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United States Reclamation Service

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UNITED STATES RECLAMATION SERVICE, a bureau of the Department of the Interior of the United States government created by Act of Congress, 17 June 1902, for the purpose of survey, examination, construc tion and operation of works for the reclama tion by irrigation of arid and semi-arid lands. Funds were provided by the Act by setting aside the proceeds of the disposal of public lands which from 1902 to 1919 aggregated nearly $100,000,000. This amount with the greater part of an additional loan of $20,000,000—or in round numbers approximately $120,000,000 have been spent up to 1919 in works for conservation and distribution of water supply in the western part of the United States. Among the most notable of these works are the Roosevelt dam and canals in Arizona, distributing water to the valley lands in the vicinity of Phoenix: the Arrowrock dam in Idaho; the Elephant Butte dam in New Mexico; the Gunnison tunnel in Colorado and many other works. See HY DRA'', IC ENGINFERING.

The Reclamation Service as originally created was unique among government organ izations in that it had a continuing fund and was independent of annual appropriations. It thus could make plans for carrying out its work in consecutive order through several years as is necessary in ordinary business affairs and could give full consideration to the requirements of efficiency and economy. Since 1915, however, definite appropriations for each project have been made annually by Congress.

Origin of the Service.— 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 lands, while successful from an agricultural standpoint and from that of the development of the country, were not profitable to the investor, hence development and the use of the resources of the West were not progress ing rapidly. It became appreciated 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 objections to mak ing direct appropriations for improving these lands was met by the ingenious plan proposed by the late Senator, then Representative, Francis G. Newlands, of Nevada to the effect that money derived from the disposal of portions of the land should be used in reclaim ing other portions.

Organization.— 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, Maj. John Wesley Powell. The in

vestigations 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 diffused laid the foundations for a presenta tion of the needs and opportunities of water conservation and furnished the facts for action by Congress taken in accordance with the recommendation of President Theodore Roosevelt in his first message in 1901. As organized immediately on passage of the Act 17 June 1902, the work was under a chief engineer who continued in charge, under the airector of Geological Survey, until 1907, when the service became a sepa rate bureau and the chief engineer was made director, reporting to the Secretary of the Interior. Because of widely separated location of the work, in 17 Western States, and their remoteness from lines of transportation, it became necessary to develop an organization where the largest possible discretion might be exercised by the men in the field, at the same time securing proper uniformity and compliance with governmental regulations. This was brought about by having five supervising en gineers each in charge of work in a group of States where the climatic conditions were similar. Under these were project engineers in responsible charge of each particular piece of work and with general authority to execute these works according to plans agreed upon in advance after conference with various technical advisers or consulting engineers as well as the chief and supervising engineers, Under this system of locally placed and care fully defined authority and responsibility, operations proceeded with a rapidity and skill seldom found in governmental bureaus where the tendency has been toward excessive centralization of authority and development of so-called °red tape." Modifications of the system were m..de during the years 1914-16 by placing the authority in the hands of five commissioners located at Washington — the number being later reduced to three, the offices of the supervising engineer being abolished and the project engineers reporting directly to Washington, later to a more central point at Denver, and with a gradual return to former and more efficient methods. The organization has since been placed again under one head, the director and chief engineer, located at Washington, D. C., with a chief of construction at Denver, Colo.

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