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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the years 1921-1932
([1921-1932])

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the fiscal year ended June 2, 1921,   pp. [1]-69 ff. PDF (26.8 MB)


Page 20

COMMISSIONER OF INDIAN AFFAIRS. 
IRRIGATION. 
The ever-increasing population of the United States and its grow- 
ing exports correspondingly augment the requirements for food pro- 
ductign. These requirements demand that every acre of tillable land 
should be made to yield each year to the full extent 9f its possibilities.
Arid lands comprise much of the vast area of our West and South- 
west, which in its original state was in most instances practically a 
barren waste, and included a considerable area of Indian reservations. 
Much of this territory,-however, has been eliminated by the pro- 
gressive development of Indian irrigation projects, which forcibly 
demonstrates the great advantage of artificial water to arid lands. 
Instances are recorded where such lands after reclamation have been 
enhanced in value $400 to $500 per acre. 
The most notable of our products are those on the Yakima Reser- 
vation, in the State of Washington. The gross value of the crops 
raised during the year within the irrigation projects on this reserva- 
tion is $11,001,600, an increase over the previous year of $1,001,600. 
While the general condition and surroundings of our other projects 
are not quite so favoiable as those of the Yakima Reservation, re- 
ports show corresponding increases throughout in crop productions. 
The irrigable area of the- Wapato project on the Yakima Reserva- 
tion is about 120,000 acres. We have a recognized prior right of 720 
second-feet of water for this division, which is sufficient to irrigate 
approximately 70,000 acres. It has been the desire of the Indian 
Service to secure from the Reclamation Service the perpetual use of 
250,000 acre-feet of water annually in addition to the said 720 sec- 
ond-feet of water now appropriated to the Wapato division. With 
this end in view, an agreement was had with that service providing 
for the diversion of flood or storage water in said amount during the 
irrigation season of each year, subject, of course, to prior existing 
rights. This agreement is of material benefit to this project. 
An agreement having been previously reached with the white land- 
owners in the Florence Casa Grande Valley as to a diversion of the 
available water for irrigation purposes from the Gila River, and the 
work of signing up white landowners desiring to come within this 
project having been completed, the arduous task of selecting the 
lands.in white ownership, consisting of 27,000 acres, was taken up. 
The lands owned by those persons having subsisting water rights 
were given preference. The next in order were those persons own- 
ing lands who were members of the Casa Grande Water Users' As- 
sociation in good standing. These two classes of persons completely 
exhausted the available area. There are 35,000 acres of land within 
the Gila Indian Reservation which comes within this project, making 
a total area of 62,000 acres which will be benefited by the project. 
Advertisements were issued looking to the construction of the di- 
version dam under contract, but no satisfactory bids were received, 
those submitted being on a cost-plus or fixed-fee basis. Our ap- 
propriations for this work being limited and these bids carrying no 
assurance that the total cost would not greatly exceed the limit 
placed thereon by Congress, namely, $250,000, it was not deemed ad- 
visable to accept any of the offers. Due to these conditions and the 
fact that the two-year period within which the construction should 
begin would expire on May 1, 1921, it was decided on January 3, 
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