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Wisconsin. State Conservation Committee (1908-15) / First report of the conservation commission of the state of Wisconsin
(1909)

Birge, Edward A.
Report on water powers,   pp. 10-15 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 10


10   REPORT OF THE: STATE CONSERVATION COMMISSION.
         REPORT ON WATER POWERS
                   BY EDWARD A. BIRGE.
  A careful investigation and summary of the water powers of
the state, both those now utilized and those still undeveloped,
was recently made for the United States Government by Pro-
fessor L. S. Smith, who has also submitted a report on the same
subject to the State Conservation Commission. From his esti-
mate it appears that the developed powers of the state are
capable of furnishing about 194,000 horse power. This esti-
mate is based on the capacity of the installed turbines. The
undeveloped powers, estimated on the basis of the minimum
flow for the entire year, represent about 350,000 horse power,
and estimated on the basis of the minimum flow for the highest
six months, they are about 653,000 horse power. In most large
power installations, provision is made for the use of steam
power. helping out in times of low water; so that if all of these
powers were utilized, the amount of horse power installed
would he far in excess of 350,000. It appears. therefor, that
the undeveloped water powers of the state far exceed in
amounts those that are undeveloped. It appears, also, that no
natural resource still in the immediate control of the state at
all approaches in value the water power.
  The policy which Wisconsin, in common with all other parts
of the United States, has followed regarding water powers, has
been that of granting them freely to any responsible applicant.
No attempt has been made to secure revenue to the state from
them, and, until very recently, nothing has been done to secure
for the public any regulation of charges for power, or indeed
to secure the public in any way. This neglect has been entirely
natural, for it is only recently that the great value of water
powers has become evident. It is now plain that their value is
not only great but rapidly increasing, and that the coming dec-
ades will witness an enormous rise in the demand for water


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