Page images

A Voice. He is counsel for the Brazos River Irrigation Organization—water conservation and irrigation.

Senator OVERTON. We don't want to incorporate in these hearings testimony that will be of no value. I don't know anything about Mr. McCall. He may be a very able man, but it doesn't seem to me that a lawyer would know very much about this.

Senator MILLIKIN. Mr. Chairman, are you willing to leave it to my judgment as to whether it should go in?

Senator OVERTON. I will leave it to your judgment.

Senator MILLIKIN. We have another witness. I assume he can be heard in the morning, Mr. Sloan.

Senator OVERTON. Yes, sir; at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning. We will adjourn until that time.

(Thereupon, at 5:15 p. m. an adjournment was taken until Thursday, June 15, 1944, at 10 a. m.)




Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to adjournment on yesterday, in the Capitol, Senator John H. Overton, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.

Present: Senators Overton (chairman of the subcommittee), Burton, and Cordon.

Present also: Senators Aiken, Milliken, and Robertson.

Senator OVERTON (chairman of the subcommittee). The subcommittee will come to order. Who is your next witness, Senator Millikin? Senator MILLIKIN. Mr. Chairman, we will not have any more wit

But I should like to ask permission to have the statement of Dr. Lyman Jackson, president, South Dakota State College, Brookíngs, S. Dak., made a part of the record. This statement has to do with the economics of irrigation in South Dakota and the Missouri River Basin.

Senator OVERTON. The statement may be made a part of the record. (Dr. Lyman Jackson's statement is as follows:)




(From Dr. Lyman Jackson, president, South Dakota State College,

Brookings, S. Dak.)

A technical discussion of the economic benefits South Dakota would derive through the developing of the Missouri River for irrigation, presupposes that all the facts relative to its development are known. This is not the case. It is necessary, therefore, before a paper of this nature can be developed that certain facts and situations be assumed or taken for granted. For instance, that the project is feasible, that the cost of developing the irrigation phase will be within the ability of the landowner to repay, that the water supply is ample for the amount of land contemplated to be irrigated, that the land is suitable for irrigation, and such other problems as are considered important in developing this paper.

The development of the Missouri River is known as a multiple-purpose project development. The Bureau of Reclamation defines multiple-purpose, as “may consist of a dam and other works; series of dams; or a series of dams and other works designed and operated so as to perform efficiently more than one function in the field of water utilization and control. The project may service irrigation, power, flood control, and also navigation."

The Bureau of Reclamation also makes this statement, "Fifty-eight percent of the cost of all projects under construction of January 1, 1942, will be repaid

1 Reclamation Handbook, Conservation Bulletin No. 32, U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation.

from power revenues. Of the remaining costs, water users on irrigated land will repay 37 percent, and 5 percent by municipalities for domestic water supplies, or will be charged to flood control or other nonreimbursable activities.”

The Missouri River and its basin is the largest undeveloped natural resource in the United States. The area and fertility of land which can be reclaimed makes it certain that in time the value of its products and the number of people supported by argiculture will rival any similar area in this country.

It flows through both arid and semiarid areas. Its basin is one of the foremost stock-raising and grain-growing sections of the United States. The portion of the river flowing through South Dakota is 534.2 miles long. It flows through a section of the State having about an average of 17 inches rainfall.

South Dakota rainfall varies from year to year and season to season. It varies from 25 inches in the southeast corner to 16 inches in the northwest corner. On the basis of rainfall the State could be divided into three areas: the subhumid area in the southeast, the semiarid in the central section, and the arid area in the west. The area under discussion lies in the semiarid area.

Normal rainfall in this area is little more than enough for crop production, and since it is frequently less than normal, crop failures, or near failures, have been frequent. Good crop yields are reported about 1 year in 5, poor yields 1 year in 4 or 5, and failures about 1 year in 7.2

The variation in wheat years in this area reflects the variation in rainfall.

Variation in wheat yields central South Dakota (24) counties
Wheat, bushels

Wheat, bushels 1931. 10 | 1936

1 1932 28 | 1937

5 1933. 1 | 1938

13 1934

0 1935_

1931-38 average-------

9 There is also a great variation in crop production between the subhumid and semiarid areas. This is shown in the following table where production is compared between the 24 counties in the central part of the State (semiarid area) and Moody County, located in the subhumid area.

Variation in crop production, central South Dakota (24 counties) compared with

east central South Dakota represented by Moody County

[blocks in formation]

It should be pointed out, however, that irrigation under semiarid conditions is distinctly different from irrigation under arid conditions. Under the latter no crop production is experienced without the aid of irrigation, while under the former the producers experience abundant production some years without irrigation.

Semiarid areas are also subject to extreme variations in weather conditions, thus increasing farming hazards not experienced under arid conditions.

? Farming hazards in the drought area, Work Projects Administration, Division Social Research.

Relative importance of different causes of crop damake on 48. Hyde County,

S. Dak., farms for a period averaging 19.1 years

[blocks in formation]

Source: Natural and Economic Factors Affecting Rural Rehabilitation Problems in Central South Dakota, Work Projects Administration Research Bulletin K-2.

This fact should be kept clearly in the foreground when assessing the costs of the proposed Missouri River diversion project for irrigation. The proposed irrigation project will fail financially if high assessments are to be made against the acreage to be served by it. Only reasonable charges should be considered. A reasonable annual per acre charge for the use of the irrigation facilities must enable the producers to profit by the use of such facilities, permit the entire refunding of the construction costs within a 30-year period, and pay the current annual operation and maintenance costs of the project. Part of the costs of construction must be charged against flood control, power development, and navigation in order to keep irrigation charges within the ability of the land to pay.

Rain must be considered a secondary source of water supply, and a supplement to irrigation. A process of education is very important on a project of this type at all times, and without it, failure will likely result.

The land that the Missouri River water will irrigate lies on the west slope of the James River Basin, extending from Aberdeen to Mitchell. The following table gives the counties and the areas of each that is on the west slope of the James River.

Acres Brown699, 040 | Jerauld..

139, 240 McPherson.

184, 320 Edmunds_ 460, 800 | Aurora

138, 246 Faulk. 552, 960 Davison..

138, 240 Hand.

622, 080 Spink.

437, 760

4, 179, 146 Beadle.

369, 700 These acreages are estimates and by no means can all this area be irrigated, for even if the soil was all suitable for irrigation, we are told that 750,000 acres will be the maximum acreage that the available water will adequately




The soils in the James River Basin are variable, but generally good for farm crops. Most of the soils are light enough to be well adapted to irrigation. A great deal of work will need to be done on classifying the soils in the basin to find out which sections are and are not suited for irrigation.

Some portions of the valley, especially along the river itself, are so flat that drainage facilities will be necessary.


How much will irrigation increase crop yields in this valley? The following table gives the average yield of the various crops over a period of years and the estimated yields one might expect under irrigation.

« PreviousContinue »