 
many other conservationists and friends, notably from Arthur 
P. Davis, chief engineer and director. United States Reclama- 
tion Service, John C. Hoyt, hydraulic engineer. United States 
Geological Survey, and John C. Merriam of the National 
Research Council. 



Preface ....... 


Acknowledgment .... 


Chapter I. Introduction . 


Research ..... 


What is Reconstruction.^ . 


Conser\'ation .... 


Hydro- Economics .... 


Economics ..... 


Engineering Relations 


Broader Relation .... 


Chapter II. Water in General . 


What is Water? .... 


Uses of Water .... 


Where Water is Found . 


Science Involved .... 


Meteorology ..... 


Hydrography and Hydrology . 


Geography, Geology, and Physiography 


Biological Sciences 


Application to Human Needs . 


Chapter III. Precipitation 


Rainfall ..... 


Causes of Rainfall .... 


Rainfall Measurements . 


Irregularities in Measurement 


Periodic Fluctuation . . . . 


Dew and Frost . . . . . 


Sky Signs ...... 


Forests and Mountains . . . . 





Chapter IV. Evaporation ..... 66 

Evaporation Measurements 

• « 


Standard Gage 

• ■ 


Results .... 

• « 


Drying or Dehydration 

• « 


Chapter V. Run-in . 

• a 


Quantity Absorbed 

• « 


Underflow .... 

t ■ 4 


Passage of Water Underground 


Typical Underground Water Conditions 


Quantity of Water ..... 


Quality of Water ..... 


Search for Underground Water 


Conservation of Underground Waters 


Chapter VI. Run-Off .... 


Floods and Drought 


Erosion .... 




Debris Problems 


Varying Quantities 


Data Available 


Units of Water Measurement 


Station Equipment . 


Discharge Measurements 


Fluctuating Flow . 


Range of Fluctuation 


Depth of Run-Off . 


Ordinary and Average Flow 


Chapter VII. Storage of Water 


Necessity ..... 


Modern Methods 


Topography . 


Mountain Storage . 


Plains Storage 




Alternative Sites 




Foundations . 







Chapter VIII. Dams 180 

Earth Dams . 


Core Walls . 




Hydraulic Dams 


Timber Dams 


Loose Rock Dams 


Masonry Dams 


Concrete Dams 


Gates . 




Retarding Dams 




Chapter IX. Notable Works 


Reclamation Service 


Storage Works 


Cost and Value 

1 1 


Roosevelt Reservoir 








Elephant Butte 


Lake Tahoe . 




Strawberry Valley , 


Yakima Lakes 


Deer Flat Reservoii 



Belle Fourche 






Bear Lake 


St. Mary-Milk River Syst 



Deliveries to Reservoir 


Underground Storage 


Chapter X. Uses of Water 


Costs and Benefits . 


Support of Life the First Use o 

f Water 


Quantity Needed . 


Value of Pure Wate 






Chapter XI. Food Production the Second Use of 





Irrigation and Drainage 


Internal Expansion 


Diversion of Water 


Quantity Used 


Cost of Water 


Economic Consideration 


Chapter XII. Reclamation Investigations 


Financing ..... 




• • 



Detailed Plans 

■ • 



Standard Forms 

• • 



Construction Methods 




Chapter XIII. Irrigation Structure and Methods 


Divisions of an Irrigation Project 


Collecting Unit 


Diversion Unit 


Carrying Unit 


Distributing Unit . 




Flumes . 




Siphons . 


Canal Lining . 




Automatic Spillway . 






Chapter XIV. Operation and Maintenance 


^leasurement of Irrigation Water 


Heads of Water .... 


Application of Water 







Subirrigation . 


Rotation of Flow . 


Duty of Water 




Alkali and Drainage 





Chapter XV. Transportation of Waste, the Third 

Use of Water .... 


Relative Values . . . . , 


Fisheries ...... 


Recreational Values .... 


Chicago Sewage ..... 


Does It Pay. J* 


Water Fertilization and Self-Purification 


Needed Research ..... 


Chapter XVI. Industry and Transportation, Fourth 

and Fifth Uses of Water 


Manufacturing ..... 


Water Power ..... 


Transportation or Fifth Use of Water 


New York Canals ..... 


Water Storage for Canal . . . , 


Chapter XVII. River Regulation 


Comprehensive Projects . 


Flood Prevention or Protection 


Misuse of Streams ..... 


Fishes and Their Value 


Mussels .... 


Need of Fishways . 


Frogs and Turtles 


Birds ..... 


Vlammals .... 


Water Margins 


Swamps .... 


Aquatic Plants 


Brackish Waters 


Salt Water Problems 


Cooperative Research 


Chapter XVIII. Legal and Legislative Problems 


Vested Rights ...... 


Riparian Rights ...... 


Appropriation ...... 


Political Relations .... 






Interstate Activities ...... 296 

Federal Funds ....... 297 

Waterways Commission ...... 299 

Conclusions . . . . . ... .801 




Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada, on the boundary between Cali- 
fornia and Nevada, typical of the mountain lakes whose storage 
capacity can be increased at relatively small cost. 

Plate I 22 

A. Spillway of Roosevelt Reservoir, Arizona. 

B. Products resulting from irrigation of lands formerly useless. 

C. Excavating a drainage ditch with drag line, Shoshone Project, 

Plate II 82 

A. Sagebrush covered desert lands, typical of millions of acres 
of good soil valueless for lack of water. Irrigable lands before 
irrigation, Yakima Valley, Washingrton. 

B. Home and farm, typical of thousands made possible by con- 
servation of water by storage, Minidoka Project, Idaho. 

C. Floods restrained by the Roosevelt Reservoir, Arizona, water 
otherwise destructive held in part for future use in generation of 
electric power and for irrigation of arid lands, illustrating double 
or triple benefits of conservation. 

D. Granite Reef diversion dam on Salt River, Arizona. 

Plate III 70 

A. Tower of United States Weather Bureau, carrying evapora- 
tion pans, near Salton Sea, California. 

B. Towers in Salton Sea, California, supporting evaporation 

C. Standard Evaporation Station, United States Weather 

Plate IV 90 

A. Small earth reservoirs or tanks for storage of water pumped 
by windmills from so-called underflow. Garden City, Kansas. 

B. Storage in mountains. Jackson I^ake at head of Snake River, 
Idaho- Wyoming. 

C. Brush wing dams to prevent erosion of levees, near Yuma, 

D. Sedimentation, adding silt to clear water for the purpose of 
reducing seepage from a canal, Minidoka Project, Idaho. 



Plate V 106 

A. Measuring flow of water in Ironstone Canal, near Montrose, 

B. Weir for measuring water in one of the canals of the Williston 
Project, North Dakota. 

C. A plains reservoir site, that utilized for the Cold Springs 
Reservoir of the Umatilla Project, Oregon. 

D. A reservoir built on the plains or open valley lands, because 
of lack of adequate natural storage sites in the mountains. Deer 
Flat Reservoir, Boise Project, Idaho. 

Plate VI 126 

A. An unusually good dam site in a narrow granite gorge with 
bedrock a few feet below the surface. Site of the Pathfinder 
Dam on North Platte River, Wyoming. 

B. Deceptive appearance of foundations, river apparently flow- 
ing upon bedrock, but diamond drill shows that the channel is 
filled with bowlders and loose rock to a depth of sixty feet or 
more. Site of Shoshone Dam, Wyoming. 

C. Site of Roosevelt Dam, Arizona. Showing highly inclined 
strata of side walls and narrow gorge. 

D. Building a dam of earth, showing core wall in center with 
earth lianks above and below, to be widened until they join, cov- 
ering the core wall; test pits on hillside in line of core wall; 
Strawberry Valley Dam, Utah, looking upstream. 

Plate VII 184. 

A. Earth dam built by hydraulic process, washing the earth and 
loose rock from the hillside and sluicing the debris out to the site 
of the dam. ConconuUy Reservoir. 

B. Earth dam built by hydraulic process; spillway at left in 
recent rock excavation. ConconuUy Dam, Okanogan Project, 

C. Paving on water side of earth dam. Belle Fourche Project, 
South Dakota. 

D. Concrete storage dam, at East Park, Orland Project, Cali- 

Plate VIII 142 

A. One of several rows of sluice gates to control water flowing 
through the Arrowrock Dam, Boise Project, Idaho. 

B. Operating cylinders for sluice gates, also portion of inspec- 
tion galley in Arrowrock Dam, Boise Project, Idaho. 

C. A series of curved spillway sections near East Park Dam, 
Orland Project, California. 

D. Erosion at lower toe of Mexican diversion dam on Rio 
Grande above El Paso, Texas. 



Plate IX . . . . .150 

A. Sheep grazing along canal in vicinity of Huntley, Montana, 
illustrating how they may be used to keep down the weeds on 
canal banks. 

B. Tunnel for diversion of North Platte River at Pathfinder 
Dam, Wyoming. 

C. Shoshone Dam, Wyoming, as seen from water side before 

D. Part of reservoir created by Shoshone Dam, Wyoming, with 
wagon road around side of reservoir leading to Yellowstone 
National Park. 

Plate X . . . . .160 

A. Arrowrock Dam, Boise Project, Idaho, water issuing from 
five openings in the upper row. 

B. Elephant Butte Dam, New Mexico, under construction. 

C. Earth dam on Carson River, Nevada. 

D. Lake Keechelus, Washington, one of three large lakes con- 
verted into reservoirs at head of Yakima River. Temporary 
wooded crib dam above site of permanent earth dam. 

Plate XI 178 

A. Dam at head of Sunnyside Canal, Washington, diverting 
water which comes from storage at the head of Yakima River. 

B. Lower embankment of Deer Flat Reservoir, Boise Project, 

C. Laying concrete blocks on upper face of Owl Creek Dam, 
Belle Fourche Project, South Dakota. 

D. Cold Springs Dam and outlet tower, Umatilla Project, 

Plate XII 186 

A. Main feed canal, concrete-lined section, for carrying flood 
water to Cold Springs Reservoir, Umatilla Project, Oregon. 

B. Spillway of the Minidoka Dam, Idaho, with power house 
in distance. 

C. Cement-lined canal carrying the water of Truckee River to 
Carson Reservoir, Nevada. 

D. Flume delivering water of Truckee River into Carson 
Reservoir, Nevada. 

Plate XIII . .198 

A. Underground storage of water in the Great Plains area. 
Pumping from the so-called underflow near Garden City, Kansas. 

B. Building canal by wheeled scraper, Boise Project, Idaho. 

C. Desert land before irrigation, Shoshone Project, Wyoming. 

D. Alfalfa and hogs, profitable products of the arid region. 
Sun River Project, Montana. 



Plate XIV 214 

A. Whalen diversion dam of North Platte Project, Nebraska- 

B. A lined tunnel with approach to canal. Grand Valley Pro- 
ject, Colorado, capacity 1,425 second-feet. 

C. Farm lateral delivering water to furrows, using canvas dam, 
Shoshone Project, Wyoming. 

D. Using water, stored by Roosevelt Reservoir, for irrigation 
of young orange grove, applying it by furrows. Salt River Valley, 

Plate XV 232 

A. Cement flume, Tieton Canal, Washington. 

B. Casting portions of reinforced concrete cement flume, Tieton 
Canal, Washington. 

C. Siphon conveying waters of Interstate Canal under Raw- 
hide Creek, North Platte Project, Nebraska. 

D. Cylindrical gates in Franklin Canal, £1 Paso, Texas. 

Plate XVI 240 

A. Measuring water to farm laterals. IJncompahgre Project, 

B. Stacking alfalfa hay. Garden City Project, Kansas. 

C. Alfalfa fleld injured by alkali due to excessive irrigation, 
Shoshone Project, Wyoming. 

D. Apple orchard. North Yakima, Washington. 

Plate XVII 268 

A. Blackfeet Indians on their reservation in Montana employed 
on conservation works. 

B. Apache Indian laborers at Roosevelt Reservoir in Arizona. 

C. Mountain forests and lake made possible by the run-off from 
the forested area. 

D. Underground storage made available by deep boring; an 
artesian well, New Roswell, New Mexico. 

Plate XVIII 268 

A. Furrow irrigation, Yakima Project, Washington. 

B. Farm lands destroyed by floods ; banks of New River near 
Imperial, California. 

C. Increased length of spillway produced by rectangular bays, 
Klamath Project, Oregon. 

D. River gates in Minidoka Dam, Idaho. 




Fig. 1. Sections illustrating conditions which control formation of 

flowing wells or of springs ...... 82 

Fig. 2. Profile showing factors indicating depth to water-bearing 

stratum at a given locality ...... 86 

Fig. 3. Apparatus illustrating loss of head or hydraulic grade due 

to leakage ......... 87 

Fig. 4. Profile indicating conditions of success or failure of arte- 
sian wells 87 

Fig. 5. Comparison of height of Roosevelt Dam with Capitol at 

Washington, District of Columbia ..... 147 

Plate I. A. 

Mao's method of conservation. Portion of Roosevelt Reservoir, Arlioni. 

A diy valley made Into a lake. 

Plate I. B. 
Products resulting from irrigation of lands formerly useless. The stack 
Bhown above contains T5 tons of alfalfa haj' from 16 acres on Minidoka 
Project, Idaho: the stack Is 30 feet long, 38 feet wide, and S5 feet high. 

Plate I. C. 
1 drainage ditch witli drag-line, Slioshone Project, Wyoming. 



Reconstruction of things, of men, and especially of ideals 
was the inevitable demand as soon as the world awoke to the 
magnitude of the destruction being wrought by the great war. 
As hostilities spread and more and more peoples were drawn in, 
with ever widening ruin to property and institutions, the need 
for devising far-reaching plans for rebuilding became more 
pressing. While every possible effort was being made to quickly 
win the war, yet, at the same time, certain far-seeing men recog- 
nized that if peace came without having adequate plans for 
reconstruction, much of the fruit of victory would be lost. 
Thus it was that many of the nations, even during the height of 
the war, created organizations such as the British Ministry of 
Reconstruction, whose duty it was to prepare plans and espe- 
cially to conduct researches into those matters which with the 
reestablishment of peace would have prime importance. 

Many a statesman of Europe and each propagandist the 
world over has seen the present opportunity and need. He has 
had his vision of what may be accomplished at the moment in 
the world's history when so much that is old and bad has been 
weakened and so much that is idealistic may become real if only 
this golden opportunity is grasped. The towns of the war 
zone, with their unsanitary surroundings, their narrow, crooked 
streets, wrecked by war, may be rebuilt with straight, broad 
avenues and modern improvements. Likewise, some of the 
ancient institutions with cramping influence upon industry, edu- 
cation and government in every country, now that their founda- 
tions are shaken, must be rebuilt from the ground up and may 
be planned to better meet the needs of present and successive 


An incursion into the fields of opportunity and need shows 
that there is an almost infinite variety of tasks which should be 
undertaken. The number and magnitude of these are appalling. 
Wonder is felt that with the achievement of our present civiliza- 
tion we should have left undone so many of these tasks. They 
pertain to every department of human life and involve the 
health, industry, and prosperity of nations as well as of indi- 
viduals. One great group of problems includes labor ; another, 
the vital questions of food and its greater production ; another, 
the transportation methods on land and on sea and so on 
through the whole range of human interests. 

Among all these groups of things to be done there is one 
which has a peculiar appeal to the ordinary citizen because so 
close to his daily life. Yet because so familiar it is often over- 
looked, while attention is drawn to more remote happenings. 
This is the group of questions mainly in the physical and biolog- 
ical sciences which in the decade preceding the world war were 
discussed under the then popular name of "conservation." 

Reconstruction, as the word is now generally used, covers 
much the same group of questions, together with newer ideals 
and aspirations, and implies a better utilization for the common 
welfare of the natural resources and the more effective employ- 
ment of physical and moral forces. It, however, in popular use, 
seems to involve more of the conception of utility, of practical 
and immediate application to the problems confronting us. 

Research. It is now apparent — as never before — that 
research must precede effective work in reconstruction or in 
conservation. This fact, while generally known during the dis- 
cussion of conservation problems, has been emphasized by the 
needs created by the great war. It is seen more widely than in 
the previous decade that to clear the line of progress there must 
be a larger, more systematic and more vigorous study into 
things as they arc in order to eliminate points of uncertainty. 

Many things whose lasting qualities have been assumed have 
failed in part under the shock of war. Others formerly regarded 
as dubious have made good. We must utilize the facts now at 
hand and while we cannot wait for all of the results of laborious 
and time-consuming research, yet we are not justified in abating 



any of our energies in initiating and bringing to useful conclu- 
sions the lines of investigation where further facts are needed. 

America, as compared with her resources and needs, has been 
remiss in research. While inventive genius, especially in 
mechanical lines, has been encouraged, research as such has been 
left largely to other nations. Recognizing this condition, our 
reconstruction ideals should involve larger and better planned 
instrumentalities for research. We should quickly test what is 
known and explore in directions where additional knowledge is 
needed. But before outlining these attempts it is wise to try 
to define what is meant by reconstruction, by conservation, by 
research and by some of the other commonly used terms. 

What is Reconsteuction.'^ This word like many another 
in popular use has almost as many meanings as there are per- 
sons employing it. To the medical man it means the rebuilding 
of health and phj'sical strength; the injured soldier is to be 
rehabilitated to return to the ranks, or to be prepared for self- 
support in civil life. To the army engineer reconstruction 
means the rebuilding of roads, railroads, bridges and towns ; the 
restoration of devastated country. To the citizen and business 
man reconstruction means getting back to normal conditions. 
To the propagandist it means the opportunity to put into prac- 
tice the improvements which in his opinion are vital to the 
progress of the race. As a somewhat conservative definition the 
following may be offered : 

Reconstruction is the rebuilding on normal peace lines of the 
activities, mental and physical, which prevailed before the war, 
with such improvement or advance in ideals, methods and 
machinery as may have been made possible by recent experience. 
It begins primarily with the returning soldier, in his rehabilita- 
tion if necessary, and his return to the industry which best suits 
his capacities and desires. It includes the placing of other war 
workers as conditions change and of any human effort where it 
may be most effective. It means better use of our natural 
resources in lands, minerals, waters, and forests, to furnish 
larger and more nearly equal opportunities for each citizen and 
the placing of industry, including agriculture, mining and trans- 
portation, on a basis to meet the changed needs of the country. 


In short, it means the intelligent planning and execution of 
plans for a better community. 

On grouping these reconstruction problems and assembling 
them in logical order, it is seen that there is behind each an 
unsolved or partly solved question in some one of the physical 
or biological sciences whose application in engineering, agricul- 
ture or other useful arts is fundamental in the public welfare. 
Here additional careful research is required. For example, for 
better food production there are required answers to questions 
regarding soil, climate and waters. Behind transportation are 
certain geographical and other limitations affecting largely 
inland navigation. Behind health, among others, are such ques- 
tions as better water supply and prevention of water-borne 

In short, in our study of reconstruction problems, if we go 
back to the fundamentals of health, prosperity, and comfort of 
individuals and of the nation, we find that as a significant factor 
there stands prominent and more complete knowledge of some 
one simple substance whose occurrence and use demand a larger 
survey accompanied by comprehensive projects of research and 
development of effective means of utilizing the scientific and 
technical knowledge thus gained. 

Conservation. As part of any reconstruction program 
there must be included conservation. This word so popularly 
used since 1902 has become almost hackneyed. It is now 
replaced or merged in the more inclusive and perhaps more 
utilitarian term, reconstruction, yet the ideal still remains, and 
men who were most ardent conservationists have turned their 
zeal and energy to the solution of the problems which have 
become acute because of conditions following the world war. 

During the progress of the war the principles of conserva- 
tion were exploited and immediately put into practice on a scale 
and with a thoroughness hardly dreamed of by the most ardent 
advocate of conservation in the years gone by. The whole 
nation willingly adopted extreme measures which even the most 
visionary conservationist had hardly expected to see attempted 
even on a modest scale. The methods tentatively discussed in 
earlier years to conserve and better utilize coal, oil, and other 


fuels, food and forage were extensively practiced. Considera- 
tion was given to ways and means of securing still greater 
economies ; forces were set in motion which it is hoped will bring 
about the realization of the dreams of enthusiasts with refer- 
ence to conservation of other natural resources such as water 
powers, and on a scale previously unknown. 

Conservation, and to a large part reconstruction, at the 
bottom is good housekeeping. It involves the idea of thrift and 
of good business management. The present age differs from 
those which have gone before in the appreciation of the need of 
careful and scientific study of natural resources, in the weigh- 
ing of costs and benefits in utilizing these, viz., in the economics 
of their use. The time has passed when the well-informed man 
boasts of the unlimited resources of the country ; it is no longer 
considered a mark of progress to permit the great coal beds to 
be carelessly mined, the forests to be freely burned and the rivers 
to be neglected. The study of the management of the affairs of 
the government and of the community with reference to the 
sources of income, expenditures and development of the natural 
resources has come to be appreciated as never before. 

It has been a characteristic American trait to expatiate upon 
the natural resources of our country. The vastness of the area 
and of the mineral wealth appeals to the imagination. It seems 
to reflect glory upon all who are so fortunate as to be in such 
a great land. Unconsciously we take credit to ourselves for 
these resources as though the fact that we are living here attests 
our superiority over the rest of the world. It would be more 
fitting, however, instead of dwelling upon our own superior merit 
in being in such a country, for us to feel that these resources 
impose a corresponding obligation and a duty to utilize them 
in the best way for the welfare of mankind. The tendency has 
been, however, to accept these wonderful opportunities as a gift 
to individuals and to permit the stronger or shrewder man to 
exploit them for private gain rather than for the strengthening 
of the nation. The unspoken thought has often been that what- 
ever is good for me should be good for the community, and that 
my personal success and that of my friends measure the highest 


The public-spirited men who have held to the opposite views, 
namely, that the great natural resources such as mineral wealth 
and water power are a public trust to be administered for the 
greater good to the greatest number, can hardly hope to attain 
immediate popularity ; while the greatest number accept this as 
a matter of course, the active aggressive minority, whose plans 
for personal gain may be interfered with, are ever active in their 
opposition to the men whom they characterize as "visionary and 
impracticable" in their altruistic ideals. Nevertheless, with the 
spread of reconstruction demands these ideals are being realized 
in part ; we have reason to be greatly encouraged when we look 
back over the history of the past ten years and see the awaken- 
ing of the public conscience and the support which has been 
given to the plans of conservation. 

Now, as never before, it is being appreciated that a nation 
like an individual cannot be rich without proper economy and 
that in public affairs, as in private, the rules of thrift, of good 
housekeeping, of good business management, must be observed. 
As striking examples of the need and benefit of such national 
thrift may be cited the dormant or partly used opportunities 
in water powers and related forces. 

Hydro-Economics. Considering all of the substances or 
natural resources which have to do with health, comfort and 
prosperity, there is no one which approaches in importance the 
most common of all our minerals, and the only one vital to life, 
namel}', water. Water is so common, its use is so intimately 
associated with every necessity and comfort that like most 
common things its importance is overlooked. It is at the foun- 
dation not merely of life itself but of every industry, and upon 
its control and best use depend the health and prosperity of 
the human race. If, therefore, in our reconstruction program 
we start with this single fundamental we are at once con- 
fronted by a group of problems all dependent for their solu- 
tion upon a more complete knowledge not merely of water and 
the water resources of the country but of the laws of nature 
which govern the occurrence and use of water as a material 
means of satisfying human needs. 

More than this we must be prepared to apply this knowledge 


in an efficient manner. We should be able to show that the 
results will be worth more than they cost, though these returns 
may not be in money values but in better health or in ways 
which make for a higher civilization. 

To cover these two conceptions a new term is necessary or at 
least one which has not been in common use. For this purpose 
the word "hydro-economics" is perhaps most suitable in that 
the prefix conveys the idea of water and is followed by the 
conception of its efficient employment, of utility or of thrift. 

But what has hydro-economics to do with reconstruction or 
with conservation? A little consideration will show that the 
substance, water, is the one mineral which as above noted is 
necessary for all life. It enters into most of the far-reaching 
plans for the rebuilding or development of the nation's resources 
in men, materials or industries. No activity of reconstruction 
nor even of existence, can take place without water. It is a 
prerequisite in all far-reaching projects. 

Often this prerequisite is not definitely recognized simply 
because we infer that as a matter of course water exists in 
proper quantity or quality. It goes without saying that the 
reconstruction of the wounded soldier can only take place under 
the assumption that he is provided with the proper quantity 
and quality of water for drinking, cooking, bathing, laundry and 
other purposes. It is not necessary to discuss this elementary 
fact in such connection. In other lines of reconstruction such, 
for example, as the utilization of desert or waste lands, the 
question of water supply is the one large item to be given con- 
sideration. Between these two extremes the question of water 
and its use may be found to be involved more or less directly in 
every reconstruction problem. 

Economics. According to the definition in the dictionary 
this is the "science that investigates the conditions and laws 
affecting the production, distribution and consumption of 
wealth or the material means of satisfying human desires." Or 
to put the matter in more homely form, it is the consideration 
of the reply demanded from every promoter or propagandist, 
"Will it pay?" 

Each scheme or project of conservation or of reconstruction 


or in fact any undertaking must respond to the inquiry, "Will 
the result — whether material or moral — ^justify the outlay?" 
The man of affairs puts the question bluntly in the current 
vernacular, "What are the profits?" The scholar reaches the 
same end by asking as to whether it will be economically advan- 

Among the almost innumerable plans for promoting future 
prosperity choice must be made of those which are most likely 
to pay. The return or reward may not necessarily be in money 
value. In fact, the question as to whether any one line of effort 
will pay best must be considered not in immediate financial terms 
but in the less tangible and more far-reaching result of attain- 
ment of the ideals of a people. 

The combination of the two words hydro and economics may 
be narrowly defined as the economics of water supply or more 
broadly stated as a consideration of the question as to whether 
it will pay to utilize or develop the natural resources in water 
in connection with one or another of the problems of recon- 

Many of the questions which might be asked in hydro-econom- 
ics may be answered as soon as they are stated. To take an 
extreme case, no one would hesitate to assert that any obtain- 
able amount of money may be used in procuring an adequate 
amount of water for drinking, cooking and other purposes 
needed in the rehabilitation of our soldiers. At the other 
extreme is the question of state or even national importance — 
Is it possible and will it pay to try to procure an adequate 
supply of water to develop certain industries or to irrigate 
certain desert lands? That it will pay and that the results in 
many cases are well worth the expenditure has fortunately been 
demonstrated by extensive works already completed by the 
national government. 

Comfortable homes dotting the valleys and diversified indus- 
tries located at centers of population in a formerly desert 
country testify to the practical results of trying out one of 
the numerous forms of hydro-economics, viz., that of water 
conservation by storage. For several years prior to the out- 
break of the world war each season showed progress in added 

Plate II. A. 
Saa^brush covered desert lands, typical of tnilllons of acres of good soil 
valueless for lack of water. Irrigable lands before irrigation, Yakima 
Valley, Washington. 

Plate II. B. 

Home and farm, tjplcal of thousands made possible by conservation of 

water by storage, Minidoka Project, Idaho. 

Floods restrained by the Roosevelt Reservoir, Arizona, water otherwise 
destructive held in part for future use in fteneration of electric power and 
for irrigation of arid lands. Illustrating double or triple benefits of con* 

Plate II. D. 
Granite Reef diversion dsni on Salt River, Arizona. 


works both great and small. Many projects for conservation 
of water were then being planned or built, putting into visible 
form an appreciation on the part of the public of the oppor- 
tunities to be enjoyed. The period from 1904 to 1914 was 
particularly rich in results, the most notable among these being 
the achievements of the United States Reclamation Service in 
the construction of large reservoirs at the head waters (see PI. 
I. A) or along the streams issuing from the mountains of the 
arid west. 

Some of the largest and highest dams in the world for hold- 
ing flood waters were then built. At the time of the entrance 
of the United States into the war these works were adding to 
the food supply and material prosperity of the country through 
the large crops produced from lands which without this supply 
would have remained desert. The contrast between the nat- 
urally unproductive and valueless conditions and the highly 
productive state to which these lands have been brought is 
shown by Pis. II. A and B, the change shown in the latter being 
wrought by water conservation in reservoirs created by these 
great dams. 

The success attained by the application of the principles of 
hydro-economics or of water conservation in the western part 
of the United States prior to the war had begun to stimulate 
interest in similar undertakings throughout the remainder of 
the country and of the world in general. Prominent engineers 
from nearly every civilized land had come to see these reclama- 
tion projects and to study the methods of laying out the works, 
of handling materials, of organizing the working force and 
particularly of solving the related economic and social problems. 

The application of the principles of water conservation also 
had a secondary but highly important influence in stimulating 
studies directed toward increased efficiency in related work ; the 
efforts in this one direction assisted in obtaining higher economy 
in other undertakings. There was thus put into practice in 
several branches of the federal government a higher degree of 
efficiency than had hitherto prevailed. This was manifest par- 
ticularly in the direction of cost keeping, in making purchases 
and in laying out works. It may not be too much to claim that 


the success attained by the employees of the government in the 
practical application of conservation principles in reclamation 
and in forestation did much to strengthen public confidence in 
the efficiency of the government in undertaking larger problems 
connected with the operations of the world war. 

Engineering Relations. In attacking the reconstruction 
problems which directly or indirectly involve the study of hydro- 
economics, it is necessary to explore far back into the funda- 
mentals of many of the mathematical, physical and biological 
sciences. In their application in solving these problems engi- 
neering knowledge and skill are involved. In fact, the engineer 
has the principal responsibility. As a man of ingenuity and of 
vision he must see the entire field and initiate the work. Later 
he must call in the agriculturist and seek aid and advice from 
the business man and economist. In fact, for success he must 
supplement his skill by wide business experience and be able to 
form correct opinions as to whether any given undertaking 
apparently necessary and practical will be worth the cost. 

Historically the original hydro-economists or conservation- 
ists were the engineers whose names and nationalities are un- 
known, but who during remote antiquity built in Egypt, Meso- 
potamia, India and China the structures little and big for the 
irrigation or drainage of lands otherwise unproductive. In this 
sense reclamation may be said to antedate civilization. Conser- 
vation, or reconstruction as we may now term it, utilized not 
merely the natural substances and forces, but turned to higher 
uses and efforts of the human race, elevating individuals and 
nations from slavish dependence upon the fluctuation of water 
supply to a status where each year they could produce ample 
food and secure the comforts coming from assured and bountiful 

Broader Relation. Nor has this conservation of human 
energies been wholly a matter of past generations. One of the 
incidents of modern engineering and the application of its prin- 
ciples in reclamation of the desert lands is that of the develop- 
ment of the neglected or little considered natives of the United 
States and of other countries where water conservation has been 
wisely practiced. The improved conditions, for example, in 


India and Egypt, through the work of the British engineer, are 
well known. In the United States a similar though less exten- 
sive result has been obtained in providing needed water supply 
for some of the American Indian tribes or "Amarinds," and in 
permitting them to practice better agriculture than was ever 
before feasible. The immediate and direct result is the improve- 
ment of the Indian laborer. The opportunities offered at the 
remote places where he lives and where storage reservoirs are 
being built have lifted him in the scale of civilization and have 
made possible the use of his time which otherwise would have 
been wasted. This condition is typified by PI. XVII. A, which 
shows some of the members of the Blackfeet Indian tribe work- 
ing on the canals and embankments on their reservations, made 
possible by water conservation. 

A group of Apache Indian laborers on the Roosevelt Reservoir 
is shown in PI. XVII. B. These men are members of a tribe 
reputed to be among the most bloodthirsty in the world, but 
under fair treatment they have responded and have dropped, 
outwardly at least, some of the more obnoxious of their tribal 
customs. When paid a white man's wages for a white man's 
work, they have adopted a white man's clothes and have been 
not only faithful but have proved unusually intelligent in their 
work. V^^ithout this work of water conservation, these men and 
their families would have remained as roving "blanket Indians" 
with no means of self-support, being dependent upon the bounty 
of the government for their food. By conservation and utiliza- 
tion of the water which rises within the reservation it is practi- 
cable for them to become self-supporting citizens capable of 
performing useful service to each other and to the community. 

In reviewing all of these general conditions of reconstruction 
and the application of the principles of hydro-economics, the 
most striking fact is that while large results have already been 
achieved and still larger results are possible for the public wel- 
fare, each large project is hampered or blocked by lack of 
complete information on important details. In other words, 
research amply supported and scientifically conducted is needed 
to make real the vision of increased health, comfort and 


What is Water? What do we know about it and how do 
we obtain the facts ? Every one knows what water is — for every 
life depends upon it, yet as in the case of other well-known 
substances in common use, the wider it is known the greater the 
difficulty of giving complete answers to such simple questions. 
The word itself probably originated in northern Europe. The 
Greek equivalent is in frequent use as our prefix hydro- and the 
Latin is aqua ; the use of these terms affording opportunity for 
a wide range of expressions permitting nice shades of meaning. 

The substance as we ordinarily know it and as it forms the 
basis of life is a fluid, but we may properly consider it as a 
mineral, a portion of the rocky crust of the earth, but one which 
melts at a temperature below that necessary for the support of 
life. It is hardly necessary to more than refer to the fact that 
from the chemical standpoint pure water consists of two parts 
of hydrogen and one of oxygen, but as oxygen is about sixteen 
times as heavy as hydrogen, by weight water consists of one 
part of hydrogen to eight of oxygen. The combination of these 
two gases is so stable that to separate them is usually required 
a somewhat powerful electric current or chemical reaction 
involving the absorption of considerable heat. It is the most 
important of all chemical agents, for it takes into solution most 
of the substances with which it is in contact, and is the universal 
life fluid. Because of this eagerness in taking to itself portions 
of other substances it is practically never pure unless artificialh*^ 

From the physical standpoint water is also of the highest 
interest and importance. It is continually in motion, even as a 
solid; as ice it is moving slowly under the influence of gravity, 
settling or becoming consolidated by its own weight and almost 


imperceptibly flowing toward some lower point. In its change 
to a liquid it absorbs great quantities of heat and contracts in 
bulk, continuing to do so until a point of maximum density is 
reached a few degrees above freezing, and then it expands. 
These peculiarities are of fundamental importance in the dis- 
cussion of natural phenomena and of many engineering matters. 

An equally interesting and important physical change is that 
which takes place when water changes into a gas or vapor, again 
absorbing great quantities of heat and expanding enormously 
in volume. Upon these changes depend other grfeat natural 
phenomena; the explanation of weather conditions and of the 
efficiency of innumerable mechanical devices rests upon a full 
knowledge of the behavior of water as a gas or vapor under 
changing conditions of temperature and pressure. 

In order to discuss the properties of water, what it is and 
what it does, an infinite number of ways of approach are offered. 
Each of the various sciences might be taken up in some arbitrary 
order such as chemistry, physics, biology, meteorology and 
others, but for the present purpose — that of considering the 
economics of water and the application of its properties to 
pending reconstruction or conservation problems — the arrange- 
ment to be followed may perhaps most properly be that of the 
use or application of water to the human needs and to the public 

Uses of Water. These needs of humanity are infinite in 
number, — a catalogue of them would fill a book, — but for con- 
venience of discussion they may be classified in several great 
divisions, in each of which the benefits to be derived through the 
application of engineering skill in the use of water may be 
weighed against the probable cost. In the first of these groups 
almost any cost is permissible since it involves the saving or 
prolonging of life. An individual in the desert may be willing 
to give all that he has for a drink of water ; a community may 
be justified in expending every dollar it can borrow to procure 
the necessary life-giving fluid. On the other extreme, it is often 
necessary to weigh carefully the anticipated costs against the 
benefits. The difference of a few dollars of prospective profit 
or loss may determine the fate of great enterprises. In turn. 


the money loss may be offset by considerations of health or 
aesthetic values which may justify a financially losing venture. 

First and foremost come those human needs and uses which 
relate to the procuring of water for drinking or household use. 
While man may exist for a time without industry or may live for 
a month without food, 3^et the lack of drinking water for two or 
three days is usually fatal. To enjoy good health the quality 
must be good and the quantit}^ ample. Thus the procuring of 
an adequate supply of good water for drinking purposes out- 
ranks all other human needs and stands at the head of all plans 
for conservation, reconstruction or other applications of hydro- 

Second come those uses of water which relate to food pro- 
duction. As in the case of mankind, no animals or plants 
used for food can live or flourish without an adequate amount 
of water at the right time. Hence the provisions for watering 
domestic animals and for regulation of supply to forage and 
food plants by irrigation, drainage and flood protection rank 
next after drinking water. 

Third, in importance to mankind, is the use — not often recog- 
nized, but of growing importance, coming logically in order 
after the provisions for drinking water and food — of flowing 
water in sanitary engineering and particularly in the disposal 
of waste, both sewage and that from various industries. 

Fourth in order come the industrial relations, the employ- 
ment of water in manufacturing, in making steam, in water 
power and other mechanical ways. These, as well as the uses 
just noted, involve certain applications of biological as well 
as physical laws and require a knowledge and application of 
engineering, agriculture, medicine, and other useful arts. 

Fifth in importance, from the standpoint of human needs and 
development, comes the transportation of men and goods. Inci- 
dentally, while this is last in the category of necessities of life, 
comfort, and prosperity, it ranks first in legal standing, being 
practically the only use recognized in the constitution of the 
United States. It thus has precedence in the eyes of the law 
over many of the more fundamentally important applications 
of water. 


This condition arises from the fact that at the time when the 
constitution was adopted it was tacitly assumed that there was 
water enough for every one and that there was no necessity for 
safeguarding it in the interest of the public or of the common- 
wealth. Because of this situation there are now presented under 
the requirements of modern life many problems difficult of solu- 
tion, in which the present interpretations of common law as well 
as of statute law relating to water rights have proved serious 
stumblingblocks to the best employment of the water resources 
of the country. Thus in order that our knowledge of the physi- 
cal and biological sciences above noted may be properly applied 
to engineering and agriculture, it is often necessary that the 
legal situation be given study. In fact, a certain amount of 
research must be conducted into the legal phase of some of 
these subjects as well as into the physical data needed for the 
solution of many practical problems. 

Taking up each of these groups of human needs and uses of 
water and going back into fundamentals, it is seen that each 
involves for complete performance a full knowledge of one or 
another branch of science. Also a little inquiry shows that our 
present knowledge of this science, while relatively large, is by 
no means adequate to answer all of the important questions. 
For example, in the first use of water, that of prolonging life, 
we come at once into a branch of biological science and imme- 
diately find that our present knowledge of the part played by 
water in many functions of life is but partly employed. Again, 
in the second use, — that of production of food, — the part 
played by water in the soil offers a broad field for research. 

Where Water is Found. Water is everywhere; it is in, 
through and surrounding all substances with but few exceptions. 
It is in the air we breathe, it forms the greater part of the 
weight of our bodies and of our food, it is essential to all living 
things, animal or vegetable, and forms a large proportion of 
the solid crust of the earth, as well as covers the greater 
portion of it. To adequately study water in all of its varying 
aspects, in its employment for man's needs and in his occupa- 
tions, we must traverse almost the entire range of human knowl- 


edge and especially go into the various branches of physical 
and biological sciences, discussing the arts which enable these 
to be practically applied to engineering, agriculture and 
innumerable other industries. 

Water is not only all-pervasive, but is continually traveling — 
sometimes very slowly, progressing only a few inches or feet 
during a year or century, again with great rapidity encircling 
the globe as the invisible molecule travels in the form of vapor 
in the upper atmosphere or as a portion of a visible cloud drifts 
across the continent. At a little slower speed, after descending 
in the form of rain, it may flow from the higher mountains to 
the ocean and later wander in great oceanic currents from the 
equator to the pole and back again ; precipitated as snow it may 
become solidified in the body of a glacier, imperceptibly moving 
onward. Again, caught in the rocks it may percolate with 
extreme slowness, being held entrapped perhaps for centuries; 
absorbed by a plant or assimilated by an animal it may take 
part in life's activities.^ 

In the same way that it permeates all substances, its study 
leads the student into fields often apparently far remote from 
those into which he originally entered. In its economic relation 
and in the comparison of costs and benefits derived by mankind 
in its utilization there is correspondingly wide range. No defi- 
nite limits of cost of its employment can be fixed in advance as 
conditions change with great rapidity. For this reason it is of 
great importance that certain standards of comparison be set 
from time to time that can be used by the engineer and promoter 
of new enterprises since these comparisons so largely determine 
human activities, for example, in the works which may be under- 
taken in the production of food or in providing facilities for 
commerce. The question whether a given enterprise will be 
worth what it costs is ever new and compelling. 

Science Involved. The number of branches of human 
knowledge or science concerned with water and its application 

1 The Journey of a particle of water is interestingly described by Prof. 
H. I.. Fairchild in a series of articles, entitled, "Adventures of a Watermol," 
in The Scientific Monthly for January, P>bruary, and March, 1917. 


to the needs of men is so great as to be an embarrassment. 
It is difficult to decide where to begin in a study of this magni- 
tude; it becomes necessary to arbitrarily select some point in 
the cycle of changes which lead into the physical and biological 
groups of knowledge. A beginning might be made by consider- 
ing water as a rock forming a part of the earth's surface and 
from this condition tracing its transformation into a fluid and 

It is more satisfactory in our study of water, however, to 
start at the other extreme and begin by considering it as a vapor 
forming part of the atmosphere which surrounds the earth and 
as such breathed by all animals and absorbed by plants. In 
the air it is visible only when it forms in small drops which we 
know as clouds or fog. In the orderly consideration we may 
thus begin with the science which treats of water in the atmos- 
phere, or meteorology. This in its lesser meaning is a discus- 
sion of those things which are in the air ; it treats of the atmos- 
phere and its phenomena, the variations of heat and moisture, 
the winds and storms. 

But the drops of water in the air falling upon the earth 
quickly pass out of the dominion of meteorology into that of 
another group of physical sciences known as hydrology or 
hydrography, geology or geography, and bring into question 
many matters which are treated under the head of hydraulics, 
hydrostatics and hydrometrics. In these physical sciences a 
vast amount of information has been collected but still further 
research is needed in order to make much of this available for 
present uses. 

Passing to the more intimate needs of water, we come into the 
group of biological science in which the phenomena are far 
more complicated and even less understood than in the physical 
group above enumerated. These have to do primarily with 
health and vital functions, with the quality and quantity of 
water needed for drinking and for household purposes. They 
lead into agriculture and its involved ramifications, to the pro- 
duction of fish and to studies of lower forms of life dependent 
upon moisture conditions. To enumerate all of these would be 
improfitable at the present time, but it is sufficient to call 


attention to their wide range and to accentuate the fact that 
we have hardly begun to make the studies needed for the profit- 
able consideration and use of the facts about us. 

In considering "the things which are in the air," the one 
substance which is of chief interest to us in this connection is 
water. This occurs mainly as a gas or vapor characterized here 
as elsewhere by an endless cycle of changes and variations in 
quantity, quality and appearance. The air may be apparently 
dry and yet contain a trace of water vapor, or saturated to the 
point where with lower temperature all the water can no longer 
exist as a gas and the water falls as rain or gathers as dew. 

Meteoeology is the oldest of sciences in the sense that all 
savages, and presumably the prehistoric men, studied the 
weather and recorded unconsciously or otherwise the changing 
seasons and the conditions which affected their personal com- 
fort, health, and food supply. In the mind of primitive man 
the facts connected with the weather and with the movements 
of heavenly bodies were closely related; the foundations of 
astronomy and of meteorology were laid together. A mass 
of observations and deductions more or less systematically 
arranged has been accumulated from time immemorial; out of 
these have grown many sayings handed down from our remote 
ancestors. It is only within recent years, however, that the 
invention of instruments has made it possible to record the 
facts of weather changes and to permit accurate comparisons 
or scientific deductions regarding changes of atmospheric 
pressure, of heat and cold, with the accompanying variations in 
clouds and in rain. 

While countless individuals have made records of weather 
changes, these have necessarily been at isolated localities, mere 
specks on the map. As weather is a matter of changes which 
take place throughout the entire atmosphere surrounding the 
globe, these individual observations have had relatively little 
scientific value. It was only when facilities were offered for 
simultaneous recording and exchange of information by means 
of the electric telegraph that it was possible to obtain valuable 
comparisons of weather conditions over broad areas and thus 
make deductions from the phenomena occurring at widely sepa- 


rated points. Because of this necessity of widespread simul- 
taneous observation it has naturally resulted that the study of 
meteorology on a large scale or a research of this character has 
become a function of the general government. 

The accumulation of observations on rain- and snowfall, sun- 
shine and cloudiness, pressure and temperature changes, floods 
and droughts, and their effect upon crop production, industry 
and transportation is very great ; much of it still requires care- 
ful arrangement and study. But although this accumulated 
mass of more or less related data at times seems appalling to 
the investigator, yet when he begins to get into it he discovers 
that it is only a tithe of what is needed in the solution of any 
particular problem, such as that of flood control or of the 
increase of crop production within any particular area. He 
must have more figures and is urgently demanding that research 
be continued into many lines hardly yet touched. 

Following along in logical order the course of the water pre- 
cipitated we pass from the consideration of things in the air, 
or meteorology, to those of the earth, or geology. Before going 
into this latter science, there are certain intervening research 
groups to which reference should be made. 

Hydrography and Hydrology. When the rain or snow con- 
densing out from the atmosphere descends upon the earth it 
soon becomes a part of the surface features and thus passes 
out of the domain of meteorology, as strictly defined, and 
becomes the subject of study of another group of sciences 
usually known as hydrography or hydrology. The difl^erence 
in significance of these two terms may be best illustrated by 
following the analogy between the similar words geography and 
geology. The word hydrography implies a description of water 
bodies, particularly the survey of coast lines and of the bottoms 
of harbors, and preparation of charts of navigable waters. 
The meaning of the word has also been extended to include the 
mapping of lakes and streams and a description of these as 
regards their relative size and location. 

Hydrology is defined as being more general in nature, being 
the science which treats of w^ater, its properties, phenomena 
and distribution over the earth's surface. The term has also 


been used with reference to underground water as distinguished 
from hydrography, which is more often applied to surface water 
supplies and sources. The point to be observed is that while 
meteorology considers among other things the water in the 
atmosphere surrounding the earth, the moment that — as a solid 
in the form of snow or ice or as a liquid in rain — it strikes the 
earth, further study falls within, the scope of the sciences now 

Hydrography or the survey of the larger navigable bodies is 
for the most part a function of the national government, since 
it alone has the authority and means of charting the navigable 
waters which by law are under its exclusive control. To a less 
extent the data on hydrology must be obtained by governmental 
agencies because of the fact that streams flow independently of 
state or political boundaries and because of the fact that many 
interstate industrial relations are concerned. Studies and obser- 
vations have been somewhat widely conducted by individuals or 
corporations, particularly in connection with the development 
of water power. Thus the efforts of employees of the govern- 
ment are supplemented by data privately obtained. 

As stated by Meyer^ this science of hydrology is fundamental 
to the solution of many problems in water power, water supply, 
sewerage, sewage disposal, drainage, irrigation, navigation, and 
flood protection and prevention. Although extending to a large 
field of engineering science, hydrology itself is founded upon 
numerous other sciences as well as upon a large body of physical 
data peculiar to itself. 

In the description given by Mead^ he calls attention to the 
fact that hydrology "treats of the laws of distribution and 
occurrence of water over the earth's surface, and within the 
geographical strata in sanitary, agricultural and commercial 
relations." He further states: "We must to an extent at least 
seek information from meteorology, geography, geology, physi- 
ography, agriculture, forestry and from the field of hydraulic 
engineering of which hydrology is the basic study." 

1 Meyer, Adolph F., "The Elements of Hydrology," John Wiley & Sons, 
1917, 4S7 pages, illustrated. 

2 Mead, Daniel W., "Hydrology, The Fundamental Basis of Hydraulic 
Engineering," McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1919, 650 pages, illustrated. 


In this science as in that of meteorology, while there have 
been accumulated great volumes of data, many of which await 
compilation, yet the amount available shrinks into insignificance 
when compared with the growing demands of the engineer who 
is trying to meet the needs of modern industry. More and more 
investigation and research are demanded if he is to be prepared 
for the developments which are waiting upon the obtaining of 
such facts. 

Geography, Geology and Physiography. As indicated 
above, this group of sciences follows in logical order in the study 
of the water resources of any large area. The first of these 
just named is concerned mainly with the features of the earth's 
surface as the}' are now found; the second, geology, with the 
history or way in which the earth's surface has been brought 
to its present condition largely by water action ; physiography 
gives special attention to the present land forms and the way in 
which they were produced largely by the influence of water. 

Biological Sciences. As we follow the vagaries of water 
movement from the inanimate world of gases, liquids, and rocks, 
we quickly pass into the world of life of which we ourselves are 
a part and concerning whose varied phenomena we know much 
but have only entered upon the threshold of knowledge. The 
first fact which confronts us as indicated elsewhere is that life — 
plant or animal — is dependent upon water, and cannot survive 
without it, nor prosper except when within a certain relatively 
narrow range of quantity, quality and temperature. 

The ordinary plants flourish and fructify only when the 
water content in the soil exceeds, say, 8 or 10 per cent and is 
less than 16 or 20 per cent. Animals need a certain limited 
quantity, but suffer if this is notably reduced or are quickly 
drowned by an excess. Thus the general statement may be 
made that every division of biology, including botany, zoology 
and various subdivisions of these, touches an infinite number of 
points concerning the occurrence of water — its supply and use. 

Application to Human Needs. The discussion of the uses 
of water to supply human needs ramifies into each of the sciences 
above enumerated and into fields not yet explored and in which 
research is needed. These matters may be considered, either 


under the somewhat arbitrary classification of the sciences or 
more properly in the immediate importance of water to human 
life as described on page 37, viz., first in drinking, second in 
food supply, and so oh through the complicated industries or 
arts contributing to the health and prosperity of nations as 
well as of individuals. All of these items fall under the general 
head of hydro-economics or of water conservation and use. 
This discussion might proceed along various lines, but for pres- 
ent purposes it is more desirable to take up certain of the larger 
items out of the strict order of scientific procedure and to dis- 
cuss such matters as the occurrence of water, the wav in which 
precipitation is measured and how it varies, the effect of forests 
and mountains, and the disappearance of water into the atmos- 
phere by evaporation. 

In reviewing the entire field of water conservation and use 
from this, the human standpoint, we may then consider: 

1. The occurrence of water in nature as described in the 
sciences above enumerated. 

2. Uses of water such as have been developed or may grow 
out of additional human needs. 

8. Legal relations or limitation imposed by man-made laws. 

4. Methods of control and use which must take into account 
the laws of nature and of man with their application in bene- 
fiting humanity. 

In carrying out this general plan the next subject after the 
properties of water is that of its occurrence in nature, begin- 
ning — as previously stated — ^with the first visible appearance 
when the water falls from the clouds and before it strikes the 
earth in the form of rain or snow or when it is visible as dew. 


Rainfall. It is generally assumed that the rain comes from 
the visible clouds which float above the surface of the earth, but 
it is not always as well understood that these clouds are formed 
by water which has been pumped or raised by the sun's energy 
from the surface of the oceans, rivers or leaves of the forest or 
fields. Practically all mechanical energy can be traced back to 
the sun. When we see the great torrents of water rushing down 
the mountain sides or falling over precipices as at Niagara, we 
are simply viewing the results of an infinitely small portion of 
the sun's energy which has been expended in lifting this water 
from the earth's surface to the clouds. Moreover, it is safe to 
infer that any change in the quantity of energy continually 
flowing from the sun may have far-reaching resultant effect 
on the rain or weather.^ 

To understand fully the action which takes place in the crea- 
tion of water vapor, in the diffusion of this around the globe 
and in the condensation of portions from time to time in the 
form of rain, it is necessary to call attention to the fact that 
lowering of the temperature may result in condensation of the 
invisible vapor which exists at all times in the atmosphere. This 
chilled vapor gathers into minute drops or ice spicules forming 
fog or clouds. As these particles increase in size and gain in 
weight they are able to move downward through the support- 
ing air and finally to descend as rain or as snow, sleet, or hail. 

The precipitation of water is thus intermittent and is gov- 
erned by forces far beyond the control of man. This fact has 
not always been recognized; even today there are many per- 
sons, with whom "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing," who 

1 See Monthly Weather RexneWy December, 1918, Vol. 46, p. 574, footnote 
5, and January, 1919, Vol. 47, pp. 1-4 (Brooks). 


believe that by bombarding the heavens or by the use of some 
mysterious mechanical or chemical means the greatly longed- 
for rain may be produced. Rain is also distributed irregularly 
over the surface of the globe, being often in excess in one locality 
and deficient in another. It is this irregularity of distribution 
in space and in time which gives rise to most of the needs of 
research and of engineering applications of the results of study. 

The meteorological discussions^ now available describe the 
various factors influencing the formation of clouds and the 
precipitation of their burden in the form of rain. Confining 
ourselves to a consideration of the rain after it strikes the earth, 
the first and most obvious problem is that of measuring the 
quantity and ascertaining the amount and duration of the rain. 
It is now generally assumed that if we can make accurate meas- 
urements and preserve the records of what has taken place in 
the past we may be able to predict in a general way what will 
take place in the future and make provision accordingly. 

Prophecies as to the time and amount of rainfall and conse- 
quently of the supply of water available for the needs of man- 
kind are of vital importance in many industrial operations. 
Each farmer, or civil engineer, must be something of a prophet ; 
according to the original sense of the word he must "speak for 
the gods," interpreting the laws of nature as he understands 
them. Like the prophets of old the engineers of the present day 
are educated in the schools to translate and apply "the signs of 
the times." The point to be emphasized as noted above is that 
in all of these necessary predictions as to what may take place 
in the future we are basing our assumptions upon the stability 
of the range of fluctuations and the fact that the future will 
repeat the history of the past. It is for this reason that these 
records of past happenings, whether of rain or of river flow, 
have their greatest value. While records of rainfall, of floods 
and droughts may have a certain scientific interest in them- 
selves, yet their real value arises from this assumption. At the 
same time the fact should be kept clearly in mind that this is 

1 "Introductory Meteorology," prepared and issued under the auspices 
of the National Research Council, 1918. Also, Humphreys, W. J., "Physics 
of the Air," Journal of Franklin Institute, Vol. 185, April and May, 1918, 
pp. 517-538, 611-647. 


only an assumption and that the rain and the river flow are 
rarely twice alike. 

In otdcr to obtain as correct conceptions as possible regard- 
ing these fundamental assumptions it is desirable to consider 
the cause of precipitation. To this end the following extracts 
have been made from a statement prepared by Dr. Charles F. 
Brooks, meteorologist, United States Weather Bureau. 

Causes of Rainfall. Many have been the speculations as 
to the cause of rainfall. In biblical times, the doors of heaven 
were opened and the rain descended. Observers of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, however, were not satisfied with such 
a simple explanation and substituted some which were more 
suited to their everyday experiences on the earth's surface. 
Thus, Dr. W. Fulke in his "Booke of Meteors," England, 1 563 
(later edition, 1640), explains that rain clouds are condensa- 
tions of wet vapors, others of dry ones. Dark clouds are said to 
be dirty; rainfall comes when heat dissolves the cloud, letting 
out the water inside. Hail is from great heat which makes large 
raindrops and this comes together and freezes into square 

In "Speculum Mundi," 1665, the author, John Swan, tells 
us that the devil is the cause of "prodigious rains," such as falls 
of "blood," fishes, pebbles, and frogs. The red rains actually 
are red from dust or algae; rains of fishes, pebbles, and frogs 
are made possible by the occurrence of waterspouts, dust whirls, 
or tornadoes (cf. McAtee, "Showers of Organic Matter," 
Monthly Weather Review, May, 1917, pp. 217-224). Swan 
says also that the hail of summer is from violent antiperistasis 
which brings great cold from above, forced up by the lower 
great heat. This heat also makes snow and rain. "Siamese 
children believe that when many angels get into the same bath 
at the same time, water runs over the side, and it rains." 
(Symons^ Meteorological Magazine, January, 1918.) 

The first scientific explanation took definite form at the end 
of the eighteenth century (1784) when James Hutton, a Scotch- 
man, published a theory of rain. His idea is that rain is caused 
by the rising of warm, moist air into the cold upper air. The 
mixture of portions of the atmosphere at different temperatures 


and sufficiently saturated with moisture was thought to produce 
most of the rain. He recognized that wind, temperature, and 
pressure have effects on rainfall. This apparently reasonable 
theory was accepted for a long time as the principal cause of 
rain. Computations, however, of the possible rainfall from 
mixture showed that this could yield little. If saturated air 
at 10 degrees and 20 degrees Centigrade are mixed in equal 
volumes, the result of the mixture will be air with a temperature 
of about 15.8 degrees Centigrade, and precipitated moisture 
amounting to 0.2 gram per cubic meter. 

Radiation is hardly more effective than mixture in producing 
rainfall, since it can rarely cool a great thickness of air suffi- 
ciently to produce appreciable precipitation. In some thick 
radiation fogs, there may be a drizzle which in the course of 
hours may produce 0.01-0.05 or more inch of precipitation. 

The fact that rainfall follows great battles was noted in early 
Roman times ; but recently the occurrence of such rain has been 
ascribed to the explosions, or perhaps to the added number of 
condensation nuclei added to the atmosphere. That the occur- 
rence of rainfall after battles is no more frequent or extreme 
than after any outdoor operation which is planned and car- 
ried on in fair weather has been proved many times, or, to state 
the matter in another way — the period of fair weather favoring 
or inducing battles or other field work, will probably be followed 
by showers both in times of peace and of war. Dr. H. R. Mill, 
director of the British Rainfall Organization, has shown the 
practical impossibility of the power of even tremendous gun- 
fire or explosions, to affect appreciably the almost infinitely 
more powerful processes of the atmosphere. Computation shows 
that the quantity of air which must have passed over England 
and Wales in December, 1914, exceeded 1,300 trillion (million 
times million) tons. "The amount of force required even to 
deviate the direction of moving masses of this magnitude is 
surely far beyond that which can be exerted even by nations at 
war."^ In a later statement,^ Dr. Mill directs attention, among 

1 Mill, H. R., Quarterly Journal, Royal Meteorological Society, October, 

^ Symons'a Meteorological Magazine, February, 1918; abstract in Geo- 
graphical Review, January, 1919, p. 51. 


other points, to the fact that much emphasis has been laid on 
the relative wetness of 1915 and 1916 in southeastern England: 
the year 1917, when the war was in a very intense phase, had a 
nearly normal rainfall. Perhaps the final blow to the idea that 
artillery produces rainfall was dealt when in the two or three 
weeks following the beginning of the great German drive in 
March, 1918, the battlefield in France was practically rainless. 
Surely this tremendous artillery battle should have produced 
rain if rain can be produced in this way. 

These processes — mixture, radiation, artillery fire — can at 
most produce but slight cooling of large masses of air. The 
considerable cooling of great masses of air necessary to produce 
heavy general rainfall can be brought about only by convection. 
This was discovered only 50 years ago. Most people still think 
that it rains because the warm lower air ascends to a cold region 
where it is chilled by its surroundings. A more correct con- 
ception is that rain is formed because the warm air in ascending 
necessarily expands and in so doing is cooled by its own internal 
action, resulting in the loss of much of its moisture ; that is, the 
rain is the result largely of "convection." If a cubic meter of 
air saturated at 15 degrees Centigrade were raised to an alti- 
tude of 1,000 meters, the resulting cooling would precipitate 
about 2 grams, ten times as much as was obtained in the example 
of the effects of mixture given on page 50. The elevation of 
great masses of air to several times 1,000 meters is of frequent 
occurrence in cyclones and thunderstorms. Thus, it is obvious 
that mixture and radiation are to be considered as only minor 
factors in the production of rainfall, the principal cause being 

Snow, sleet, and rain are closely related forms of precipita- 
tion. Much of the rain that reaches the earth is made up in 
part at least of moisture originally condensing as snow. The 
precipitation taking place in clouds at temperatures below 
freezing seems to be of this nature. When such snow, however, 
falls into air whose temperature is above freezing, it melts and 
becomes rain. If the melting is interrupted by the entry of this 
partially melted snow into a layer of air with a temperature 
below freezing, — as is not infrequently the case in winter, — the 


partially melted snow freezes and becomes sleet. The form of 
sleet can be as diverse as that of snow in all stages of melting, 
from the hard, white, angular pieces of ice, to nearly spherical 
or hemispherical drops of ice whose only indication of previous 
snow condition is to be seen in the minute bubbles included in 
the crystal. 

Rainfall Measurements.^ Our conceptions of rainfall and 
snowfall have been obtained mainly from tradition, hence we 
are frequently misled by erroneous assumptions. Everyone is 
affected in his business or pleasure by the weather, and particu- 
larly by the excess or absence of precipitation. We remember 
the unusual occurrences as these stand out prominently in our 
recollection of past events. Naturally we turn to the oldest 
inhabitant for a statement as to what are the prevailing char- 
acteristics of the locality ; he narrates the conditions which have 
influenced him most strongly. Often this is about the only 
source of information available concerning the rain- or snowfall 
during the past generation on large areas of sparsely settled 
country and particularly in the mountain regions where it is 
desirable to construct reservoirs for conservation of water. 

For engineering purposes it is now appreciated that rela- 
tively little reliance should be placed upon the recollections of 
the oldest inhabitants. While these are in a general way indic- 
ative of extremes, yet they must be approached with a ques- 
tioning attitude because of the fact that human memory with- 
out verification is quite fallacious. It has been found essential 
therefore, in order to obtain reliable data, to search for more 
definite records and to establish at the earliest practicable date 
suitable measuring devices for ascertaining the amount of pre- 
cipitation and the time of its occurrence. 

There have been many devices employed in measuring rain- 
fall or snowfall, some of them quite ancient and most of them 
very simple. The one most commonly employed is a vessel or 
pan into which the rain falls; the depth is then measured di- 
rectly. It is obvious that the sides of this pan should be vertical 
and that it should not be so shallow as to permit the rain to 
splatter out. The depth of water obtained in this way may be 

1 See also Monthly Weather Review, May, 1919, pp. 294-296. 


ascertained by direct measurement or more accurately by weigh- 
ing or pouring into some measuring device. For ease and 
accuracy of measuring, however, a standard rain gage has been 
devised in which the open pan, usually 8 inches in diameter, 
instead of having a flat bottom, is provided with a conical- 
shaped funnel which leads into a tall narrow compartment whose 
area is one-tenth that of the upper rim of the pan or collecting 
vessel. Thus the depth of the water in the lower compartment 
into which the rain flows is ten times that of the equivalent 
amount of water in the upper portion. The depth being thus 
magnified by ten can be readily ascertained to one-hundredth of 
an inch. The point to be emphasized is that we are not meas- 
uring the rainfall on a county or township or even on an acre 
of land but only in a particular vessel. We assume that this 
represents a large area but this is only an assumption made for 
lack of better ways of obtaining the needed facts. 

It is obvious from the nature of the case that the rain gage 
is not an instrument of precision. For measuring rainfall the 
device is fairly effective, but in giving the water contents of 
snowfall great inaccuracies are usually involved. To obtain 
data on the general depth of rainfall on a small area, it' is neces- 
sary to have the gage so placed that : 

( 1 ) The splash from the ground will not enter it. 

(2) The drift of rain off other objects will not go into it. 
(8) Other objects will not exclude rain from it. 

(4) Peculiar wind eddies will not affect the catch. 

(5) The opening of the gage will be horizontal and there- 
fore represent a level surface of ground. 

For snowfall, if snow has fallen during a wind, the way to 
get the water content is to cut an average cylinder, or several of 
them, out of the snow-cover and measure the water content 
either directly or by weighing. When snow and rain fall 
together, with a high wind, it is practically impossible to find 
out how much precipitation occurred. The gage will catch the 
rain and sleet and some of the snow, the ground will retain the 
snow, but perhaps let the rain go. 

Ieregularities in Measurement. Rain gages placed essen- 
tially side by side may give readings differing by 5 per cent and 


when only a few hundred feet apart by more than 10 per cent 
in annual catch. Thus, it is well to remember that rainfall 
records cannot be considered as accurate to the nearest hun- 
dredth of an inch, even though stated in these terms, nor even 
to the nearest inch if annual totals are considered. Neverthe- 
less, we must accept these records on the faith that they are 
probably right, or at least as near right as we can get them. 

For purposes of comparison, it is essential that the same 
period of years be used and that conditions of exposure of the 
gages be essentially the same. Rainfall varies so much from 
year to year that at the same station the average from a 19-year 
period may differ considerably from that of a 20-year period. 

In mapping rainfall, the interpretation of the results on the 
basis of the known effects of topography on rainfall is essential 
if a reliable picture of the distribution of rainfall is to be made. 
The rainfall lines (isohyets) should be drawn with full consid- 
eration of the influences of topography but without in any way 
running counter to the indications of the measured records.^ 

The daily and annual distribution of rainfall may be peculiar 
in certain places because of local conditions. For large regions 
there may be large departures of the monthly rainfall from the 
average on account of changes in the positions of the centers 
of action, or because of long-continued changes in the tempera- 
ture of the water surfaces which usually supply the moisture. 

Torrential rains result from strong convection or rising of 
great bodies of air. In thunderstorms in the temperate zone, 
there may be more rain in an hour than is possible in the tropics 
where there may be more moisture available for precipitation 
but where the processes may not be so strong. Dr. O. L. Fassig 
(Monthly Weather Review, June, 1916, vol. 44, 329-386) has 
found that it can rain harder at Baltimore, Maryland, for a 
short time, than it can at San Juan, Porto Rico ; btit that tor- 
rential rains can continue longer at San Juan than at Balti- 
more. The heavy rains in the tropics come with tropical 
cyclones. Even in the United States such tropical cyclones may 
bring much rainfall. On September 28, 1917, Robertsdale, 

1 See "The Preparation of Precipitation Charts," Monthly Weather Re- 
view, 1917, Vol. 45, pp. 223-235. 


Ala., received 17.46 inches in a day;^ and on July 14-15, 1916, 
Alta Pass, N. C, in the southern Appalachians had 22.22 
inches of rainfall in twenty-four hours. In the Philippine 
Islands at Baguio there is a record of 45.99 inches in twenty- 
four hours during a tropical cyclone, July 14-15, 1911. 
Destructive floods occur under such conditions. 

The cloudbursts of the deserts, and even of the more humid 
parts of the country, are truly cloudbursts. For example, a 
strong desert dust whirl may rise higher and higher until at 
perhaps 8,000-4,000 meters a cloud begins to form. With 
renewed energy from the latent heat of condensation in the 
whirling, rising column, the cloud grows. Rain begins to fall, 
but a large proportion is held in the cloud by the air rising 
faster than the rain can fall, viz., 8 meters per second. Some 
may come out of the bottom of the cloud but it is quickly 
evaporated and carried up for condensation again. Finally, 
the whirl may encounter a mountain and go to pieces: down 
comes all at once the rainfall accumulated during some hours. 
This shows why it can rain at several times the rate at which the 
moisture can be precipitated in the rising column of air. 

Not only is the rainfall varying in quantity from minute to 
minute, but at the same moment it varies in rate even over 
a single square mile. It is no uncommon experience to drive 
along the country and find a portion of the road wet from recent 
rain and in a mile or two another stretch of road comparatively 
dry. It may rain severely in one ward of a city, flooding the 
sewers, and other wards may receive merely a sprinkle. Thus we 
can hardly expect that any two rain gages which are not within 
a few feet of each other will receive the same amount of rain. 
More than this, we find by observation that a gage placed on 
the ground receives a larger quantity than a similar gage 
exposed on top of a building. 

It was formerly assumed that more rain actually fell on the 
ground than on the top of a building, but it is now generally 
conceded that the difference in amount received by the gages is 
due principally to air currents which blow diagonally into or 

1 See table of excessive rainfalls in periods of about a day, in Monthly 
Weather Review, May, 1919, Vol. 47, p. 302. 


across the opening of the gage. Near the ground the air cur- 
rents are reduced and the rainfall is more nearly normal. In 
certain measurements made by the Weather Bureau, it is shown 
that a gage at an elevation of 48 feet received 75 per cent of 
rainfall, at 85 feet it received 64 per cent, and at 194 feet above 
ground the gage recorded only 58 per cent of the amount which 
fell in a gage placed on the ground. 

In interpreting and applying the results of measurement of 
rainfall, it is highly important to ascertain as completely as 
possible the position of the gage with reference to its height 
above ground and particularly as to the shading effect of build- 
ings, trees or other obstructions influencing the behavior of the 
wind. Neglect of these precautions has led to many^ popular 
fallacies and occasionally to serious blunders in planning works. 

Periodic Fluctuation. In studying the data available con- 
cerning precipitation it is quickly apparent that one year of 
relative drought may be followed by another even more dry. In 
the course of a few years, however, there is always a return to 
average or normal conditions. By taking a long range of obser- 
vations it is seen that there is occasionally a series of wet years 
followed by a series of dry years. These are sometimes termed 
nonperiodic fluctuations because of the fact that these periods 
are of irregular length. 

It also appears from a study of the records that each year 
forms a new combination and that the rainfall in time of occur- 
rence and in quantity is quite different from that of sny other 
year. The average for, say, five years or ten years is usually 
somewhat above or below that of the preceding or succeeding 
similar period. If, however, the observations are available for, 
say, fifty 3^ears, it appears as though most of the ordinary vaga- 
ries of the weather had been exhausted ; the average for any one 
fifty years is approximately the same as that for a similar 
period. In making such comparisons, however, it must be re- 
called that the precision of the observations extending over any 
one period of fifty years necessarily differs from that of another 
fifty-year period because of changes or improvements in instru- 
ments, in methods and in surroundings as well as in the personnel 
of the observers. 


The point to be noted is that observations of precipitation 
extending throughout five years or even ten years may or may 
not be representative of conditions which will prevail later. If, 
however, a fifty-year range is available, then considerable con- 
fidence may be placed upon the results as it is quite probable 
the the extremes of drought or flood have been experienced. For 
lack of definite data it is customary to make allowance of at 
least 20 per cent increase in the extremes of drought or flood 
for measurements which have been continued for five years and 
of 10 per cent for measurements over a period of ten years. 

It is, of course, impossible for an engineer planning works 
of conservation to delay for ten years or even for five years to 
obtain data on precipitation and related river flow. He must 
utilize the figures at hand and make allowance on the side of 
safety — keeping in mind the fact that fluctuation does occur, 
and that careful study should be made. He should continually 
add to his knowledge of the changes which may take place from 
day to day, compiling these in monthly and annual totals so 
that on the basis of these data he may make predictions, within 
proper limits, of the conditions which the works of water stor- 
age may be called upon to meet. 

In making such predictions it is important to bear in mind 
the fluctuations as above noted and to consider what has been 
the general trend of these changes. Taking recent geological 
observations, there has been no doubt a marked change in cli- 
matic conditions since the glacial period. The time which has 
elapsed since this period can hardly be expressed in years, but 
may be roughly considered as extending over tens of thousands 
of years rather than a lesser number. Man's historic period 
compared to this is short, especially that of recorded data, but 
it is possible from the stud}'^ of long-lived vegetation such as the 
giant trees. Sequoias, to arrive at the conclusion that the rain- 
fall fluctuations during the past few hundred years, on the 
whole, have not been much greater than during the past fifty 
years. In other words, trees several hundred years in age are 
found in many p(irts of the country, a study of whose annual 
rings of growth shows that the rainfall and temperature could 


not have been greatly different from those which now prevail in 
the same locality. 

Many students of the subject have attempted to deduce some 
rule covering the variations in precipitation which now take 
place and to connect these with other phenomena, such as the 
intensity of the sun's radiant heat as indicated by the sun spots. 
Some have arrived at a cycle of seven years, others at eleven, 
and Bruckner at thirty-five years. ^ 

These fluctuations and theories concerning them are interest- 
ingly described by Ellsworth Huntington in his book, entitled, 
"Palestine and Its Transformation." He there brings out the 
various hypotheses of the progressive changes of climate, show- 
ing by simple diagrams the fundamental deductions from the 
observed facts. On the one hcmd, it is argued that there is a 
nearly uniform shrinkage in water supply ; on the other hand, it 
is urged that this rate of change varies from century to cen- 
tury. Much of the data has been obtained from a study of 
forest growths but still further research is evidently needed. 

The conclusions to be derived from these various discussions 
of methods and results of rainfall measurement are in general 
that climate is practically fixed so far as it is of concern in 
preparing the usual engineering plans, but, to determine the 
range of the weather for any one locality and accompanying 
phenomena within these apparently fixed climatic limits, it is 
necessary to have observations extending over possibly fifty 
years in succession. Experience has shown that in any period 
of a half century, practically every extreme of weather may be 
expected to occur, such as has happened in the previous cen- 
tury or which may properly be predicted for the next one hun- 
dred years. For any shorter period, for example, of five or ten 
years, the averages may be misleading and a considerable factor 
of safety should be added to cover possible contingencies. 

In all these matters additional investigations are needed 
not only for the purpose of obtaining data from original obser- 

1 Newell, F. H., "Water Supply for Irrigation," 13th Annual Report, 
U. S. G. S., Part III, "Irrigation," p. 25. 

Bruckner, Dr. Edward, "The Settlement of the United States as Con- 
trolled by Climate and Climatic Oscillations, in Memorial Volume of Trans- 
continental Excursion of 1919, of American Geographical Society," p. 135. 


rations but more than this in connection with the digesting of 
the array of facts already accumulated which are only partly 

Dew and Feost. The formation of dew or frost occurs when 
the temperature of an object falls below the dew-point of the air 
immediately in contact with it or on plants when exudation of 
moisture takes place more rapidly than evaporation. Dew is 
highly important in dry countries, for there it may be the only 
moisture which plants and animals have available for their sup- 
port for long periods of time. The importance of frost is asso- 
ciated with the damage done by the low temperatures. Light 
air movement and dry, clear air at night favor the formation of 
frost. Light air movement is favorable not only because the 
objects are allowed to cool to a temperature appreciably below 
the air temperature, but also because local frosts are connected 
essentially with local "air drainage." Soon after sunset, cold 
and dense air, cooled chiefly by contact with the ground and to 
some extent by radiation, drains slowly down the slopes into the 
valleys and low places. Strong winds mix the air and thus pre- 
vent the occurrence of local frosts. Dry, clear air aids local 
frosts because the dry air favors rapid radiation, and because 
the latent heat of condensation which accompanies the cooling 
of moist air will check the fall in temperature. 

For convenience in frost studies, Alexander McAdie has de- 
vised a "saturation deficit recorder." This instrument is essen- 
tially a hygrograph mounted on the pen of a thermograph. The 
thermograph indicates the maximum weight of water vapor pos- 
sible in the air at the temperature prevailing, and the hygro- 
graph indicates the percentage of saturation. Methods of pro- 
tection, distribution of killing frosts, and dates of occurrence 
are matters chiefly of interest to agricultural meteorologists.* 

Sky Signs. Farmers and mariners know the sky signs; but 
they do not know them as well as they might could they under- 

1 See Frost folio, "Atlas of American Agriculture," 1918; review. Monthly 
Weather Review, November, 1918, pp. 516-517, and Geographical Review, 
May, 1919, pp. 339-344; articles in the Monthly Weather Review and Geo- 
graphical Review during the past two or three years. 


stand the processes the clouds indicate. Here is an almost 
untouched field for further research and diffusion of informa- 
tion, which is attractive not only because it is interesting and 
easily accessible, but also because it is so full of promise for 
advances in local weather forecasts. The form of the cloud 
generally gives some clue to the processes by which it is being 
formed ; its movements indicate the winds by which it is carried, 
and in many cases show the relation between two winds, which 
may be indicative of further condensation and subsequent pre- 
cipitation. Thus the rapid growth of cumulus clouds on a 
warm summer day, or of the flatter strato-cumulus shortly after 
sunrise on a winter day, is frequently followed in a few hours 
by showers or snow-flurries which may or may not reach the 

The appearance of "rafts" of alto-cumulus clouds, with a 
smooth, basal undulating sheet, obscured here and there by 
the lower parts of a snow curtain falling from higher level of 
condensation, or even by streams of snow falling from the balls 
themselves, indicates strong processes of convection which are 
likely to be followed by precipitation which will reach the earth's 
surface. Similarly, the progressive thickening of the thin, white, 
cirro-stratus sheet, hazily mottled here and there with cirro- 
cumulus balls, into alto-stratus and alto-cumulus is likely to be 
followed by rainfall when the cloud has thickened still further. 
Stratus clouds and low, indefinite sheets of early morning 
strato-cumulus clouds are generally not indicative of processes 
which will produce rainfall. They are likely to break away in 
the warmer hours of the day. 

Forests and Mountains. The kind of civilization of a 
country is shown by the way in which its forests are given care 
and attention. Much of the prosperity, health and comfort of 
future generations lies in the present effective protection of 
forest growth. The degree to which thought is now being given 
to the needs of those who come after us measures our own 
growth in the scale of civilization. In considering reconstruc- 
tion or conservation problems, the forests have peculiar interest, 
not merely from the standpoint of immediate use, but more than 
this, from their peculiar relation to future generations of men 


and as to our attitude in perpetuating and handing on to others 
in even better condition the good things which we now enjoy. 

The primitive man is concerned with his immediate daily 
needs and seldom attempts crop production. As he comes up in 
the scale his vision increases and he plants the rapidly growing 
corn. Later in a semicivilized state he protects or adds to the 
fruit and nut trees which may not come into bearing for sev- 
eral years ; but it is only when mankind attains a high degree 
of altruistic ideals that he plants or guards forests and similar 
resources, knowing that a crop can be had perhaps only once in 
a lifetime or that the full value will be received by his grand- 
children or by those who take their places. 

Hydro-economics, so far at least as it is concerned with the 
conservation and use of water, is intimatelv related to for- 
estry, with the care, preservation and enlargement of forest 
growth, especially in the mountains and in areas w^here the soil 
has little value for the production of other crops. It may be 
said that the earliest and strongest supporters of a national or 
state policy are the engineers and men of vision who see in the 
protection and use of the forests the best guarantee for the 
continued enjoyment of certain uses of water. The most nota- 
ble example is that of the conservationists — or hydro-econo- 
mists — who urged action by the Congress of the United States 
in setting aside for forest protection great areas of public land 
with the object not only of furnishing a supply of timber, but 
of affording protection to the headwaters of important western 

This achievement, with reference to the public lands, has been 
supplemented by activities leading to direct Congressional 
appropriations for purchasing large tracts of privately owned 
forest land in the White Mountain and Appalachian region in 
the eastern and southern portions of the United States, where 
there were no public lands, but where it was believed that the 
public interest demanded that forest growth be perpetuated. 
The latter action was taken in accordance with the authority 
granted to Congress by the Constitution, which gives to the 
United States the control over commerce and of navigable 
streams. The forest lands have been purchased under the 


theory that the maintenance of navigation can be better assured 
by the protection of the woodland cover and consequently 
assumed reduction of erosion of the soil and of filling up of the 
navigable channels. 

Not only has the Congress of the United States taken an 
interest in the forests and in their protection, as part of its duty 
to the public, but also the individual states and even munici- 
palities have made forest reserves, some antedating the action 
of Congress. New York, Pennsylvania, and other common- 
wealths have their state forests, designed not merely as pleas- 
ure grounds or breathing spots for the people and for the pro- 
tection of bird life and wild game, but also to aid in the more 
effective control and use of water resources in the many ways 
of municipal supply, irrigation, power development and soil 

One of the most important questions in connection with water 
conservation by storage of floods is the influence of mountains 
and forests upon the quantity of water which may be available. 
In discussing the occurrence of water it has been noted from 
the earliest times that the inequality of the earth's surface has 
a great influence upon the precipitation of water from the 
atmosphere. There is unquestionably a close relation between 
mountains and rainfall.^ Whatever the explanation may be it 
is a well-known fact that the precipitation is usually greater 
upon mountains and usually increases in depth as the mountain 
is ascended.* 

As a consequence of the relatively heavy precipitation on the 
mountain slope there is usually a dense growth of vegetation — 
the upper limit being set, in the case of high mountains, by the 
extremely cold and desiccating winds of the upper atmosphere 
into which the summit rises. The fact that forests do occur 
upon mountains even in arid regions has been used as the basis 
of an argument to the effect that forests increase the precipita- 

1 See "Atlas of American Agriculture,*' Part II, "Climate," Advance 
sheet 1, average annual rainfall of the United States, reproduced, with 
discussion by R. DeC. Ward, Monthly Weather Review, July, 1917, Vol. 45, 
pp. 338-345. 

2 See Henry, A. J., "Increase of Precipitation with Altitude," Monthly 
Weather Review, January, 1919, Vol. 47, pp. 33-41. 


tion. Careful investigations have been made in various parts 
of the world, particularly in Europe and in India, but the con- 
clusions are rather negative in character, the general opinion 
being that while there may be a somewhat greater precipita- 
tion in the forests than on a similarly situated open area, yet 
the difference is so slight that it may be due to errors in 

Whether or not the presence of forests induces a larger pre- 
cipitation, there is little doubt that the forests as a rule 
tend to conserve the water which does reach the ground. They 
render the condition of water storage far more satisfactory 
than would be the case if the mountain slope were denuded of 
tree growth. So strong is this belief that, in the eastern part 
of the United States in the Appalachian region of the south and 
the White Mountain region of the north, the United States, as 
above noted, is purchasing large tracts of forest lands at the 
headwaters of important navigable rivers with a view to pro- 
tecting these forests and maintaining them in good condition 
because of the direct or indirect beneficial influence upon the 
stream flow. These effects come in part by actual conservation 
of water in the soil and among the roots of the trees, but more 
largely by the prevention of rapid erosion and by reducing the 
washing of the soil from the mountain slopes into the natural 
lakes or artificial reservoirs and into the stream channels. The 
soil thus eroded becomes not only lost to the country from which 
it is removed, but more than this is a distinct injury in filling 
up reservoirs and in forming shoals in the navigable waters. 

Throughout the arid west nearly every community in which 
irrigation is practiced is asking that the forests at the head- 
waters of the streams be more completely protected. To this 
end it is urged that the grazing of cattle and sheep be so regu- 
lated as to prevent the close cropping of the herbage or over- 
grazing to an extent such that the smaller plants are destroyed. 

1 For many years rainfall and other meteorological observations have 
been made in the forests in the vicinity of Wagon Wheel Gap, Colo., on 
slopes similarly exposed. Now one slope is soon to be deforested, and the 
observations continued as before. At the end of this experiment the results 
may settle at least some of the controversy concerning the effects of forests 
on rainfall. 


It has been shown by practical experience that such regulation 
can be effected and that instead of reducing the number of sheep 
which can be fed upon a given area, it is possible with sensible 
management gradually to increase the number and at the same 
time afford needed protection to the soil. 

The conditions which exist in the state of nature are well illus- 
trated by PI. XVII. C, showing in the foreground one of the nat- 
ural lakes such as are to be found in the mountain valleys sur- 
rounded on all sides by timber-covered slopes. The particular 
view is of Keechelus Lake, one of the several bodies of water at 
the head of Yakima River in the Cascade Mountains of the state 
of Washington. This and other lakes have been converted into 
reservoirs by building earth dams at the outlets, as stated on 
page 166. In this case the wooded slopes have been included in 
the national forests to be maintained indefinitely, not only 
because of the value of the timber to be had from time to time, 
but because of the beneficial effect upon the reservoirs, notably 
by the prevention of erosion of the hillsides. 

Many problems of immediate importance in the prosperity of 
large communities are presented by the phenomena of forest 
growth and methods of maintenance. Additional research is 
needed, particularly into the economics of the handling of 
forest products and into the relation which public health and 
comfort bear to the forests as recreation grounds as well as 
into their influence upon water supply. 

The whole subject of relation of forests to run-off has been 
discussed from time to time by various engineers and students, 
the most notaMe contribution to the subject being that by the 
late General Chittenden, who brought together a concise state- 
ment of our present state of knowledge of the subject.^ 

1 Chittenden, Hiram N., "Forest and Stream Flow," Transactions of 
A. S. C. E., Vol. 62, p. 245. 


A force is at work day and night, summer and winter, stead- 
ily robbing water from lakes, streams, trees, animals, and all 
objects which contain it. A study of this activity and a knowl- 
edge of its results are fundamental in most of the construction 
problems which are concerned with hydro-economics. Man's 
ability to use water in all of its varied forms and applications 
is confined largely to that portion of it which is left after 
evaporation has taken its full share. This is a conception to 
which full weight has not been given in many scientific discus- 
sions. We have recognized, of course, that there is such a thing 
as evaporation, but its powerful and far-reaching influences 
have not been fully appreciated nor the fact that we can enjoy 
the use of only such water as nature may condescend to leave 
after her toll has been taken. 

Evaporation is in many ways the counterpart of precipita- 
tion. While, on the one hand, nature is intermittently pouring 
down water from the clouds or is furnishing it imperceptibly in 
the form of vapor, at the same time there is being withdrawn in 
every direction a steady flow of water back to the air. We have 
here a powerful force influencing human, animal and vegetable 
activities and one which may be converted into a beneficial ser- 
vant in many industries. That is to say, evaporation, while 
robbing us of water which might be usefully employed, at the 
same time is performing innumerable necessary operations, since 
all the functions of life depend upon it. Additional benefits may 
be had when widely employed by artificial application, such, for 
example, as in the drying and preserving of fruits, vegetables, 
and other food materials. In many so-called practical ways, 
we have the problem of controlling evaporation and turning its 
activity to economic ends in promoting commerce and industry. 


As soon as the rain strikes the earth, a portion of the moisture 
at once returns to the air. The quantity which thus disappears 
at any moment may be small but, being continuous even during 
the rainstorm itself, the total loss amounts to a considerable 
portion of the rain which descends. Even from snow or ice there 
is usually a small loss as the atmosphere is greedily absorbing 
moisture from all objects containing water. The only exception 
is when the air is completely saturated ; but this seldom occurs ; 
during the prevalence of a storm the layer of air near the earth 
may be taking up water while the oversaturated higher layers 
of the atmosphere are giving it out.^ In dry climates such as 
those of the western part of the United States evaporation is 
very active, drinking up the waters of the rivers to an extent 
such that many of them are overcome by the thirsty air and are 
never able to reach the ocean. 

In all estimates of water available for storage or for use by 
plants or animals we must first make allowance for the quantity 
which is demanded by the surrounding atmosphere. This simple 
fact has not always been appreciated, namely, that the run-off 
or quantity of water available is the residual after evaporation 
has taken its toll from the rainfall. For many years engineers 
have tried to arrive at a ratio between the amount of water that 
falls in the form of rain and snow and the quantity which runs 
off the surface. They have assumed, say, that 30 per cent of 
the total rainfall flows off the land in the New England states, 
and from this down to 8 per cent or even less in the arid regions. 
There can be no fixed relation of this kind because the quan- 
tity evaporated has no direct dependence upon the quantity 

The condition of the ground governs largely the amount of 
water which returns to the air by evaporation. If the surface 
is open and porous or covered with grass or other vegetation, 
the rainfall is enabled to run in or soak the ground and saturate 
the subsoil. If, however, such a surface is packed hard and the 
vegetation eaten down or destroyed, for example, by bands of 
sheep as shown in PI. IX. A, then the water is prevented from 

1 Monthly Weather Review, March, 1910, Vol. 38, p. 1133. 


running in and, on the contrary, runs rapidly off the surface, 
causing sharp, sudden floods which carry away much of the 
finer soil. The losses by evaporation under these conditions, it 
is true, are reduced, but at the same time the destructive run- 
off is increased. 

From all moist surfaces molecules of water, particularly 
those which have the greatest energy, or heat, are continuaUy 
escaping. This loss tends to lower the average temperature of 
the water particles which remain, or as more commonly stated, 
heat is consumed in this process. The rate at which evapora- 
tion will take place depends on the difference between the vapor 
pressure of the moist surface and that of the air immediately in 
contact with it, also on the atmospheric pressure. Wind be- 
comes a factor in that it maintains at a maximum for the gen- 
eral masses of air the differences between the vapor pressure of 
the water surface and that of the air. Sunlight tends to increase 
evaporation by supplying sufficient energy to the water surface 
to maintain evaporation, and at the same time even to raise the 
temperature of the evaporating surface. The relative humidity 
of the air has little direct influence on the rate of evaporation — 
as is well illustrated by the way in which a warm, moist surface 
can throw into the air much more moisture than that which the 
temperature of the air will allow to remain in the vapor state. 
The kettle throws out steam because the vapor pressure of the 
water in it exceeds that at which the vapor in the air can be 

The amount of evaporation which will occur from the surface 
of a resen^oir, for instance, is a complex function not only of the 
atmospheric pressure, vapor pressures of the air and water sur- 
face, and wind velocity, but also of the area of reservoir and the 
roughness of its surface. Various formulae have been devised to 
express these relations, but it is evident that there is still much 
to be done in observing the elements of evaporation before we 
can apply these general conclusions in such way as to estimate 
accurately the amount of loss which may take place from any 
kind of a moist surface. Maps showing the evaporation losses 
from large areas of land or water have not yet been drawn with 
any considerable degree of precision as comparable data are 


lacking. (See B. E. Livingston's isoatmic map of the United 
States, "Plant World,'' 1911, Vol. 14, and article, pp. 205- 

The total evaporation of the world is of some interest. Since 
the ocean covers three- fourths of the globe it is the surface from 
which most of the evaporation in the atmosphere takes place. 
W. Schmidt (Bulletin American Greographical Society, 1915, 
p. 695) has computed the mean daily evaporation of oceanic 
waters to be 2.07 millimeters (0.08 inch) or 27 inches per 
3''ear. About 11 per cent (net) of this water vapor probably 
goes over the land. The rainfall over the oceans is estimated to 
be the equivalent of only about 90 per cent of the evaporation, 
a depth of 69 centimeters (27 inches) annually. The average 
over the lands is probably 92 centimeters (36 inches), of which 
only about a tenth is from the precipitation of water evaporated 
first hand from the ocean. This seems reasonable when it is 
remembered that the run-off in streams is generally less than a 
quarter of the rainfall. On the average, it seems that the flow 
of the Mississippi by St. Louis is no greater than the total 
amount of water falling as rain on the state of Missouri. Thus 
it seems direct evaporation from the oceans supplies the mois- 
ture for about three-fourths of the world's rainfall, while that 
from the lands and inland waters supplies the other fourth. 

As the surface of the earth is the sole original source of water 
vapor in the atmosphere, the decrease with altitude is naturally 
a little greater in the free air than on mountains. Roughly, 
at an altitude of 2 kilometers, or over a mile, the content is half 
of that at sea level ; at 3 kilometers, or nearly 2 miles, it is one- 
quarter (on mountains, one- third) ; and at 8 kilometers, or 5 
miles, 1 per cent of the sea level content. Under usual condi- 
tions in middle latitudes, a mountain range but 2 kilometers, or 
over 6,000 feet, high will allow only half of the water vapor to 
pass over; the rest is precipitated. In general, the absolute 
humidity over deserts is but slightly lower than that over other 
regions, even though the relative humidity is only from 25 to 50 
per cent. There is enough moisture in the air to make appre- 
ciable rainfall, but it takes extraordinary atmospheric action to 
precipitate it. Rain makers, or rather the people who hire them. 


seem to fail to realize the tremendous amount of power required 
to cause such precipitation in the arid and semiarid regions. 

Evaporation Measurements. Losses in volume or weight 
of a certain mass of water may be measured directly or the 
evaporation estimated by noting the rate of cooling. The 
instruments devised for this purpose are generally known as 
evaporimcters or "atmometers" from the Greek word atmos 
meaning steam or vapor. The kind of atmometer depends upon 
the purpose for which measurements are being made. Thus, the 
engineer uses an open pan atmometer while the student of plant 
life wants a porous cup or some other device more nearly imitat- 
ing the action of the bodies whose evaporation losses he desires 
to obtain.^ 

The open pan atmometer filled with water may be set up on 
land or may be made to float on a reservoir or lake surface. The 
water losses from damp soil or plants may be obtained by 
employing pans or pots of such form that they can be filled 
with soil and then weighed from time to time to ascertain the 
amount of water which is received from the rain or other sources 
and the loss which takes place by evaporation or by transpira- 
tion from the plants which are cultivated in the soil contained 
in the pots. 

For purposes of water conservation, especially in preparing 
plans and estimates for storage works, it is necessary to have 
some approximation of the quantity of water which escapes 
from the surface of the proposed artificial lake. It is known 
that the evaporation increases with the rise in temperature and 
with the wind movement; hence observations are made of these 

Various efforts have been made to measure the depth of 
evaporation directly from pans so arranged as to float in the 
water — these being maintained at the same temperature as that 
on the surface of the pond or lake. Accurate measurements 
of the amount evaporated from a pan are not easily obtainable 
because of the many accidents to which an apparatus thus 
exposed may be liable. The effect of the rim of the pan, even 

1 See "A New Evaporimeter for Use in Forest Studies," by C. G. Bates, 
Monthly Weather Review, May, 1919, Vol. 47, pp. 283-294. 


though projecting only an inch or two above the surface, is 
quite appreciable. 

The United States Weather Bureau has carried on investi- 
gations of evaporation losses, particularly in various parts of 
the West. In one series of experiments they floated shallow pans 
not only upon the surface of the water, but placed them on the 
ground and on towers so arranged that the pans would be at 
different heights from the surface of the ground or of the lake 
itself. A view of one of these towers on Salton Sea in southern 
California is given in PL III. A, and a more distant view of the 
sea itself in PL III. B. Among other facts it has been appar- 
ently demonstrated that a large body of water loses in depth 
only about 0.7 of that from a pan floating on the surface.^ 

Standard Gage. As a result of these investigations the 
effort to make measurements of evaporation from the surface of 
pans floating in a reservoir or lake has been practically aban- 
doned. The difficulties and uncertainties involved were found 
to be too great. The Weather Bureau has now adopted a 
standard type of apparatus as shown in PL III. C.^ The stand- 
ard evaporation pan is made of galvanized iron, cylindrical in 
form, 48 inches in diameter and 10 inches deep. It is supported 
on a wooden base placed on the ground and surrounded by a 
woven wire fence 5 feet high. Inside the enclosure beside the pan 
is a rain gage and a small standard instrument, sheltered, con- 
taining thermometers. There is also provided an anemometer, 
placed as near as possible to the large pan so as to obtain the 
wind movement across the water surface. 

Careful attention must be paid to the proper exposure of 
the apparatus so that the locality will be open to the sunshine 
and be representative of the weather conditions of the region. 
The height of the water in the pan is observed at 7 a.m. and 
7 p.m., at which time readings of the other instruments are 

1 Bigelow, F. H., Monthly Weather Review, February, 1909, VoL 37, 
p. 307. 

2 Report of Chief of Weather Bureau, 1914-15, p. 13; also, "Instructions 
for the Installation and Operation of Class A Evaporation Stations," Octo- 
ber 16, 1915, United States Weather Bureau; also, "Current Evaporation 
Observations," in Monthly Weather Retnew, December, 1916, Vol. 44, pp. 
647-677, iUustratcd. 

PUte III. 
r of United States Weather Bureau, e. 

Plate III. B. 
Tow«rs In Salton Sea, California, supportlnf; evaporatioi 

Plate III. C. 
Standard Evsporation Station, United States Weather Bureau. 

M « 


taken. The pan is filled with water to within two inches of the 
top and refilled when the water has receded one inch. 

The total amount of evaporation from a reservoir or other 
free water surface is greatest during the hot months of the year 
and least in winter. During July, August, and September, if 
there is any considerable wind movement, the evaporation may 
be from a quarter of an inch to nearly half an inch a day, while 
during the prevalence of cold, still weather in winter the depth 
of evaporation from the water or frozen surface may be one- 
hundredth of an inch. The total for the year in northern 
climates may be stated in round numbers as from 3 to 4 feet 
in depth, while in the southern part of arid regions of the United 
States the annual evaporation may be 7 to 8 feet or more. 

In estimates of loss from artificial lakes or storage reservoirs 
it is necessary to give consideration mainly to the depth of 
evaporation during the early summer as the storage is prin- 
cipally at that time. That is to say, the reservoir is filled 
during May and June ; early in July the greatest area is usually 
exposed to evaporation. During the succeeding months the 
water is drawn down, the surface area consequently reduced and 
the losses become relatively insignificant. Thus it is not as 
important to consider the annual losses as it is to ascertain the 
evaporation which takes place during the time from the filling 
of the reservoir to the date when the surface is drawn down to 
its minimum area. 

Results. Compilations of various measurements have been 
prepared as noted in one of the reports on "Water Resources 
of Illinois."^ As then compiled by A. H. Horton, who has freely 
interpolated figures for missing months, the total evaporation 
at different points in the United States is as given on page 72. 

The evaporation from the pans placed directly on the ground 
is undoubtedly larger than from pans which are floating on the 
surface of the lake or reservoir. The figures obtained as given 
above are not truly representative of what is taking place from 
the free surface of water in a reservoir. Nevertheless, these 
have some value, especially as they are practically the only 

1 Horton, A. H., "Water Resources of Illinois," Report of Rivers and 
Lakes Commission of Illinois, 1914, Part III, pp. 306-316. 


available data. Their principal use is perhaps in connection 
with a comparison of amount evaporated by months, the per- 
centage for Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Mass., noted above, being 
as follows : 

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. 
2.4 2.7 4.3 7.6 11.4 14.2 15.2 14.0 10.4 8.1 5.7 3.9 

There is need of further research, not only in these losses but 
particularly into the ways or degree in which evaporation may 
be checked or reduced by tree planting or other devices for 
reducing wind movement and maintaining a lower temperature 
of the water surface. 

Estimated Annual Evaporation 





Columbus, Ohio 

4' floating 


Birmingham, Ala. 

4' floating 


Chestnut Hill, Mass. 

4' floating 


Rochester, N. Y. 

4' floating 


Dutch Flats, Neb. 

4' ground 


Deer Flat, Idaho 

3' ground 


North Yakima, Wash. 

4' ground 


Hermiston, Ore. 

3' ground 


Ady, Ore. 

4' floating 


Brawley, Calif. 

6' ground 


Mammoth, Calif. 

6' ground 


Granite Reef, Ariz. 

4' ground 


Drying or Dehydration. Closely connected with, or grow- 
ing out from, the studies of evaporation are certain practical 
applications of the resulting facts in the drying of bulky articles 
such as green wood or other raw materials and foods, in 
order to facilitate their transportation and storage. For 
example, in the case of wood, a large part of the weight of 
boards or timber used in construction is water. Months or 
years are usually required for drying or seasoning from the 
date the timber is cut to the time when it can be economically 
transported or utilized. It is obvious that great gains will 
come from developing ways for shortening this time of drying 
and for putting the material into form for use. Moreover, the 
process of drying out the wood frequently changes its shape, 
spoiling it for many operations. Recent investigations have 


indicated that it is possible to dry wood rapidly under condi- 
tions such as insure the maintenance of its original form. Here 
research has resulted in the development of new industries. 

Practically all wood before being put to use is either sea- 
soned in the air or dried in a kiln. The main objects of such 
seasoning are to increase the durability of the wood in service, 
to prevent it from shrinking and checking, to increase its 
strength and stiffness, to prevent it from staining, and to 
decrease its weight. If drying wood were simply a matter of 
evaporating moisture, it would be a comparatively simple 
problem, since it would be merely that of supplying the neces- 
sary heat. Wood, however, has a complicated structure and 
unless timber that is to be air seasoned is piled in the right way, 
or conditions in the dry kiln are maintained according to certain 
physical laws, the material will probably warp or check or in 
some way be damaged seriously. 

Until recently proper methods of seasoning have received but 
little attention and large losses were common. Often 25 per 
cent of the seasoned lumber was rendered unfit for use by 
defects induced by drying. 

The Forest Service of the United States Department of 
Agriculture as stated by the Forester, Col. H. S. Graves, has 
conducted investigations in the kiln drying of wood for several 
years past and as a result methods have been developed by 
which lumber can be dried in months instead of years, with no 
loss in strength as compared to air-dried material and with 
very little checking or warping. The data from these investi- 
gations formed the basis of the specifications for kiln drying 
spruce for airplanes adopted by the Army and Navy. As the 
supply of air-dried spruce was exhausted soon after entering 
upon the war and air drying requires two years, the ability to 
furnish properly dried airplane material in six weeks relieved a 
somewhat serious situation in airplane construction. Vehicle 
material was generally air seasoned before the war for two or 
three years. The demand for vehicles for war purposes soon ex- 
hausted the air-dried stock and more was needed at once. 
Scientific kiln-drying methods once more came to the front and 
properly designed kilns were built and material dried in two 


months. Runs in kilns at the Rock Island Arsenal on artillery 
wheel rims and spokes show losses of only 2 per cent and even 

The drying of black walnut for gunstocks and of willow for 
artificial limbs are examples of other applications of kiln drying 
to war material where air drying was formerly the general 
practice, and in each case the time was reduced from years to 
months and an entirely satisfactory product obtained. 

The main problem in kiln drying lumber is to prevent the 
moisture from evaporating from the surface of the pieces faster 
than it is brought to the surface from the interior. When this 
happens the surface becomes considerably drier than the 
interior and begins to shrink. If the difference in moisture 
content is sufficient, the surface portion opens up in checks. 

The evaporation from the surface of wood in a kiln can be 
controlled to a large degree by regulating the humidity, tem- 
perature, and amount of air passing over the wood; and a 
correctly designed kiln, especially one for drying the more 
difficult woods, must be one so constructed and equipped as to 
insure this regulation. 

Even more important in its advantages to the human race 
are the results which may flow from the investigations of the 
practicability of drying bulky foods for permanent preservation 
and for convenience of transportation. From earliest times 
mankind has largely depended for winter food upon dried meats 
and fruits, but the old processes of drying in the sun or by heat 
from a fire have usually altered the flavor and changed the 
food value. Recently research has shown that there are ways 
in which, for example, potatoes and similar vegetables may be 
deprived of their water or dehydrated with great shrinkage in 
volume and size. They can be kept for an indefinite period 
and then when well soaked will resume nearly their original 
bulk, with little loss of flavor or of food qualities. 

When the fact is borne in mind that millions of tons of 
potatoes are transported each year and other millions of tons 
are wasted for lack of transportation, it can be seen that by 
the establishment of evaporation or dehydration plants the 
railroads may be relieved of hauling immense tonnage: food 


can be transported and made available for the underfed or 
starving nations. 

Dehydration methods in the United States from a commercial 
standpoint are still in their early stages. Much careful investi- 
gation is yet to be made, particularly as to the processes best 
adapted for general use, in order to realize modern ideals and 
meet current demands. As contrasted with the older forms of 
simply drying fruits and vegetables, the later methods are char- 
acterized by a treatment in which the foods to be dehydrated 
are subjected to the action of carefully regulated currents of 
air in which the temperature and humidity are both controlled 
within narrow limits.^ If this is done, the food gradually loses 
water but without giving up its flavor or color or having its 
cellular structure impaired. When thus treated the product 
will reabsorb water, swelling to its normal size and appearance 
arid when cooked will have essentially the flavor, appearance and 
odor of freshly cooked material made from fresh vegetables. 

It is interesting to bring into comparison the efforts being 
made, on the one hand, to get water to the soil or properly to 
irrigate — or "hydrate" — it for crop production, as is being 
done by individuals, corporations, and other organizations, 
with, on the other hand, the efforts made later in the season 
to dehydrate the crops thus produced. For example, the 
city of Denver has not only provided water for various pur- 
poses, including gardens, but plans to dehydrate the crops 
or dry them so that they can be shipped or preserved indefi- 
nitely. Here are brought together the hydration or bringing 
in of water to obtain foods and the taking away of the excess 
water stored in the mature fruits. 

In this connection note should be made that for every pound 
of dry matter produced probably five hundred pounds of water 
has been transpired by the plant, and that the resulting fruit 
consists of 80 to 90 per cent of water or from four to nine 
times the weight of the dehydrated substance. 

1 Prescott, S. C, and Sweet, L. D., "Commercial Dehydration: A Factor 
in the solution of the International Food Problem." Annals of the American 
Academy of Political and Social Science, Philadelphia, May, 1919. 


Quantity Absorbed. As soon as the rain strikes the ground 
or the snow melts, a portion of the water, as before stated, 
evaporates; it "flies off" or returns to the atmosphere, while 
the remainder starts to flow away on the surface. Of this 
latter, some "runs in'' or sinks into the soil, continuing to enter 
until the dry surface is completely saturated. The moisture 
travels downwards at first quite rapidly and then more and 
more slowly as it reaches deeper and more compact materials. 
In the arid areas of the country, the underlying rocks at a 
depth of from ten to a hundred feet or more below the surface 
are practically dry, although at rare intervals a heavy storm 
or cloudburst may cause water to penetrate to a considerable 
depth. In the humid parts of the country, especially in the 
vicinity of rivers, lakes, or swamps, the underground layers 
are always full of water and only the surface dries out. If a 
deep hole is dug through the overlying dry soil, it will finally 
penetrate to more and more moist rocks and then reach a point 
where water begins to accumulate and finally stands at a cer- 
tain elevation known as the "water table." After heavy rains 
which soak the overlying soil, the water table slowly rises, while 
during times of protracted drought it gradually sinks. In arid 
regions a well may be drilled to a depth of a thousand feet 
without reaching water, but in the more humid regions the soil 
normally is saturated below a depth of only a few feet. 

Where a natural or artificial depression like a well or drain 
is sufficiently deep to meet the water plane, the moisture appears 
on the side and collects in the form of a spring or seep. The 
volume of water flowing from such a spring is determined by 
the depth of the hole or excavation below the plane of saturation 
of the surrounding country and by the ease with which the 

RUN-IN 77 

water can move through the rocks and soils to an outlet. Most 
natural springs are small, but there are notable examples of 
streams of considerable size bursting from ravines cut in the 
hill slopes by the erosive action of the storms. 

The absorption into the soil of the water from rain or snow, 
its passage downward under the influence of gravity, and its 
storage in the ground are of great interest in connection with 
water conservation, partly because of the difficulty of ascer- 
taining all of the facts. There has been more or less mystery 
connected with the occurrence of water underground and a 
tendency to a belief in the marvelous. The public has been 
imposed upon by the pretensions of so-called "water witches," 
who claim to enjoy supernatural ability to locate wells. As a 
matter of fact, however, these mj'steries gradually disappear 
as the true conditions are made known concerning the behavior 
of water in the pervious rocks or soils.^ The fundamental fact 
to be remembered is, that all of the water originally comes from 
the rainfall or snowfall upon some higher area, near or remote, 
and that it travels under the influence of gravity, always moving 
to the lowest level that can be reached. If the underlying rocks 
are gently inclined and are composed of alternating layers of 
different permeability, the water will gradually find its way 
downward and laterally along the planes of least resistance, 
escaping as a spring or series of springs in a deep ravine or in 
the bank of a river. If in the course of its travels the water 
becomes trapped under a higher impervious layer of rock, it may 
gradually acquire a head or hydrostatic pressure tending to 
lift the rock cover. A hole or well, drilled through this imper- 
vious cover, releases some of the water thus held under pressure 
and permits it to rise, possibly overflowing the surface, forming 
what is called an artesian well, see page 82, the name being 
derived from Artois, an ancient province of France where such 
wells were first drilled. If the casing or tubing of an artesian 
well is continued vertically above the ground surface, the water 
will rise to a point nearly level with that of the place of origin, 
even though this may be a hundred miles or more away. A view 

1 EUis, Arthur J., "The Divining Rod, A History of Water Witching," 
U. S. G. S., Water Supply Paper No. 416, 1917. 


of one of these artesian wells is shown in PL XVII. D, this being 
taken in the vicinity of Roswell, N. M., where large areas of 
desert land are watered by means of bore holes of this character 
penetrating to a water-bearing sandstone. 

Undeeflow. In the aggregate there is a vast amount of 
water stored underground in the pervious sands and gravels and 
also in consolidated rocks. This water is usually moving slowly 
to points where it is escaping, the rate of movement being deter- 
mined by the hydraulic head, which overcomes the resistance to 
flow through the interstices between the particles of rock. 
Under the greater part of the plains of western Kansas and 
Nebraska, this so-called "Underflow*' has been noted. This 
water, passing in a broad sheet beneath the surface in a south- 
easterly direction, comes mainly from the rain which has fallen 
upon the porous soils of the high plains. It is on its way to 
the lower levels, where it escapes to form numerous small 
streams, tributary to the Arkansas, Canadian, and neighboring 

The occurrence of springs in ravines on the plains and the 
remarkably large quantity of water which can be obtained from 
underground by widely separated wells has given rise to exag- 
gerated conceptions of the vast quantity of the underflow. It 
has been described as a great river conveying water from the 
Rocky Mountains to the plains. As a matter of fact, however, 
the flow is an extremely slow percolation at the rate of a foot 
or so a day. The amount available at any one point is neces- 
sarily small because of this slow rate of delivery. Though 
limited in quantity, the water is of vital importance to the 
farmer and stock raiser on the plains. PL IV. A shows one of 
many thousands of earthen tanks. This is supplied with water 
by means of a windmill, such as are common on the Great Plains, 
which pumps from the underflow or gravel reservoir beneath 
the surface, lifting the water into the small pond on the surface 
from which it can be quickly drawn to irrigate the adjacent 
garden or orchard. 

An illustration of the amount of water which is being pumped 
from underground is given in PL XIII. A, this showing the 
output of pumps near Garden City, Kan. The water is being 

RUN-IN 79 

lifted from the coarse gravel beds which underlie the valley 
and, on being brought to the surface, is distributed to the fields 
planted for the most part in alfalfa or in sugar beets. The rate 
of flow has been measured at various localities, notably by 
Charles S. Slichter/ He has found the ordinary rate in the 
Great Plains to be about three feet a day or a mile in five years. 
At Garden City, Kan., where the fall of the surface of the 
ground is about seven feet per mile, he has measured a rate of 
movement of 2.5 feet per day with a maximum of 12 feet a day 
or less than a mile a year. 

Although the rate of flow is usually not much more than a 
few feet a day as just noted, yet there have lately been dis- 
covered conditions in which the velocity of underground water 
is relatively high. Professor Slichter has measured recently 
in Arizona and California velocities of from 400 feet to 800 
feet per 24 hours, not in especially coarse material, but in steep 
gradients. During 1914 he studied velocities in gravels de- 
posited in exceedingly rapidly moving waters. These gravels 
are so systematically arranged with their longest axes of indi- 
vidual particles crosswise to the current, that the conductivity 
downstream is much less than the conductivity crosswise, so 
that the underground waters tend to dodge back and forth 
crosswise of the axis of the valley. Some years previously he 
pointed out that the conductivity of a stream-deposited gravel 
was different in three different directions, which he called the 
"axial" directions. From the results of similar work in 1885, 
F. H. Newell called attention to the fact that the conductivity 
perpendicular to the bedding was in many cases much less than 
the conductivity parallel to the bedding. The investigation of 
the three axial components in gravels deposited in rapidly 

1 For a discussion of the conditions and rates of underground move- 
ments, see the following: 

King, F. H., "Principles and conditions of the movements of ground 
waters," 19th Report, U. S. G. S., Part 2, 1898. 

Slichter, C. S., "Investigations of movements of ground waters," 19th 
Report, U. S. G. S., Part 2, 1898. 

Slichter, C. S., "Motions of underground waters," U. S. G. S., Water 
Supply Paper No. 67, 1902. 

Slichter, C. S., "Field measurements of rate of movement of underground 
water," U. S. G. S., Water Supply Paper No. 140, 1905. 


moving waters is being carried on by Professor Slichter in his 
laboratory at Madison, Wis. 

The occurrence and movement of waters which have "run in" 
from the surface and which may be utilized in the further devel- 
opment of the country have been the subject of prolonged study 
by the United States Geological Survey ; in the following pages, 
Mr. N. H. Darton of that bureau, who has devoted his life 
largely to these matters, gives a review of the present conditions 
of knowledge of these phenomena — and points out incidentally 
the need of continued research. 

Passage of Water Underground. The chief factors which 
control or influence the absorption of waters underground are 
the texture of surface material and of the rocks below and in 
some measure the configuration of the land and conditions of 
rainfall or snow melting. Absorption of water is due to the 
fact that most rocks are somewhat porous; notably sand and 
gravel can store from 5 to 15 per cent of their bulk of water. 
Sandstones have considerable space between their grains, but 
their porosity varies greatly with the size and shape of particles 
and with the amount of cementing material filling the inter- 
spaces; in the case of quartzite and some highly calcareous 
sandstones, the pores are entirely filled. Limestones are only 
slightly porous but they are always traversed by joints and 
toward the surface contain channels and caverns. Clay, shale, 
and slate have but very slight porosity; however, these very 
compact rocks are more or less broken and traversed bj' 
zones of decomposition into which surface waters descend for 
a greater or less distance. In many regions, also, the crystal- 
line rocks are deeply decomposed by the solution of some of 
their component minerals and the resulting "rotten rock" may 
be as porous as sandstone. Many lavas are full of openings and 
in most districts they are underlain by coarse fragmental 

Water passes into the ground in various ways, such as by 
direct inhibition of rainfall, the sinking of surface streams in 
passing over zones of porous rock, the spreading of streams 
laterally into the sandy deposits of their valleys, and the per- 
colation of water laterally from the ocean or lakes. In all 

RUN-IX 81 

regions it is found that the total surface run-off and evaporation 
are less than the volume of rainfall, thus affording evidence of 
general loss of water in the ground. Many streams are ob- 
served to diminish in volume or even to disappear entirely in 
running over areas of porous sandstone, cavernous limestone 
or permeable portions of their beds. In the arid regions water 
flows out of the mountains on rocky beds and then gradually 
disappears as the valley widens. Many of the great desert flats 
are underlain by water-bearing sands, the water being derived 
largely from seepages from the adjoining highlands and from 
transient rainfall, vet not in sufficient volume to come to the 

Typical Underground Water Conditions. It will appear 
from the above statements that there is considerable varietv 
in the conditions of occurrence and volume of water under- 
ground. In many regions it is in broad sheets flowing slowly 
through permeable rocks, while in other places it is in caverns 
in limestone, crevices in the harder rocks, or deposits of gravel 
and sand. Some of it emerges again as springs in hillsides, 
vallev bottoms and even out under the ocean — ^as off the east 
coast of Florida. In some districts, such as the enclosed desert 
basins, the water is in the form of an underground lake and 
without movement. The volume depends upon the conditions 
of occurrence, the water often fllling or partly filling strata 
of considerable thickness, extending down fissures several hun- 
dred feet deep, or saturating bodies of decomposed crystalline 

Waters which extend widely underground are mostly con- 
tained in sandstones and some of these water bearers are of 
vast extent and descend to great depth. Two conditions which 
are typical of waters of this class are shown in Fig. 1. In 
the upper section a bed of sandstone receives water from rain- 
fall or sinking of streams in the highlands at A. The water pass- 
ing underground into an artesian basin has sufficient head to 
yield flowing wells on lower land as at B. In the second section 
the conditions are somewhat similar but the water escapes in 
springs at D, so there is a gradual diminution in pressure or 
head from C to D known as "hydraulic grade." 


Figure 1. 
Sections illustrating conditions which control formation of flowing wcUs 

or of springs. 

One of the best illustrations of long-distance travel of under- 
ground water is in the central Great Plains, especially in South 
Dakota, where the conditions are similar to those shown in the 
lower section in Fig. 1. The water passes into the Dakota 
and associated sandstones in their elevated outcrop zone along 
the foot of the Black Hills and Rocky Mountains. It is carried 
in these sandstones under a thick cover of relatively imperme- 
able shale or clay and escapes slowly in springs in an eastern 
outcrop area 4,000 feet lower. In the intervening 200 miles 
the water is tapped by many artesian wells which yield large 
flows and have pressures up to 200 pounds per square inch — 
the latter unquestionably indicating the connection with the 
highland source to the west. In valleys there is in general a 
flow from the sides to the center along the lines of greatest 
declivity and also more or less movement down the center of 
the valley. In the vicinity of Deming, N. M., the underflow of 
the IMimbres River passes under the desert flat along an old 
course deserted some time ago. 

In the ease of granites and other crystalline rocks the under- 
ground water problem presents peculiar conditions which are 
diflicult to study. Ordinarily such rocks are not underlaid by 
a porous stratum and are too compact to carry any water 
supply. Others, however, are broken by joint planes and occa- 
sionally deeply disintegrated so that more or less water is 

RUN-IN 88 I 

stored in their upper portions. Some of the crevices extend for 
long distances and in certain localities pass under clays or 
other confining deposits in lower lands so that "head" is estab- 
lished and they may yield an artesian flow. The occurrence of 
water in crystalline rocks is generally difficult for the geologist 
to predict, but in some places the rock structure is so evident 
that it may guide to a successful forecast. 

Quantity of Watee. The volume of water obtainable from 
underground sources is exceedingly variable in different regions, 
and in some places within short distances. In the larger arte- 
sian basins where the water is contained in thick beds of sand- 
stone the volume is not only large but in general uniform under 
wide areas. In the basin in eastern South Dakota, for example, 
there are many wells that yield from 800 to 500 gallons a 
minute (0.8 to 1.8 second- feet) and a few large wells flow from 
2,000 to 4,000 gallons a minute (4.4 to 9 second-feet). The 
area in which this condition prevails occupies many square 
miles, and in the aggregate there is a large volume of water 
flowing from these wells. The water has been used for irriga- 
tion, but its greatest value has been for municipal and domestic 
supply. In the Roswell district in the Pecos Valley, N. M., the 
larger wells yield from 500 to 700 gallons a minute (1.8 to 
nearly 2 second- feet), and a few of them have yielded more 
than 1,500 gallons (nearly 4 second-feet), but apparently the 
volume and pressure have diminished considerably in the past 
few years. 

Quality of Water. Underground waters vary as much in 
quality as in quantity and in some cases in as short distances^ 
but in general they are of a high degree of purity and when 
protected from surface contamination, they are free from dis- 
ease germs and therefore highly advantageous. Some of them 
are mineralized from contact with rocks and minerals, ordi- 
narily more so than are surface waters. This is because of the 
vastly longer time of contact, for time is an important factor 
in mineral solution; pressure and high temperature also act in 
some cases. Accordingly waters which come from salt-bearing 
deposits are saline, those from the gypsiferous strata contain 
much calcium sulphate, those from limestones are "hard" or 


more or less saturated with calcium carbonate, while iron, 
ma^esium, and many other mineral constituents occur in 
various proportions. 

Sandstones, sand, and gravel are the materials most favor- 
able for the storage of underground waters and as these mostly 
contain but little soluble mineral, the waters derived from them 
are of notable purity. An excellent instance of this is the group 
of wells 100 to 800 feet deep in eastern South Carolina, some 
of which yield water in which the total solid matter ranges 
from only 20 to 63 parts per million. In the West the propor- 
tions are generally higher; a notably pure water at Deming, 
N. M., from wells 85 to 240 feet deep, contains only from 224 
to 240 parts per million of solid matter (13 to 14 grains to the 
gallon) . 

In places where there are flows at various depths, the quali- 
ties generally differ; for instance, in South Dakota the lower 
flows which are sought because they are larger in volume and 
contain much more mineral than the upper flows. In sinking the 
deep boring at Edgemont, S. D., considerable water found in 
the red beds was high in mineral content but the main flow from 
the lower sandstone was found to be of satisfactory quality 
after the higher flows had been cased off. 

Search for Underground Water. In the extension of 
settlement, especially in the western United States, water supply 
for domestic and stock use is an all-important consideration. 
In some districts the pioneers have found that a satisfactory 
supply is obtainable, but there are many places where settlers 
have established themselves and then been disappointed in 
securing sufficient water. For wide areas few data are avail- 
able or the preliminary test wells have been unsatisfactory. 
In most of these localities the determination of prospects for 
underground water is a subject requiring geological investi- 
gation, for the problem of water supply is one which necessi- 
tates study by a geologist, especially if it concerns the pros- 
pects for artesian flow, also questions of permanence and of 
similar features. As the water is contained in sand, sandstones 
and various other rocks which are included in the succession 
of strata constituting the earth's crust, the relations of water- 

RUN-IN 85 

bearing beds are similar to those of coal beds and other forma- 
tions. In many areas the water-bearing stratum is carried to 
great depths by downward dips of monoclines or basins and 
it may be overlaid by strata presenting considerable strati- 
graphic complexity. Locally it may be cut oflf by faults and 
igneous masses or affected by metamorphism and other varia- 
tions in texture, especially in changes in fineness and coarseness 
of the sediments. 

The study of such problems often requires the determination 
of geologic conditions and structure in adjoining areas because 
the evidence may be widely scattered and much of it far distant 
from the place where the water is desired. Considerable infor- 
mation is also required as to the topographic conditions or at 
least as to the altitude of the land where the question of head and 
delimitation of flow area have to be considered. The collection 
of data of wells already in existence is an important branch of 
this research because facts as to position and character of 
water-bearing strata, height of water in wells, or pressure if 
wells are flowing, and quality of water, throw much light on 
prospects in adjoining areas. 

The determination of depths to artesian waters contained in 
stratified rocks sometimes can be made readily, but in many 
districts prediction must be based on careful examination of the 
local geologic conditions. The principal basis is knowledge of 
the thickness of the strata, and while for some regions such 
facts are already available, in others it is necessary to trace the 
strata to their surface outcrops, which are often miles from the 
locality in question. The structure, or dips and possible faults 
of the strata in the intervening country, also has to be carefully 
considered. The records of borings in the neighborhood may 
throw important light on underground relations, although in 
most cases the records of drillings or "logs" are so poorl^'^ kept 
that they are misleading; great care must be used in identifying 
the strata penetrated. Samples of the borings are much more 
valuable, especially if they have been carefully collected and 
labeled. An illustration of conditions controlling certain arte- 
sian conditions in a region such as the Central Great Plains is 
shown in the following section : 


Figure 2. 

Profile showing factors indicating depth to water-bearing stratum at a 

given locality. 

Suppose that a boring is desired at A. The geologist, from 
an examination of the country from A to B, which may be a 
distance of many miles, concludes that the only promising 
water-bearing formation is the stratum outcropping at C. By 
carefully measuring the dips of the many strata outcropping 
from C to A, especially if aided by a distinct bed as at D, he 
can construct a cross section such as the one given in the figure. 
On this section, for example, he can base a prediction that at A 
the top of the water-bearing bed may be expected at a depth of 
700 feet, providing the strata do not thicken or thin materially 
in the distance. An interesting illustration of such a prediction 
is at Edegmont, S. D., where N. H. Darton estimated that 
the water-bearing sandstone would be found at a depth of 
about 8,000 feet. In verification of this prediction, the Chi- 
cago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad well struck it at 2,965 
feet, and obtained a large flow. 

The determination of prospects for artesian flows may require 
extensive investigation not only of geologic conditions but of 
topography also unless data are already available along these 
lines. The consideration of head and its grade is an important 
factor in ascertaining the areas in which artesian flow is to be 
expected. In many regions of ridges and valleys flows are 
obtainable in the low lands, but the water must be pumped to 
the surface of the higher lands. If the head were level there 
would be no difficulty in predicting the altitude at which flowing 
water is obtainable, but when there is a slope or "hydraulic 

grade" due to leakage, as shown m Figs. 3 and 4, careful c 
gideration must be given to the configuration of the land. 

Figure 8. 

Apparatus iUustratinjc loss of head or hydraulic jcrade due to leakage. 

The outflow at C causes the water to fall In outlets E, E, E, below the 
level of A. The dotted line D-D Indicates the hydraulic ftrade. If C is 
closed, this line D-D will tend to become more nearly horizontal from A. 

Profile indicating conditions of suco 

r failure of artesian veils. 

The sandstone resting on granite, as indicated in ahove figure, receives 
water at X; some of this ultimately escapes in springs in the valley hottcmi. 
A well drilled at a, lieing helow the hydraulic grade, — which Is indicated by 
the dotted line.— will flow, while one at h will not. 

The conditions in central South Dakota furnish an excellent 
illustration of an investigation of prospects for flows in parts of 
a broad artesian basin. As explained above, the water enters 
the sandstone in its outcrop zone in the Black Hills and finally 
leaks out in springs where this sandstone comes to or near the 
surface 200 miles east, in lands about 4,000 feet lower. The 
water is held down in the intervening district by a thick body 
of shale which is nearly impermeable; where the water-bearing 
bed is reached by deep wells high pressures are found. If it 


were not for the outflow to the east and possibly some slight 
general leakage, the pressure would be greater and the flow area 
larger, because the initial head is equal to an altitude of 4,000 
feet or more. As it is, a "hydraulic grade" is sustained by the 
great friction of the water in its slow flow through the small 
interstices of the sandstone. Owing to this grade the head falls 
below the altitude of the land in many parts of the district 
and accordingly the flow area is considerably restricted. 

Some of the negative features of underground water pre- 
diction are of great importance. In many localities it is evident 
from the geologic conditions that no water supply, or at least 
no artesian flow, can be obtained; in such places it is possible 
to avoid the great waste of expense of deep boring which cannot 
succeed. This condition is occasionally evident from the surface 
geologic facts or may be inferred from the samples of borings 
after certain beds have been penetrated. There are frequent 
instances of deep borings made in compact granites or other 
crystalline rocks which a geologist of experience knows cannot 
contain water, or in shales which are so thick that underlying 
strata cannot be reached by the means available. It is prob- 
able that in the aggregate the w^arnings against hopeless borings 
have been even more valuable than the predictions that water 
would be found. These warnings have saved the waste of large 
amounts of money, but sometimes they will not deter the driller 
who has some theory of his own which he believes is of greater 
value than the scientific deductions of the geologist. On the 
other hand also, boring has been discontinued in many places 
where the geologist knows that at greater depth there is almost 
a certainty of obtaining flowing water or a supply that can be 

Conservation of Underground Waters. As the reservoirs 
of artesian and other underground waters are not of unlimited 
capacity, depletion is sure to follow excessive draft and long- 
continued waste. The general head of the artesian water inevi- 
tably decreases when the outflow is in excess of the intake; 
locally the head is sensitive to the drain of many flowing wells 
near together because the underground movement of water is so 
slow. Time is an important factor in sustaining the outflow 

RUN-IN 89 

when there are many outlets in a restricted area. Generally a 
flowing well is more valuable to the user than one from which 
the water has to be pumped, so that when flow ceases and pump- 
ing is necessary the well passes into a different category — 
especially as the available volume of water usually diminishes 
at the same time. 

The effect of vigorous pumping of adjoining wells in dimin- 
ishing or stopping flow and in reducing the water level in pump 
wells is frequently observed and raises an important question 
of equity. There are many localities at which flows were origi- 
nally obtainable where now the head has been so diminished that 
pumping is necessary. A notable instance is Denver, Colo., 
where twenty years ago the head was sufficient to afford flows 
at moderate heights throughout the city while now the water 
must be pumped and the volume is much less. This is caused 
by the multiplicity of wells from which water is pumped faster 
than it comes in at the intake zone. 

Another notable example is the Pecos Valley artesian area 
about Roswell, N. M., where the amount of water and width 
of flow area have been steadily diminishing. Still another is in 
southern California, where heavy draft for orchard irrigation 
caused many wells to stop flowing accompanied by diminution 
of the area of artesian flow. Fortunately this overdraft has 
been restricted somewhat and an attempt is now made to keep 
the water level uniform. Such restrictions for the perpetuation 
of supply are all important, for when the amount of water 
available diminishes, irrigation projects are impaired and settle- 
ment is retarded. This is especially deplorable where the water 
has been permitted to run to waste as in Pecos Valley and other 
regions. In South Dakota and some other states, laws have 
been passed imposing fines for waste of underground water. 

For many years geologists employed by the federal govern- 
ment have been investigating underground water prospects, as 
well as all other water resources in many parts the United 
States, and several of the State Surveys have conducted local 
investigations. It is now universally recognized that these prob- 
lems of development and use of supplies are mainly geological; 
a knowledge of structural relations, rock characters and other 


allied features are the main factors for consideration. The 
work in the United States Geological Survey was inaugurated 
in 1894 and it has since continued without interruption. Many 
reports have been published affording a vast number of data in 
various portions of the country. However, a great area still 
remains to be investigated and many parts of areas already 
examined are yet to be tested by deep borings before their 
capabilities can be definitely known. 

The subsoil water has been studied particularly by the Bureau 
of Soils of the Department of Agriculture. One of the most 
suggestive results is the bulletin^ prepared by Dr. W J McGee 
who conducted inquiries as to the height of the ground water 
throughout the United States. His data indicate that there has 
been a lowering of subsoil water level of about 8.5 feet per 
decade ; in the older states the average lowering since settlement 
appears to be not less than 9 feet. This is presumably the 
result of the cutting off of the source of supply; the storm 
waters rush off in floods instead of passing into the soil. This 
waste is in part preventable. The public welfare demands that 
efforts be made to continue the acquisition of data and the 
enlargement of general knowledge so that steps may be taken 
to conserve the ground water and to prevent flood waste which 
impoverishes the soil and impairs the value of the larger water- 
ways as sources of water supply and for power and navigation. 

1 McGee, W J, "Wells and Subsoil Water," U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture, Bureau of Soils, Bulletin No. 9^, 1913. 

Plate IV. A. 

Small earth reservoirs or tanks for storage of water pumped by windmills 

from so^alled underflow. Garden City, Kansas. 

Plate IV. B. 
Jackson Ijike at head of Snake River, 


Plate IV. C. 
Brush wing dams to prevent erosion of levees, n 

Plate IV. D. 

Setllroentatlon, adding silt to clear water for the purpose of reducing 

seepage from a canal, Minidoka Project, Idaha 

•' < 


The term "run-oflf" has come into common use to designate 
the water which flows from the surface of the ground in rills, 
uniting to form brooks, creeks, and rivers. It is that part of 
the rain- or snowfall which remains after a portion — the "fly- 
off'' — has been evaporated and another part — the "run-in" — 
has been lost by soaking into the ground. 

The question as to the relation between the rainfall and the 
run-off is one which has been frequently discussed. Many 
efforts have been made to express the run-off as a percentage or 
ratio of the rainfall. These have not been successful because 
of the fact — as noted on page 66 — that the run-off is not prop- 
erly a fixed or definite proportion of the rainfall. On the con- 
trary it is the surplus or remainder after absorption and evapo- 
ration each has had its share. It thus happens frequently 
in the drier regions or at times of drought in humid climates, 
that all of the rain which falls in a light shower is evaporated 
even before it touches the earth (see page 55), or it may dis- 
appear into the soil without giving any visible run-off. 

Taking any one locality, however, it is often possible to state 
the average run-off and from this draw useful conclusions as 
to what may happen in this and similar localities. For example, 
in some parts of New England where the measurements of rain- 
fall and of run-off have been continued for many years, it has 
been found that ordinarily about one-half of the rainfall appears 
in the rivers flowing to the ocean. As we go west from New 
England, it is found that the run-off decreases more rapidly 
than does the average rainfall, so that in the Middle West we 
may say that from 20 to 25 per cent of the rainfall appears as 


When the annual rainfall drops as low as 15 to 20 inches and 
arid conditions prevail, the run-off becomes proportionately far 
less — down to 5 per cent or less of the precipitation. In the 
country west of the Rocky Mountain region is an area known 
as the Great Basin from which there is no run-off. The rivers 
which rise in the forested slopes of the mountains flow out from 
these into the lower valleys where their waters disappear com- 
pletely and the streams, never reaching the ocean or large lake, 
are described as "lost rivers." In former geological ages these 
interior basins are known to have been filled to the point of over- 
flow, but within the historic period the level of the lakes or 
marshes into which these lost rivers disappear is several hun- 
dred feet below the point where the water formerly escaped on 
its way to the sea. 

The character of the topography necessarily has a direct 
influence upon the quantity of run-off, for if the rain falls upon 
a flat surface from which it can flow away only after the lapse 
of an appreciable time, a much greater portion will sink into 
the ground or will be lost by evaporation, as noted on pages 66 
and 76, than would be the case if the rain fell upon steep slopes 
and was immediately concentrated in rivulets or torrents. Thus 
the run-off from hilly or mountainous country must obviously 
be more rapid and in greater proportion than the run-off from 
the plains or prairies. A classification of lands by topographi- 
cal conditions and as regards run-off has been found convenient 
because of this fact and also because of the related condition 
that the elevated or mountainous region usually receives heavier 
and more nearly continuous precipitation than the plains. 

One of the earliest attempts to indicate the relation which 
exists between topography, rainfall, and run-off is that given 
in the fourteenth Annual Report of the United States Geologi- 
cal Survey, Part II, in what has since been named the Newell 
curve. There is also given a map of the mean annual rainfall 
and one of the mean annual run-off, the diagram serving to 
connect in a general way the relation which exists between these 
two maps. 

Any estimate of the probable flow based upon a study of 
rainfall data is liable to large errors — therefore most engineers 


have reached the conclusion that it is safer to depend upon 
direct measurements of the run-off, if such are available, and to 
base their conclusions upon their measurements rather than 
upon inferences drawn from the available records of the time 
and quantity of the rain. Thus, although the measurements 
of precipitation should be continued and extended, it is evi- 
dently of equal or greater importance, in considering reclama- 
tion projects or systems of water storage, to make as many 
direct measurements as possible of the amount of water which 
actually occurs in the streams at important points day by day 
and year by year. Observations carried on through a series of 
years show that the run-off on any stream fluctuates more 
widely even than the rainfall. 

Systematic research and collection of data on stream flow 
was begun by the United States (Jeological Survey in 1888, 
primarily for ascertaining the extent to which the arid lands of 
the western part of the country might be reclaimed by irriga- 
tion.* Later the observations and measurements were gradually 
extended throughout the eastern states, furnishing information 
needed by engineers and investors in connection with water 
power development, drainage and flood protection. Gagings or 
measurements of the rate of flow at different heights of water 
have been made on many hundred rivers, large and small. From 
these data, computations have been made of the average flow 
through seasons or years — also of the greatest floods and 
droughts. Most of these estimates extend over only a few 
years — but for some important localities facts are now avail- 
able showing the fluctuations on river discharge for a quarter of 
a century. 

In looking over the results of stream measurements, the most 
striking feature is the great variation in run-off between the 
eastern and western rivers, the difference being entirely out of 
proportion to the difference in rainfall in the two areas. Com- 
paring, for example, the Susquehanna River of Pennsylvania, 

1 Newell, F. H., "Result of Stream Measurement," 14th Amiual Report, 
U. S. G. S., Part II, pp. 95-155. 

Also, "Methods and Results of Stream Measurements by U. S, G. S.,** 
Proceedings Engineers' Club, Philadelphia, Vol. XII, July, 1895. 


having a drainage of over 24,000 square miles, with the Rio 
Grande of New Mexico, with a drainage area of 80,000 square 
miles, it is found that the average run-off of the Susquehanna 
is 80 times as great although the rainfall on the basin is prob- 
ably not more than three times as heavy. 

The average flow per square mile drained is usually less for 
the larger drainage basins — the outflow from which has been 
measured — than from the smaller ; or to put it in another way, 
the headwater tributaries discharge more water per square mile 
of area from which this water flows than does the main stream 
lower down. This loss is due to evaporation, and seepage, or 
the discrepancy may arise from the facts that the rainfall is not 
as uniformly distributed nor as general over the larger tribu- 
tary country as on the smaller possibly more mountainous area. 

For the eastern part of the United States, where the rain- 
fall in general is from 30 to 40 inches in depth, the yearly run- 
off is from 1.2 to 1.8 second- feet per square mile, while in the 
less humid country it may drop, as in the case of the Rio Grande 
and Colorado rivers of the West, to 0.01 or less second-feet per 
square mile. In wet years the average flow may be double that 
of the ordinary run-off and in times of drought the flow may 
nearly or completely cease. Taking a dry year, the total dis- 
charge is usually not less than half the average flow for a 

Especial emphasis should be placed on the fact that the losses 
by evaporation which take place, to a large extent, are constant, 
regardless of the location, the chief differences depending upon 
the length of the growing season. These losses range from 
19 to 28 inches; unless the rainfall exceeds this amount there 
will be practically no run-off, except floods due to excessive 
precipitation. This fact is illustrated by plates 9 and 10 in the 
fourth edition of Hoyt and Grover's "River Discharge," help- 
ing to explain the wide difference in run-off from eastern and 
western areas. 

It is important to keep in mind the fact that during the grow- 
ing period the losses amount to about SVs inches per month. 
The losses during other periods will amount to about 5 inches ; 
therefore, in an area where the growing season is six months, a 


loss may be expected of about 25 inches, or with a 50-inch 
rainfall, there should be about 25 inches of run-off. 

During the days of greatest flood the rivers of the Atlantic 
Coast may discharge for several hours at a time at a rate of 
from 20 to 50 second-feet for each square mile of drainage 
basin. In comparison with these, the western streams in flood 
rarely contain more than one-tenth of this quantity. 

Floods and Drought. The extremes of river flow are among 
the causes of some of the great catastrophes to which humanity 
is subjected; great floods destroying lives and property have 
occurred in all ages and in all countries. During the present 
decade the annual and often preventable losses in the United 
States amount to many millions of dollars. The earliest legends 
of many nations of antiquity refer to some great flood or deluge 
which practically wiped out the majority of the people then 
living, only a few persons surviving to perpetuate the race; 
the impression made upon the human mind testifies to the over- 
whelming damage wrought. 

On the other extreme are the droughts which, while less strik- 
ing in their immediate catastrophic effect, have had far-reaching 
result in forcing the migration of tribes or of nations and in 
thus producing great movements of humanity in which wave 
after wave of barbarians from the more desert places have been 
driven into Europe and have made history. While some floods 
or droughts have been the immediate result of an unusually 
large or small rainfall, yet many have come from the cumula- 
tive effect of small differences of precipitation, their effect being 
greatly magnified by the accompanying conditions of heat and 
wind movement. Conversely, widespread droughts have accom- 
panied a relatively small diminution in rain. A drought has 
been defined for purposes of study as a period of time during 
which in less than ten days there has fallen 0.10 inch of rain 
or less ; or in less than 20 days, 0.20 inch or less ; or in 30 days 
not exceeding 0.30 inch of rain. 

Insurance against flood on the one hand and against drought 
on the other, is among the most important undertakings of 
mankind. The necessity of such projects is now being appre- 
ciated as never before. Theoretically it should be easy to hold 


over the excess of water from one time and place for use in 
another. Practically this is extremely difficult and requires 
for success the solution of many engineering and social prob- 
lems, as will be discussed on later pages. The storage of water 
in large quantities is not always practicable ; for safety against 
flood damage there must usually be joined some form of protec- 
tive work as distinguished from the preventive effects dependent 
solely upon holding back the floods in reservoirs. This subject 
is discussed on page 272 under the head of river regulation. 

During floods most of the work done by rivers is accom- 
plished. At that time the erosive effect is greatly increased. 
Vast quantities of silt, sand, and gravel are picked up and 
deposited at more or less distant points. The rapid increase in 
volume of the stream causes correspondingly quick changes in 
erosion and deposition or sedimentation. The lower plains 
along the river are inundated and their level gradually built up 
by the sand or mud dropped by the encroaching water. As 
these flood plains are thus made of light and fertile soil, they 
are usually first occupied by the pioneers in a new country and 
later are thickly built upon by the inhabitants. The occa- 
sional flood waters, and especially those of unusual floods 
spreading over their old playgrounds, thus become highly de- 
structive to the community which has taken possession. 

As the result of the great losses of life and property due to 
floods on these lowlands, various investigations have been made 
to ascertain how best to meet future dangers. The most notable 
of these studies and the ones which have led to earlv action, 
are those which followed the March, 1913, flood in the Miami 
River of Ohio. This river and its tributaries became filled to 
overflowing by what may be termed an accidental coincidence 
during five days of not very extraordinary rains. The waters 
spread out over the river bottoms, which had been gradually 
built upon and occupied in large part by towns, factories and 
railroads. The loss of life directly and indirectly was over 400 
and the destruction of property exceeded $60,000,000. The 
larger cities damaged were Dayton, Hamilton, and Piqua. A 
study of the situation was at once undertaken and under an act 
passed by the Ohio Legislature, the Miami Conservancy Dis- 


trict was organized.^ Work has been begun on six large deten- 
tion reservoirs, the capacity of which is sufficient to hold back 
a large portion of the flood flow, enough to prevent the waters 
from breaking over the protecting works built through the 
principal cities. 

The city of Columbus, Ohio, also suffered from floods, which 
began on March 24, 1913, during which nearly 100 lives were 
lost, suffering was brought to 20,000 persons, and property 
destroyed valued at over $5,000,000.^ The city authorities, 
after having had reports prepared on various schemes of relief, 
have concluded that the cost of establishing reservoirs on the 
Scioto and Olentangy rivers would be too great and have there- 
fore conflned their efforts to the straightening and deepening 
of the river channel and to the building of protective works 
through the city. 

The floods which partly inundated the city of Pittsburgh 
during the period from March 15, 1907, to March 20, 1908, 
caused losses^ estimated at over $6,000,000. A flood com- 
mission was organized in 1908, extensive investigations were at 
once begun and carried on by means of an expenditure of up- 
wards of $100,000. These have resulted in a remarkably com- 
plete report, which goes into methods of flood prevention and 
control, also recommends the building of large reservoirs on 
the headwaters of Allegheny River. Little has apparently come 
out of this report, other than a better comprehension of the 
whole subject. 

Erosion. During a downpour, the raindrops as they strike 
the earth loosen the particles of soil and in a heavy shower even 
move pebbles. A very small part of the soil enters into sohi- 
tion in the pure rain water, but a larger portion is mechanically 
held in suspension by the water as it flows off in muddy rills. 
As these rills unite in swiftly moving torrents, they push and 
roll along larger particles, carrying them into creeks and rivers. 

1 Morgan, Arthur E., "Report of the Chief Engineer of the Miami Con- 
servancv' District," 1916. 

2 Alvord, John W., and Burdiclc, Chas. B., on "Flood Protection," 1913, 
and "Flood ReUef," 1916. 

3 Pittsburgh Flood Commission, Report, 1911, pp. 253; appendix, 452. 
Illustrated with diagrams, maps, and views. 


Thus, following the rainstorm, we have not only an increase in 
the volume of flow but a muddied condition of water which testi- 
fies to the movement of earth material. As the water in the 
stream subsides it tends to become clearer and there are left 
along the streams many low beds or bars of sand or silt showing 
that the river water, with its diminished volume and lessened 
velocity, was not able to carry away all that it had picked up. 

Observation reveals the fact that the power of water to erode 
and carry away small particles does not vary directly as its 
velocity. That is to say, a stream flowing twice as rapidly is 
not limited to twice as much material, but on the contrary, when 
the velocity is doubled there may be thirty or forty times as 
much solid matter held in suspension. Thus a slight change 
in the velocity of the flowing water makes a great difference as 
regards the load it can handle. While the water on one side of 
the stream may be cutting into the overhanging bank, on the 
opposite side, where it is moving more slowly, it may be drop- 
ping some of the load it picked up a few hundred yards above. 

Studies have been made of the behavior of water in this regard. 
Perhaps the most elaborate have been those of G. K. Gilbert 
on "The Transportation of Debris by Running Water," pub- 
lished by the United States Geological Survey in 1914. Mr. 
Gilbert built small flumes, some with glass sides, in which he 
could observe and measure the erosive action of streams of 
water of known velocity. He fed into this water particles of 
determined size and noted the behavior of these, feteding each 
stream until it became clogged. He found that the load travels 
less rapidly than the current and that a mixture of coarse and 
fine particles can be more readily transported than those of 
single size alone. The tentative conclusions concerning the 
laws governing the movement are found to be conflicting but 
the old rule that the quantity varies as the sixth power of 
velocity was discovered to pertain not to the quantity of mate- 
rial but rather to the maximum size of the pebbles. 

The prevention of erosion involves many problems of hydrau- 
lics and reaches out into various flelds of engineering. Begin- 
ning with the uplands of a river basin, as stated on the previous 
page, it is of the highest importance to preserve a suitable cover- 

RUx\-OFF 99 

ing of vegetation on the soils which are easily eroded. Pro- 
ceeding down the watercourses, it becomes necessary to protect 
the banks from being worn away at points where the velocity 
is greatest. For this purpose stone is used wherever possible, 
but in many localities it is not practicable to obtain suitable 
rock. Here the protection of the banks from erosion is achieved 
largely by ingenious methods of placing and holding the brush 
or small trees which usually grow in the vicinity. An illustra- 
tion of one of the methods of protecting soft banks from erosion 
is shown in Plate IV. C, consisting of wing dams of brush built 
to extend out from the levees along Colorado River below Yuma, 

The use of brush in the form shown in the illustration or 
woven into mattresses has been brought to a high degree of 
perfection; willows, cottonwoods, and other small trees have 
been utilized to a degree such that the material for building 
the mattresses has been largely consumed and it is becoming 
quite difficult and expensive to secure an adequate supply. 
Under these conditions a substitute has been sought in the appli- 
cation of concrete. {Engineering NewSy December 7, 1916, p. 
1094.) There is need of continued study and research — to be 
followed by the use of inventive genius — into the factors which 
control the erosion and transportation of earth or rock parti- 
cles and into the mechanical devices for economically maintain- 
ing the banks of the rivers subject to destructive floods. 

Sedimentation. The deposit of sediment which has been 
eroded from the land higher up on the stream may be a benefit 
or an injury. Primarily, nearly all of the rich lowlands have 
been formed in this way. Along the rivers of antiquity, the 
Nile and the Euphrates, all agriculture and even civilization 
itself came from these river deposits. After a flood subsides the 
slime or sand left on the flood plain utilized for farms or other 
industries is apt, in a humid country, to be more of a detriment 
or nuisance than a benefit. There are conditions, even here, 
however, when sedimentation can be turned to useful ends. By 
controlling the access of muddy water to low-lying lands it has 
been found possible, for example, in England to build up the 


level of the land by a process known as "warping" and to pro- 
duce fields of great fertility. 

Another practical use of the silt carried by rapidly flowing 
water is in vogue in the arid region. There where canals and 
ditches have been built for many miles through sandy soils, 
much of the water, if clear, is lost in transit during the first 
few months or seasons after the canal is dug because of the 
rapid percolation into the porous bed of the canal. The water 
thus disappearing may later reappear in the form of seepage to 
the injury of low-lying farm lands. To prevent such seepage, 
efforts are made to seal up the bottom of the canals by bringing 
in muddy water or by making muddy the natural clear water by 
the addition of clay. Such an effort is shown in PL IV. D, 
where silt is being added to the clear water of canals taken from 
Snake River. This is being conducted through many miles of 
canals built in the sandy Minidoka Project in southern Idaho. 
The losses from these canals have been a serious matter in that 
the water is not only needed elsewhere but, escaping from the 
canals, has ruined many otherwise good agricultural lands. 

As shown in the view, the muddy water is being brought in a 
flume from which it spills into the clear water of the canal and 
is swept along downstream. The particles slowly settle to the 
bottom of the canal, forming a thin coating of slime, and grad- 
ually work their way between the sand particles, plugging up 
the pores and reducing the water loss. (See also page 218.) 
The success attained here should stimulate additional research 
into the law governing such phenomena. 

Debris Problems. In certain portions of the country there 
are special problems closely connected with erosion and sedi- 
mentation following flood conditions. In particular, in Califor- 
nia, the debris which has resulted from hydraulic mining has 
introduced situations peculiarly difficult. Here man in his 
efforts to secure gold has disturbed the otherwise stable condi- 
tions and has initiated changes which have led to widespread 
injury. The ancient sands and gravels in the upper mountain 
valleys which have remained in place for ages have been moved 
by the hydraulic "giants" of the miners and left in such posi- 
tion that the occasional floods are able to sweep them down over 

RUN-OFF 101 

the lowlands, choking up the streams and encroaching upon 
thousands of acres of land formerly valuable for agriculture. 
Here is thus presented an important series of questions inti- 
mately connected with the development of the waters and other 
mineral resources of the country. The research conducted by 
Dr. G. K. Gilbert, noted on page 98, was undertaken largely 
with a view to aiding in the solution of some of these engineering 
problems, where the economical conduct of one operation — that 
of mining — has resulted in great losses to agriculture. By 
obtaining more complete knowledge it is possible that a satis- 
factory adjustment may be worked out. 

Varying Quantities. The measurement of the amount of 
water which flows in the principal streams and the resulting 
data form the foundation upon which are based most of the 
plans and estimates for investment of public or private funds 
in projects for irrigation, drainage, hydraulic power and river 
control. The quantity available for use for storage fluctuates 
greatly from day to day and from season to season. The engi- 
neer in preparing his plans must act the part of a prophet ; he 
must anticipate conditions which will exist not merely tomorrow 
but next year and for many years. The question is as to how 
he can safely make these long-range predictions. 

The permanence of natural phenomena is the foundation on 
which the engineer builds. He assumes not only that the sea- 
sons will follow in order as they have always done, but that the 
supplies of water will fluctuate about as they have in the past 
and within about the same limits. This being the case, the 
obvious thing to be done is to ascertain, if practicable, what has 
happened in the past, what is taking place now, and especially 
what are the limits of quantity of flow of the streams at different 
times and places. The more complete is this knowledge of past 
and present stream behavior, the stronger may be our reliance 
upon the anticipation for the future. 

It has been shown on previous pages that the amount of water 
running off the land is the resultant of many forces each acting 
more or less independently. We can imagine an extraordinarily 
heavy rain culminating in a series of great storms, in which all 
of the natural conditions for producing a flood are at their 


maximum. Such conditions may appear once in twenty years 
or once in a century, but the probabilities of their occurring in 
any one year are small. On the other hand, we can take the 
mimimum condition of rainfall with maximum wind movement 
and temperature occurring in such a way as to produce extraor- 
dinary droughts. The probabilities also of these occurring in 
any one season are small. If we have records for a century or 
even for several centuries and find that neither of the theoreti- 
cal extremes has been reached, we are reasonably safe in limit- 
ing our computations to what has actually occurred. More 
than this, it has become apparent through studies of the few 
available long records that the extremes of flood and drought 
are usually to be found in a period of less than fifty years. 
When still shorter periods are taken, however, there can be 
less and less confidence in using these as giving the limiting 
conditions in our estimates for the future. 

Data Available. It is obviously not practicable to wait for 
half a century or even for a decade to obtain data on river flow 
in order to prepare computations for projects of hydraulic 
power or for works for conservation of water by storage. If 
these are to be built for municipal supply, for irrigation, or for 
industrial development, it is usually necessary that work be 
begun within a few months from the time it is actually deter- 
mined upon. The moment it becomes evident that such enter- 
prise is practicable, steps should be taken to make measurements 
of the flow of the streams which are to be utilized, ascertaining 
first what observations may have already been made, prepara- 
tory to supplementing these. 

Fortunately certain governmental agencies, national and 
state, directed by men of wide vision, have anticipated some of 
these future needs and have entered upon research designed to 
meet the demands which are likely to be made as the resources 
of the country are developed. The most notable of these under- 
takings has been that of the United States Geological Survey, 
initiated under Major John W. Powell, which began in 1888 to 
ascertain the extent to which the arid regions might be reclaimed. 
In this work has been included the preparation of topographic 
maps of the catchment basins of the streams and also of prob- 

RUN-OFF 108 

able reservoir sites, as well as of measurements of the streams. 
This latter research into water supply was extended to the 
eastern states to furnish data needed in considering possible 
water power development, river control, drainage and other 
needs. Cooperation in these investigations has been had with 
other bureaus of the government and with some of the states, so 
that there are now available data concerning many of the impor- 
tant streams. The facts at hand, however, are by no means 
adequate to answer all of the questions which occur to the engi- 
neer, investor, or man interested in public affairs. There is 
need of extending these studies and of taking up even more 
thorough research in connection with special problems. 

When the systematic work of stream measurement was initi- 
ated in 1888 there were few instruments for river measurement 
and no general understanding as to the kind of facts to be col- 
lected or the way in which these should be preserved and pre- 
sented. In the thirty years which have elapsed there have been 
developed certain more or less arbitrary ways of procedure, 
these having been modified from time to time to meet the needs 
of the engineers.^ 

It is generally agreed that the data most readily obtained and 
which have greatest value are those as to the amount of water 
which passes a certain selected point near which the water is to 
be used or stored. The choice of point of measurement is gov- 
erned not only by the use to which the facts are to be put, but 
also by the surrounding conditions which affect the accuracy of 
the result. Often it happens that because of obstruction in the 
stream, measurements cannot be made at the desired point and 
can be satisfactorily had only at locations some distance above 
or below. 

Computations of the flow of a stream and of its diurnal or 
seasonal fluctuations are usually based on systematic observa- 
tions of the height of the water. It is generally assumed that 
with increase of quantity the river surface will rise and with 
decrease it will fall. The principal exceptions to this rule are 
those which arise from the gradual filling up or the erosion of 

1 Hoyt, J. C, and Grover, N. C, "River Discharge," several editions, 


the bed of the stream or by temporary obstructions such as 
ice jams. Also it is assumed that as the river rises it will flow 
more rapidly and as it goes down the speed will decrease. The 
quantity or rate of flow is determined by ascertaining the verti- 
cal area or cross section of the stream taken at right angles 
to its line of flow and by multiplying this area by the speed with 
which the water passes. If the ordinary British units are used, 
the results of the flow will be stated in cubic feet per second. A 
stream having a width of 100 feet and an average depth of 5 
feet will have a cross section of 500 square feet. If the water 
passes this cross section at the rate of 2 linear feet per second 
of time then the stream will be flowing at the rate of 1,000 
cubic feet per second, abbreviated to second-feet or even to 

The cross section of the stream can be obtained by direct 
measurement of its width by a suitable steel tape or chain and 
of its depth by sounding with a pole or other device. The ascer- 
taining of the velocity of flow, however, is not such a simple mat- 
ter because of the fact that the water is not moving with the 
same velocity in the center and at the sides, or at the top and 
bottom. It is moving most swiftly near the center a little below 
the surface and is nearly motionless near the sides or may even 
have a return eddy on the margin. To make measurements of 
discharge, it is evident that a suitable cross section should be 
chosen where the water, undisturbed by obstacles, is moving as 
quietly and in as nearly a straight course as possible. Such 
places are difficult to find and usually choice must be made of 
the locality offering the fewest objectionable features. The 
river channel usually offers an alternation of broad shallow 
places where water is rippling over the stones, which below this 
may be a deep pool with more or less dead water at the bottom. 

Units of Watee Measurement. In discussing the quantity 
of water which occurs in the streams or which may be held by 
storage and measured out for various purposes, different units 
are employed. The metric system is in quite general use, but 
unfortunately in English-speaking countries adherence is still 
had to the old system of measurements — the gallon^ being habit- 

1 There are two gallons in common use, the standard United States 

RUN-OFF 105 

ually employed, for example, in domestic and municipal supply, 
and the cubic foot for other purposes. Considering still larger 
volumes of water, particularly in connection with the irrigation 
of agricultural lands, the acre-foot is employed, that is, the 
quantity of water which will cover one acre, or 43,560 square 
feet, to a depth of one foot. 

A stream discharging one cubic foot of water per second will 
in the course of a day of 24 hours (60 x 60 x 24) discharge 
86,400 cubic feet or very nearly 2 acre- feet (1.98). Thus there 
is a convenient connection in that a stream of this size flowing 
continuously delivers very nearly 2 acre-feet per day. The 
cubic contents of a reservoir, if stated in acre-feet, can be 
readily converted to a rate of flow, that is to say, a reservoir 
containing, say, 10,000 acre-feet, if drawn down at a steady 
rate through 100 days, would yield a flow of nearly 50 cubic 
feet per second ; conversely, a stream which is flowing at a rate 
of 100 cubic feet per second through a month of thirty days 
will deliver 6,000 acre-feet. 

In stating the quantity of the flowing water, the cubic foot 
per second has largely superseded the gallon. In estimates of 
storage capacity reservoirs, or use in city supply, the gallon 
still survives, though when the figures run into the millions, the 
term "million-gallon" has been used. In the western part of 
the United States, where the hydraulic miners made measure- 
ments of flow of water adapted to their needs, the so-called 
"miner's inch" was devised, this term being perpetuated by the 
irrigators, who frequently obtained water from the old hydrau- 
lic workings. The miner's inch is supposed to be the continu- 
ous flow of water issuing from an orifice of one square inch 
section. This quantity, however, varies widely according to 
the character or thickness of the plank or plate in which the 
opening is made and according to the height of water above the 

gallon contains 331 cubic inches, or 8^4 pounds avoirdupois, of distilled 
water. This is almost exactly equivalent to a cylinder 7 inches in diameter 
and 6 inches in height. It equals 3.78 liters. The British imperial gallon, 
referred to in English publications, contains 10 pounds of distilled water, or 
277 cubic inches, or 4.54 liters, and is almost exactly 1.3 United States 
gallons. The cubic foot contains 7.48 United States gallons. A cubic foot 
of pure water weighs 64.2 pounds and contains 28.3 liters. 


opening. Thus the miner's inch, while convenient under cer- 
tain conditions, is an uncertain quantity; it has been defined 
in some of the western states as a fiftieth part of a cubic foot 
per second, in other states as a fortieth part/ 

Station Equipment. As soon as a location for river meas- 
urement has been selected and a temporary or permanent gage 
has been established, the next step to be taken toward making 
systematic measurements is to properly equip the locality for 
convenience in handling the apparatus which may be used. 
There are various methods of making the measurements and 
upon the selection of one or another of the methods depend the 
character of the equipment and the accuracy of the result. As 
a rule, however, the current meter is generally employed, al- 
though occasionally surface or submerged floats are used. In 
handling the current meter the operations may be performed 
by wading into the stream, if small, or by holding it from a boat 
or bridge. Boats, however, are often dangerous in high water 
und bridges not always conveniently located, so that recourse is 
had to a cable suspended across the stream, from which can 
be hung a small box or car in which the hydrographer can sit. 

The height of the water is ascertained by reading some form 
of gage of which there are many kinds ; the most common being 
a vertical post marked to feet and tenths or a scale attached 
to a bridge pier. Where the shores are sloping, it has been 
found most convenient to have an inclined gage following the 
slope of the bank. Other schemes are also in use ; in some cases 
a weight is lowered from a bridge until it touches the surface of 
the water and the distance is read downward from some fixed 
point. Occasionally a well or pit is dug near the river and con- 
nected with it by a horizontal pipe below low water level so that 
the water will rise and fall in the well with that in the river. 

There are various types of automatically recording gages, 
many of these dependent upon the movement of a float in such 
a well connected with the river. As the float rises or falls it 
causes a pencil or pen to move across a sheet or dial driven by a 
clock so that the time and amount of movement can be readily 

1 Hoyt, John C, and Grover, N. C, "River Discharge," John Wiley & 
Sons, New York, various editions, illustrated. 

Plate V. A. 
MeasuriDg flow of water in Ironstone Canal, near MontrOGc, Colorado. 

Plate V. B. 

Weir for measuring water in one of the canals of the Wllllston Project, 

North Dakota. 

Plate V. C. 

A plains reservoir site, that uttltied for the Cold Springs Reservoir of 

the Umatilla Project, Oregon. 

Plate V. D. 
A reservoir built on the plains or open valley lands, tiecanse of lack of 
adequate natural storage sites in the luountains. Deer Flat Reservoir, 
Boise Project, Idaho. 

RUN-OFF 107 

seen. On many streams there is a distinct diurnal fluctuation in 
the quantity, noted by the self-recording gage, but often over- 
looked by the ordinary observer. 

There are usually few people residing near the point where 
it is desired to make measurements of river flow for purposes 
of water storage, as these places are mainly in or near high 
mountains. It is thus frequently a matter of considerable diffi- 
culty to secure systematic and reliable readings at reasonable 
cost. Many of the observers become careless and some have 
been known to write up the book at the end of the week. To 
guard against this it is desirable to have an inspector visit the 
locality at irregular intervals. Frequently it becomes necessary 
to abandon a point because of the unreliability of gage readers, 
or where it is too expensive to install automatic devices. 

Discharge Measurements. The most simple method of 
ascertaining the rate of flow of a stream is by observing the 
speed with which some floating object passes downstream. For 
example, a course along the side of the stream may be laid off 
with a length of 100 feet. The time of passage of a floating 
log may be taken from the upper to the lower end of measured 
course. Smaller pieces of wood or metallic floats may be used 
for this purpose, being placed at different distances across the 
stream so as to obtain the velocity near the sides as well as 
near the center. Inasmuch as the surface has greater velocity 
than the lower portion of the water, the average speed can be 
better determined by causing the floats to ride upright in the 
water by loading one end until it sinks nearly to the bottom. 
These vertical floats, if well placed, give nearly the average 
speed of the stream. 

To obtain more accurate facts as to the velocity at all points, 
it is desirable to have an instrument which can be placed in 
any part of the current. Such a device is shown in PI. V. A, 
this being one of the current meters in use by the Water Re- 
source Branch of the United States Geological Survey and also 
by the United States Reclamation Service. This consists of a 
revolving head or wheel held in such a way as to turn in the 
moving water. The greater the speed of water the more rapid 
the revolutions of the wheel. 


The current meter can be used in a number of ways. For 
example, it can be held at points systematically located across 
the stream near the bottom, center and top. From the average 
of these readings the mean velocity may be determined. The 
method of use depends to a large extent upon the size of the 
river and the device employed for getting at the stream. In 
very small streams it is possible to wade out in them and hold 
the meter in the desired location. On larger streams if there is 
a small bridge conveniently located, as shown in PI. V. A, it is 
possible to locate the meter wherever desired and to move it 
from side to side as well as up and down. In working from a 
car or box suspended from a cable, it is less convenient to move 
sideways and so the method employed is usually to measure the 
velocity of several vertical sections and to compute the dis- 
charge of each independently of the others. 

The engineer in charge of the work visits the locality at 
intervals of a few weeks, checks up the daily record made by 
the observer, verifies some of the readings and makes a measure- 
ment of the discharge to ascertain whether the relation as pre- 
viously established between the quantity of flow and gage height 
remains unchanged. If there is a marked discrepancy then a 
new rating table must be made. 

The record of daily observations of height of water is usually 
so prepared that the equivalent discharge can be entered upon 
it. This quantity is obtained from the rating table prepared 
from the occasional measurements of flow. Such record for 
each day in the month or year enables a study to be made of the 
maximum, minimum and average discharge. 

Wherever practicable to do so, installation is made of other 
permanent measuring devices. With some of these it is usually 
possible to obtain more accurate results than through the occa- 
sional current meter measurements which supplement the obser- 
vations of river height. Where the stream is small the entire 
flow can be put through a carefully constructed module or over 
a weir such as is shown in PI. V. B, installed on one of the dis- 
tributing canals of an irrigation system. For accuracy they 
should be constructed in form similar to those for which experi- 
mental data are available. Large weirs may be constructed 

RUN-OFF 109 

across streams of considerable size and automatic devices 
installed for recording the height of water on these weirs, thus 
giving continuous record of flow. 

Other methods of measuring flowing water have been devised, 
such as the Venturi^ meter invented by Clemens Herschel, or 
the Pitot tube. Colors have also been employed and observa- 
tions made by the eye as to the length of time required for a few 
drops of coloring fluid to reach a given point. ( See Engineer- 
ing News, September 23, 1915, p. 617.) Chemical methods have 
been successfully tried using salt, a suitable amount of which is 
injected into the water, tests being made from time to time of 
the effluent. The speed of flow is thus found by direct observa- 
tions. Indirect methods are also employed as, for example, by 
comparing the strength of a salt solution flowing into the stream 
at a certain rate with the degree of salinity of the stream as 
shown by samples taken at a lower point. 

The velocity with which the stream flows is also computed in 
less obvious fashion by using somewhat empirical formulae based 
on measurements of the slope or fall of the surface of the flow- 
ing water. The simplest of these formulae is that of Chezy, pub- 
lished in 1775. In this the velocity is stated as the product of 
a constant, C, multiplied into the square root of the product of 
the figures representing the slope times the figures expressing 
the shape of the channel or V=C\/RS. 

The Chezy formula was developed by Kutter and others into 
a somewhat complicated form in which the factor of roughness 
of the bed of the stream has been expressed by the letter n. 
Various values have been found for n and these, when inserted in 
the formulae have enabled a close approximation at the veloc- 
ity and consequently the discharge of the stream. For example, 
in a smooth, cement-lined canal such as is shown in PL XII. A, 
the value of n is as low as 0.01, while for a clean earth canal it 
may be 0.02 and so on up, depending upon the fact as to whether 
the natural channel is cut in sand, gravel, or bowlders. 

There is need of continued research and exercise of ingenuity 
in perfecting these methods for quick and fairly accurate meth- 
ods of ascertaining the flow of water under the various condi- 

1 Merriman, Mansfield, 'Treatise on Hydraulics," 1912, p. 89. 


tions which are encountered in the investigation of the water 
resources of the country. Many plans for future use of the 
water are dependent upon the obtaining of such data; in turn 
these rest upon the ability of the engineer to achieve the desired 
results economically. 

Fluctuating Flow. In projects for larger use or develop- 
ment of water resources, especially by storage in reservoirs, it 
is of great importance to study in advance as completely as 
possible the time and quantity of the fluctuation of flow of 
natural streams upon which dependence is placed. It is found, 
as a rule, that these changes are of many kinds; for example, 
there is a diurnal wave, in streams coming from the high moun- 
tains, when the warm sunlight of the day melts the snow and 
causes an increase in discharge with corresponding check dur- 
ing the cool night. The effect of the heat of one day may give 
rise to a maximum flow, possibly at midnight or early morning 
of the next day, at some point lower down the stream. There is 
also the variation in quantity from day to day, resulting from 
the constant changes in temperature, wind movement, and pre- 

More important is the seasonal change; the streams usually 
have a flood stage in the spring and decrease to a minimum in 
August or September. Each year also shows a marked differ- 
ence from that of the preceding, so that in any study of the 
behavior of streams it is necessary to have observations con- 
tinued through a long period of time. It is probable that in the 
course of forty or fifty years most of the peculiarities of any 
given stream will be developed, unless radical changes are made 
on the watershed by cutting the trees or by cultivation. 

There is a notable difference in the behavior of rivers in dif- 
ferent parts of the country. Those of the humid east, with 
rainfall fairly uniformly distributed throughout the year, are 
not subject to fluctuations relatively as great as those in the 
arid west, where the spring flood may be succeeded by complete 
drought. (See page 94.) 

Range of Fluctuation. Computations of run-off when 

iSee "River Discharge," by Hoyt and Grover, 4th edition. Figs. 37 
and 38. 

RUN-OFF 111 

stated in tabular form by days, months, and years, permit com- 
parison to be made and conclusions to be drawn concerning 
streams in different parts of the country. The streams issuing 
from the high summits of the western mountains are quite simi- 
lar in character to the rivers of the humid region because of the 
fact that these mountains, rising to great height, receive a rela- 
tively large precipitation, and the hill slopes, covered often 
with forests, are more humid than the surrounding country. In 
their lower reaches, however, the western rivers take on a dif- 
ferent character and the waters coming from the hills may dis- 
appear into the broad sandy beds during the extreme heat of 
summer. Thus the fluctuations of these streams at lower points 
may be from zero almost to infinity, in that an extraordinary 
cloudburst may send down such quantities of water as to com- 
pletely overflow the banks and drown the adjacent country. 

In the case of rivers of a humid region there is a more steady 
flow. Their beds rarelj'^, if ever, become completely dry, but 
their flow continues until it finally reaches the ocean. Thus the 
minimum is considerably above zero and the maximum, on the 
other hand, is rarely as high as in the case of the erratic streams 
of the West. Because of this small range of flow, the waters 
as a whole are clearer as there is less violent attack on the beds 
and banks, such as characterizes the sudden floods of the arid 
region. The water of eastern streams, as a rule, is considerably 
softer than that of the western and is more nearly free from the 
so-called alkali which plays such a large part in problems of 
conservation in dryer areas. 

Because of the fact that the natural or unregulated streams 
fluctuate thus widely, it is desirable to ascertain the range of 
these fluctuations for various periods of time, such as the day, 
month or year. The regular diurnal changes as described on 
page 110 are usually small, but regular. The monthly range 
may be quite considerable. It is usual to state the maximum 
and minimum quantities which occur on any one day or shorter 
period of time in each month, and also to average the figures for 
the entire month, giving the rate of flow in terms of cubic feet 
per second. 

It is also desirable to compare the quantity of water deliv- 


ered during a month with the area of country from which the 
water is derived, or in other words, to divide the average run- 
off for the month by the number of square miles drained. This 
gives a method of comparing one drainage area with another. 
From a mountainous area the run-off per square mile may be 
from 5 to 20 cubic feet per second per square mile. Going 
downstream, however, and including larger and larger catch- 
ment areas or more nearly flat land on which the rainfall is less, 
the proportion rapidly decreases until near the mouth of the 
river the run-off per square mile drained may be a tenth of the 
rate found above. (See also page 94.) 

Depth of Run-Off. For certain purposes it is also con- 
venient to compare the run-off during various ^^ears from cer- 
tain drainage areas in terms of depth over the area. For exam- 
ple, from the tributary to a given reservoir, the amount of 
water which flows into the reservoir may be stated in depth in 
inches and thus be compared directly with the depth of rainfall. 
The rain gages may show during a given month that 3 inches of 
rain fell. The run-off received in the reservoir or the amount 
which flowed in the stream, if all caught and put back in the 
catchment basin, would perhaps cover an equivalent flat area to 
the depth of one inch ; thus a third of the rainfall was available 
for storage. 

These several quantities, the maximum, minimum, and mean 
daily discharge in cubic feet per second ; the quantity per square 
mile drained and the depth of run-off in inches are usually com- 
puted for each month of the year for all of the points of meas- 
urement on any given stream — thus enabling direct comparison 
and a study of the quantities which exist. 

Ordinary and Average Flow. The item of most importance 
in considering many of the problems of water power or of con- 
servation by storage is as to the average or ordinary flow of a 
stream which may be depended upon. It is, of course, necessary 
also to know the maximum as noted above and to make suitable 
allowance for the extraordinary floods; also to ascertain 
whether at certain seasons the stream will probably drop to a 
minimum or become dry ; but throughout all the computations, 
the ordinary condition is of prime interest. In this connection. 

RUN-OFF 118 

it is important to point out the difference which exists between 
the average flow and the ordinary flow. In streams having 
relatively small fluctuation, the average and the ordinary flows 
are practically the same, but in streams of erratic behavior, with 
floods which may occur in rapid succession during a single 
month and not again for years, the average flow is considerably 
higher than the ordinary and a statement of the average may be 

The ordinary or natural flow are terms in common use and 
like many such expressions must be carefully explained in order 
to prevent misunderstanding. Various definitions have been 
attempted of which that given by Robert E. Horton in Engi- 
neering Record t May 2, 1914, p. 495, is probably the most use- 
ful. He gives it as the most uniform or median stage and 
arrives at it by taking the flow for each day in the year, arrang- 
ing these quantities in their order of magnitude. Then it is 
evident that the middle or median quantity in the table will 
represent the ordinary stage or discharge, as the case may be. 
That this is the most usual stage or discharge is evident, since 
the stream is just as likely to be higher as lower. As to ordi- 
nary high water, and ordinary low water, the finding of satis- 
factory definitions may appear a little more diflfcult. Mr. 
Horton has, however, used the following definitions for the 
terms : 

"The ordinary stage is the median stage." 

"Ordinary high water is the median point for stages or discharges 
of the stream which are above the median stage or discharge for the 
whole record." 

"Ordinary low water is the median point for stages or discharges 
of the stream which are below the median stage for the whole 

"As a rule^ the ordinary stage of a stream is less than the average 
or mean stage : as a rule a stream is below its mean stage more than 
one-half of the time and above its mean stage less than one-half of 
the time." 

There has been as yet no general agreement among engineers 
with reference to the definition of ordinary flow, and the term 
"natural" flow has been used synonymously. It has been given 


interpretation by the courts at various times, as noted in the 
"Cyclopaedia of Law," to the effect that "the natural flow is the 
quantity of water ordinarily flowing in the stream at the times 
when its volume is not increased bv unusual freshets or rains." 
Natural and ordinary flow are in some cases, at least, used 
synonymously. Thus in 67 Neb. 325, "Hall at most, as a 
riparian owner, was entitled to only the ordinary and natural 
flow of the stream." 

Another method of ascertaining the ordinary flow is to 
arrange the table of daily discharges, listing them in the order 
of magnitude, then divide this table into four parts, taking the 
average or middle half of the values listed. A third method con- 
sists of simply finding the average of the quantities in the middle 

In order to illustrate the difference in the results obtained by 
these various methods, the following figures have been prepared 
for two of the important streams on the Canadian boundary in 
northern Montana. One of these, the St. Mary River, rises 
in the Glacial National Park of Montana and has a relatively 
steady flow. There are, however, occasional floods which tend 
to increase the average. The other stream, the Milk River, 
rises in more open country and does not have the steady flow 
characteristic of streams but depends for its supply largely 
upon occasional storms. Thus the flow is more irregular and 
the influence of the erratic floods is shown in raising the average. 

The ordinary flows tabulated below have been computed under 
the direction of N. C. Grover, by three slightly different meth- 
ods, described above, as follows : 

First, by what may be known as Horton's method (R. E. 
Horton, Engineering Record, May 2, 1914, p. 495), the result 
is the median value as described above. 

Second, which may be known as the middle half method, the 
result is the average of the values in the middle half of the values 
listed; an adaptation from rules in Rankine's "Manual of Civil 

Third, consists of simply finding the average of the quantities 
in the middle third. 

In each method it is necessary to list the values for a year in 

RUN-OFF 115 

their order of magnitude, or else determine their frequency 
between limits selected arbitrarily. The results follow : 

1. St. Mary River near Cardston, Canada, 1910. 

1. Ordinary flow by Horton's method 700 sec. -ft. 

2. Ordinary flow by middle half method 729 sec.-ft. 
8. Ordinary flow by middle third method 723 sec.-ft. 
4. Mean annual flow as published 917 sec.-ft. 

2. Milk River at Milk River, Canada, 1913. 

1. Ordinary flow by Horton's method 69 sec.-ft. 

2. Ordinary flow by middle half method 68 sec.-ft. 

3. Ordinary flow by middle third method 65 sec.-ft. 

4. Mean annual flow as published 155 sec.-ft. 

3. Milk River at Havre, Montana, 1910. 

1. Ordinary flow by Horton's method 88 sec.-ft. 

2. Ordinary flow by middle half method 46 sec.-ft. 

3. Ordinary flow by middle third method 87 sec.-ft. 

4. Mean annual flow as published 148 sec.-ft. 

The ordinary monthly flow for St. Mary River at Inter- 
national Boundary and Kimball has also been computed. The 
records used were for 1904 to 1908 and 1910 to 1914. The 
month of January, 1904, was estimated at 200 second- feet, thus 
making available ten complete years. 

1. Ordinary flow by Horton's method 540 sec.-ft. 

2. Ordinary flow by middle half method 622 sec.-ft. 

3. Ordinary flow by middle third method 595 sec.-ft. 

4. Mean annual flow for ten years 939 sec.-ft. 

If reservoirs on a stream are so situated that they can receive 
the entire flow irrespective of time, then there is less importance 
attached to this difference between the average and ordinary 
flow, but if the floods must be conducted through canals or 
artificial structures, it can readily be appreciated that it is the 
ordinary flow which has value and for utilizing which plans may 
be developed. The erratic floods which tend to raise the aver- 
age are often of more injury than value and in any comparison 
of streams the inclusion of these in the averages may lead to 
fallacious conclusions. 


To illustrate, if we have two streams of approximately the 
same average flow we may find on analysis that on one of them 
practically all of the water occurs during one or two storms and 
for the greater part of the year the bed is dry. Under these 
conditions it may be practically impossible to utilize any con- 
siderable proportion of this average. On the other hand, the 
stream of about the same flow may have such regularity of 
behavior that the entire volume can be successfully handled. 
The difference between these streams will be brought out if, 
instead of depending upon the average, we have before us the 
ordinary flow, namely, that which is most usual and which in 
the case of the flashy stream may be very nearly zero, because 
the bed is dry for a great part of the year. 


Necessity. The ability to obtain enough water at the right 
time and place makes possible an increase of food supply, of 
population, and the development of many industries. Without 
water secured by storage it is impracticable for many communi- 
ties to increase and prosper or for men to find steady employ- 
ment in various industries. If there is not sufficient water dur- 
ing summer droughts, agricultural areas are abandoned and 
many mills are compelled to shut down, discharging the work- 
men temporarily. Important electric light plants operated by 
steam have been crippled at critical periods through lack of 
condensing water for their engines. As cities and industries 
grow there becomes a greater dependence upon an artificially 
regulated water supply. The investment of large sums of 
money in providing works for insuring a uniform or full amount 
of water at the proper time is one of the marks of advancing 

The primitive savages, appreciating the needs of water stor- 
age, enlarged or improved the water holes, or made cisterns. 
Among the oldest monuments of engineering skill are the works 
connected with water supply. Through all historic time there 
has been some progress, but the last two decades have been 
particularly notable for the great increase in number and size 
of storage works and in the larger application of engineering 
skill and appliances in building these. 

The storage of water is necessary for two contrasting condi- 
tions; first and primarily, to provide water when needed, and 
second, to hold back an excess which might be destructive. This 
latter use of storage on a large scale is comparatively recent, 
although from early times dykes and low dams were built to 
restrain flood water and in some cases large reservoirs were 


constructed to regulate floods. The systematic development of 
these restraining works for river regulation or control is now 
recognized as a matter vital to the future growth of the country. 

In Egypt large depressions in the desert near the valley of 
the Nile were utilized many thousands of years ago, the flood 
waters when in excess being conducted to low-lying reservoirs 
in order to prevent extremely high water from injuring the 
irrigated lands. In some cases it is probable that, as stated by 
Sir William Willcocks, portions of this excess water thus 
stored were returned to the river in time of low water. The 
modern British engineers in Egypt have studied the methods 
of these ancient and forgotten engineers and although conditions 
have changed somewhat, especially through cultivation of the 
bottoms of some of the old reservoir areas, — making it imprac- 
ticable to restore all of these older works, — yet similar enter- 
prises have been undertaken in holding back a certain portion 
of the flood in basins built in the main course or valley of the 
river itself. The lakes and swamps near the headwaters of the 
Nile are being explored with a view to regulating the outlets of 
the natural basins which exist there and to converting these 
basins into storage reservoirs. 

In the western part of the United States, particularly along 
the great Colorado River of the West, there are similar condi- 
tions where reservoirs may be built not only on the headwater 
streams but also at points lower down.^ To the west of the 
Colorado River in southern California is a deep depression 
extending about 800 feet below sea level, similar to the sunken 
valleys in the desert west of the Nile. The lands around this 
depression, lying both above and below sea level, known as the 
Imperial Valley, have been overflowed in past ages. At the 
present time they are being irrigated in part by the water of 
the Colorado River. The future development of this area to its 
full capacity is dependent upon water storage, not only to fur- 
nish a needed supply in years of scarcity, but for increased 
protection against floods such as have produced disastrous 
results in recent years. 

1 "Colorado River and its Utilization," by E. C. LaRue, U. S. G. S., 
Water Supply Paper No. 395, 1916. 


The effect of these floods in breaking over the river banks on 
the way to the Salton Sea, which occupies the bottom of the 
Imperial Valley, is shown in PL XVIII. B. This illustrates the 
condition of the farm lands which have been cut away in part by 
the uncontrolled waters. The deep, rich soil has been rapidly 
eroded into gorges of fifty feet or more in depth, thousands of 
acres being ruined. These flood waters are now usually con- 
trolled by dykes, but the ultimate solution of many difficulties 
and the realization of the largest opportunities will come from 
the consummation of well-considered plans of storage. 

Modern Methods. Recent progress along lines of water 
conservation by storage has resulted largely from the adoption 
of modern machinery and from the application of more highly 
developed principles of efficiency and economy in handling mate- 
rials. There are relatively few new principles involved, but the 
resulting structures are quite different in plan and appearance 
from those of olden times. The experience acquired in large 
numbers of works recently built has added greatly to the knowl- 
edge of the subject. The relatively few accidents or failures 
which have taken place — although disastrous — have served to 
shed light on many conditions which in previous years were not 
fully appreciated. 

The principal advances have been in the adoption of quicker 
and more economical methods of placing earth in dams and in 
protecting it from erosion ; also in methods of placing concrete 
and in the proportioning of the dimensions of dams, particularly 
those having an arched form or consisting of slabs or decks 
supported by buttresses. Here a wide diversity of practice is 
seen, accompanied by a rapid advance in economy of construc- 
tion. The demands made upon the hydraulic engineer have 
forced him to put into play all his ingenuity and to use to the 
utmost all his wits to meet the rapidly expanding range of uses 
of water. He is being called upon to solve more and more intri- 
cate problems growing out of the increasing density of popula- 
tion and the multiplication of industries. 

In the practice of his profession, especially in relation to the 
larger problems of storage, the engineer must have available the 
results of meteorological observation of the occurrence of water 


in the form of rain or snow, and must obtain data, as noted on 
page 54, as to the variations in precipitation which take place 
from day to day and from year to year, as well as to the re- 
sulting stream flow. He must consider the topography of the 
country and the possibility of building storage reservoirs to con- 
serve the supply ; he must be prepared to discuss the questions of 
river control, of erosion and sedimentation and of the use of 
water in domestic and municipal supplies, also in the production 
of power in manufacturing and for other purposes or necessities 
created by the ever growing needs of a civilized community. 

In earlier years when the sparse population was occupied 
mainly in agricultural pursuits and the industries were few, 
there was usually enough water and to spare, especially in the 
humid areas of Europe and America; no great difficulty was 
found in procuring ample drinking water and there was little 
interference of one community with another through pollution 
by discharging sewage or manufacturing wastes into the 
streams. With the rapid change from a rural to an urban 
population and with the growth of manufacturing centers, the 
question of obtaining adequate supplies has become more press- 
ing; joined with this have been conflicts between the diverse 
interests of manufacturing, power production and navigation. 
All of these changes call for more research, more detailed study 
of the data available and a larger application of the results in 
preparing engineering plans. 

Topography. The conditions which render storage feasible 
on a large scale are quite rare. There must necessarily be a 
combination of a broad basin or nearly flat valley, with a narrow 
outlet, so situated that an adequate supply of water can be 
brought to the basin. The proximity of suitable material with 
which to form a dam must be such that its cost in the dam as 
well as that of acquiring the necessary land and water must be 
within reasonable limits. This is quite unusual; out of a hun- 
dred localities where it is popularly supposed that water might 
be stored there are only a few which comply with all the require- 
ments of economv. 

In most cases the outlet to any broad, shallow valley is itself 
broad and the length of structure required to close this outlet 


may be too great to enable a dam to be built within the required 
cost. If the outlet to the valley is narrow it usually happens, 
from well-understood geological reasons, that the valley floor is 
so steep that a dam of prohibitive height will be required to 
hold back any considerable amount of water. If these condi- 
tions are favorable it usually happens that the location does 
not have a watershed large enough to furnish an adequate sup- 
ply of water or the site is too high above the surrounding coun- 
try to enable water to be brought to the basin. Again, if this 
rare combination of capacity of reservoir, short and low dam, 
and adequate supply of water exists, then comes the question 
of material for the dam and the cost of putting this in place, 
keeping this cost so low that the finished structure falls within 
the requirements of funds available. 

Mountain Storage. The conditions which have given rise 
to the mountains with their highland valleys are most favorable 
for the creation of reservoir sites ; hence the most striking exam- 
ples of storage works are to be found in a mountainous country. 
There is also usually ample good building material at hand and 
in some cases nature has already formed small lakes, particu- 
larly at the headwaters of the streams where glacial action has 
resulted in innumerable ponds. The outlets of some of these 
may be closed at relatively small expense and the level of the 
water surface raised, giving increased storage capacity. There 
are also many valleys which in former ages contained lakes; 
here the old, worn-down barriers can be restored at relatively 
small expense. The chief difficulty encountered in connection 
with these mountain reservoirs is that of securing an ample 
supply of water, because of the fact that the mountain valleys 
He at high altitudes, often hundreds of feet above the level of 
the main streams. 

The typical mountain reservoir site offers advantages in that 
rock suitable for masonry is usually found in the vicinity and 
the foundations for the dams are firmer than in the case of sites 
in the more open country. The loss by evaporation from the 
surface of the reservoir built in the mountains is usuallv small 
because of the prevailing low temperature. One of the largest 
and most economical of the mountain reservoir sites is Lake 


Tahoe, shown in PI. I. A. Another notable locality is Jackson 
Lake in Wyoming, shown in PL IV. B. This is south of Yellow- 
stone National Park and is at the head of Snake River. By 
building a dam 5,000 feet in length at the outlet, the United 
States Reclamation Service has made available a storage capa- 
city of 789,000 acre-feet at a cost of about a million dollars. 

Plains Storage. The rivers issuing from the mountains 
increase in volume as they descend, thus affording an ample sup- 
ply of water for storage in the lower courses. This condition is 
in striking contrast with the scanty amount available at the 
headwater basins. Because of this, it is often necessary to 
consider the question of water storage at points out on or adja- 
cent to the lower valleys or plains through which the rivers flow. 
The disadvantages, however, in these lower altitudes are usually 
great, because of the scarcity of good reservoir sites and of 
suitable material for building the impounding dams. The meth- 
ods to be employed and plans to be adopted are less obvious in 
connection with these lower reservoirs. When built, the loss by 
evaporation and seepage must be taken into account to a larger 
degree than in the case of the storage works at higher altitudes. 

Among the notable instances of plains reservoirs is the Deer 
Flat of the Boise Project, Idaho, built to hold the flood waters 
which occur below the upper mountain reservoirs. The flat 
itself was not particularly well adapted by nature for an arti- 
ficial lake, as it required several earth dams of considerable 
length to inclose the basin. One of these dams is shown in PL 
V. D. This dam is of earth, 7,200 feet long and 40 feet high, 
containing 1,207,670 cubic yards. 

Another plains site is that of the Cold Springs Reservoir of 
the Umatilla Project in Oregon. The view, PL V. C, does not 
give the impression of a favorable locality. It is simply a de- 
pression in a broad sagebrush-covered plain, and with a wide 
outlet. Yet this was the best place which could be found for the 
storage of the erratic floods of the Umatilla River. The seep- 
age losses are large and the basin is shallow — but in spite of 
these disadvantages, the reservoir is performing its part in the 
development of the country. 

Surveys. The first step to be taken in considering the prob- 


lem of water storage is that of a general reconnoissance of the 
whole country under consideration, including both mountains 
and valleys. If a good topographical .map, such as that pre- 
pared by the United States Geological Survey, is available, 
a great part of the time and expense of the reconnoissance may 
be saved. In any event, whether there is a map or not, the 
reconnoissance should be made by the best man available — one 
experienced not only in the larger details of construction but 
accustomed to form correct judgments as to topographic fea- 
tures and hydrographic conditions. It is largely upon the 
exercise of such judgment that the extent and character of 
future detailed surveys depend and the economical working out 
of any plan which may be adopted. It not infrequently happens, 
where the preliminary work was done by men inexperienced 
in the matter, that the wrong beginning has been made and 
unnecessary expenditures have been incurred, because in the 
preliminary study certain important features were not appre- 

When the general conditions, both of topography and hy- 
drography, of the river basin have been examined, it becomes 
necessary to prepare some definite estimates of the relative 
capacity and cost of various storage sites. Although it may be 
possible to judge by the eye something as to the relative value of 
various basins, yet in the mountains particularly, there are 
many optical illusions as regards slope. Carefully run lines of 
levels and topographical sketches are necessary to verify the 
first assumptions. It may be necessary to follow these first 
topographical maps with others even more detailed as the choice 
begins to narrow down to a few alternatives. The basin ulti- 
mately chosen should be mapped with a contour interval of at 
least 10 feet vertically and in some cases of a smaller scale of 
5 feet. It is important to know the capacity of the reservoir for 
each foot of water height and the corresponding area exposed to 

At the dam site where the heavy expenditure is to be made, 
there is need of even more careful topographic surveys. It 
usually happens that when the best basin has been chosen for 
a reservoir there is considerable latitude for judgment as to the 


location of the dam itself. A change of a few feet up- or 
downstream may involve notable increase or decrease in the 
quantity of material to be handled. The various possible loca- 
tions should be surveyed with such degree of care as to show 
contours at two-foot vertical intervals. On this map should be 
placed all facts connected with depth to bedrock or to imper- 
vious strata. Ample time should be allowed for making these 
topographic maps and related studies. Every dollar econom- 
ically spent on this work may result in a saving of $10 in con- 
struction. As a rule, too little time has been allowed for work 
of this kind, as it usually happens that when the people building 
the work have reached the point of making detailed surveys 
they are anxious to begin to assemble the construction plant. 
The engineer is thus often swept off his feet by the demand that 
work be begun and is not given the opportunity of thoroughly 
exploring the foundation and of considering the most economical 
method of handling the material available. 

The surveys and examinations of any proposed storage sys- 
tem and of the catchment area tributary to it will usually reveal 
the existence of several basins or depressions which may be con- 
verted into reservoirs. They should also show the character of 
material available for construction and the foundations upon 
which each proposed structure must be built. Having obtained 
these essential data, the next question for the consideration of 
the engineer and of the investor is as to the relative cost and 
permanence of the structures which may be needed to create 
the necessar}'^ water storage. 

Alternative Sites. It is usually necessary to examine a 
number of alternative locations for the site of the dam. Some- 
times there must be provided not only the principal dam at the 
main outlet of the valley or depression, but also a number of 
supplemental dams or dykes to raise the rim of the basin at 
various points. Even if there is only one gorge or narrow out- 
let where apparently the dam can be located, yet there are 
usually points, a short distance apart, where the underground 
conditions may be better than at others, although on the sur- 
face all look alike. This fact can be determined only by care- 
ful exploration, usually by digging test pits or by putting down 


drill holes. When the foundations are finally opened, condi- 
tions may be discovered which will force a relocation higher up 
or lower down in the gorge. 

If the foundations are found to consist of solid rock and there 
is ample similar good material in the vicinity, the structure may 
be designed to be built of ashlar or rubble masonry throughout. 
Usually, however, it is desirable to consider the practicability of 
building the works of concrete. With the recent developments 
in methods in the manufacture and use of cement, it frequently 
occurs that economy in construction can be secured by crush- 
ing the rock which formerly would have been used in ordinary 
masonry, and then making a relatively homogeneous mixture 
of concrete instead of attempting to quarry large blocks and 
lay each of these separately in a bed of mortar. 

Mat£eials. The essential features of any work for river 
regulation or for conservation of water by storage is the dam or 
barrier built to hold back the flow of water. This usually con- 
sists of a bank of earth or a wall of masonry or wood placed 
across a watercourse. With the development of modern 
machinery and appliances it is now possible to build dams of an 
almost infinite variety of materials and shapes; the principal 
question being as to the relative efficiency and economy' of each 
type. These facts are determined by the position of the struc- 
ture itself and particularly the character of the materials avail- 
able in the vicinity ; also to a large degree by the texture of the 
rocks or soil which occur at the place where the dam is to be 

As regards materials, earth or disintegrated rock may be 
considered as the most common. The word earth includes prac- 
tically all varieties of the softer matter composing the surface 
of the globe as distinguished from the firm rock. There is in 
reality no sharp line of distinction between earth or soil and 
rock; from the geological standpoint rock may be considered 
as including all of the mineral substances, hard and soft, which 
form the crust of the globe. It is this fact which gives rise to 
more or less controversy in construction work, and to avoid mis- 
understanding there should always be given a careful definition 
as to the way of distinguishing between rock and earth. From 


the scientific standpoint granite, sand, gravel and clay are rock ; 
but for engineering purposes it may be necessary to define earth 
as material which may be moved by any ordinary plow as dis- 
tinguished from firm rock which cannot be thus easily disturbed. 

The reason for this inability to distinguish clearly between 
earth and rock arises from the fact that most earths are formed 
by the disintegration of more solid rocks. As the decay pro- 
ceeds there is no sharp line of demarkation between the crum- 
bling rock and soft soil. On the other hand, the harder rocks are 
to a large extent formed of sand or clay which has been con- 
solidated in the course of ages. Thps while there may be no diffi- 
culty in deciding that a given substance is rock and that another 
is earth there are innumerable intermediate conditions where 
such classification is impracticable without some arbitrary 
definition agreed upon in advance, such as the plow test. 

In considering the materials used in building dams, we may 
start with the disintegrated rock in the form of clay, sand or 
gravel and consider as earth dams those which are built up by 
the proper arrangement or mixture of these substances. If we 
imagine that the individual particles become grouped or con- 
solidated into larger masses, we pass into the class of loose rock 
dams in which, as in the earth dams, stability is secured by each 
block or mass resting against and being held in place by its 
neighbor. The next step in evolution would consist in fitting 
together these loose masses and causing them to adhere to each 
other by suitable cementing substances, giving rise to rubble 
masonry or if the stones are carefully squared, to ashlar 
masonry. Again, if instead of fitting the stones together, we 
crush them to smaller size and then mix them with cementing 
material, we have the concrete structure. The latter substance, 
being semifluid, can be poured or molded into form and used 
under many conditions where earth or rock would be inadvis- 
able. We may also substitute timbers for masonry, building 
tight walls supported by suitable frames or even by a rock back- 
ing, thus having various combinations of wood, stone, earth, or 
cement. Metal also is used, both in sheets and in beams, replac- 
ing the older wooden dams and enabling structures of great size 
to be built with a high degree of economy. 

Plate VI. A. 
An unusually good dam site In a narrow granite ^rge with bedrocic a 
few feet below the surface. Site of the Pathfinder Dam on North Platte 
River, Wyoming. 

Site of Siioshone Dam, 

Plate VI. C. 

Showing highly tntlined strata of Bide 

Plate VI. D. 

Building; a dam of earth, showing core wall In center with earth banks 

above and below, to be widened until they join, coverlnfr the core wall; 

test pits on hillside in line of core wall; Strawberry Valley Dam, Utah, 

looking upstream. 


Each and all of the above*namcd substances and others such 
as brick or terra cotta have been employed in storage works, 
large and small. The question to be considered in each case 
is that of safety as well as efficiency and economy, both in 
construction and in later maintenance. 

Foundations. The character of the foundations largely 
determines the material to be used for a dam. It is obvious that 
on a soft base, heavy masonry cannot be readily used. The 
crucial point and the one where failure has usually taken place 
has been at the base. There the hydrostatic pressure is at its 
maximum and under a head of 100 feet or more, water finds 
its way through minute cracks or joints and exerts a pressure 
sufficient to disrupt the weaker rocks. The character and 
design of the dam are dependent largely upon the foundation, 
both as to its permeability and its strength in holding the 

As a rule the spot where the foundations are to be placed is 
concealed by overlying loose material. A few rare cases have 
been found where, in the case of some of the harder granites, 
stream erosion has laid the bottom bare and there is no dis- 
integration or weakening of the surface. Such a condition was 
found at the Pathfinder Dam in central Wyoming, where the 
North Platte River, as shown in PI. VI. A, had sawed its way 
through a rising block of granite and was flowing between 
granite walls over a granite bed covered to a depth of only a 
few feet with loose material which had fallen from the walls. 

Borings. Investigation has shown that throughout the arid 
west the streams have been choked with material which is washed 
in or has fallen from the sides so that the present bed is usually 
from 50 to 100 feet above the level at which the river flowed in 
earlier times, as shown in PI. VI. B. It is necessary to pene- 
trate this loose material and to ascertain before construc- 
tion exactly what are the conditions of the bottom and the 
side of the valley where a dam is to be placed. ' The primi- 
tive method of ascertaining these facts is to sink a well or shaft 
down to and into the bedrock. Usually, however, the inflow of 
water is so great that without powerful pumping machinery 
the digging of such a shaft is impossible. To overcome this 


difficulty the usual method is to drill holes of from two to six 
inches or more in diameter, such as those made by the ordinary 
well drills, and to carefully clean out each hole as it is cut down- 
ward, saving and studying the debris which comes from the 
bottom of the hole to ascertain the character of the material 
penetrated. Great skill is required in judging correctly as to 
whether the hole is penetrating solid material or is in loose rocks 
which have fallen into a depression. 

An improvement on the old-fashioned hand or churn drill 
is that of the rotating diamond or steel point which cuts an 
annular hole from which a core can be obtained. This core 
enables an expert to judge accurately as to the character of 
the material penetrated. In all cases, however, great care must 
be exercised to see that the drill is actually working in the solid 
rock and not in a great bowlder; for example, at the Shoshone 
Dam a granite bowlder over twenty feet in diameter was 
encountered; had the precaution not been observed of going 
forty feet or more into the rock the long solid core from the 
bowlder would have been considered as proof that bedrock had 
been reached. It so happened, however, that the drill at about 
the twentieth foot of penetration passed into sand and gravel 
and then again into granite which finally proved to be the real 

In planning the field research, drill holes must be placed at 
short intervals across the outlet of the valley, where the dam is 
to be placed, and up and down the stream far enough to deter- 
mine the character and slope of the underground layers of 
earth or rock. The holes also should be continued up on the 
hillsides until a place is reached above water level where pits 
or shafts can be sunk exposing the abutments on each side. 
It frequently happens that the rocks at the dam site are strati- 
fied and that water percolates along the bedding or through 
the joints. This condition must be thoroughly studied, as it 
affects the stability of any structure which may be built at 
this spot. It is possible to adopt methods which will render a 
dam reasonably tight, but for safety and economy of construc- 
tion it is far better to know and anticipate any unfavorable 


conditions than to attempt to rectify them after the structure 
has been built. 

The conditions which exist at the site of the Roosevelt Dam 
in Arizona are illustrated in PI. VI. C. There the gorge con- 
sists of stratified quartzite dipping upstream at a high angle. 
The cliffs afford excellent opportunities for quarries. The 
stratification of rock dipping toward the reservoir site was 
considered as being of advantage in that any leakage which 
might occur along the seams must necessarily flow uphill and 
be thus reduced in volume. There are, however, a number of 
faults or planes of fracture which intersect the rock at this 
place. The location of the dam, therefore, was considered with 
reference to these lines of weakness. 

The character of the foundations and of the rock or other 
substance to be used in building the dam determines to a large 
degree not only the ultimate cost and safety but also the imme- 
diate plan of operation and the kind of equipment to be used. 
Under ideal conditions where there is a firm, water-tight 
foundation, and solid rock to be had in the walls of the valley, 
the plans may be relatively simple, but if, as is often the case, 
the foundations are weak and imperfect and there is not within 
easy reach a good supply of rock, then there must be a bal- 
ancing of cost between bringing from a distance of a mile 
or more a better quality of material or shifting the site and 
adopting plans such as to use a greater quantity of poorer 
material nearer at hand. For example, on a soft foundation 
it may be decided to use a great quantity of earth, thus building 
a dam of unusual thickness as was done in the case of the Gatun 
Lake in Panama rather than to risk building a masonry or 
concrete structure on the yielding base. There is usually a 
wide range of conditions to be studied and it is hardly possible 
to make the research too thorough or to gain too much informa- 
tion regarding the character of the material and of its prob- 
able behavior under different forms of handling or arrangement. 


Earth Dams. The oldest and most numerous of the struc- 
tures built for the control or conservation of water by storage 
are of earth. Many ancient dams antedate written his- 
tory; some are still in use and the remains of thousands which 
have been destroyed through age and neglect are to be found 
in all parts of the earth where man has long lived. Earth dams 
are still being built, of larger and larger size, and with greater 
skill and economy than in the past. In spite of the notable 
development in handling other more stable materials, they offer 
many advantages. 

Because of the fact that earth is a result of decay or dis- 
integration, it is essentially stable, for it cannot deteriorate 
nor change its character ; but since it consists of small particles, 
it is easily eroded, its form though not its substance is easily 
altered by rains or floods. Earth dams if properly built and 
protected from erosion or other mechanical change are thus 
among the most permanent works of man, but if not thus 
protected, they may be destroyed in a few days or hours. 

The chief claim for consideration of the use of earth for a 
proposed dam lies primarily in the fact that earth or decom- 
posed rock occurs almost everywhere on the land surface. It 
is, of course, of widely differing composition and texture, vary- 
ing from fine silica, sand or gravel to complex silicates such 
as clays and silts, or it may have an admixture of organic 
matter and earthy salts forming more or less soluble and fertile 
soils. In considering earth for use in dams, it is necessary first 
to define what the earth consists of, as it may have a very wide 
range of chemical or physical properties. 

The only quality common to all earth is that it is relatively 
loose or friable and can be easily dug or moved by hand or 

DAMS 131 

simple machinery. The earth under consideration for use at 
some locality may consist of loose sand. It is obvious that 
this alone will not be suitable for building a dam of any consid- 
erable height. On the other hand, if the material is a silt or 
loam, this used alone will not be suitable, but mixtures of the 
sand and silt with possibly the addition of some gravel may 
result in a combination which is not only impervious to water, 
but can be built to withstand a considerable pressure. The 
study of the earthy materials available near any given dam site, 
and of the possible combinations of these, demands experience 
and ripe judgment. 

The condition of the foundations with regard to permea- 
bility and strength to sustain a weight, as noted on page 127, 
may be such as to lead to the conclusion that, even though rock 
may be available, yet safety will be promoted by building an 
earthen structure. The question then arises as to the quality 
of the various deposits of earth which may be mixed and the 
methods of handling these and of placing them in the dam. 
In olden times all this work was done by hand labor, the dirt 
being shoveled into baskets and carried to the point of deposit. 
Later came the use of carts or scrapers drawn by horses, fol- 
lowed by the small construction railroad in which cars loaded 
with dirt by a steam shovel were brought to the desired place. 
In turn the latter method has been superseded in part by con- 
veyors of various types and even water itself is being used to 
sluice the earth into place. Every year brings out some im- 
proved mechanical device for moving earth and as a result of 
studies by engineers or researches into the hydraulic processes, 
economies are being effected resulting in a low cost which a 
few years ago was considered impossible. 

There is usually to be considered not only the question of 
the selection of suitable material near the chosen dam site but 
also that of handling it in a systematic fashion, depositing it 
in place with great care and uniformity, such as to secure 
practically water-tight conditions. An earth dam is similar in 
some respects to a loose rock dam in that the upper or water 
face should be made as nearly impervious as possible, while the 
downstream or dry portions may be built of coarser material. 


Although it may be practicable to permit water to overflow a 
masonry, concrete or loose-rock structure, such action means 
destruction to an earth dam, and hence every precaution must 
be taken to prevent water from flowing over the top. 

Usually in building an earth dam it is not practicable to 
carry the foundation down to bedrock, as is necessary with 
masonry structures. In all cases, however, the ground must 
be stripped to an impervious layer of clay or "hardpan" and 
the materials composing the dam placed on these and carefully 
incorporated with the new surface thus exposed. The selected 
earth to be used in the body of the dam should be slightly wet 
and rolled in thin layers to secure the highest degree of com- 
pactness. Layer after layer of three or four inches to six 
inches in thickness is thus worked into place, care being con- 
tinually exercised to secure thorough compacting, no details 
being slighted or omitted. The results are tested from time 
to time to see that the body of the dam is homogeneous and 
does not contain any defined layers or incipient cracks into 
which water may enter. 

In cross section, the earth dams are in striking contrast with 
those built of masonry or concrete in that the slopes must neces- 
sarily be well within what is known as the angle of repose. On 
the upstream face, these slopes are usually one foot, vertical, 
to three horizontal, and on the downstream or dry side, one 
vertical to two and one-half horizontal. 

The upstream or water side of any earth dam must be pro- 
tected from wave washing by some relatively hard material 
such as a heavy paving of rock two or three feet in thickness, as 
shown in PI. VII. C, or by concrete blocks six inches or more 
in thickness, held in place against disturbance by storms. ( See 
PI. XI. C.) In some cases a thick layer of heavy gravel has 
been applied, as for example, on the earthen banks of Deer 
Flat Reservoir in southern Idaho ; the waves are allowed to carve 
this gravel bank into relatively stable slopes. The downstream 
side of the earthen dams must also be protected, usually by 
encouraging the growth of vegetation and by preventing the 
washing of rain water by providing suitable gutters or drains 
to keep the water from gullying the surface. 

DAMS 133 

The main features of an earth dam are: first, the incorpora- 
tion of the lower layers with the underlying earth of the entire 
foundation in such a way as to prevent water from percolating 
along under the dam, and, second, to secure an impervious layer 
as near the upper or water face as possible to hold back the 
water from entering the body of the dam. The strength and 
stability of the dam are evidently decreased if the particles of 
which it is composed are saturated with water. Hence the 
larger the proportion of the dam which is dry the greater the 

Core Wali.s. It might be assumed that the entire body of 
an earth dam should be impervious, but experience has shown 
that such conditions can rarely be produced and that it is 
better to make the lower side of the dam less water-tight than 
the upper, so that any water which does succeed in entering 
through the upper face may escape freely below. In this way, 
the lower or dry side of the dam is rendered relatively more 

In some cases, for convenience of construction, the plans call 
for a vertical wall of masonry or concrete throughout the length 
of an earth dam as in PI. VI. D. Under these conditions the 
portion of the dam above the core wall becomes saturated with 
water while the lower portion, cut off from seepage by the core 
wall, is kept nearly if not quite dry. The dam under these 
conditions may be considered as consisting of a water-tight wall 
or diaphragm supported from overturning upstream by the 
wet earth and held from falling downstream by the dry earth. 

Where an ample supply of good clay can be found, the center 
core wall is frequently made of this substance, carefulh' puddled, 
or the clay is placed on the upper half or third of the dam, 
being carefully compacted while slightly moist. Coarser mate- 
rial is then placed on the downstream side to afford free drain- 
age of the small amount of water which may penetrate the clay. 

As a rule in building earth dams the use of pure clay is 
avoided, except for a water-tight face or core wall, and sand 
or gravel is largely employed, incorporated with clay, to form 
a mixture which is less likely to slide or slough off. Pure clay 
absorbs such great quantities of water and shrinks so greatly 


upon drying that it is not used except under conditions where 
it will be kept continually wet. 

Paving. The water slope of all earth dams must be pro- 
tected from wave action. As the water rises and falls in a 
reservoir, the shore line advances or retreats along the earth 
bank and at this shore line wind action produces waves which 
tend to cut a shelf or beach. To overcome this action and to 
maintain the earth slopes in symmetrical and safe conditions, 
it is usually necessary to pave them with rock or in some cases 
with cement blocks. An example of ordinary paving is shown 
in PI. VII. C and in PI. XI. C, this being on a portion of the 
Owl Creek Dam of the Belle Fourche Project, South Dakota. 
The paving is usually placed by hand on a gravel base, the 
stones being of such weight and so carefully placed as not to 
be liable to be drawn out by the waves. 

Hydraulic Dams. The use of water to transport earth for 
the building of dams is being steadily extended because of the 
economies which are possible under favorable conditions. The 
practice is the outgrowth of hydraulic operations carried on 
by the gold miners of California. The debris which they moved, 
as stated on page 134, was of such great volume that it ob- 
structed the streams and suggested to ingenious men the 
practicability of utilizing the method for filling depressions or 
building banks. The illustration, PI. VII. A, gives an idea of 
the way in which the material is moved. In the foreground is 
a hydraulic giant or nozzle from which water is issuing with 
great velocity. This water is obtained from some high mountain 
stream, being conducted by gravity through wooden Humes 
or it may be pumped from lower ground. The main object to 
be achieved is to have an adequate pressure such as to make 
a stream which will tear out the loose soil and small rocks. As 
these roll down they are caught with the muddy waters and 
carried away on Humes built at a grade sufficient to enable the 
water to transport stones weighing sometimes as much or more 
than 100 pounds. 

The Hume for transporting the debris is constructed in such 
a way as to divide and spread the material over the surface of 
the dam to be built. By manipulation of the Humes, it is pos- . 

Plate Vri. A. 
Earth dam built by hydraulic process, washing the earth and loose rock 
from the hillside and sluicing the debris out to the site of the dam. 
Conconully Reservoir. 

Plate VII. B. 

Earlh dam built by hydraulic process; spillway at left in recent rock 

excavation. Conconully Dam, Okanogan Project, Washington. 

Plate VII. C. 
1 water aide of earth dam, Belle Fourche Project. South Dakota. 

Plate VII. D. 
Concrete storage dani, at East Park, Orland Project, California. 

DAMS 185 

sible to drop the larger rocks on the outside of the proposed 
dam and to leave the smaller sand and gravel nearer the center, 
the finest silt being placed at the center or near the upstream 
side. As a result there is formed a dam such as that shown 
in PI. VII. B, the outside being covered with heavy stone to 
prevent erosion and the inside consisting of fine water-tight 

Among the examples of the dams built by this method are 
the Gatun Dam at Panama, Necaxa Dam in Mexico, and also 
the Calaveras Dam in California now under construction. A 
smaller dam built by the Reclamation Service for the Okanogan 
Project, Washington, PL VII. B, has been mentioned. The 
Necaxa Dam in Mexico and also the Calaveras Dam in Califor- 
nia are notable because of the fact that in building each of these 
failure took place under almost identical conditions. Clay fill- 
ing, deposited in water and forming the interior of the dam, 
did not dry as it increased in height, but continued of semiliquid 
consistency until the pressure laterally pushed out the upstream 
side and the clay flowed into the unfinished reservoir. In the 
case of the Necaxa^ Dam the failure occurred on May 20, 1909, 
when two million cubic yards of earth and rock had been placed ; 
at that time about 720,000 cubic yards flowed into the dry 
reservoir. In the case of the Calaveras,^ the failure occurred on 
May 24, 1918, when 2,800,000 yards had been placed; of this, 
800,000 yards flowed inwards. These failures illustrate on a 
large scale the instability of the undrained clay and the neces- 
sity of observing suitable precautions in permitting it to dry out 
slowly. The hydraulic process requires great skill, but for 
handling sand, gravel, small rock or mixtures of these with clay 
and silt this method has been found to be generally economical. 

A loose rock dam such as that described on page 169 at Mini- 
doka on Snake River in Idaho, may be considered as closely 
related to the hydraulic dam, since a large part of the material 
has been sluiced into place. It forms an intermediate stage 
between the solidly constructed and carefully laid masonry dam 
and the ordinary earth dam. It possesses certain advantages 

1 Engineering News, July 15, 1909, Vol. 62, p. 72. 

2 Engineering News-Record, April 11, 1918, Vol. 80, p. 704. 


in overcoming local difficulties and permits the utilization of 
materials and of forces which at first appear to be unfavorable. 
It is under conditions of this kind that the engineer shows his 
highest ability in turning to advantage the conditions which 
appear to oppose his efforts but which on research can be made 
to serve the larger needs of humanity. 

Timber Dams. Mention should be made of timber dams 
which, although no longer built in as large numbers as in 
former decades, are still in use and are occasionally employed, 
especially for temporary structures such as coffer dams. In 
the heavily forested areas among the mountains where timber is 
plentiful, it is still being used in dams erected in connection 
with lumber operations. Many of the works of river regulation 
and of water conservation have been made practicable by using 
timber and at a later day, when success has been assured, more 
permanent materials have been substituted. 

The timber dams are of many varieties and shapes. In most 
of them the framework has been constructed with an inclined 
deck of plank or a series of decks, the upper face being sloped 
upstream and held down in part by the weight of the water 
resting upon it. Lower decks or aprons are provided to con- 
duct the water away from the base of the dam and prevent 
undercutting. In many instances rectangular log cribs have 
been built and filled with heavy stone, making a combination of 
timber and stone structure, the weight of the stone holding the 
timber in place and the timber protecting the stones from being 
carried away by the force of the flowing water. 

Loose Rock Dams. The ideal structure for water storage 
is a massive dam firmly set in rocky walls — ^but like many ideals, 
it is not always practicable of achievement. This is usually 
because of lack of suitable foundations such as are sufficiently 
strong to carry the weight of the wall or because of the difficulty 
of obtaining in the vicinity a sufficient supply of rock of proper 
shape and quantity to build a dam. Wherever conditions are 
favorable, masonry is being employed and probably will be used 
indefinitely, although concrete is rapidly rising in favor. 

There is a wide range of rock dams, from the simplest primi- 
tive type of a pile of loose rocks supporting a relatively imper- 

DAMS 187 

vious layer of earth to the ashlar masonry, each unit of which 
is carefully dressed and laid in mortar or with cement joints. 
Loose rock dams are occasionally built but under somewhat 
exceptional conditions. For example, the Minidoka Dam in 
southern Idaho, noted on page 169, illustrates how certain diffi- 
culties have been overcome. The river where the dam was built 
was of too great a size and volume to be diverted through a 
tunnel or flume. Thus it was necessary to build a dam while 
the river was flowing over the foundations. To do this large 
rocks were dumped at the site, the size of the rocks being suflS- 
ciently great so that the force of the current did not wash them 
away. By placing these rapidly, it was possible to retard the 
flow and cause the water level to rise. At the same time the 
stream penetrating the loose rocks and escaping in large volume 
below tended to consolidate the masses by washing the loose 
pieces into place. 

A loose rock dam of this character, built of stones as large 
as can be handled, is in effect a barrier which withstands the 
pressure or attack of the water by its own mass or weight. The 
body of a dam thus composed of big and little pieces of rock 
is, of course, permeable to water. Its function is to hold in 
place the water-tight diaphragm or apron placed on the up- 
stream side. To put it in another way, a loose rock dam con- 
sists of a relatively thin water-tight wall or layer of steel, wood 
or clay held in place by a heavy mass of pervious material. In 
constructing such a dam, the larger blocks are thrown or 
dropped into the stream or depression to be closed. On the up- 
stream face smaller and smaller stones, gravel, and sand are 
applied in succession, gradually reducing the size of the inter- 
stices and finally on the upper water face is put a layer of clay 
of such fineness that the water, cannot penetrate it. 

In some cases where the dam can be built in the dry, the 
impervious layer consists of a plank or steel or iron covering 
suitably held in place. Such loose rock dams, if carefully built 
and maintained, may serve indefinitely and at a cost — when 
interest on this investment is considered — far less than that 
of the more substantial masonry structure. There is, however, 


always the element of doubt as to what may happen, especially 
in those portions which cannot be inspected. 

Masonry Dams. In contrast with the loose rock dams are 
masonry structures in which the rocks instead of being dumped 
into place are carefully quarried, dressed to a certain size and 
then laid in mortar or with cemented joints so nearly water- 
tight that no perceptible percolation occurs. Such masonry 
dams have been built to a large extent in the past, but because 
of the expense, the majority of the newer structures are being 
built of concrete. There are certain exceptional conditions, 
however, where masonry works may be considered. These have 
an advantage in popular opinion at least, because of their mas- 
sive appearance and the fact that well-laid masonry has 
endured through many centuries. 

Until within the last generation the typical dam was one 
which depended for its stability upon the weight of the material 
used. It was assumed that tension in masonry should not be 
permitted and that at any horizontal plane through the dam 
the weight of the material resting upon this plane, when con- 
sidered in connection with the pressure against, would be so 
adjusted that the resultant force would fall within the middle 
third of the plane. The theoretical section thus became a rec- 
tangular triangle with vertical water faces and downstream slope 
approximately two feet horizontal to three feet vertical. Addi- 
tional width was given to the top of the apex of the triangle in 
order to provide for a roadway, and in some cases near the 
base a slight curve was introduced as in the profile of the Croton 
and other dams of the New York water supply and in the 
Roosevelt, Elephant Butte, and similar masonry dams of the 
United States Reclamation Service. 

Concrete Dams. The use of concrete for dams has rapidly 
increased because of economy in handling the material due to 
modern methods and machinery, and because of the fact that 
the concrete may be poured or molded into forms most advan- 
tageous for the particular use. In comparing a concrete with 
a masonry dam, we may consider that the aggregates instead 
of consisting of great stones carefully laid are replaced by little 
pieces which, because of their small size, can be easily handled. 

DAMS 189 

mixed with raortar and conveyed by rapidly moving machinery. 
While it is comparatively difficult to obtain large blocks of 
stone suitable for masonry, it is easy to get rock fragments or 
to crush the imperfect large blocks containing soft spots or 
cracks into small pieces, each of considerable unit strength. In 
the case of a single large block, the machinery for handling it 
must be ponderous and slow moving; the operation of bedding 
each rock requires great care and a considerable expenditure of 

The shaping of the dam to conform to natural conditions or 
to give the greatest strength with the least amount of material 
is practicable with concrete to a far greater extent than with 
large masonry blocks. (See PL VII. D.) It is possible to arrange 
machinery so that it can crush and size the rock, mix it with 
other aggregates and have a continuous process. It is even 
possible to inclose the work and continue construction during 
extreme weather when it would not be practicable to operate 
heavier machinery. 

The question has been raised for investigation as to whether 
it is preferable to attempt to place in the concrete large dimen- 
sion stones or pieces weighing several tons, or on the other hand, 
to reduce all of the stone to small pieces fairly uniform in size 
and to handle these systematically by modern high-power and 
high-speed machinery. The present tendency is toward a sys- 
tematic organization of machinery and men such that one simple 
procedure is followed day and night, continuously'' for months 
from the time the structure is started until it is finished. It has 
been found that, although theoretically at least there might be 
an advantage in using large stones, bedding these in the body of 
the dam, yet, as a matter of fact, the time spent in quarrying 
and conveying these, and particularly in setting or bedding 
them in place, interferes with the otherwise orderly procedure 
so that the gain from their use is not as great a source of 
economy as was anticipated, nor is it apparent that the strength 
of the structure is increased. 

In most instances the materials in the quarry available for 
building the dam are of such character that the obtaining of 
large blocks is a matter of considerable expense, necessitating 


much stripping and waste of material. If the attempt to secure 
such large blocks is abandoned and the firm material from the 
quarry, irrespective of size, is broken up, run through a suitable 
crusher and selection made automatically by screens and other- 
wise of suitable small pieces, the proportion of available mate- 
rial is greatly increased; there is less waste in the quarry and 
in the subsequent handling, and more than this, the machinery 
can be operated at a relatively steady rate. Thus with the 
development of machinery and effective methods of organizing 
equipment not only is the use of ashlar or rubble masonry 
declining rapidly even for massive structures, but also the use 
of large blocks or "plums" in concrete is decreasing in favor 
of the more uniform mixtures. 

As yet no limit has been set to the size and height of struc- 
tures which may be built of masonry, and particularly of con- 
crete. The highest dam in the world, so far as known, is that 
built by the Reclamation Service on Boise River in southern 
Idaho, known as the Arrowrock Dam, PI. VIII. A, 350 feet in 
height and 1,100 feet long on top. This is a curved structure, 
of gravity section, containing 585,000 cubic yards of rubble 
concrete, built with expansion joints and with inspection gal- 
leries, PI. VIII. B, running through it in such a way as to 
permit continuous observation of the behavior of the dam, 
including the temperature changes and percolation which may 
take place. 

There is nothing as yet developed which would indicate that 
the limit in height has been reached, or that it is not practi- 
cable, by increasing the dimensions, to build structures of even 
greater size. Theoretically there may be a point where the 
hydrostatic pressure on the foundations will severely test the 
porosity of some of the materials employed, but it is proper 
to assume that such limitations have not yet been reached, and 
that by proportioning the structures so that the pressure on 
the base will not be excessive, provisions may be made for still 
higher dams. In all cases care must be exercised in securing 
proper drainage of the foundations and of the dam itself, so 
that any water which may penetrate the foundations or get into 

DAMS 141 

the body of the dam may escape freely without accumulation 
of upward pressure which may tend to lift the structure. 

For relatively long and high dams the straight gravity 
section appears to be the best type; but in narrow canyons it 
is possible to secure higher economy of material combined with 
safety by constructing what are known as arched structures. 
These may consist of a single arch, PI. VII. D, in which the 
radius may be the same from the top to the bottom of the 
structure or in which greater economy in material may be 
obtained by changing the length of the radius of the arch so 
that the same angle is subtended. For long low dams the so- 
called buttress type may be more economical than the gravity. 
Among these may be included the multiple arch type in which 
there is a combination of buttress and arch usually inclined to 
the horizontal. There is much yet to be done in the way of 
research and study of economical design as well as of materials 
of construction. 

Gates. In connection with every reservoir or dam for hold- 
ing water, provision must be made for regulating the outflow 
so that the stored water may be available when needed. The 
character and position of the outlet are determined largely by 
the foundations of the dam. As far as practicable the outlet 
and gates should be built independently of the dam and located 
in solid rock so as not to introduce points of weakness in the 
dam itself. The ideal condition is to place the gates on solid 
rock at one side of the structure. Occasionally, however, it is 
necessary to build these through or in the body of the dam and 
in such case great care must be used to prevent water from 
entering the material or percolating along the conduit. With 
earth dams the outlet should be placed on the solid undisturbed 
base and should be provided with cut-off walls to prevent water 
from following along the surface of the outlet pipe or tunnel. 
Many failures have resulted from lack of suitable care in this 

The types of gates ordinarily employed are vertically sliding 
valves, usually rectangular and carried on friction rollers. For 
smaller outlets the circular valves such as are used on city water 



pipes are employed and for low heads or emergency outlets 
occasionally the hinged butterfly type is used. 

It has been found that the larger valves or gates leading from 
the reservoir should be placed and operated if possible in such 
way as to avoid opening them when under a pressure or head 
of 100 feet or more. While it is possible to open or dose them 
under these high heads, yet the erosive action of the sediment- 
bearing waters and the vibrations set up introduce so many 
complications or dangers that with deep reservoirs it is safer 
to provide methods of letting out water at various elevations, 
gradually letting it down through successively lower outlets and 
using the lowest outlet only when the water level has sunk below 
that of the higher gates. One of the latest and most striking 
instances of this arrangement is in the case of the very high 
Arrowrock Dam on the Boise River in southern Idaho. Here 
the gates are placed in a series at various elevations. The 
highest row of gates or valves is shown in PI. VIII. A and in 
PI. X. A. These are of the Ensign type, circular in form, as 
shown in the picture. These valves are operated from the 
gallery inside the dam, as shown in PL VIII. B, the operating 
cylinders for controlling these balance valves having been placed 
inside the dam at a point convenient for access; at the same 
time provision is made for inspecting the changes which may 
be taking place on the interior of the dam. 

As a rule all of the gates for the outlets through or over a 
dam are placed at the upper end, so that when the gates are 
closed water is excluded from the pipes or conduits within the 
body of the dam. In the case of earthen dams, for example, 
with sloping water faces, this necessitates the building of an 
outlet tower rising from the upper toe of the dam and thus 
standing out in the reservoir when water rises to its greatest 
height. This tower is connected at its top with the roadway 
on the dam as shown in PL XI. B and PL XI. D. 

Spillways. In making plans for any dam, whether masonry 
or earth, there must be ample provision for spillways for passing 
excess water, especially that of unusual floods. In the case of 
a solid masonry or concrete dan) of moderate height, the entire 
crest may be made into a spillway, but as a rule it is wiser to 

Plate VIII. A. 

One of several ron-s of slutce gates to control water flowing through the 

Arrowrock Dam, Boise Project, Idaho. 

Plate VIII. B. 

OperatiDg cylinders for sluice gates, also portion of inspection gallery in 

Arrowrock Dnm, Boise Project, Idaho. 

Plate VIII. C. 

A series of curved spiUvaf sections near East Park Dam, Orland Project, 


Plate VIII. D. 

Erosion at tower toe of Mexican diversion dam on Rio Grande above 

El Paso, Texas. 

DAMS 148 

provide a depression or low point of overflow at some little 
distance from the dam, so that the water of great floods may 
not be able to attack the foundations and wear away the sup- 
porting walls. As previously noted, it is absolutely essential 
that in the case of earthen structures the spillway be of such 
size and shape as to render it impossible for water ever to over- 
flow the earthen banks; the margin of safety against overtop- 
ping by any probable flood must be large. Long-continued 
observations of river flow are showing that there is possibility 
of the occurrence of floods surpassing those recorded in previous 
years and that in these matters w^e cannot afford to take any 
chances, but must provide maximum flood openings. 

Examples of spillways are given in the accompanying illus- 
trations ; that marked PI. VIII. C shows a series of small, verti- 
cal curved dams which form the spillway for the East Park 
Reservoir on the Orland Project, California. The reason for 
adopting this shape was to give additional length to the spillway 
and to permit a larger volume of w^ater to escape for a given 
increase of height than would have been practicable with a short 
straight overflow section. The form also gives additional 
strength to the work. 

In PI. XVIII. C is shown a similar spillway whose plan is rec- 
tangular in form, being arranged in this way to enable a closer 
automatic regulation of the height of water in the canal below. 
These and other spillways are of great importance in connection 
with various devices for regulation of river flow. They have 
their widest application on streams which are subject to rapid 
change of height or where floods may occur without warning. 

Retarding Dams. A type of dam is being developed in 
which the spillway is the most essential feature because of the 
fact that the dam is built for the purpose of providing a safe 
outlet, in contradistinction to the fact that in the past the 
spillway has been built merely as an adjunct to the dam. In 
other words, retarding dams arc constructed in a manner such 
as to hold back any sudden flood and force it to pass through 
a constricted opening or over a spillway with a limited capacity 
so that only a part of the flood can continue immediately 
down the river. Thus the flood is flattened out, removing the 


dangerous features, and high water is prolonged, the flow con- 
tinuing until the water which has temporarily accumulated 
behind the dam is able to pass through the restricted opening. 
The reservoir in this case is built not with the idea of holding 
the water for use, but only to provide temporary storage for a 
few days at most. 

The important part played by retarding dams is being more 
and more appreciated as the results of study of them are made 
available. At first when it was assumed that the reservoir 
must or should be used for storing water for long periods of 
time, the conception of the retarding dam was ignored. Now, 
however, there is a better grasp of the subject and the value 
of this character of work is being made known on a true basis.'^ 

Failures. A successful dam teaches few lessons. The fact 
that it stands shows that it has been strong enough to meet the 
conditions to which it has been exposed, but as to whether it is 
unnecessarily strong or is on the verge of failure no one can 
demonstrate. Whenever a dam fails, however, the loss is not 
only great, but incidentally the lesson to be learned is valuable. 
It is important, therefore, that each case of failure be studied 
and deductions made for guidance in other works. When com- 
pared with the number of successes the failures have been rela- 
tively small, but nevertheless they are deplorable through loss 
of life and property. The principal cause has been weakness 
of foundations or carelessness in making a water-tight joint 
under the dam. Next to this has been the overtopping of earth 
dams due to lack of provision of ample spillway capacity. 

1 See Engineering News, December 7, 1916, p. 1093, where in connection 
witli the Miami, Ohio, flood prevention project it is stated: 

**Not less important is the court's declaration that retarding dams com- 
bined with channel improvement furnish for the Miami Valley the only 
practicable and complete protection from floods; again there is opportunity 
for reflection by engineers. Flood prevention by reservoirs has been under 
a cloud — and for that matter is today under a cloud, and with good reason. 
The proposal to provide empty space for flood water and yet keep that 
space full of water for other use has proved very difiicult to defend. But 
temporary impounding of flood waters, applied with patiently calculated 
precision and properly adjusted to the other variables of the problem can 
accomplish the best and cheapest flood control for the Miami Valley, for 
the Scioto Valley and perhaps for some other locations. This is a new 

DAMS 145 

In many cases the failures were the result of neglect after 
the structure was completed, such neglect being shown in lack 
of attention to the protection of the foundation or in permitting 
the spillway to be clogged. In the case, for example, of the 
Austin, Tex., Dam, the gradual undercutting at the base 
was generally known but was not given attention and in an ex- 
treme high water the dam slid forward into the hole excavated 
in part during a preceding flood. Such undermining of the 
toe is illustrated by the accompanying PI. VIII. D of the 
diversion dam built by Mexicans above the city of El Paso, 
Tex., showing how the water flowing over the dam has cut 
away the protection at the lower side. This is probably a 
condition which has existed prior to many of the failures of 
dams, but by being concealed by standing water has not been 
given proper attention. 

As shown by a study of dams which have failed, the weakest 
point in their construction or the one important matter which 
has been most frequently neglected is that of making a water- 
tight joint beneath the dam such as to prevent seepage under 
the structure. Over half of the recently recorded failures of 
dams have been caused directly by seepage through the founda- 
tions. All failures of reinforced concrete dams have been from 
the escape of water beneath the foundation and subsequent 
undermining. Many of these failures occur because cut-oflF 
walls were not carried deep enough, but in most cases there was 
little or no attempt to build cut-off walls and seepage occurred 
through fissured rock which was supposed to be sufficiently 
impervious to retain the water. 

Next in importance is the construction of ample wasteways. 
Neglect of this precaution has resulted in an excessive head of 
water against the dam, with an accompanying pressure greater 
than that for which the structure was designed. The size of the 
wasteways was based upon an assumption as to volume of flood 
flow entirely too small, overlooking the fact that the floods 
which had actually been measured were by no means repre- 
sentative of the possibilities which might occur. In many 
instances the engineer feared to invite the ridicule of so-called 
"practical" men by building wasteways several times as large 


as would have been necessary to pass the normal floods. Or to 
put it another way, he did not insist upon a factor of safety 
sufficiently great to take care of the extraordinary floods of 
a century. 

Lack of proper care in the maintenance of the works is the 
cause of many disasters. For example, the failure of the hollow 
reinforced concrete dam of the city of Plattsburg, N. Y., was 
apparently due to the destruction of the foundations after 
several weeks of neglect. (See Engineering News, Vol. 75, 
June 8, 1916, page 1006.) In order to save expenses the 
public officials decided some time before the dam failed to do 
away with a city engineer as an expensive and unnecessary 
officer ; thus apparently no one was responsible for the dam and 
little is known as to just what happened. The responsibility 
appears to rest on the city officials for disregarding the condi- 
tion of the dam which was known to be leaking, and for at- 
tempting to plug up the holes which were giving warning of 

Careful investigation should be made as to the cause of each 
failure of water control or storage works and an analysis made 
of the causes. The results of such study have peculiar value 
as a guide in future construction and also as a means of reliev- 
ing the apprehension of the public regarding dangers of such 
work. If it can be shown that in each case of failure there was 
some peculiar condition which need not be repeated, then the 
public mind may be set at rest to that extent. Without definite 
explanation there is apt to be a blind, unreasoning prejudice 
against work of this kind. Reference should be made to the 
action of the Conservancy Court in connection with the Miami, 
Ohio, Flood Protection Project as noted in Engineering News, 
December 7, 1916, p. 1093, where it is stated: 

"Earth Dams are safe. The judges in the Miami case carefully 
and deliberately state their conviction of this fact. They reject the 
searching and persistent criticism of such dams^ which the opposi- 
tion put forward. Their opinion, formed after hearing elaborate 
evidence on every possible phase of this subject, is a salutary lesson 
to many an engineer. 

"Bridges are safe, though some bridges have failed. Buildings 
are safe, though wretched design and bad work made many a wreck. 

DAMS 147 

Dams are safe, though quackery and incompetence and neglect hare 
brought about many a washout. 

"The judges did not ask: May not a weak dam fail. They were 
willing to venture their own lives and the lives and property of 
their neighbors on the assumption that good dams would be built. 
And aaauming good dams, they declared that the dams would be safe 
and of auiEcient strength to sustain at all times any burden that may 
be J>Iaeed upon them by impounded water. Many an engineer can 
study with profit this calm and deliberate statement made by lay- 
men after weighing the merits of affirmative and negative in a. 
lengthy battle of fact and opinion." 

The literature on the construction of dams is quite volumi- 
nous—notably the articles in the technical journals and in the 
transactions or proceedings of the Engineering Societies of 
various countries. One of the most complete statements is a 
treatise by Edward Wegmann' in which he discusses the dis- 
tribution of pressure and gives practical profits, with descrip- 
tions of important dams throughout the world, also an excellent 

■ Wegmann, Edward, C. E., "The Design and Construction of Dams, In- 
eluding Masonry, Earth, Rocb-flll, Timber, and Steel Structures, also the 
Principal Type of Movable Dams," John Wiley St Sons, six editions. 


Figure 5. Comparison of Roosevelt Dam with Capitol at Washlngtor 


Reclamation Service. The great works which are yet to 
be built and operated for the benefit of mankind are best advo- 
cated by the showing of what has been accomplished. The 
achievement of the national government in conserving flood or 
waste waters and in converting parts of the desert into pros- 
perous farms is both proof and prophecy of what can and 
should be done on a larger scale. For this reason space may 
well be given here to a brief description of some of the larger 
dams built by the United States Reclamation Service. These 
have been made possible by the use of the data already de- 
scribed; they embody many of the principles which have been 
the subject of research such as noted in previous pages. They 
serve to demonstrate the fact that other storage works may 
be built safely and efficiently in many different localities, using 
an almost infinite variety' of materials and methods. Among 
the best known of these are the Roosevelt, notable for its size; 
the Shoshone, for some time the highest dam in the world; the 
Pathfinder, built in its granite gorge; the Arrowrock, now the 
highest dam; the Elephant Butte, remarkable for its straight 
gravity section ; and others of earth and concrete each adapted 
to meet the surrounding limitations. 

Before entering into these engineering details, it is desirable 
to give a note of explanation of the United States Reclamation 
Service. This organization, under the Secretary of the Interior 
of the United States, was created by Act of Congress, June 
17, 1902, for. the purpose of survey, examination, construc- 
tion, and operation of works for the reclamation by irri- 
gation of arid and semiarid lands. Funds were provided in 
the act by setting aside the proceeds of the disposal of public 
lands which from 1902 to 1919 aggregated over $100,000,000. 


This amount has been supplemented by an additional loan of 
$20,000,000 — all of which has been spent in works for con- 
servation of water by storage and the distribution of the stored 
supply in the western part of the United States. 

The necessity for this law arose from the fact that the western 
two-fifths of the United States consists in great part of public 
land. The conditions of aridity' are such that only a very small 
portion of this land can be utilized for agriculture. Attempts 
made by individuals and organizations to irrigate the Jands, 
although successful from an agricultural standpoint and from 
that of the development of the country, were not profitable to 
the investor, hence the development and the use of the resources 
of the West were not progressing rapidly. It became appre- 
ciated about 1900 that further progress could not be expected 
without direct effort on the part of the federal government, the 
owner of the great body of the arid public lands. The objec- 
tion to making direct appropriations for improving these lands 
was met by the ingenious plan proposed by the late Senator, 
then Representative from Nevada, Francis G. Newlands, to the 
effect that money derived from the disposal of portions of the 
land should be used in reclaiming other portions. 

The Reclamation Service was an outgrowth of the work of 
the United States Geological Survey. The latter bureau was 
authorized by Congress in March, 1888, to investigate the 
extent to which the arid region might be reclaimed, this action 
being taken largely through the effort of the then director, John 
Wesley Powell. The investigations were made by what was 
known as the Hydrographic Branch, measurements of water 
supply in many streams being begun and also surveys of possible 
reservoir sites. The information thus obtained and widely dif- 
fused laid the foundations for a presentation of the needs and 
opportunities of water conservation and furnished the facts for 
action by Congress, taken in accordance with the recommenda- 
tion of President Theodore Roosevelt in his first message in 
1901. As organized immediately on the passage of the Act 
of June 17, 1902, the work was under a chief engineer, F. H. 
Newell, who continued in charge, reporting to the director of 
the Geological Survey until 1907, when the service became a 


separate bureau and the chief engineer was then made director, 
reporting to the Secretary of the Interior. 

Under the original organization, plans were prepared during 
the years 1902 to 1907 for works whose completion has re- 
quired all of the funds which would be available from the pro- 
ceeds of the disposal of public lands for a decade or more. 
These plans were so drawn as to permit expansion to the full 
limit of the available water supply in each locality. The work 
was undertaken in such manner as to enable completed portions 
of each project to be utilized before all parts were finished. It 
was also considered wise to start work on a broad basis in a 
number of localities rather than to concentrate it in a few places, 
because by so doing a more nearly normal growth of each pro- 
ject was possible. This line of procedure was in contrast to 
the attempts made by private investors to complete one large 
project and then operate it as a whole without having had the 
advantage of experience acquired through the slow growth of 
the component parts. Most of the works thus planned from 
1902 to 1907 have been brought to a degree of completion such 
that a large part of the land is being utilized. 

The principal works are those for storage of flood or waste 
waters and for conducting the waters thus made available from 
the natural streams to the lands to be watered. Besides the 
storage dams, many diversion dams have been built in the rivers, 
turning the water into large canals which divide and subdivide 
into smaller distributaries or laterals leading to each farm. In 
these canals and at each outlet, gates are provided to control the 
water; there are also flumes, pipe lines, bridges, culverts, as 
well as almost innumerable other structures, each requiring' 
engineering skill in its construction and maintenance. 

Storage Works. For the purpose of storing flood water 
over fifty noteworthy dams have been built by the Reclamation 
Service. They are listed and described in the annual reports 
of that bureau and are discussed at some length in several 
recently issued books^ and engineering publications. In the 

1 Davis, Arthur Powell, "Irrigation Works Constructed by the United 
States Government," John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1917, pp. 413, illus- 

James, George Wharton, "Reclaiming the Arid West. The Story of the 

Plate IX. A. 

Sheep grazing along canal In vidnltv of Huntley, Montana, Illustrating liuw 

tiicy may be used to keep down the weeds on canal banks. 

Plate IX. B. 
Tunnel for diversion of North Platte River at Pathfinder Dam, Wyoming. 

Plate IX. C. 
Shoshone Dam, Wyoming, as seen from water side before completion 

Plate IX. D. 
r created hy Shoshone Dam, Wyamlnp, with wagon road 
ind side of reservoir leading to Yellowstone National Park. 




aggregate, it appears that upwards of 20,000,000 cubic yards 
of earth, rock and concrete have been handled in the construc- 
tion of these. They range in height from 50 to 850 feet and in 
length along the crest from 500 to over 7,000 feet. The reser- 
voirs created by these dams have an area of from about 1,000 
acres up to 40,000 acres and a capacity of from 10,000 to over a 
million acre-feet. They thus cover a wide range of conditions 
and afford examples, for future emulation, of methods success- 
fully adopted in meeting and overcoming various difficulties. 

The wide diversity in quantity of run-off per square mile 
available for storage in various reservoirs is notable. This is 
partly due to the great variation of yield, from year to year, 
of the arid region streams. The run-off of any one year or 
the mean of a few years may differ widely from the average of 
a 10- or 20-year period. The principal reason, however, for 
the great diversity in quantity of water which may be held is 
that some of the reservoirs are near the headwaters with catch- 
ment areas on which is a heavy rain- and snowfall while others 
are so located as to receive the meager and erratic drainage 
from a large extent of low-lying, arid land. 

Cost anix Value. In connection with these reservoirs, the 
most interesting item, perhaps, is the cost as compared with 
the benefits received directly and indirectly. In the case of the 
Roosevelt Reservoir in Arizona, where stored water has great 
value, the capacity for storage or quantity which may be had 
each year has cost at the rate of $7.76 per acre-foot. The 
lowest expenditures are naturally in the case of preexisting 
lakes which have been utilized, this being for Lake Tahoe only 
$1 per acre-foot. The highest cost of stored water is for the 
smaller artificial reservoirs, the large expenditure upon which 
has been justified by some special circumstance. 

In considering the cost and value of any reservoir for con- 
serving water, it is necessary to make allowance for losses. It 
is obvious that the full amount of water delivered to a reservoir 
cannot be depended upon as, under ordinary conditions, it is 
impossible to draw out as much water as has been put in. The 

United States Reclamation Service," Dodd, Mead & Co., New York, 1917, 
pp. 411, illustrated. 


losses are of two principal kinds : first, that by evaporation from 
the surface; and second, that by seepage from the bottom and 
sides. The seepage loss may be reduced and in time may become 
negligible, but the evaporation losses are practically perma- 
nent (see page 65), and although the quantity varies from sea- 
son to season, yet it is always a considerable part of the water 
received. This amount may be measured by apparatus similar 
to that described on page 70, a standard evaporation pan being 
placed on or as near the surface of the water in the reservoir as 
possible and maintained at the same temperature. 

Knowing the average amount of water available each year 
for a reservoir and its cubical contents, it might be supposed 
that the problem as to the amount to be delivered from the 
reservoir would be a simple arithmetical computation. This is 
not always the case because of the fact that the water flowing 
into the reservoir varies in quantity from season to season and 
a statement of averages may be quite misleading. Moreover, 
the demand upon the reservoir is not constant and may occur 
at times when the basin is partly empty, and then it cannot be 
fully met. The capability of the reservoir to deliver water or 
what may be called its working capacity can be ascertained 
only by making certain assumptions followed by somewhat 
elaborate computations based upon these. 

In making these estimates of the working capacity of a reser- 
voir, it is desirable to take into consideration separately each 
day or period of a week or ten days, and for this period the 
probable inflow during that time, deducting the probable losses, 
and from this to compute the total amount of water left in the 
reservoir at the end of this day or week. If the reservoir is 
full to overflowing there cannot, of course, be any added accumu- 
lation. At such time also the losses by evaporation and seepage 
are at a maximum. If, on the contrary, the reservoir is nearly 
or quite empty, the losses will be at the minimum and the reser- 
voir can probably hold all of the water which flows in during 
that time. 

By these computations there is built up a series of estimates 
which follow as closely as possible the fluctuations and which 
take account of conditions which are not revealed if reliance is 


placed on seasonal or annual averages. For example, if it is 
assumed that during the year 100,000 acre- feet are received 
in the reservoir and the loss by evaporation and seepage is 
10,000 acre- feet, then there should be available 90,000 acre- 
feet. This amount can be held in a reservoir of a capacity of, 
say, 50,000 acre- feet if drawn out steadily during the irrigation 
season and at the same time replenished by summer floods. As 
a matter of fact, however, the greater part of this 100,000 acre- 
feet might occur early in the season before it was needed for 
irrigation and would thus pass through the reservoir, bringing 
in great quantities of silt and being unavailable at the time when 
most needed. iVIoreovcr, the losses by evaporation would be 
greatly affected by the time at which the water filled the reser- 
voir. For these and other reasons it is important that these 
shorter periods be used in our computations in order that we 
may properly take into account the fluctuations, time of occur- 
rence and uses of the water. 

Roosevelt Reservoir. This is one of the best-known and 
most important of the works built by the government under the 
terms of the Reclamation Act. The structure shown in Pis. 
I. B and II. C is about 70 miles east of Phoenix, the capital of 
Arizona, and consists of a rubble masonry, curved dam located 
in the river canyon with a height of 280 feet and a length on the 
crest of 1,125 feet. The relative height of the dam as compared 
with the capitol at Washington, D. C, is shown on Fig. 5. 

The reservoir formed by the dam has a capacity of 1,365,000 
acre- feet and covers 16,800 acres. It was first filled in April, 
1915, over four years after the completion of the dam. A 
series of unusual storms then caused the stored water to over- 
flow the spillways, as shown in PI. II. C. The excess flood was 
disposed of without harmful effect, leaving in storage sufficient 
to insure a supply for several years. The water is utilized to 
irrigate nearly 200,000 acres of land in the vicinity of Phoenix. 
The stream flow records, conducted for twenty-five years, show 
an extremely erratic run-off and indicate that the reservoir may 
be filled by floods at irregular periods with an occasional series 
of low years, at the end of which time it may be nearly empty, 
causing temporary shortage of water. This will then necessi- 


tate strict economy in irrigation. Such shortage may be a 
benefit rather than an injury, as it will tend to reduce the waste 
and prevent destruction of the lowlands by overirrigation. 

As an incidental benefit in the conservation of this flood 
water is the creation of hydro-electric power. As the water 
is drawn from behind the dam for conveyance down the river 
to the arid lands a large amount of power is generated, the 
quantity depending upon the height of water in the reservoir 
and the volume turned out. There are four hydro-electric units, 
with capacities varying from 1,000 to 5,000 kilowatts. A por- 
tion of this power is used for pumping, but the greater part is 
sold and the returns credited to the cost of the plant. 

The stored water when released passes down the canyons for 
about 50 miles to the Granite Reef diversion dam, where it is 
forced to flow into canal systems on the north and south banks of 
the river. These include over 800 miles of main canals and 
laterals bringing water to nearly 5,000 farms. Along these 
canals at several points hydro-electric plants have been built 
to utilize the falls which have been necessary because of the 
slope of the country. 

The total investment in this complete system of water con- 
servation by storage and distribution of water and power is 
approximately $11,500,000. This will be repaid to the United 
States by annual installments from the farmers whose lands 
are benefited. Although the system has hardly been com- 
pleted, yet crops of a gross value of over $18,000,000 were 
harvested in 1918 and the increase of taxable property in the 
community due to the building of the works has been at least 
five times the original cost. 

The area supplied with water from the Roosevelt Reservoir 
is known as the Salt River Project. The characteristic feature 
of this project, which distinguishes it from other enterprises of 
the Reclamation Service, is the warm climate which, where 
water is obtainable, renders crop production possible through- 
out the greater part of the year. The number and value of the 
crops justify a relatively large expenditure for the storage 
of water and necessitate a high degree of economy in its use. 
In this respect the project is similar to the costly private works 


in southern California, where water for irrigation has its great- 
est value as compared with any other part of the United States, 
and where during each succeeding decade larger and larger 
sums are being expended in conserving the scanty supply. 

The engineering problems are those which grow out of the 
necessity of attempting to control a river which is not only 
erratic in its floods, but which apparently has a cycle of wet 
and dry years, more distinctly marked in this case than has 
been made apparent on other rivers on which reclamation works 
have been built. This results in the necessity of considering 
storage not merely for the current year, but with relation to 
the series of dry years which have been known to exist, following 
seasons during which floods have occurred with more or less 
regularity. Consideration has been given to the question as to 
whether storage should be provided adequate only to handle 
the floods which occur during the low years, or whether the 
expense would be justified of building a reservoir capable of 
holding larger floods, and with the probability that it would 
not be filled during the succession of low years. In working out 
any plan it was necessary to meet certain conditions of human 
origin, namely, the existence of irrigating canals built by the 
irrigators acting individually or in cooperation, or by investors 
hoping to secure a profit on the sale of water rights and of 

Salt River Valley includes the lands in southern Arizona, 
extending from the point where Salt River emerges from the 
mountains near the mouth of Verde River, its principal tribu- 
tary, to the locality where Salt River flows into the Gila, a tribu- 
tary of Colorado River. Irrigation was carried on in this valley 
in prehistoric times by ancient peoples whose canal lines have 
been nearly obliterated. The river has a decided fall, so that 
water can be diverted at almost any point and carried diago- 
nally away from the stream, covering considerable land within a 
short distance from the point of diversion. 

The first use of water for irrigation by white men was in 
1868, through the Salt River Valley Canal. From this time on 
the building of new works continued rapidly until the combined 
capacity of the canals was far in excess of the normal low water 


flow of the river, their construction having been induced by a 
superficial consideration of the series of years of abnormally 
high run-off between 1888 and 1897. Following that period 
the reverse occurred, and for over six years general drought 
conditions prevailed, resulting in the destruction of valuable 
orchards, vineyards and alfalfa fields, stimulating active efforts 
on the part of the inhabitants of the valley to secure the con- 
struction of storage reservoirs. 

The original plan of the Reclamation Service in accordance 
with the then needs was simply to build a reservoir, leaving the 
companies and associations operating the canals in the valley 
to enlarge and extend them later as needed for the delivery of 
additional water supply. A great flood in 1905, however, 
destroyed the diversion dam and otherwise injured the works of 
the Arizona Water Company, which controlled all the canals on 
the north side of Salt River. The inability of the company to 
promptly repair the works led to their purchase by the Rec- 
lamation Service and to the subsequent reconstruction of the 
diversion and distribution system. 

As worked out, the Salt River Project includes the largest 
hydro-economic system practicable: viz., a storage reservoir, 
a large concrete diverting dam, with sluices and headworks on 
each side of the river, a complete system of canals and laterals 
to cover over 200,000 acres of land, and a power plant at the 
Roosevelt Dam with a transmission line to bring the electric 
power to the valle}'^ below, where it joins other power develop- 
ments on the canals, and is used in pumping underground waters 
and for similar purposes. 

Pathfinder. The Pathfinder Dam and reservoir on North 
Platte River in central Wyoming is of particular interest as 
illustrative of excellent natural conditions for conservation of 
water by storage and of certain problems which arise in con- 
nection with such an enterprise. The dam is of simple gravity 
section, built of granite quarried from the immediate vicinity. 
The river at the point has cut its way through a mass of gran- 
ite and unlike many other gorges in the arid region the ancient 
river channel has not been deeply buried. Thus it only required 
excavation of the loose debris to a depth of not to exceed ten 


feet to reach the solid granite bottom. The gorge itself in which 
the dam is built is narrow, and with vertical walls, as shown in 
PL VI. A. The diversion of the river was easily accomplished 
through a tunnel located on the north or right hand side looking 
downstream. A view of the tunnel is shown on PI. IX. B. In 
this tunnel have been placed gates for controlling the outflow 
of the reservoir. During construction the river was diverted 
through this tunnel and when the dam was partly completed the 
tunnel gates were closed, enabling flood water to be held in the 

A short distance upstream the valley widens and affords 
space for a storage reservoir of over 22,000 acres, in which 
nearly the entire discharge of the river can be held from the 
time of the spring floods to the dry period of summer. After 
the completion of the dam it was found advisable to build a 
higher outlet than the one originally provided, on account of 
the excessive erosion of the controlling device under the high 
heads when operating with the reservoir nearly full. As com- 
pleted the masonry dam is 218 feet high and 432 feet in length 
along the crest. A short distance to the south of the dam a 
dyke has been built to raise the level of the reservoir and pre- 
vent water overflowing a gravel ridge which extends south from 
the granite gorge above described. This ridge closes what is 
apparently an ancient channel or depression. 

The stored water held in this reservoir in central Wyoming 
is permitted to escape as needed and is recaptured by what is 
known as the Whalen diversion dam, over 150 miles down- 
stream and at the head of the Interstate Canal in eastern 
Wyoming. This has a capacity of 1,400 cubic feet per second, 
is nearly 100 miles long, extends into western Nebraska and 
serves about 130,000 acres in the states of Wyoming and 
Nebraska. On the opposite or south side of the river is under 
construction a similar large canal known as the Ft. Laramie, 
intended to water 100,000 acres. Besides supplying the two 
large government canals with water for the 230,000 acres, above 
noted, the Pathfinder Reservoir provides water in ordinary years 
to supplement the supply of a number of private older canals 
along the river. The cost of the reservoir is, in round numbers, 


2,500,000, and of the canal system nearly an equal amount. 
In 1918 when only about 85,000 acres were irrigated, the annual 
crop value reached $8,000,000. With the increase in area and 
with the more thorough farming methods, the returns are 
increasing rapidly. 

When the United States entered this field a large number of 
small canals had been built taking water from the river, some 
in Wyoming but most of them in Nebraska, so that in August, 
in years of low run-oflF, the stream was nearly dry at the state 
line, and in normal years most of the canals in Nebraska were 
short of water in the late summer. The government investiga- 
tions began with a search for reservoir sites, resulting in the 
discovery of several possible locations. The one finally selected 
is that about fifty miles west of Casper, Wyo., where the reser- 
voir, formed by the building of the Pathfinder Dam, has a capac- 
ity of 1,070,000 acre- feet, a magnitude sufficient to provide 
storage for irrigation purposes of all the unappropriated sup- 
ply of normal years, and to hold a large reserve from the years 
of heavy run-oflF for use in years of drought. 

The entire supply received by the Interstate Canal is used 
during the summer for the direct irrigation of the lands under 
it. In the spring and autumn, when less water is used, the sur- 
plus capacity is employed to convey water to two reservoirs 
that have been constructed in the valley, beginning about 100 
miles below the headworks of the canal. Lake Alice, with capac- 
ity of 11,400 acre- feet and Lake Minatare, with a capacity of 
about 67,000 acre-feet. These reservoirs enable the main canal 
to bring water to a much larger area than it could otherwise 
supply, and also furnish insurance against drought to the lands 
under them. Without them the cultivated lands might be left 
waterless in the event of a break in the main canal, the liability 
to which increases with its length. 

Shoshone. In contrast to the massive dimensions of the 
Roosevelt and Pathfinder dams, but similar in having a curved 
plan, is the extremely high and relatively thin concrete dam on 
Shoshone River in Wyoming, east of Yellowstone National Park, 
shown from the upstream side in PI. IX. C. This, when built, 
was reputed to be the highest in the world, the crest being over 


328 feet above bedrock, and only 200 feet long, the dam con- 
taining 78,576 cubic yards of material. The canyon at this 
point is very narrow, as shown in PL IX. C. Above the canyon 
the valley spreads out, permitting the formation of a lake which 
when full has a surface area of 6,600 acres and a capacity of 
456,600 acre-feet. 

At a point about 16 miles below the storage dam, the water 
is diverted by a low overflow dam into what is known as Corbett 
Tunnel, 17,355 feet in length, which delivers it to the main canal, 
which has a capacity of approximately 1,000 second- feet and 
a length of 18 miles. This in turn distributes water to over 
380 miles of smaller distributaries, providing water for upwards 
of 150,000 acres, of which, however, only a portion is at present 
under cultivation — the canal system being constructed well 
ahead of farm developments. On these lands, hay and grain 
are produced and small tracts are devoted to vegetables. 
Alfalfa is the principal crop here as elsewhere on the irrigation 
projects, exceeding all others both in area planted and in value. 

The reservoir created by the Shoshone Dam is in the line of 
direct travel from the town of Cody, Wyo., to the Yellow- 
stone National Park, and hence it has been necessarv to build 
roads around the margin of the water to replace those sub- 
merged. The country in which these are located is quite rough 
and in places the roadway passes through tunnels, as shown in 
PL IX. D. As finally built, a few feet above the level of the 
reservoir, the road forms one of the most attractive approaches 
to the park. 

Arrowrock. The highest storage dam in the world, that on 
the Boise River in Idaho, is a concrete structure, curved in 
form and with relatively thin section. It rises 350 feet above 
the lowest point of base and measures 1,100 feet along the crest. 
The storage provided is small compared to that of other large 
dams because of the fact that the valley does not widen out 
above the dam site but continues as a narrow gorge. The local- 
ity chosen was, however, the best point available for holding the 
floods of the stream and the value of water is such as to justify 
the larger expenditure per acre-foot stored than in the case of 
some of the other dams. The cost per acre-foot capacity is 


approximately $25, as compared with less than $8 for the 
Roosevelt Dam and less than $2 for the Pathfinder. 

The accompanying view, PL X. A, was taken when the dam 
was approaching completion and shows in the background a 
portion of the reservoir, also near the center of the dam the 
water issuing from the highest row of outlets. On the extreme 
left is the spillway, formed by making a narrow cut in the hill- 
side. The water stored here is allowed to flow down the river 
as needed and at a point about twelve miles below is taken out 
by a lower dam into the head of a large canal. This serves not 
only certain of the agricultural lands but also carries a large 
part of the flood water to a depression out on the plain known 
as Deer Flat Reservoir, where it can be held to meet later needs. 
By utilizing the Arrowrock Reservoir in the narrow river 
valley to regulate the floods as well as to store a part of the 
water, it is possible to so control the stream as to make more 
largely available the Deer Flat Reservoir and to conserve the 
greater part of the floods which otherwise run to waste. 

Among the many notable features of this dam may be men- 
tioned the method of discharging the stored water. Instead of 
having one or two large outlets built in tunnels through the 
rocky walls, the plan has been adopted of providing a series of 
outlets directly through the dam and at various heights. The 
problem has been to discharge the water at necessary times in 
such a way as to overcome the destructive energ}*^ of the water 
as it issues. 

Flood flows of such magnitude that they cannot be controlled 
by various valves in the dam are taken care of by the spillway 
located at the extreme left, PI. X. A. This is regulated by a 
rolling device which allows the flood to pass over the spillway 
or which can be raised to maintain the desired water level. The 
operation is automatic, the rolls falling and permitting a larger 
and larger volume to escape as the flood rises or as the flow 
declines the discharge is automatically checked. By the device 
installed, floods of 40,000 second- feet can be handled and the 
flow regulated from 1 second-foot to 10 second- feet {Engineer- 
ing Becordy September 30, 1916, p. 409). 

Elephant Butte. This structure is of interstate and inter- 

Plate X. A. 

Arcowrock Dam, Boise Project, Idaho, water issuing from Ave openings 

in the upper row. 

Plate X. B. 
Elephant Butte Dam, New Mexico, under construction. 

Plate X. C. 
Earth dam on Carson River, Nevada. 

Plate X. D. 
Lake Keechelus, Waslilnrfon, one of tliree larjte lakes converted 
Into reservoirs at head of Vaklma River. Teiiiporarj' wooded crib dam 
above site of permanent earth dani. 


national interest in that it stores the water of the Rio Grande, 
which rises in Colorado, flows in a southerly direction through 
New Mexico, forms a portion of the boundary between New 
Mexico and Texas and finally forms the international boundary 
for several hundred miles between the states of Texas and Chi- 
huahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas, in the Republic of Mexico. 
The water stored in the reservoir is to irrigate land in New 
Mexico and Texas, 60,000 acre-feet being set apart to be dis- 
tributed to Mexico in recognition of prior rights and of inter- 
national comity. The dam, unlike the Roosevelt, Arrowrock, 
and other large storage works built by the Reclamation Service, 
is perfectly straight in plan, the width of the valley being too 
great to utilize economically the curved form. In vertical sec- 
tion it is somewhat similar to the Roosevelt Dam, the extreme 
height is 800 feet, as contrasted with 280 feet on the latter, and 
the cubical contents are nearly double. 

The reservoir created by the dam is one of the largest in the 
world, being nearly 40 miles in length and contains over 2,600,- 
000 acre-feet. The necessity for this large storage capacity 
arises because of the large fluctuations of the river from year 
to year, the maximum annual flow being about 2,422,000 acre- 
feet and the minimum 200,700. It is necessary to provide stor- 
age to hold the high floods so that some of the water may be 
carried over the years of drought. Another necessity for hav- 
ing great reservoir capacity lies in the fact that a large amount 
of silt is brought down by the river and left in the still waters 
of the artificial lake. The size of the reservoir will enable this 
silt to accumulate for many years without material injury. 

The stored water is discharged through numerous sluices, as 
shown in PI. X. B, which gives a view of the dam as it was 
approaching completion. In the background is to be seen the 
mass of black basalt known as Elephant Butte, rising through 
the sedimentary rocks and forming a striking landmark. 

Lake Tahoe. In marked contrast to the costly works just 
described is the low, easily built dam which regulates the out- 
flow from this natural lake, one of the largest and most economi- 
cally operated of the natural reservoirs in the arid west. The 
lake, partly in California and partly in Nevada, is remarkable 


for its high altitude, over 6,000 feet, and for the peculiar beauty 
of the surrounding mountains and forests, making it very 
attractive for summer residence. The use of the lake for stor- 
age has been governed to a large degree by aesthetic considera- 
tions as it was not desired to raise the level bevond a certain 
fixed point to avoid flooding the lands along the shore valuable 
for residence, nor was it practicable to lower the water more 
than a few feet because of possible interference with navigation 
by the small craft which form the principal means of convey- 
ance to and from the hotels and houses lining the shores. It 
has been possible within these narrow limits to work out a 
scheme of control such as to hold the greater part of the spring 
freshets which reach the lake and not permit any considerable 
amount of water to flow to waste. 

A view of the lake is given in PI. I. A, illustrating the general 
topography. The outlet is a relatively small river, the Truckee, 
which, flowing north and continuing for a time in California, 
turns easterly and with rapid descent enters the eastern edge 
of Nevada, where it soon disappears in Pyramid or Winnemucca 
lakes, these being shrunken remnants of the ancient fresh water 
body known as Lake Lahontan. To regulate the outflow of 
Tahoe into Truckee River, it has been necessary merely to build 
a low dam, originally of logs, similar to that shown on PI. X. D, 
but less elaborate. This early structure has been replaced by 
one of concrete, founded mainly on the river gravel, and pro- 
vided with gates of sufficient width to permit drawing down the 
lake during the few da^^s of extreme demand for water in the 
lower valleys in Nevada. 

In its course in California, several water power plants, mainly 
for electric transmission, have been built, and farther down in 
Nevada a number of private irrigation canals take most of the 
water from the river. Still lower and a few miles above the 
lakes or sinks into which the river disappeared when in a state 
of nature, a large canal, PI. XII. C, built by the United States 
Reclamation Service, takes the remaining water to the adjacent 
desert lands and in flood time to a reservoir on Carson River. 
The problems of water conservation and of distribution are thus 
quite complicated. Storage in Lake Tahoe of the excess waters 


of spring is relatively simple, except as modified by the require- 
ments of the summer residents. In letting out this water, how- 
ever, provision must be made for the rights asserted by the 
officials of the two states concerned and by the owners of the 
power plants and of the older irrigation works whose claims to 
the water are somewhat indefinite. The lower storage on Car- 
son River aids in economically handling available water, but 
the floods and the return water from the old canals add various 

Lahontan. The low-lying reservoir on Carson River formed 
by this dam presents many interesting features in connection 
with the solving of problems of saving waste water on the 
lower reaches of torrential streams. The ideal condition in 
storage is to hold the water at as high a point as practicable 
in the mountains, as is done in the case of Lake Tahoe, situated 
at the head of Truckee River. On the Carson River, which 
rises in the high valleys immediately south of the Truckee, are 
numerous reservoir sites. The first question which naturally 
occurs to the student is as to why storage works have not been 
built there instead of at the place selected. This might have 
been done had it not been for certain artificial limitations set 
by the manner in which the country has developed and the 
adverse rights which have attached to the use of water. 

The streams which go to make up the Carson River rise on 
the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in an area included 
within the boundaries of the state of California. The reservoir 
sites, therefore, which are needed for impounding the water for 
use in Nevada are in the adjacent state. The condition is simi- 
lar to that which exists at Lake Tahoe, except that the line 
between the two states has been drawn through Lake Tahoe, 
dividing its water surface between the two states. The questions 
of the rights to the use of the water of the tributaries of the 
Carson River have not been settled as between the two states 
and the various claimants residing therein. It is probable that 
many years of expensive litigation must ensue before these rights 
are fully determined. In the meantime it Has seemed unwise to 
wait for decisions on these points inasmuch as apparently, in 


whatever manner the questions are decided, there will be a con- 
siderable volume of flood water coming down the main stream 
each year. 

The Lahontan Reservoir has been built to conserve the water 
which escapes from the irrigated lands in the valley of the 
Carson River and particularly the erratic floods which may 
occur at any time, but particularly in the spring. Its position 
far down the main stream near the edge of the desert enables 
this to be done, and also permits it to be used in connection with 
the excess water of Truckee River, as noted above. Hence it 
serves the purpose of taking care of much of the water of both 
rivers which otherwise w^ould have been lost in the lakes or sinks 
into which during past ages they have disappeared. 

The dam shown on PL X. C is notable for the large size and 
massive character of the spillways built at each end of the 
earthen structure. These were necessitated by the fact that 
the underlying rocks are quite soft and easily eroded. They 
are of such doubtful character that it was not deemed wise to 
attempt to build a high masonr}'^ dam upon the site nor was 
there sufficient hard material near by to justify making a con- 
crete structure. In fact, in order to secure suitable earth it 
was necessary to make careful selection from among the mate- 
rials in the vicinity. The dam itself has been made of ample 
dimensions so as to distribute the weight and to completely 
cover the foundation. 

The Lahontan Dam being of earth placed in the path of the 
floods and in a locality where the native rock is easily worn 
away, it has been necessary to take somewhat extraordinary 
precautions against overflow of the main structure and to break 
up or neutralize the destructive forces of the waters which may 
escape over the spillway. This has been done by so arranging 
that the water which escapes around the ends of the dam shall 
fall, not in one continuous body, but shall be dropped from step 
to step until finally it arrives at the level of the river. Here, 
instead of being turned directly downstream, it is given a 
course parallel to the axis of the dam. The water, brought in 
a curved path down this series of steps forming one spillway, 
and finally reaching the lowest point, encounters directly in its 


path an equal and similar volume which has come down the other 
spillway. Thus we have two equal and opposing volumes of 
water expending their destructive energies on each other instead 
of upon the easily eroded native rock. This action takes place 
in a massive cement-lined basin and the tumultuous water, over- 
flowing on the lower side, passes down the river with its destruc- 
tive energy greatly reduced. 

This whole system, beginning with Lake Tahoe and ending 
with the distribution below Carson Dam, is illustrative of vari- 
ous methods of overcoming difficulties which at first seemed 
almost insurmountable, these arising not merely from physical 
conditions but from legal or artificial restrictions set by state 
lines and by imperfect or indefinite water laws. 

Strawberry Valley. An earthen dam affording interesting 
contrasts with the one just described is that built at the outlet 
of Strawberry Valley near the crest of the Wasatch Mountains 
of Utah. Strawberry Creek is a tributary of the Duchesne 
River, whose waters flow into the Green River and through this 
into Colorado River. On the west side of the range are small 
streams which flow into the interior valleys of Utah, their water 
being used in part for irrigation, the remainder being lost by 
evaporation, mainly in Great Salt Lake. In order to supple- 
ment the flow of these streams and to increase the area of land 
irrigated in Utah Valley, a tunnel about three miles long was 
built to carry water from Strawberry Valley westerly. An 
adequate supply has been secured by building a dam to hold 
back the flood flow of Strawberry Creek, thus creating a lake 
with an area of 8,200 acres and a capacity of 250,000 acre-feet. 

The dam is an earth fill with reinforced concrete core 72 feet 
high, with a crest length of 488 feet. Being near the head of a 
relatively small stream it has not been necessary to provide 
spillways as elaborate as those of the Lahontan Dam and the 
adjacent rock is sufficiently strong to withstand the erosion 
which takes place during the brief floods. A view of the dam 
when under construction is given in PI. VI. D. In this view 
the top of the core wall can be seen projecting above the two 
unfinished banks of earth between which is an area to be filled 
in, completely covering the concrete wall. On the hill above the 


dam and marking the upper limit of high water in the reservoir 
are shown the shops and mixing plant. 

Yakima Lakes. Somewhat similar to Lake Tahoe are the 
Yakima Lakes in the state of Washington. These are a group 
of three large and several small lakes on the east side of the 
Cascade Range at the head of Yakima River. The regulation 
of these was undertaken before the land around their borders 
was largely utilized for summer residents ; hence it was possible 
to provide a greater range of height of water than in the case 
of Lake Tahoe, drawing it down below the natural level and 
allowing it to fill up to a point above the former height. These 
lakes are known as Keechelus, Kachess and Clealum. The Rec- 
lamation Service has built dams of earth across the valley at 
the lower end of each of these lakes. These earthen dams, as 
a rule, have been built with core walls of puddled material. The 
outlets of the lakes have been lowered by means of tunnels or 
deep excavations across the line of the dam. A view of the tem- 
porary or preliminary timber dam at the outlet of Lake Keeche- 
lus is shown in PI. X. D. The final or permanent earth dam 
has been built immediately below this point and raises the sur- 
face of the water about 40 feet. 

The water stored in these upper reservoirs is utilized in sup- 
plying lands along the Yakima River, it being the intention to 
hold practically all of the fiood flow and bring about develop- 
ment of the arid lands to the limit of the supply thus made avail- 
able. The principal canal system depending upon these reser- 
voirs is that known as Sunnyside, the head of which is shown 
in PL XI. A. There are about 80,000 acres under this canal; 
the land being at a low altitude and with warm climate produces 
very valuable crops — the gross return in 1918 being about 

Deer Flat Reservoir. In contrast with the mountain stor- 
age in Roosevelt, Tahoe, the Yakima Lakes and other reservoirs 
near the headwaters are the conservation works built in the low, 
open valleys such as the Lahontan. Here, in such valleys, the 
conditions for storage are rarely favorable because of the long 
length of dams necessary to inclose the depression and the 
broad expanse of relatively shallow water exposed to evapora- 


tion. In the case of the Deer Flat Reservoir in southern Idaho, 
the land utilized for water storage was originally devoted 
largely to agriculture. The broad valley or depression selected 
between the low, rolling hills, to the eye at least, does not offer 
any particular advantage as a reservoir site. However, care- 
ful survey disclosed the fact that a reservoir could be made by 
building several low, earthen dams, as illustrated in PL XI. B. 

One of these earth dams, 70 feet high, is 4,000 feet long, the 
other, 40 feet high, is 7,200 feet long, each containing over a 
million cubic yards of earth. Thev are faced on the water side 
with heavy gravel obtained in the vicinity, no large rock being 
available. A somewhat noteworthy experiment is being made 
in that the embankments were widened at the top to a total of 
from 60 to 70 feet, by dumping gravel from cars on the 8 to 1 
water slope. This was allowed to lie at its natural angle of 
repose. As the water surface rises and falls, the wave action 
works this gravel gradually down the slope. The cutting has, 
however, been much slower than expected, the top width after 
several years being but slightly reduced. 

Belle Fourche. Similar in some respects to the Deer Flat 
Reservoir is that of the Belle Fourche Project created in the 
broad valley of Owl Creek, South Dakota, by building an earth 
dam 6,200 feet long and containing 1,600,000 cubic yards. In 
its relatively thin cross section and great height this is one of 
the notable earthworks, the crest being 115 feet above its base 
and the side slopes two feet horizontal to one foot vertical. To 
defend the dam from wave action it was deemed desirable to 
cover the water side of the embankment with large concrete 
blocks, as shown in PI. XI. C. 

In building this dam the only material available in the vicinity 
was found to be adobe clay. This material was handled with 
difficulty unless the moisture contents were just right. When 
wet the adobe is sticky and refractory and when dry it bakes 
into hard masses or lumps and pulverizes into a fine powder 
which forms dense clouds of dust. Moreover, it contains in 
some places a considerable amount of gypsum, which is quite 
readily soluble, so that care was necessary to make selection of 


the layers which were nearly free from this objectionable 

The water collected in the reservoirs is that from the occa- 
sional storms which occur in the drainage basin of Owl Creek, 
but the chief source of supply is that obtained from a feed canal 
from Belle Fourche River. Water is diverted from this stream 
by means of a dam located about two miles below the town of 
Belle Fourche, S. D., the canal leading from this point 
being 6.5 miles in length and having a capacity of 1,600 cubic 
feet per second. There is relatively little danger of overflow of 
the dam because the greater part of the water which comes to 
the reservoir is thus under control. Nevertheless, ample provi- 
sion for wasteways has been made but on a scale by no means 
comparable to those for the Lahontan Dam. 

Umatilla. A somewhat difficult problem in water conser- 
vation has been solved in the case of the Umatilla River in 
northern Oregon. This stream, flowing in a general northern 
direction into Columbia River, has early spring floods which 
quickly run to waste. At the time they occur there is little 
need of the water. There are few, if any, suitable reservoir 
sites along the course of the stream, but careful topographic 
surveys revealed the presence of several depressions or shallow 
valleys in the relatively flat land near the lower end of the river. 
None of these localities was particularly attractive and their 
topographic advantages were lessened by the fact that the 
country is composed largely of eruptive rocks overlaid with 
sands and gravels so that there were considerable doubts as 
to whether the depressions if filled would hold water. The out- 
lets also of these shallow valleys are so broad as to require 
dams of considerable length to close them. Selection was made 
of one of these sites known as the Cold Springs and an earth 
dam constructed, forming a basin of a capacity'' of 50,000 acre- 
feet. The maximum height of the earth fill is 98 feet and the 
length of the crest 3,800 feet. The dam contains 789,500 cubic 
yards of earth. In outline it is curved in order to fit the con- 
tour of the ground. A general view of the upper side of the dam 
and of the outlet tower is given in PI. XI. D. 

The reservoir is filled bv flood water taken from Umatilla 


River and conveyed for 25 miles through a canal with capacity 
of 850 cubic feet per second. The water of the floods in excess 
of this quantity is necessarily wasted, but by utilizing the canal 
to its full capacity, there is usually obtained ample water to 
fill the reservoir during the flood season. 

One of the matters which has given considerable concern has 
been the leakage under or around the embankment. A study 
of the character of the water issuing indicates that it does not 
come through the dam but probably -percolates in a round- 
about way through the natural formation. The fact that it 
issues clear and is decreasing in amount is an assurance of 
safety. The experience gained in this and similar earth struc- 
tures leads to the belief that other works of this character can 
be built to advantage. 

The feed canal is shown in PI. XII. A. At this place it is 
lined with cement in order to prevent loss of water through the 
rock, which as shown in the picture is shattered and pervious. 
Here also there is particular need of care not only for economy 
of water '^ut to prevent softening the earth of the roadbed of 
the railroad which lies parallel to and immediately below the 
level of the canal. 

The flood waters delivered into the reservoir are drawn out 
during the summer season for irrigating about 25,000 acres of 
land. Much of this agricultural soil is very sandy so that dur- 
ing the first few years the amount of water applied has been 
excessive. A quantity to a depth of 15 or even 20 feet has been 
put upon some of the small farms with resulting heavy seep- 
age and necessity for building large drains. With greater skill 
in applying water, the average duty has dropped to 6 acre- 
feet, with prospects of still further reduction toward the average 
of other projects, namely, between 2 and 3 acre-feet. 

Minidoka. This combined storage and diversion dam is 
notable as one of the large structures built of loose rock across 
the river without diverting the main stream. Provision was 
made for suitable river gates at the north side and then the 
main channel was obstructed by large rocks dumped in place 
and rearranged by the rapidly rushing water. Smaller and 
smaller stones were dropped on these until the interstices be- 


tween the larger blocks were filled and the river raised to a point 
where it could be diverted through the gates already provided. 
In the comparatively still water above the obstructions, gravel 
and finer materials were dropped, making the loose rock struc- 
ture fairly water-tight. The dam thus built raised the water 
level about 40 feet and forced the stream into the gravity canals, 
one on the north and the other on the south side of the river, at 
the same time making a reservoir, named Lake Walcott, in 
recognition of the work of Hon. Chas. D. Walcott, now secre- 
tary of the Smithsonian Institution, in the reclamation of the 
arid west. 

A considerable amount of water belonging to lower appro- 
priators must be permitted to flow through the dam. As an 
easily available head of water was thus created by the dam, it 
was considered wise to utilize this and thus conserve and put 
to use as far as possible the power resulting. In PL XVIII. D 
are shown the gates installed on the south side of the river 
channel which, now closed, hold back the flow and force the water 
to pass through the circular openings above the gates. These 
openings lead to the penstocks of the power plant which has 
been erected below the dam. The five large river gates 8 feet 
wide by 12 feet high are kept permanently closed, furnishing a 
head of 48 feet used to drive a 7,000 kilowatt power plant. The 
cost of power produced under these conditions averages slightly 
over one mill per kilowatt, including all operating expenses and 
plant depreciation. This low cost makes it possible to sell the 
energy for many varied and novel uses in the small towns in the 
agricultural communities which have grown up as a conse- 
quence oi the building of the irrigation works. A considerable 
proportion is used for heating. For example, in the new high 
school at Rupert, Ida., electricity is used for heating, light- 
ing and operating all the devices necessary in a modern high 
school that includes physical and chemical laboratories. It is 
this utilization of what may be termed the by-products of water 
conservation which best illustrates the far-reaching importance 
of the subject. 

To more completely utilize the dam, an extended overflow 
weir has been built as shown in PI. XII. B, affording a broad 


spillway for the floods which enter Lake Walcott. It follows 
a somewhat irregular line of lava or basalt. The weir consists 
of a low concrete wall, on which have been built concrete piers so 
arranged that by use of flashboards or stop plank the water 
level can be raised, creating the storage in Lake Walcott of 
150,000 acre-feet, of which, however, only about one-third is 
available above the fixed crest. In the distance is shown the 
power house above described, this being located near the deep 
part of the channel immediately below the river gates shown in 

B£AR Lake. An interesting example of water conservation 
by storage in which the reservoir is created not by raising tlie 
height of the water, but by lowering it, is the case of the Bear 
Lake in northeastern Utah. Bear River, flowing from the moun- 
tains of Utah in a northerly direction through a corner of 
Wyoming, passes by the northern end of the lake and in high 
water overflows into the broad depression occupied by the lake, 
the stream receiving back some of the water later in the summer. 
In its lower course the river is used for developing hydro- 
electric power, as well as for irrigation. For many years 
studies have been made of the situation in the attempt to 
improve the storage capacity. Plans have finally been adopted 
by a water power company for drawing down the lake, not by 
dredging out the outlet through the long, flat country which 
rises to the north, but by lifting the water a few feet out of the 
lake basin and sending it down Bear River in large quantities 
at the time of year when needed. Power for pumping is pro- 
duced by the use of the same water at points farther down the 
stream, the fall in the river used in developing the power being 
a hundred-fold that of the lift required to take the water out 
of the lake. 

St. Mary-Milk River Systems. The storage of St. Mary 
River water in Montana and its transportation across the divide 
into Milk River is an interesting solution of a somewhat diffi- 
cult international problem of conservation. The St. Mary re- 
ceives water from the high mountains of northern Montana, 
which have recently been included in the Glacial National Park. 
In broadly viewing the topography of the country it would 


appear that the torrents issuing from the eastern slope of these 
mountains should continue in an easterly direction and be avail- 
able for use in watering the dry lands lying be3'ond the foot- 
hills. These streams, however, instead of continuing in this 
general direction are caught by St. Mary River, which turns 
abruptly northward and flows along the front of the range. 
The reason for this peculiar behavior lies in the fact that glacial 
material brought from Canada forms a low ridge sufficient to 
obstruct the normal easterly flow of the streams and to turn 
them from the Missouri River drainage into the streams which 
flow into Hudson Bay. The rain which falls on this low inter- 
cepting ridge flnds its way eastward by several streams, the 
principal one known as Milk River. Not heading in the moun- 
tains, these are of small size, being dependent upon the some- 
what scanty and erratic rainfall. They do not have the con- 
tinuity of flow which marks the rivers issuing from the snow- 
banks around the higher summits. 

The boundary line between Canada and the United States 
has been drawn in such a way as to put most of the head- 
water and sources of water supply for St. Mary River and 
for Milk River in the United States, each flowing into 
Canada. Milk River, however, turns toward the east, fol- 
lows along nearly parallel to the international boundary 
on the Canadian side, then crosses back into Montana and 
finally enters the Missouri River in that state. Along its lower 
course are extensive areas of dry land which need irrigation 
but for which an adequate supply cannot be obtained from 
Milk River. 

Seeing the large flow of water which is steadily pouring north- 
ward into the Hudson Bay drainage, the idea immediately 
occurs to an observer that this water originating in the moun- 
tains of the United States should be held there and utilized if 
possible for the development of the low-lying dry land in the 
Milk River Valley of Montana. There are ample reservoir 
facilities in the natural lakes and broad valleys, but the ques- 
tion at once arises as to whether the water thus stored can be 
conducted across the low dividing ridge. Surve3'^s of this have 
shown that although the conditions are more favorable for 


diversion at points in Canada north of the boundary, yet it is 
possible to take the water across the divide within the boundary 
of the United States and to drop it into the headwater of Milk 
River. Next, however, the promoter of such an enterprise is 
confronted by the fact that the waters continuing on their way 
to the lower Milk River Valley in Montana must flow into Can- 
ada. Traversing a part of the country they return naturally 
to the United States. It was found to be practicable for the 
Canadians to divert this water while it was on its way down 
the channel of Milk River and to take it out on to the lands lying 
north of the valley so that even if water was stored in the 
United States, taken across the natural barrier and started on 
its way to the lower Milk River Valley in Montana, it might be 
diverted from its course in Canada. 

Each country naturally desires to obtain as much of the 
available water as possible. The Canadians have built large 
irrigation works heading on St. Mary River immediately north 
of the international boundary; also other works, a part of the 
same general system, which can take water from Milk River. 
In the United States many canals were built further down on 
Milk River and lands under these developed to an extent where 
there was urgent need of water during the crop season. After 
many negotiations, a treaty, dated January 11, 1909, was 
finally concluded between the United States and Great Britain, 
in Article VI of which it is stated "that the high contracting 
parties agree that the St. Mary and Milk Rivers and their 
tributaries in the State of Montana and the Provinces of 
Alberta and Saskatchewan are to be treated as one stream for 
the purpose of irrigation and power and the water thereof shall 
be apportioned equally between the two countries." 

With this understanding the United States proceeded to 
utilize its share of the water and to complete a conduit with a 
capacity of 850 cubic feet per second for taking water from St. 
Mary River to the headwater of Milk River down the channel 
of which the stored supply might travel through a portion of 
Canada and back into the United States to the irrigation sys- 
tem built by the Reclamation Service in the Milk River Valley. 

In this instance the natural difficulties to be overcome in the 


way of storage and diversion of water are not as serious as 
those interposed by artificial conditions such as the laws of the 
two countries and the conflicting claims which arise because of 
the fact that there is not enough water to meet the desires of 
both sets of claimants. The structures are notable perhaps 
mainly from the fact that they are built in a northern region 
where the climatic conditions are extreme and where ice may be 
expected to interfere with the manipulation of the works at 
critical times. The storage dams already completed are similar 
to those built elsewhere, the principal feature being the canal 
about 80 miles long which, starting from the west side of the 
St. Mary River, follows down the valley and then, before reach- 
ing the international boundary, turns abruptly, the water being 
continued across St. Mary River in steel pipes. 

After entering the Milk River Valley, the water follows nat- 
ural channels into Canada, then along the north side of the 
boundary, and enters the United States. It is finally diverted 
into the low-lying reservoirs in the vicinity of the agricultural 
lands. The successful operation of these works brings in many 
complications because of the long distance from the reservoir 
on the headwater to those in eastern Montana. There wilbalso 
be for many years a necessity of exercising almost daily discre- 
tion in the adjustment of conflicting claims to the water between 
the citizens of the two countries. 

Deliveries to Reservoir. In planning works for water 
conservation the practicability of one scheme or another often 
rests on the possibility of bringing water to a dry but other- 
wise desirable reservoir site. In several of the storage works 
just described the necessity was shown of procuring water at 
some considerable distance, taking it through flood water canals 
built for this purpose and utilized only during the time of an 
excess of water in the river. Such a canal has been noted in 
connection with the Umatilla Project, see PI. XII. A. An 
earlier and larger feed canal used also to some extent for direct 
irrigation is that shown in PI. XII. C. This is the cement- 
lined conduit described on page 162, which takes the water of 
Truckee River out of the stream near the lower end before 
being lost in its sinks and carries it on a gently descending 


grade along the mountain side for thirty-one miles. The canal 
has a capacity of 1,500 cubic feet per second. For the most 
part it is necessarily narrow and deep, and occasionally passes 
through short tunnels. 

When the cement-lined canal from Truckee River leaves the 
narrow valley and reaches the open country, it widens. Some 
of the water is there used for irrigation and the remainder is 
discharged into the reservoir on Carson River above the dam 
described on page 168. The illustration, PL XII. D, shows this 
reservoir site not yet filled, with the Carson River in the dis- 
tance and in the foreground the water from the Truckee Canal. 
At this point the descent to the reservoir is rapid. At the lower 
end a concrete chute is provided, inclined upward at the tip in 
order to throw the water clear of the foundation. The picture 
illustrates an interesting phenomenon in the flow of water. It 
is rushing down at high velocity and at this stage accumulates 
in a large standing wave as shown in the foreground of the 
picture. When the volume increases somewhat, however, this 
wave is swept out and with increased flow at this point, the 
stream continues unbroken to the very end of the chute. 

Underground Storage. Nature has made provision for 
water storage not only in the lakes and ponds which dot the 
map, but in less evident ways. In many localities water is 
stored underground, as noted on page 76, not in spacious 
caverns as popularly supposed, but in innumerable tiny inter- 
stices between the gravel pebbles or particles of sand. Such 
material has accumulated on the lowlands along the rivers, 
usually as a result of storms washing down the disintegrating 
covering of the hills. It is evident that at the time of deposition 
of this sand and gravel by rapidly flowing water, the mass was 
saturated and thus remains until the water is slowly drawn off. 

In the arid valleys of the west the gravels have accumulated 
to an extraordinary depth because of the fact that many of 
the streams from the steep mountains are intermittent and 
torrential in character. They bring down during annually 
recurring storms more material than can be transported across 
the more nearly level plains near the foot of the hills. Some 
of these mountain valleys because of later earth movements are 


now completely inclosed; the rivers no longer escape to the 
sea, but disappear in marshes or alkaline lakes. The gravel 
terraces and valley slopes even where dry on the surface have 
received and retained much of the water which has come from 
the hills. When this water is not too heavily charged w^ith 
earthy salts or alkali, it has great value for use in the drought- 
stricken areas. This condition is particularly notable at the 
outlets of the narrow canyons where the bowlders and smaller 
stones have been deposited in the form of low cones or deltas 
over which after storms the water flows, a part of it disappear- 
ing into the gravel masses and then slowly seeping to lowlands. 
The water thus temporarily or permanently stored in these 
gravel cones can frequently be recovered by tunnels or deep 
trenches and thus utilized during the crop season. In the 
springtime the gravel cones are again replenished from the 
floods and thus there is provided, as above noted, a reservoir 
which is highly effective in time of need. 

Investigations of the extent and availability of these natural 
storage reservoirs have been made by the United States Geo- 
logical Survey and various publications prepared, notably in 
relation to irrigation development.^ The importance of these 
waters stored underground is attested by the vigorously con- 
tested lawsuits concerning their ownership and control — in 
particular the case between San Bernardino County in Cali- 
fornia on one side and Riverside County on the other relative 
to the artesian waters of San Bernardino Valley. This case 
has required a more exhaustive study of details than, so far as 
known, has been undertaken in similar work. The examinations 
extend into the geology, hydrography, and conservancy fea- 
tures, accompanied by the spreading of flood waters over the 

1 See J. B. Lippincott, U. S. G. S., Water Supply Papers Nos. 59 and 60, 
relating largely to the underground water supply of San Bernardino 
Valley; Mendenhall in Paper No. 142,' giving details particularly of the 
geology, and Charles Lee on the water supply of the Owens Valley in 
Paper No. 292. Also Frank H. Olmstead on "Control of Mountain Tor- 
rents by Check Dams" in Engineering News, February 17, 1916, p. 314; 
H. F. Olmstead in Engineering Record, May 13 and 20, and by O. E. 
Meinzer and A. J. Ellis on "Ground Water in Paradise Valley, Arizona," 
and by O. E. Meinzer on "Ground Water in Big Smoky Valley, Nevada." 


gravel beds at the edge of the valley. Extensive tests have 
been made on the effect of opening and closing artesian wells. 

The water which is stored underground can be utilized some- 
times by direct gravity flow as, for example, where the saturated 
deposits of sand and gravel lie on the hill slopes in such position 
that a tunnel can be driven on slightly ascending grade to 
penetrate them and draw out the waters which are slowly per- 
colating downwards. At various times considerable popular 
interest has been taken in these so-called underflow^ tunnels, 
particularly out from the Great Plains. (See page 78.) It was 
known that there were considerable bodies of water under- 
ground saturating the sands and gravel and that this water had 
a general movement toward the east and south. The rate of 
movement, however, was exaggerated, as it was not appre- 
ciated that this is extremely slow, being perhaps at the rate of 
a foot or two a day. (See page 79.) The level of the country 
drops towards the east at the rate of about seven feet to the 
mile. If an open trench or tunnel starting at the ground level 
were continued westerly with a rise of 0.5 foot per mile, at the 
end of the first mile it would be 6.5 feet beneath the surface and 
in ten miles 65 feet deep. It was assumed that this tunnel 
would tap the so-called underflow and permit it to flow easterly 
to the surface of the ground. 

Large amounts of money were spent in building works of 
this kind, but after the near-by deposits were drained of water, 
the progress of percolation was found to be so slow that a very 
small stream of, say, a second-foot or less was obtained. In 
other words, the cost of the tunnel was disproportionately large 
when compared to the value of the supply. An equal amount 
of water could have been pumped at far less cost. 

Pumping to bring this stored water to the surface (see page 
221) and to furnish an adequate supply for agriculture and other 
purposes is being resorted to in a continually increasing degree. 
An almost innumerable variety of mechanical appliances are 
being improved and developments arc taking place along 
various lines, particularly in the use of electrical power and in 
the perfection of the steam and gas engines. The oldest and 
simplest devices and one of the most widely used are various 


forms of windmill or wind engines. From the earliest times 
the power of the wind has been employed to supplement the 
strength of man and of animals in lifting water for irrigation 
and drainage. The great mills built by the Dutch for reclaim- 
ing the lowlands of Holland are particularly well known. 
Modern developments have resulted in building comparatively 
cheap, rapid-running steel mills. These are used by the thou- 
sands, particularly in countries, as in Kansas and Nebraska, 
where there is considerable wind movement throughout the year. 
There they are employed largely for pumping water for 
domestic supply and for watering animals. To a less extent 
they are utilized in bringing water which is stored underground 
to small reservoirs or tanks on the surface, as shown in PI. 
IV. A, where it can be held and usually warmed by the sun 
until needed for irrigation of gardens. 

Where wind movement cannot be depended upon, steam power 
is being largely emplo3'ed. This finds a competitor in the 
gasoline engine, especially in power plants. One of these small 
irrigation systems is shown in PI. XIII. A, where there is an 
earth tank or pond built above the general level of the adjacent 
country. Water is pumped into this from the so-called under- 
flow and is drawn out as needed for the irrigation of the sugar 
beets in the vicinity. (See also page 221.) 

Plate XI. A. 

Dam at bead of Sunnyside CanHl, Washington, diverting water wliich 

comes from storage at the head of Yakima River. 

Plate XI. B. 
Lower embankment of Deer Flat Reservoir, Boise Project. Idaho. 

Plate XI. C. 

Laying concrete blocks on upp«r face of Owl Creek Dam, Belle Fourebe 

Project, South Dakota. 

Plate Xr. D. 
Cold Spring Dam and outlet tower, Umatilla Project, Oregon. 



» » 



Costs and Benefits. The feasibility of water conservation 
by storage is dependent largely upon questions of economics, 
that is, of relative cost and benefits, and these in turn rest upon 
the uses to which water may be put. Although it might not 
be profitable to conserve water for irrigation alone, it may 
pay to store it for municipal supply combined with irrigation 
and power development. 

Thus in any discussion of water conservation it is necessary 
to consider the ultimate uses of the water as these bear directly 
upon the practicability of incurring considerable expenses for 
any proposed system. 

There is a wide divergence in the uses, some being of such 
character that any expenditure would be proper, as, for 
example, in procuring pure water for drinking; to save and 
prolong life, a man or community will be justified in going to any 
length. On the other hand, there are uses which cannot be 
considered unless water is abundant and cheap. For example, 
in some manufacturing processes the margin of profit is so 
small that the question as to whether the enterprise is worth 
undertaking is determined by the fact as to whether there 
already exists plenty of good water which can be had at a merely 
nominal cost. 

In considering the uses of water and consequently the expen- 
ditures which may be made in conservation by storage, we may 
divide these uses into five classes.^ 

First, support of life. 

Second, production of food. 

1 See Progress Report of the Special Committee on "A National Water 
Law," Proceedings of the Am. Soc. C. E., December, 1915, p. 2747. 


Third, carrying away wastes. 

Fourth, manufacturing, including water power. 

Fifth, navigation. 

This relative rank has not been widely adopted in the past ; 
on the contrary, from a legal standpoint, the claims of naviga- 
tion are often given precedence over other uses. This is because 
of the fact that in the early days there was usually plenty of 
water for all ordinary purposes. Manufacturing had not 
developed any considerable needs, while on the other hand, the 
transportation of persons and goods by water was imperative. 

In the treaty with Great Britain signed January 11, 1909, 
and promulgated May 13, 1910, relating to boundary waters, 
it is stated in Article VIII that "The following order of preced- 
ence shall be observed among the various uses enumerated here- 
inafter for these waters, and no use shall be permitted which 
tends materially to conflict with or restrain any other use which 
is given preference over it in this order of precedence : 

(1) Uses for domestic and sanitar}' purposes; 

(2) Uses for navigation, including surveys of canals for the 
purpose of navigation; 

(3) Uses for power and irrigation purposes." 

From the standpoint of human needs it is probable that irri- 
gation, which means the production of food, should have pre- 
cedence over everything except domestic and municipal supply, 
and that the development of water power is more important 
to humanity than navigation as now employed. However this 
may be, there is no question but that all uses must yield to those 
of prolonging life. 

Support of Life the First Use of Water. The first and 
most important use of water to mankind is for drinking pur- 
poses; this is self-evident since it is not possible for a human 
being to exist for more than two or three days without water. 
More than this, continued health is dependent upon having an 
ample supply of water of a high degree of purity, especially 
one not polluted with animal or vegetable matter. It is possible 
to continue to drink water containing a considerable amount of 
mineral matter but on the whole the more nearly pure the water 
the better the general health of a communit3\ Absolutely pure 


water cannot be had, and the nearest approach to this is rain 
water, especially that caught after the first part of the shower 
has washed out most of the dust in the air. 

Because of the prime importance of water for drinking and 
for domestic and municipal supply, it is practicable and desir- 
able to make large expenditures for water conservation by 
storage for such purposes. In fact the needs of mankind are 
such that no expense is too great to procure good water, assum- 
ing that such expenditure is advisedly made. For this reason 
some of the largest engineering works in the world have been 
built for municipal supply. Such work includes dams creating 
reservoirs, especially in the mountains where the purest water 
can be had, also long aqueducts constructed to bring this water 
to centers of population. 

The amount which can thus be expended in procuring good 
drinking water is limited only by the resources of the people. 
Practically, however, other considerations have come into play 
and, unconsciously at least, there has been a weighing of costs 
and benefits in which human life and comfort have not always 
been valued at their true worth. In other words, while theoreti- 
cally a community should utilize all its resources to procure 
good water, practically the consideration of cost is balanced 
against the prevailing opinion of the value of human life and the 
risk which may be assumed. This is not done in a direct manner 
but, until the loss of life and health becomes alarming, the 
ordinary community does not bestir itself to make strenuous 
effort to procure good drinking water. Or to put it in another 
way, the men in responsible charge usually have the feeling that 
the penalty of neglect will fall on some other person : although 
they would indignantly deny the charge, yet a careful analysis 
will reveal the conviction that only the poorer or less worthy 
members of society will suffer. 

A rather interesting example of justice in this regard has 
been furnished by a recent event in one of the smaller cities in 
Illinois. Here public sentiment was strongly aroused because 
of the known pollution of the city supply and the necessity of 
taking immediate action. The mayor, however, a man of strong 
personality, stood out against the proposed changes, urged 


that the community had always used the water from that source 
and, on the ground of economy, was successful in defeating the 
effort of the great body of citizens. He himself was one of the 
first victims of the typhoid epidemic which followed: he paid 
with his life for his attempt to cut down necessary expenditures. 
If each instance of parsimony or of official indifference were 
followed by such prompt penalty the loss of life and health due 
to the neglect of water conservation and protection would cease.^ 

Quantity Needed. The amount of water actually needed 
for supporting life is relatively small. It is necessary for an 
ordinary individual to have approximately four pounds daily 
and under normal conditions, comfort is assured only by having 
this amount available for use at short intervals. Some animals 
drink very little water, but obtain the needed liquid through the 
herbage cropped. In the case of the camel it is stated that he 
has traveled 500 miles in 40 days with only 3 gallons of water 
on the thirty-second day and 3^/^ on the fortieth.^ 

Although a very small quantity, namely, a half gallon per 
person each day, is absolutely necessary, yet in constructing 
waterwork systems, it has been found that to bring this half 
gallon to the individual needing it and to supply his other 
needs connected with cooking, washing and other household 
purposes, from 100 to 200 times this quantity is demanded. In 
European cities 40 to 50 gallons per day per inhabitant are 
not unusual. In the United States the quantity usually taken 
as a fair minimum is 100 gallons per day per unit of popula- 
tion. It is thus apparent that in considering water conserva- 
tion for supporting life, a large allowance must be made for 
related purposes. 

In this connection it may be well to call attention to the value 
put upon human life as compared with the cost of safeguarding 
it. One of the best discussions on this point is that given by 
Marshall O. Leighton in Popular Science Monthly, June, 1902, 
Vol. 61, p. 120, where he arrives at an estimate for various ages 

1 Bass, F. H., "The Public Water Supply and Means of Protecting It," 

Hazen, Allen, "Clean Water and How to Get It," John WUey & Sons, 
1914, 196 pages. 

2 Coles-Finch, "Water, Its Origin and Use," p. 430. 


based on court decisions, in which award was made largely on 
life expectancy but without consideration of the suffering em- 
bodied nor any punitive measure nor solace to the survivors. 
In some cases the state law sets a maximum of $5,000, but by 
taking an average of all the cases the values range from approx- 
imately $1,000 at 5 years of age up to $3,000 at 16 years, then 
increasing rapidly to about $7,000 at 80 years, dropping 
sharply to old age. 

It is apparent from the action which has been taken by courts 
and by administrative bodies that there is a certain pecuniary 
value kept in mind and that this is subject to the same economic 
laws as ordinary commodities. Unconsciously, at least, some 
such values enter into so-called practical consideration as to 
whether or not a community will incur large expenses for obtain- 
ing good water and thus reducing the death rate. Purely 
humanitarian considerations must be supplemented by the logic 
of the saving in money to bring conviction to certain types of 

Value of Pure Water. The value of pure water is to a 
certain extent fixed by the value set upon human life, as above 
noted, and upon comfort, as well as upon industrial conditions. 
This has been discussed by George C. Whipple in his "Value of 
Pure Water," 1907. Without pure water any community is 
subject to lower health conditions, and with water occasionally 
polluted there is constant danger of typhoid and similar dis- 
eases. In fact, the typhoid death rate to a certain extent 
marks the degree of purity of water supply. Under ordinary 
conditions no town can grow or increase in prosperity which 
does not guard its reputation in this way. 

In speaking of pure water from a sanitary standpoint there 
is not implied the degree of purity required by the chemist. In 
fact a good or fairly wholesome water may contain a consid- 
erable amount of coloring matter or of various earth salts or 
mineral matter in solution; also considerable organic matter, 
although the presence of the latter should give rise to suspicion. 
To be safe as well as palatable a water should be reasonably 
clear, odorless and tasteless and free from contamination by 
sewage or industrial wastes. 


Various waters which are highly charged with mineral matter 
may be used for drinking and some are regarded as having 
desirable medicinal properties. These have been classified into 
thermal or warm waters, muriated or containing traces of 
chlorine, alkaline such as most western waters containing sul- 
phates and carbonates, sulphated having sulphates in excess, 
chalybeate or iron bearing, sulphur, calcareous, etc. That these 
mineral waters are considered as having value is shown by the 
fact that quantities valued at about $7,000,000 are disposed 
of annually, of this over $1,000,000 being imported from abroad. 

At the present time the greatest activity in water conserva- 
tion as well as in hydraulic engineering in general is in connec- 
tion with procuring water, suitable in quality as well as quan- 
tity, for domestic supply, especially for municipalities. The 
ideal condition for obtaining water for drinking and related 
purposes is from some elevated watershed which can be pro- 
tected from intrusion and where the erosion of the soil may be 
prevented by the maintenance of forests or other suitable vege- 
tation. Such conditions are found, for example, in the water 
supply of Portland, Ore., which obtains its water from a national 
forest, a vast tract of almost unexplored wilderness. 

Favorable surroundings such as these are rare and for large 
cities such as New York and Boston it has been necessary to 
purchase large areas of land near the headwater of small streams 
and to build storage reservoirs; in some instances small towns 
and factories have been removed in order to secure the neces- 
sary land and to insure the purity of the supply. Among the 
more notable works are those of the city of Los Angeles, Cal., 
which brings its water supply from Owens Valley, a distance 
of upwards of 240 miles. 

The use of water taken directly from a reservoir or stream is 
gradually being abandoned in favor of some form of filtration. 
Theoretically the water stored in a reservoir should be so pro- 
tected from pollution as to be suitable for use, but frequently 
it happens that the waters are not only contaminated but in the 
reservoir itself organic matter develops and certain changes 
take place causing the water to deteriorate and to become unpal- 
atable because of color, taste, or odor. For this reason, and 


also because the density of population increases the correspond- 
ing danger of pollution, more and more complete systems of 
filtration are being introduced. 




After air, without which man can live only about two min- 
utes, and water, without which man can exist for about two 
days, comes food. This he should have daily and must have 
at short intervals to maintain strength. Men have lived 80 or 
40 days or even more without nutrition, but with rapid running 
down of activities. All food materials, whether for plants or 
animals, require water. Plants receive their supply mainly 
through the moist earth, which in ordinary soils should contain 
from 8 to 16 per cent of water in order that the plants may 
thrive. If in certain soils the percentage drops much lower 
the plants wilt, and if it rises much higher many of them become 
drowned out. There is thus a narrow margin which must be 
preserved to enable plants to find nutriment for themselves and 
to act as food for animals. This proper proportion of water, 
if not the result of natural conditions, may be produced arti- 
ficially either b}^ irrigation, by bringing water to the plants 
when needed when the water content of the soil drops below a 
certain point, or, on the other extreme, by drainage to remove 
the excess. 

The watering of livestock is a use which may be considered 
in this connection and which usually takes precedence even over 
that of irrigation of the ground. Thus in this second class of 
uses of water, that in food production, there come the following 

(a) Watering livestock and maintenance of animal industry. 

(b) The production of crops by irrigation. 

(c) Increase of crops by drainage. 

In watering livestock, conservation by storage is widely em- 

Plate xrr. A. 

Main feed canal, concrete-lined section, for cariyinfi flood water to Cold 
Springs Reservoir, Umatilla Project, Oregon. 

Plate XII. B. 
pillway of the Minidoka Dam, Idaho, with power house in distance. 

Plate XII. C. 
Cement-Uned canal carrying the water of Tnickce River 
Reservoir, Nevada. 

Plate XII. D. 
Flume delivering water of Truckee River into Careon Reservoir, Nevada. 



ployed, especially in great pastures and on the plains where the 
cattle roam at large. Throughout the western part of the 
United States, thousands of small reservoirs have been built for 
this purpose. Some of these are formed by damming the little 
streams and others are depressions in the ground into which 
water is pumped usually by windmills. From the earliest antiq- 
uity there was resort to this kind of water conservation. In the 
biblical narratives there are accounts of deep wells or springs 
developed and protected for the purpose of watering the cattle 
and sheep. 

Irrigation and Drainage. Throughout the western two- 
fifths of the United States on much of the best agricultural 
land the rainfall is insufficient in quantity, or so irregularly 
distributed throughout the year that valuable crops cannot be 
produced with certainty without an artificial supply of water 
provided largely by storage. In the Mississippi Valley and 
to a certain extent in most of the states of the Union there are 
vast tracts of otherwise fertile lands which have an excess of 
water to a degree such that crops cannot be profitably raised. 
Here the hydraulic engineer is called upon to solve the prob- 
lems of drainage. In many respects these are similar to those 
of irrigation and are intimately connected with it, as the object 
to be attained is the maintaining of the moisture in the soil 
within relatively narrow limits. 

For the production of crops by irrigation or for relieving 
the lands of an excess of water by drainage, quantities of water 
must be handled which are relatively large when compared with 
those needed for city supply. For example, a 160-acre farm 
will require for its irrigation or may need for drainage the 
handling of a volume of water as large as would be needed for 
domestic or general supplies if the area were covered with 
dwelling houses or factories. When it is considered that an 
ordinary American city of, say, 1 00,000 persons covers an area 
of about 10,000 acres, while an irrigation or drainage project 
may include 100,000 acres or more, some conception may be 
had of the relative magnitude of the works needed for the two 
purposes. Although for irrigation or drainage there must be 
constructed works of large capacity, yet it is not practicable 


to pay for these works an amount comparable with the expendi- 
tures which may properly be incurred by a municipality. 

For farming purposes a cost of irrigation exceeding, say, 
$100 per acre, or for drainage, $50 per acre, may be practically 
prohibitive, but for municipal supply the cost of providing 
water for a similar-sized, but densely populated area may prop- 
erly run into thousands of dollars. Thus the hydraulic engi- 
neer, while encountering in either instance problems of quan- 
tity and quality of water, adequacy of supply and difficulties 
of storage and distribution, must keep down the cost of these 
works to a small fraction of that which is feasible in consider- 
ing questions of municipal supply. 

In preparing for irrigation or drainage extensive studies 
must be made by the engineer and detailed maps prepared to 
show the topography of the country from which water may be 
obtained for irrigation and to which it may be carried. This 
mapping should be accompanied by measurements not only of 
the rainfall, wind movement, and other meteorological phenom- 
ena, but especially of the flow of various streams at typical 
points on their course. Problems of flood conservation or 
water storage are usually involved, these being on a larger scale 
than those in connection with municipal supply. The result of 
these measurements of rainfall and run-off should be available 
for a considerable period of time as the fluctuations during five 
consecutive years, particularly in the arid region, may not fully 
reveal the ordinary conditions. Ten years are better, but it 
appears from study of data now available that the engineer 
cannot assume to have complete knowledge of the climatic fluc- 
tuations from observations extending for a shorter period than 
half a century. Of course, it is impossible to wait that length 
of time before preparing plans for works, but when utilizing 
data which extend over a short period, a large "factor of safety, 
especially with reference to extreme drought and flood, should 
be employed. (See page 57.) 

The United States government has recognized the necessity 
of being prepared to furnish data of this kind and has insti- 
tuted through its Weather Bureau and Geological Survey a 
series of obser\'ations of climatic factors and stream flow, which 


enables the hydraulic engineer to make his estimates with a fair 
degree of accuracy. 

Rapid advances have been made throughout the United 
States, especially the western or arid portions, since 1900, in 
the construction of larger storage reservoirs and of distributing 
canals for bringing water to agricultural lands; so that in 1918, 
about 16,000,000 acres were under irrigation, out of possibly 
50,000,000 acres in all, which may be watered. Also in other 
parts of the country drainage works have been provided for, say, 
10,000,000 acres out of 70,000,000 acres needing such treat- 
ment to relieve the lowlands of an excess of moisture. No accu- 
rate statistics are available of these acreages. Large works 
have been and are being built, notably in Egypt, India, South 
Africa, and Australia, by the British engineers. In other dry 
lands, notably in Spain and Italy, there has been a gradual 
development and in many cases restoration and enlargement of 
great works built centuries ago. 

While the necessities are not such as to justify as large 
expense per unit of water stored, in the case of irrigation as in 
municipal supply, yet the values involved are sufficiently great 
to warrant large outlay for irrigation works. For example, 
comparing the land in its original condition as shown in PI. 
XIII. C, with the companion view, PI, XIII. D, it is apparent 
at once that this desolate area, with an occasional patch of 
prickly pear, has little, if any, value. It may sell at the govern- 
ment price of $1.25 per acre and be used as a stock range when 
there may be some herbage following the infrequent rains. But 
compare with this the same area after water has been brought 
to it from a storage reservoir located in the mountains. Here 
the settler is able almost the first year to secure a fair crop 
and the land provided with water will pay an interest charge 
on, say, $100 per acre. If we assume an average cost of irri- 
gation at $50 per acre and that a tract of 100,000 acres can 
thus be supplied, it is assumed that an outlay of $5,000,000 
would be justified. For this sum works of considerable magni- 
tude can be built. In this view, PL XIII. D, the area has been 
planted in alfalfa, the most important crop of an irrigated 
region. This is not only cut as hay, crop following crop. 


throughout the season, but is especially valuable in its green 
state in the production of pork and in the feeding of farm 

Inteknal Expansion. It is by means of this kind that it 
becomes possible to greatly extend the area of land available 
for agriculture and related purposes, and thus to realize the 
dreams of increase of available territory without encroaching 
upon neighbors. The engineer by conservation of water is thus 
creating new and valuable agricultural lands and making oppor- 
tunities for self-supporting citizens in localities where up to this 
time there has been merely waste space. He is adding not 
merely to the material prosperity of the country, but more than 
this, he is increasing the opportunities for better citizenship, 
for greater health and comfort and for the enjoyment of many 
of the higher ideals of life. He is bringing about an internal 
expansion of usable territory far more valuable than the mere 
extension of external boundaries. 

This internal expansion is, in effect, the putting into practice 
of the principles of conservation; a term which really implies 
good business management, or common sense applied to the use 
of natural resources. The engineer, finding that certain areas 
are neglected or that agriculture is not being practiced to its 
highest efficiency, knowing also that the soil is fairly good and 
that the climate is adapted to the production of crops, naturally 
inquiries into the reasons. He tries to ascertain the cause for 
the lack of full use of the lands. This he discovers is usually 
connected with an excess or deficiency of water supply. He finds 
that the plants useful for mankind are adapted to a relatively 
wide range of soil and temperature, but are more narrowly lim- 
ited by the quantity of moisture. More than this, he appre- 
ciates that the control of the water, while in part an agricul- 
tural operation, is largely dependent upon the application of 
engineering principles. 

Knowing, for example, that a certain area is arid and desert, 
or subject to periodical drought, the first consideration of the 
engineer is to seek out the sources from which water may be 
obtained and brought to the land to raise the water content 


of the soil from the original 1 or 2 per cent up to 10 per cent or 

On the other hand, finding a neglected or abandoned swamp 
or overflowed area or one whose soil is habitually wet or heavy, 
the problem presented to the engineer is to take away this excess 
and bring the water content down from the saturated condition 
of 100 per cent to 15 per cent or less of water. 

These two operations are intimately connected because of 
the fact that when water has been provided in abundance for a 
piece of arid land the tendency is to use the water in excess and 
to saturate it to an extent such that a large part of the area 
is injured for agricultural purposes. It thus becomes neces- 
sary to provide means for reclaiming these saturated lands; 
drainage is found necessary in localities where in their original 
state the lands were dry and barren. 

Irrigation and drainage are thus related, much in the same 
way that city water supply and sewage are "connected. The 
better the water supply, the more complete should be the sewage 
system. The larger the supply of water for irrigation, the 
more necessary the installation of effective drains and waste- 
ways. This very simple relation has very frequently been over- 
looked or at least ignored to an extent such that throughout 
arid North America, 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the irrigated 
lands, formerly producing large crops under irrigation, have 
been ruined by careless handling of the water and by lack of 
drains. The surface has been converted into swamps or covered 
with alkali over tens of thousands of acres. 

The watering of lands by artificial means to increase crop 
production, is widely practiced in the western or arid portions 
of the United States, as well as in the dryer parts of the Old 
World. It necessitates the application of many of the prin- 
ciples of hydraulic engineering and in addition, as above noted, 
requires for success a knowledge of agriculture and related 
economic matters. There is, on the whole, a far larger extent 
of dry land than can ever be provided with sufficient water for 
maturing crops. Thus land values, in a large way, depend upon 
the ability to obtain water ; many other industries besides agri- 


culture can be developed only in localities where an artificial 
water supply can be had. 

Irrigation in the United States began with a few hundred 
thousand acres in 1880, by 1890 the irrigated area had increased 
to approximately 4,000,000 acres, in 1900 to 8,000,000 acres, 
and in 1910 to 14,000,000, representing a total investment of 
approximately over $800,000,000. The hydraulic works for 
conserving and distributing the scanty water supply have been 
built to a point where all of the easily available sources of water 
have been utilized. Future progress must necessarily be rela- 
tively slow and expensive because of dependence upon works of 
increasing magnitude and cost per acre served. This cost, 
beginning originally with $15 or $20 per acre from small canals 
built by farmers, has increased to an average of about $50 per 
acre for supplies obtained from the larger and more difficult 
undertakings such as the Roosevelt Reservoir in Arizona and 
the Arrowrock Dam in Idaho. The most notable advances in 
irrigation development were made possible by the passage of the 
Reclamation or Newlands Act, described on page 149. 

Nearly 95 per cent of the lands irrigated in the United States 
obtain their water supply by gravity from surface streams. A 
relatively small, but valuable area, is watered from wells by 
means of pumps driven by steam, gasoline or hydro-electric 
power. Most of the streams of the arid region have their 
source in the snow-capped or forested mountains, from which 
they flow with rapid descent, passing usually through a series 
of upland valleys or parks and then cut their way through 
rocky defiles entering upon the lower valleys. In these the 
streams spread out and usually lose a great part of their 
water in broad sandy channels. The most effective development 
of the stream therefore is that in which the water is diverted 
near the upper edge of these lower valleys and carried out in 
channels so built as to conserve the supply which would other- 
wise be lost in the sandy channels. 

Diversion of Water. Water is ordinarily diverted from 
the stream, not by lifting or pumping from the stream as some- 
times inferred, but by taking advantage of the slopes of the 
country. For example, the streams on issuing from the moun- 


tains have a rapid fall of from 10 to 50 feet per mile or more. 
Water will flow with moderate rapidity in a well-built canal 
having a fall of 1 foot per mile or even less. Assuming, then, 
that the stream enters the valley on a descending grade of 10 
feet per mile and the canal is started out alongside the stream 
with a fall of 1 foot per mile, at the end of 10 miles the canal 
will be 90 feet above the river and must necessarily have swung 
back away from the river to be upon supporting ground. Thus 
it results that the canal departs rapidly from the river and, 
following the contour of the slopes of the foothills, is in position 
to discharge water toward the river over or through the lands 
which lie below the canal. 

In order to facilitate the taking of water from the river into 
the canal, it is usual to provide a low overflow dam or weir which 
extends from the head gate of the canal across or diagonally 
into the channel of the stream. If the topographical conditions 
are favorable, this weir may be omitted or in case of small 
irrigation canals, where the owners are unable to provide a 
permanent dam, it is customary in summer or on the approach 
of the low water season to build a temporary obstruction of 
stone and brush, turning the water toward the head gate of the 
canal. As the water continues to fall, this dam is made more 
nearly impervious by adding straw, earth or sandbags. It is 
necessary to provide some form of head gate to control the 
amount of water which enters the canal. Otherwise in time of 
flood the excess, getting into the canal, might overtop the banks 
and wash them away. Head gates are also needed to regulate 
the quantity in accordance with the needs of the irrigators. 
These usually consist of stout walls and frame built of timber, 
masonry or concrete with sliding gates of wood or steel. The 
water enters under the raised gates, the quantity being con- 
trolled by adjusting their position. 

The canal leading from the head gate usually passes through 
a rocky or rough country, involving large expense in construc- 
tion before the more nearly level open land is reached. In this 
upper part of the course it is sometimes necessary to carry the 
water in tunnels through projecting cliffs or to provide suitable 
timber, metal, or masonry flumes to take it across rough coun- 


try. When once the canal is out upon the agricultural land it 
is usually excavated with broad, shallow sections, keeping the 
water surface as high as possible, consistent with safety, so that 
water may be diverted to the adjacent fields on the lower side of 
the canal. The fall or slope of the canal, taken in connection 
with the cross section, is so proportioned as to give a velocity 
in ordinary earth of a little over two feet a second — ^not enough 
to erode the sides and bottom nor so stagnant as to deposit silt 
usually carried by mountain streams. Considerable skill and 
experience are required on the part of the designing engineer to 
lay out the canal system and its laterals or distributing branches 
so as to avoid erosion and sedimentation. 

Quantity Used. The amount of water required for raising 
crops varies according to the character of the soil. The plants 
themselves need a certain minimum supply, but a far larger 
quantity is required to saturate the surrounding soil to such 
a degree that the vitalizing processes can continue. Agricul- 
tural investigators have found by direct measurements that 
from 800 to 500 pounds of water or even more are required for 
each pound of dry matter produced. When the ground is first 
irrigated a larger quantity of water than in later seasons is 
sometimes required to saturate the subsoil. The water turned 
upon the surface and absorbed during the first year or two has 
frequently been equivalent to an amount sufficient to cover the 
ground to a depth of 10 feet or more, and in many localities an 
amount equal to a depth of 5 feet or more per annum has been 
thus employed for several years. The pioneers of irrigation 
usually apply too much water to their fields, often to their 

The quantity of water used in irrigation is usually stated in 
one of two ways : ( 1 ) In terms of depth of water on the surface ; 
(2) in quantities of flowing water through the irrigating season. 
In the humid regions the rainfall is usually from three to four 
inches per month during the crop season. In the arid region, 
where the sunlight is more continuous, and the evaporation 
greater, there should be for ordinary crops at least enough 
water during the growing season to cover the ground from 
four to six inches in depth each month or from a third to half 


of an acre-foot. The second method of stating the quantities 
necessary to irrigation is of convenience when considering a 
stream upon which there is no storage. 

It is estimated, as noted on page 105, that one cubic foot per 
second, flowing through an irrigating season of 90 days, will 
irrigate 100 acres. One second- foot will cover an acre nearly 
two feet deep during 24 hours, and in 90 days it will cover 180 
acres one foot deep, or 100 acres to a depth of 1.8 feet, or 21.6 
inches. This is equivalent to a depth of water of a little over 
seven inches per month during the season of 90 days or about 
one and three-quarters acre-feet. Successive years of deficient 
water supply, notably in southern California, have served to 
prove that, with careful cultivation, crops, orchards, and vine- 
yards can be maintained by using very small quantities of water. 
In some cases an amount not exceeding six inches in depth was 
applied during the year, this being conducted directly to the 
plants and the ground kept carefully tilled and free from weeds. 

The amount of land which can be irrigated with a given quan- 
tity of water, or the relation which these bear to each other, is 
commonly expressed by the term duty of water, as discussed on 
page 282. The investigation of the duty of water is one of the 
most complicated problems of irrigation. There is such a dif- 
ference in methods of measurement, soils, crops, climatic condi- 
tions, ways of application of water, and frequency of watering 
that the statements made by different persons are almost irrec- 
oncilable. In general, more water is used, or the duty is less, 
on the newer land than on that which has been cultivated by 
irrigation for some years. 

The rainfall largely affects the quantity used, and as the 
precipitation is exceedingly irregular, as noted on page 55, the 
amount of water applied each year fluctuates. Seepage like- 
wise complicates matters, for a field may often receive consid- 
erable water indirectly and require less by direct application. 
The duty of water is quoted at from 50 to 500 acres or more 
to the second- foot. For convenience the unit of 100 acres to 
the second- foot has been considered as indicating careful irri- 
gating, although in the more southwestern portion of the arid 


region this would be considered low, and in the northern part 

Since the value of water per second-foot varies largely with 
its duty, it will be recognized that this value is exceedingly diffi- 
cult to estimate. However, it is necessary to arrive at certain 
averages in order to approximate the possible values of a river, 
or of a reservoir, in the future development of the country. It 
has been estimated that a perpetual water-right is worth from 
$25 to $50 per acre in a grain or grazing country, and as high 
as from $100 to $500 per acre for fruit-land, rising in southern 
California for the best citrus lands even to $1,000 or more per 
acre. Assuming an annual supply of water as being worth $50 
per acre irrigated and a duty of 1 second- foot to 100 acres, this 
quantity would be worth $5,000 and a stream furnishing a 
steady supply of 500 second- feet would have a value to the 
community of $2,500,000. Considering stored water as having 
a value of $100 per acre of reclaimed land, producing fruit or 
other valuable crops, and with a duty of 21^ acre-feet of stored 
water to each acre, then a storage reservoir capable of holding 
and delivering 250,000 acre- feet might justify an expenditure of 

Cost of Water. The first cost of water and the annual cost 
of maintenance form very considerable items in the budget of 
the irrigator. As an equivalent for this expenditure he must 
expect to receive a return per acre for his crops greater than 
that obtained by the so-called "dry farmer." As a matter of 
fact, he can raise few, if any, crops without irrigation, but with 
it he should be able to obtain a yield far in excess of the ordi- 
nary production because of his ability to control the water sup- 
ply and to use it on a land from which the sunshine is not cut 
off by frequent rain clouds. 

The cost of water is usuallv considered under two heads, 
'firsts that of the original investment in obtaining water by reser- 
voirs, canals and distributing works and, second^ the annual 
cost. The first cost ranges from $10 to $15 per acre, in case of 
the older and more easily built ditches, up to $50 or $75 per 
acre or even more where it has been necessary to provide expen- 


sive storage reservoir or to overcome natural obstacles by build- 
ing tunnels or masonry and concrete conduits. 

The average first cost of water in the United States is not 
far from $50 per acre. The commercial enterprises which have 
undertaken to build irrigation works have usually attempted 
to control the land reclaimed and to sell land and water together 
at a price of $100 per acre or more, including some improve- 
ments in the nature of removing the native vegetation, leveling 
the soil and planting alfalfa. Without such control of the 
land, investments of this kind have rarely been profitable. In 
case of works built by the government the right to the use of 
water is sold in twenty annual installments without interest. 
In a relatively few cases the owners of the farms do not own a 
perpetual right attached to the land but rent water annually, 
but this condition, unfavorable for permanent development, is 
being done away with. 

All irrigation works must be operated and maintained at an 
annual expenditure, this being a notable item, especially where 
it is necessary to clean the canal bed and banks of large quan- 
tities of accumulated mud, weeds and so-called moss, and to 
make repairs of more or less temporary structures or to meet 
extraordinary conditions such as damages from floods or cloud- 
bursts. On the simpler individual or community systems, the 
cost may be 50 cents per acre per annum, especially where the 
owners of the canals do the work themselves and are willing to 
submit to many inconveniences and occasional crop losses. On 
the larger, better-managed systems where the works are kept 
in good condition, the operation and maintenance may be from 
$1 per acre up to $1.60 or $2 per acre each year. In appor- 
tioning this charge it should be placed as nearly as possible on 
a metered basis, the payment for operation and maintenance 
being in proportion to the amount of water used in order to 
insure economy. As a rule too much water is put on the ground, 
and it has been found that the less the amount of water applied, 
consistent with fair plant growth, the larger and better the 
crop yields and the less the injury by seepage to the lands in the 

Economic Consideration. Throughout the arid regions, 


which include a great part of the land area of the world, irriga- 
tion is essential to agriculture. Its extension should be urged 
to the limits of the available water supply as made evident by 
careful research. In the more humid regions where occasional 
droughts reduce the crop value, irrigation is being practiced as 
an insurance. The building of works for this purpose has been 
slow, however, because of the fact that during wet years the 
tendency is to forget its importance and when drought condi- 
tions develop, the time has passed when water can be applied to 
the best advantage. The extent to which irrigation may be 
developed in the United States is being studied by the United 
States Geological Survey through its systematic measurements 
of streams and researches with underground waters, also by the 
Reclamation Service in accordance with its organic law. 

Not all of the apparently favorable localities can be utilized 
because of the great expense involved in building reservoirs, 
canals and other works as compared with present values, but 
with the settlement of the country and with greater skill and 
experience acquired in raising and marketing crops there is a 
corresponding advance in land values and in the ability to pay 
for expensive undertakings. All of the easy or cheap irrigation 
schemes have been entered upon; beginning with those which 
have cost only a few dollars per acre for the water, other pro- 
jects have been undertaken involving expenditures of upwards 
of $50 or more per acre. These more expensive undertakings 
have not proved financially profitable to the investors because of 
the fact that the values created by the investment in canals and 
reservoirs have been widely diffused and have not been recover- 
able by the men who furnished the money. Thus future develop- 
ment in irrigation must rest largely upon obtaining public 
funds or upon utilizing the credit of the communities which are 
benefited by the works — the direct losses of interest or of profit 
on the investment being more than balanced by the indirect 

Plate XIII. A. 

Underground storage of water in the Great Plains area. Pumping from 

the so-called underflow near Garden Citj-, Kansas. 

Plate XIII. B. 
Building canal \ty wheeled scraper, Boise Project, Idaho. 

• « 


• it 

Plate XIII. C. 
Desert land before irrigation, Slioghone Project, Wfomiag. 

Plate XIII. D. 
Alfalfa and hogs, profitalile products of the arid regior 
Project, Montana. 


The vast extent of land throughout the United States whose 
value is dependent upon the ability to control or secure water, 
is almost beyond comprehension. Although surveys have been 
carried on by public and private agencies for many years there 
yet remain great areas to be examined and the surrounding 
conditions studied with reference to obtaining an adequate sup- 
ply of water or of regulating the excess. The problems of 
rendering these areas useful are by no means easy; their solu- 
tion rests upon research, upon obtaining fairly accurate knowl- 
edge of the physical conditions such as the water supply avail- 
able at different points, the existence of feasible reservoir sites 
and the limiting conditions of topography, climate, and soil. 
There is also another class of items to be considered, namely, 
the financial or economic, embracing the practicability of util- 
izing the land after water has been provided or controlled and 
of disposing of the crops. 

The key to the irrigation situation is usually in the. water 
supply and this in turn depends largely upon the questions of 
economically saving water which otherwise would run to waste. 
The methods of measurement of the streams have already been 
described on page 102 and reference also given to the surveys of 
reservoir sites on page 123. Having these and other related 
facts, a full study is possible and, as stated previously, the im- 
portance of the subject demands thorough research accom- 
panied by the employment of the best engineering ability and 
experience in constructing and financing the works which may 
be built. 

No two irrigation or drainage enterprises are alike, and each 
project generally offers a wide range of alternatives in the way 


of difficult locations for reservoir or dam, various sources of 
water to be impounded, height of dam, and selection of the lands 
to be reclaimed. The economics of future construction, and even 
more important those of operation and maintenance, are de- 
pendent upon the judgment exercised in the preliminary work. 

On the basis of the conclusions reached by the first studies 
the whole physical and financial situation may be considered and 
adjustment made between the assumed benefits and costs which 
are to be incurred. As a rule, in nearly all enterprises of this 
kind, the final cost has far exceeded the original estimates by 
two or three times the amount at first assumed. This has been 
due to several causes, but primarily to the many unknown con- 
ditions to be met and the tendency to assume that when these 
unknowns are revealed there will be no surprise. As a matter 
of fact, the results of investigations are full of surprises — for 
example, the foundations for proposed dams are frequently 
found to be far more imperfect than there was reason to antici- 
pate, or after the estimates are completed the price of mate- 
rial and labor has often advanced to a point not previously 

Another cause of increase of final cost over estimates is the 
fact that as work progresses there is a tendency to add more 
details and to depart from the somewhat simple plans at first 
adopted. There are always demands for larger or more sub- 
stantial works or for more bridges, water gates or other struc- 
tures which at first were not considered necessary. Whatever 
the cause may be of such increase, the lesson to be drawn is that 
in preparing financial estimates there must be a liberal addition 
to cover contingencies and an insistence upon adherence to the 
original plan. 

Financing. The financing of irrigation or of drainage 
projects has been a matter largely of private enterprise or 
speculation. At first works could be built at relatively small 
cost because of the fact that the opportunities were almost 
untouched and there was wide range of choice. The easy under- 
takings were naturally seized upon by individuals and small 
ditches and canals built. As the work became more and more 
difficult, associations were formed and cooperative enterprises 


on the part of neighbors were begun. These in turn gave way 
to stock companies and to corporate efforts. 

The first undertakings were largely successful financially 
because of the fact that most of the work was done by the farmer 
or landowners ; if any misfortunes occurred these were accepted 
by the community as a matter of course and further efforts 
undertaken. With the larger projects, however, especially those 
financed by outside capital, there was often less rigid super- 
vision accompanied by greatly increased cost. There was also 
a marked tendency to frequent changes as the work progressed, 
when it became evident that improvements could be made. 

The outcome of this evolution was that practically all of the 
larger irrigation projects, especially those involving water stor- 
age, were found to be unprofitable to the investor; while the 
values of near-by town property were increased, and the con- 
struction of railroads and of other enterprises was stimulated, 
yet the builders of the works did not share in this general pros- 
perity but lost the interest and often the principal on their 
investment. The only notable exceptions were in cases where 
the men who built the irrigation works were also owners of adja- 
cent land. In these cases the losses on the works were made 
up by increase in value of other holdings. 

Because of this condition, the taking up of new and large 
enterprises such as were needed by the country, became neg- 
lected and it was only from the passage of the Reclamation Act 
in 1902 that work on a large scale was again undertaken. 

Surveys. Thorough research, scientific and economic, should 
precede drainage projects. The first work is to initiate sur- 
veys and examinations of the country to be reclaimed. The 
results of these afford the firm foundation of fact upon which the 
imagination of the engineer may erect in broad outlines the 
results to be attained. As a rule too little care and expenditure 
have been devoted to this fundamental matter. There is usually 
impatience for immediate conclusions and an unwillingness to 
expend any considerable amount of time and money in these 
preliminary studies. It is safe to say, however, that within 
reasonable limits, it is hardly possible to spend too much money 
on ascertaining the facts of topography, water supply, soil. 


climatic, and market conditions. For every dollar thus wisely 
expended, it may be possible to save tenfold in future construc- 
tion and operation. If there is any one thing which character- 
izes the reclamation work of the past and which has led to 
financial failures, it is the fact that too little time and money 
have been devoted to research. 

There is a wide range of conditions to be studied. Presum- 
ably the general location of the lands to be benefited is fixed, 
but the precise outlines are usually unknown. The question of 
water supply available for these lands is usually undetermined 
or the amount of water which must be removed by drainage is 
unknown. Both of these matters involve a wide difference in 
possible quantities, and without having a fairly accurate knowl- 
edge of these quantities money may be wasted either in building 
works too large or too small. In case of irrigation works 
deriving their water from the high mountains or from rolling 
foothills, it may be necessary to have a quite complete topo- 
graphical map of the entire catchment basin to ascertain the 
extent and character of the slopes and to acquire data as to the 
floods or droughts which may be anticipated. In some coun- 
tries, as in portions of the United States, good contour topo- 
graphical maps have been made of many of the catchment basins. 
These are invaluable in the consideration of the entire project 
and in the limitations which may be set upon it. 

The study of the catchment area and topographical maps 
showing the principal features tributary to a reclamation pro- 
ject, will usually reveal the opportunities for water storage. 
There may be a number of alternatives presented, and the 
merits of each of these should be carefully studied, not only by 
maps but on the ground itself and with particular reference to 
underground conditions such as the probability of securing safe 
and tight foundations for dams. 

The topographic surveys of the country from which water 
may be obtained for irrigation, or of lands to be benefited by 
such irrigation or by drainage, must be supplemented by a vari- 
ety of examinations of many related conditions. The best prob- 
able location of the works having been determined by field and 
office study, examinations should be made of the character of 


the ground covered or traversed by the works to ascertain the 
probable cost of excavation of the different materials encoun- 
tered, the porosity of the soil, its ability to hold or deliver water, 
or to sustain structures of heavy weight. For example, if a 
canal should be built along a hillside, especial study should be 
made as to the practicability of constructing this in the ground 
or in flumes. Its safetv from earth or rock slides, either into 
the canal or of the entire structure itself, must be the subject 
of consideration. 

Throughout the entire area to be irrigated or drained, both 
the soil and particularly the subsoil should be examined with 
reference not only to the probable fertility of the surface soil, 
but also to the density of the subsoil and its behavior with 
reference to percolation of water into or out of it. The exami- 
nations thus lead into a variety of lines not merely confined to 
the apparent agricultural values but to the mechanical or even 
chemical features of the underlying rocks. 

Many of the items of research in these preliminary examina- 
tions as to the feasibility of a project are of a nature such that 
the work on them should be continued indefinitely. For exam- 
ple, it is desirable in the preliminary operations to ascertain 
the rainfall and evaporation at or near the reservoir site. These 
observations should be kept up even after the works are built, 
as they afford data needed in the proper operation of them. 
Also in connection with the behavior of water underground, the 
height of the water table, both in the irrigated and drained 
areas, should be noted from season to season and arrangement 
made for systematically obtaining and recording these facts 
which show the changes which are taking place beneath the 

After the financial arrangements have been completed on the 
basis of the preliminary examinations and surveys, it usually 
becomes necessary to make additional adjustments. These final 
surveys, after the funds have been acquired, are often needed 
in order to make certain readjustments arising from financial or 
legal complications. There is usually great pressure on the 
engineer to prepare the plans and specifications and let the con- 
tract as soon as possible after the financial arrangements have 


been made, because of the fact that as a rule interest charges 
begin to run. It is of the highest importance, however, that 
these final surveys and preparations of detailed specifications 
be given adequate time, as many economies, as above stated, 
depend upon the decisions reached regarding alternative meth- 
ods. There must therefore be a balancing between the demands 
for immediate construction and the necessity' of taking proper 
time for the exercise of judgment. As a rule the speed with 
which Americans proceed to the work is the subject of astonish- 
ment to foreign engineers, who feel that it is necessary to have 
a longer time than is usually given in the United States to the 
maturing of the final surveys. 

The results of surveys and examinations are embodied in 
broadly developed plans usually for consideration of various 
large alternatives. As a rule, there may be present two or even 
three or more ways of achieving results, these differing mainly in 
estimated cost. It is probable, for example, that one plan for a 
feasible enterprise may involve, for an irrigation work, the 
reclamation of, say, 10,000 acres at a cost of $50 per acre. A 
modification of this plan or an alternative proposed may enable 
the bringing in of 12,000 acres at a cost of perhaps $52 per 
acre. The question then arises as to whether a somewhat larger 
cost per acre may be justified in view of the increased acreage 
which may be utilized. If the enterprise is purely a money- 
making proposition in which the promoters are concerned with 
getting back their investment at the earliest possible date, they 
may prefer the cheaper. On the other hand, if the money is 
furnished by the public or by semipublic institutions such as 
irrigation districts, the general benefit to the entire country 
may justif}- the larger and more expensive undertaking. 

Fundamental questions of this kind can be considered on 
their merits only when the larger plans have been developed to 
a point where it is possible to make direct comparison of costs 
and benefits. For this reason, as before stated, the surveys 
and examinations must not merely be thorough, but the plans 
based upon these must be sufficiently broad to permit a full 
grasp of the situation, and to make adjustments to meet the 
financial limitations. 


Detailed Plans. The general plan finally agreed upon as 
to location and character of works must be supplemented by 
detailed drawings and specifications such as to enable expe- 
rienced contractors to bid intelligently upon each of the items 
involved. It is characteristic of American enterprises, as dis- 
tinguished from European, for the promoters to push construc- 
tion even before the plans have been fully matured. There is 
an impatience for visible results on the part of the investors, 
whether individuals or the public, which will not brook delay. 
Wise managers have frequently yielded to these importunities 
even though they know the final outcome will be unnecessarily 
expensive. This is not wholly confined to America ; in various 
times and places has been repeated and attributed to popular 
heroes, ancient and modern, the story of the foreman who 
"built the bridge before the engineer's picture was ready!" 
This is an amusing instance of efficiency in saving time in an 
emergency, but for a permanent work it probably means that 
future generations must pay several prices for the immediate 
saving thus made. 

There is probably no one place where greater economj^ can 
be secured than in the repeated study and the drawing again 
and again of the plans until a high degree of perfection is 
reached in all essential details. It is, of course, easy to look 
back after a structure is completed and see how certain more 
or less important features could have been modified to advan- 
tage. In the case of well-considered works, these savings 
detected after completion are usually small, but in many in- 
stances the responsible men in charge are too well aware that 
if they had been allowed proper time to plan out all details, 
they would never have located the works at the place nor built 
them of the character as finally finished. 

Standard Forms. For the execution of any large work of 
irrigation or drainage there are required plans of almost innu- 
merable smaller structures. For example, in turning water 
to the irrigated farms, there are required hundreds of small 
flumes or gates, also many measuring devices, bridges and 
culverts. Although at the present time the construction of 
such works has not advanced to a point where, as in railroad 


building, there are certain widely adopted sizes and shapes, yet 
it is practicable to adopt certain standards such as experience 
is showing to be most efficient. 

The Reclamation Service of the United States government 
is taking the lead in research and in devising standard plans 
based on studies of the most economical sizes and dimensions, 
such as of the side slope of canals and drains, bottom widths 
and velocity for conduits of different kinds. These matters 
have been worked out for various existing projects, noting the 
dimensions which have been found most suitable or best 
adapted to the prevailing conditions. For example, in the 
case of slopes, the field studies having shown that where the 
material to be excavated for a canal is relatively hard and not 
easily eroded, there it may be possible to introduce and use 
slopes higher than the average employed elsewhere, with corre- 
sponding economy in size of cross section of the canal. 

The most important matter, however, in considering general 
dimensions is that having to do with the future operation of 
the works. In many localities irrigation systems have been 
planned with the idea of dividing and subdividing water into 
smaller and smaller streams until each division is accurately 
proportioned to the needs of the farms to be served. This has 
been done under the assumption that the irrigators should have 
a certain steady flow of water from the main system. Later 
it was demonstrated that greater economy of time on the part 
of the irrigator, and of water, could be had by turning to him 
not a small stream but one sufficiently large to irrigate his 
entire farm in a relatively few hours. Then it was apparent 
that certain structures and conduits must be enlarged to meet 
the new conditions. In this case too great care had been 
devoted to the exact proportion of details and not sufficient 
allowance made for changes which might take place. Thus at 
the outset the general dimensions of waterways must be set 
from a full consideration of the ultimate operating methods 
and costs. 

Construction Methods. The methods of construction 
must, of course, be adapted not only to the material available. 


but to the peculiar conditions of labor which may prevail in 
the vicinity and evSpecially to the matter of transportation. 
As a rule irrigation or drainage works, especially the former, 
are built under pioneer conditions far in advance of actual 
settlement of the country and of construction of wagon roads 
or railroads. This is a condition which is not always appre- 
ciated by the man who may be inclined to criticise the works 
after they have been finished and in use. The construction 
methods which may be necessary at a point fifty miles from a 
settlement and at a locality to which access can be had only^ 
over rough mountain trails, must necessarily be in striking 
contrast to those alongside of a through line of a railroad, one 
which may be built after the works are completed and as a result 
of such works. 

The materials to be used under such conditions are limited 
to the immediate vicinity. If plenty of rock is to be had, 
masonry may be the best. If the rock is poor, it may be pos- 
sible to consider concrete, if the cost of bringing in cement is 
not prohibitive. Otherwise, earth, if available, must be used. 
This illustrates the point that the surveys and examinations 
which precede the preparation of any set of plans must be of 
such character as to answer these points when they come up 
for careful consideration. 

Under modem methods of construction, the greater part 
of the work is executed under carefully drawn contracts in 
which responsible builders agree to execute a certain described 
structure for a definite price per cubic yard or per item speci- 
fied. In work of a character of which the nature is well known 
or where the same operation is performed over and over again, 
it is possible for an experienced contractor to ascertain the 
cost in advance within narrow limits and to exercise his expe- 
rience in handling men or materials to secure greater economy, 
and consequent profits, than his competitors. In proportion, 
however, as the work is pioneer in character and involves un- 
known conditions, the preparation of a bid becomes more and 
more of the nature of gambling upon chances. Thus enter 
certain disagreeable or even disastrous conditions. There are 
always contractors more or less responsible who are willing 


to take their chances; usually those men who know least about 
the probabilities of the case offer to do the work at a cost less 
than that given by the more experienced and safer men. If 
conditions turn out better than anticipated, they may make 
considerable sums of money. If, however, unusual storms 
occur or the rock is found to be of different character than 
anticipated, the contractor may fail, with consequent delay to 
the work and increased expense, both in litigation and in 
securing a new contractor. 

It is to the advantage of all concerned to remove as far as 
possible the element of chance in construction work; in other 
words, to make the preliminary research and examination as 
complete as possible. It may be advisable, for example, not 
merely to make a number of test pits in the soil and to put 
down drill holes, but also to lay out and build well-planned 
roads to reach the place of construction, also to open up a 
considerable part of the foundations which are to be excavated 
so that the experienced contractor will be able to see from actual 
operation on the ground what are some of the difficulties to be 
met. In the meantime, it is often necessary for the engineer 
in responsible charge to firmly reject offers for work which 
are made by men of relatively small experience or who propose 
to experiment with novel machinery or methods. While they 
may succeed, the probabilities against this are so great that 
it is not wise to incur the risk of failure and litigation. 

In the building of large irrigation works, especially those 
involving storage reservoirs, the skill of the engineer is thus 
called into play in many fields, not only in ordinary hydraulic 
construction but in developing hydro-electric power, in many 
other mechanical lines and in laying out or executing the work. 
Experience has shown that wherever the work is of a simple 
character such that it can be easily described, as, for example, 
the building of earthen canals, the contract system is most 
economical, but where unknown difficulties are involved, such 
as the excavation of foundations in a new or remote country, 
where the unexpected is likely to happen, then under present 
conditions it is more economical to carry on operations by what 
is known as force account. Under this svstem the work is 


supervised and directed by the engineer and the plans may be 
modified day by day to fit the conditions — thus securing under 
wise management the highest economy as well as efficiency. 


Divisions of an Irrigation Project. Most irrigation sys- 
tems may be considered as divided into several portions or units. 

First, the collecting unit, consisting of reservoir or other 
devices, such as wells and pumps, for obtaining the water ; 

Second, the diversion unit, which includes the dam in the 
river at the head of the main canal. 

Third, the carrying or trunk line canals. 

Fourth, the distribution, taking in the minor canals which 
carry water to the fields. 

By making such a division of parts and of expenditures 
incurred on each, it is possible to make comparisons between 
irrigation systems of different size and character. Many do 
not have reservoirs, but derive their supply directly from the 
streams. In such instances it would not be profitable to make 
comparisons with the entire cost of a system which does include 
a reservoir. 

In other cases the carriage portion is negligible because of 
the fact that irrigation of the dry lands begins at a point 
immediately below the headworks; in other instances there is 
a long main canal, built at large expense on rocky hill slopes, 
to carry water to remote tracts. 

Comparison of cost of construction, operation and mainte- 
nance of small irrigation systems which have no storage nor 
main canal is thus made possible with similar costs of the 
distribution portions of larger enterprises. 

Collecting Unit. A description has already been given 
of some of the notable reservoir and other devices for collecting 
water for irrigation, notably on pages 153 to 175, together with 
brief statements of methods of constructing dams, also details 
of some of the larger works already built. A comparison of 


the cost of these works yields many points of interest, espe- 
cially in considering the value of the results and the magnitude 
of -the work already undertaken, also by inference the large 
investment which must be made in the future in connection with 
other projects which may be found to be practicable. 

Diversion Unit. Next in importance to these dams built 
for the purpose of creating storage reservoirs are the somewhat 
similar structures erected for diversion of water from the 
stream channels into the main canals. Some of these act as 
combined storage and diversion works, but the characteristic 
feature of a diversion dam is the fact that it is a necessary 
adjunct to the headworks of a canal or to the carrying system 
for an irrigation project. 

Diversion dams as a rule differ from storage dams in that 
they are relatively low and are located in or across the main 
drainage lines, being thus subject to overflow. As a rule there 
is accumulated against them the debris carried by the river, and 
the pond or storage capacity at first created by building the 
dam is destroyed in a few years by this accumulation. The 
original or simplest type of diversion dam consists merely of 
bowlders or rocks placed across a river or diagonally upstream 
into the current. In times of low water a relatively tight 
barrier is thus built of stones and dirt with brush or boughs 
of trees. Following the development of the country and the 
necessity for more permanent structures, low solid masonry 
dams or sills have been built or walls of concrete — these in turn 
being replaced by more carefully designed overflow dams, 
raising the water to still greater height and permitting the 
construction of higher canals. 

The proper uses of the waters conserved by storage in the 
reservoir previously described are made possible in many in- 
stances by providing these subsidiary or secondary dams, built 
across the streams, not for storage, but for raising the water 
or controlling it so that it will flow into the head of the main 
irrigation canals. One of the best examples of such a structure 
is that shown in PI. II. D, which is built across Salt River, 
Arizona, and serves to divert the water stored and released from 
Roosevelt Reservoir. This dam is 38 feet high and 1,000 feet 


long, the river in flood overflowing the entire crest. As will be 
seen in the view, canals head at each end of the dam, that on the 
north side, in the foreground of the view, being the Arizona 
Canal with capacity of 2,000 cubic feet per second and 22 
miles in length. In the distance is the South Canal with 
capacity of 1,200 second- feet. 

Another dam similar in character is the Whalen in eastern 
Wyoming on North Platte River. (Sec PI. XIV. A.) This is 29 
feet high and 800 feet long, the floods pouring over the entire 
length of the crest as shown in the view. In the foreground is 
the Interstate Canal with capacity of 1,400 second- feet and 
a length of 95 miles. On the opposite side of the river is the 
head of the Ft. Laramie Canal, 1,430 second- foot capacity, and 
26 miles long. 

In the planning of a diversion dam, it is customary to place 
the gates at the end of the dam in such a way that the water 
will be taken out almost at right angles to the flow of the stream 
as in the above-described views. By arranging sluice gates in 
the dam, it is thus possible during high water to scour away 
any sand or gravel which may accumulate in front of the canal 
head gate. 

Carrying Unit. Starting out from the diversion dam is 
the main canal with its control gates and spillways. It usually 
winds along in a general course nearly parallel to that of the 
river until with less grade than that of the natural stream it 
has succeeded in reaching an altitude where it can swing away 
from it along the edge of the valley land. Sometimes two main 
canals are thus built, one on each side of the river. These may 
continue for many miles before reaching any considerable area 
of agricultural land. There they usually divide or branch to 
cover the principal body of the farming area. The number of 
miles of main and branch canals traversed by the water before 
reaching the irrigable lands varies greatly with the difl^erent 

For the purpose of comparison, it has been found desirable, 
as before stated, to distinguish this part of the irrigation sys- 
tem, beginning at the diversion dam and extending down and 
including the main and principal branches, as the carrying 


system. It is composed of relatively large canals, deep and 
narrow when in solid rock or sidehills, and broad and shallow 
when out in the open plains and built in ordinary earth. The 
cross section thus varies from place to place, dependent upon 
the ground in which the canal is built and upon the slope which 
may be given. Usually there is need of keeping the altitude 
of the canal as high as possible, reducing the fall per mile to 
the minimum of a foot or less, thus necessitating a large cross 
section. Occasionally, however, especially where the canal first 
leaves the river, the condition may be such that greater slope 
can be given and the cross section reduced; in some cases it is 
lined with concrete to produce the greatest velocity and quan- 
tity of discharge in the smallest amount of excavation. 

At each diversion dam are gates or controlling works per- 
mitting water to enter the head of the main canal. Imme- 
diately below these gates are usually devices for permitting the 
water to flow back to the river in case of accident and to scour 
out any sediment deposited below the gates. An automatic 
spillway is shown in PI. XIV. A — in this case it is placed adja- 
cent to the dam, but usually such a device is located a mile or 
so farther down the canal if the topography of the ground 

In the first few miles below the diversion dam the location of 
the main canal is necessarily near the river and often on steep 
hillsides. Occasionally it is necessary to pass it through 
tunnels or to line it as shown in Pis. XII. C and XIV. B. After 
getting clear of the river, however, the construction is usually 
in open, somewhat rolling, country, and is in earth where the 
operations are relatively simple of execution. This is illus- 
trated in PI. XVII. A and PI. XIII. B, the latter showing ex- 
cavations by plowing and scraping and building up of a high 
bank on the lower side of the canal, in general appearance re- 
sembling a railroad grade, the chief diflference being that earth 
is carefully compacted as it is deposited. 

It frequently happens that the main canal is not built of 
full size when first constructed because of the fact that for 
many years there will not be demand for enough water to fill 
the canal. Under such conditions, enlargements must be made 


from time to time. Usually this work is done after the end of 
the crop season, when water can be taken out of the canal, but 
where the irrigation season is long or continues practically 
throughout the year, as in Arizona, it is desirable to enlarge the 
canal while water is flowing in it. 

Distributing Unit. An irrigation project may be so fortu- 
nate as not to need any storage works and the topography of 
the country may be such that its carrying system is insignifi- 
cant; but in all cases the distribution is a vital point. While 
apparently simple, in that it consists of miles of smaller canals 
and ditches located according to the slope of the country, yet 
in practical operation the distributing system involves more 
detailed problems in proportion to the cost than do the works 
for the storage or carriage of water. It is usual for the highest 
engineering skill to be employed in the planning and building 
of a great dam or large canal. Unfortunately the same degree 
of skill has rarely been utilized in laying out the distribution 
conduits. Hence, it has come about that in the actual opera- 
tion an unnecessarily large number of difficulties and sources of 
expense have frequently arisen, more than should have occurred 
had the system been planned by men thoroughly acquainted 
with the problems of handling the water to the farms. 

The condition is similar to that in railroad locations where 
the early railroads were built mainly with reference to con- 
struction cost. Now, with larger experience, the ease and 
economy of construction are kept secondary to the require- 
ments of operating, since these go on forever while the con- 
struction costs are only for a short period. 

The distributing system consists of the so-called laterals 
or smaller canals taken from the side of the main or branch 
canals. The distinction is purely arbitrary and yet is one of 
importance. The laterals should be planned and built not only 
to command the largest possible area, but to permit the most 
economical handling of the water to the farms. If too small, it 
is not possible to serve the lands rapidly, and if too large, the 
channels become choked with weeds or mud and introduce 
unnecessary cost in cleaning. 

The main canals soon after reaching the irrigable lands 

Plate XIV. A. 
Whelen diversion dam of North Platte Project, Nebraska-Wfoming. 

Plate XIV. B. 

A lined tunnel with approach to canal. Grand VaUey Project, Colorado, 

cspacitf 1,*25 second-feet. 

Plate XIV. C. 

Farm lateral delivering water to furrows, using canvas dam, Shoshone 

Project, Wyoming. 

Plate XIV. D. 

Using water, stored by Roosevelt Reservoir, for irrigation of young orange 

grove, applying It by furrows. Salt River Valley, AriEOna. 

« t 


begin to divide and send off branches, these in turn delivering 
water to smaller canals or laterals. At each point of division 
it is necessary to provide suitable gates or control works so 
that the proper amount may be admitted to each lateral, the 
quantity being regulated from day to day in accordance with 
the demands of the farmer. A view of one of these laterals is 
shown in PL V. B and another in PI. XVI. A. Such laterals in 
turn divide and finally deliver water to what are known as the 
farm laterals, these being of a capacity sufRcient for one or two 
separate farms. In PI. XIV. C is shown one of these small 
farm laterals taking water for the first time to desert land, 
soaking it thoroughly and permitting cultivation. Water is 
usually turned from the farm laterals either by small wooden 
gates or by temporary dams of wood or canvas as can be seen 
in this picture. A hole in the bank is dug with shovels and, 
when no longer needed, is quickly filled. The farm laterals in 
turn take the water to each field or tree as shown in PI. XIV. D. 

Stkuctures. In connection with the carrying and distribut- 
ing of the water which has been diverted in the irrigation 
canals, almost innumerable structures are needed. The more 
important of these are described in the following paragraphs. 

Flumes. Care is taken in laying out the laterals to keep the 
water flowing on as gentle a grade as possible and thus to reach 
the highest spots of the farm lands. Even with the greatest 
ingenuity in fitting the topography, there arc occasional condi- 
tions where water must be carried across a depression. This 
is usually done by some form of open flume, the older and 
cheaper of wood, others of metal. Concrete is also used, as in 
the long conduit which takes the water of the Tieton River in 
Washington, shown in PI. XV. A, the flume winding along the 
hillside. This is composed of short concrete sections, cast in 
suitable steel forms, the work being done along the valley where 
it was possible to obtain sand, gravel, and water for mixing the 
concrete. This plan was adopted because of the fact that the 
space on the hillside suitable for work was so constricted that 
it was not found economical to excavate and build a lined 
canal — especially as portions of the work are along almost 
vertical cliffs and in places the canal passes through tunnels. 


A view of the separate pieces of the canal is shown in PL 
XV. B. The steel forms have been removed from these. As 
soon as these had become completely dry, they were hoisted 
and carried by overhead conveyors and by short pieces of con- 
struction track to the point where they could be swring into 
place and the joints cemented together to make the continuous 
line shown in PL XV. A. The capacity of this is 300 cubic feet 
per second, and the length is 12 miles. 

Tunnels. On steep hillsides it is often economical to put 
the canal underground through a tunnel. Occasionally also the 
line can be shortened by piercing a projecting point of rock. 
In consideration of maintenance, the reduced economy may 
justify a larger increase in cost in the building of a tunnel as 
contrasted w-ith an open canal or flume which is likely to be 
disturbed by rock or snowslides from the upper slopes. It is 
usually necessary to line the tunnels and for this purpose con- 
crete is generally employed. A view looking out of such a tunnel 
is given in PL XIV. B, which also shows the concrete lining of 
the main canal of the Grand Valley Project and the warped 
surface of the gradual transition from the tunnel to the section 
of the canal. In the work of the Reclamation Service, a large 
number of tunnels have been built for irrigation purposes, the 
aggregate length of these being 157,000 feet. 

Siphons. In order to cross depressions, it is usual to carry 
the canal over on grade, using for this purpose flumes as pre- 
viously described. Occasionally, however, it is more advanta- 
geous to drop the canal and carry it in some form of pressure 
pipe under a depression, especially if the latter is subject to 
extraordinary floods. Such condition is shown in PL XV. C, 
which illustrates the concrete siphon on the Interstate Canal 
from North Platte River, Wyoming-Nebraska. This consists 
essentially of a large concrete box, rectangular in outline, de- 
pressed below the level of Rawhide Creek, a tributary of North 
Platte River. The canal water descends into this inverted 
siphon, passes under the bed of the creek and then is conveyed 
up nearly to the original level by a continuation of the water- 
tight compartments. 

Most of these siphons are built during dry weather by exca- 


vating the ground and then covering them up so that the flood 
can pass over undisturbed. Occasionally, however, conditions 
are such that it is necessary to tunnel under the stream as, for 
example, at Yuma, Ariz., where the main canal from Colorado 
River coming south on the California side, crosses under the 
river to the Arizona side. The river channel at this point is 
quite deep and is filled largely with soft mud which scours out 
in time of flood. It was found to be advisable to go to a depth 
of eighty feet or more beneath the river level in order to con- 
struct the tunnel. 

Canai. Lining. Ordinary irrigation canals and laterals are 
excavated for the most part in loose surface soil. Often this 
consists largely of sand or gravel, and wherever these form the 
bottom or sides of the canal, there is great loss of water by 
percolation or seepage. Where water is scarce, this loss be- 
comes an important item, moreover if the canal is located on a 
sidehill the seeping water may tend to cause slides with result- 
ing great damage, due to the sudden escape of large volumes 
of water. It is, therefore, important to line some of the canals 
not only to save valuable water, but also to insure safety. 
With improved methods and reduced cost, the placing of lining, 
particularly of concrete, is increasing. In the larger canals, 
the concrete may be made of six inches or even more in thickness. 
It is laid in a manner similar to that used in the construction 
of concrete roads or pavements. In smaller canals, the lining 
is frequently much thinner ; if the soil is firm it may be less than 
one inch in thickness, being plastered directly upon the sides 
and bottom. In Pis. XII. A, XII. C, and XIV. B are shown 
portions of lined canals. 

In many localities where the irrigation water carries a con- 
siderable proportion of sediment this muddy water may be 
controlled in such a way as to cause deposits to form along the 
sides and bottom of the canal eflfectually sealing up the smaller 
crevices or filling the interstices between the grains of sand or 
bits of gravel. Thus it may result that after one or two seasons 
a canal which at first lost a great part of the water becomes 
capable of delivering each year a larger and larger proportion 
of the amount received at the head. When the water is clear 


such action cannot take place and there it is sometimes neces- 
sary to bring clay to the spots where the greatest seepage occurs 
and make a clay puddle or lining throughout the sandy or gravel 
portions. In the canals of the Minidoka Project, for example, 
in southern Idaho, there appeared to be at first a loss of 75 
per cent, only about 25 per cent of the water carried being 
ultimately delivered to the irrigated lands. 

The country through which this canal flows is quite sandy 
and the water, being taken from Lake Walcott on Snake River, 
is clear. There is little clay in the vicinity which can be ob- 
tained by ordinary methods and taken to the canal, but an 
ingenious scheme was adopted by the engineers in which to meet 
this condition, as noted on page 100. Water was conducted to 
certain deposits not far away and a portion of the clay washed 
out, being conducted by flumes to a point, PI. IV. D, where the 
fluid mud could be dropped into the canals. The mud thus 
introduced serves to check the seepage loss. It has also another 
and somewhat unforeseen result in that the canal itself was 
made smoother, permitting greater velocity for a given slope, 
or in other words reducing the value of n in Kutter's formula — 
in one case from 0.020 to 0.016, the canal having a capacity of 
approximately 700 second- feet. 

The reduction of seepage loss was shown not only by the 
saving of water but by the fact that wells driven near the canal 
have gradually lowered or become dry due to the cutting off 
of their supply from the canal. The distribution of silt thus 
put into the clear canal water has been quite general, from two 
to five times as much being deposited on the slopes as on the 
bottom. On the curves, the deposit, as might be expected, is 
largely on the inner slope ; but even on the outer slope the per- 
colating waters have carried fine particles of clay into the 
banks and have to this extent clogged the passage of water 
through them. 

In order to retain the silt in places where exposed to the wind, 
or where the velocity is excessive, sagebush covered with wire 
netting has been used. In the case of this canal approximately 
$25,000 was expended in putting silt into the canal. This 
amount, while apparently large, is small in comparison with 


the advantages gained in reducing the amount to be expended 
on drains to take away the excess water. Comparing it with 
the cost of obtaining water for the canal, it may be said that 
if only ten cubic feet per second of water was saved, the value 
of this saving would justify the expenditure above named. 

Gates. To control the water there are required an almost 
infinite number and variety of devices from the simple plank 
or stop log used by the farmer, PL XVI. A, to the elaborate 
concrete and steel gates shown in PI. XIV. A. Most of these 
slide vertically in grooves, but to meet certain conditions other 
devices are employed, particularly the circular gate which can 
be used on the end of a pipe of metal, concrete or tile. One of 
the latest devices, the cylindrical gate on the Franklin Canal in 
El Paso, Texas, is illustrated in PL XV. D. This canal takes 
water from the Rio Grande a short distance above the dam 
shown in PL VIII. D, near the city of El Paso, and carries it 
in a general way parallel with the stream to lands below the 
city. It has a capacity of 450 second-feet and a length of 
nearly 82 miles. 

Automatic Spii.i.way. On every large canal there is likeli- 
hood of an extraordinary rain or cloudburst sending water 
into the canal so rapidly that the banks may be overtopped. 
Great loss of property or possibly of life might result from the 
cutting of the canal banks. To prevent this, various devices 
have been tried, particularly of gates which can be operated 
quickly by one man. It is not safe, however, to depend upon 
the man being on hand at times of extraordinary storm or other 
catastrophe and eflforts have been made to perfect a simple and 
automatic device. One of these is so constructed as to have a 
portion of the lower canal bank protected by concrete, the top 
of this being placed at the safe water height. If for any cause 
an excess of water comes into the canal tending to raise the 
surface above the level of the concrete wall, it immediately spills 
over into a side channel from which it can flow away to the river 
without injury. When the manager desires to raise the water 
level and to increase the flow of the canal temporarily, a row 
of bags fllled with earth or some similar devices can be placed 


on top of the concrete, being so arranged that these are readily 
washed out if the water goes above a certain altitude. 

Drops. EflForts are made to keep the canals on a very gently 
descending grade so that the velocity will not exceed as a rule 
two to three feet per second. If the country falls off rapidly, 
it is necessary to make some provision for letting the water 
down without increasing the canal grade and consequent ve- 
locity to an extent to erode the channel. For this purpose 
many wooden structures have been built, but for permanence 
concrete is now more usually employed. 

At the lower end of these drops there is opportunity for the 
development of power. The chief objection to making expen- 
ditures for water wheels and electric generators at these points 
is the fact that the canals are in use only during the crop season 
and thus do not furnish power throughout the year. If, how- 
ever, a demand for the power can be found which is coincident 
with the time of the use of the canals, then this objection is 

Such coincidence occurs if the power can be employed for 
pumping water for the irrigation of lands which cannot obtain 
a gravity supply from the canals. During the height of the 
crop season, when most water is flowing in the canal and most 
power can be developed, there is corresponding need of this 
power to procure additional water. There is thus offered to 
the engineer the opportunity of producing conservation not 
only of the water but in the employment of power which would 
otherwise be wasted. Examples of this are to be found in the 
Yakima Valley in the state of Washington, where water in 
various canal drops is employed in creating hydro-electric 
power which, transmitted to a distance, enables lands which 
otherwise would remain arid to be successfully irrigated. On 
the Huntley Project in Montana the drop in the main canal is 


utilized for lifting water to lands above the level of the canal. 
In this case there is no electric transmission of power, but the 
pump for raising a portion of the water is placed on the upper 
end of the vertical shaft carrying the water wheel which is 
driven by the descent of the main body of water. 

Pumping. A relatively small percentage of the irrigated 


lands of the country is furnished with a water supply by 
pumping; but this small percentage affords many interesting 
and valuable lessons because of the fact that with the high cost 
of obtaining water by this method, there is enforced corre- 
sponding economy in its use. Hence are presented striking 
examples of the excellent results which may be obtained by the 
application of a small quantity of water and a demonstration 
of the fact that it will be practicable to greatly extend the area 
irrigated whenever the irrigator using the gravity supply is as 
careful as his neighbor who depends upon the more expensive 
pumped water. In other words, if the water to all of the 95 
to 97 per cent of the arid lands now furnished with gravity 
supply was handled with a skill and economy comparable to 
that used in the areas to which water is pumped, far greater 
crops could be raised and the areas irrigated might be doubled 
or trebled. More than this, if in the future expenditures are 
made for water storage on a scale comparable to those incurred 
in the pumping, there will be a great increase in the number 
as well as the cost of reservoirs yet to be built. In short, a 
study of results obtained by pumping reveals to the engineer 
economies and possibilities of a vast extension of hydraulic 

Pumping has been resorted to in localities where it has not 
been practicable to bring water to the farms by gravity; for 
example, along the shores of lakes or the banks of rivers whose 
fall is too gentle to permit diversion by gravity. The cost of 
water per acre supplied by pumping far exceeds that of the 
gravity supply and in fact when these costs have been ascer- 
tained, with proper allowance for interest and depreciation, the 
figures have usually exceeded the anticipations of its most 
enthusiastic advocates. Roughly stated, the cost of lifting one 
acre-foot of water one foot in height by ordinary small engines 
is about 7 cents ; or to lift this amount of water 50 feet would 
require $8.50, irrigating an acre to a depth of one foot. This 
is at least three times the cost of gravity supply. In the case 
of orchards producing high-priced fruits, it is possible to pump 
water profitably or even to elevate it for alfalfa lands with a 
lift of from 50 to 100 feet and upward. In the case of more 


valuable crops, such as cane sugar in the Hawaiian Islands, 
water has actually been raised to a height of over 500 feet. 

With large economical pumping plants, the cost, including 
depreciation and repairs, may be reduced as low as 3 cents 
per acre-foot raised one foot or even less ; but the margin of 
profit in the ordinary farm crops is so small that the average 
irrigator can rarely afford to pay the cost of pumping water 
to a height exceeding, say, 50 feet. 

In portions of California and other fruit-growing localities, 
considerable areas of land are being irrigated by water ob- 
tained from wells. The supply of ground water throughout 
the arid region is, however, quite limited. (See in this con- 
nection pages 81 and 90.) It is necessary in some localities to 
go to depths of from 100 to 300 feet or more before reaching 
moisture. There is always probability that the supply even 
at this depth will be limited and that by constant pumping the 
water level will be lowered. Such, for example, has been the 
case in the valleys of southern California where with rapid 
increase in the number of wells the accumulated supply has 
been rapidly drawn down, especially after a series of dry years. 
Some of these wells are so situated that the seepage from adja- 
cent foothills tends to replenish them. 

Where the supply of water from wells is ample, various 
devices have been employed, such as windmills, gasoline and 
steam engines, and electric power, for bringing it to the surface. 
It is very important that the well borings be continued down 
into and through the water-bearing sands or gravels, so as to 
take advantage of the full thickness of the pervious deposits. 
Perforated pipe is often driven into the layers of coarse gravel, 
adding greatly to the capacity of the well. 

Artesian conditions (see page 81) occur in limited areas in 
nearly every state, but they do not furnish a notable supply 
for irrigation, excepting on the Great Plains and in parts of 
California. Wherever they occur the water has especial value 
on account of the convenience incident to its rising above the 
surface. In some places, as the James River Valley of South 
Dakota, the pressure is 100 pounds or more to the square inch, 
throwing the water to a considerable height and enabling the 


wells to be used as sources of power. The quantity of water 
to be had from deep wells is governed by the diameter of the 
well, the structure and thickness of the water-bearing rocks, 
and the pressure sustained by the water. With relatively dense 
rocks a slight head of water will throw only a feeble stream, but 
from thick layers of open gravel or sand rock large volumes are 
delivered. It frequently occurs that a four-inch pipe will de- 
liver all of the water which can reach this point, and increasing 
the diameter of the well will not alter the flow. 

An important source of power for pumping water is the wind. 
Over the broad valleys and plains of the arid region, the wind 
movement is almost continuous for days and weeks. It is a 
comparatively simple and inexpensive operation to sink a well 
into the water-bearing strata and erect a windmill, as illus- 
trated in PI. IV. A, attaching this to a suitable pump. A wind- 
mill once erected on the plains is operated day and night by the 
wind, bringing to the surface a small but continuous supply of 
water. This small stream if turned out on the soil would flow 
a short distance, then disappear into the thirsty ground, so 
that irrigation directly from a windmill is usually impracti- 

To overcome this difficulty, it has been found necessary to 
provide small storage reservoirs or tanks, built of earth (as 
shown in PI. IV. A or better in PL XIII. A), wood, or metal, 
to hold the water until it has accumulated to a volume sufficient 
to permit a stream of considerable size to be taken out for irri- 
gation. Such a stream, flowing rapidly over the surface, will 
penetrate to a distance and cover an area much greater than 
is possible with the small flow delivered by an ordinary pump. 
One disadvantage connected with the use of windmills is that 
most of them are constructed to operate only in moderate winds. 
As the strength of the wind increases, the wheel begins to re- 
volve, increasing in efficiency until the velocity of the wind is 
about eight or ten miles an hour. At greater speed the mills 
are usually so constructed that the efficiency decreases rapidly 
as the wind becomes more powerful. When it approaches a 
gale, the mill stops completely. 

Although there are in use large numbers of windmills in 


pumping water for irrigation of small tracts, the aggregate 
area is small compared with the extent of lands watered by 
more powerful devices, such as those made possible by the 
development of hydro-electric power. Within the past decade 
much attention has been given to this matter, particularly in 
connection with the use of power developed for municipal and 
manufacturing purposes and which is available for farm use at 
seasons or times of day when not needed for the principal in- 
dustry. It is possible at such times to obtain power at low 
rates and to utilize it in pumping water for agricultural pur- 


The object of providing water by storage in connection with 
irrigation is, of course, to have it available whenever needed. 
Such need is continuous throughout the irrigation season ; it is 
vital for crop success that the canal be operated and maintained 
by an adequate force of skilled men employed for the purpose, 
and in such a manner as to have the water at hand as needed. 
The cost of operation and maintenance is dependent largely 
upon local conditions and upon the way in which these have 
been met in the original construction, notably with reference to 

In planning and constructing an^^ works for irrigation and 
drainage, the first requisite, as above noted, is that when built 
these may be operated and maintained at reasonable cost. While 
temporary expedients may be necessary at times, yet full con- 
sideration should be given to the future difficulties involved ; the 
plans when under consideration should be prepared or passed 
upon by men who have had large experience in the operation and 
maintenance as distinguished from the more purely engineering 
or construction side. All these works are built for indefinite use 
and are to be maintained presumably as long as civilization 
endures. The development of the resources in the country and 
the location of industries are intimately connected with the irri- 
gation or drainage works and any error made in these may be 
indefinitely perpetuated with subsequent loss to all concerned. 

In the case of drainage works, the operation is practically 
automatic and the maintenance should be extremelv small, con- 
sisting in seeing to it that the drains are not clogged and that 
the inlets and outlets are properly protected. In the case of 
irrigation, however, where water should be measured and deliv- 


ered at short intervals through a great part of the year, it is 
necessary to have a carefully organized force of experienced 
men giving attention to all of the details of the control and 
diversion of water. 

The operation details consist largely in making deliveries of 
water to each farm as needed. The older canals were so 
arranged as to furnish a continuous flow of water, but this had 
the ill effect of encouraging large waste and of ruining much of 
the agricultural land. 

Under modern methods provisions are made by which each 
farmer notifies the water master either by telephone or card 
as to the time and amount of water needed. From such notices 
a schedule is prepared so that the water may be turned into 
the laterals and delivered to the farms at a time determined upon 
in advance. The keeping of the records of the amount actually 
received into the main canal, distributed to the laterals and 
turned out to each farm is a matter of first importance. 

The maintenance operations consist in keeping the canal in 
good condition. The work is usually done by the same men 
who are employed in operation details — the maintenance work 
being performed after the close of the irrigation season or at 
times when the canals are not in use. Among the problems of 
maintenance are those of keeping the banks clean and free from 
weeds. Some of these, like the so-called "tumble weed," when 
dry are blown into the canal and obstruct the flow, occasionally 
causing bad breaks unless carefully guarded against. An inter- 
esting method of cleaning canal banks has been tried in the Salt 
River Valley in Arizona where sheep have been utilized, these 
browsing along the banks and eating down the herbage. A 
view illustrating the action of the sheep is shown in PI. IX. A, 
where a band is grazing in the vicinity of Huntley, Mont. 

Measurement of Irrigation Water. In the older and 
smaller systems where the manager has grown up with the work, 
it is possible for some one man or group of men to carry in 
mind all of the details and to apportion the water fairly well to 
the relatively few water users, but in the modern large system 
built to supply water to hundreds of farms this easy-going way 
is no longer applicable. The condition may be compared to 


that of the country merchant who, knowing his people, can 
apportion among his customers a pile of coal or of wood roughly 
by his eye and with reasonable satisfaction. When, however, 
he must delegate these details to others, and he can no longer 
know of each transaction, to avoid difficulty and bankruptcy, 
he must maintain a thorough system of weights and measures 
and make record of each transaction. 

So it is with the measurement of irrigation water. The older 
managers naturally resented the introduction of troublesome 
details of measurement and asserted that for all practical pur- 
poses their methods are best. A study of these, however, shows 
that there has been great inequality in irrigating streams sup- 
posed to be of the same volume, and enormous waste of water 
resulting in ruin to large areas of land. The only way in which 
such injurious conditions can be prevented is to keep a record 
of the water available in the storage reservoir, also the quantity 
received in the main canal and divided to the principal branches, 
and more than this the time and amount of water turned to each 
farmer. Having these details, it is possible day by day to 
ascertain where the water goes and the quantity of waste, and to 
check up against the acreage the beneficial use of the water. 
When once a proper system has been installed, the advantages 
as compared with the costs are so great that no one seriously 
advocates a return to the old haphazard method. 

The measurement of the water is one of the most important 
functions of the operating force. PL XVI. A illustrates one of 
the laterals with the small wooden turnout gates at the head of 
each farm lateral. The water master or his assistant visits each 
of these gates daily, sets them to receive a certain amount of 
water, makes records of the fact, and if necessary locks the 
gates to prevent unauthorized changes.^ 

Heads of Water. The amount of water which any one man 
can economically apply to his fields varies according to the skill 
of the farmer, the soil, the crops, and especially to the care with 

1 Adams, Frank, "Delivery of "Water to Irrigators," United States De- 
partment of Agriculture, Office Experiment Stations, Bulletin 299, 1910. 

"Some Measuring Devices Used in the Delivery of Irrigation Water," 
University of California Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 247, 1915. 


which the surface has been leveled. The tendency has been to 
progress from the use of relatively small streams or heads of 
one cubic foot per second up to three or four times this amount 
or even to ten or more second-feet, an amount which the older 
irrigators would regard as absolutely impossible of control. 
With larger heads there result quicker irrigation and the appli- 
cation of a proportionally less amount of water for the area to 
be covered; also^larger crop yields per unit of water applied. 

Application of Water. The methods of irrigation prac- 
ticed in various parts of the United States differ according to 
the climatic conditions and soil, and especially as to the early 
habits or training of the irrigators. While the methods of con- 
serving and conveying water have improved under the stimulus 
of modern invention, there has been little progress in the devel- 
opment and use by the farmer of well-considered way^s or eco- 
nomics in putting water on the fields. The various methods 
employed can be classified in general under one of three waj's — 
flooding, furrows, or subirrlgation. 

Flooding. The irrigator in flooding his fields turns the 
water from a lateral or distributing irrigation ditch over the 
nearly^ level land and completely submerges it. Perfectly level 
fields are, however, comparatively rare, and the first step in 
primitive agriculture by irrigation has been to build a low ridge 
around two or three sides of a slightly sloping field, so that the 
water is held in ponds. These low banks are commonh'' kno^Ti 
as levees or checks. In construction they are frequently laid 
out at right angles or more often following the contour of the 
ground, dividing the land into a number of compartments. 
Water is turned from the irrigation ditch into the highest of 
these compartments, as shown in PI. XIV. C; when the ground 
is flooded, the bank of the lower side is cut or a small sluiceway 
opened, and the water passes into the next field, and so on, until 
each in turn is watered. So-called "wild-flooding" is also prac- 
ticed in some localities, the water being diverted in such a way 
as to flow in a series of small rills or a thin sheet over the gently 
sloping area. Considerable skill is required on the part of the 
irrigator to avoid swamping one part and leaving dry another 


Furrows. Irrigation in checks has gradually'' decreased in 
relative importance, owing to the expense of leveling and levee- 
ing the ground. With experience the irrigator has become able 
to apply water to crops which are cultivated in furrows with- 
out resorting to such expensive means. The furrows are plowed 
in such a direction that the water when turned into them from 
the lateral ditches will flow freely down them without washing 
away the soil. When the water has completely filled the fur- 
rows, PL XVIII. A, and has reached the lowest points, the 
little streams are cut off and turned into another set. The meth- 
ods of doing this differ ; sometimes the irrigator simply cuts the 
bank of the distributing ditch with a shovel and then closes the 
opening after sufficient water has escaped, as illustrated in PL 
XIV. C. A more systematic method is employed in California. 
Water is carried to the upper end of the furrows in a small box 
flume with openings about one inch square in the side. These 
openings are closed by shutters and a number can be opened at 
once, permitting a certain quantity of water to escape into each 

The slope given the furrows determines to a certain extent 
the amount of water received by the soil. If the fall is very 
gentle, the water moves slowly and a large portion is absorbed 
while the furrow is being filled. If steep, the water quickly 
passes to a lower end and the ground does not absorb so much. 
When the entire field has been watered, the furrows are usuallv 
plowed out and a thin layer of the soil stirred to make an open, 
porous covering or mulch, as in PL XIV. D, preventing exces- 
sive evaporation and allowing the air to enter the ground. 
Without such cultivation a hard crust may be formed. The 
loosening of this crust breaks the capillar}'' connection with the 
moisture beneath and thus lessens the loss of water. 

For irrigating small grain, the fields, brought to a uniform 
surface, are thoroughly cultivated, and after the grain has 
been sown, parallel lines are made similar to furrows, but 
smaller and nearer together. These are laid out in the direc- 
tion of the desired slope, so that the water can flow down the 
marks through a cornfield. The rapidly ' growing grain shades 
the surface and prevents the formation of crust, rendering sub- 


sequent cultivation unnecessary. In order to cause the water 
to spread from the lateral ditches into the furrows through the 
ground, use is made of a canvas dam, PL XIV. C, or a tappoon 
— a small sheet of metal of such shape as to fit across the ditch. 
This can be forced into the soft earth, making a small dam 
and causing the water to back up and overflow the field of grain. 

Furrow-irrigation is usually employed in watering trees and 
vines, as shown in PL XIV. D. In some localities, however, 
basin or pool irrigation is practiced. Where water is especially 
scanty and correspondingly high priced, the supply is con- 
ducted in cement-lined ditches and by wooden flumes, and is 
then turned out into the furrows plowed around or as near as 
possible to the trees and vines. The water issuing from small 
apertures in the side of the wooden box falls into the furrows 
and is immediately conducted to the vicinity of the growing 
plants. Care is usually taken that the water shall not actually 
touch the tree trunks, as in PL XIV. D, and that it reaches the 
extremities of the roots to encourage these to spread outward. 
After the water has traversed the furrows to the lower end of 
the orchard, the supply is cut off, and the ground is tilled as 
soon as the surface dries sufficiently. 

SuBiRRiGATioN. Attempts have been made to conduct the 
water beneath the surface immediately to the roots of the trees, 
thus preventing waste by^ evaporation from the surface of the 
ground. Few devices have been successful, owing to the fact 
that the roots of the trees rapidly seek and enter the openings 
from which the water issues, or, surrounding the pipe by a dense 
network, cut off the supply. Porous clay tiling has been laid 
through orchards, and also iron pipes so perforated as to fur- 
nish a supply of water along their length. In some orchards 
where subsurface irrigation has been unsuccessful because of 
roots stopping up minute openings beneath the surface, the 
system has been reconstructed and water has been brought to 
the surface at or near each tree by means of small hydrants. 

The term subirrigation is occasionally applied to conditions 
occurring in nature where water percolates freely beneath the 
ground for a considerable distance, sufficiently near the surface 
to supply the need of crops. Where the subsoil transmits water 


freely, irrigation ditches may subirrigate large tracts of coun- 
try without rendering them marshy. Thus farms may obtain an 
ample supply of water from ditches half a mile or more away 
without the necessity of distributing small streams over the 
surface. In the San Joaquin Valley, California, vineyards in 
certain localities are thus maintained in good condition, al- 
though water has not been visibly applied for many years. 

RoTATiox OF Flow. In the pioneer days of irrigation in the 
United States it was customary for the farmers to receive a 
small, steady flow of water — one which could be turned to a 
field, the gate set, and the farmer proceed about his business or 
at night go to bed and in the morning see what had happened. 
If everything had continued as anticipated, the water in time 
would reach the end of the field and while the upper portions 
were overirrigated, the lower part would have a small supply. 
Often, however, especially during the night, the stream became 
obstructed or a wind storm diverted it. As a result there would 
be a pond in one place and dry spots in another. With the 
increasing need of more water for additional lands and the de- 
mand for economy, there came about a realization of the fact 
that a larger area could be irrigated by using the water more 
carefully, especially by giving personal attention to the flow and 
utilizing larger streams for shorter times. There thus arose 
the custom of two or three neighbors combining in one head or 
stream the quantity of water to which each was entitled and 
using this in succession, shutting off the flow when not needed 
and turning the supply over to another neighbor, and so on, 
applying the water at intervals of a few days and doing all 
of the watering of one field in a few hours. 

One of the disadvantages of this rotation is that the water 
must be taken and used irrespective of the time of day or night 
and if an irrigator's turn comes in the evening, it may be neces- 
sary for him to work most of the night by the light of a lantern^ 
to get the water over the field. Some, skilled in details, prefer 
the night irrigation, as they think that the water goes farther 
and better. With everything prepared they can work through 
the cool night with greater comfort. Others naturally object 
and the introduction of rotation in countries where there has 



been a steady flow is strenuously opposed until the majority are 
convinced of the economy and efficiency of this method. 

Duty of Water. The amount of land which can be irrigated 
with a given quantity of water, or the relation which these bear 
to each other, is commonly expressed by the term duty of water, 
as noted on page 195. The investigation of this relation is one 
offering peculiar difficulties, as there discussed. Many studies 
have been made and the results embodied in various scientific 
reports and semi-popular works on the subject.^ 

These reports show in general that more water is used than is 
necessary for the production of the best crops and that when 
greater economy can be attained the area of irrigated land can 
be increased. This is demonstrated by the results obtained 
when dependence is placed upon pumped water, as indicated on 
page 221. In Wyoming, and in several other states, the required 
rate of delivery fixed by law is 1 second- foot to 70 acres; in 
Idaho 50, in Oregon 80, in Nevada 100 acres, but in Colorado 
and some other states the determination of area is left to the 
courts. For convenience in connection with new projects the 
assumption of 1 second- foot to 100 acres is generally made. 

The duty of the water is said to be low when only a small area 
of land is irrigated by a considerable stream, for example, if 
1 cubic foot per second is used on 70 acres. It is high if this 
quantity irrigates 160 acres or more. When we consider water 
not as flowing in a stream, but as held in a reservoir, we speak 
of low duty of water in that 8 acre-feet of water has been 
applied during an irrigation season to a single acre, or in other 
words an acre has received an aggregate depth of 8 feet. The 
duty was high if the acre was satisfactorily irrigated by the 

1 Harding, S. T., "Operation and Maintenance of Irrigation Systems," 
McGraw-Hill Co., New York, 1917, 271 pages, illustrated. 

Newell, F. H., "Irrigation in the United States," T. Y. Crowell & Co., 
New York, 1906, 433 pages, illustrated. 

Newell, F. H., "Irrigation Management," Appleton & Co., New York, 306 
pages, illustrated. • « 

Teele, R. P., "Irrigation in the United States," D. Appleton & Co., 1915, 
353 pages, illustrated. 

Wldtsoe, John A., "Principles of Irrigation Practice," Macmillan Co., 
1915, 496 pages, illustrated. 

Plate XV. A. 
Cement flume, Tieton Canal, Washington 

Plate XV. B. 

Casting portions of reinforced concrete cement flume, Tieton Canal, 


Plate XV. C. 
waters of Interstate Canal under Rawhide Creek, North 
Platte Project, Nebraska. 

Plate XV. D. 
Cylindrical jtates in Franklin Canal, El Paso, Texas. 



application of a quantity of water which would have amounted 
to 1.5 feet in depth or l^/^ acre- feet. 

The theoretical duty of water is far higher than that actually 
obtained. There is need for the production of a pound of dry 
matter, for forage or other crops, from 300 to 1,000 pounds of 
water, as noted on page 76. This would mean a few inches in 
depth over the entire surface. To bring these few inches to the 
plant, however, requires the use of several times this amount of 
water in transporting the necessary quantity, because of the loss 
in transit by seepage into the soil, by evaporation and in other 
ways. Farmers have applied as high as 5, 6, or even 10 feet in 
depth on sandy soils and yet have complained of not having 
enough. Others assert that they have raised good crops on an 
aggregate of one foot of water in depth during the crop season. 

The old rough-and-ready rule was an inch to the acre, mean- 
ing a miner's inch, or the fortieth or fiftieth part of a cubic foot 
per second. Later an inch to two acres became the more com- 
mon expression, meaning that a cubic foot per second or 40 or 
50 miner's inches, flowing through the irrigation season of, say, 
4 months or 120 days, would irrigate 80 to 100 acres, giving 
an aggregate depth of 2.4 to 3 feet. 

Pkoducts. The products obtained by the use of stored and 
other waters procured for irrigation are dependent largely upon 
climatic conditions. In a country of modern temperature and 
where there is almost continual daily sunshine, as in the arid 
region, the applying of water at the right time enables the 
farmer to control crop production to a large degree. In the 
warmer regions, as in Arizona and parts of California, crop 
follows crop in rapid succession. 

The most valuable is the fruit crop, but the area devoted to 
fruit is relatively small. Of greater importance is the hay and 
forage crop, consisting principally of alfalfa. Pis. II. B, XIII. 
D, XVI. B. In the northern part of the arid region this can 
be cut two or three times a year and in the southern part five 
or six or oftener. It not only is a valuable forage plant, but 
enriches the ground through the peculiar action of the nitrify- 
ing organism on its roots. 

Alfalfa forms nearly half of the irrigated crop acreage and 


yields over a third of the crop value. Once established, or a 
good "stand" secured, it continues for several years to furnish 
annual yields without reseeding. Its roots, penetrating deeply, 
open up the hard soil, and if turned under it affords one of the 
best fertilizers for the succeeding crops. The alfalfa hay is 
preferred for most of the farm animals.^ 

The matter of most concern to the farmer is not so much his 
ability to raise alfalfa, by the use of water provided by storage 
or other means, but rather his chief problem lies in successfully 
disposing of the alfalfa at a price such as will yield him a proper 
return for his labor. When the country was relatively new and 
unsettled, and when there was a demand for forage far exceed- 
ing the supply, such a question did not arise, but the moment 
that development had proceeded to a point where the alfalfa 
must seek an outside market, then the price in each locality fell 
so low as often to be below the cost of production. 

Under the first-named condition, the amount received and 
demanded for alfalfa per ton was the purchase price in outside 
markets plus the freight or cost of bringing the alfalfa into the 
place where needed by the cattle owners or contractors on the 
new work. When the settlers reached such a degree of success 
that they produced more than enough hay to supply the local 
demand, then the cost of freight was subtracted instead of being 
added to the price in the outside market. For instance, if 
alfalfa could be purchased for $10 per ton at Salt Lake City 
and the freight rates to a new project such as that at Minidoka, 
Ida., were $4 per ton, then the contractors on the Minidoka 
Project were compelled to pay $14 per ton. As soon as the 
local alfalfa fields produced a quantity in excess of the amount 
needed by the contractors and some of the alfalfa must of neces- 
sity be shipped to Salt Lake City for disposal, then the local 
price was that prevailing in Salt Lake City, or $10, less the 
freight charge of $4 per ton, netting the farmer only $6 per 
ton or even less if freight facilities were not available. 

This simple fact was not early appreciated and hence arose 
great disappointment to the settlers who had founded their 

1 Beadle, J. B., "Progress of Reclamation on Arid I.ands in the Western 
United States," Smithsonian Report, 1915, pp. 4G7-488. 


hopes on the continuance of high prices due to pioneer condi- 
tions. They at once began to look for a remedy and with the 
assistance of employees of the Reclamation Service and of the 
Department of Agriculture, studied the practicability of reduc- 
ing the shipping charges, notably by condensing the alfalfa into 
more easily transportable forms or, as it has been stated, "pack- 
ing the hay into the skin of a hog," or of converting it into 

A considerable amount of capital and much time is required 
to secure good dairy cows or to get cattle or sheep to feed. 
In the hog business, however, a farmer can get well started in 
two years and with a small investment. It is stated that horses 
and cattle increase annually 60 to 80 per cent, sheep a little 
more than 100 per cent, while hogs should increase 600 per cent. 
Moreover, it takes less feed to produce a pound of pork than 
any other kind of meat produced on the farm. Experiments 
have been made on various reclamation projects, showing in one 
case, considered fairly typical, that in two years' experience 
with alfalfa pasture, an average annual return of over $45 per 
acre was secured. With the addition of a little corn, these re- 
turns were increased to from $70 to over twice as much per 
acre. Other experiments show that in the yield of certain 
pastured plats the hay consumed was sold in the form of pork 
at a value of over $25 per ton.^ These matters, although appar- 
ently outside the field of investigation by the engineer, are of 
prime importance in preparing plans and in weighing the eco- 
nomics of various projects of water control and development. 

The cereals — principally wheat, oats, rye, and barley — 
raised under irrigation come far below the forage crops; and 
next to these in order are vegetables, orchard fruits (PI. XIV. 
D), and small fruit. In California the orchard fruits surpass 
the forage crops in value. The large production of hay and 
forage under irrigation illustrates the fact that in these states 
irrigation is, to a large extent, an adjunct of stock raising. The 
production of cereals under irrigation is relatively small. 

1 Holden, James A., "Experience in the Disposal of Irrigated Crops 
Through the Use of Hogs," United States Department of Agriculture, 
BuUetin 488, February 26, 1917. 


The total value of all the cereals produced under irrigation 
in the United States is less than that of those produced in 
almost any one of the humid states of the East. In many 
localities the irrigation of cereals and staple crops has been 
brought about by local conditions, such as difficulty of trans- 
portation and consequent heavy cost of importation. The irri- 
gated cereals in such localities are raised almost wholly for local 
consumption, and do not enter the markets of the world. Com 
is now raised with considerable success under irrigation. The 
failures which first occurred on account of carelessness and 
the unintelligent use of water and from attempting to grow 
varieties not adapted to the locality are being corrected as 
knowledge is gained from experience. 

For many years it has been the current popular belief that 
the crops produced by the irrigators far exceed in value per 
acre those produced by the dry farmer. Theoretically this 
should be a fact because with proper water conservation by 
storage it is possible to regulate the supply of moisture and 
with ample sunlight to bring about ideal conditions. Many indi- 
vidual examples can be cited of wonderful results. Taking such 
instances there seems to be no question but that irrigation must 
win in any comparison. There have been, until recently, no 
reliable figures sustaining the assumptions made, and it was not 
until the Reclamation Service began to obtain crop statistics 
that it was realized that the average crop production under 
irrigation was far less than usually believed. 

The annual estimates prepared by the Reclamation Service 
show a steady decline during several years in succession of the 
average value per acre cropped. This is presumably due to 
the fact that each year more complete figures were obtained. 
In 1916, however, for the first time the average showed a gain 
over the preceding years, and while from about 1909 until 1916 
the returns per acre seemed to decrease, the later figures have 
showed a gain. This may be explained in part by the fact that 
the early figures related largely to lands including old developed 
areas in the Salt River, Arizona, Uncompahgre Valley, Colo- 
rado, and similar projects. Each year a larger and larger 
acreage of raw land was added, tending to step down the returns. 


These raw lands, after a few years in cultivation, have now 
become highly productive. 

Alkali and Drainage. Where water is scarce and must be 
handled carefully, efforts are made to secure economy, but when 
a large supply has been made available by storage, the farmer 
is inclined to use it lavishly. Upwards of 15 per cent, or even 
more, of the irrigated lands formerly cultivated, have been 
injured by an excess of water. This has not only converted 
these lands into swamps but has brought to the surface a crust 
of earthly salts of various compositions included under the term 
of alkali, as shown in PL XVI. C. 

The most effective way of removing alkali is to hold the 
ground water well below the surface by means of deep drains 
and thus permit excess soil waters to move downward. The 
water in descending in the soil dissolves the salt on and near the 
surface and a portion of it is carried off in solution in the drain- 
age water. Deep drains, especially where they cut porous 
strata, are effective in lowering the ground water and removing 
alkali at long distances from them. On many of the United 
States Reclamation Service projects deep drains at average 
intervals of from one- fourth to one-half mile apart have been 
found effective. Investigations indicate that troubles caused 
by alkali yield to careful treatment, and even badly alkaline 
land, when properly drained and then irrigated, can be made 
suitable for cultivation. Large areas of alkali land in the West 
may be reclaimed at a cost below the actual increase in the value 
of the land. It is believed that the time will soon come when 
drainage will be as common in the irrigated districts as are the 
tile-drained fields of the Middle West. 

All irrigation works must be accompanied by the building of 
adequate wasteways and drains. Throughout a great part of 
the United States, outside of as well as within the arid region, 
are thousands of acres of land which are either partly sub- 
merged, especially during the flood season, or contain an amount 
of water so large as to render their cultivation impracticable. 
Drainage must be provided for these lands, not only to remove 
the surface water, but to decrease the percentage of water in 
the soil itself. There are thus necessary two distinct but closely 


related kinds of construction. First, the surface drains or 
wasteways, and second, subsurface or deep covered drains. 

Surface ditches form by far the greater part of all drainage 
works. They are usually broad, shallow depressions designed 
to carry away as quickly as possible the excess of rain or flood 
water and to discharge this into the natural streams. By re- 
lieving the surface of this burden, it is often possible for the soil 
to quickly dry out and reach a tillable condition. In the case 
of some soils, it is necessary to provide deeper outlets which will 
actually draw down the water in the ground and permit the air 
to enter the interstices. In other words, the drains must be 
put down sufficiently deep to permit the escape of water from 
the upper 6 or 8 feet. What is desired is to reduce the per- 
centage of saturation down to, say, 12 or 15 per cent. 

The building of irrigation works should be accompanied by 
the construction of drains in the same way that the building of 
a city waterworks is accompanied by a sewage system. It is 
not always practicable to anticipate just where the drains will 
be needed. Some of the soils, apparently tight, will be found to 
transmit water freely, and others, which on examination appear 
to be porous, may be found to retain the water. It thus results 
that after irrigation works are built the seepage waters appear 
in unexpected places; the drainage system must be laid out in 
accordance with observations made as to the behavior of the 
underground water. 

The main drainage, open ditches, located usually in the nat- 
ural depressions, are built with gently sloping sides. The farm 
drains leading to these may consist of tile buried in the ground 
to a depth sufficient to keep the water table well beneath the 
surface. The construction of these drains through the wet 
lands necessitates the use of machinery so arranged that it can 
be operated in water-soaked soils. The most successful is some 
form of drag-line excavator, such as that shown in PI. I. C, which 
operates a bucket on the end of a line in such a way as to take 
out the material whether wet or dry. 

In many places drainage works are employed as an adjunct 
to the irrigation canal. On benchlands or gently sloping hill- 


sides the water which escapes from one man's farm is caught by 
the lower laterals and used by his neighbors below, and there is 
none left to stagnate, the surplus from the upper cultivated 
lands being of value in watering the lower meadows. There are 
cases, however, where the question of disposing of the water is 
as important as that of obtaining it. These are on the nearly 
level lands, where the subsoil has been filled to saturation bv the 
water which has no opportunity to escape, and where expensive 
works are required in order to redeem the lower lands for 
agricultural purposes. 

There is probably no one engineering operation that seems 
more simple than that of location of drains. Looking at the 
surface of the ground, the ordinary observer will infer that the 
drains should follow certain depressions. Acting under such 
impulses, thousands of dollars have been wasted in building 
drains which when constructed were found not to remove the 
excess water as anticipated. The reason is that the under- 
ground conditions are not usually revealed by the contour of 
the surface and that the movement of the water through the soil 
is controlled by conditions which are not at once apparent. 
These may be determined by a carefully planned series of test 
pits or bore holes, so located as to ascertain the character of the 
subsoil and slope of the water table. 

As an example may be noted the Shoshone Project in Wyo- 
ming, in which the soil, of 4 to 6 feet in thickness, is underlaid by 
gravel. The general surface has a fall of about 20 feet to the 
mile. Apparently there could be no danger of swamping such an 
area as water would flow down the surface or into the gravels. 
It was assumed that the gravel could deliver any excess water 
to the deeply cut natural drainage lines. As a matter of fact, 
however, swamps did develop on these relatively steep slopes and 
drains built according to surface indications did not relieve the 
situation. Carefully conducted investigations showed that there 
were certain bands of gravel less pervious than others and that 
only when the drains were so located that these bands were cut 
could the accumulated water be discharged through the barrier 
and the swampy conditions relieved. It was by thorough re- 
search that these unexpected conditions were found to exist in 


material which ordinarily is supposed to be readily traversed 
by water. 

Before undertaking any considerable drainage enterprise, a 
map should be prepared showing not only the surface condi- 
tions, but also the depth to hardpan or to the water table and 
other facts such as may be ascertained by field examinations of 
the area. On the basis of this information, it is possible to pre- 
pare plans which may enable large economies, as against the 
frequently haphazard system of simply digging the drains and 
then trying out their efficiency. The distance between drains, 
their size, slope, and other conditions, must be worked out in 
accordance with the full information obtained by field exami- 
nations and by the analogies presented by successful work else- 

The development of drainage is proceeding rapidly as larger 
experience has been obtained and more complete information is 
had concerning the essential details. Well-planned investiga- 
tions are needed, however, into many of the details of the move- 
ment of water underground through the influence of gravity, 
capillarity, and other forces, as modified by soil texture and 

Plate XVI. A. 
Measuring water to farm laterals. Uncompahgre Project, Colorado. 

Plate XVI. B. 
Stacking alfalfa hay. Garden City Project, Kansas. 


Plate XVI. C. 
Alfalfa field injured by slksli due to excessive frrigstlor 

Plate XVI. D. 
App)e orchard, North Yskima, Washington. 



The assertion that the use of water, in the disposal of 
sewage, and of industrial wastes in general, is next in impor- 
tance to food production, comes as a shock to most persons who 
have not carefully thought about these matters. The employ- 
ment of watercourses in this connection is more often regarded 
as an abuse than as a use, and the natural impulse is to de- 
nounce the pollution of streams as an outrage on the public. 
In a rapidly developing country where population is increasing 
and industries are multiplying, there human and industrial 
wastes quickly accumulate to a point where health and life itself 
are threatened. Even in primitive times or among Indian tribes, 
village sites or even small towns were abandoned because of the 
nuisance or infection bred from such accumulations. Under 
such conditions either the rivers must be used to wash away the 
polluting substances or drastic action taken to limit industry 
and settlement. 

In most industrial operations and in nearly all sanitary appli- 
ances, water in large quantities is used. It is taken out of the 
general circulatory system, employed for a short period, and 
then returned, carrying with it the substances for which we 
have no further need and concerning which our chief anxiety is 
to get them out of sight and smell as quickly as possible, even 
though they may contain fertilizing material or substance from 
which valuable by-products may be derived. 

Thus, in the present stage of development of civilization and 
of population, water has become the principal agency for carry- 
ing away the things we no longer require. Whether we like it 
or not, we must recognize this condition and the fact that in 


innumerable processes water is and will be employed in larger 
and larger volumes for washing away the things we do not want 
and which if not disposed of become nuisances. 

Our immediate concern is not so much that of preventing 
the use of water as of determining the extent to which, when 
once thus used, it can or should be returned to the natural 
stream channels. It is whether we should permit the foul water 
as it escapes from sewers or manufacturing establishments to 
go directly into the brooks and creeks or whether, before being 
thus turned loose, it can or should be deprived of its load of 
deleterious matter. In short, because of the long-continued and 
tacit recognition of an existing custom sanctioned by law and 
habit, the present questions are not those of prohibition of use 
but of regulation of an abuse. The right of use must be clearly 
defined and the limits of abuse equally well set. 

These limits to which human and industrial wastes may be 
discharged into a stream are by no means uniform nor suscep- 
tible of accurate definition. It is necessary in each case to con- 
sider the surrounding conditions, to make careful investigations, 
conduct researches and balance the benefits as far as possible 
against the injuries caused; the persons or communities suffer- 
ing injury to be recompensed by those who are benefited. 

It is easy to imagine localities where unrestricted dumping of 
waste is of no consequence, simply because the amount thus 
deposited is infinitesimal compared to the vast volume and nat- 
urally foul condition of river water. For example, one or two 
small factories or settlements along the muddy Missouri can- 
not produce any injury possible of detection. On the other 
extreme, the small creeks formerly filled with clear, mountain 
water may be quickly defiled by the waste from a crowded manu- 
facturing town and become a menace to the people living below. 

The question then is as to whether the benefits to the com- 
munity or to the public in general of the former pure water — 
perhaps unutilized — were greater than those now conferred by 
the manufacturing village. Do the net profits of the industry 
justify the destruction of natural values.'* If so, should these 
profits be used in part in repairing or in preventing injury .^^ It 
is easily conceivable that in most, if not all, instances, the abuse 


of water may be prevented at a cost which is less than the advan- 
tage which results from neglect. The answer to these questions 
can be had only after impartial study of the facts and careful 
weighing of the evidence. 

The balancing of benefits and injury is often complicated by 
conditions which cannot be readily taken into account. These 
are the intangible vested rights or traditional attitude of the 
people or communities where use and abuses have grown up 
slowly side by side and the public has become accustomed to 
these. When people in general cannot imagine any other con- 
ditions than those which exist, there is little possibility of arous- 
ing sufficient interest to check an abuse. For instance, a small 
mill which develops gradually into a large manufacturing estab- 
lishment begins at first to discharge its refuse into the stream, 
and without any perceptible injury. As it grows, the houses of 
workmen are crowded in the vicinity, the processes of manu- 
facture are gradually changed, and more and more noxious sub- 
stances are thrown into or along the stream, already partly 
polluted. At no time is there a conspicuous change from con- 
ditions which have existed a few months before. Nor is there 
an inciting cause for anyone to make effective complaint until 
the conditions become intolerable, forcing the public to appre- 
ciate that new and unbearable conditions have developed. 

In the meantime, certain vested rights have attached, sustain- 
ing the contention that stream pollution is in the natural order 
of events: the persons injured have slept on their rights or by 
acquiescence have allowed them to diminish to a point where it 
is easy for the manufacturer to demonstrate that his profits and 
the gain to the community far exceed the dubious loss to others. 

There is no doubt but that there are localities and conditions 
where the transporting of waste products has attained sufficient 
importance to justify large expenditures by the public along 
the line of water conservation, especially when undertaken in 
connection with other uses of the water. For example, in pre- 
paring estimates of the cost of production of power or of water 
storage for municipal and other purposes, there may be recog- 
nized among the benefits to be derived from such expenditure 
the disposal of sewage. Because of such gain, additional outlay 


may be justified or a plan approved which otherwise might seem 

This is notably the case where, with rapidly increasing density 
of population, the question of domestic and city water is becom- 
ing a more and more intricate problem. Each settlement along 
a river from the time of the building of its first house, usually 
has derived its necessary water supply from the stream and, as 
the number of houses increased, sewers have been built emptying 
below town. The diluted sewage has continued to flow down to 
the next settlement below and there been used until after a lapse 
of some years the water has become obnoxious or the death rate 

Little thought is usually given to these conditions until they 
result in an epidemic — with large loss of life. Customary incon- 
veniences or slowly increasing death rate do not arouse people 
to action. The first impulse which follows the recognition of the 
bad condition is to go to the other extreme, to demand that all 
sewage be excluded from the streams. This is practically impos- 
sible, as the water which is used by municipalities or employed in 
manufacturing establishments must sooner or later return to the 
natural drainage channels. Before being returned, however, it 
is possible to bring the water back to a fair degree of purity. 
The cost of so doing is the governing factor. 

The improvement of the condition of the water which has 
once been used is largely a matter of dilution.^ After the visible 
impurities have been disposed of and the bacteriological con- 
tents reduced as far as practicable, the next question is to secure 
as great a degree of dilution as possible. To do this there must 
be available during the dry seasons an adequate amount of 
water and while under ordinary conditions it would not pay to 
store water simply for dilution of waste, yet in connection with 
power development or other purpose this may be brought about 
and enable the solution of a difficult problem. 

Water is the universal carrier and solvent, and of necessity 
must be largely employed in removing many noxious materials. 

1 But not in Miles and activated sludge processes; aeration is necessary 
in the Miles process; activated sludge sewage will support fish at end of 
treatment. These treatments usually require concentration. 


During the process of transportation of organic matter in open 
stream channels there is usually set up more or less chemical 
and biological action which tends to eliminate the harmful 
organisms. If the foul water is well diluted and is exposed to 
sunlight and to air in its course downstream, there is a gradual 
return to normal conditions. 

While it may be impracticable to preserve the streams of the 
country in their original purity, yet research indicates that it 
is possible to so act that they may continue to perform varied 
and useful functions, bringing needed water to many communi- 
ties and taking aw^ay the waste material, provided that in so 
doing they are not overloaded. The proper adjustment is a 
matter which must be considered in each case. It demands the 
skill of the engineer in planning and devising works of conserva- 
tion to furnish a regular supply and the experience of the sani- 
tary and biological experts to see to it that the highest practi- 
cable degree of purity is attained in anything discharged into 
the watercourses. Filtration of waters before use and again 
after use and before release into the natural channels, together 
with a steady flow in the latter — sufficient to secure full dilu- 
tion — is to be sought.^ 

Relative Values.^ The gain to individuals or to corpora- 
tions through the relatively easy way of disposing of sewage 
and waste by discharging it into rivers has been accompanied by 
losses to communities or injury to the public welfare. The 
effects of the structures, such as dams across the rivers, the 

1 Hansen, Paul, "Control of Stream Poffution," Illinois Academy of 
Science, 1913. 

Hoad, W. C, *The Michigan Water and Sewage Law and the Grand 
Rapids Stream Pollution Decision," Engineering Bulletin No. 4, Michigan 
State Board of Health. 

Leighton, Marshall O., "Pollution of Illinois and Mississippi River by 
Chicago Sewage," U. S. G. S. Water Supply Paper No. 194, 1907. 

Legg, F. G., **The Work of the International Joint Commission on the 
Pollution of Boundary Waters," Michigan Engineering Society Proceedings, 
1915, p. 79. 

2 The remainder of the chapter is a slight modification of a manuscript 
by Victor E. Shelford, biologist in charge of Research Laboratories, Illi- 
nois Natural History Survey, and assistant professor of Zoology, University 
of Illinois. 


drainage of extensive marshes and the sewage discharged into 
the streams liave disturbed the delicate adjustment of life con- 
ditions of plants or animals. The actions and reactions are 
usually complex and the ultimate net balance of benefit or injury 
may not be apparent until after careful research. j 

People in general are apt to see only those things which are 
brought prominently to their attention, disregarding other mat- 
ters as of little or no significance; thus the natural resources 
which have been lost or diminished in value to secure an imme- i 

diate gain are usually not given great weight. To illustrate the 
contrasting attitude of those who view the same question from 
different standpoints, the following instances may be given. A 
manufacturer, when confronted by law which will ultimately 
compel his factory to stop polluting a stream, exclaims : 

"What ! Would you destroy our great industries because of 
a few fish, for the sake of the cattle of a few farmers or the 
health of a few people.'' If people want fish, let them go to sea 
or somewhere else and get them. If they don't like the foul 
water, let them move to a greater distance from the factory 
where the water is better. If they and their cattle can't drink 
the water, let them drill wells for themselves."^ 

On the other hand is the attitude of the extreme conserva- 
tionist who denounces public indifference in the disposal of 
sewage, and says : "There is little blacker or more nearly crimi- 
nal in the history of the country or an exhibition of greater 
disregard for the rights and health of the people than the pollu- 
tion of the streams by manufacturing and other industrial inter- 
ests. It is harder to repair the damage they have done, than 
all the acts of careless fishermen. To those who know the facts, 
have seen the dire results, and have the work of rehabilitation in 
hand, the faults of Judas Iscariot and of Benedict Arnold are 
more to be condoned and of less harm to the people than the 
ruin of the fisheries and the water supply for domestic pur- 

1 Meehan, W. E., "The Battle for the Fishes," Canadian Fisherman, 191T, 


In the words of an aquatic culture advocate : "A fish cultural 
experiment station is what is now urgently needed; an institu- 
tion equipped for water culture, and charged with the duty of 
carrying out a well-planned line of experiments, bearing on its 
economic problems. This is needed to supplement the hatch- 
eries and to bring their work to fruition."^ On the contrary, we 
have from a cannery operator: "This nonsense about fish cul- 
ture makes me tired. What I want to know is how to make every 
dollar invested in fisheries pay a dollar and ten cents. When 
we have canned the last salmon we will can something else." 

The conservationist says of Niagara, "The falls in their full 
glory belong solely to the nation and to posterity." While the 
engineers respond, "It's a shame to let all that power go to 

Who is right.'* To a certain extent each is — but in each case 
the special interest fails to recognize the rights and interests 
of the other side in making his own calculations. The present 
unsatisfactory condition of our aquatic resources is largely due 
to the intolerant advocacy of this or that, of "pork," profits, 
industrial expansion, sport, or economy carried to penurious- 
ness. Modern legislation for the protection of fishes has often 
been less effective than that of 300 years ago. Proposals for 
its complete reorganization have scarcely gotten a hearing. 

In 1606 an act passed by James VI of Scotland forbade the 
pollution of lochs and running streams because it was "hurtful 
to all fishes bred therein."^ The punishments for violations 
were severe. Later by 312 years we are just confronted with 
a problem of substituting fish for beef, pork, and mutton and 
find our laws no better. With the development of modern indus- 
tries and sewerage systems the bathing and recreation grounds 
liave been destroyed and fisheries greatly injured or destroyed. 
Some fisheries had been depleted already as a result of the use 
of "improved" catching devices and the absence of protective 
measures such as existed in some places eight hundred years 

iNeedham, J. G., and Lloyd, J. T., "Life of Inland Waters," Ithaca, 

2 Day, F., "British and Irish Salmonids," London, 1887. 


In Scotland, about the year 1220, it was ordained that from 
Saturday night to Monday morning it should be obligatory to 
leave a free passage for salmon in all the various rivers.^ Al- 
most seven hundred years later a similar law was enacted in 
certain of our Pacific states, but the time is shorter, being from 
Saturday night to Sunday night. The absence of such laws in 
New England a century ago has caused infinite damage to the 
salmon and shad industries. 

Fisheries. The destruction of fisheries by using the streams 
to transport waste is the first and most obvious injury, but they 
make up only a small part of the losses. There are other more 
important aquatic, biological values as noted on page 274. 
It has been argued that the fisheries of one of the most pro- 
ductive rivers are not worth as much as the products of the 
smallest industry which is throwing wastes into the upper 
course of this river. This argument carries much weight; it 
is, however, faulty. First of all, economists have been predict- 
ing a shortage of food; furthermore the values used are the 
values to the fishermen, not to the public. The Alaska salmon 
canning industry, taking only the salmon canned, shows^ that 
about one-third of the employees and one-third of the capital 
are devoted to fishing, while the value of the fish to the fisher- 
men is about one-third of the value of the canned product to 
the canneries. Salmon fishing is more expensive than many 
other types. Fish should be compared with raw materials and 
not with the products of factories on which much labor has 
been expended. Our food supply should be increased, not de- 
creased to bring profit to a few owners of manufacturing 

Recreational Values. Besides the biological values, there 
are the recreation and aesthetic values. They must be con- 
sidered in any attempt to balance the gains and losses. There 
are two types of recreation which have to be taken into account. 
One is the camping, shooting, and fishing, another the wading, 
rowing, and afternoon and Sunday outings for children and 

1 Day, F., "British and Irish Salmonids," London, 1887. 

2 Evermann, B. W., "Alaska Fisheries and Fur Industry in 1913," 1913 
Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries, app. II : 1-139. 


those who must take advantage of things near at hand. These 
two uses of waters and water margins overlap only to a small 
degree. The value of a stream and its margins for its sports- 
men can be ascertained through suitable investigation. For 
example, the Fox River^ in Illinois is about 100 miles long and 
its valley contains a population of 284i,000. The banks are 
dotted with cottages and there are some clubhouses. It was 
estimated that there are over 6,000 boats of all kinds on the 
river. The capital invested in these cottages, clubhouses, and 
boats is the capitalization; the interest on this, the salaries of 
caretakers and the value to local merchants is the annual recre- 
ation value, but what it is has never been determined. Such 
activities tend to disappear from badly polluted streams. 

For the general welfare of its citizens every large city pro- 
vides parks with lagoons for rowing, bathing beaches, swimming 
pools, and in some cases forest preserves on the outskirts. 
Chicago^ is a good city from which to make estimates, for it 
has all these things within its limits or under its immediate 
influence, further the Fox River is valuable for comparison 
with the upper Illinois and Des Plaines rivers because of the 
nearness of both to the city^. Chicago's park properties cost 
over $56,000,000. The interest on this sum and cost of mainte- 
nance amounts to nearly $2.60 per capita annually exclusive 
of lighting. The forest preserves^ will probably cost nearly 
twenty million when completed and this will add another dollar 
to the annual per capita outlay. This city also spends seven 
cents per capita for outdoor bathing facilities. The parks 
contain lagoons which provide rowing and a limited amount of 
angling. They correspond quite closely to the conditions 
afforded by a river and its immediate margins for people living 
close at hand. 

Chicago Sewage. Chicago "treats" its sewage by dilution 
with water drawn from Lake Michigan and adjacent waterways 

1 McCiirdy, G. E., "Report of Survey and Proposed Improvement of the 
Fox River," State of Illinois Rivers and Lakes Commission, 195. 

2 United States Bureau of Census, General statistics of cities, 1915. 

3 Reinberp, P., and others, "The Forest Preserves of Cook County," 
Chicago, 1918. 


through the South branch of the Chicago River and a canal 
which receives other streams and finally ends in the Des Plaines 
River, which is one of the upper courses of the Illinois. There 
are strong e\'idences of pollution more than a hundred miles 
below Chicago. Fishes have been wiped out, and sportsmen's 
activities reduced to a minimum. About 250,000 people living 
in this part of the valley and area immediately adjacent are 
affected by the conditions which the sewage produces in the 
river. It is not possible to put a value on the loss they sustain. 
**For over a hundred miles from Chicago, the inhabitants of 
the valley seem to have relinquished the most valuable rights of 
riparian owners. The water is not fit to drink, nor wash in, 
nor to water stock in, nor for any other domestic and industrial 
uses of a normal river. Fish die in it ; the thought of swimming 
in it is repugnant to the senses ; boating far from being a pleas- 
ant and healthful diversion can be enjoyed only bj' the hardy. 
The stream flows with the majestic sweep of all great rivers and 
the banks are overhung with rich luxuriant foliage; but the 
water is discolored, malodorous, poisonous. Fine black organic 
sewage mud covers the bottom and deposits on the shores when 
the river overflows its banks. "^ From the loss of nearly all use 
of the river for recreation, angling, swimming, camping, taking 
merely the $2.60 Chicago spends annually at the present time, 
exclusive of the forest preserves as a basis, we find that the 
250,000 people of the valley may lose $650,000 per year on this 
score alone. It may, of course, be argued that they would not 
use the river if it were clean, that tributaries supply necessary 
recreation grounds, that half of the people live in towns which 
supply these things in parks, that they would pollute the river 
themselves. Further, one might find that they are quite resigned 
to conditions because they "cannot be remedied" — a sophistry of 
those who wish to continue the present system. Only careful 
investigation can determine what their loss is. However, there 
are aesthetic and moral values to be considered. Furthermore, 
the annual loss to the inhabitants due to the lack of visiting 

1 Soper, G. A., Watson, J. D., and Martin, A. J., "A Report on the 
Disposal of Sewage and Protection of Water Supply of Chicago, Illinois,*' 
The Chicago Real Estate Board, 1915. 


sportsmen, noted above for the Fox River, and the loss due to 
hindrance of the general development of the valley because of all 
the disadvantages and the nuisances which the sewage causes, the 
destruction of cattle water, dangers to public health, all have to 
be taken into account. The loss of fish lies chiefly in angling 
losses at present, but the sewage is rapidly encroaching on com- 
mercial fisheries further down. In addition there is a loss of an 
almost annual crop of ice, or ice which is dangerous to public 
health is harvested. 

This situation can be relieved by treatment of Chicago sew- 
age. A recovery and treatment plant has been estimated^ to 
cost Chicago $8,800,000 for 50 million gallons of sewage or 
$88,000,000 to care for the city's entire discharge counted at 
500,000,000 gallons per day at a cost of over $8,000,000 for 
annual running expenses with recovered products worth upwards 
of $8,000,000, leaving more than $5,000,000 annual expenses. 
These figures based on packing-town sewage are perhaps larger 
than for an average. 

According to figures by Winslow and Mohlman," who worked 
on New Haven sewage, the cost for Chicago on the basis of the 
average of their two stations when treated by the Miles process, 
would be $8,800,000 for a year without recovery products or 
about $1,500,000 with sale of recovery products deducted. 
The figures of Weston show an actual profit for his samples of 
Boston sewage. In other words, if Chicago spent as much on 
cleaning up its back yard as it does on beautifying its front 
yard, it would not be making a sewer out of a once beautiful 
valley. The estimated economies in government under a plan 
proposed by the Cities' Efficiency and Economy Commission 
would almost build a fifty-million-gallon plant every year, and 
the operating expenses would increase taxation about 6 per cent. 

1 Wisner, G. M., "Report on Sewapje Disposal," The Chicago Sanitary 
District, Chicago, 1911. 

Hill, C. D., "The Sewage Disposal Prohlem in Chicago," Am. Jour. Pub. 
Health, 8:833-837, 1918. 

Pearse, L., "Activated Sludge and Treatment of Packing-Town Wastes," 
Am. Jour. Pub. Health, 8:47-55, 1918. 

2 Winslow, C.-E. A., and Mohlman, F. W., "Acid Treatment of Sewage," 
Municipal Journal, 45:280-282; 297-299; 321-322, 1918. 


Counting all losses, the per capita loss to the people of the 
valley would greatly exceed the per capita expense to Chicago. 
The total annual losses to the valley may readily equal Chicago's 
total expense for treatment. 

Does It Pay? The figures of cost of sewage treatment show 
great variation and it is probable that any estimate of cost or 
recovery are wide of the mark in one direction or the other. 
However, if one brought all the values together after careful 
investigation, he could probably prove, with the moral, educa- 
tional, and recreational values taken into account, that it does 
not pay to pollute streams or other bodies of water with un- 
treated sewage and industrial wastes or to modify streams and 
swamps without careful consideration of values other than the 
industrial and commercial. Such investigation and proof are 
not necessary. The nation has provided immense national parks 
and forest reserves for the use of everybody, but far away from 
the bulk of the population. Each state should provide its 
citizens with some of the same kind of recreation grounds, 
should protect each and every small community from the de- 
struction of its recreation grounds. Each child has a right to 
wade in the creek near his home and pick up stones; his own 
community must protect him from disease and filth. 

Under pressure for economy some engineers have been slow 
to recognize the rights of the smaller community to the fish- 
eries, sporting, and aesthetics of its watercourses against the 
interests and selfish encroachment of the larger. Certain 
American engineers^ said of the Royal Commission on River 
Pollution: "The main interest lies however in the complete 
failure to recognize dilution of sewage as method of treatment. 
Its dilution in water was regarded exclusively as a method of 
disposal. A city which has a neighboring body of water, where 
it can be practiced safely, possesses an important natural re- 
source." The men failed to see the beauties of such a theorv 
as exemplified by most of our streams where such treatment is 
practiced, as a notable example the Chicago drainage canal. 

The capacity of streams to carry away human and industrial 

1 Metcalf, L., and Eddy, P. E., "American Sewerage Practice," Vol. Ill, 
"Disposal of Sewage," New York, 1916. 


wastes IS a natural resource : the removal of these is necessary ; 
but this capacity like other natural resources, if it be admitted 
to be such, being largely of a biological nature ( self-purification 
being a biological process), is quickly destroyed by overtaxa- 
tion. Such treatment can be successfully practiced only under 
close supervision, as is necessary in scientific forestry, for 
example. The principle set down by the Massachusetts state 
board of health in 1875 still holds, "that each community should 
dispose of its own filth without allowing it to become a source 
of offence to others. 

"While realizing that in certain cases the discharge of crude 
sewage into boundary waters may be without danger it is our 
judgment that effective sanitary administration requires that 
no untreated sewage from cities or towns shall be discharged 
into boundary waters." (Report of engineers to the Inter- 
national Joint Commission.) 

Apparently the boundary waters are not a natural resource 
for the treatment of sewage by dilution, and why not? Because 
every country protects its humblest citizen from the acts of 
foreign nations by going to war, if necessary, for the lives of 
only a few. Most often engineers regard waters only as a 
source of supply for communities which have waterworks, but 
Phelps recently said:* 

"The only proper basis for a policy of stream protection is 
the principle of conservation of stream resources, or the maxi- 
mum beneficial use of the stream. The application of this policy 
involves the study of all the various uses of the stream and of 
the value of each. From a purely economic standpoint, if for 
no more potent reason, the protection of life and health demands 
first consideration, and that protective policy is best which 
best protects the public health and permits the maximum 
utilization of the other valuable properties of the stream.'* 

The sanitary engineers for a state board of health recently 
said : "The principal evil growing out of the extensive installa- 
tion of modern sewerage systems is the pollution of streams. 
Many streams in the United States have been grossly polluted 

1 Phelps, E. B., **The Control of Stream Pollution—A Problem in Eco- 
nomics," Mun. and Co, Engineering y 55:22-24, 1918. 


as to be fit for no other purpose than as a receptacle and an 
open drain for putrefying wastes. This situation is due entirely 
to the fact that the benefit from the installation of adequate 
treatment works accrues to the downstream neighbors of a 
community using the stream as a wastewaj' rather than to the 
community itself." The discussion coming from some of the 
worst offenders is not encouraging, as it usually contemplates 
the continuation of present conditions with some increased load 
added to the streams. Ten or twenty years hence they antici- 
pate that it will be necessary to treat the sewage from enough 
of their population to keep conditions not too much worse than 
they are now. 

The existence of such large and noxious wastes and the 
seriousness of their effects have perhaps been sufficiently en- 
larged upon in the preceding pages. The natural argument 
in condoning the fact "is that it constitutes an unfortunate but 
necessary and inevitable accompaniment of the development of 
manufacturing." But such a general argument as that is met 
when we consider for a moment the conditions that prevail in 
other countries. When the manufacturer makes such a state- 
ment, and he is asked if manufacturing is as general, if popu- 
lation is as dense, in this country as it is in England, or Bel- 
gium, or France, or Germany, taking conditions before the war, 
he will hardly venture to say that it is. 

In none of our states have we reached the development of 
manufacturing, nor the density of population which exists in 
those countries ; yet fishing in the streams of the Old World is 
better than it is in these streams in the manufacturing parts 
of the New World; and pollution at the present time is much 
greater here than it is there. Much improvement, as a matter 
of fact, has been made in the older parts of the world in the 
course of the last half century in cleaning up the streams, they 
have paid attention to that, whereas we have neglected the 

In this country one goes to college and takes a course in the 
chemistry of paper making and seldom hears a word about how 

iWard, H. B., "The Elimination of Stream Pollution in New York 
State," Trans. Am. Fish Soc., XLVIII, 3-25, 1919. 


to dispose of the wastes, not even in the university of a state in 
which paper mills have destroyed many salmon and their breed- 
ing grounds. The stream of our information in these matters 
is dried up at the source. The legal situation relative to 
streams pollution is peculiar. In most cases there are adequate 
laws to prevent the contamination of streams, but when the 
state goes into court with a complaint, the offender usually 
says, "Tell us how to dispose of our refuse without polluting 
the streams and we will be glad to do so.'' He usually is sus- 
tained by the court in continuing the nuisance until the com- 
plainant has shown how it can be done. In case of most mis- 
demeanors the offender has to invent his own means of stopping 
the offence, but in these cases the state must discover it for 
him. Perhaps the state should do it in the future. The con- 
dition of our laws should be remedied after careful investigation. 

Water Fertilization and Self-Purification. It is a fact 
that a certain amount of purely household sewage added to 
water increases nitrogen and hence acts as a fertilizer increas- 
ing food for fish and other aquatic animals. Certain European 
towns run their sewage into ponds where the yield of carp is 
increased through the increase of fish food. It is easy to argue 
that the addition of sewage to streams will do good ! Of course 
that would settle it if there were not more facts to consider. 

First, in practice there is no such thing as pure sewage ; even 
in the smallest town, the garage runs oil and gasoline into the 
sewers and the creamery adds milk wastes or the gas plant adds 
quantities of deadly poison until there is really no certainty 
that the process of breaking down the organic matter of the 
household sewage present into nitrogen available for fish food 
will go on. In many cases it certainly does not. 

Secondly, how much sewage can be used advantageously as 
fertilizer.'* The amount that can be used for carp may be 
known, but carp is not prized by Americans and amounts suit- 
able for carp may be detrimental to most aquatic resources. 
It is difficult for one to conceive of the physiological diversity 
in the animals of a river. 

Studies of fishes in the Illinois River at points where self- 
purification has proceeded far enough to permit fishes to live, 


appear to show that fishes have increased. This case, however, 
is complicated by the fact that water diverted from Lake 
Michigan has increased the flow and added greatly to the over- 
flowed areas and hence to the shallow water for feeding and 
breeding. This increased space is believed to be in part 
responsible for the increase in fish. 

The number of fishes which come from the lakes and bayous 
which are little affected by the pollution is unknown, as well as 
the number of fishermen before and after the introduction of 
Chicago sewage and accordingly this case cannot be used to 
show anything about this. Further, the loss of the Buffalo fish, 
the big pickerel and wall-eyed pike noted on page 276 
indicates that the increase has not been general, but that while 
it is not certain that some fishes are favored, it is more than 
probable that what favors one species is detrimental to another. 
There is no investigation showing how much sewage is advan- 

When is a stream self-purified.'^ The sanitary chemist and 
bacteriologist have criteria, but so far as their tests are con- 
cerned, the stream may be so thoroughly purified, by acid 
waste for example, that nothing belonging to our aquatic 
biological resources remains. 

The most delicate test for the suitability of water for impor- 
tant aquatic organisms is perhaps the microscopic organisms 
which serve indirectly as food for fishes. When these are gone, 
especially from the bottom, there can hardly be any fish. The 
biologist with careful study, based on new research, can estab- 
lish the point at which self-purification has taken place, for 
example, from the standpoint of fish. One finds in the litera- 
ture assumptions about dissolved oxygen, but little that 
is established from the standpoint of the physiology and inter- 
dependence of important aquatic animals. The ecological 
requirements^ of important aquatic species are the final court 

1 Shelford, V. E., "Ecological Succession. I. Stream Fishes and the 
Method of Physiographic Analysis," Biol. Bull., 21: 9-35, "II. Pond Fishes," 
Biol. Bull., 21:127-151. "III. A Reconnaissance of its Causes in Ponds, 
with Particular Reference to Fish," Biol. Bull., 22:1-38. "Suggestions as 
to Indices of the Suitability of Bodies of Water for Fishes," Trans. Am. 
Fisheries Soc, 44:27-32. 


of appeal, but the law on which decisions are to be based is yet 
to be constructed from existing scattered knowledge and espe- 
cially from future research. 

Needed Research. If it is possible to determine what in- 
jury has taken place, some one may ask what is the use of con- 
ducting elaborate experimental studies. This is because we 
must know what constituents of waste effluents are capable of 
doing damage. 

The relations of fishes to the various effluents are too little 
known to warrant many conclusions. A large number of ques- 
tions demand investigation. Tests of the toxicity of sewage 
and industrial wastes and other poisons introduced into the 
water must be made. In doing this it is not sufficient that we 
take any fish or other animal we pick up. An animal that is 
representatively sensitive must be chosen and after this has 
been done, it is necessary to consider that every life history 
may be represented as an endless chain made up of links of 
different strength, as noted on page 278. 

Conditions in streams and other bodies of water vary; the 
concentration of the polluting substance should be known.^ The 
minimum flow of a stream usually gives the greatest concen- 
tration. The summer low-water conditions are dangerous 
because of little flow and high temperature, which increases 
toxicity; the winter low water because of slow flow and ice, 
which prevents aeration. Perhaps something might be done, 
such as forcing air through the effluent near the point where 
the pollution is introduced, to reduce this danger during critical 
periods by increasing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. 

The removal of constituents and the results of treatment of 
various polluting substances must be fully analyzed. It is 
necessary to know the results of treatment of sewage, indus- 
trial wastes, etc., in terms of their effects on useful aquatic 
animals. If coal tar^ wastes are partially recovered, it is neces- 

1 Shelford, V. E., "Ways and Means of Measuring the Dangers of Pollu- 
tion to Fisheries,'* Bull. 111. N. H. Surv., 13: (2) 25-41, 1918. 

"Fortunes in Wastes and Fortunes in Fish," Set. Mo., August, 1919. 

2 Shelford, V. E., "An Experimental Study of the Effects of Gas Waste 
upon Fishes, with Especial Reference to Stream Pollution," Bull. 111. State 
I.ab. Nat. Hist., 11:381-412, 191T. 


sary to know whether the residue is still toxic. Experiments 
have shown that nearly all constituents are, and hence any 
residue will be almost certain to be poisonous. The substances 
which are introduced into the water not only affect fishes di- 
rectly but also act through effects on the bottoms on which eggs 
and valuable moUusks rest. 

The covering of bottoms with a large amount of sawdust and 
other rubbish makes the spawning grounds useless. The re- 
action of the animals demands attention. 

The time it takes a body of water to recover if it has once 
been depleted must be considered. It has been shown that a 
whole association of plants and animals must redevelop in 
places of this sort. If a pine forest is destroyed by fire, fire- 
weeds grow up, followed by cottonwoods or birches and after 
a long time pines again. A similar slow process must take place 
in depleted waters. 

There is danger in decisions made without investigation of 
a particular case. One important reason for this is that poisons 
are in some cases rendered much less toxic by salts in solution 
in the water polluted and in other cases they are rendered much 
more toxic by the salts present. The effect of greatly diluted 
effluents should be studied under culture conditions for one or 
more seasons. When the engineer and chemists have an effluent 
to test, there is no one to test it adequately and no one to tell 
them what its effects will be. Provisions for such investigation 
should be made at once, and on a larger scale than ever before. 

Plate XVII. . 
Blackfeet Indians on their reservation i 
servation works. In the foreground old Iroi 
Ingmen of the locality. 

Plate XVII. B. 
Apache Indian laborers at Roosevelt Reservoir in Arizona. The employ' 
ment of these Indians was made possible by the construction of works for 
water conservation. 

Plate XVII. C. 
Mountain forests and lake made possible by the run-off from the forested 
area. It is necessary to protect the wooded area around sueh natural lakes 
in order to maintain good eonditions of water supply and to prevent 
excessive erosion of the hill slopes such as follow the 'destruction of the 
natural growth. 

Plate XVII. D. 

Underground storage made available by deep huring; an artesian well 

near Roswell, New Mexico. 



Manufacturing. In the manufacturing industries, includ- 
ing the production of power for electrical transmission or for 
direct application, water conservation by storage has found 
and is finding a wide application. While large works have been 
built for municipal supply and for irrigation development, yet 
the number and diversity of structures built by commercial 
interests far exceed those provided for other purposes. 

Before the question of city supply began to be seriously 
considered in the United States, there were built innumerable 
small dams for gristmills, sawmills or for ponding logs. Each 
year there was an increase in the number of these up to the 
time when steam power began to assert its place and crowd out 
the small water power mills. With the subsequent revival 
brought about by electrical transmission of power, attention 
was again drawn to the question of regulating the stream flow 
and of providing by storage adequate water to furnish power 
for the peak loads. 

Water may be needed in manufacturing not only for power 
production but for direct consumption in one or another of the 
various processes or for use in steam boilers or simply for wash- 
ing or cooling. Many industries require an ample supply of 
clean, clear water such as can be had only by holding it in 
ponds to permit the sediment to settle. Occasionally the normal 
flow of the stream is charged with a considerable amount of 
mineral matter in solution, while the flood waters are relatively 
free from dissolved mineral matter. In such cases water storage 
may be resorted to in order that the softer water may be had. 

A combination of the interests of municipal and domestic 


supply, of fish and of water fowl culture, of irrigation, of 
sewage disposal, and of the creation of power, may render prac- 
ticable the building of storage works which for any single pur- 
pose would not be financially feasible. It is peculiarly the duty 
of the engineer to study such possibilities and while planning 
to conserve the water, at the same time consider how this water 
may be put to the largest practicable number of uses with con- 
sequent greatest gain to all concerned. For example, in the 
case of the Reclamation Service, while primarily its duty was 
to store water for irrigation of lands, yet the engineers in 
charge felt that they were obligated not merely to consider the 
uses of water for production of crops, but at the same time to 
obtain the maximum development of power compatible with this 
use and to assist in the creation of municipal supplies and the 
encouragement of manufacturing. Many projects are thus 
studied which from the purely agricultural standpoint might 
be questionable but which were of undoubted value when con- 
sidered in connection with the other purposes to which the water 
could be put. 

Water Power. In the employment of water in the produc- 
tion of power are required large volumes with steady flow and 
an adequate fall. This use is ordinarily compatible with its 
later employment for irrigation or in manufacturing, so that 
development of water power goes hand in hand with the up- 
building of other industries. 

Since 1900 there has been a notable revival of interest in 
water power development. Engineers are being called upon to 
a greater extent than in the past to utilize the larger and more 
inaccessible streams of the country, particularly through the 
building of storage works. Similar conditions prevail through- 
out the world, and in localities such as in Norway and Sweden 
the waterfalls are now being developed and utilized by electrical 
transmission, the cheap power making possible the manufacture 
of certain chemicals, particularly the fixation of nitrogen from 
the air to form the basis of agricultural fertilizers. 

The fact that operations of the kind above noted need not 
necessarily be continuous, as in the case of supplying power for 
lights or street railways, renders practicable many schemes. 


For example, the proposed use of power which may be devel- 
oped in connection with an irrigation project brings up the 
objection that the power is intermittent in character and 
cannot be employed to advantage in the usual manner. In the 
undeveloped arid region, irrigation must precede settlement, 
cultivation, and the building of railroad lines; thus there is 
presented the fact that there is no immediate demand for the 
power which is available at reasonable cost. The engineer is 
confronted with the problem as to what to do with any excess 
beyond that needed for immediate construction purposes or 
for summer pumping for irrigation or drainage. One of the 
large outlets suggested for the use of such excess power is the 
fixing of nitrogen from the air and the manufacture of ferti- 
lizers so greatly needed in the new country. 

A power plant such as that built at Minidoka on Snake River 
in Idaho is put to its largest use in connection with irrigation 
only during three or four months of hot weather. The plant to 
be kept in the best condition for this time of maximum demand 
should be operated continuously. It is obviously impracticable 
to shut down, disband the operating force and, in the summer, 
get back the skilled men and run the machinery at high speed. 
How, then, can the skilled force be kept busy throughout the 
year? The solution, above indicated, of chemical industry which 
can be carried on throughout the year or at intervals between 
the irrigation seasons is one peculiarly attractive. 

In the instance just mentioned, it has been found practicable 
to develop a winter load by selling the power at low rates to 
the small communities, not merely for lighting, which would 
require only a small fraction of the power, but for heating the 
houses, schools, and other buildings, and for domestic uses, in- 
cluding cooking. The comfort of the community has thus been 
greatly increased and it has been practicable to create a market 
in a pioneer agricultural area. There is moreover the demand 
for fertilizers and it is probable that in similar localities, with 
the development of experience along these lines, it will be prac- 
ticable to bring about the manufacture of chemicals needed by 
the farmers or by local industries. 

Thus it happens that in connection with the works built for 


other purposes, it is occasionally found by the engineer that 
power may be developed, particularly below storage dams. 
There are also points near the head or along the line of the 
principal canals where water of necessity must descend to lower 
levels and where power may be had. As a rule, however, the 
best and largest use of the water for power, as above stated, 
is not consistent with its economical employment in irrigation. 

For most purposes, such as in manufacturing or in electrical 
lighting, and in transportation, power must be practically con- 
tinuous or at least available at regular intervals throughout 
the year. Irrigation water, on the other hand, should be ap- 
plied only during a limited portion of the year and at other 
times the surplus water should be accumulated in reservoirs or 
the canals should be allowed to become dry. There are occa- 
sionally conditions where power during the irrigation season 
has particular value and may be used to advantage, either in 
supplementing the water supply obtained in other ways or used 
in pumping or draining lower lands. 

There are also instances where storage reservoirs are built 
on streams, the total flow of which is not available for storage. 
For example, it may be necessary to pass through a reservoir 
a certain minimum flow for the satisfaction of vested rights 
farther down the stream. The building of the dam and the 
permanent maintenance of high-water level in the reservoir 
enables the creation of a steady power because of the fact, 
above stated, that a certain quantity of water must continually 
flow through or around the dam. Such is the case above noted 
on the Snake River in southern Idaho, where at Minidoka Dam 
a certain low- water supply must be permitted to continue down- 
stream to supply prior claimants. Here water power has been 
developed and is being supplied throughout the year, irrespective 
of the demands for irrigation. 

The financial success of any project of water conservation 
by storage may thus be dependent to a large degree upon the 
complete development of all of these possibilities of power and 
related commercial enterprises. Hence it is incumbent upon 
the engineer in planning a system of water storage to consider 
whether by any modifications it will not be possible to provide 


for power development and use. In connection with construc- 
tion also there are always questions of cheap power, and cases 
have arisen where the cost of construction has been greatly 
reduced by arranging the original plans in such a way as to 
build the power plants first and thus utilize these in connection 
with the later construction work. For example, in building the 
Roosevelt Dam in Arizona, the fuel cost was a large item. Many 
of the difficulties were solved by first building a power canal 
and temporary power plant, the canal being located around the 
upper edge of the proposed reservoir and the power plant 
immediately below the dam which was to be erected. 

The development of the natural resources of the United 
States in water power has been greatly delayed by lack of suit- 
able laws drawn to encourage or permit investment of private 
or public fund and to protect the interests of all concerned. '^ 
Congress after Congress has failed to agree upon a measure 
acceptable to the investors and to the conservationists who are 
trying to hold the "birth right of the people" for use and enjoy- 
ment by all, rather than permit the creation of monopolies in 
hydro-electric power, a factor which now enters into the life of 
each citizen through light, heat, transportation, and other uses. 

Transportation ok the Fifth Use of Water. In consid- 
ering the water resources of the nation and their utilization, the 
kind of use to which they may be put, which has recently 
been considered as least essential to human welfare, is that 
pertaining to navigation, — to the carriage of persons and 
goods. This use was not always thus regarded as fifth in order; 
on the contrary, from a legal standpoint commerce and navi- 
gation originally had first claims, superior in many instances 
to those of irrigation or disposal of waste. This arises from 
the fact that in former times when population was less dense, 
there was little need of conservation or of safeguarding the 
waters of the country. At that time, before railways or high- 
ways were fully developed, the growth of the nation was largely 
dependent upon waterways. In the constitution of the United 
States and in national and state laws provisions were made for 

1 International Engineering Congress, 1915. Volume on Electrical Engi- 
neering and Hydro-Electric Development. 


guarding the navigation rights, for then waterworks or sewer- 
age systems were practically unknown and the need did not 
exist for recognizing them in legal enactments. 

There has been a revival of interest in transportation matters 
and in the period of reconstruction or reorganization following 
the world war it is more generally appreciated than ever before, 
that inland transportation is vital to modern industry and that 
every economically possible means of carrying goods and 
persons should be employed. Among the various methods are 
the three designated by the National Rivers and Harbors Con- 
gress as the "Transportation Trinity," viz., "Road, Rail, 
River." As stated by them, "The greatest possible prosperity 
can be assured to our country only through the equal develop- 
ment and the harmonious co-operation of highways, railways 
and waterways." Such development is dependent upon engi- 
neering enterprise and skill. In this connection attention is 
given to only one of these, namely, inland waterways. 

As an aid to these inland waterways, to render them more 
effective in the transportation of persons and goods, water 
conservation by storage has been employed, particularly in 
connection with canals. In a few instances reservoir construc- 
tion has been urged because of its assumed benefits to the rivers 
in their use in navigation. 

Under the terms of the constitution of the United States, 
Congress has sole authority over interstate transportation. 
Because of this condition efforts are made annually to obtain 
from Congress large appropriations for improvement of rivers 
and harbors. Each Congressional district under the operation 
of the so-called "pork barrel" system is supposed to obtain its 
share of these appropriations. Thus there are many projects 
proposed, which, in themselves, have little merit other than that 
they serve to distribute the funds geographically. The effect 
upon commerce of the proposed expenditure may be slight, as 
the immediate object is to secure the money and thus momen- 
tarily increase the activity of some particular section. This 
condition has greatly complicated conditions as regards the 
investigation and ascertaining of the true merits of any project 
of inland navigation improvements. 


Under this system of Congressional appropriations, storage 
reservoirs have been built, for example, on the headwater of 
the Mississippi River, presumably for improving navigation 
farther downstream. The benefit derived from the use of these 
reservoirs is not notable and the water when turned into the 
river has raised the level of the 'navigable portion hardly more 
than an inch or two. Much larger benefits, however, are de- 
rived by the water power mills situated at or near St. Anthony 
Falls and it is fairly safe to assume that the persons who urged 
an appropriation for storage reservoirs have been more con- 
cerned with the benefit to be derived by the water power than 
by the transportation interests. The latter, in fact, are prac- 
tically negligible, as boats have almost ceased to run on the 
Mississippi River at points where the height of water would 
be affected by the discharge from the reservoirs. 

Artificial channels for navigation, such as the canals which 
were built and operated so successfully half a century ago, 
depend largely upon stored water for the upper levels. Where 
the canals passed over the relatively high ground or divides 
between the lower valleys, it was necessary to provide water 
to supply the loss in lockage, especially during the dry summer 
time. Many large reservoirs were built in New York, Ohio, 
and other states. When the canals were abandoned in whole 
or in part, these reservoirs continued to be utilized in various 
ways, particularly for water power. 

New York Canals. The largest and most important of 
these canals and the one which has continued in use for the 
longest time is the Erie Canal, the main portion of which extends 
from Buffalo at the east end of Lake Erie easterly to the vicinity 
of Albany, N. Y., on the Hudson River, making a through 
route for water transportation from the Great Lakes to tide- 
water. In the construction of this canal a number of reservoirs 
were built and the subject of water conservation by storage was 
given early consideration. While the reservoirs were designed 
with reference to supplying the canal with water for navigation 
purposes, yet in the course of time there grew up almost un- 
noticed a large number of water power developments and some 


of the reservoirs have proved of considerable value in this 

Much of the early prosperity of the state of New York and 
its present growth has been due to the Erie Canal, thus when 
the time came that the abandonment of this waterway was 
seriously considered, the people of the state urged perhaps 
more by sentiment based on past success than on business judg- 
ment, were induced to undertake the reconstruction and 
enlargement into what is known as the Barge Canal, involving 
an expenditure of over $150,000,000, paid wholly from state 
funds and without aid from the federal government. 

The Erie Canal was started in 1817, the route of waterway 
having been gone over previously and approved by President 
Washington. As originally built, it had a depth of four feet 
and could float a thirty-ton boat. It was opened October 25, 
1825, and soon proved to be one of the world's greatest canals. 
Settlers flocked from the eastern states westward bv way of 
the canal and prosperous towns were established on the Great 
Lakes and connecting water. The shipping that once went to 
Philadelphia and other cities was diverted to New York and 
the latter soon became the commercial center of the American 
union, due largely to the facilities provided by the Erie Canal. 
Bv 1882 it was found that the Erie Canal had earned over and 
above all its original cost and the expenses of enlargement and 
maintenance, a total of $42,000,000. At that time it had a 
depth of seven feet and could float a boat of 240 tons. Its 
relative usefulness declined rapidly, however, with the building 
of through railroad lines, so that to maintain its position the 
friends of the canal urged that it be enlarged into what is 
termed the Barge Canal. 

The Barge Canal consists of four branches, the Erie running 
lengthwise across the state, the Champlain extending north- 
ward along the eastern boundary, the Oswego branching near 
Syracuse to Lake Ontario, and the Seneca Canal running south- 
ward to the large lakes from one of which it takes its name. It 
follows in part the old canal, but utilizes wherever practicable 
the rivers and lakes near its route so that at least 30 per cent is 
on what is known as the land line. The total length is 446 miles, 


of which the Erie proper is 889 miles. The minimum depth is 12 
feet, width 94 feet in rock cuts, and 125 feet in earth sections. 

All of the locks have been reconstructed and built of concrete. 
They have a length of 828 feet and a width of 45 feet. The 
lift varies from 6 to 40.5 feet. The most notable are the 
five at Waterford at the east end, with a combined lift of 169 
feet. In order to utilize the Mohawk River in part, movable 
dams have been built in the form of truss bridges, from which 
heavy steel gates are raised or lowered to govern the depth of 
water in the canalized river bed. The boats or barges will be 
propelled by mechanical means, the towpath formerly used 
when the boats were hauled by animal power being omitted. 
("The New York Barge Canal" by Frank M. Williams, in 
Clarkson Bulletin, Vol. 8, July, 1916.) 

Water Storage for Canal. The greater part of the water 
supply for the Barge Canal, as for the old Erie Canal, is de- 
rived from the Niagara River on the west and from the smaller 
rivers near the center of the state. For what is known as the 
Rome summit level, the water has been obtained from reservoirs 
on the head of Black River and other streams. From the south 
of the canal supplies have been received from various creeks, 
some being diverted from the headwater of the adjacent 
Susquehanna drainage basin. The most notable work for water 
conservation is the new reservoir about five miles north of Rome, 
impounding the water of the upper Mohawk River in what is 
known as the Delta Reservoir. This is formed by a dam 1,100 
feet long with a maximum height of 100 feet. The reservoir 
has an area of 4.5 square miles and a capacity of 63,000 acre- 

Another new reservoir is that formed near Hinckley by a 
dam mainly of earth, 3,700 feet in length, the maximum height 
of the masonry portion being 82 feet. The area of the reservoir 
is 4.46 square miles and the capacity 79,000 acre-feet. 

These reservoirs serve not only to supply the Barge Canal, 
but during the unprecedented flood of March, 1913, the Delta 
Reservoir stored water of the upper Mohawk so that Rome, 
Utica, and near-by villages experienced no inconvenience from 


the flood conditions. (Barge Canal Bulletin, Vol. 6, page 228, 
and Vol. 7, page 111.) 

With the exception of the reconstructed Erie Canal, there 
has been nearly complete abandonment of artificial waterways 
of this character, so that it may be said that at the present 
time water conservation for purposes of navigation is largely 
negligible.* Nevertheless there are a number of projects which 
are being discussed from time to time and the effect of con- 
struction of reservoirs upon navigation is still a live issue. For 
example, in the case of the Sacramento River in California. 
This stream is in theory at least navigable and at favorable 
seasons of the year a few small boats ply on its water, thus 
giving an argument for federal control of the stream. The 
waters, however, have far more value to the state if used for 
irrigation. It has been proposed to store the floods in reser- 
voirs which may be constructed along the upper reaches of the 
stream or near the headwater. By the building of these reser- 
voirs the regimen of the river will be greatly altered and it may 
be found desirable to hold back the entire flow of the river 
during certain parts of the year. On the other hand, it is 
urged that the reservoir, if constructed, should be so utilized 
as to keep a steady flow in the stream. The latter proposition 
is of doubtful practicability, but it is obvious that from senti- 
mental, if not from more substantial reasons, the question of 
navigation must be carefully considered when the storage of 
water on this or other rivers similarly situated is being discussed. 

1 For more complete discussion see: 

Harts, Col. W. W., "Rivers and Railways in U. S.," Proc, Amer, 8oc. 
C, E., January, 1915, Trans., VoL 79, p. 919. 

Moulton, H. G., "Waterways vs. Railways," Cambridge, Mass., 1914, 468 
pages. (Discusses I^akes to Gulf Ship Canal, "Fourteen Feet through the 
Valley,*' and "Eiglit Feet from Lake to Gulf.") 

Plate XVIir. A. 
Farrow irrigation, Yakima Project, Washington 

Plate XVIII. B. 
Farm lands destroyed i>y floods; hanks of New Riv* 

Plate XVIII. C. 

Increased length of splUwaj produced by rectan^lar bays, Klamath 

Project, Oregon. 

Plate XVIII. D. 
River gates in Minidoka Dam, Idaho. 


Comprehensive Projects. All the varied uses of water in- 
cluded under the heading previously given, are affected more 
or less directly by the behavior of the natural streams. In 
nearly every instance the benefits to mankind are dependent to 
a certain extent upon a systematic regulation, quantity and 
quality, of the flowing water, a smoothing out of the inequali- 
ties between the extremes of flood and drought. It would, there- 
fore, seem to be the natural course, and the one which will pro- 
duce the largest benefits to the greatest number, if every river 
should be studied and treated as a whole, beginning with its 
headwaters and taking up each natural condition and its rela- 
tion to the immediate and future needs of the people of the 
country. This idea, while by no means novel, was most definitely 
urged by the late Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, whose name 
is connected with the Reclamation Act, under the terms of which 
the principal reservoirs of the arid west have been constructed. 

Senator Newlands introduced various bills in Congress and 
persistently brought to public attention the necessity of treat- 
ing each river system as a unit, studying the forests and cul- 
tural conditions from the mountain sources down to the mouth 
of the stream, ascertaining the most advantageous reservoir 
sites, providing for the maintenance of purity of water, pre- 
venting soil erosion, clearing the channel, utilizing water for 
irrigation where needed, draining the wet lands, providing for 
domestic and municipal supply and adjusting the claims for 
water power, all such work being undertaken with reference to 
natural conditions rather than being limited by political or 
other artificial boundaries. 

In opposition to this broad conception are the views of indi- 
viduals and communities who arc concerned more directly with 


the conditions immediately confronting them. They sincerely 
believe that while a broad plan may ultimately be desirable, yet 
for results to be obtained in the near future, thev should con- 
centrate their energies upon the immediate local interests and 
proceed to the building of the levees or to the construction of 
other works which are obviously needed without delaying to 
ascertain or discuss the larger matters involved. The advo- 
cates of either alternative have many strong arguments to 
present, these being, on the one hand, for broad research and 
a constructive policy based on the largest good to the greatest 
number; on the other, they urge the immediate practical 
benefits to be derived from concentrated efforts on the things 
immediately needed. To the student of the whole subject, 
however, and to the statesman who looks to the future as well 
as to the present, the conception presented by Senator New- 
lands is peculiarly attractive and must ultimately be followed 
if the people of the country as a whole are to enjoy the full 
use of the natural resources. 

The legislation urged by Senator Newlands and finally em- 
bodied in a law a short time before his death, forms Sec. 18 of 
the Act of August 8, 1917 (Public. No. 87— 65th Congress). 
It provides for a Waterways Commission of seven members to 
bring into coordination and cooperation the engineering, scien- 
tific, and constructive services, bureaus, boards, and commis- 
sions of the governmental departments of the United States 
that relate to study, development, or control of waterways and 
water resources or to the development and regulation of inter- 
state and foreign commerce, with a view to uniting such services 
in investigating, with respect to all watersheds, questions 
relating to the development, improvement, regulation, and con- 
trol of navigation as a part of interstate and foreign commerce, 
including the related questions of irrigation, drainage, forestry, 
arid and swamp land reclamation, clarification of streams, 
regulation of flow, control of floods, utilization of water power, 
prevention of soil erosion and waste, storage, and conservation 
of water for agricultural, industrial, municipal, and domestic 
uses, cooperation of railways and waterways and promotion 
of terminal and transfer facilities. 


The commission is to report to Congress a comprehensive 
plan for the development of the water resources of the United 
States for the purposes of navigation and for every useful 
purpose and to formulate recommendations for cooperation 
between the United States and the several states, municipalities, 
communities, corporations and individuals within the powers 
of each, with a view to assigning to the United States such 
portion of the proposed development, regulation and control 
as may be undertaken by the United States, and to the states, 
municipalities, corporations or individuals such portions as 
belong to their respective interests. 

This commission was not appointed owing to conditions grow- 
ing out of the war, but it is only a question of time when all 
these matters must be fully considered. Because of the long 
delay which may be involved in fully ascertaining the facts and 
diffusing this information, it is incumbent upon those in a 
position to do so, to urge the early and comprehensive study of 
each and every river in the country and the preparation of 
plans of water conservation such that development may proceed 
in detail without one scheme interfering with another which may 
ultimately prove to be more important. 

The most apparent need for a broad study of this kind is 
brought about by the demands for flood prevention and pro- 
tection and for the correlative demand for more water during 
times of drought. 

Each decade is seeing larger and larger destruction wrought 
by floods and greater indirect losses through drought. The 
intensity of floods and duration of droughts are being increased 
by various human agencies, and more than this, the opportu- 
nities for damage are becoming greater. The preventable 
losses amount not merely to millions, but to tens of millions 
of dollars. The time is approaching when there will be an 
appreciation of the fact that by wise foresight and by the 
expenditure of a portion of this amount, many of the more 
serious of these losses may be prevented. 

While all will admit that a broad study of the subject such 
as is authorized by the Act of August 8, 1917, should and must 
ultimately be made and that large expenditures are needed for 


conservation, yet action is delayed principally by the question, 
"Who will pay the bills?" The losses from the lack of pre- 
vision fall directly on a relatively small part of the population, 
although indirectly they are widely distributed. The easy way 
is to urge that the federal government initiate action and pay 
for the works, but experience has shown that while this may 
be accomplished, yet a fairer way and one which in the end will 
probably produce the largest results is to apportion the ulti- 
mate cost in such a way that the nation, the state, the com- 
munity, and the particular interest involved, will each pay its 
share. Any scheme of this kind properly worked out has the 
advantage that it eliminates many of the worst features of 
"pork barrel" bills in that the incentive of obtaining something 
for nothing is largely removed. If every local interest, munici- 
pality or state, is willing to pay its fair share of the cost, it will 
be far less insistent upon urging schemes of little merit. 

Flood Prevention or Protection. In considering what 
may be done in a large way with reference to relief from floods, 
it is necessary to have clearly in mind the difference between 
flood prevention and flood protection. Each of these must be 
employed under certain conditions. To appreciate these it is 
necessary to consider the larger questions. Each stream in a 
state of nature fluctuates in accordance with the rapid changes 
of weather. It has a more or less regular periodic fluctuation 
between high and low water, having usually a spring flood due 
to increased temperature, the melting of snow, and usual rains. 
The factors which combine to produce floods vary in intensity 
from year to year; occasionally the combination of extraordi- 
nary rains on frozen ground or with rapidly melting snow pro- 
duces floods of exceptional violence. 

Throughout their geological history the streams during such 
high-water periods have built up flood planes by deposits from 
the muddv waters. Such lands are of exceptional fertilitv and 
their level character has invited settlement. The tendency has 
been not merely to cultivate these lands but to build manufac- 
turing establisliments and towns upon the level surface. In 
periods of low water or even of ordinary flood there is no diffi- 
culty, but at times of high flood, the bridges, factories, and 


. other buildings along the bank interfere with the free flow. The 
river of necessity spreads out and endeavors to take possession 
of its ancient flood ground, with consequent destruction to prop- 
erty or even life. The immediate answer to questions which are 
presented to the hydraulic engineer by these flood conditions, is 
to remove from the river channel and the flood plain the obstruc- 
tions placed there by man and to erect permanent buildings only 
on higher ground, saving the lowland for such agricultural 
purposes as will not be seriously injured by the occasional 
floods and the lowest land for the scientific growth of timber 
which encourages important aquatic and riparian faunas. This, 
however, has often become impracticable, and it is necessary 
to consider other solutions for the many flood problems. In 
attacking these there are two lines of effort — first, flood pre- 
vention ; second, flood protection. 

In flood prevention, the remedy is to be sought by careful 
surveys and examinations on the drainage basin to discover 
possible reservoir sites and by storing the flood water in suitable 
basins, enlarging the natural ponds or lakes or making arti- 
ficial reservoirs where the floods may be restrained for a period 
of days or weeks, the excess being let out slowly in accordance 
with the capacity of the channels to receive it. There are not 
many localities where adequate reservoir capacity has been pro- 
vided by nature or where dams can be erected creating a reser- 
voir at a cost commensurate with the immediate benefits. In- 
vestigations have been made, however, on the headwaters of 
many flood streams and it is evident that in the future many 
reservoirs will be constructed to reduce the flood crest. The 
further drainage of upland marshes, which serve as natural 
storage sponges, should be discouraged and the rapid develop- 
ment of water culture of important food plants should be 

In flood protection, the object sought is to build near the 
points of danger large dykes (PI. IV. C), or walls, shutting off 
the river from its ancient flood plain, and confining it in a rela- 
tively narrow channel. This is the most immediate and direct 
method of solving the difficulties for any particular locality, but 
of course does not assist other threatened points as in the case 


of reservoirs or similar works built for flood prevention. In 
fact, the protection of one area may jeopardize another by 
increasing the flood heights. The combination of flood pro- 
tection by reservoirs and of flood prevention by dykes offers 
many interesting problems and is one of the subjects which 
should be given protracted study as proposed and as already 
undertaken in a more or less piecemeal way. 

Misuse of Streams. It is not alone in quantity of flow, in 
guarding against flood and drought, that the services of the 
student and engineer are needed. Even more important in many 
ways is protection against misuse as pointed out in preceding 
pages 245 to 256, against thoughtless or careless destruction of 
many interrelated natural resources, valuable in themselves and 
for which public funds must be spent, to recover or replace, 
replenish or maintain. As pointed out by Victor E. Shelf ord,^ 
these resources include : 

(a) Animal resources: fish, turtles, frogs, mussels, shell- 
fish, and aquatic birds and mammals. 

(b) Plant resources: aquatic vegetation, stream-skirting 
shrubs and trees, serving as feeding and nesting place of impor- 
tant animals. 

(c) Museum resources: preserves for aquatic and riparian 
faunas for future scientific investigation and possible practical 

(d) Recreational resources: bathing, rowing, camping, 
angling, shooting. 

(e) ^Esthetic resources. 

The preservation of these often conflict with more generally 
recognized resources, such as water power, water supply, and 
waste effluent dilution. 

The use of streams to bear away sewage and industrial wastes 
causes pollution and this in turn destroys animal resources, 
such as fishes and mussels; what was their value and condi- 
tion before destruction occurred? Pollutions endanger public 

1 The remainder of the chapter is a slight modification of a manuscript 
by Victor E. Shelf ord, biologist in charge of Research laboratories, Illi- 
nois Natural History Survey, and assistant professor of Zoology, University 
of Illinois. 


health ; to what extent is this true, and what is the cost of sick- 
ness, incapacitation, or death resulting therefrom? They de- 
stroy recreation grounds ; what is the value of these to the com- 
munity and the nation? They may destroy various species of 
our fresh water fauna; what is the value of these? Thev mav 
destroy the drinking water of cattle ; what is the damage caused 
by this ? Foul odors result ; what is the damage of these to the 
public and property owners near at hand? 

Dams may destroy fish and mussels; which is more valuable, 
these, or the power generated? The draining of marshes drives 
away game birds; what is their value? What is the museum 
value of marshes? Is drainage the best way to utilize them? 
What is their .value for aquiculture or for water storage ? The 
task of determining and comparing with each other the benefits 
and the losses arising from certain customary human interfer- 
ences with the wild nature of our woods and waters is not by 
any means a simple one. Even those who have devoted much 
time and study to such questions have difficulty in comprehend- 
ing all the complex natural factors and human interests in- 
volved even in such an apparently simple matter as the pollu- 
tion of a stream or the overfishing of a lake or river. 

Fishes and Their Value. In the settlement and early 
development of our republic, fishes were very important. There 
were shad, salmon, trout, bass, alewives, eels, and many others 
which "furnished the people a plentiful and healthful supply of 
food, easily attainable, until the forests could be hewn down, 
clearings made, crops raised, and cattle could increase and 
multiply.'" Shad was the most important. One early waiter 
said of their spring runs in the Delaware and Susquehanna 
rivers, "They came in such vast multitudes that the still waters 
seemed filled with eddies, while the shallows were beaten into 
foam by them in their struggles to reach the spawning grounds." 
They swarmed every spring from mouth to headwaters of every 
river from Maine to Florida.^ They were eaten fresh, and 

1 Wright, Harrison, "The Early Shad Fisheries of the North Branch of 
the Susquehanna River," Report of United States Commission of Fish and 
Fisheries, 1881, 619-642. 

2 Meehan, W. E., "The Battle for the Fishes," Canadian Fisherman, 1917, 


smoked and salted for winter use. "The testimony shows that 
the country folk came from fifty miles away to get their winter 
supply, camping along the river bank, and bringing in payment 
whatever they had of a marketable nature."^ 

Early in the last century, $200,000 worth of shad were taken 
annually from the Delaware River alone. They ceased to be 
abundant about 1850 and by 1880 their value in this river had 
shrunk to $80,000 per year. This was due to overcatch, to the 
building of dams, and to pollution. The Atlantic salmon at 
one time entered all the rivers of N€w England. Striking 
apprentices in the early days of our republic demanded less 
salmon, that it should not be served more than three times per 
week. Some of our Pacific Coast salmon resources are being 
reduced in numbers. 

Along the Illinois River years ago,^ the buffalo fish afforded 
the chief marketable species. These were caught bj^ farmers, 
fishermen, and others, and shipped by boat, principally to St. 
Louis, where large quantities of fish were frequently thrown 
away because the market was overloaded. In 1882, about 
250,000 pounds of fish, nearly all buffalo, were taken at one 
haul of the seine, in Moscow Lake, just below Havana, 111. In 
recent years less than 8 per cent of the total fish catch in a 
year at Havana has consisted of buffalo — the total catch of 
buffalo in 1912, amounting to only about 94,000 pounds. Re- 
cent hatchery experience on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers 
has indicated that buffalo eggs are unusually sensitive to various 
unfavorable influences. It is believed by some observers that in 
its present condition in the spring of the year, the central and 
lower Illinois (as well as the upper) may not offer the best 
hatching conditions for this species. The wall-eyed pike and the 
big pickerel are two other sensitive species that have practically 
disappeared from the Illinois River in the last 25 years, in spite 
of repeated planting of millions of fry. This is probably due 
to pollution. 

1 Wright, Harrison, *'The Early Shad Fisheries of the North Branch of 
the Susquehanna River," Report of United States Commission of Fish und 
Fisheries, 1881. 619-642. 

2 Information in this paragraph supplied by Mr. R. E. Richardson. 


The whitefish of the Great Lakes, which served as bread, 
meat, and vegetable to early explorers and settlers, was once 
abundant, but now the number is exceptionally small in com- 
parison. Every stream formerly yielded fish to small boys and 
to old men anglers. If any of these sources now yielded half 
their original quantity it would be considered remarkable. Our 
fish resources have been depleted through neglect, carelessness, 
and the pollution of waters. Such as are still left are endan- 
gered by new projects and new pollutions. 

The wastes of manufacturing plants and city sewage have 
greatly aggravated the depletion,^ or have completed the de- 
struction previously started, in some cases by heedless or greedy 
fishermen; but the pollutions are far more serious than the 
initial injury because they preclude the possibility of easy 
recovery. The destruction of fishes by industrial wastes has 
been common throughout the country, especially within the last 
fifty years. The fishes destroyed include those which occurred 
in commercial numbers, such as shad, salmon, and whitefish and 
numerous game fishes, such as perch, black bass, and sunfishes. 

The destruction of breeding grounds in the Great Lakes is 
credited with the depletion of the whitefish supply. In 1871, 
Milner dredged eggs of the lake trout, together with decaying 
sawdust. The eggs were attacked by fungus.* In 1908, Clark 
expressed the opinion that through the accumulation of slow 
decaying woody material, water-logged lumber, and sewage, the 
chief breeding grounds of the Great Lakes had been destroyed 
and could not be recovered for a long time. If the warning of 
Milner thirty-five years earlier had been heeded, they would have 
been in much better condition than at present. 

The destruction still goes on,'* as is shown by such cases as 

1 Marsh, M. C, *The Effect of Some Industrial Wastes on Fishes," 
U. S. G. S., Water Supply Paper No. 192, 1907, 337-348. 

2 Clinton, G. P., "Observations and Experiments on Saprolegnia Infest- 
ing Fish," Bulletin of United States Fish Commission, 1893, 13: 163-172. 

Dean, Bashford, "Recent Experiments in Sturgeon Hatching on the 
Delaware River," Bulletin of United States Fish Commission, 1893, 13: 

3 Ward, H. B., "Report on a Preliminary Study of Streams," 1919, 
New York State Conservation Commission. (In press.) 


the following. In January, 1916, in a small river below Spring- 
field, 111., a town of 50,000 inhabitants, large numbers of dead 
fish appeared at breaks in the ice, others in a half intoxicated 
state were caught through holes in the ice. Three thousand 
pounds of fish were caught in three days, but could not be eaten 
because of a bad taste. The case was investigated by the Illinois 
Water Survey. The death of the fish, according to the report, 
was due to lack of oxygen and poisoning by stream pollutions, 
brought about by sluggish flow and heavy ice cover preventing 

Industrial wastes are more serious in their destructive effect 
than household sewage. Lead and zinc works, tanneries, paper 
mills, and gas plants turn valuable and extremely toxic or 
poisonous substances into water. Most of the effluents from the 
gas works are valuable, and all are toxic* Nearly all industrial 
wastes in Europe have been made into something useful.^ Why 
are they not recovered in America ? It will not pay ! This is not 
the full answer. More often manufacturers do not care to spend 
time and energy in dealing with the matter. Their object is to 
do the primary thing at hand, collect the profits and get rid of 
the by-products as easily as possible. 

The character of wastes varies with the processes from which 
they result, and the after treatment. Little is accurately known 
as to the effects of wastes on fishes and other useful animals 
such as form food for fish; research is needed. The resistance 
of animals differs with the season, the age of the individual and 
other factors. Every life history may be represented as an 
endless chain made up of links of different strength. The life 
of the species is determined by the resistance of the weakest 
link. This probably falls in the young stages, — the egg or 
the young at hatching; it is not known for the life cycle of a 
single species of fish. The United States Bureau of Fisheries 
has distributed, for planting, from one to three billion eggs and 

1 Shelford, V. E., "An Experimental Study of the Effects of Gas Wastes 
upon Fishes, with Special Reference to Stream Pollution," Bulletin 111, St. 
Lab. of N. H., 1917, 11:381-412. 

2 Roller, Theodor, "The Utilization of Waste Products" (translated from 
Second Revised German Edition), 1915, Scott, Greenwood & Sons, London; 
D. Van Nostrand Co., New York. 


young each year for many years past, but no work tending to 
show the most sensitive period has been done. Accordingly 
when asked whether this or that will injure fishes, no one can 
tell. This has tended to make engineers ignore fishes. Why 
should they consider them when the fish expert cannot tell what 
consideration is required? 

Mussels. Fresh water mussels for making pearl buttons con- 
stitute an important resource, but one which is decreasing, due 
to overcatch and pollution which destroy the fish upon which 
the mussels depend. Coker^ said : "In one decade pearl buttons 
were high in price, used only upon the better clothing and 
commonly saved when clothing was discarded, while in the most 
general use were buttons of metal or agate or wood which rusted, 
broke or warped. In the next decade good pearl buttons, neat 
and durable, were available to everybody and used upon the 
widest variety of clothing. A former luxury had become a 
common necessity." In 1908^ the value of the mussels taken 
from the Mississippi and its tributaries was estimated at 

An indication of the importance of the maintenance of 
our stream and river faunas is the fact that because of the 
reduction of the supply of native mussels certain manufac- 
turers in order to operate ordered large quantities of shells 
from China. Japan seized the shells and had them delivered to 
.Japanese factories on the ground that the products of China 
belonged to Japan. Because of the depletion of the American 
supply of fresh water mussels, the federal government a few 
years ago built an extensive laboratory and ponds for research 
into the life history of the mussels, with a view to increasing 
their number. It has been found that the young spend part 
of their lives as parasites on the bodies of fishes, notably on 
the more sensitive edible game fishes. Thus where there are 
no fishes there will be no mussels to make the buttons. 

Need of Fish ways. In the north branch of the Susquehanna 

1 Coker, R. K., "The Protection of Fresh Water Mussels," Report of the 
Commissioner of the Fisheries, 1912. 

2 United States Bureau of Census, 1911, "The Fisheries of ITnited States 
in 1908." 


in the state of Pennsylvania *'The shad industry was wholly 
abolished by the erection of dams (early in the last century) 
and thousands of dollars of capital invested in the business was 
instantly swept out of existence."^ "There is no question but 
that the building of dams to feed the canals put a stop at once 
to shad fishing." The question has been raised as to whether 
the loss was not "greater than the benefits derived from the 
great internal improvements." Such canals have been quite 
generally abandoned in recent years. 

Atkins has described a number of fishways" but refers to one 
in the Susquehanna at Columbia, Penn., as the only successful 
one for shad. It is constructed on a plan deserving considera- 
tion, as it is a mere open sluiceway with its lower end an opening 
in the dam itself and its sides a little higher than the top of 
the dam.^ From the opening in the dam the fishway projected 
as a great sloping bottom. The length is determined by the 
height of the dam and the slope of the bottom. If the slope is 
one foot in thirty-five feet the fishway would extend upstream 
about thirty-five times the height of the dam. The current 
down the fishway should not be too swift. Most fishways are 
too small ; the best type of fishway is the stream itself and the 
aim should be to duplicate stream conditions so far as current 
is concerned. A cost equaling half the cost of the dam is not 
too much to spend to accomplish it. Fishways have usually 
been added to completed dams as a sort of cheap adjunct, 
usually at the expense of a few hundred dollars. This is often 
done after the fishes have already been depleted from several 
years of failure to migrate. The importance of fishways is 
well illustrated by a quotation from Coker* relative to the 
Mississippi dam at Keokuk, Iowa. 

1 Wright, Harrison, "The Early Shad Fisheries of the North Branch of 
the Susquehanna River," Report of United States Commission of Fish and 
Fisheries, 1881, 619-642. 

2 Atkins, C. B., "On Fishways," United States Commission of FLsh and 
Fisheries, Report of Commission for 1872-73, Part II, 591-616, 1873. 

8 Bayer, H. Von, "Fishways," Bulletin of Bureau of Fisheries, 1908, 28: 

*Coker, R. E., "Water Power Development in Relation to Fishes and 
Mussels of the Mississippi," Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries, 1913, 
appendix, viii, pp. 1-8. 


"Investigations carried on by the Bureau during recent years 
have shown that mussels do not necessarily attach to fish indis- 
criminately, but that a given species of mussel may make use 
of only certain species of fish, as the pimple-back mussel seems 
to be generally restricted in parasitism to certain species of 
catfishes, and, a more striking instance, the niggerhead mussel 
restricts itself so far as is known to the river herring, or blue 
herring. Conditions, therefore, which affect the movements of 
the river herring and catfish may vitally affect the welfare of 
these important mussels." 

It is not here simply a question as to whether mussels will 
be transported from below the dam to the waters above. If the 
river herring is a truly migratory fish, going down the river 
in the fall and ascending again in the spring and if its course 
is so checked by the interposition of a dam that comparatively 
few find the way into the upper river, two results will follow : 

(a) The fish will become a rare species in the upper river, 

(b) The future generations of niggerhead mussels will so 
generally fail of finding attachment to the only suitable fish 
that successive broods will perish. With the ultimate death or 
capture of the old mussels, the species will become extinct in 
that portion of the Mississippi River lying above Keokuk, — 
that is to say, in practically the entire Mississippi, for the 
mussel resources of the Mississippi proper (tributaries ex- 
cluded) are exceedingly limited south of Keokuk. 

The usual "custom" in such matters will probably be fol- 
lowed here. There will be no fishway until by waiting we dis- 
cover that damage has been done and then the fisheries will not 
be worth the making of one. In 1908^ the fisheries of the 
Mississippi and its tributaries in Iowa, Minnesota, northern 
Illinois, and Wisconsin had a total value of more than $500,000. 
The value of mussels and pearls alone was almost $100,000. 
If an annual $600,000 fisheries project is endangered, why 
could not such a sum reasonably be expended for a suitable 

1 United States Bureau of Census, 1911, **The Fisheries of United States 
In 1908." 


It is doubtful if any salmon stream should ever be dammed 
without a fishway costing the full annual value of the fish if 
necessary. Salmon were extinguished in Connecticut River by 
a dam built in 1798. This also shut out shad and alewives. 
The value of the shad fisheries of the Delaware about this time 
was $200,000 per year. With salmon and alewives included, 
the Connecticut fisheries should have more than doubled this ; 
an expense of 10 per cent of the annual value of the fisheries 
could have constructed a fishway quite adequate for all the 
fishes. The very large one in the Susquehanna built in 1873 
cost only $11,058.^ It probably paid to build this dam in 1798, 
but whom did it pay? Certainly not starving Europe in 1918. 

In general fisheries men have not approached the question 
of fish ways with bold adequate projects and river engineers 
have taken little or no notice of either fishes or fishways. In 
1872 Professor Baird^ said of the cod fisheries : "Formerly the 
waters abounded in this fish especially in the vicinity of the 
large rivers. The tidal streams were choked up with the ale- 
wives, shad and salmon. The erection of impassable dams 
across the streams, by preventing the ascent to their spawning 
grounds, produced almost the extermination of their numbers. 
The reduction in the cod and other fishes so as to become prac- 
tically a failure is due to the decrease off our coast, in the quan- 
tity of alewives ; and secondarily of shad and salmon, more than 
any other cause. Attention of the legislatures of the New 
England States has been called to this fact. However, the 
lumbering interests in New Hampshire and Massachusetts are 
so powerful as to render it extremely difficult to carry out any 
measures which in any way interfere with their convenience or 
profits, and notwithstanding the construction of fishways 
through dams, these have either been neglected altogether or 
are of such a character as not to answer their purpose." 

Frogs and Turtles. Oneida Lake (N. Y.), which covers 

1 Atkins, C. G., "On Fishways," United States Commission of Fisli and 
Fisheries, Report of Commission for 1872-73, Part II, 591-616, 1873. 

2 Baird, S. F., "Conclusions as to the Decrease of Cod Fisheries on the 
New England Coast," United States Commission of Fisli and Fisheries, 
Report of Commission for 1872-73, Part II, xi-xiv, 1873. 


only 80 square miles, produces $15,000 worth of frogs per year 
from a narrow margin around the outside/ The swamps and 
marshes near all the large cities produce quantities of these 
animals but the numbers and values are unknown. The legs 
are used for food, which constitutes the chief demand, but many 
are in use in scientific laboratories. 

Turtles to the value of $40,000 were taken in the United 
States in 1908.^ These figures appear to be quite incomplete 
or there has been a marked increase as the Louisiana Conser- 
vation Commission^ reports from $100,000 to $110,000 per year 
for Louisiana alone. Alligator skins valued at $61,000 were 
taken in the United States in 1908. 

Birds. North America possesses about two hundred species 
of game birds which are associated with watercourses, lakes, 
swamps, and the seashore.* This number includes seventy-four 
species of edible web-footed fowl. Sixteen of these have been 
shown to feed upon wild rice, wild celery, and pond weeds.° 
These three plants supply an average of 25 per cent of their 
food, more than half of which is pond weeds. They are in part 
dependent upon conditions of water suitable for these plants 
which grow well in waters not too badly polluted. They are 
all closely dependent upon water for breeding. 

Ducks eat quantities of grasshoppers, locusts, cutworms, and 
marsh caterpillars. The rails and coot have similar habits and 
relations. All are useful to the farmer. There are some sixty 
species of long-legged, slender-billed birds, the so-called shore 
birds." These devour (quantities of mosquitoes, horseflies, etc., 

1 Adams, C. C, and Hankinson, T. I^., "Notes on Oneida Lake Fish and 
Fisheries" (transactions of American Fisheries Society, XLV, 154, 169), 

2 United States Bureau of Census, 1909, "The Fisheries of United States 
in 1908." 

3 Alexander, M. L., "Biennial Report of the Department of Conservation, 
State of Louisiana, 1916-18." 

* Forbush, E. H., "Game Birds, Wild Fowl, and Shore Birds," Massachu- 
setts Board of Agriculture, 1912. 

5 McAttee, W. L., "Five Important Duck Foods," Bulletin United States 
Department of Agriculture Xo. 58, 1914. 

"Eleven Important Duck Foods," I.e. No. 205, 1915. 

6 McAttee, W. L., "Our Vanishing Shorebirds," United States Depart- 
ment of Agriculture, Bureau of Biologj', Arv. Circular No. 79. 


both adult and larval. Nearly all these birds are very fond of 
grasshoppers and many feed on weevils, wireworms, leaf beetles, 
and other pests of the field. Many birds associated with water 
are useful to agriculture and their destruction ultimately 
results in heavy losses to the farmer through the increase of 
insects and other pests. There are also the birds hunted for 
food and sport. 

Mammals. The small fur-bearing mammals, closely asso- 
ciated with watercourses — ^beaver, muskrats, skunks, and 
mink — are valuable for their furs. Under certain conditions 
some of them are not desirable; as, for example, muskrats^ 
where there are dykes, which they sometimes damage. The 
skunk^ is counted as a useful animal and is fond of stream 
margin thickets. Its bad reputation for taking poultry is un- 
founded, based largely on rare instances and on the fact that 
the European polecat from which it gets its name in some locali- 
ties, is a serious poultry pest. The value of the furs of these 
animals, except the skunk for which statistics appear to be 
wanting, in 1908 in the United States exclusive of Alaska was as 
follows : 

Beaver .... $ 89,000 

Muskrat .... 186,000 

Mink .... 89,000 

Water Margins. The statistics collected in Illinois show 
that two-thirds' of all the birds valuable for eating insects and 
which for the most part are not included with the shore and 
aquatic birds, are in some way dependent upon shrubbery, such 
as that which grows on the margins of watercourses. The bob- 
white, for example, breeds about thickets and is of especial 
value to the farmer. It has been predicted that in the Middle 
West where farmers are inclined to "clean up" the bushes and 

1 Lantz, D. E., "The Muskrat," United States Department of Agriculture, 
Farmers' Bulletin, I.e. 396, 1910. 

2 Lantz, D. E., "Economic Value of North American Skunks," United 
States Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin, I.e. 587, 1914. 

3 Smith, F., "The Relation of Our Shrubs and Trees to Our Wild Birds," 
1915, Illinois Arbor and Bird Days, Circular No. 83 (issued by the Superin- 
tendent of Public Instruction, Springfield, 111.), pp. 8-17. 



fence corners many of the species dependent upon shrubbery 
will disappear. The tendency to destroy the thickets, especially 
on the stream margins, causes an obvious decrease of birds. A 
good skirting of trees along streams is also of advantage as it 
is conducive to the presence of fish, because of the fact that 
many food fishes prefer shade. Moreover, it tends to lower 
water temperature in summer, a condition also favorable to 
fishes. The shade greatly increases recreation value. As a 
rule, the lowest land along streams is not useful for anything 
but for growing trees and shrubs. 

Swamps. Each plan of reconstruction, involving an increase 
in the amount of land cultivated and designed to provide land 
for returning soldiers and others, calls for the draining of 
swamps. The people who advocate this appear to consider the 
drainage of swamps as an unqualified good. On the other hand, 
some of the scientists who appreciate the great values in our 
birds and aquatic resources and who desire to see conditions for 
scientific study preserved, regard the drainage of certain 
swamps as an unmitigated evil. One man has proposed the 
preservation of the entire Everglade swamp region. This may 
seem absurd, but it is not so preposterous as it appears, if we 
give full consideration to the value of our North American birds. 
As destroyers of crop pests, they save millions of dollars in 
crops every year. 

Our southern swamps lie in the direct migration route of 
many species of birds which are used as food, or which destroy 
crop pests farther north.^ This is so important that through 
gifts and state acquisition, Louisiana has set aside areas of 
swampy land along the southern coast to serve as way stations 
for migrating birds and as a breeding place for the native 
species. Thus swamps have a real value from the standpoint 
of birds alone ; they are not the only animals found in and about 
marshes, which provide us with necessities, including food, furs, 
buttons, and other articles. The marshes and watercourses 
of Louisiana yield upward of $700,000 per year in products 
from turtles, furbearing animals, and frogs. 

1 Alexander, M. I.., "Biennial Report of the Department of Conservation, 
State of Louisiana, 1916-18." 


It is, therefore, reasonable to argue that no swamp in the 
Gulf States or Georgia should be drained without full consid- 
eration of these losses. Experiment stations should be estab- 
lished and at these studies conducted of the means of increasing 
the productivity of the marshes and of controlling all the 
present resources. 

Upland marshes also have values similar to those of the 
coastal swamps and an additional and important function. 
With the clearing oflF of timber and the draining of such swamps 
the streams appear to be subject to greater floods and to more 
extreme low water. The latter conditions ill particular are 
important in connection with the effects of pollution. It is at 
extreme low stages that the streams are overloaded and that 
a small amount of pollution overtaxes the self-purification 
mechanisms, with results almost as disastrous to fishes and 
similar animals as if the low water occurred throughout the 

There has been much discussion of the necessity of building 
dams from which water could be slowly released in dry seasons 
to maintain flow. It may well be asked. Why then destroy the 
upland marshes which serve as reservoirs or as great sponges 
holding water and letting it out gradually? Xeedham and 
Lloyd^ advocate lowering parts of these below permanent water 
level and putting the soil thus removed on equal areas. The 
dry land could be used for agriculture and the ponds for water 
culture. Though the science of aquiculture is as yet in its in- 
fancy, yet it appears that water may be made as productive 
as land. 

A part of any large swamp such as the Okefinokee Swamp or 
any other natural area may be as valuable as the most expen- 
sive American museum, one which requires, say, $10,000,000 
endowment and $600,000 annual expense. Such swamps are 
really museums of living things, the value of which at any time 
may become inflnitely great in the solution of important scien- 
tiflc problems which involve living animals. Each year animals 
and plants find new uses and new values; no one would have 

1 Needham, J. G., and Lloyd, J. T., "Life of the Inland Waters," Ithaca, 


thought white rats, guinea pigs, and common mice worth saving 
a century ago. If the question of sacrificing all these for a 
little additional land to cultivate had been raised it would have 
received but one answer, there would be none of these animals 
now. Yet by far the greater part of our laws of immunity 
from disease, heredity of cancer, as well as of heredity in general 
have been or are still being worked out on them. The invest- 
ment in equipment and salaries for such investigation amounts 
to millions of dollars every year. Preserves of our native flora 
and fauna are more important than museums of dead animals. 
To quote a recent writer on water culture : "We urge that water 
areas, adequate to our future needs for study and experiment 
be set apart and forever kept free from the depredations of the 
exploiter and of the engineer."^ 

Aquatic Plants. These are not without value ; in aboriginal 
times a number of rushes of different sorts were used for making 
coarse mats and other suitable articles. In recent years the 
leaves of the narrow leaved cat-tail have been employed in paper 
making and in cooperage. In the latter industry the leaves 
are placed between the staves of the barrels, where they swell 
when wet and render the joints water tight. 

Water plants, notably wild rice, supplied food to the Ameri- 
can Indians. This is obtainable at the present time in our own 
markets in limited quantity and at fancy prices. Hedrick,' 
who has advocated the increase of food supply by multiplying 
the variety of crops, has stated the uses of several aquatic 
plants : "In China and Japan the cormbs or tubers of a species 
of Sagittaria (arrow head) are commonly sold for food. There 
are several American species, one of which at least was used 
wherever found by the Indians, and under the name arrow 
head, swan potato and swamp potato has given welcome suste- 
nance to pioneers. Our native lotus, a species of Nelumbo^ was 
much prized by the aborigines, seeds, roots, and stalks being 
eaten. Sagittaria and Nelumbo furnish starting points for 

1 Needham, J. G., and Lloyd, J. T., "Life of the Inland Waters," Ithaca, 

2 Hedrick, U. P., "Multiplying? Crops as a Means of Increasing the Future 
Food Supply," Science, 40:611-620. 


valuable food plants for countless numbers of acres of water- 
covered marshes when the need to utilize these now waste places 
becomes pressing." Research on the cultivation of these should 
have been started long ago. 

Brackish Waters. The fringing scacoast marshes have 
their uses and before any large areas of brackish or salt marsh 
are reclaimed by dyking, careful investigation of water cultural 
possibilities should be conducted. The marshes are suitable 
for the rapidly declining culture of the terrapin, the catch of 
which for the entire United States in 1908 was valued at 
$80,000. Methods of culture must be developed by careful 
study and research, which must begin almost at the foundation. 

The low wet areas along the New Jersey coast have been 
notorious for the mosquito pests. The increase of these in 
recent years has been attributed to the decrease of shore birds 
and water fowl which frequent the marshes, as many of these 
birds feed on the insects. To compensate in part for this loss 
of bird life and to perfect the control of the mosquitoes, systems 
of ditches have been provided by which small fishes, the killi- 
fishes, are enabled to get at and devour the larvae and pupae. 
During the war of 1917-18, the munition works discharged 
a mixture of sulphuric and nitric acids into these waters, which 
repelled the killifishes and largely destroyed, locally at least, 
the effects of the ditching work. 

Salt Water Problems. The sea and its shallows are highly 
productive of human food ;* the cultivated mussel beds of Con- 
way produce 8,600 pounds of flesh per acre, while the produc- 
tivity of land in beef is about one-ninth of this. The dry mussel 
flesh is about six-tenths of the dry organic matter produced in 
grain from the same area of land. Investigation of the possi- 
bilities of food culture of the sea should be greatly extended. 
There are many marine animals not ordinarily eaten which are 
excellent food, and efforts to extend the number and varietv of 
these on our bills of fare should continue. 

The pollution of the sea is quite extensive near our populous 
areas. The most widely known of these destructive effects is 

1 Johnstone, J., "Conditions of lAie in the Sea," Cambridge, 1908. 


the contamination of shellfish beds and bathing beaches with 
typhoid. To prevent this, Winslow and Mohlman^ have pro- 
posed the sterilization of the New Haven sewage. In comment- 
ing on the adverse report on the adoption of the plan for treat- 
ment of Boston sewage, they say that such calculations fail to 
put a value on sterile media for bathing beaches and oyster beds. 

Such a sterilizing process should render possible the recovery 
of the valuable substances contained in sewage, and at the same 
time increase the probabilities of the return of marine fishes 
and shellfish to the vicinity of large cities and towns where now 
the raw sewage prevents. It is to be hoped that those who see 
only the profits to be gained from the sale of recovered products 
may be persuaded to advocate the introduction of proper 
processes wherever practicable on the ground not only of the 
abatement of nuisance and benefits to public health, but also 
of the probable benefits to fisheries. 

There are notable gains to the public to be had in the removal 
of typhoid danger in sea products, the increase of area usable 
for shellfish and the lessening of the liability of reducing the 
breeding grounds of fishes and of hindering their onshore runs. 
The history of the herring industry is interesting in this con- 
nection. Numerous breeding grounds, some of them near pros- 
perous cities, have been deserted and as a result the population 
of these has diminished. Experiments have shown that herring 
avoid slight increases in acidity and also water slightly deficient 
in oxygen as may result from sewage. It is not known whether 
or not these pollutions caused herring to avoid their usual 
spawning places, but it is true that such conditions are not 
favorable to runs of herring. One fact stands out clearly, 
namely, that many species of marine animals are much more 
sensitive than fresh water ones. This is in opposition to the 
fallacy that the sea is so large that sewage and other pollutions 
can have little effect. 

Cooperative Research. From lack of knowledge or through 
carelessness there has resulted continually recurring destruc- 
tion of various natural agencies, each working in part toward 

1 Winslow, C.-E. A., and Mohlman, F. W., "Add Treatment of Sewage," 
Municipal Journal, 1918, 45:280-282, 297-299, 321-322. 


the good of mankind. There has been study of some of these 
agencies and resources, but the results obtained by private 
organizations or by individual eflFort are scattered. The work 
of our governmental bureaus has often fallen into ruts which 
have cramped the individual initiative of the investigators. In 
our present system, as pointed out by Senator Newlands, page 
270, the bureaus are usually separate and are often ignorant 
of the work of each other or are competing usually in ways not 
based on the logical requirements of the problems to be solved. 
The complete organization as proposed by the Act of August 
8, 1917, should be such that a complete force of investigators 
can be put to work on a given problem. What should be done 
with this or that stream, lake or swamp .'^ It is not a problem 
for engineers alone. There should be a careful study not only 
of the quantity and quality of the water, but also of the possible 
related values in fish, game, furs, birds, wood, lumber, and all 
other products. 

Engineers, physicists, chemists, and ecologists (who deal with 
the fine adjustments of organisms to each other and to condi- 
tions) should constitute a cooperative organization which, like 
an army, undertakes to advance by working together for the 
general good of humanity. Our laws relative to riparian rights, 
like those of England, which caused the destruction of the 
salmon of the Mersey, do not make possible the application to 
streams and their margins of the best measures for the general 
good. The laws should be improved and campaigns of educa- 
tion inaugurated. There is need of putting our aquatic re- 
sources on a permanent basis. As in the case of other natural 
resources, there has been too much fish "mining," mussel 
"mining," i.e., too much of the tendency to take all and go to 
the next place or the next product, and not enough "farming" 
of these resources. Why with all our immense rivers should we 
import mussels from China? Is it not better to work out a 
basis for a permanent supply from our own waters .^^ Here 
research is necessary; we know little or nothing about what 
portion of the individuals of any species can be removed each 
year and leave the supply permanent and under the best con- 
ditions. Opportunities to develop water culture projects in 


connection with the building of reservoirs or of undertakings 
for the reclamation of swamps and the protection of agricul- 
tural land from overflow should be given more consideration than 
in the past. 

The ultimate eflFects of building levees along the rivers in 
order to confine the floods within restricted channels should also 
be given thorough research. There has been too great reliance 
placed on tradition or on text-book assertions as to the be- 
havior of the rivers which have thus been artificially controlled. 
In particular, attention has been called by Colonel C. McD. 
Townsend, president of the Mississippi River Commission, to 
the current fallacies regarding the raising of the beds of certain 
rivers as a result of levees built along them, shutting ofl^ access 
of flood waters to the ancient flood plains or marsh lands. 

He states that those who advocate the theory that levee con- 
struction raises the river bed, usually give as an illustration 
the river Po, and quote a statement which appears to have 
originated in Prony's "Recherches sur le system hydraulic de 
I'ltalia," adopted by Cuvier in his "Discours sur les revolution 
de la surface du globe," who added that the floods of the Po 
exceeded in height the roofs of the houses of Ferrera ; and that 
only by the opening of new river channels in the lowlying lands 
which were formed by their ancient deposits, could disasters be 
averted. These statements have been repeated in recent works 
on geology and geography. 

The Italian engineer, Lombardini, refutes these statements; 
the investigations by French, German and Austrian engineers 
have resulted in the conclusion that the eflFect of levees in raising 
the river bed in no case is more than a few inches in a hundred 
years, and may be termed a geological eflFect resulting from the 
lengthening of the river as it deposits its silt at its mouth. 
Two reports on the river Po exhaustively discuss the same 
subject; viz., that in 1905, of a board appointed by the Italian 
Government, and a paper by G. Fantoli in the Proceedings of 
the Italian Society for the Progress of Science (Geneva, Octo- 
ber, 1912) entitled "II Po nelle eflPcmeridi di un Secolo." 


Vested Rights. In any discussion of the conservation and 
use of natural resources and especially of water storage, it is 
necessary to consider not only the physical conditions, but 
more than this, to have clearly in mind the economic limitations 
and also the artificial relations established by law. If the 
entire country was in the state of nature and the engineer 
could freely pick out the localities where water might best be 
used or stored and could sweep away all obstacles erected by 
man, the problem would be relatively simple. He finds, how- 
ever, that even in a relatively new country innumerable so- 
called "vested rights'* have already attached to the water, and 
that property lines, as well as state and county boundaries, — 
drawn without reference to natural conditions, — block his way 
at every turn. These invisible walls, because of their intangible 
form, are often more difficult to penetrate than the solid rocks 
of the mountains, where tunnels may be driven through in the 
course of a few months. It may require years or may be prac- 
tically impossible to put through a meritorious project which 
is obstructed by the vaguely defined rights or limitations set by 
laws and court decisions. It is the duty of the engineer and 
of the promoter to know all that he can of these laws so that 
he may not become entangled in them. 

Each of the forty-eight states of the Federal Union has its 
own system of laws. In some of these a water code has been 
carefully considered; in others, chaos apparently exists and 
development of the water resources is effectively blocked because 
of the existing uncertainty. Taking the states as a whole, how- 
ever, it may be said that there are two radically diflFerent sys- 
tems in legislation and in court decisions. The first is that of 
the older states, which for the most part took their legal codes 


from England, and which recognize the so-called riparian rights 
which require that the natural streams be permitted to flow 
undisturbed in quantity and unchanged in quality. In the 
other group of states are those of the arid west where the neces- 
sity of the people demands that the water be taken from the 
streams and used more or less completely in the production of 
crops. Here the so-called doctrine of appropriation has met 
the common needs of the people better than the riparian rights 
of the older states based on the common law of England. 

Throughout the arid region, as a rule, there is more land 
than water. In other words, the extent to which the dry but 
otherwise productive land can be put to use is governed by the 
care and skill employed in conserving and utilizing the limited 
amount of water available. The question may thus be asked 
as to the duties of citizenship with respect to the control of 
water. Is it a substance whose full ownership may be acquired 
by an individual and used or wasted according to the desires 
of that person? 

In the case of waters which are abstracted from flowing 
streams and held in a tank or artificial reservoir, it is usually 
conceded that the man who thus obtains possession of this defi- 
nite quantity is the owner and may dispose of the water as he 
would of other merchandise, but in the case of flowing streams 
the conditions are diflFerent. The stream itself mav remain in 
a definite position throughout all times, but the component 
parts, the individual particles of water coming from the rain- 
fall on the highlands, are continually being renewed — flowing 
down the slopes they disappear into the lakes or ocean or go 
back into the atmosphere. Under these conditions there have 
arisen at least two theories concerning ownership of the flowing 
waters. These owe their difference to the contrasting conditions 
in the country in which the legal theories arose. 

Riparian Rights. In humid England and in the nearly 
equally humid parts of eastern United States, water is usually 
in excess and its intrinsic value is thus little appreciated. It 
may be regarded more as a nuisance than an essential element 
of life. The man who acquired title to a piece of land bordering 
upon a stream or through which a stream flowed came to be 


recognized as having a certain right to the use of the waters 
of the stream. His land ownership was usually bounded by the 
center of the stream or by its deepest flowing channel. By the 
purchase of the land, he acquired the right to use the water 
and to enjoy certain privileges, these being limited by equiva- 
lent rights of the landowners above and below him on the 
stream. Thus in countries where water was plenty there grew 
up the conception that the riparian owner could utilize the 
water so long as he did not interfere with the quantity and 
with the quality of the water which passed beyond his land to 
that of other riparian proprietors. 

In the case of larger rivers or lakes, the ownership of land 
covered by water was considered as being in the state and the 
riparian ownership extended to high-water or low-water mark, 
but with certain privileges adherent in the fact that the land 
was bounded by the water surface. The principal causes of 
controversy under these conditions would be those arising from 
attempts to develop water power and to build dams, flooding 
back upon the lands further upstream. In these cases the 
matter was usually left to private arrangements although in 
some states flowage rights might be acquired by legal pro- 

Appropriation. In the Mediterranean countries of Europe 
and in the arid western parts of the United States, where, with 
scarcity of water, most lands and industries, as well as life 
itself, are intimately connected with the water supply, it is ob- 
vious that a difl^erent rule must be enforced. The verv exist- 
ence of agriculture depends upon taking away from the streams 
an ample supply for the production of crops. In the aggre- 
gate this removal of water means the complete drying up of 
the streams and deprivation of lower riparian owners of its use. 
Obviously it is impossible for each riparian owner to enjoy the 
use of the water by taking out a portion onto his land and at 
the same time permit it to flow undiminished in quantity and 
unchanged in quality. Hence has grown up the doctrine of 
appropriation. Riparian rights as far as the arid states are 
concerned have usually been declared to be nonexistent. The 
men who first took water from a flowing stream and applied it 


to beneficial use are thereafter protected in such use in the order 
of their dates of appropriation and use, or of so-called priority, 
and to the amount actually utilized. 

The ownership of the water in the arid region has usually 
been declared to be in the people or in some instances in the 
state. The right to use, as distinguished from ownership, is 
vested in the various claimants in the sequence in which they 
first applied this water to beneficial use. Each of the western 
states has adopted various modifications of these fundamental 
ideas. In the case of California, there is still some doubt as to 
the theory which will ultimately be upheld. 

It is sufficient to call attention to these two apparently 
antagonistic views and to the uncertainties which necessarily 
prevail in many parts of the country because of lack of agree- 
ment on fundamentals. It is claimed that more money is being 
and has been expended in some of the western states in litigation 
over the right to the use of water than in the building of the 
necessary works. There is no one matter more essential in the 
complete development of the resources of an arid region through 
water conservation by storage than the firm establishment of 
principles regarding the use of waters and recognition of the 
fact that this use must be safeguarded in the interest of all the 

Political Relations. A right social and mental attitude 
on the part of the public is necessary for success in water con- 
servation and use. While in the past the engineers have con- 
centrated eflForts largely on the physical conditions, there is 
a rapidly growing appreciation of the fact that these leaders 
must take into account wider forces and must adapt their plans 
not merely to public needs but to the probabilities of these 
needs being understood and appreciated. The public directly 
or indirectly pays for work of this kind and is supposed to get 
the benefit. Failure to obtain such benefit or to carry out the 
plans of the engineer to their full completion usually results 
from ignorance on the part of the public, such ignorance as 
may be removed, if at all, by the proper use of the larger knowl- 
edge possessed by the engineer and his associates. This fact 
that the political, as well as the physical conditions, must be 


given full study by the engineer, too often has been overlooked. 
In fact, many a good engineer has rather prided himself upon 
the fact that he has given no thought to the political or social 
relations of the work. As a consequence many a practicable 
and desirable scheme of conservation has been wrecked soon 
after its conception. 

It is generally understood that it is the duty of the engineer 
to utilize the forces of nature for the benefit of mankind. With 
the growing complication of modern life the successful engineer 
must include among these forces those which arise from the 
human relationship. The storms of sentiment or of prejudice 
with corresponding decrease in confidence may be as destructive 
to a well-planned work as is the wind or flood. The engineer 
in making his plans should take these into account, otherwise 
he may be swept oflF his feet at the critical time. 

In the United States or in any other form of popular govern- 
ment, all consideration of water conservation by storage must 
necessarily arise from some public or political organization. 
From the nature of the case, there can be few, if any, strictly 
private enterprises; even these may require the exercise of some 
form of public control of the improvement or of the right of 
condemnation for public uses. Thus nearly every enterprise 
involving storage necessitates approval by some public official 
or commission. In the exercise of its functions also there is 
probability of coming within the range of state or federal laws 
governing public utilities. 

Interstate Activities. The boundaries of each of the 
forty-eight states were originally drawn with little or no refer- 
ence to topography or to the watershed of the principal rivers 
of the country. Some of the states arc limited in part by the 
center of navigable channels or by the low-water mark of a 
river; but for the most part the boundaries are supposed to be 
straight lines drawn from a given point and extending west or 
north to intersect with some other line. It thus results that 
there are few rivers of importance which lie wholly within any 
one state. The principal exception is in the case of Texas, the 
largest state in the Union, involving nearly one-tenth of the 
total area of the United States. This has whollv within its 




area the Colorado River (of Texas, not the Colorado River of 
the West) and some smaller streams. In California, also, the 
Sacramento and San Joaquin lie within the state lines. It 
would be practicable to create a conservancy district wholly 
within a state on rivers such as these ; but even in such instances, 
there would be involved some consideration of federal laws in 
working out a scheme of conservation because of the eflFect 
which would be produced on the navigable portion of the 

The majority of river conservancy problems thus involve 
the jurisdiction of two or more states as well as that of the 
federal government in matters of navigation. Here has been 
a great obstacle to full hydro-economic development. Usually 
the heads of a stream where water can best be held are located 
in mountainous areas and in a different state from the lands 
or property benefited by the proposed storage. To make any 
enterprise feasible, there must be laws passed in the two or 
more states sufficiently uniform in character to permit opera- 
tion. The difficulty of securing such laws can only be appre- 
ciated by persons who have attempted to get two or more state 
legislatures to act in unison. Whatever one legislature agrees 
upon the other frequently rejects! 

Federal Funds. The largest opportunities for development 
of water conservation and use, exclusive of operations under 
the Reclamation Act, are those which flow out of federal legis- 
lation for the improvement and maintenance of commerce on 
the rivers of the United States. Under present conditions, a 
bill is annually reported to Congress involving an expenditure 
of $40,000,000 more or less for continuation of the work already 
authorized, for maintaining the works which have been built, 
and for making surveys of new projects. The custom has arisen, 
as previously noted, of preparing the items of the bill in 
geographic order and thus mentioning practically every con- 
gressional district. The bill thus includes not only items for the 
deepening of harbors and of connecting waters in the Great 
Lakes where results are essential to commerce, but also brings 
in innumerable items for expenditures on creeks or little rivers 
where navigation is generally recognized as being impracticable. 


The assumption Is made in preparing the bill that every part 
of the United States should have its share of the expenditure — 
irrespective of the real needs — ^under the idea that the members 
of Congress will not vote funds for the larger works of public 
importance, but which lie outside of their districts, unless each 
man receives his share. 

This low order of public morals is shown not only in the river 
and harbor bills, but in public building bills and various appro- 
priations for federal works. The precedent has been so gener- 
ally established that the average member of Congress regards 
this as a matter of fact. He does not dare to brave the indig- 
nation or ridicule of his colleagues by objecting. His con- 
stituents also demand that he get his share and secure an amount 
in excess of that obtained by his predecessors. It is encour- 
aging, however, to see that the public sentiment, long dormant 
regarding such matters, is awakening to the need of a true 
budget system and is responding although slowly to the pro- 
tests of men who have the courage to denounce the **pork 
barrel'* methods and to expose these to the public gaze. One 
of the men whose name stands foremost for patriotic devotion 
to higher ideals is that of former Senator Theodore E. Burton 
of Ohio, one of the best-informed men concerning water trans- 
portation, as he gave a lifetime to the study of this both in the 
United States and abroad. His courageous attacks have 
awakened others and he has succeeded at least in calling public 
attention to the reprehensible conditions. 

Senator Burton began his fight against the corrupt methods 
of river and harbor legislation while he was in the House of 
Representatives. He continued this in the Senate during his 
term. In the House of Representatives the work was taken up 
by James A. Frear of Wisconsin. 

"The cohesive power of public plunder" has been frequently 
commented upon (see the Engineering News, Vol. 75, June 8, 
1916, page 1098). It is shown that the River and Harbor 
Bill, which carried appropriations of about $40,000,000, al- 
though passed by the Senate was favored by a small majority. 
The number of senators opposing is indicative of the steady 
growth of public opinion. Emphasis was placed upon the fact 


that the senators who led the fight against the bill are in hearty 
favor of works where expenditure is justified by actual benefits. 
Waterways Commission. While a vigorous fight has been 
waged in the House of Representatives and Senate against the 
corrupting features of the river and harbor bills, there have 
been various attempts made to secure constructive action and 
to outline a patriotic policy to replace the rule of plunder. 
President Roosevelt, appreciating the situation and finding that 
Congress as a whole was unsympathetic in such reforms, 
appointed on March 14, 1907, a commission to prepare and 
report a comprehensive plan for the improvement and control 
of river systems of the United States. He stated that in 
creating this Commission he was influenced by broad considera- 
tion and national policy. "The control of our navigable water- 
ways lies with the federal government and carries with it corre- 
sponding responsibilities and obligations."^ This Commission 
held many conferences and visited some of the more important 
navigable rivers. It prepared a preliminary report which was 
transmitted to Congress by President Roosevelt on February 
26, 1908. The President sums up the general findings in the 
following abstract taken from his letter: 

"The report (of the Inland Waterways Commission) rests 
throughout on the fundamental conception that every waterway 
should be made to serve the people as largely and in as many differ- 
ent ways as possible. It is poor business to develop a river for 
navigation in such a way as to prevent its use for power, when by a 
little foresight it could be made to serve both purposes. We cannot 
afford needlessly to sacrifice power to irrigation, or irrigation to 
domestic water supply, when by taking thought we may have all 
three. Everv stream should be used to the utmost. No stream can 
be so used unless such use is planned for in advance. When such 
plans are made we shall find that, instead of interfering, one use 
can often be made to assist another. Each river svstem, from its 
headwaters in the forest to its mouth on the coast, is a single unit 
and should be treated as such. Navigation of the lower reaches of 

1 For chairman of this Commission he designated Senator Burton, and 
as members, Senators Newlands and Warner, Senator (then Representa- 
tive) Bankhead, Gen. Alexander Mackenzie, Chief of the Corps of Engineers, 
United States Army, and Messrs. W J McGee, F. H. Newell, Gifford 
Pinchot, and Herbert Knox Smith. 


a stream cannot be fully developed without the control of floods 
and low waters by storage and drainage. Navigable channels are 
directly concerned with the protection of source waters and with 
soil erosion^ which takes the materials for bars and shoals from 
the richest portions of our farms. The uses of a stream for domestic 
and municipal water supply, for power, and in many cases for 
irrigation, must also be taken into full account. . . . 

"The various uses of waterwavs are now dealt with bv Bureaus 
scattered through four Federal Departments. At present, there- 
fore, it is not possible to deal with a river system as a single prob- 
lem. But the Commission here recommends a policy under which 
all the commercial and industrial uses of the waterways may be 
developed at the same time. 

"The report justly calls attention to the fact that hitherto our 
national policy has been one of almost unrestricted disposition and 
waste of natural resources, and emphasizes the fundamental neces- 
sity for conserving these resources upon which our present and 
future success as a nation primarily rests. Running water is a 
most valuable natural asset of the people, and there is urgent need 
for conserving it for navigation, for power, for irrigation, and for 
domestic and municipal supply. 

"Hitherto our national policy of inland waterway development has 
been largely negative. No single agency has been responsible under 
the Congress for making the best use of our rivers, or for exercising 
foresight in their development. In the absence of a comprehensive 
plan, the only safe policy was one of repression and procrastination. 
Frequent changes of plan and piecemeal execution of projects have 
still further hampered improvement. A channel is no deeper than 
its shallowest reach, and to improve a river short of the point of 
effective navigability is a sheer waste of all its cost. In spite of 
large appropriations for their improvement, our rivers are less 
serviceable for interstate commerce today than they were half a 
century ago and in spite of the vast increase in our population and 
commerce thev are on the whole less used. 

"The first condition of successful development of our waterways 
is a definite and progressive policy. The second is a concrete gen- 
eral plan, prepared by the best experts available, covering every 
use to which our streams can be put. We shall not succeed until 
the responsibility of administering the policy and executing and 
extending the plan is definitely laid on one man or group of men 
who can be held accountable. Every portion of the general plan 
should consider and so far as practicable secure to the people the 


use of water for power^ irrigation, and domestic supply as well as 
for navigation. No project should be begun until the funds neces- 
sary to complete it promptly are provided, . and no plan once under 
way should be changed except for grave reasons. Work once begun 
should be prosecuted steadily and vigorously to completion. We 
must make sure that projects are not undertaken except for sound 
business reasons^ and that the best modern business methods are 
applied in executing them. The decision to undertake any project 
should rest on actual need ascertained by investigation and judg- 
ment of experts and on its relation to great river systems or to the 
general plan, and never on mere clamor. 

"The improvement of our inland waterways can and should be 
made to pay for itself so far as practicable from the incidental 
proceeds from water power and other uses. Navigation should of 
course be free. But the greatest return will come from the in- 
creased commerce, growth, and prosperity of our people. For this 
we have already waited too long. Adequate funds should be pro- 
vided, by bond issue, if necessary, and the work should be delayed 
no longer. The development of our waterways and the conservation 
of our forests are the two most pressing physical needs of the 
country. They are interdependent, and they should be met vigor- 
ously, together, and at once. The questions of organization, powers, 
and appropriations are now before the Congress. There is urgent 
need for prompt and decisive action." 

Theodore Roosevelt. 

(From Message of President printed in Preliminary Report of 
the Inland Waterways Commission, Senate Doc. No. 825, 60th Con- 
gress, 1st Session.) 

Conclusions. From what has been stated in the previous 
pages, it should be obvious that the development and full use 
of our water resources is not a local or restricted matter, but 
concerns more or less directly or indirectly the health and pros- 
perity of nearly every person. It is closely tied up with the 
existence of life itself in that it furnishes water without which 
no person can keep alive more than two or three days. It bears 
upon the raising of cattle used for food and upon the produc- 
tion of crops needed for these animals, and for immediate use 
by man. It enters into the disposal of sewage and waste and 
the consequent preservation of health. It concerns food and 


raw material from aquatic sources, the preservation of birds 
as crop protectors. It vitally affects manufacturing and pro- 
duction of power used in lighting, heating, transportation, and 
innumerable ways. It enters into the broad conceptions of the 
largest future use of the natural resources of the country, 
increasing the comfort and prosperity of the nation, reducing 
loss of life and property in floods and in the discomforts pro- 
duced by droughts. 

Viewed in this large way, we can well conceive why a fund 
has been established for the purpose of keeping before the people 
of the country the larger aspects of the case. To the young 
engineer, enthusiastic, not only to enter upon his profession, 
but to do something really worth while, the great questions of 
water conservation offer a strong appeal. There is a breadth 
and bigness which cannot be overlooked; while the way is long 
and hard and many discouragements must be met and over- 
come, yet as shown by the pictures already presented, enough 
has been done to stimulate and encourage future work. This 
is especially true when it is borne in mind that the structures 
already built and the results already obtained are merely 
samples of the larger and more comprehensive projects which 
should be outlined and entered upon. 

It is impossible in a book of moderate size to more than touch 
upon some of the important points. A whole library is required, 
embracing not merely books on hydraulics, on construction and 
management, but also upon economics and legal relations. This 
is because, as already stated, the problems are far-reaching and 
involve not only the application of natural laws but also the 
modification of man-made laws and court findings. While the 
obstacles to be overcome are great and all may not be success- 
fully met in this generation, yet there is the constant stimulus 
in the thought that they are not insurmountable and that the 
reward is sure to him who has vision, perseverance, and ability. 

There is no evading the great question of water conservation. 
Each year it is presented more strongly to our attention. The 
hundred million and more people who live in the United States 
already have need for a larger and better regulated water 
supply and for protection from floods. At the present rate 


of increase, other millions will soon be more urgently demand- 
ing larger opportunities for life and comfort. New complica- 
tions are arising and the sooner the problems are attacked, the 
easier will be the solution. There is every incentive, therefore, 
for the young man of the present day to seriously and per- 
sistently study these matters and to identify himself with the 
great forward movement which must necessarily take place 
along these lines. 



Absorption of water, 76, 80, 91 

Acre-feet, 105, 195 

Acre-feet storage cost, 151 

Activated sludge, 944 

Adams, Frank, 2-27 

Alfalfa, 189, 223 

Alice, Lake, Nebraska, 158 

Alkali and drainage, 237 

Alkaline lakes, 176 

Alkaline lands, 181 

Allegheny River, 97 

Alta Pass, North Carolina, 55 

Alternative sites for dams, 124 

Alvord, John B., 97 

Amarinds, 35 

American Indians, 3.5 

Annual operation cost, 197 

Apache Indians, 35 

Appalachian forests, 61, 63 

Application of water, 228 

Appropriation of water, 294 

Aquatic plants, 287 

Arid regions, 187 

Arizona underflow, 79 

Arizona Water Co., 156 

Arrowrock Dam, Idaho, 140, 142, 159 

Artesian wells, 77, 85, 222 

Artillery fire, 51 

Ashlar masonry, 137 

Atkins, C. B., 280 

Atlas of American Agriculture, 62 

Atmometer, ^9 

Austin Dam, Texas, 145 

Automatic spillway, 213, 219 

Average flow, 112 

Baguio, 55 
Baird, S. F., 282 
Baltimore, Maryland, 54 
Barge canal. New York, 266 
Bass, F. H., 182 
Bates, C. G., 69 
Battles causing rain, 50 

Beadle. J. B., 233 

Bear Lake, Utah, 171 
! Bedrock, 132 

' Belle Fourche Project, South Dakota, 
I 134, 167 

Bigelow, F. H., 70 

Biological science, 8.5 

Birds, value of, 283 
. Black Hills, 82, 87 
. Boise Project, Idaho, 122, 159 

Borings at dam site, 127 

Brackish waters, 288 

British engineers, 35, 189 

British rainfall organization, 50 

Brooks, Charles E., 9, 49 

Bruckner, Edward, 58 

Burdick, Chas. B., 97 

Burton, Theodore E., 298 

Calile for stream measurement, 106 

Calaveras Dam, California, 135 

California underflow, 79 

California wells, 89 

Canadian waters, 172 

Canal banks and protection, 218 

Canal lining, 217 

Carrying unit, 210, 212 

Carson River, Nevada, 162, 163, 175 

Casper, Wyoming, 158 

Catchment area, 202 

Cereals, 235 

Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Massachu- 
setts, 72 

Chezy formula, 109 

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. R., 

Chicago parks, 249 

Chicago River, 250 

Chicago sewage, 251 

China, 34 

Chittenden, Hiram N., 64 

Clealum, Lake, Washington, 166 

Climatic fluctuations, 188 



Cloudbursts, 55 

Clouds, 41, 60 

Cody, Wyoming, 159 

Cold Springs Reservoir, Oregon, 122, 

Collecting unit, 210 
Colorado River, 94, 99, 118 
Columbia River, 168 
Columbus, Ohio, 97 
Concrete dams, 138 
Congress, U. S., 62 
Congressional appropriations, 265 
Conservation, 28 
Conservation of underground waters, 

Conservation of water, 262 
Constitution of United States, 38, 39 
Constitutional provisions, 264 
Construction methods, 206 
Corbett Tunnel, Wyoming, 159 
Core walls, 133 
Cost of irrigation, 188 
Cost of pumping, 221 
Cost of water, 196 
Cost per acre-foot, 151, 159 
Croton Dam, New York, 138 
Current meter, 107 
Cusecs, 104 
Cylindrical gates, 219 

Dam failures, 144 

Dam sites, 123 

Dams, 130 

Darton, N. H., 9, 80, 86 

Davis, Arthur P., 9, 150 

Dayton, Ohio, 96 

Debris problem, 100 

Debris transportation, 98 

Deer Flat Reservoir, Idaho, 122, 132, 

160, 166 
Dehydration, 72 
Deliveries to reservoir, 174 
Delta Reservoir, New York, 267 
Deming, New Mexico, 82, 84 
Denver, Colorado, 75, 89 
Depth of run-off, 112 
Dew, 59 

Dilution of sewage, 244 
Discharge measurements, 107 
Distributing unit, 210, 214 
Diurnal changes. 111 

Diurnal flow, 103 

Diversion from river, 192 

Diversion unit, 210, 211 

Divisions of irrigation project, 210 

Domestic use of water, 181 

Drainage, 187, 237 

Drinking water, 181 

Drops in canal, 220 

Drought, 95 

Dry farmer, 196 

Drying, 72 

Duchesne River, Utah, 165 

Dutch windmill, 178 

Duty of water, 194, 232 

Dykes, 273 

Earth dams, 127, 130 

Earth reservoir, 223 

East Park Reservoir, California, 143 

Economics, 31 

Edgemont, South Dakota, 84, 86 

Egypt, 34, 118 

Electricity for heating, 170 

Electric transmission, 259 

Elephant Butte Dam, New Mexico, 

Ellis, Arthur J., 77 
El Paso, Texas, 145, 219 
Engineering relations, 34 
Enlargement of canal, 213 
Ensign valves, 142 
Epidemics, 244 
Erie Canal, New York, 265 
Erosion, 97 
Euphrates River, 99 
Evaporation, 65, 121, 152 
Everglades, 285 
Excessive rainfall, 55 
Expansion of agriculture, 190 

Failures of dams, 144 
Fairchild, H. L., 40 
Fassig, O. L., 54 
Federal funds, 297 
Fifth use of water, 263 
Financing irrigation works, 200 
First use of water, 37, 180 
Fisheries, 247, 256, 275, 279 
Flood conservation, 188 
Flood plains, 96 



Flood prevention or protection, 96, 

Flooding, in irrigation, 228 
Floods and drought, 95 
Florida, 81 

Fluctuating river flow, 101, 110 
Fluctuations of rain, 56 
Flumes, 215 
Fog, 41 

Food production, 185 
Forests, 60, 63 

Fort Laramie Canal, Wyoming, 212 
Foundations, 125, 127 
Fox River, Illinois, 249 
Franklin Canal, El Paso, Texas, 219 
Frear, James A., 298 
Freight charges, 234 
Frogs and turtles, 282 
Frost, 59 
Fulke, W., 49 
Furrow irrigation, 229 

Gage for rain, 53 

Gage for stream flow, 106 

Gallon, 105 

Garden City, Kansas, 78, 79 

Gates for dams, 141 

Gates of canals, 219 

Gates, turnout, 227 

Gatun Lake, Panama, 129, 135 

Geography, 45 

Geological survey, 188 

Geology, 45, 86 

George, Lloyd, 7 

Gilbert, G. K., 98, 101 

Glacier National Park, Montana, 

114, 171 
Granite Reef Dam, Arizona, 154 
Gravels, impervious, 239 
Gravels, storage of water in, 175 
Graves, H. S., 73 
Great basins, 92 
Great plains, 82, 177, 222 
Great Salt Lake, Utah, 165 
Green River, Utah, 165 
Grover, Nathan C, 94, 114 
Gypsum in earth, 167 

Hamilton, Ohio, 96 
Hansen, Paul, 245 
Harding, S. T., 232 

Harts, W. W., 268 
Hawaiian Islands, pumping, 222 
Hazen, Allen, 182 
Heads of water, 227 
Health, 35 

Height of rain gage, 56 
Henry, A. J., 62 
Herschel, Clemens, 109 
Hoad, W. C, 245 
Holden, James A., 235 
Horton, A. H., 71 
Horton, Robert E., 113 
Hoyt, John C, 9, 94, 103, 106 
Hudson Bay, 172 
Human life, value of, 183 
Human needs, 45 
Huntington, Ellsworth, 58 
Huntley Project, Montana, 220 
Hutton, James, 49 
Hydraulic dams, 134 
Hydraulic giant, 100 
Hydraulic grade, 81, 88 
Hydraulic mining, 105 
Hydro-economics, 30 
Hydro-electric power, 224 
Hydrography, 41, 43 
Hydrology, 41, 43 

Illinois River, Illinois, 249, 276 
Imperial Valley, California, 118 
Inhibition of water, 80 
Inch, miner's, 105, 233 
Increase of cost, 200 
India, 34 

Indians, American, 35 
Inland waterways, 297 
Insurance against flood, 95 
Interest losses, 198 
Internal expansion, 190 
International Joint Commission, 253 
International waters, 171 
Interstate activities, 296 
Interstate Canal, Wyoming-Ne- 
braska, 157, 216 
Irrigated area, 192 
Irrigation, 187 
Irrigation by pumping, 221 
Irrigation costs, 188, 192 
Isoatmic map, 68 

Jackson Lake, Wyoming, 122 



James, George Wharton, 150 
James River Valley, South Dakota, 

Kachess, Lake, Washington, 166 

Kansas, windmills, 178 

Keechelus, Lake, Washington, 64, 166 

Kiln-drying, 74 

King, F. H., 79 

Kutter formula, 109, 218 

Lahontan, Lake, Nevada, 162 
Lateral canal, 215, 227 
Lee, Cliarles, 176 

Legal and legislative prohlems, 292 
Leighton, Marshall O., 182, 245 
Limestone, 80 
Lining of canal, 217 
Lippincott, J. B., 176 
Livingston, B. E., 68 
I^og of well, 85 
Loose rock dams, 136 
Los Angeles, California, water sup- 
ply, 184 
Lyman Lectures, 5 

Maintenance, 225 

Mammals, value of, 284 

Manufacturing, 259 

Masonry dams, 138 

Massachusetts State Board of 

Health, 253 
Materials for dams, 125 
Maximum flow, 110 
Maxwell, Geo. H., 9 
McAdie, Alexander, 59 
McGee, W J, 9, 90, 299 
Mead, Daniel W\, 44 
Measurement of evaporation, 69 
Measurement of rainfall, 52 
Measurement of water, 226 
Merriam, John C, 9 
Merriman, Mansfield, 109 
Mesopotamia, 34 
Metcalf and Eddy, 252 
Meteorology, 41, 48 
Mexican Dam, El Paso, Texas, 145 
Mexico, 161 
Meyer, Adolph F., 44 
Miami^ Ohio, floods, 96, 144 
Milk River, Montana, 115, 172 

Mill, H. R., 50 

Mimbres River, New Mexico, 82 

Mineral water, 184 

Miner's inch, 105, 233 

Minidoka Project, Idaho, 100, 135, 

169, 218, 261 
Minitare, Lake, Nebraska, 158 
Mississippi River, 68, 265, 280 
Misuse of streams, 274 
Mixture of air, 50 
Morgan, Arthur E., 97 
Moulton, H. G., 268 
Mountain storage, 121 
Mountains and forests, 60 
Movement of water, 40 
Mussels, 279 

National Research Council, 59 

Natural flow, 113 

Nebraska, windmill, 178 

Necaxa Dam, Mexico, 135 

Necessity of water storage, 117 

Newell curve, 92 

Newell, F. H., 58, 79, 93, 149, 232, 299 

New England run-off, 66, 91 

Newlands Act, 149, 192 

Newlands, Francis G., 9, 149, 269 

New York canals, 265 

New York forests, 62 

Nile, river, 99, 118 

North Platte River, 127, 156 

Okanogan Project, Washington, 135 

Okeflnokee Swamp, 286 

Oldest inliabitants, 52 

Olmstead, Frank H., 176 

Operation and maintenance, 225 

Operation cost, 197 

Orchard fruits, 235 

Ordinary flow, 112 

Orland Project, California, 143 

Owens Valley, Nevada, 184 

Owl Creek, South Dakota, 134, 167 

Palestine, 58 

Pathfinder Dam, Wyoming, 127, 156 

Paving for dams, 132, 134 

Pecos Valley, New Mexico, 83, 89 

Pennsylvania forests, 62 

Periodic fluctuations of rain, 56 

Phelps, E. B., 253