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Cngio. Ubnry 








U. S. of *gt,, 3ul, l«. Oft.ct of Eipt. Sutiooi Imga;™ lovoHigil.on. FRONTfSPfECE. 

s 1 




I'lirt 1. 

I•:L^v< X >] ) >fKAi) 




U. S. Department of Agriculture, 

Office of Experiment Stations, 

Washvngton^ D. C.^ May 10^ 190^. 
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on irrigation in 
northern Italy by Prof. El wood Mead, chief T)f irrigation investigations. 
' This work was undertaken in accordance with the law requiring this 
Office to rei)ort ''upon the use of irrigation waters at home and abroad," 
and had for its special object the obtaining of suggestions for the 
improvement of our own pi^actices — administrative, engineering, and 
agricultural. This object was kept constantly in view, and, therefore, 
the report is not a comprehensive treatment of Italian irrigation, but 
describes only those works and institutions which contain some sug- 
gestions which are of value to American irrigators. The report will 
be divided into three parts, of which this is the first. Its publication 
as a bulletin of this Office is recommended. 

Very respectfully, 

A. C. True, 

Hon. James Wilson, 

Secretary of Agriculture, 








Chapter I. — Introduction 5 

The valley of the Po ^ 6 

Water supply 8 

Climate 9 

Crops ^ 12 

Irrigation laws and practices 1;^ 

Irrigation works 14 

Aid by (xovemment officials in carrying out these investigations 15 

Bibliography _._ 17 

Chapter II. — Irrigation in Lomhardy 24 

The Naviglio Grande — A (iovemnient canal used for navigation^ irriga- 

1 tion, and power 25 

^ Measurement of water ^ 29 

■Nj Some features of the canal's management 81 

"^, The Villoresi Canal — A modern corporation enterprise furnishing water 

^>N for irrigation and power at annual rentals 32 

Water measurement 38 

Management 42 

\ Water- right contracts 43 

"f^ Seepage and drainage under the Villoresi Canal 48 

N Rights of way 53 

I Agriculture under the Villoresi Canal 55 

^^ The Vettabbia Canal — Owned and operated by an association of farmers. . 58 

Farming under the Vettabbia Canal 62 

4 The sewage of Milan 66 

*• Chapter III. — Irrigation in Piedmont 68 

The water supply 69 

State irrigation works in Piedmont 70 

History 72 

Engineering features of the Cavour Canal and connecting works 76 

Other canals along the Dora Baltea 79 

Pumping water for irrigation 80 

The siphon under the Sesia 82 

Administration of irrigation works betw^een the Dora Baltea and Ticino 

rivers 83 

Rates for water 84 

General Association West of the Sesia 86 

Settlement of water rights 90 

Agriculture in Piedmont 93 

Duty and cost of water 95 

Structures for measurement and distribution of water 96 





View of irrigatefl lands under Vettabbia Canal Frontispiece. 

Plati: 1 . Waste wav near hea<l of Naviglio Grande 28 

1 1 . View of Jsaviglio Grande, where Ix'ing rt^built 28 

III. Fig. 1. — Scene on Naviglio Grande. Fig. 2. — Scene on Naviglio 

Grande -.. 32 

I V. Farm near Vigentino showing location of irrigatingditches and drains . 32 
V. View of the head gate of the Villoresi Canal 34 

VI. Measuring weir at head of Parabiago })ranch of Villoresi Canal 38 

VII. Fig. 1. — Head gate and measuring weir on laU^ral from Villoresi 

Canal. Fig. 2. — Union of an irrigation ami a drain ditch 38 

VI II. Measuring boxes on the Vettabbia Canal 60 

I X . View of rt^constructed portion of Vettabbia Canal CtO 

X. View of river Po at the hea<l of the Cavour ('anal 76 

XI. Fig. 1. — View of head gat« of Cavour Canal, from above. Fig. 2. — 

Sla><onry flume carrying Cavour Canal over Dora Baltea River 76 

XII. I nterior view of third floor of head gat<j, Cavour Canal 76 

XIII. Plan of headworks, Cavour Canal 76 

XIV. Fig. 1. — Diversion gates from Cavour Canal pumping station near 

Novara. Fig. 2. — View of inlet to siphon under Sesia River« 80 

X V. Plan of siphon under Sesia River 80 

XVI. Mapof Piedmont 86 

XVII. Fig. 1. — View of farmyard, showing rear of houne and a part of con- 
necting barns. Fig. 2. — View of farmyard, showing implements.. 94 


Fid. 1 . Diagram showing the average monthly and the annual rainfall of Milan, 

Itiily, and of thret* places in the humid iM)rtion of the United States. 10 

2. Diagmm showing tlu* average monthly and the annual rainfall of Milan, 

Italy, and of three j)hices in the arid portion of tlie Unitinl States... 11 

3. Diiigram comparing the average annual rainfall of Milan, Italy, with 

that of six places in the arid and humid j)ortion8 of the Unite<l 
States 12 

4. Vertical and horizontal sections of a measuring l)ox used on Vettabbia 

Canal 30 

5. ('ross section of Villoresi Canal at heiid of Parabitigo branch 37 

6. Details of head gate on lateral and measuring weir, Villoresi Canal ... 39 

7. Vertical and horizontal sections of tbe regulating gates and verticiU 

section of measuring weir at tlie head of a branch canal 40 

8. Ground plan and longitudinal section of regulating gates, bai«in, and 

measuring weir at the head of a secondary canal 41 

9. Masonry and concrete siphon carrying water of a lateral under a roa<l. 51 

1 0. Si phon carrying water of a lateral under a canal 52 

11. Iron, masonry, and concrete crossing of a lateral over a canal 52 

12. Section showing meai^uring boxes, drop, flume, and bri<lge crossing on 

Iminch of Vettabbia Canal 61 

13. Branch of Vettabbia Canal ptu^sing over an irrigation and a drainage 

ditch -- 62 

14. Vertical and horizontal sections and plan showing siphon for passiige 

of the Nosedo Canal under the Taverno and Tecchione ditches 63 



Chaptee I. 


Reasons for a better understanding in the Unite<l States of the Italian irrigation sys 
tern — Features of agricultural engineering included in the investigation — First 
impressions of the irrigated territory — £xtent and physical features of the valley 
of the Po — Climate and crops — Irrigation laws and practices-^Aid extended by 
the Italian Government in the conduct of these investigations — I^ws and reports 

For the past liftj^ years Italy has been a school of irrigation for the 
rest of the world. France, Egypt, India, and Australia have sent 
their ablest engineers and economists to study the system which for 
many centuries has made northern Italy one of the agricultural store- 
houses of southern Europe. Their admirable reports, especially those 
of Capt. Baird Smith and Colonel Moncrieff , have exerted great influ- 
ence on irrigation practice in the countries for which they were pre- 
pared and have been widely read by students of irrigation in the 
United States; but, as they were written by men who were dealing 
with conditions differing widely from our own, they do not touch some 
of our most difficult questions. Especially is this true of the economic 
as distinguished from the engineering side of irrigation. Besides, the 
most valuable of these books were written long ago, before modern 
coi'poi'ation methods had become an important factor in the extension 
of irrigation in Italy and before the public supervision of streams, 
which marked the beginning of the reign of Victor Emmanuel, had 
become part of the policy of the nation. These changes have brought 
the legal and administrative features of the irrigation system of Italy 
into closer resemblance to our own, making a study of this system 
of great value in solving some of the problems of our arid region. 

In the details of irrigation practice it is of interest to know whether 
Italian canal companies deliver water at the banks of the main canals 
and let the farmers manage the laterals, or carry it to the margins of 
the fields where used, and to know whether on a ditch five hundred 
years old the farmers at the upper end steal water from those at the 
lower end, as they do in our pioneer communities; or, if the\' do not, 
bow this most natuml and human impulse has been overcome. 



In Italy all streams arc Government propert}', and in theory no one 
is allowed to make diversions from them without permission from the 
Government. But we need to know whether this public ownership 
and control is a living fact or a dead theory, as it is in some sections of 
this country where public ownership is often said to exist, but where 
sti'eams are diverted at any point and claimed in any amount without 
ivj^rd to rights or interests of existing users or to the pu])lic welfare. 
No available literature tells enough about how^ titles to water are 
established to enable students of this question in this country to com- 
paic the methods of settling these questions in Italy with our practice 
of leaving these matters to be fought out in private law suits. 

A knowledge of whether the division of water among irrigators is 
made by time or by volume, of the price irrigators pa}' for water, of 
how much the}' use on different crops, of how seepage losses are less- 
ened and overwatered lands drained in one of the countries where 
irrigation practice has reached its highest state of efficiency can not 
fail to have great practical value in this country w^here tens of thou- 
sands of farmers each year l)egin the cultivation of crops by irriga- 
tion. The opix)i'tunity to gain this information came in the summer 
of 1903, when, under the direction of the Office of Experiment Sta- 
tions, two months were spent by the writer in the valley of the Po. 

The work of the Office of Experiment Stivtions in agricultural engi- 
neering made certain other features of European agriculture of nuich 
interest, and such time as could be spared was used for observing 
methods of reclaiming tidal marshes by dikes and drains and of pro- 
tecting hillside farms from erosion. Some of the stupendous works 
for draining the low, flat lands at the mouths of the Adda and Po 
rivers were visited, as were some of the engineering works to protect 
the hill lands along the Rhine in Germany and the slopes of the Alps 
and Apennines in northern Italy from washing away. Here, through 
the aid of embankments, teri-aces, and dmins, farms as steep as an}^ 
in Penns^'lvania, Kentucky, or Georgia, continuously cultivated for 
many centuries, are as fertile to-day as they were in the beginning. 
It was reassuring to know that gullies and worn-out fields are not 
necessary results of cultivation in a broken country, and that our 
scarred hillsides are simply the outcome of careless and unskillful 


From the tower of the cathedral of Milan one looks out over a 
farming district noted the world over for its fertilit}^ and productive- 
ness. When 1 first saw it the blazing July sun beat down upon it and 
the air was hot and dry, yet the fields were fresh and green as in the 
spring. In ever}^ direction except to the south the country looked 
like a vast orchard because of the mulberry trees which dotted the 


fields and the brush which bordered the roads and ditx^hes. Wheat 
is one of the most important crops of this district. It had been har- 
vested; the fields where it had j^rown had been irrigated; other crops 
had been planted and were already growing vigorously, irrigation 
making it possible to grow two crops in the same year, although the 
season is no longer than in the southern half of the United States. 

In one respect the appearance of the country was a surprise. 1 had 
thought of Ital}^ as a land of oranges, olives, and grapes, resembling 
in appearance that around Ijos Angeles, Fresno, and San Jose. The 
irrigated section is not, however, the fruit-growing one. This is far- 
ther south *and in tlie hills. The country looked more like that around 
Greeley and Salt Lake. The desert l)ackground was lacking, l)ut 
there was the same splendid mountain setting made })y the snow- 
covered sununits of the Alps. To the south the countr}' was flatter, 
and the nuilberry trees and grain fields gave way to great green 
stretches of rice fields and meadow^ lands. Much of the countrv sur- 
rounding Milan is devoted to marcit(>, a kind of water meadow which 
produces enormously and helps to make this one of the leading dairy 
districts of southern Europe. 

Two large c^inals are a part of this cathedral-tower panoi*ama. 
These, with the nuiltitude of smaller ditches seen in this bird\s-eve 
view, have been described bv llerisson as follows: 

The system of irrigation has nowhere else been carried out to. such an extent. As 
we pasH through the Milanese lowlands we can perceive the jwwer of this organiza- 
tion and its effects. Almost every hundred yards we come upon either a canal or a 
drain. There is not a field but is bathed along at least two sides by clear and run- 
ning water, brought sometimes from a distance of more than 100 miles. Fertilizing 
streams intermingle with blocks of cultivated land, which are always beautiful, and 
even in the dead of winter we may see the mowers cutting down splendid crops of 
grass. This water which gives to the summer the freshness of the rainy season, can 
also give to winter the warmth of spring. The mind is overcome w'ith wonder at 
what the intelligence and energy of the jx^ople have accomplishetl, esi)ecially w-hen 
we consider that Lombardy has always been the battlefield of all Europe and that it 
has l)een in the midst of the incessant ravages of war and the continual changes of 
governments tliat these* prodigious works have l)een constructed. « 

The valley of the Po was originally occupied by an arm of the Adri- 
atic Sea. It is 250 miles long, 30 to 100 miles wide, and is lx)unded 
and sheltered on three sides by a great mountain horseshoe made by 
the Alps on the north and west and the Apennines on the south. 
Ne^r the foothills the country is hilly and broken and the soil in places 
a coarse gravel not very fertile, butawa}'^ from the foothills, especiall}' 
near the Po, the soil has great fertility and the plain is remarkably 
well suited to the distribution of water. There is slope enough to 
make it easy to spread water over the fields and to furnish drainage. 
From Turin to the Adriatic there is not a hill, and many of the large 
canals run for miles w^ithout making a change in direction. In the 

"Rapport sur les Irrigations de Li Vallee du Po, Paris, 1881. 



eastern part of the valley, especially near the borders of the Adriatic, 
the country is so flat as to make the riv'crs almost seem to run uphill. 
The sediment washed down from the mountains has been deposited 
here by the Adige and Po rivers until their channels have l>een built 
up above the suiTounding lands. Here levees are necessary to keep 
the rivers within their bounds and drains have been dug to carry the 
water off the adjacent fields. The works required to protect this part 
of the valley from floods and to reclaim the flat lands along the seacoast 
i-ank in magnitude and cost with the irrigation canals on the upper 
portion of the river in Lombardy and Piedmont. More than half of 
the irrigated land of Italy is found in these two provinces. They have 
been called the storehouse of southern Europe and are among the most 
densely populated in the world, reaching in some places 800 inhabitants 
to the square mile. 


The main artery of the valley is the Po. It rises in Mount Viso, 
about 6,000 feet above the sea. For the first 20 miles it is a mountain 
torrent, but within 50 miles it changes to a broad stream with a sandy 
channel which looks not unlike the Platte or Arkansas. Farther down 
there is another change. The river has scarcely any fall and becomes 
a broad, sluggish stream and an important highway of commerce. 

The rivers which rise in the higher Alps are largely fed from gla- 
ciera. They have their floods when the snows are melting and during 
the autumn rains, April being the month when their supply for irriga- 
tion is most likely to be lacking. On several of these rivers floods are 
a constant menace to irrigation works. Others rise in or flow through 
lakes which serve as regulators, holding back the floods and warming 
the glacial water, thus forming an added and valuable feature in the 
advantages this country presents fox* irrigated agriculture. The fol- 
lowing table gives the minimum, maximum, and mean discharges of 
the most important of these rivers at or near their mouths: 

Discharge of principal Italian rivers.^ 



Dom BalU'ai . 
Dora Kipariu 












Discharge In cubic feet per second. 

Minimum. Maximum. Mean. 










27, 828 
47, 675 


7, 709 



a Taken from Manual of Engineering by G. Colombo. 


The water supply from the Apennines is less abundant and more 
irregular in its flow than that from the Alps. Ten acres of land are 
irrigated on the north side of the Po for every one on the south. 

In addition to the rivers and lakes there are in some places, notabl}^ 
around Milan, numerous springs which furnish in the aggregate large 
volumes of water. Some of these springs seem to be fed from the 
mountain lakes; others are simply natural drains for seepage water 
coming from the fields and canals on the higher lands. 

In many important respects the conditions governing agricultural 
development in this valley have a surprising similarity to those of the 
Sacramento Valley, California. Irrigation is the problem in the 
upper part of both valleys; drainage and flood protection is the prob- 
lem in the lower parts. While the rainfall in Italy is greater than 
that in California, crops can be grown in both regions ))y rainfall alone. 
The only advantage which Italy possesses over California is in a 
larger water supply. The soil of California is more fertile, the cli- 
mate is far superior, and in the range and diversitj^ of products the 
advantages are all with the Pacific slope. Because of similarity of 
conditions the methods by which the Italians have drained their wet 
lands and irrigated their dry ones have a special value to the people 
of the Pacific slope. 


Northern Italy has the same latitude as the northern part of the 
United States, Milan, Turin, and Venice are farther north than St. 
Paul and Portland. Along the Adriatic there is little difference 
between the temperature of summer and winter, but in the western 
part of the irrigated district there is a continental climate with cold 
winters and long, hot summers. The country along some of the river 
bottoms looks marvelously like the bottom lands along the Missouri 
Kivcr between Kansas City and St. Louis. There are the same crops 
and the same weeds. The corn, wheat, and clover fields above where 
the Cavour Canal crosses the Dom Baltea Kiver look like the fields one 
sees from the car windows of the Santa Fe iiailroad, and this familiar 
appearance is heightened by the giant poke stalks, blackberry vines, 
and black-locust brush which grow along the roadsides and in the 
waste places. 

In the vicinities of Milan and Turin the thermometer goes down to 
zero in winter, up to 100'-' F. in summer, and the difference between 
the average temperature of the hottest month of summer and the cold- 
est month of winter is 80'^ F. 

The rainfall records have unusual interest because of the light the}^ 
throw on the value of irrigation in humid regions. Northern Italy 
is not arid. The average rainfall of Milan is greater than that of 
Cincinnati or Omaha, and it is three times that of Denver. Figures 
1> 2, and 3 show graphically the avei-age rainfall of Milan for the last 



















































«— < 















Fio. S.— Dias^ram compariiiK the nveraf?c annual rainfall of Milan, Italy, with that uf i»ix placen in 

the arid and humid portions of the United stales. 

eighty years and that of a number of places m the United States for 
fifteen years. It will be seen by studying these diagnims that Milan 
has a humid climate^' and is in striking contrast even to Sacramento, 
where crops are successfully grown by rainfall alone. The rainfall 
at Milan has F)een taken for comparison because this city is in the 
center of the irrigated district. In other parts of the valley the rain- 
fall varies widely, being greater in some places and less in others. 
In the foothills of the Alps it is excessive. The moisture- laden clouds 
from the Adriatic when driven against the mountains are condensed, 
causing at times terrible floods. In some places the average annual 
rainfall reaches 90 inches. CAoso. to the Alps the average is about 55 
inches. In the middle of the valley the average ranges from 30 to 40 
inches. South of the Po it falls to 25 inches or less. 


Considering the crops grown, the irrigated part of the valley can l)e 
divided into three zones. Nearest the mountains, when* the countrv 

« Professor Taricro, ansistant professor of jireology in the School of Engineern at 
Turin, gave the following as tlie relative amounts of rainfall at Milan and Turin for 
the four seasons of the year: 

Percmta{ie qfrainfaJl hjf fteasoiut at Turin and Milav. 





Percent of nt in fall 

i Turin. 


Milan. Turin. Milan. Turin. Milan. ' Turin. I .Milan. 

21.3 ' -ili.S ! 23.9 ' 31. fi 

23. 1> 

27. \ 



is broken and gravelly, the wheat, corn, and clover are varied b}^ 
orchards and vineyards. Farther down the orchards are replaced by 
mulberry trees. Still farther down, where the lands have a slight and 
uniform slope, rice fields and marcite meadows prevail. As the Adri- 
atic is approached, flax and hemp are extensively raised. 


While a better understanding of Italian irrigation showed that it 
had a lesson for the eastern part of the United States, the significance 
of its teachings for the arid region was not diminished. The observed 
points of resemblance between their laws and practices and ours grew 
with a knowledge of the details of different districts. Take the meas- 
urement of water as an illustration. In the arid States, irrigators 
and miners who measure water by the inch emploj'^ a direct successor 
of the Italian oncia. The Cipolletti weir, seen on so many western 
ditches, was designed by the Italian irrigation engineer whose name it 
bears. Their canals are built with more care and of more enduring 
material than ours, but we are beginning to change our practice, and 
hence a knowledge of what they have done and how they did it will 
be of great service to us. 

It is, however, in the domain of irrigation economics that we have 
the most to learn from Italy. The laws and institutions which control 
the diversion of rivers have been the growth of centuries. The fact 
that they are the result of growth rather than of a prearranged plan 
brought into effect by legislation, affords another resemblance to our 
conditions and explains why there is almost as much difference 
between the irrigation systems of Piedmont and of Lombardy as 
between those of different arid States. For the pui'poses of study, 
and especially for the purposes of comparative study of different sys- 
tems of supplying water to irrigators, Italy has many advantages. 
In a few miles along the east and west banks of the Ticino there 
are canals which combine navigation and irrigation, and irrigation 
and power; one district manages a large number of private canals, 
another district operates a larger number of State canals, and a pri- 
vate corporation operates a $6,000,000 system which combines power, 
irrigation, and drainage. Large areas where water is paid for accord- 
ing to the volume used, adjoin areas where it is paid for according to 
the area watered, and others where the holders of vested rights get 
all they want for nothing.. 

In their leading features the water laws of Italy resemble the codes 
of Wyoming and Nebraska, the difference being the greater authority 
possessed by Italian ofiScials and the more effective supervision result- 
ing therefrom. 

In the best districts the lack of controversy and friction shows that 
water can be divided among a multitude of users with justice and 


certainty, if the details of this distribution are properh' worked out 
and the regulations imposed rigidly enforced. This is done in Ital}'. 
The farmer at the head of a lateral knows that if he attempts to steal 
water the penalty will be severe, and the farmer at the lower end, not 
having to police the canal to keep the head gates from being interfered 
with, goes about his work in peace. The foundation of this efficienc}' 
is the capacity of Italian farmers for working together in cooperative 
organizations. Instead of the management having to deal with each 
irrigator as an individual with interests antagonistic to the canal and 
to every other irrigator, as too often happens in the United States, it 
deals with groups of irrigators who work on a cooperative basis. 
They buy their water at wholesale and divide it among themselves by 
time. One cause of fear and jealousy is thus removed. Water is 
handled in larger volumes, with a saving of water and time to irri- 
gators. To this is added the practice of many of these small associa- 
tions of paying for water by volume. This makes every farmer study 
how he can save in expense. It has made him a skillful irrigator, 
because in lessening waste he gets the benefit of his saving, and it has 
in cour; 3 of time brought about a perfection in the rotation and use 
of water which we must sooner or later emulate if we are to secure 
the largest and best use of our water resources. 


My first glimpse of Italy's irrigated fields was from the car window 
of the St. Gothard Railway as we passed through the foothills of the 
Alps. The little ditches which water the narrow valleys wind their 
way around the slopes much as they do in the mountains of Utah and 
Colomdo. The head gates and lateral boxes are crude and simple. 
No provision is made for measuring the water used, as the small 
quantity taken out does not cause any shortage here or impair the 
rights below. The simple ditches of the foothill valleys are in 
striking contrast to the splendid canals which cross the broad plains 
below, some of which float barges and carry thousands of tons of 
freight, and run machinery as well as irrigate farms. 

Taken together, the large and small canals and ditches of the valley 
are numbered b\' thousands. In the irrigated portions of Lombardy 
and Piedmont the whole country is a network of canals and laterals 
which cross and recross each other and along which one sees masonry 
aqueducts, stone-arched bridges, siphons under roads, waste ways, and 
drains innumerable. The solidity of these structures, taken with 
their great number, always raised a question as to how much money 
this development had cost, but there was no way of finding out. All 
figures of the cost of earlier works have been lost and estimates are 
of doubtful accuracy. The work has been going on for centuries. 
There have been changes in political boundaries, in rulers, and in the 


policy of the Government toward irrigation. For five hundred years 
this valley was a battle ground. In these wars the chief cities were 
repeatedly sacked and burned. Records were lost, and in some cases 
irrigation works fared badl3\ In one war the canals in Piedmont 
were cut to flood the country and embarrass the movements of the 
Austrian armies. It is certain that the money spent in the past seven 
hundred years to provide a water supply represents a stupendous out- 
lay. A recent French writer, Ronna," gives the outlay in Lombardy 
for canals, laterals, drains, and preparing land for water as varying 
from $200 to $360 an acre. Much of this must l^e charged to rebuilding 
and correction of earlier mistakes, both of which have added largely to 
the original outlay. A large part of the expenditure must also be 
charged to the perfection with which the fields are prepared for the 
application of water. The compartments of the rice fields were made 
perfectly level, the ridges and drains of the marcite meadows were 
graded as accurately as a i-ailroad yard. Because of this preliminary 
work the shovel and rubber boots are less important factors in dis- 
tributing water than with us. In many cases all the irrigator needs 
to do is to open the head gate and gravity will distribute the water in 
the right amount and without waste. 



In a country where canals and ditches are numbered by the thou- 
sand and where in places the livelihood of 800 people to the square 
mile depends upon the water carried, the division of the water supply 
becomes a matter of supreme importance. It can not be left to 
chance. It can not be left to the people themselves. Public control 
is a necessit}'. To assure to each user his just share of the water 
supply is a far more difficult problem than it is in the West, where 
in many places the number of irrigators is less than 20 to the square 
mile. The success and world-wide fame of Italy's irrigation adminis- 
tration show^s that the system is based on correct principles and that 
it is being carried out by men of ability and executive capacity. 

One of the prime objects of this investigation was to ascertain how 
streams were controlled and divided. For this purpose a visit was 
made to Rome to meet the oflicials of the Italian Government who 
share in the conduct of irrigation affairs. Of these, the department 
of public works has control of the gauging of streams, the issuance 
of licenses to divert water, the approval of plans, and, in some 
instances, the prepamtion of plans for the construction of new works. 
The department of agriculture to me was of first interest, because 
it deals with the questions of chief importance to the farmers and the 

« Les Irrigations, Paris, 1888, Vol. I, p. 22. 
32656— No. 144, pt 1 —04 2 


ones which are most closely related to the investigations being carried 
on by the Office of Experiment Stations. These included studies of 
irrigation law, methods of distributing and using water, the collection 
of statistics regarding the areas and values of irrigated lands, and the 
. preparation of reports on irrigation development in the different 
Italian provinces. The department of finance collects the rentals for 
water furnished by Government c«,nals and has the administration of 
canals operated by the Government. 

Hon. Hector de Castro, consul-general to Italy, manifested a warm 
interest in the investigation, and through his aid its purpose was 
explained to the different departments of the Government. 

Widely differing opinions are held as to whether water rights should 
be attached to the lands or to the ditches or be pei-sonal property. 
The minister of agriculture had prepared for me a statement showing 
what these limitations are in Italy. The minister of public works 
• gave me a letter to the department inspectors and chief engineers of 
the bureau of civil engineers of the Kingdom, asking them to facili- 
tate these studies and to place at my disposal the staff and material of 
their offices. The ministers of agriculture and of public works were 
most generous in furnishing reports of their departments. The pub- 
lications named in the bibliography below, supplied by the ministers 
of these two departments and other interested persons, have been 
made use of in preparing this report. 

Not being able to speak Italian, and expecting to spend much time 
with the farmers who speak no other language, it was necessary to 
have an interpreter and desirable to have one who had a knowledge 
of both engineering and agriculture. Through the assistimce of Mr. 
Smith, acting consul at Milan, such a gentleman was found in Mr. 
Riccardo Lattes, a civil engineer of Milan. Mr. Lattes speaks Eng- 
lish fluently and, having been for several years the representative of 
American makers of agricultural machinery, knows something of agri- 
culture in both countries. 

Two methods of presenting the facts gathered were considered. 
One was to deal with the subject in a formal manner, discussing in 
separate chapters the laws, the engineering works, and the agricul- 
tural practices of the country. The other was to describe the irriga- 
tion works as seen, discuss the conditions as found, and compare these 
with the works and conditions in our own country, in this way giving 
the reader something of the impressions created, as well as the facts. 
Since the object of the study of Italian irrigation was not to prepare 
a treatise on the subject, but mther to get suggestions for improve- 
ment in American practice, the narrative treatment seemed to have 
advantages over the formal, and it has been adopted. Owing to the 
length of the report it has been considered best to divide it into three 
parts. The first will give the studies in Piedmont and in Lombardy 


west of the canals from the Adda River; the second will describe the 
iiTigation and drainage works found between the Adda River and 
the Adriatic Sea, and the third will describe the administration of 
streams and some of the methods followed by the Government in aid- 
ing in the building of both irrigation and drainage works. 


Ministero di Agritx)ltura, Industria e Commercio, Direzione Generale dell' Agricol- 
tiira. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Relazioni, Kegione Meridionale Adriatica 
( Hydrographic Survey of Italy, Keport Southern Adriatic Region.) Rome: G. 
Bertero, 1892, pp. 251. 

. Carta Idrograficii d' Italia, Amo, Val di Chiana e Serchio, con atlante 

(Hydrographic Sur\'ey of Italy, Arno, Valley of Chiana and Serchio, with maps). 
Rome: G. Bertero & Co., 1902, pp. 339. 

. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Arno, Val di Chiana e Serchio, atlante (Hydro- 
graphic Survey of Italy, Arno, Valley of Chiana and Serchio, maps). Rome: 
G. Bertero & Co., 1902. 

. Carta Idrografica d* Italia, Relazioni, Liguria ( Hydrographic Survey of Italy, 

Rejiort Liguria). Rome: G. Bertero, 1894, pp. 244. 

. Carta Idrografica d* Italia, Relazioni, Lombardia (Hydrographic Sur\'ey of 

Italy, Report Lombardy). Rome: G. Bertero, 1896, pp. 565. 

. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Relazioni, Regione Meridionale Mediterranea 

(Hydn)graphic Survey of Italy, Report Southern Mediterranean Region). 
Rome: Eredi Botta, 1890, pp. 555. 

. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Relazioni, Piemonte (Hydrographic Survey of 

Italy, Report Piedmont). Rome: G. Bertero, 1895, pp. 499. 

. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Irrigazione nella Provincia di Novara (Hydro- 
graphic Survey of Italy, Irrigation in the Province of Novara). Rome: G. 
Bertero, 1893, pp. 159. 

. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Irrigazione del Piemonte, Canali Demaniali 

d* Irrigazione nelle Provincie di Torino, Novara, Pavia e<l Alensandria (Hydro- 
graphic Survey of Italy, Irrigation of IMedmont, Government Irrigation Canals 
in the provinces of Turin, Novara, Pavia, and Alessandria). Rome: G. Bertero 
&Co., 1902, pp. 91. 

. Carta Idrografica d' Italia, Relazioni, Sicilia (Hydrographic Survey of Italy, 

Report Sicily). Rome: G. Bertero, 1891, pp. 217. 

. Relazioni, Toscana (R^jwrt, Tuscany). Rome: G. Bertero, 1893, 

pp. 343. 

. Relazioni delle Commissioni Provinciali, Umbria e Marche (Report 

of the Provincial Commissions on Umbria and Marche). Rome: G. Bertero, 
1893, pp. 167. 

. Relazioni, Veneto (Report, Veneto). Rome: Casa Editrice Italiana, 

1897, pp. 413. 

Ministero dei I^vori Pubblici, Atti della Commissione per lo Studio del la Naviga- 
zione Interna nella Valle del Po, Relazione Generale (del Presidente), con 8 
Allegati e 23 Tavole (Proceedings of the Commission for the Study of Interior 
Navigation in the Valley of the Po, General Report of the President, with 8 
Api)endices and 23 Maps). Rome: Camera dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 393. 

. Relazione Prima, Canali e Fiumi di Friulana e Trevisana Naviga- 

zione, con 3 Allegati e 27 Tavole (First ReiK)rt, Navigaticm Canals and Rivers 
of Friulana and Trevisana, with 3 Appendices and 27 Maps). Rome: Camera 
dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 116. 


Minifltero dei Lavori Pubblici. Relazione Seconda, Canali e Fiuiiii di Padovana e 

Virentina Navigazione, con 6 Allegati e 20 Tavole (Second ReiK)rt, Navigation 

Canals and Rivers of Padova and Vicentina, with 6 Appendices and 20 Majw) . 

Rome: Camera dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 71. 
. Relazione Terza, Da Venezia al Po — Fiumi e Canali del Polesine 

e del Veronese, con 7 Allegati e 23 Tavole (Thinl Report, From Venice to the 

Po — Rivers and Canals of Polenina and Verona, M'ith 7 Appendices and 23 

Mai^e). Rome: Camera dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 159. 
. Relazione (^narta, II Po da Torino al Mare, con 11 Allegati e 7 

Tavole (Fourth Report, The Po from Turin to the Sea, with 11 Api)endices and 

7 Maps). Rome: Camera dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 137. 
. Relazione Quinta, Canali e Fiumi Navigabili nella Ba^sa Pianura 

Emiliana, (K)n 7 Allegati e 33 Tavole (Fifth lieport. Navigable (-anaLs and Rivers 

in the Lower Emilian Plain, with 7 Appendices and 33 Maps). Rome: Camera 

dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 262. 
— . Relazione Sesta, Fiume Mincio e l^Jigo <U (larda, con 1 Allegato e 

25 Tavole (Sixth Report, Mincio River and Lake Garda, with 1 Appendix an<l 

25 Maps). Rome: Camera dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 380. 
. Relazione Settima, Fiumi, Canali e Liighi Navigabili di Ix)ml)ardia, 

con 5 Allegati e 30 Tavole (Seventh Report, Navigable Rivers, Canals, and I^kt»s 

of Lombard}', with 5 Appendices and 30 Maps). Rome: Camera doi Deputati, 

1903, pp. 222. 

Relazione Ottava, C-enni sulla Xavigazione Interna all' K*»tero, con 

2 Tavole (Eighth Report, History of Internal Navigation in Foreign Countries, 
with 2 Maps). Rome: Camera dei Deputati, 1903, pp. 37. 

Reale Osservatorio di Brera in Milano. Andamento Annuale e Diurno della Pioi^j^ia 
nel Climadi Milano, ]>er E. Pini (Annual and Daily Rainfall in Milan, by E. 
Pini). Milan: Vlrico Hoepli, 1891, pp. 67. 

Ministero dei Lavori IMbblici. ]^«egge e Regolamento sulle Derivazioni di AcHpie 
Pubbliche (I^w and Regulations for Diversions of Public Waters). Rome: 
F:re<ii 3otta, 1885, pp. 56. 

Regio Decreto che modifica il comma 1 e 2 delP art. 6 del regolamento del 26 Novem- 
bre 1893, n. 710, per la derivazione di acnpie pubbliche — 19 Dicembn^ 1895 
(Royal Decree of Deceml)er 19, 1895, amending Parts 1 and 2 of Art. 6 of the 
Regulations of November 26, 1893, No. 710, for the diversion of public water). 

Ministero dei I^vori Pubblici. Atti della Commissione Centrale Permanente per 
V Esame Preventivo delle Domande di Derivazione delle Acque Pubbliche, Isti- 
tuita con Regio Decreto 11 Giugno 1899, Anno 1899 (Proctvdings of the Perma- 
nent Central Commission for the Preliminary Examination of Applications for 
the Diversion of Public Waters, Created by Royal decree of June 11, 1899, Year 
1899). Rome: Editrice Italiana, 1900, pp. 226. 

. Year 1900. Rome: Editrice Italiana, 1901, pp. 374. 

— * . Year 1901. Rome: Unione Cooperativa Editrice, 1903, pp. 223. 

. Year 1902. Rome: I'nione Cooi)erativa Editrice, 1^K)3, pp. 215. 

Ministero dei I^avori Pubblici. Relazione della Commissione Nominata con Decreto 
16 Agosto 1898 dei Tre Ministri dei Lavori Pubblici. delle Finanze e <leir Agri- 
coltura, per lo Studio del Futuro Regime delle Conceseioni delle Accjue Pubbliche 
in Relazione coi Nuovi Bisogni dello Stato e deir Indvi^tria Nazionale. con Ver- 
bali e Document! annessi (Report of the (\jmmiHsion appointo<l '•»/ t'ue decree of 
August 16, 1898, by the Thrcv Ministries of Public Works, Finam-p. and jSad- 
culture, for the Investigation of the Futurt» System of Granting Concc^Mons of 
Public Watei*s, in Relation to the New Needs of the State and of National Indus- 
try, with Minutes and Documents attached). Rome: G. Bertero, 1898. pn. 2^3 


Decreto e Regolamento per la Gestione, Manutenzione e Ciistodia dei Canal i Derna- 
niali, 9 Febbraio 1893, Numero 166 (Decrees and Regulations for the Operation, 
Maintenance, and Custody of Government Canals, Febniary 9, 1893, No. 166). 
Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 1893, pp. 43. 

Decreto che Modifica il Testo del Regolamento i)er la Gestione, Manutenzione e 
(^ustodia dei ('anali d' Irrigazione e Forza Motrice Appartenenti al Patrimonio 
dello Stato e Tabella di Riparto del Personale di Custodia, 1 Marzo 1896, Num. 
83 (Decree amending the text of the regulations for the operation, maintenance, 
and custody of irrigation canals and water power belonging to the State, with 
apportionment of custodians to provinces, March 1, 1896, No. 83). Turin: Gaz- 
zetta del Popolo, 1896, pp. 8. 

Legge che Modifier alcuni articoli dell' altra legge del 20 Marzo 1865, n. 2248, sulle 
opere pubbliche, 30 Marzo 1893 (I^w of March 30, 1893, amending several arti- 
cles of the law of March 20, 1865, No, 2248, on Public Works). 

Commissione nominata dal Ministero dei Lavori Pubblici, con Decreto 5 Novembre 
1893, N. 8857, per lo studio e proposta di un riparto delle acque dell* Adda fra i 
canali Muzza, Retorto e Cassano, Relazione della (Report of the Commission 
appointed by the Minister of Public Works, by the decree of November 5, 1893, 
No. 8857, for the investigation of and recommendation for distribution of the 
waters of the Adda among the Muzza, Retorto, and Cassano canals). Milan: 
P. B. l^llini, 1898, pp. 387 and 89. 

. Allegato XX (Appendix XX to the preceding). Mantova: A. Mondovi e 

Fig., 1898, pp. 214. 

. Allegato XXI (Appendix XXI to the preceding). Mantova: G. Mondovi, 

1898, pp. 475. 

Pestalozza, Aleasandro, e Valentini, Carlo. Sistemazione del deflusso delle acque 
del Lago di Como, con 19 Allegati e 16 Tavole (Control of the Discharge of Water 
from Lake Como, with 19 Appendices and 16 Maps). Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 

1899, pp. 231. 

Ministero dei I^vori Pubblici, Direzione Generale delle Opere Idrauliche. Relazione 
sul Progetto di Massima dell' Acquedotto Pugliese, compilato dal Regio UfRcio 
vSj)eciale del (4enio Civile, in data 20 Ottobre 1902, Fastncolo I, Testo. (Report of 
Surveys for Pugliese Acjueduct, compiled by the Special Royal Office of Civil 
Engineers, date<l October 20, 1902, Vol. I, Text). Rome: Editrice Italiana, 1903, 
pp. 58. 

. Fascicolo II, Prospetti Diversi (Vol. II, Various Projects). Rome: 

Editrice Italiana, 1903, pp. 107. 

. Fascicolo III, Disegni (Vol. Ill, Maps and Drawings). Rome: 

Editrice Italiana, 1903, majis 16. 

Ufficio Spe(riale Amministrativo per 1' Acquedotto Pugliese, Legge, Regola- 

mento e Capitolato per la Costruzione e l* Esercizio delP Acquedotto Pugliese 
(Special Administrative Office for Pugliese Aqueduct — Laws, Regulations, and 
Contracts for tlie Construction and Operation of the Pugliese Aqueduct) . Rome: 
Editrice Italiana, 1903, pp. 181. 

Ufficio Tecnico di Finanza. Informazioni sulle Dispense d* Acqua dei Canali Irrigatori 
(Information regarding the Distribution of Water from Irrigation Canals). MS. 

Ufficio Tecnico di Finanza di Milano. Canale Muzza, Dati Tecnico (Muzza Canal, 
Technical Data). MS. 

I.«ggi e Decreti sul Riscatto dei Canali Cavour, 16 Giugno, 6, 9 e 11 Luglio 1874, Nri. 
2002, 2004, 2018 e 2020, Serie 2 (Laws and Decrees for the Acquirement of the 
Cavour Canals, June 16, July 6, 9, and 11, 1874). Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 
1874, pp. 75. 


Leggi cotnplementari siil Canale Cavour sul Cavo Gazelli presflo Chivawv) sul Canalo 
di CiRliano e sul Canale Quintino Sella, 23 Luprlio 1881, 7 Marzo 188H, 6 Febbraio 
1887, 2 Giugno 1887 e 6 Agosto 1893, Nri. 329, 3714, 4313, 4530, Serie 3 e 446 
(Supplementary I^ws reganling the Cavour ("anal, the (iazelli Canal heading at 
Chivasso, the Cigliano Canal, and the Quintino Sella Canal, July 23, 1881, 
March 7, 1886, February 6, 1887, June 2, 1887, and August 6, 1893). Turin: 
Gazzettadel Popolo, 1894, pp. 10. * 

Decreto e Regolamento per V Amministrazione Economi(;a del Canale Cavour o degli 
altri Canali che vi w>no annesfli, 27 Aprile 1890, Num. 6861, Serie 3 (Decrees and 
K^2^1ations for the Pxjonomic Administration of the Cavour Canal and other 
Canals connected therewith, April 27, 1890). Turin: Gazzctta del Popolo, 1890, 
pp. 23. 

Legge riguardante i Consorzi per V Irrigazione in data 25 Maggio 1873, Numero 1387, 
Serie 2 (Law regarrling Irrigation Associations, dateil May 25, 1873). Turin: 
Gazzetta del Popolo, 1887, pp. 7. 

Leggi, Decreti e Regolamento suir Ordinamento dei Consorzi d* Irrigazione, 28 
Febbraio 1886, Nri. 3731, 3732, e 37.33, Serie 3 (Laws, Decrees, and Regulations 
for the Organization of Irrigation Associations). Turin: Gazzetta del Po[)oio, 

1887, pp. 24. 

Regio Decreto che modifica V articolo 18 del regolamento 28 Febbraio 1886, n. 3733 
(serie 3*) per V eeecuzione delle leggi sui consorzi d' irrigazione, 30 (iennaio 1890 
(Royal decree of January 30, 1890, amending article 18 of the regulations of 
February 28, 1886, for the execution of laws regarding irrigation associations) . 

L^ge portante disposizioni complementari alia legge 28 Febbraio 1886, n. 3732 
(serie 3'), sui consorzi di irrigazione e di derivazione di acque per uso indus- 
triale, 11 Maggio 1890 (Law of May 11, 1890, carrying supplementary provisions 
to the law of February 28, 1886, regarding a.ssociations for irrigation and diver- 
sion of water for industrial purposes). 

Legge che fissa le norme e le disposizioni secondo le quali debbono essere ordinati i 
consorzi di derivazione e di uso delle acque a scopo industriale sia volontari che 
obbligatori, 2 Febbraio 1888, Numero 5192, Serie 3' (Law fixing the rules and 
regulations according to which shall l)e organized associations for the diversion 
and use of water for industrial purposes, either voluntary or obligatory, Febru- 
ary 2, 1888). Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 1888, pp. 7. 

Decreto e regolamento per V esecuzione della legge 2 Febbraio 1888, n. 5192, con- 
cemente i consorzi di derivazione e di uso delle acque a scopo industriale, 24 
(liugno 1888, Numero 5497, Serie 3* (Decrees and regulations for the execution 
of the law of February 2, 1888, concerning associations for the diversion and use 
of water for industrial purposes, June 24, 1888). Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 

1888, pp. 12. 

Comprensorio di Corbetta. Testo unico del regolamento del, Edizione di Agosto del 
1900 (Corbetta Association, Codification of the regulations of the, edition of 
August, 1900). Corbetta: L. Radatilli, 1900, pp. 42. 

. Memoria pella liquidazione dell' acquisto di servitil di passaggio d' acqua in 

base ai patti ed alle condizioni del regolamento del comprensorio (Memorandum 
relating to settlements for the accjuirement of rights of way by contract in 
accordance with the conditions of the regulations of the association). 

. Convenzione fra il, e la Societil Italiana per condotte d* accpia relativa ai 

cavi emuntori e fugatore (Agrt»ement between the Corbetta Asso(uation and the 
Italian Society of Aqueducts relative to wa«te and drainage canals) . 
— . Convenzione per aftitto d' acqua del Canale Villoresi i)el seiennio 1898-1903 
(Agreement for rental of water from the Villoresi Canal, for the six years 1898- 


Con«<>rzio iV Irrigaziono delle Roggie Comuna ed UuiU' «li Cnnia, Statute [lel, appro- 

vato U) Luglio 1890, n. 1732 (Irrigation AHi^ciatioii of the (Vniiuna and Unite 

Canal, of (.'renia, Statutes of, approved July 19, 1890). Crenia: Krcole Rolleri, 

1896, pp. 30. 
. Regolaniento di Amministrazione del, approvato 22 Difiembre 1900, n. 4175 

( liegulationfl for the administration of, approved Deceml)er 22, 1900). Crenia: 

Vincenzo Mort^tti, 1900, pp. 31 and 32. 
(^onsorzio per 1* Incremento dell' Irrigazione nel Territorio Crenionese, Statuto del, 

dejKwitato 23 Settembre 1882 (Association for the Increa.«?e of Irrigation in the 

Cremonese Territory, Statutes of, file<i September 23, 1882). 

. Capitolato per afiitti di acque ( Rules for the rental of water). 

. Tariffa dei canoni annuali per 1' aflitto delle acque distribuite dai canali del 

(Tariffs for the rental of water distributed by the canals of the). 
Pestalozza, Alessandro. Note e Considcrazjoni sopra il Progetto del Canaledi irriga- 
zione deir Alto Agro Veronese (Not-es and 01)servations upon the plan for an 

irrigation canal for the Northern Veronese Lands). Verona: G. Fram-hini, 1883, 

pp. 21. 
Ferrari, Giro. Le Condizioni del Consorzio Alto Agro Veronese (The Condition of 

the Northern Verona Lands Association). V^erona: O. Civelli, 1893, pp. 10. 
Consorzio Alto Agro Veronese. Delle Condizioni Economico-Finanziarie del 

(Economic-Financial Conditions of the Northern Verona I^nds Association). 

Verona: G. Civelli, 1894, pp. 17. 
. Relazione della Comniissione nominata dai Portatori di Obbligazioni del, 

31 Marzo 1894 (Report of the Commission appointed by the Bondholders of 

the, March 31, 1894). Verona: G. Civelli, 1894, pj). 30. 
. Relazione del Consiglio di Amministrazione ai ( Report of the Council of 

Administration of the). Verona: G. Civelli, 1900, pp. 9. 
. Relazione delP Operato dai Consiglio di Amministrazione del, nel triennio 

1^00-1902 (Report of the work of the Council of Administration of the, for the 

three years 1900-1902). Verona: G. Civelli, 1903, pp. 4. 
. Consorzio d' Irrigazione delP, Statuto e Regolaniento (Irrigation Association 

of the, Statutes and regulations of). Verona: Antonio Gurisatti, 1901, pp. 27. 
Memoria del (Memorial of the). Verona: (i. Civelli, 1903, pp. 5. 

L' Associazione d* Irrigazione^ dell' Agro all' Ovest della Sesia, Capitolato e Statuto 
[)€r, pel secondo trentennio a [)artiredal 1 Gennaio 1884 (Irrigatioft Association of 
the Lands West of the Sesia, Contracts an<l Statutes of, for the second 30 years, 
beginning January 1, 1884). Vercelli: (luidetti Francesco, 1882, pp. 58, 56, 24, 
16, 11. 

Comprensorio di Vittuone. Specchietto Finanziario, 1902-1903 (Vittuone Assoc^ia- 
tion, Financial Statement, 1902-1903). 

SocietA Italiana per Condotte d' Acqua. Avviso (Notice — regarding rental of water). 
Milan: Capriolo e Massimino, 1902. 

Consorzio Idraulico Alto Tartaro, Tione e<l Influenti, liegolamento del, 25 Agosto 
1885 (Hydraulic Aswxiiation of the Upper Tartaro, Tione and Tributaries, Regu- 
lations of the, August 25, 1885). Verona: (J. Franchini, 1885, pp. 34. 

Consorzio VI Presa (Padova). Relazione appro vata 19 Gennaio 1899 (Report 
approved January 19, 1899). Padova: L. Pena<la, 1899, pp. 29. 

I^ Vettabbia. MS. (History of Vettabbia Canal.) 

Canale Villoreni, e Fiume Ticino. Tabella delle Portate del (Table of the discharge 
of the Villoresi Canal and of the Ticino River). Milan: Capriolo e Massimino, 

SocietiX Italiana j>er Condotte <l' Acqua. Brevi Cenni sul Canale Villoresi (Brief 
Sket*-h of the Villon>si Canal). Ron:e: Kre<li Botta, 1885, pp. 18. 


Tribunale Civile di Milano. Causa Civile formale della Utenza della R^>ggia Retorto 
contro la SocietTi Linifido e Canapificio Nazionale ct al. (T^sers of the Retorto 
Canal v. National Flax and Hemp Society et al.). (Vema: F. Ferre, 19()1, pp. 

■ . Note d' iidienza (Note of hearing in the above ca^e). Milan: M. Bellin- 

zaghi, pp. 18. 

Aggiiinta alia Coniparsa eonclusionale della Utenza della lioggia lietorto 

(Addition to the final Btatenient of the users of the Retorto Canal in the above 
suit). Crenia: Plausi & Cattaneo, 19()3, pp. 142. 

Disposizione di un prato a niareita (Arrangement of a niarcite meadow). MS. 

Celli, A., e Menozzi, A. J^ I)e[)urazione Agrieola delle Ae<jne di Fognatura di 
Milano (The Agricultural Purificiition of the Sewage Water of Milan). Modena: 
SocietA Tipografica, 1902, pp. 191. 

Leggi fiulle opere di bonificazione di laghi, stagni, paludi e terreni ]>aludoi<i, 25 (liu- 
gno 1882 e 4 Luglio 1880, Numeri 869 e 39(J2, Serie 3 (Jaws regarding works of 
reclamation of lakes, swamps, and wet lands, June 25, 1882, and July 4, 1886). 
Turin: Gazzetta del Pojwlo, 1886, pp. 24. 

Dec'reto e regolamento per 1' esecuzione delle leggi 25Giugno 1882 e 4 Luglio 1886 
sulla bonificazione delle {)aludi c dei terreni paludosi, 7 Settembre 1887, Num. 
4963, Serie 3 (Decrees and regulations for the execution of the laws of June 25, 
1882, and July 4, 1886, regarding reclamation of swamj^ and wet lands, Septem- 
ber 7, 1887). Turin: (lazzetta del Popolo, 1887, pp. 54. 

Decreto e regolamento i)er le bonificazioni delle paludi e dei terreni paludosi, 21 
Ottobre 1900, N. 409 ( Decrees and regulations for the reclamation of swamps and 
wet lands, October 21, 19(X)). Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 1901, pp. 72. 

Legge che porta niodificazioni ed aggiunte alle vigenti leggi sulle bonificazioni delle 
paludi e dei terreni paludosi, 18 Giugno 1899, N. 236 (l^w of June 18, 1899, 
amending and adding to the laws regarding reclamation of swainps and wet 
lands). Turin: Gazzetia del Poj)olo, 1899, pp. 15. 

Decreto e regolamento sulla costituzione dei consorzi per le opere idrauliche di eeconda 
categoria, 9 Febbraio 1888, Numero 5231, Serie 3 (Decrees and regulations for the 
organization of associations for liydraulic works of the second class, February 9, 
1888). Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 1888, pp. 8. 

Legge n. 304 — Modificazioni alle disposizioni concernenti le opere idrauliche di 3% 
4' e 5' categoria, 7 Luglio 1902 (Law amending the provisions regarding hydraulic 
works of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th classes, July 7, 1902). 

Legge n. 333 — Riparto delle spese per le opere di bonifica dichiarate di 1* categoria, 
7 Luglio 1902 (Apportionment of expenses for hydraulic works of the first class, 
July 7, li)02). 

Ministero dei Lavori Pubblici. Testo Unico della legge sulle l)onificazioui delle paludi 
e dei terreni paludosi, approvato con R. D. 22 Marzo 1900, n. 195 (Codification 
of the laws relating to reclamation of swamps and w-et lands, approved by Royal 
decree, March 22, 1900). Rome: Tipo-Litografia del Genio Civile, 1900, i)p. 37 
and tables. 

. Regolamento per la esecuzione del testo unico della legge sulle bonificazioni 

delle paludi e dei tv'rreni paludosi, 22 Marzo IIKX), n. 195, approvato con R. D. 
21 OttoLro 1900, u. 409 (Regulations for the execution of the preceding codifica- 
tion, approved by lioyal decree Octol^er 21, 1900). Rome: Tipo-Litografia del 
Genio Civile, 1901, pp. 71. 

Ufl&cio Tecnico della Provincia di Cremona. Studio di Massima per la bonifica del 
territorio inferiore Cremonese-Mantovano (Investigation of methods for the 
reclamation of the lower Cremona-Mantova territory). Cremona: Leoni. 1896, 
pp. 155. 

. AUegati (Appendices). Cremona: I^ieoni, 1896. 


Carlo, Marehi. Cenni ptorici del Polesine, Provinda <li Rovigo (Historical skeU'h of 
tlie Polesina, Province of Rovigo). MS. 

Barcarini, Alfrtnlo. Siil Coinpimeiito delle oj)ere di bonificazione o miUa definitiva 
rej^olazione delle aocjiie nelle mareinme Tosoane (RejM)rt upon completion of 
reclamation workH and upon final regulation of the water in the sea marshes of 
Tuscany). Rome: E. Rinimlxji^hi, 1873; pp. 237 and tables. 

Amenduni, Giovanni, Sulle oj^ere di bonificazione della plaga litoranea dell' agro 
Romano che comprende le paludi e gli stagni di Ontia, Porto, Maccarese e delle 
terre vallive di Stnicc.iacapi>a, Bact^no, Pantano, I^iigo dei Tartari (Reclamation 
workn in the coast country of Rome, etc.). Rome: P>e<li Botta, 1884, \ip. 21 A. 

. Tavole (Maps). Rome: Kredi Botta, 1884. 

Ixjgge nulla istituzione di caiJse di depowiti e prestiti per tutto il regno e modo di 
amministrarle, 17 Maggio 1863, Numero 1270 (Law for the organization of banks 
of deposit and loan for the entire Kingdom and manner of their administration, 
May 17, 1863). Turin: Gazzetta del Popolo, 1878, pp. 8. 

Pastore, (liovanni. Manuale dell* utente delle acque d' irrigazione, ossia formole 
pratiche maggiormente in uso per calcolare la portata delle bocche di derivazione 
pill conmni e relative tavole (Manual for the use of irrigation water, with for- 
umlas used in calculating the discharges of diversion gates, and tables of equiva- 
lents). Mortara: Botto, 1894, pp. 85. 

Nazzani, L Trattato di Idraulica Pratica (Treatise on Hydraulic Practice). Milan: 
Ulrico Hoepli, 1886, pp. 441. 

Colombo, G. Manuale dell' Ingegnere Civile e Industriale (Manual of Civil and 
Industrial Engineering). Milan: Ulrico Hoepli, 1902, pp. 423. 

Chapter IT. 


Three typical canal systems in this province: The Naviglio Grande, and the Villoresi 
and Vettabbia canals — Methods employed in measuring and distributing water — 
Preparing land for irrigation — Manner of applying water to crops — Cost and 
duty of water — Fontanili or springs used in irrigation. 

Lombardy, because of its central location in the valley and the his- 
toric and agricultural importance of its irrigation works, was the most 
appropriate place to begin this study, and Milan, the chief commercial 
city of Italy and the railroad center of the valle}-, was a convenient 
starting place. There was another reason for making Milan the start- 
ing point. Speaking of its rapid growth and prosperity, a recent 
writer said: "Milan, like Venice, owes, every thing to water." Its 
use in irrigation has brought enormous returns from the surrounding 
land, its use for power is making Lombardy the manufacturing center 
of Italy, and its use in canals for navigation has connected the city 
with T[>oth the mountains and the sea, bringing to its people cheap 
building material, cheap fuel, and cheap food. 

The plan of the investigation was to spend most of the time in the 
field to learn from actual observation and inquiry how the canals were 
operated and how water was divided, and to ascertain what crops were 
grown and the methods used by farmers in applying water. Such 
inspection can not be made hastilj'^, and there was time for personal 
visits to only a few canals in the province. The best way seemed to be 
to select certain typical ones and use those to illustrate the entire 
system. After conferring with the Government engineers and with 
the superintendents of a number of canals having offices in Milan, it 
was decided that three canals would fairly illustrate both the agricul- 
tural and engineering features of irrigation in Lombardy. The three 
chosen were the Naviglio Grande, the Villoresi, and the Vettabbia. 
Each of these belongs to a different class with respect to its ownership 
and operation. The Naviglio Grande belongs to the Government and 
is used for both irrigation and navigation. The Villoresi is a modern 
corporation canal which furnishes water to customers for irrigation and 
for the operation of important power plants. The Vettabbia is man- 
aged as a cooperative entei*prise by the irrigators who live under it. 





The Naviglio Gmnde (Plates I, II, and III) is the largest of three 
Government canals entering Milan. The Martesana Canal on the east 
connects the city with the Adda River; the magnificent canal of Pavia, 
one of the great public works with which Napoleon endowed Italy, 
connects the city on the south with the Ticino and the Po. The 
Naviglio (irande is the waterway to the west and unites the city with 
the Ticino River and the quarries, vineyards, and factories around 
Lake Maggiore. All throe canals are connected at Milan by the 
Naviglio Interno, a circular canal 3.5 miles long which occupies the 
moat of the ancient city and makes it possible to deliver cargoes from 
one canal to the others and to different parts of the city. 

All of these artificial waterways are of ancient origin. The Marte- 
sana Canal was con.structed under the direction of the Duke Sforza I 
in 145T. The canal connecting Pavia with Milan was begun about the 
middle of the fourteenth century, but at that time it was used for irri- 
gation only. The improvements which made it navigable were begun 
hy order of Napoleon in 1805 and completed in 1819. The Naviglio 
Grande is the oldest of the three and is historically the most interest- 
ing. For more than seven hundred years it has been a highway of 
commerce, as it was begun in 1177. It was nearly a hundred yeiirs 
before the canal reached Milan and was connected with the moat of 
the city in 1257. It is supposed to have been begun bj^ the monks, 
because only the nobles and religious orders had at that time the 
means required for carrying out such enterprises. One fact con- 
nected with the completion of this canal has a special interest to engi- 
neers. The locks which connect it with the moat of the ancient city 
were probably the earliest structures of this kind used in navigation, 
and according to trustworthy tradition were designed and constructed 
by the great engineer-painter, Leonardo da Vinci. 

The present engineer of the Naviglio Grande, Giavana Grillo, kindly 
made arrangements for a trip through the canal by boat. Accom- 
panied by Engineer Grillo and the superintendent of the first section 
of the canal, we started at the head and spent a day floating past the 
towns, factories, and fertile fields which border the canal, stopping 
wherever there was anything of interest to be studied. From Milan 
to the head of the canal we traveled by rail to Castana, and from there 
by carriage to Tornaventa, a little manufacturing town where there is 
a4,000-horsepower electrical plant equipped with American machinery. 

This railway trip was through irrigated farms. The fields were 
dotted with mulberry trees, showing that the growing and feeding of 
silkworms is an important source of income to the farmers. In some 
places they bordered the fields; in others they were planted in rows 
varying from 40 to 100 feet apart and from 20 to 100 feet apart in the ^. * 



rows. There seemed to be no uniformity in the plan of planting or in 
the treatment the trees received. The indifference regarding the plan 
of planting probably arises from the fact that the trees seem to cause 
little injury to crops. Nearly the whole of the top is removed in the 
spring when the leaves are being fed, so that the trees cause scarcely 
any shade in the early part of the season. The tops are always kept 
low and small for convenience in picking the leaves. So far as could 
be observed, the yields of corn and clover were as great in the fields 
where there were mulberry trees as in those where there was none. 

Everywhere in Lombardy much land is given over to trees and 
brush. Nearly all roads have a brush border. The fields ai*e sepai^ated 
by rows of trees, and the banks of ditches and canals are lined with 
them. Where the right of way of the railway was not otherwise used, 
it was nearly always covered with a dense growth of acacia. The 
reason for this is the need of fuel. There are no coal deposits in Italy 
and both wood and coal are expensive, and the high brush which grows 
along these roadsides and ditches is cut down every few years and the 
fagots stacked away in barns and outbuildings like grain and straw, 
furnishing the farmers fuel for both cooking and heating. 

Above the railway station at Castana the wagon road crosses the 
highest canal line. We traveled for some distance past land farmed 
without irrigation. In the irrigated portion of America irrigation 
and aridity are alwa3\s associated, and the contrast between the barren- 
ness above the ditches and the productiveness i>elow them is one of 
the most striking and interesting features of our irrigation develop- 
ment. It is otherwise in Italy, and one soon gets rid of the idea that 
irrigation is a feature of agriculture only where crops can not be grown 
without it. The fields above the ditches were being cultivated in the 
same wa}^ as those below, and the same crops w^ere being grown. 
Although the sun was intensely hot and the roads white with dust, 
the grass which grew along the roadside above the ditch was as green 
and fresh as one would be likely to find at the same season of the year 
in Indiana or Illinois. The clover and corn fields looked as well as 
they would in soil no more fertile in either of those two States. In 
the clover fields the first crop had been cut and the second was well 
advanced. The corn crop would have been considered a poor yield in 
the Mississippi Valle}^ but the land was not suited to growing corn. 
The fields whose onlv moisture had come from mins had what would 
have been considered average crops in the United States, but seen 
directly in contrast with the luxuriant growth and beautiful green of 
the corn and clover fields below the ditches, they showed what a factor 
in production irrigation can be made. 

The head of the Naviglio Grande at Tornavento is in a narrow 
valley where the river winds between high, steep bluffs, from the tops 
of which there is a beautiful view of the country and river valley. 


The distance from Milan is 31 miles. From Tornavento, the head, 
to Buflfalora, 13 miles below, the canal skirts the river valley, then it 
leaves the river and turns eastward across the plain. These first 13 
miles of the canal show that it was built at a time when hydraulic 
engineering was in its infancy. The easiest way to get rid of exces- 
sive grades was to lengthen the canal by making it more crooked, and 
this was done. The same cause probably accounts for-the great irregu- 
larities of boljj breadth and depth. It varies in width from 75 to 165 
feet, and in depth from 4.5 feet to 15 feet. The grades are not less 
erratic, ranging from almost a level in a section 2.5 miles in length 
near the bridge of San Christofero to a fall of S feet to the mile in the 
fii*st 3 miles. The excessive grade at the head is now being corrected. 

The most impoiiant structures connected with the canal are the dam 
and retaining walls at the head. This dam is 918.5 feet in length and 
varies in breadth from 31 to 58 feet. The greatest part of the struc- 
ture is concrete, partly held in place by piles and horizontal beams of 
wood. Over this mass of masonry and concrete a pavement of cut 
stone has been placed, very closely fitted and bound together with iron 
dowels. The dam extends diagonally upstream, but does not reach 
entirely across, about 215 feet of the channel of the river on the oppo- 
site side from the canal being left open, and the dam itself is sub- 
merged at all seasons, except extreme low water. The stability of this 
dam is shown by the fact that it has stood for two hundred years, 
although buffeted at times by tremendous floods. Both sides of the 
canal at the head are protected by heavy walls of granite masonry, the 
wall on the upstream side being vertical and on the lower side inclined 
at an angle of 30 degrees. The bottom for some distance is paved 
with large granite blocke doweled together. 

The discharge of the Ticino varies widely in different years, having 
reached 176,000 cubic feet per second. In 1868. a flood submerged the 
entire valley at the head gate, doing great damage to the country. On 
the day of my visit the river was carrying about 35,000 cubic feet 
of water per second. Between 3,000 and 4,000 cubic feet per second of 
this was entering the canal. It has a right to only 2,224 cubic feet of 
water per second, of which 212 cubic feet per second has to be delivered 
in Milan; 2,012 cubic feet per second is used for irrigation and power 
or lost through seepage. Therefore, nearly one-half of the water enter- 
ing the head was being turned back into the river through waste ways. 
The canal has no head gates on account of its use in navigation and 
this has made the regulation of the supply during floods a serious 
problem to those who operate the canal. To accomplish this a large 
number of waste wavs have been constructed in the first 5 miles of the 
canal. There are in all 185 openings in these waste ways, the giites 
Being of wood set in masonry structures. Each of these structures has 
from three to six gates which are about 6 feet high and from 3.28 to 6.56 


feet wide. Nearly all are liftxnl witli an iron crowbar used a« a lever, 
the end l)ein^ thrust into holes in the gate stems. The wat(»r master 
said that gates 1 meter (3.28 feet) wide were most satisfactory, as 
the wider ones are hard to operate when the canal is full of water. 
During flood seasons as high as 40,000 cubic feet per second has en- 
tered the head of the canal. The permanent gates are unec^ual to the 
regulation of such volumes of water and can not be operated quick 
enough in case of sudden storm. To meet such emergencies there is 
another opening in the canal near the head which seems to be as 
effective as it is primitive. It is a channel leading back to the 
river considei*ablv wider than the canal and excavated to the level 
of its bottom. Across this a row of posts arc placed 8 feet apait. 
To these posts are bolted two timbers, the lower one l>eing about S 
inches and the upper one 5 feet above the bottom. These timbers 
make a continuous support for a lining of willow brush (> or 7 feet 
long placed against it, and thick encmgh to furnish a su})stantial back- 
ing for a strip of burlap which runs along in front of it and is tacked 
through the brush to the stringers at the back (PI. I). The pressure 
of the water holds the Imrlap dose against the ])rush, which has suffi- 
cient stiffness to support it. Although the water contains practically 
no sediment, this burlap made an almost water-tight lilting, there 
being scarcely any leakage. When a flood comes the opening of this 
waste way is a matter of only a few seconds. Beginning at the upper 
end the burlap is torn off and the water rushes through, carrying the 
brush awav with it. 

All these features of the canal will soon be changed. The first 5 
miles are })eing reconstructed to utilize the heavy fall in this distance 
for power purposes and to regulate the (juantitj^ of water entering the 
canal by a head gate. The new head gate will be about a quarter of a 
mile from the river. It will be of masonrv and of the most substantial 
character. In connection with the head gate there will be a series of 
locks for the entrance of boats and for their discharge into the old 
canal. The grade of the old canal for the first G miles varies from 4.5 
to 8 feet per mile. The grade of the new canal will be I.OIJ fiH't p(*r 
mile. The gain in grade gives a drop of '27 feet, which will furnish 
6,000 effective horsepower. Plate II gives a view of the old and the 
new canal al)out 4 miles below the head. These improvements are 
being made ])y a company to which the (Jovernment granted a fran- 
chise to run for sixty ^ears. It pays the Government a tax of (JO 
cents a year for each horsepower, and at the expiration of the f ranch is(» 
turns the entire work over to the Government. The estimated cost 
of the work is $i7L>0,000. This, with the $:5,60O yearly rental, is the 
price paid by the comi)any to the (TOV(*rnment for the concession. 
The pros|K»cts are, however, that the enterprise will be highly profit- 
able, as the company has already contracted the greater part of its 


power at from $30 to $40 per horsepower per year. The disposal of 
all the available power, which is practically assured, will mean a 
gross income of more than $180,000 a 3'ear, of which the estimated 
net profit, excluding accident, is t)lOO,(K)0 a year, the principal items 
of expense being the per cent interest on the original investment 
and the Government rental. 


To those familiar with disputes over the quantity of water delivered 
and used, due to our absence of adequate methods of niejisurement, 
the history of the Naviglio Grande for the first one hundred years is 
most instructive. Jt was a continuous record of quarrels over the 
water supply and the methods of dividing it, 

The canal was built without an}^ well-defined regulations as to how 
much water each customer was to receive and without any established 
S3'stem of measurement. Irrigators were permitted to take water as 
they pleased, and used it without restraint. Out of this combination 
of ignomnce and neglect there grew up interests which exercised 
rights realh^ belonging to the Government, and which afterwards 
opposed persistently any effort at regulation. 

In the earlier years rights to its water were given away in the most 
reckless manner to reward private services, or to purchase the sup- 
port of nobles or the church. Another abuse was farming out the 
rentals of the canal, which sacrificed the farmers to increase the reve- 
nues of those who might control the water supply. The first sys- 
tematic attempt at measurement was made in 1376 and the unit 
employed was the quantity of water required to drive a mill wheel 
and was defined as the flow through a rectangular orifice 4 inches 
high and 18 inches wide, with the bottom of tlie orifice 8 inches above 
the bottom of the canal. As the (;anal in some places is 15 feet deep 
and in other places only 4.5 feet, there was a wide variation in the 
•volume dischaiged. Seventy years later the extmvagant gmnts of 
rights to water in the canal led the reigning duke of Milon to annul 
all rights to water in all of the rivers, canals, and streams of the 
Milanese territory. This sweeping abrogation of private rights 
threatened to bring on a revolution and led to its being limited to 
rivers and canals which were the property of the State, and even this, 
in the case of the Naviglio Grande, was never imposed. 

In 1503 the canal passed under the control of King Louis XII of 
France, who attempted to lessen the disorder prevailing by the crea- 
tion of a commission to improve the methods of measuring and deliv- 
ering water from the canal. This connnission made an order requiring 
that the lK)ttoni of all measuring gates l)e placed l.J>2 feet above the 
bottom of the canal; that every orifice shoukl be cut in a single stone 
slab no more than 3 inches thick; that all should have a uniform 


height of i inches; and that IwtwGon thu onticc and the outlet gate in 
the caiial bank there should ))g a chanibei' IT) feet long. The form of 
meisuriiig hox now in use wa.s the design ol" ''""<'in"Triiafnm'i SoMati. 

Soidati's efforts to secure the acceptance of his design lasted more 
than five years. So sti-ong was the opposition that it was only after a 
commission of ten of the most eminent hiwyers and engineer.^ of 


Milan had approved his device that it could be put into use, and its 
final adoption found him reduced to poverty, deserted by his clients, 
and embittered by persecution. 

Every measuring box seen along the canal was of the pattern recom- 
mended by Soldati. The unit of measurement is the quantity of water 
which flows freely under the influence of the pressure through a rec- 
tangular opening, having a height of 4 Italian inches (7.86 United 
States inches), a breadth of 3 Italian inches (5.72 Pnited States inches), 
and a constant pressure above the upper edge of the orifice of 2 
Italian inches (3.93 United States inches). In all those observed a 
wooden regulating gate working in grooves in masonry was set in the 
side of the canal. The gate stem was locked in front with a key 
carried only by the water master, who raises or lowers the gate in 
order to maintain the required pressure on the orifice below. The 
diagi*am (fig. 4) gives the details of one of the measuring boxes 


All the sediment coming from the mountains is deposited in Lake 
Maggiore. The river was perfectly clear, fish could be distinctly seen 
in the bottom of the canal where the water was 6 feet deep, and 
although the clear water made the canal an attractive swimming pool 
for numerous groups of boys, and caused scores of washerwomen (PI. 
Ill) to line its banks in every village, it has certain drawbacks for the 
canal management. Clear water offers no check to seepage losses, 
which in places are heavy. Measurements showed a loss of 141 cubic 
feet of water per second in the first 4 miles. This rate continued 
throughout the entire length of the canal would absorb about one- 
fourth of the supply. Clear water is also favorable to the I'apid 
growth of aquatic plants, and the removal of water grass is one of the 
problems of the Naviglio Grande. In a number of places men on 
boats were cutting the grass with long-handled scythes. When cut 
the grass floated off down the canal and doubtless caused more or less 
trouble by choking up measuring boxes. For two hundred years it 
has been the practice to clean the canal in March, a time when water 
is least needed by irrigators. At this time a temporary dam is placed 
at the head to shut out the water. Ordinarily 12 people operate the 
canal; but during flood seasons sometimes 100 men are employed. 

Not much was learned of the income of the Government from this 
canal; but it was manifest that it is not a money-making property 
and it is doubtful if it pays operating expenses. Navigation is free. 
Many of the rights to water in the canal entitle their owners to its 
free delivery, the Government getting nothing for the water or for its 
expenses in distributing it. Although the Government at one time 
abrogated the ancient vested rights, it has been compelled to recognize 

32656— No. 144, pt 1—04 3 


them, and the reckless grants of water made in the early years of the 
canal's history are now bonanzas to owners who control them, but a 
burden to the taxpayers. Irrigators who are not so favored are 
inclined to regard these ancient rights as a nuisance because, as a i*ule, 
they^ result neither in improvement to the canal nor in benefit to any 
water users who help to support it. 

Bates for the water rented vary greatly, some being based on 
ancient privileges. As a rule the rentals for old rights are much 
lower than those charged under agreements recently made. What 
little water the Government is able to dispose of without restrictions 
is delivered to farmers for $180 per cubic foot per second for the 
entire year, or for $140 per cubic foot per second for summer irriga- 
tion. There are over 100 ancient rights to water for mills and power, 
most of which are free. No perpetual rights to water are now being 
sold, the usual limit for franchises or concessions being thirty years. 
The annual charge for water for power purposes is very low. 

The canal is classified by the Government as a navigation canal, and 
is under the charge of the department of public works instead of the 
treasury department, as would be the case if it were classified as an 
irrigation work. 

The utilization of water power is adding to the population and pros- 
perity of the country along the upper end of this canal. 

There are few places in the world, perhaps, where the growing 
influence of water for industrial uses is more apparent than in the 
valley of the Ticino, and especially along the upper half of the 
Naviglio Grande, and certainly few places in the world where the indus- 
trial changes which are increasing the struggle for extended and 
intensive use of the water are more evident. 


FXTBNisHnra wateb fob ibbioation and po web at annual 


In 1850, an engineer named Villoresi began the survey of a high-line 
canal which was to start at Lake Maggiore and wind its way among 
the foothills which border that body of water until it reached the plain 
north of the Po, and cover all the valley lands north of Milan between 
the Ticiuo and Adda rivers. Its construction would have involved the 
crossing of many miles of broken country where the outlaj^ would have 
been enormous. Men with money did not look upon it with favor. 
There was another drawback to the enterprise. It was not new; it 
had been talked about for centuries. Six hundred years before, the 
channel of a great ditch had been cut part way around the river 
bluffs and then abandoned. The land it was to have watered needed 
to be irrigated, and there was water in the river for this puipose. 
Thinking of the crops which had been ruined by drought, farmers 


r ' jUtr 

Fio. 1,— Scene on Naviguo Grande. 

Koaii on right in the lowpnih. KfRiires in fiirctfTOund nrv wdHberwomen. 

FiQ. 2.— Scene on Naviglio Grande. 

Farm village bordi^ring ihe canal and arohed masonry bridges trosdng 



not i: 













of > 





















anied the abandoned canal "The Canal of the Lost Bread." Villoresi 
ad to overcome the fears caused by this failure, but he ^as a ^man of 
leans and determination and clung to the project. It took eighteen 
evLYS to obtain from the Government a concession for the canal and 
ecu re the special partnership act required to provide the large 
mount of capital which the work would cost. The city of Milan 
•ffered to aid the enterprise by a gift of $1,000,000, but even this did 
tot secure sufficient subscriptions to the capital stock to enable Villo- 
e«i to begin the construction, and he died in 1880 without seeing the 
vork begun, after spending thirty years of his life and all his fortune, 
lisappointed and poor. 

Following Villoresi's death the city of Milan oflFered to undertake 
:he work as a municipal enterprise if the farmers would agree to pur- 
'hase 353 cubic feet of water per second. This they would not do, and 
:he city abandoned the enterprise. There were two causes for these 
faihires. Farmers were required to sign in advance perpetual con- 
bracts to take water, which would have been equivalent to placing per- 
petual mortgages upon their farms. Farmers feel that there is hazard 
enough in signing such contracts after the canals are built, but in this 
case they were asked to sign them in advance of construction. Scores 
of canal companies in the West have encountered the same hesitation. 
It has delayed the construction of many canals and caused the financial 
failure of many more. The other reason for the failure to secure capi- 
tal was the opposition of the owners of prior rights in the Ticino River 
below the point where the Villoresi was to be taken out. Altogether 
these amoimt to 4,237 cubic feet per second. As the river carries less 
than 2,000 cubic feet per second at low water, it was manifest that 
there would be a shortage for some canal. The holders of the prior 
rights feared the new canal would lessen their supply or subject them 
to anxiety and expense in preventing this. Arrangements had to be 
made which would remove the fears of the holders of prior rights 
before the Government would issue a concession for the new canal. 
This was done by building the head works in such a way that they 
would let flow down stream the entire amount l)elonging to the holders 
of prior rights below before any water could be taken into the Villo- 
resi. As a further guarantee the Government undertook to maintain 
a gauge rod in the river above the canal and to see that the Villoresi's 
gates were closed until more than 4,237 cubic feet per second belong- 
ing to the other ditches was running in the stream. 

The only time when there is a shortage in the water in the Villoresi 
is in April, and the water which runs to waste in the flood season would 
supply this many times over. To relieve this shortage the Govern- 
ment has given the canal company a right to convert Lake Maggiore 
into a storage reservoir. As this lake has an area of over 150,000 




acres, a dam 1 foot high would furnish an acre-foot of water for every 
acre of land now irrigated under the canal. It i« proposed, however, 
to build a dam several feet high in order to secure an additional water 
supply for power purposes. Work on the dam was begun this year. 

After a third of a century of fruitless effort a corporation known 
as the Italian Society for Aqueducts offered to build the canal with- 
out any advance contracts with farmers if the city of Milan would 
give a bonus of $400,000, payable in ten annual installments. The 
city did this and the Villoresi Canal, one of the monumental irrigation 
works of the world, was begun. No irrigation work in America equals 
it in the strength and perfection of its engineering features. From 
the dam at the head to the smallest measuring box on the laterals the 
work has been planned and carried out with a finish and careful con- 
sideration of the service it is to render that made its inspection a mat- 
ter of continued pleasure. 

Although the canal has the name, it is not the original project of 
Villoresi. Instead of starting at the outlet of Lake Maggiore, its 
head gate is 15 miles below, being halfway between the lake and the 
head gate of the Naviglio Grande. Like the latter canal, it runs along 
the bluff east of the river until it reaches the summit, when it makes 
a sharp turn to the east and crosses the plain about 9 miles north of 
Milan, watering all the country between the canal and the city. 

The head gate is located just below an abrupt bend in the river 
where the entire force of the current is thrown against it. Looking 
down at the headworks from the top of the bluff, it was manifest that 
irrigation engineers in Italy have been given a freer hand to spend 
money in making their structures enduring than has thus far been 
accorded engineers in America. Plate V shows this view. To meet 
the requirements of the Government the headworks had to embrace 
a number of structures. The dam interrupted the passage of boats, 
hence a navigation canal with suitable locks had to be provided. A 
weir had to be constructed which would guarantee the automatic 
delivery of the water belonging to the holders of prior rights below. 
The company furnishes 282 cubic feet of water per second to a private 
canal, jind has both a power and an irrigation canal of its own. 

The figure in the upper left-hand comer of Plate V shows in outline 
the cross section of the dam, which is built of concrete faced with cut 
granite masonry. It is 950 feet long, 78 feet wide, and 12 feet high, 
protected at the foot by a masonry platform which extends downstream 
50 feet. Both ends of the dam are protected by masonry wing walls. 
The one on the shore opposite the head gate is 164 feet long, while the 
one on the canal side is over 2,000 feet long and serves as a division 
wall between the canal and the river. At the upper end it is of solid 
masonry; at the lower end it broadens out into an earth embankment 
with a masonry retaining wall, as shown in the illustration. 

U. S. D*pt. of Agi., 


ft O 


Fio. 1.— Head Gate a 

—Union of an Irriqation ano a Drain Ditch. 
II. Inigatiim dIU-h: b. drain dltt-h. 



All the head gates, regulating gates, weirs, and lateral boxes on this 
CEDal are made according to stajidard tjpes. The gates are all lifted 
by screws, the stems of which are covered bj neat metal caps locked 
down by the water masters. Figure 6 shows the plan and elevation 

Fia. 7.— Vertical and 

of a standard gate at the head of a lateral and gives the details of a 
standard weir placed in the heads of laterals. 

Figures 7 and 8 show the plan, vertical and cross section elevations, 
of one of the typical structures on a secondary canal. 


Fia. S.— <}roQnd pIsD uid tongltudliiaL section vt regulating gHtes. bulD, and mewurlng weir at the 




This canal is of special interest to American irrigators because it 
belongs to the same type as the largest irrigation works in the United 
States and its operation strongly resembles that of such canals as the 
Amity, High Line, and Del Norte in Colorado, the Wyoming Devel- 
opment Canal Company in Wyoming, the Bear River Canal in Utah, 
the Sunnyside Canal in Washington, and the Imperial Canal in Cali- 
fornia. The arrangements for delivering water have been worked 
out with more system than is shown in many similar entei*prises in the 
United States. 

The territory served by the canal is divided into four main districts, 
each of which is supplied by one or more branches. Several of these 
secondary canals are of large size, carrying over 300 cubic feet of 
water per second. The farmers who live under the branch canals are 
united into two classes of associations, one of which is a subdivision 
of the other. The field laterals that branch off from the secondary 
canals have as a rule each its own group of farmers united into a 
society called a ^^comizio." These together have representatives in 
the larger society which embraces the whole of the secondary canal 
or all of one of its more important branches. This larger society is 
called a "comprensorio." 

The canal company does not as a rule retail water to the individual 
farmer. It sells it at wholesale to the comprensori, and these retail 
it to the comizi. The members of each comizio arrange for the 
division of the quantity of water they purchase among themselves. 
There are, however, exceptions to this rule. Some farmers refuse to 
go into the association, and to these the company sells water as indi- 
viduals, the modification of the general plan being shown in paragraph 
5 on page 45. 

In selling water to these associations the canal company does not 
always charge the same price. Like a railway it charges for the 
distance the water is carried. The expense of delivering water at the 
lower end of the canal is greater than at the upper end. There is 
greater loss from seepage and evaporation, hence associations at the 
lower end are charged a higher price. Fortunately for these farmers 
the water they need costs them no more than farmers at the other end 
pay, because they can get along with a less amount. The soil in the 
eastern part of the district having more clay requires less water for 
its irrigation. 

The cubic meter per second (35.31 cubic feet per second) is the unit 
of volume employed in the wholesale transactions. This is usually 
the basis of the contracts between the canal company and the com- 
prensori. In the retail transactions the liter per second (0.035 cubic 
foot per second) is the imit employed. This is the usual unit where 
water is sold to comizi and is measured at the heads of their laterals. 


Among the members of a comizio no attempt is made to measure the 
water. They make their division on a time basis, each one taking the 
full i^mount purchased for the number of hours per week, which rep- 
resents his part of the payment. Thus, if 7 cubic feet of water per 
second is delivered at the head of a lateral, the farmer who pays for 
one-fourteenth of it would be allowed the whole amount for twelve 
hours each week. 

The canal company does not allow farmers to sell water to one 
another. The right of use can not be shifted from the land described 
in the rental contracts without the consent of the canal company. A 
farmer is not allowed to irrigate one of his fields with water he has 
purchased for the irrigation of another. 

It is not as easy for canal companies in Italy to be certain that regu- 
lations of this kind are obsei*ved as it is in America, because the farms 
are so much smaller. Many of the farmers under this canal do not 
cultivate more than 10 or 16 acres. The areas under the Villoresi vary 
from 2.5 to 740 acres, and the canal company's maps show the loca- 
tion and boundaries of each tract. 

The canal company employs a large force of water masters to 
enforce these regulations. Each has about 6 miles of main canal and 
12 miles of secondary canal to look after. From these secondary 
canals smaller canals lead to the field laterals, fku^h field lateral is 
designed to have 20 or 30 boxes on it to measure the supply to 
farmers. The work of the water masters and that of the farmers 
themselves in their various associations is under the direction of the 
canal company's division engineers. A day in August was spent with 
Antonio Bossi, who has charge of the most important division of the 
canal. He has been with the canal since its construction, twenty-two 
years, and has the supervision of 250 miles of secondary and branch 
lateral canals, which supply water to five of the seventeen comprensori 
or larger associations with which the canal company does business, 
the mileage under his direction in these diflFerent associations being as 


Magenta ^ 83.7 

Corbetta 86.8 

Vittuone 23.6 

Arluno 34. 1 

Bareggio 12. 4 


Irrigators under the Villoresi Canal can obtain water in one of 
three ways: 

(1) Water is furnished at 30 lire per liter per second ($166 per cubic 
foot per second) as an annual rental, with 5 lire ($1) additional annual 
payment on the purchase price of a perpetual water right in the canal. 


These annual payments of 5 lire are to continue for forty years, 
making the cost of a perpetual water right to 1 liter per second, $40. 

(2) Water is furnished at 30 to 40 lire for one hour's run each week 
of 200 liters per second ($5.80 to $7.75 for one hour's run each week, 
of 7 cubic feet per second). 

(3) The canal company sells water to farmers' associations at whole- 
sale under special agreements, placing the expenses and supervision 
of deliveiy on the associations. 

The canal company each year publishes large posters giving the 
terms under which it will furnish water. The following is copied 
from one of these notices, and is substantially the basis followed from 
1898 to 1903, inclusive, in supplying water to irrigators under the 
third plan outlined above: 

Italian Society for Aqueducts ( Villoresi Canal). 


(Notice to the aiHociationa of Turblgo, Robecchetto, Castano, Cuf^iriono, Magenta, Corbetta, Vittuone, 

Arluno, Bareggio, Valle Olona, Rho.) 

The society (Villoresi Canal Company) notifies the ineml^ers of the organized asso- 
ciations that during the summer season of the year 1902 water will he furnished 
according to the following rules: 

(1) From April 15 to September 10, 200 liters of water may be used during a 
period of one hour each week, 35 lire. 

(2) From June 30 to September 10, 200 liters of water may be used during a period 
of one hour each week, 30 lire. 

Applications for water under the conditions of paragraph 1 must be made not later 
than April 10, and applications for water under the conditions of paragraph 2, not 
later than May 3. No applications for water under either class will be granted after 
these dates, respectively. 

The society reserves to itself the right of limiting the use of water under both 
class 1 and class 2 to August 20, without reduction of price. 

(3) In addition to the prices provided for in classes 1 and 2, the users shall pay 5 
lire for every hour during which they receive water, to meet the expenses of operat- 
ing and maintaining the secondary canals. 

(4) The first irrigation period shall occur within eight days after the above- 
mentioned date for the beginning of the irrigation turn, pursuant to an agreement 
with the board of directors, but the irrigation period may be changed subsequently, 
if necessary. 

(5) The delivery and measurement of the water for all the applicants belonging to 
each district shall be made altogether at the modules at the heads of the distributing 
ditches, either in the secondary or in the main canal, and the water shall be distrib- 
uted by the superintendents and water masters of the associations, without any 
responsibility on the part of the company for such distribution. 

(6) If the aggregate of the irrigation periods requested for any one weir (see para- 
graph 5) exceeds one hundred and sixty-eight hours, the society may increase the 
amount of water to be distributed and proportionately decrease the length of the 
irrigation periods, without liability for damages or compensation. 

(7) Applications must be made at the ofiSce of the society in Milan via Paleocapa 
No. 4, on holidays from 9 a. m. to 12 m., and on other days from 9 a. m. to 12 m., and 
from 2 to 5 p. m., or to the assistants. And payments are to be made at the time 
applications are filed. 


(8) If for any reason whatever it is impoasible to grant application, either wlioliy 
or in part, for water to be delivered over a weir (see paragraph 5), the applicant shall 
be reimbursed only in a sum proportional to the deficiency in the amount of water 
supplied and to the period during which such deficiency continues, without recourse 
for any damages whatever. 

(9) Applications made by those who are not the owners of the land to be irri- 
gated will not be granted unless accompanied by written authorizations from the 

Milan, March 1, 190S. 

The Vic?e-Director, 

Ing. Giovanni Schiavoni. 

Some of the associations, have special agreements under which they 
receive water on a plan different from that shown by the above notice. 
The association of Corbetta pays 45,000 lire ($8,785) per year and 
receives 1.8 cubic meters (63.6 cubic feet) of water per second from 
April 2 to September 21, and an additional 2.2 cubic meters (77.7 
cubic feet) of water per second from June 20 to August 25. This is 
an average of 93.7 cubic feet per second for the entire season from 
April 2 to September 21, at J93.75 per cubic foot per second for the 
season. This contract between the association and the canal company 
is for a term of six years, these long-term contracts being one of the 
interesting features of water-right agreements in Italy. The condi- 
tions of this contract are as follows: 

(3) The water acquired by these users will be measured and delivered partly at 
the measuring weir at the head of the secondary canal at Ck)rbetta and partly at the 
measuring weir of the second district that is supplied from the basin of the above- 
mentioned secondary canal; partly at the measuring weirs of the first and second 
districts, which receive water directly from the main canal. The water will be 
measured and delivered according to the quantities and schedules communicated by 
the officers of the association to the Italian Society. The distribution of water at 
the measuring boxes of the districts along the Corbetta Canal shall be made by the 
association at its own expense, as well as the distribution in the canals of the asso- 
ciation below the modules. The Italian Society will, however, clean, maintain, and 
repair the secondary canal and all the modules for measuring water to the same 
secondary canal and to the districts. 

(4) The above-mentioned water will be distributed to the districts of the Asso- 
ciation of Corbetta by the officers of the association and will be distributed if pos- 
sible in a rotation running through seven days and in a quantity of 200 to 320 water 
liters (7 to 11 cubic feet per second) according to the judgment of the supervising 
coQimittee of the association, taking into consideration the kind of land to be 
watered, the distance from the measuring box, and the kind of distributing ditches 
and laterals. Each subscriber will have the right to use a stream for fourteen min- 
utes for every pertica of meadow and four minutes for every pertica of other crops. 

(5) The water for the lands of those not members of the association will be at 
the disposal of the Italian Society, or its representative, and will have the following 
water hours for each period (see No. 2): To each of the districts « 1, 2, 3, and 4, 

A An official map is made of the irrigated territory included in each association 
and the districts in this territory are numbered. The numbers given in paragraph 
3 refer to the districts as numbered on this official map. The land of nonmembers 
is interspersed with that of members and is watered from the same laterals, but 
under separate agreements. 


five hours; to each of the districts 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, seven hours; and for each of the 
districts 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 21, nine hours. The society has the right to change 
a part of the water from one district to another, but not in such a manner as to give 
more than twelve hours to nonmembers in any district. That part of the period of 
rotation which has not been assigned to those who are not members of the associa- 
tion will be at the free disposal of the association. The parochial prebenda and 
ecclesiastical beneficiaries that have made special arrangements with the Italian 
Society in order to have the same rights as the members (of the association) are con- 
sidered in this case as being members. If any parties who are not yet in the list of 
members desire to enter that list before the month of June, 1903, with the purpose 
of receiving the water under the conditions of this agreement, the ofiicers of the 
association will have the right to give them water so long as this agreement contin- 
ues. The money paid by these parties for water will be divided equally between 
the society and the subscribers to this agreement In this case the society renounces 
a part of the hours it has the right to have under article 3 in the districts belonging 
to the parties that have become parties to this agreement. 

(6) During the six years (paragraph 1) the undersigned consumers must use the 
water purchased only on the lands belonging to themselves, as located on the maps 
of the association or for lands represented by the undersigned consumers in this 
agreement, and located on the maps of the association. In case of violation of this 
rule the society has the right and the association has both the right and the duty of 
cutting oS the water of the consumers who violate the rules. For this stoppage of 
water the consumer has no right to ask damage; on the contrary, the rights of the 
society are unimpaired and the consumer is obliged to pay the price fixed in para- 
graph 5. 

(7) For the water put at the disposal of the undersigned consumers these con- 
sumers obligate themselves and their successors to pay to the Italian Society in Milan, 
in two installments, one on the 15th of June and the other on the 15th of July of 
every year during the present agreement, 45,000 lire, divided among the subscribers 
according to the schedule in paragraph 14. In said sum of 45,000 lire, and in the 
sums to be paid by every subscriber, is included the annual rental for partner- 
ship water and the annual payments for the sinking fund to the Italian Society for 
Aqueducts. The receipts of the society (Villoresi Canal Company) to its customers 
shall show that they have paid the annual sinking fund. If a consumer has not paid 
within fifteen days after the time fixed, the society has the right and the association 
has the right and duty of cutting off the use of water to that consumer under the 
conditions stated in paragraph 5. In any event, this consumer has to pay the society 
interest at the rate of 5 per cent per annum for the amounts that he did not pay at 
the proper time, for the period from the date when due to the date of payment, 
deducting the fifteen days' grace granted as above. 

(8) It is agreed that each consumer shall obligate himself individually and his 
successors to the Italian Society for the amount that he is to pay according to para- 
graph 15. 

(9) All the subscribers to the present agreement obligate themselves to take water 
for all the land shown on the map of the association, both meadow and cultivated 
land. In the fourteenth, fifteenth, and twenty-first districts, the lands which the 
members of the association will not water from the Villoresi Canal during the 
six years of this agreement shall not be considered if the supervising committee of 
the Corbetta Association will admit that they are provided with their own water 
supply. One or more members will be permitted to represent the water belonging 
to members not signing the agreement, assuming all the rights and duties toward 
the Italian Society. Payments for water shall be based upon one pertica of the land 
shown on the map of the association, and at uniform rates for the different kinds of 
land in the different zones of the association. For list of the sums to be jmid by each 


sabecriber see article 14. In these sums are included what Lb to be paid by the sub- 
scribers for partnership water. The payments to the sinking fund of 5 lire for X 
liter are to be added to the sum which each subscriber is to pay to the society. For 
no reason can a subscriber pay less than the price of the water for which he origi- 
nally subscribed. In case the amount raised by the above-specified uniform rates 
and the sums for the sinking fund do not reach a total of 45,000 lire, the subscribers 
obligate themselves, if it is necessary in order to reach that sum, to increase the 
amount they have to pay 5 per cent, excluding their payments to the sinking fund. 

(10) If any members, directly or through their tenants, have already assumed 
obligations for water from the association, or for the rental of water advantageous to 
the Italian Society, it is agreed that if ^said members, or their tenants, do not accept 
the present agreement, those who sign will consent that the association place at the 
disposal of the members not consenting, or their tenants, the water for which they 
have contracted, and the Italian Society for Aqueducts will include in the 45,000 
lire agreed upon the payments to be made by these members, and will be responsi- 
ble for their collection. 

(11) If for any reason the water supply is partially or entirely deficient (articles 1 
and 15) the Italian Society shall refund to the undersigned customers a part of the 
sums paid in, proportional to deficiency and its duration; but no account shall be 
taken of a deficiency in the water supply during the spring time prior to April 15. 
Equal reimbursements shall be made to subscribers in districts in which irrigation is 
forbidden by order of the public authorities. No money shall be refunded by the 
said Italian Society under the last-named condition, provided the suspension cfr pro- 
hibition takes effect after August 15. 

Reimbursements shall be made at the of^ce of the Italian Society in Milan on the 
30th of September of each year in which there is a deficiency in the water supply or 
in which irrigation is prohibited; but it is stipulated that such deficiency or prohibi- 
tion shall not in any way remove the obligation of paying to the Italian Society the 
sums fixed and at the time specified, as provided by article 6. 

(12) If the association finds it necessary because of heavy rains or other reasons 
to reduce the amount of water supplied (see articles 1 and 2), the Italian Society 
for Aqueducts guarantees to arrange for the required reduction within a period of 
forty-eight hours. 

(13) This agreement must be subscribed to on or before February 10, 1898. If at 
that date the amount subscribed has not reached the sum of 45,000 lire, including 
the assessment of 5 per cent provided for in article 9 (last clauses), this agreement 
shall be void and without effect. 

(14) The expense of preparing this agreement, which shall be written in dupli- 
cate, one copy to be kept by the Italian Society and the other by the association, 
and the tax to be paid to the Government, etc., shall be paid by the consumers 
signing hereto in proportion to the shares or sums set opposite their names. In 
order to determine the correct amount of tax due, we declare that in this sum of 
45,000 lire (see article 6) are included 9,089.50 ($1,817.90) for 259.7 liters of partner- 
ship water at 35 lire ($7) per liter already purchased by the subscribers to this 
agreement, in accordance with previous agreements, the taxes arising from which 
have been duly paid, in consequence whereof the amount on which the tax is to be 
levied is to be reduced to 35,910.50 lire annually for six years, or a total of 215,463 
lire ($43,092.60). 

For the summer season of 1903 the canal company sold the associ- 
ation at Magenta 176.6 cubic feet of water per second for $12,363, or 
$70 for a cubic foot per second, as against $93 per cubic foot per sec- 
ond paid by the Corbetta Association. The water was measured 

32656— No. 144, pt 1—04 i 


where the Magenta branch left the secondary canal, and the associa- 
tion had to stand all the losses from seepage in the laterals. This 
varies in diflFerent laterals from 15 to 50 per cent, the average being 
about 30 per cent, making the cost of the water actually used by irri- 
gators around Magenta $100 a season for each cubic foot per second. 


There was abundant evidence of heavy seepage losses from laterals. 
A gravel pit near a cemented lateml was filled with water within 7 
feet of the surface of the surrounding ground. Soon after irrigation 
began in the Corbetta district seepage water filled the subsoil, flooded 
the cellai's of the town of Vittuone, and made it necessary for the 
municipal authorities to build drains for their relief. The town dug 
an intercepting ditch across the higher land back of it, and an outlet 
ditch from this, coming out on the surface below the town. The inter- 
cepting drain caught several cubic feet per second of the seepage water, 
which the city authorities sold to the irrigators below the town, mak- 
ing the work pay a handsome revenue. 

In several other sections under this canal the soil water had flooded 
the cellars of residences and dairies, turned the fields into bogs, spoiled 
crops, and killed the mulberry trees. These evils became so general 
that a law was passed requiring the canal company to either drain the 
land or close its ditches. Since neither the canal company nor the 
farmers wanted the ditches closed, an agreement was made under 
which they are to share the expense of drainage, the canal company 
paying 40 per cent and the farmers 60 per cent. These drainage 
works are being planned and built on the same solid and comprehen- 
sive scale as the irrigation canals and laterals. 

The drainage agreement between the company and the Corbetta 
Association provides for the construction of a drainage canal to carry 
106 cubic feet of water per second, and a number of other drains rang- 
ing in capacity from 17 to 70 cubic feet per second. A copy of this 
agreement is given below. 

Whereas, according to the provisions of paragraph 112 of the regulations of the 
Corbetta Association, the Italian Society for Aqueducts is under obligations to build 
a drainage canal for removing running water, with a capacity of not less than 3 cubic 
meters per second (105.93 cubic feet); and 

Whereas in the assembly of April 29, 1894, the members of the association decided 
to build the above-mentioned canal; and 

Whereas, by the decrees of the prefect of Milan, dated August 3 and October 11, 
1898, the irrigation of certain la;ids belonging to the CJorbetta Association has been 
prohibited until necessary drainage canals shall have been constructed; and 

Whereas, despite the appeal of the association, the minister of public works not 
only ratified the above-mentioned decrees by his decree of August 9, 1899, but also 
announced that the prohibition might be extended to a larger section; and 

Whereas the purpose of two canals— one for the discharge of miming water, and 
the other for the discharge of drainage water — could be met by the construction of 
a single canal having in view this double object; 


Therefore this agreement hag been arranged Ixjtween the Italian Society, repre- 
sented by Engineer Giovanni Schiavoni, and the Corbetta Aflsociation, represented 
by its president — Mr. Roberto Battaglia. 


Abticle 1. The Corbetta Association — 

(a) Shall extend the Corbetta secondary canal from its present termination at the 
northwest corner of land No. 989, of Corbetta, owned by Mussi Dott. Giuseppe, to 
the Naviglio Grande, accK)rding to the plan indicated by the heavy red line in the 
diagram and in the profile attached hereto and made a part of this agreement. 

(b) Shall build two branches of the drainage canal to remove seepage waters from 
the Pobbietta, Pobbia, and Malpaga dairies and adjacent lands, according to the 
plan indicated by the light red Ime in the diagram and in the profile attached hereto, 
as above described. 

(c) Shall enlarge and so arrange the Corbetta secondary canal from the lateral at 
the southeast comer of No. 227 of the Corbetta map, owned by Isimbardi March 
Liiigi, to the above-named northwest comer of No. 989 of the same map, that the 
said enlarged 'secondary canal shall have a capacity of 2 cubic meters (70 cubic feet) 
per second. 

Article 2. The new part of the secondary canal shall l)e made with such slope 
and section as to have a capacity of 2 cubic meters per second, and its be<l shall be 
at low enough level to receive seepage from higher lands and from buildings through 
other drainage canals and ditches (see paragraph 4), and do no damage by its own 

The parts of the two branches of the drainage canal that are to run along Uie Pob- 
bietta, Pobbia, and Malp^a dairies must have their be<ls 4.92 feet below the lowest 
points of the said dairies and must have a slope of not less than 42.24 feet per mile 
to reach the present secondary or the new canal at the points marked B and C, 
respectively, on the diagram referred to in article 1, so that the level of the water 
in the branches at the points indicated shall never be lower than the highest level 
of water in the present secondary canal or its extension, thus permitting the waters 
to always fiow freely without backing up. 

Article 3. The canals described in article 1 must }ye completed within eighteen 
months from the day in which authority is given to discharge the said 70 cubic feet 
into the Naviglio Grande and the date of the decree declaring the work of public 

Article 4. The association shall always be permitted to extend the said drainage 
canals, to unite them to others, build separate special sections of them whenever 
seepage waters or damages are manifest in other places, and to discharge these waters 
also into the secondary canal or its extension at the points named in article 2 or at 
other points. 

Article 5. The actual surveys for the canals (see article 1) shall be made underan 
agreement between the society and the association, and the {larties wnll try to keep 
the expenses for surveys, for contracts with parties interested, for active and passive 
servitudes (including those for dischai^ng or in any other w^ay removing the surplus 
waters during the time the Naviglio is closed, which discharges, depending upon the 
season when the closing occurs, may be estimated at 17.65 cubic feet per second), for 
excavation, for construction work, etc., within $22,000. 

Article 6. The regulations of the association governing the obtaining of rights of 
way for lateral and distributing canals shall apply to the obtaining of lands, their 
occuiMition during construction, and the compensation to members, for the canals 
described in this agreement. 

Article 7. The society (for aqueducts) may dispose of the water collected in the 
canals provided for in articles 1 and 4 as it does of the water from the main Villoresi 


Canal. For this purpose it may open and maintain at its own care and expense, 
along the line of the secondary canal, the necessary gates in accordance with the 
provisions of article 2. 

Should the association desire to use, for the purpose of distributing the water 
belonging to the members of the twenty-second district, that part of the secondary 
canal that extends from the northwest comer of No. 989 of the Corbetta map, the 
property of Mussi (see article 1 ) to the northwest comer of No. 1014a of the said Cor- 
betta map, the property of Zanzoterra, formerly belonging to Bruni, instead of the 
lateral now used — it may open and maintain at its own risk and expense the neces- 
sary gates along the new part of the secondary canal. 

Articlb 8. As the drainage canals of the Pobbietta, Pobbia, and Malpaga dairies 
and adjacent lands described in articles 1 and 4 would discharge their waters into 
the secondary canal, and as these drainage waters would mix with those of the Vil- 
loresi Canal and might perchance be purchased by the users, the users of water 
already sold and the association for them renounce any claims in the premises. 

As for the water that may hereafter be purchased, the Italian Society for Aque- 
ducts, for itself and for those subordinate to it, agrees to add in the contracts for the 
sale of water of the Corbetta Association a special paragraph covering this renuncia- 
tion in accordance with a plan already agreed upon by the commission of the 

Abticle 9. The Corbetta Association shall have the right to request and the 
Italian Society shall be under obligations to grant a sufficient decrease in the amount 
of water running in the Corbetta secondary canal, so that it shall carry not more 
than 35.31 cubic feet per second in the case of heavy rains, overflow, breaking of 
canals, and similar accidents. 

This request on the part of the association must be in writing, through the board 
of directors or the manager, and delivered to the Milan office of the Italian Society 
at least thirty-six hours before the time when the decrease in the amount of water is 
desired. This application must clearly set forth: 

(a) The day and hour when the amount of water in the secondary canal is to be 

(b) The amount of water to be cut oft from the said canal. So long as the canals 
provided for in article 1 are not constructed and ready for use, the Society must close 
the secondary canal at its head in the main canal at such time and to such extent as 
may be requested, in accordance with the last part of paragraph 112 of the regula- 
tions of the association. 

Article 10. The Corbetta Association relieves the Italian Society for Aqueducts 
and the first association for the North Lombardy Canal of all liability for claims 
which members of the Association may make because of the diminution in the 
amount of water in the secondary canal of the Corbetta Association made as provided 
for in article 9. The Italian Society, on its part, in all contracts for rent or sale of 
water, either for irrigation or power, to the Corbetta Association, shall add a clause 
whereby it shall have authority to make the above-described diminution in the 
amount of water flowing in the secondary canal, and the purchaser or renter of water 
shall make no claim for damages or compensation. The insertion of such clause is 
hereby agreed to by the commission of the association. 

Article 11. As the enlarged and extended secondary canal will have a capacity of 
70 cubic feet per second, as provided for in articles 1 and 2, it is hereby agreed that 
the said secondary canal shall always be absolutely at the disposal of the association 
to receive the drainage waters up to a capacity of at least 35.31 cubic feet, and at the 
disposal of the Italian Society to receive drainage waters to the extent of its remaining 
capacity. But in any event the association shall always have the right to enlarge 
the secondary canal and extend the same, as provided for in article 4, when the 
drainage waters shall exceed a dischaige of 35.31 cubic feet per second. 


Asncut 12. The cost of the canals provided for in article 1 ehatl be paid in the 
following proportion: Sixty per cent by the association, to he apportioned according 
to the area, and 40 per cent by the Italian Society for Aqueducte. The exlenaion of 
the secondary canal shall be oiainttuned according to the rules set forth in the r^u- 
lations of the association. Tbe drain»ge canatg provided for in articles 1 and 4 shall 
be maintained at the expense of the association and such expense shall be appor- 
tioned according to the area. 

Article 13. This agreement shall take effect and become binding upon the asso- 
eiatioii and the Italian Society whenever the Government shall have granted permis- 
sion to dischar^ the 70 cubic feet of water per second, described in article 11, into 
the Naviglio Grande. 

When this agreement goes into effect the obligation on the part of the Italian 
Society for the constniction of a drainage canal ceases. This obligadon was imposed 
by article 112 (temporary regulations) of the regulations of the association, attached 
to the agreement, acknowledged by the Notary Bertole, Sob. 1044-5026, on Novem- 
ber 23, 1884, and filed in Milan December 11, 1884, No. 4075, vol. 297, page 160, 
private agreements. 

Articlb 14. This agreement shall go into effect whenever ratified by the Italian 
Society, represented by its hoard of directors, and by the Corbetta Association, rep- 
resented by the assembly of members. 

The canal company has a right to the water collected by the drains 
and where possible turns the drainage water back into its canals. 

Plate VII, figure 2, shows where a drain cmptii-sintoaditch just below 
a drop, (a) being the lateral and (b) the drain ditch. This drain was 
discharging 7 cubic feet per second at the time, this water being worth 
$656 a year at the rates paid for water by the Corbetta Association. 
Farther down drains empty into the Naviglio Grande, the right to use 
it for seepage water having been granted by the Government. 

The numerous public and private roads add greatly to the cost of 
both irrigation and drain^e ditches. State and local regulations 
require that both bridges and siphons shall be of iron or masonry and 
shall prevent water injuring the roadways. Figures 9, 10, and 11 
show the details of .-^ome of these structures. 

The damages from seepage and the expense necessary* for drainage 
have led to effoiis to check losses from canals by lining tbem. The 



engineers of the Villoresi Canal have found the cement lining unsatis- 
factory in many ways, especially for laterals. These are frequently 
empty and at such times the intense heat of the sun causes unequal 
expansion which cracks the coating, especially on the sides. Engineer 




M agm r ^ j r' 


Fig. 10.— Siphon carrying water of a lateral ander a canal. 

Bossi said that his twenty-two years' experience had caused him to 
believe that it did not pay to pave and cement the sides, and that here- 
after he would cement only the bottoms of laterals. There he would 
put the concrete floor 10 or 12 inches below grade and cover it with 

i.._.....4|-/*-- .-- -■ 





Fio. 11.— Iron, masonry, and concrete croflsing of a lateral over a canal. 

this depth of earth, so as to prevent damage from both frost and heat. 
He was also experimenting with other materials, coal tar mixed with 
sand being the one looked on with the most favor. 


For the past three years the irrigation investigation of the Office of 
Experiment Stations has been experimenting with linings for canals to 
find something less costly than cement. In many parts of the West 
cement is not a satisfactory material. Frosts in winter lift and crack 
it and the hot sun of summer helps to hasten its destruction. Puddled 
clay, a mixture of earth and crude oil, paper, and asphaltum are some 
of the substitutes for cement tried or considered. 


The Villoresi Canal, with its network of laterals, has to pass through 
a densely populated, highly improved country, where lands are high- 
priced and farms as a rule small. The cutting of a canal 30 feet wide 
through a farmer's yard, or the taking of the land it required out of a 
5-acre farm, was not apt to be looked upon with favor by the farmers, 
and if the canal company had been compelled to litigate questions of 
damages for right of way, as ditch companies do in some Western 
States, the canal would never have been built. The company avoided 
this by having the farmers' associations secure the rights of way for 
both irrigation and drainage works. In doing this the association at 
Corbetta systematized the determination of damages by arranging a 
schedule of values for different improvements. After it had secured 
the adoption of this schedule by the farmers it was made the basis of 
the following contract between the association and the canal company: 

Agreement between the Villoresi Canal Company and the Corbetta Association for the settle- 
ment of rights of tcayfor the passage of water in accordance mith the regtdations of the 

(1) The said (individoal or cx)rporation), living in , grants servitude 

for the passage of the waters of the Canal through the hereinafter-described 

lands (see No. 15) to the association. 

(2) The uniform price for the land on which the servitude shall be established for 

the bed of the Canal, for the deposit of cleanings, for the side embankments, 

etc., is fixed at 6 cents per square meter (0.56 cent, per square foot) of surface to be 
occupied for the above-mentioned purposes. This price does not include the indem- 
nity either for growing fruit or for the mulberry trees, which shall be established as 

Growing fruit shall be paid for at the uniform rate of 2 to 3 centimes per square 
meter (0.04 cent to 0.06 cent per square foot). 
Mulberry trees shall be valued according to, the following scheme: 

Trees of very small diameter : $0. 32 

With diameters up to 1.968 inches * 40 

With diameters from 1.968 to 3.937 inches , .60 

With diameters from 3.937 to 5.906 inches 1.00 

With diameters from 5.906 to 7.874 inches . i 1, 80 

With diameters from 7.874 to 9. 842 inches 2. 40 

With diameters from 9.842 inches to 1.083 feet 3. 20 

With diameters from 1.083 to 1.312 feet 3.60 


If the notice of the destruction of trees (in accordance with paragraph 8) shall be 
given after the month of April, compensation for the first four sizes of mulberry trees 
shall be as follows: 

Trees of very small diameters . $0. 50 

With diameters up to 1.968 inches 60 

With diameters from 1.968 to 3.937 inches 80 

With diameters from 3.937 to 5.906 inches 1. 20 

but the prices for the other sizes shall be the same. 

The above-named prices for mulberry trees are for those of vigorous growth; suit- 
able reduction shall be made for trees of poor growth, based upon the advice of the 
expert sent out by the association, and for those in hedges or wind-breaks the price 
shall be reduced one-third. 

The land necessary for borrow pits shall be valued at four-fifths the above-quoted 
price per square meter. These borrow pits shall not be more than 6.56 feet below 
the level of the country, and shall be made in regular geometrical shape, with slopes 
of 1 to 1. 

The land occupied by refuse materials shall be value<l at one-half the price paid 
for that occupied by permanent works. 

Upon the advice of the expert the proprietors will be permitted to take from the 
borrow pits a stratum of earth not more than 7.874 inches deep, before turning them 
over to the association. 

The temporary occupation of land by construction materials shall be paid for at 
the rate of 0.06 cent per square foot for uncultivated land and 0.09 cent for cultivated 

The land segregated shall be valued according to the following rules: 

(a) If parallel to a private, partnership, or community road, and if on the strip 
taken there is a row of mulberry trees and hedges of acacia, 0. 18 cent per square 

(b) If there is only a row of mulberry trees, 0.24 cent. 

(c) If there is only an acacia hedge (if the strip to be kept is less than 3.28 feet 
wide on the average) 0.11 cent per square foot. 

(d) When the strip to be kept is on the edge of an estate, if there is a row of mul- 
berry trees and acacia hedges, 0.22 cent per square foot. 

(e) If there is only a row of mulberry trees, 0.27 cent. 

For rights of way within the estates of others in addition to the compensations 
provided for above, the right of passage along a small path beside the canal shall be 
provided for. 

(3) The proprietor shall not be entitled to the compensation provided for in the 
preceding paragraphs for trees that, after the construction of the canal, are found to 
be more than 2 feet from the side of the canal, in accordance with paragraph 69 of 
the regulations. 

(4) In the uniform price of the land (see paragraph 2) is included, in addition to 
the value of the land on which the servitude shall be established, all compensation 
due the landowner who has granted that right, for the capital upon which the agri- 
cultural taX| payable by the member, is based, and compensation for all damages 
arising from the construction of the canal, including damages incurred during the 
making of surveys and plans. Therefore the party who has granted the servitude 
may not ask any further compensation for any reason whatever in addition to the 
above-named price. This price does not include any damages that may be incurred 
through accident on the right of way, either during the surveys or during con- 

(5) The association shall be permitted to take possession of the property on which 
the servitude is established and to carry on the work of construction five days after 
giving written notice to the party granting the right. 


(6) Before commencing the work of constructing the canal, the crope will be 
appraised and the mulberry trees to be removed shall be counted. A copy of the 
findings shall be given to the owner for verification and final settlement. 

(7) If during construction of the canal, it shall become necessary to remove any 
other tree in addition to those enumerated, previous notice shall be given the local 
representatives of the owner and the superintendent of the work shall make a state- 
ment in writing of the kind and size of trees removed. 

(8) The trees on the lands to be occupied by the canal and accessory works 
remain the property of the party granting the right of way, but he must have them 
cut down and removed within eight days after notice is given by the association. 

(9) Interest at the rate of 5 per cent shall be paid on the amount of compensation 
for land, trees, and growing fruit provided for ia the settlement (see paragraph 14) 

from the day of until payment is made to the owner, according to 

paragraphs 68 and 70 of the regulations. 

(10) The rights of way for dumping material cleaned out of canals, according to 
paragraph 2, shall be 1.64 feet wide. These, beyond the deposit of excavated 
materials, shall be used as passageways in repairing and guarding the canal; conse- 
quently, the owner must keep them free from cultivation or any other obstacle with 
the exception of grass, which shall be the property of the owner. 

(11) The proprietor shall not be permitted to plant new crops or to increase those 
existing along the canal, within a distance of 3.28 feet from the side of the canal if 
built in excavation, and from the foot of the exterior slope if built in embankments 
in accordance with paragraph 69 of the regulations. 

(12) The party granting the servitude shall not have the right to turn water into 
the canal of the association and must renounce every privilege granted by the law in 
this regard. 

(13) The owner shall be responsible for all claims of tenants, users, and all per- 
sons who can advance any claim against this occupation. 

(14) When the canal and accessory works shall have been completed, determina- 
tion of the actual amount of land occupied shall be made by the expert delegate. 
Final settlement shall be based upon this determination and the amount of principal 
and interest, as provided for in paragraph 9, shall be credited to the owner. 

(15) The land subjected to servitude in accordance with this agreement is described 
on the map of the above-named community of under part of the Nos. . 

The cost of the main and secondary canals of the Viiloresi was about 
$3,000,000. The exact cost of the laterals, the measuring boxes, and 
the drainage works could not be ascertained, hut it was the opinion of 
Engineer Bossi, whose long connection with the canal has given him 
unusual opportunities for knowing, that the entire outlay for the sys- 
tem has been not less than $6,000,000, or $37.60 an acre for all the 
land which the canal can reach. The whole of this outlay is not, how- 
ever, to be charged to irrigation. The power ditches cost a large sum 
and the rentals of water for power purposes are important additions to 
the company's income. As an irrigation enterprise, it affects the well- 
being of the 150,000 people, and over 8,000 farmers rent water for 


There is so little difference in the country watered by the Viiloresi 
Canal that the area irrigated by the Corbetta Association may be 
taken as fairly typical. Certainly it is a fair average. More water 


is used here than in the country farther east where the soil con- 
tains more clay, and probably less water than along the borders of the 
Ticino where the land is more gravelly. The land irrigated by the 
Corbetta Association is subdivided into twenty -two districts. Each 
has an area of about 740 acres with its own delivering weir and main 
lateral. From these main laterals many smaller ditches reach out into 
the farnaers' fields. 

The conditions under which farmers work in this part of Italy are 
wholly different from those which prevail in the arid region of 
America. In the midst of the Corbetta district there are farms which 
are being cultivated without irrigation which grow the same crops as 
surrounding farms that are artificially watered. Farming by rainfall 
alone here is not unlike farming in Kentucky, Tennessee, southern 
Missouri, and northern Arkansas. The rainfall in Italy is, if any- 
thing, a little greater and is equally well distributed. 

In the fields devoted to wheat only one crop a year is grown where 
irrigation is not practiced, but where the land is irrigated a good crop 
of corn, beans, or cabbage can be planted and brought to maturity 
after the wheat is harvested. Without irrigation clover and alfalfa, 
if sown with wheat, make a small growth, but with irrigation a good 
crop can be cut the same year after the wheat is harvested and the 
stand in succeeding years is better because of the vigorous growth 
while the plants were young, due to irrigation. The following are 
notes of talks with farmers: 

One farmer pays a rental of $7.32 for 7.16 cubic feet of water per 
second from 7 to 8 o'clock each Monday morning from April 7 to Sep- 
tember 18. This was not quite sufficient to irrigate his field in 1903 
and he purchased an additional 7.15 cubic feet of water per second for 
fifteen minutes each Monday morning. This extra irrigation service 
continued only during the hottest part of the season, from June 30 to 
September 8. For this extra fifteen minutes he paid $1.70. This 
shower, lasting an hour and a quarter each Monday morning, cost him 
for the season $9.02, which was about $1.20 an acre. 

Another farmer bought seepage water to irrigate his land. He paid 
only about one-half the regular price charged for water by the canal 
company, making his water rental about 60 cents an acre. This ten- 
ant said that his most profitable crop is mulberry leaves, which he feeds 
to silk worms. Silk raising is an important feature of agriculture in 
the Corbetta district, nearly every field having some mulberry trees. 
These are, however, a special crop and do not affect the general rota- 
tion of crops. As silk raising is not well understood in the United 
States, some description of the methods of canning it on in Italy may 
be of interest. 

The eggs from which the cocoons are hatched are raised by men who 
make this business a specialty and who keep the eggs under proper 


conditions to maintain their vitality until time for the farmers to pur- 
chase them in the*spring. The quantity of eggs purchased by each 
farmer is determined by his probable crop of mulberry leaves, and they 
are by practice able to gauge the number of worms which can be fed. 
For the eggs the farmer pays $2.40 to $3 an ounce. An ounce of 
eggs will produce on an average 110 pounds of cocx)ons which the 
farmer sells at about 35 cents a pound. The expenses include the 
purchase of eggs, the coal and wood for the warming room while 
the eggs are hatching, the gathering of the leaves, and the feeding of 
the worms while they are growing. 

Irrigation increases the crop of mulberry leaves about one- third 
and makes the rate of growth more uniform than where rainfall is the 
sole dependence. Several fanners said that if wateir for irrigation cost 
less, hay and mulberry leaves would be the most profitable crops, but 
as the water required to irrigate 8 acres of hay will irrigate 20 acres 
of corn, wheat, or clover, the lessened outlay for water makes them 
favor diversified farming. 

The irrigated land in this section sells for 50 to 100 per cent more 
than the unirrigated. Land which formerly sold for $80 an acre now 
brings $160. Unirrigated land under the Parabiago Canal now sells 
for $100 an acre, and the price where irrigated ranges from $160 to 
$200 an acre. 

The canal has now been completed twenty years, yet in 1903 many 
fields were being prepared for the first application of water. A better 
understanding of conditions makes it clear why irrigation has been 
extended slowly. The expense of preparing the land for irrigation 
is far greater than men not familiar with the subject suppose, and far 
greater than well-informed persons realize until they have had some 
actual experience. The building of laterals or the payment of water 
rentals are not the most important outlays. There must be intensive 
cultivation, more laborers must be employed, larger barns to hold the 
crops and more houses to shelter the workers must be built. It is 
these expenditures that have delayed the complete irrigation of lands 
under the Villoresi Canal. 

Where land is rented, the tenants pay one-half the water rental and 
give one-half the crop to the owner, or if the landowner pays the 
water rental he receives more than half the crop. 

The farmers talked with were courteous and intelligent. Their con- 
versation was marked by originality and independence. Their homes, 
clothes, and food gave no evidence of squalid poverty. On the con- 
trary, many of the homes were more attractive and comfortable than 
those of farmers in the United States whose incomes are far larger. 
The tools used are limited in number and generally crude in design, 
but this is changing for the better. German plows and American 
mowers, hay i*akes, and hay tedders were often seen. Almost as 



many women as men were working in the fields, but they looked 
cheerful and contented. Everyone worked, from the gray-haired 
grandmother down to the 5-year-old who herded geese along the road- 
side ditchers or on the banks of laterals. 


On the south side of the city of Milan, among tall, stone business 
blocks and factories, is the head gate of an irrigation canal which has 
unusual historic interest. If tradition is to be believed, it is the oldest 
irrigation work in Lombardy and irrigates fields where marcite — the 
most profitable crop in Italy — was first grown. This canal was origi- 
nally a natural stream formed by the confluence of three small creeks, 
the Savese, Nirone, and Vetra, which come together in what is now 
the city of Milan. Later on, when Milan grew into a fortified town 
surrounded by a wall and moat, these creeks emptied into the moat, 
for which the Vettabbia served as a waste way and drain. A few miles 
below the city the Cistercian monks had founded the monastery of 
Chiamvalle and brought under cultivation a large tract of land. The 
creek which flowed past it seiTed as a sewer for the city and the water 
had an additional value as a fertilizer, and this may have had some- 
thing to do with the construction of the small ditches which were built 
to water the landed properties belonging to the monastery. These 
small ditches were built about seven hundred and fifty years ago, and 
served as laterals to the winding, crooked, natural channel of the 
stream, to the waters of which the monastery gradually acquired 
rights by prescription and through successive grants from the popes 
and the German Emperor. 

In 1156 the city had outgrown its original limits and the moat beoiime 
an interior canal, which to-day is known as the "Ring Canal" around 
the central part of the city. 

When the Martesana Canal was constructed, connecting the Ticino 
and the Adda rivers, it cut off the little creeks from the north of the 
city and the Martesana afterwards furnished the water for the interior 
canal and a considerable part of the water needed to supply the rights 
from the Vettabbia. 

As time went on other religious communities, scattered along the 
12i miles of the Vettabbia between the city and its mouth in the 
Lombro River, had become aware of the value of water for in-igation 
and had in 1236, 1256, 1289, and 1311 applied for and received gi*ants 
of rights to its use from the popes and the Emperor Frederick Bar- 
barosa of Germany. In 1267 the health of the city was impaired 
because the crooked shallow channel of the Vettabbia furnished an 
imperfect drain for its sewers, and agreements were made with the 
monasteries of Chiai-avalle and Viboldone to give them the right to 


the sewage water if the monasteries would improve the channel to 
carry it away from the city and put it to use in irrigation, this being 
the earliest known example of the purification of sewage water by 
using it for irrigation. Out of these various agreements the irri- 
gators from the Vettabbia Canal have acquired rights to water from 
the Martesana Canal, varying in ordinary times from 70 to 141 cubic 
feet per second; 706 to 1,059 cubic feet per second from storm waters, 
and 140 cubic feet per second from springs and sewage, making in all 
1,340 cubic feet per second. 

By subsequent changes these water rights passed out of the hands 
of the church authorities into the possession of an association of land 
owners, organized in the first place to maintain and defend the ancient 
water rights of the several users against each other and against outside 
parties and for improving the bed of the canal in order to stop waste 
and render better Q,ei*vice. This association is composed of 50 voting 
members, some of whom represent smaller associations formed by irri- 
gators along laterals, this being the prevailing practice under It«Jian 
irrigation works. The members of the main society pay each year a 
certain amount for expenses, and each member of the association is 
entitled to a certain definite amount of water. Whatever can be saved 
above this is sold to other iiTigators. There are still lands needing 
water at the lower end of the canal and a ready market for whatever 
water can be made available. The purpose of the association is not, 
however, to make money from water rentals. These are now being 
utilized in improving the canal and for increasing the water supply 
by extending the drainage of Milan and the adjacent irrigated lands. 
The water derived from the ancient rights cost the association nothing, 
the Martesana Canal being compelled to deliver the water it furnishes 
free of all charges, and the city of Milan feels that it is a satisfactory 
bargain to get rid of its sewage waters without expense. 

In 1889 a new drainage system was planned for the city, which 
made an agreement with the Vettabbia Association by which the latter 
obligated itself to enlarge the canal to carry away the increased drain- 
stge of the city, receiving in consideration for these expenditures a 
right to the municipal sewage and drainstge water from 5,187 acres of 
land. The municipality pays all the expenses within the city limits 
and the canal association all of the expenses outside, and in this way 
each of the parties avoid making any payments of money to the other. 
The improvements on the canal cost about 2,000,000 Italian lire 
($400,000), and include straightening and deepening the channel in 
places, putting in checks and -drops .to lessen the excessive grade caused 
by this straightening, paving, and cementing the canal where gravel 
beds are crossed, and replacing old and inaccurate measuring boxes by 
modules built under conditions which are intended to insure accuracy. 
It was necessary, as a part of this work, to construct a new canal, and 


the drops, siphons, and flumes made necessary by the numerous rail- 
roads, tramways, and wagon roads crossed made the reconstruction a 
difficult piece of engineering. For this reason the work was placed 
under the direction of Luigi Fmnchi, one of the foremost civil engi- 
neers of Lombardy. Many of the structures are fine examples of 
engineering practice. By straightening and deepening the canal in 
places, it has been possible to drain large areas which had become 
swamped or were becoming so, and this has increased rental values. 

Through the courtesy of Engineer Franchi, the water master and 
his assistant acted as guides in inspecting the improvements being 
made. Engineer Franchi also furnished a number of drawings of the 
new structures and furnished much of the historical data about the 

The head gate is of iron set in masonry. Just below it are two iron 
current wheels which turn power mills. The right to this use of the 
canal for power is one of the ancient concessions and costs the owner 
nothing except a small contribution to help pay operating expenses. 

Within a few hundred feet of the canal head gate a set of steel reg- 
ulating gates set in masonry permit all of the water received from the 
Martesana Canal to be turned into another ditch belonging to the pro- 
prietor of a large estate, who holds an ancient right to the water from 
the Martesana for a certain number of hours every fifteen days. 

Some of the older measuring boxes were of the pattern shown in 
figure 4 (p. 30). Figure 12 shows a plan of regulating gates and orifices 
of one of the new measuring boxes which measures the water deliv- 
ered to four farmers. Two of the boxes measure 2 oncias each, and 
two 4 oncias each. The depth of water in front of the regulating 
gates is determined by the height on the weir maintained at the drop. 
In these measuring boxes the cover which forms a feature of the old 
devices is omitted. The space between the regulating gates and the 
orifice is open, the weir at the drop being depended upon to keep a 
uniform depth of water against the regulating gates and in this way 
maintain the pressure of water above the top of the orifice. The 
appearance of this measuring box is shown in Plate VIII. 

Plate IX shows a view of the reconstructed portion of the canal 
about 4 miles below Milan. It is walled with brick and cement and 
crossed by numerous concrete arched bridges. 

In its substantial construction and excellent alignment the canal is 
a source of instruction and enjoyment to engineers. There are in 
Lombardy about 2,000 springs. These are the principal sources of 
water for marcite irrigation, because the water is warm in winter. It 
is more valuable than water from streams, and irrigators endeavor to 
keep rights to each spring separate from all other sources of supply. 
The consequence is that the whole country is crossed and recrossed by 

Measuring Boxes on VETTABBtA Canal. 

n flg. 12. a. GkIib tor regulaliiig prewurr: 6. orifice in «t 

^■t 2 


B s 


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these little individual ditches. The new line of the Yettabbia had to 
go over and around these as best it could. Figure 13 shows the canal 
crossing an irrigation ditch and a drainage ditch by means of two iron 

Fig. 12.— Section showing measuring boxes, drop, flume, and bridge crossing on branch of Vettabbia 


flumes. Figure 14 shows a canal going under two other ditches by 
means of siphons, and also gives a small map of one of the places 
where about a dozen ditches interlace like a spider web. 



In building these structures the earthwork excavation cost 7 to 11 
cents a cubic yard; masonry, $2.70 per cubic yard; side walls of 
cement blocks, IJ8 per cubic yard; iron for bridges, 2 cents per pound; 
timber (American pitch pine or Oregon fir), |33.50 per thousand. 

Section CD 




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Fio. 13.— Branch of Yettabbia Canal paasing over an irrigation and a drainage ditcli. 


Some farmers under the Yettabbia have ancient rights entitling them 
to all the water they need for a certain number of houi-s each week or 
for a certain period during the season. Here the usual style of diver- 
sion is of brick or masonry flume, through which the flow of water is 
regelated by an ordinary wooden head gate. Accurate measurement 
of the value taken is not attempted. The quantity of water diverted 
depends largely upon the depth in the canal. One of these farmers 
had a right to water for twelve hours each week, beginning at 6 o'clock 
Sunday moiiiing, and was thus compelled to violate the Sabbath. 
Another farmer had a right to 2.52 cubic feet per second, continuous 
flow, in the winter time, which he uses in irrigating marcite, and 5.4 
cubic feet per second for a fifteen-hour period each week in the summer 
time. This period begins at midnight Wednesday and ends at 3 o'clock 
Thursday afternoon. The hour of beginning, the day of irrigation, 
and the number of hours have not changed for twenty years. This 
right is a free, perpetual one, and the owner paid $1,336 an acre for 
the land to which it is attached. 


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aati.'W— No. 144, lit 1— W— 


The perennial water supply of the canal is sufficient to irrigate 8,4:00 
acres of meadow and niarcite and 3,500 a<Tes of cultivated crops. 
The water coming to the canal from drainage in ordinary rain storms 
irrigates 6,200 acres of meadow and 2,200 acres of cultivated crops, 
while 7,400 acres receive waterings whenever floods are available. 

The most important crop is marcite, a mixture of clover and Italian 
rye grass. Over this water flows almost continuously in winter and 
either continuously or at short intervals in summer. Summer irriga- 
tion extends from April to September. The grass is cut when it is 
abo.ut 18 inches high, and on some farms near the city 10 to 12 cuttings 
are made each year. Farther away from the city 6 to 8 cuttings are 
the rule. On one farm of 20 acres, where 16 acres were in marcite, 
10 to 15 tons per acre was obtained at each cutting in 1903, and in the 
twelve months prior to my visit there had been 10 cuttings. The 
grass sold for $1.80 to $2.25 per ton, making the income from ea<;h 
acre about $300 per year. The farmer paid a yearly rental for land 
and water of $35.84 an acre. The land was valued at $3,000 an acre. 

Another farm of 324 acres was divided about evenly between marcite 
and cultivated crops. The rotation on the cultivated portion was for 
a six-year period: First and second years, corn; third year, oats or 
wheat; fourth, fifth, and sixth years, hay, usually clover or alfalfa. 
The yield per acre on this farm for this year was estimated as follows: 
Oats, 53 bushels; wheat, 34 bushels; corn, SO bushels. The corn crop 
was especially fine. Here, as elsewhere in Italy, the corn was planted 
much more closely than in the United States — too close, it seemed, 
for best results. However, the fodder value of the corn crop is far 
greater than in the United States, and to this their practice is doubt- 
less due. Alfalfa is cut six times a year, and yields about as it does in 
northern California. The corn on this farm is irrigated, as a rule, 
three times a year. This year the farmer irrigated July 10, July 25, 
and August 15. 

The preparation of marcite fields and their irrigation differs from 
anything in America, and hence is worthy of especial attention. In 
the first place, it needs to be understood that one of the purposes of 
marcitt* irrigation is to keep the fields green and the grass growing 
during the cold winter weather. For this reason the water in winter 
must be warm. The water from rivers is not suited to the purpose. 
The greater part of the water for marcite irrigation in Lombardy 
comes from springs, the total volume utilized in this way being esti- 
mated at 2,500 cubic feet per second. In addition, the city sewage 
and the heated water from the dyeing tanks of the silk factories are 
also utilized. 

The fields on which marcite is to })e grown are prepared so that 
water will flow continuously from the ditches in a very thin layer and 
the slopes are made so uniform that there are no bare spots and no pools. 
The system followed is to grade the land into a series of gently slop- 


ing ridges. The supply ditches run along the summits of these ridges, 
while between are drain ditches for carrying off the water. These 
ridges are about 50 feet wide from one drain ditch to. the next. The 
width varies, however, with the slope of the country. The ridges are, 
as a rule, about 300 feet long, but this again depends on the slope of 
the country. The supply ditches which run along these ridges are 
level from end to end, so that when full the water will flow over the 
edges on both sides throughout the entire distance. As the country 
has a gentle slope from the mountains toward the Po, there is always 
at the lower end of a ridge a drop, the aim being to give a fall of 
about 4 inches at each drop. This 4-inch fall gives grade to the drain 
ditches between the ridges. The drains are about 20 inches wide, 
deeper at the lower ends than at the upper, and at their lower ends 
there is a ditch which collects the water and carries it to the ditches 
on the ridges in the next step down the slope. In summer the water 
is turned over these fields as a rule from one to three days a week, 
and in winter it runs constantly. Where water is free from sediment, 
the ditches will last for many years, but along the Vettabbia Canal, 
where paper, straw, and city refuse are being constantly deposited, 
the. lands have to be worked over, the ditches cleaned out, and the 
surfaces regraded every six or seven years. 

Plate IV shows the location of supply and drain ditches on a farm 
near Vigentino. In this diagram the black lines show the drains and 
the blue lines the supply ditches. The section shows how the ground is 
graded in order that the water which overflows the supply ditches shall 
pass down the slopes into the drain ditches and be carried away. The 
principal marcite meadow on this farm is divided transversely from 
east to west into 6 squares or fields on different levels, one above the 
other, and is further divided longitudinally north and south by the 
ditch which carries the water from the Inferno Canal, forming thus 
10 squares or fields of marcite. The 5 squares to the west are each 
divided into 8 "ale" (section between a lateral and a drain), and those 
to the east are divided into 16 ale, all stmight from north to south. 
To the north of each square is a transverse dit^ih connecting with the 
above longitudinal ditch. The water comes from the Inferno Canal to 
junction No. 1. This being open, the water passes into the principal 
lateral from 1 to 2 and, entering the sublaterals of the sections, irri- 
gates the first squares on the east and on the west. The second junc- 
tion being opened, the water flows to the third junction, where it is 
checked and irrigates the second squares. This third junction being 
opened, the irrigation of the third square follows. In the same man- 
ner junctions 6 and 9 being opened, the fourth and fifth squares are 
irrigated. Finally, junction 12 being opened, the water discharges 
into the drain and passes to lower farms. The closing of gates 4, 5, 
7, 8, 10, 11, 13, and 14 stops the irrigation of the corresponding 


squares. It is thus evident that any one of these squares may be 
irrigated independently of the others. 

The two springs shown on this diagram come from the gravel sub- 
soil, which is about 10 feet below the surface. In order to increase the 
flow of these springs large areas of the gravel have l)een uncovered, 
as is shown by the blue surfaces in the diagram. ITsuall}^ the prin- 
cipal flow is near the upper end of the excavation, which is triangular 
in shape and broadest at the end opposite the outlet. The source of 
these springs is not known, but the}' are supposed to come chieflj' 
from the seepage water which sinks in the channels of the streams. 
Part of it doubtless comes fi'oin the irrigation of higher lands, the 
flow of many springs having increased fully 20 per cent since the con- 
struction of the Villoresi Canal. 

In arranging for the irrigation of iiiarcite fields, the rule is to pro- 
vide 1 cubic meter of water per second for about 20 hectares. Thus 
1 cubic foot per second will water 1.4 acres. Nearly all this water 
escapes in the drain ditches and can be used over and over again. 
After the first four scjuares are irrigated with water from the cunal, 
those below are irrigated from the drainage. The grass in any of 
these squares having grown to the desired height (which requires on 
an average about a month, except in December and January, when 
only one crop is produced), it is prepared for cnitting l)v withhold- 
ing water for one or two week*?, during which time the water from 
the main canal is carried to the other squares. 

The farms along this canal showed many evidences of the long- 
continued prosperity this region has enjoyed. One of the barns vis- 
ited was six hundred and fifty years old. It was of brick, with mas- 
sive rough-hewn roof timbers. The fields from which it is filled have 
been constantly used to grow marcite for the entire period. The 
tenant said that both the productive and rental value of this land has 
risen greatly in the last fifty years. In 1848 his father paid §7.20 an 
acre aimual rental, while he pays $2().25 an acre. He Jiscribed this 
increasi* to two causes -drainage and increased fiirtility. 

Dairies are nearly everywhere an adjunct of marcite meadows. 
Over loo (rows are kept on this farm; these are mostly Swiss cattle 
and are vahied at ^U)0 to $185 a head. 


The sewag(» water of a part of Milan has been discharged into the 
Vettabbia and used on the lands under that canal for centuries. The 
sewage from part of the city having 150,(K)0 inhabitants is at present 
used u[>on an area of H,7S8 acTcs, more than 5,000 acres of which is 
marcite meadows. These meadows, unlike the sewage farms of other 
European cities, are not cultivated, and it was thought by many that 
their use as a means of sewage purification was detrimental to the 
health of the region and might prove injurious to agriculture. In 


1900 the city of Milan appointed a comuiis.sion to inquire into the 
whole matter of sewage disposal. A subcoiuniission was char^^ed 
with the investigation of the hygienic and agricultuml effect of the 
use of sewage in the irrigation of marcite. The work of this commis- 
sion included analyses of the water before it was applied to the land, 
and as it flowed from the meadows; analyses of water from springs 
and wells; analyses of the soil on which the water had been used; and 
inquiries into the records of disease and mortality, and of crop returns. 

The soil on which the sewage is used is disintegrated rock rasting 
on a l^d of sand and gravel, and is therefore favorable to the filtration 
of water. Marcite meadows have the advantage of using water 
throughout the year, but the disadvantage of not being plowed so as 
to bring the sewage water in contact with fresh soil. It was found 
that a part of the filtration took pla(*e in the soil rtnd a part through 
the gras^. In marcite irrigation the water is used upon several s<|uares 
in succession^ that draining from the first square being collected in 
drains and applied to the second square, and again collected and applied 
to'other lands (see p. ()6). It was found that muddy water applied to 
the first square came off nearly clear and after flowing over two or 
three squares was perfectly dear, free from odor, and without any of 
the impurities contjiined in sewage water. From the standpoint of 
the purification of the water its use in marcite irrigation is entirely 

It was found that there were bare spots in the meadows on which a 
coating of alga^ had formed, preventing the growth of grass, and that 
paper and other refuse collected in places sufficiently to cause some 
inconvenience, but the commission was of the opinion that })oth of 
these could be prevented by care in cleaning the canals and in the use 
of water. Analj^ses showed that in places where the soil contained no 
lime there was a tendency for organic matter to accunmlate to a harm- 
ful degree. This condition can be corrected by the application of 
lime, and the commission recommends that course. 

Analyses of water from wells and springs showed that there was no 
contamination from the sewage water, and careful inquiry and exami- 
nation of records showed that the sanitarv conditions under the Vet- 
tabbia were not different from those in other sections. 

The general conclusions of the commission were that the water is 
thoroughly purified; that there is no danger to health; that from an 
agricultural standpoint there is some trouble, but it is of little impor- 
tance and can be overcome with proper care. It is ri^commended that 
in order to maintain these conditions there should be one acre of land 
to every 3<3 inhabitants, and in no case less than one acre to GO inhabit- 
ants, and that provision should be made for diluting the sewage water 
to such an extent that the nitrate content shall not exceed 120 milli- 
grams per gallon. If these conditions are observed there will be no 
danger in the use of sewage water. 

Chapter III. 

The water supply — State irrigation works in Piedmont — Engineering features of the 
Cavour Canal — A(hninistnition of canals — HateH for water — Vercelli Irrigation 
Association — Settlement of water rights — Agriculture in Piedmont — Duty of 
water — Measunnnent of water. 

From Milan, the capital of Lombardy, to Turin, the capital of Pied 
mont, is a milway ride of four hours, nearly the whole distance being 
through irrigjited farms. On crossing the Ticino River the mulberry 
groves of Lombardy give wa\' to the rice fields of Novam and V^er- 
celli. Th(» railroad crosses several branches of the costliest (xovern- 
ment canal in Europe, which makes irrigation in Piedmont a matter of 
special interest to engineers throughout the world. The Government 
engineers of ))oth the public works and treasuiy departments have 
their headquarters in Turin, and the School of Engineers of Piedmont 
is also located in this city. 

About li) per cent of the 11,400 square miles of Piedmont's terri- 
tory is irrigated, much of the remainder being mountainous. The 
irrigated lands begin close to the foothills, about 1,000 feet above sea 
level, and extend down to the Po, 200 feet above sea level. But little 
land is irrigiited on the south side of the Po, since the foothills l)order 
it closely — at Turin the river flows directly against their base — but 
farther east there is a narrow valley which is watered by a large Gov- 
ernment canal with a pumping plant to lift the water onto land which 
can not be reach(*d by gravity. On the north side of the Po the slope 
of the countr}' is in two directions — about 5 feet to the mile from west 
to east and about 8 feet to the mile from north to south, the slope 
being somewhat greater close to the foothills and flattening out toward 
the river. The irrigated land is served by both private and Govern- 
ment works, Piedmont exceeding all other Italian provinces in the 
number and importance of its State canals. 

The climate of Piedmont is drier than that of Lombard}^, the average 
annual rainfall being nearly 25 per cent less. The 40 inches at Milan 
drops here to 31.1 inches. This, however, is larger than the rainfall 
of much of the humid |X)rtion of the United States, and its distribution 
is as favorable to the growth of crops as that of many sections of the 



Mississippi Valley. The largest rainfall occurs in the summer months, 
the average percentage for the four seasons being as follows: 

Dhslrihuiion of rainfall at Turin. 

Per cent 

Winter 14.7 

Spring 26.3 

Summer 31. 6 

Autumn 27. 4 


There are two classes of streams in Piedmont, those which rise in 
the foothills and are fed by rains and snows and those which extend 
back into the high mountains and are fed largely by glaciers. The 
foothill streams have their floods in the spring and are very low in 
midsumnier. The glacial streams carry little water in the winter and 
early spring because of the intense and long-continued cold of the 
high valleys, but in the summer time the hotter the weather the more 
rapidly the glaciers melt and the more water there is to supply the 
canals in the valley. The Po, Sesia, Elvo, and Cervo rivers belong to 
the first class. The Dora lialtea and the Ticino are typical streams of 
the second class. 

The water from the foothill streams is preferred by irrigators when- 
ever it can be had. It is warm in the spring and as a rule carries con- 
eidemble fertilizing material. The Po, Elvo, and (Jervo rivers are 
always warm enough to be used. The water of the Po is of the color 
of ocher, resembling in that respect the Sacramento, and the sediment 
deposited on the fields is highly valued by farmers because of its fer- 
tility. On the other hand, the streams fed by the glaciers are too 
cold to be used in the early spring. Cakes of ice sometimes travel the 
entire length of the canals diverting the Dora Baltea. The water of 
the Ticino carries no silt whatever, hence has no value as a fertilizer. 
The water of the Dora Baltea is gray in color and looks like the tail- 
ings from a stamp mill. Its sediment is formed by the grinding of 
the glaciers over granite and has no value as a fertilizer, although it 
has in cementing the canals. Seepage losses are not a serious factor 
along the Dora Baltea because of this. 

The lowest disciharge of the Po at Chivasso is 1,412.4'* cubic feet per 
second. This o(^curs in July and August, continuing about six weeks. 
Only once (in 1882) has its discharge been as low as 989 cubic feet, 
and this continued for only fifteen days. The mean annual discharge 
is not less than 2,471.7 cubic feet per second. 

The low-water flow of the Dora Baltea continues from October to 
May and varies from 1,000 to 1,800 cubic feet per second. The high- 
water period, during which time the water is very turbid, continues 

«Tlie det'iinalH in thin and succeeding numl)ere come from reducing from Italian 
to English units. . 




from May 15 to the middle of September. The flood period is usually 
in July and August. When the river is high the (lovernment eanals 
take 5,649.6 cubic feet per second, and 1,765.5 cubic feet per second 
is diverted by private eanals. 

The Sesia River and ita tributaries, the Klvo and Cervo, furnish 
1,765.5 cubic feet per second to the Government canals from October 
to June. From June to September this discharge is reduced to 7()6.2 
cubic feet per second. 

The following is approximately the amount of water diverted and 

used in irrigation in Piedmont between the Dom lialtea and the Ticino 

From October to May: Cubic feet. 

From the Po at Chivasse 3,177.90 

From the Po at Casale 353. 10 

From the Dora Baltea 1, 412. 40 

From the Sesia, Elvo, ami Cervo 1, 765. 50 

From springs 353. 10 

Total 7,062.00 

From June to September: 

From the Po at Chivasse^ 2, 1 18. 60 

From the Po at Casale :i53. 10 

From the Dora Baltea 5, 649. 60 

From the Sma, Elvo, ami Cer^'0 706. 20 

From springs 529. 65 

Totiil 9, 857. 15 


As formerly used neither class of these rivers exactly met the 
re(|iiirements of the irrigators depending upon them. Farmers along 
the glacial rivers were often short of water in the spring or were 
compelled to irrigate w^hen the water was so cold that the growth of 
crops was checked. Tlie farmers along the foothill streams, on the 
other hand, had more warm water in the spring than they could mal*e 
use of aiid suffered from droughts in midsummer. It was realized that 
if the water of the foothill and glacial streams could ])e mixed so that 
irrigators could be served by the foothill streams in winter and spring 
and by the glacial rivers in summer, it would add immensely to the 
profits of agriculture. This could be done by building a canal which 
would run along the foothills almost panillel to the Po, intercepting 
the different rivers flowing down from the mountains into it in such 
a wav as to use them for feeders or to turn the water into them as 
conditions might require. 

The project of building such a regulating canal w^as first publicly 
advocated in 1633. A number of lines were surveyed, all starting 
from the Po but crossing the plain and the tributaries at different ele- 
vations. The canal finally built follows the surveys of the distin- 


guished Italian engineer, Carlo Noe, and the ereclit for carrying out 
the project is largely due to the enterprise and persistence of Count 
Cavour, for whom the canal was named. 

The canal starts on the north bank of the Po, about 15 miles below 
Turin, near the little town of Chivasso. It crosses the Dora Baltea 
River 2^ miles east of this on an arched masonry aqueduct, goes under 
the Elvoand Sesia rivers by means of inverted siphons, and, after (Toss- 
ing a large number of canals and smaller natural streams, finally ends 
on the west bank of the Ticino. Its principal water supply comes 
from the Po and the Dora Baltea and it serves as a reserve supply 
for the Elvo, Cervo, and Sesia rivers in midsummer. Running as 
it does, almost at right angles to the streams flowing down from the 
Alps, and having been built after the whole country had been brought 
under irrigation by canals diverting these rivers, it crosses not only 
the natural streams but a very large number of the older canals. 
When it was built one great source of expense was arranging for 
these ciinal crossings. Some of the canals were connected with it from 
the outset and others have been brought into conne(»tion, so that now 
the prevailing plan is to let the canals which start from these rivers 
above, where the Cavour Canal crosses them, empty into the Cavour 
and then fill them again from head gat(\s on the lower side. By 
having all the higher canals empty into the Cavour the water from 
the cold and warm streams is thoroughly mixed and irrigators below 
have the advantage of water at a satisfactory temperature throughout 
the year. The ( -avour, therefore, has connected with it an inmiense 
system of subsidiary canals feeding it and drawing water from it. 
The wat(^r it takes directly from the rivers is consequently only a 
fraction of the quantity it receives and discharges. To keep an accu- 
rate record of the water rec^eived from streams and canals and that 
turned out to other streams and canals is an underbiki ng in water 
measurement more complicated and important than any yet reciuired 
on any irrigation system in the United Stiites. The combined capac- 
ity of the Cavour Canal and its connections is 10,240 cubic feet per 
second, the capacity of the different canaU in the system being as 

Capacity of Gorernmnd ramth in Piedmont. 

(Jubio feet 
per second. 

Cavour Canal ( Po ) :^, H84. 10 

Lanza Canal ( Po ) 353. 10 

Gazelli Canal (Po) 70.62 

Ivrea Canal ( Dora Balt^i ) 706. 20 

Deprt'tis Canal ( Dora Baltea) 1, 942. 10 

Rotta Canal ( Dora Baltea) 635. 58 

Canals from Elvo and Cervo 353. 10 

Busca Canal (Sef^ia) 776. 82 

Kizzo-Bira^ ("anal (Se^ia) 635. 58 

Sartirana Canal (Sesia) ' 882.80 



The present extent of the Government system is shown by the 
following statistics: 

Length of Government canals in Piedmont. 
* Miles. 

Total length of main canals 282 

Distributing canals 177 

Secondary canals 467 

Total 926 


The system of irrigation works of which the Cavour is the basis has 
its offices in Turin, where Engineer Mazzini, who has charge of its 
administration, arranged for a week's inspection of the canal, to begin 
at the head gate at Chivasso and include the irrigated land in the 
provinces of Vercelli, Novara, and Mortara. It will aid in under- 
standing the system to give something of the history of its evolution, 
as a partial understiinding of the vicissitudes undergone in the past is 
necessary to a comprehension of the existing situation. Water rights 
and the ownership of canals in eastern Piedmont have been closely 
interwoven with the political and financial fortunes of the country's 
rulers. This can be illustrated bv the earlv history of a few of the 
canals belonging to the present system of State works. 

The first of these was begun in the twelfth century at what is now 
the head of the Ivrea, and wtis completed in 14:()8. It was abandoned 
a century later on account of the difficulty of keeping it from filling 
with sand. In that disused condition it came, two hundred 3^ears later, 
into the possession of the Prince of Franca villa, who cleaned it out 
and again used it for irrigation and navigation. It remained one of 
the possessions of this princely house until 1S20, when it was pur- 
chased by the State from the noble house of Solaro del Borgo, to 
whom it had descended by inheritance. One of the chief sources of 
revenue from this canal when it was in private ownership was the 
furnishing of power to mills, especially flour and rice mills. In its 
46 miles it runs through 14 towns and cities. The industrial con- 
tracts made with the mills in these towns, as well as many of the 
contracts entered into by the noble houses with farmers, have to be 
respected by the Government, and these have an important influence 
upon the methods of distribution employed. 

Another canal which illustrates the evolution of the present system 
is the Sartirana. It is the lowest diversion from the Sesia and was 
begun in October, 1387, the right to water being given to Beneventano 
de Tortis by the. reigning Duke Galeazzo Maria Visconti. The grantee 
of this right was authorized to take as much water from the left bank 
of the Sesia River as was necessary for the irrigation of the territory 
of the Sartirana, dm^ for all of the lauds on which the (jrantee could ime 


it conveniently, De Tortis gave this right away and the gift was con- 
firmed by Fmncesco Sforza I by a decree of Ma\^ 1, 1452, which was 
followed by a quitclaim deed from the heirs of De Tortis in 1455. 
The sales of water rights in America have, therefore, abundant prece- 
dent in the earl}' history of irrigation in Italy. 

A flood in the Sesia in 1457 destroyed the dam and another was 
afterwards built at a different place. Financial troubles of its owners 
caused its confiscation and it passed to the Duke of Bari in October, 
1479, by a concession from the Duchess Hianca Visconti. In 1494 it 
became the property of the Duke of Milan. This duke was defeated 
by Louis XII of France in 1497, was imprisoned, and his property 
given to the Cardinal of Amboise. When the French were defeated, 
the canal was taken away from this cardinal and again given to the 
Duke of Milan. The latter gave it to Cardinal Gattinara and it 
remained in the Gattinara family until acquired by the Stat<3 imder 
the law of July 19, 1857. 

Before this canal was even begun, the right to the water as it ran in 
the natural channel had been given away, sold, and leased several 
times. In its subsequent history, the part of the river controlled by 
the grant was the property' in turn of nobles, priests, and kings. 
The men living along the 20 miles of its length, and who each year 
spread its 882 cubic feet of water per second over their fields, had 
to deal in succession not only with their changing local rulers, but 
with foreign ones in Milan, Rome, and Paris. 

In acquiring this (^anal, the State had to assume the obligation of 
suppl3'ing free of all charges certain perpetual rights. During the 
five hundred years of its changing proprietorship, whenever an owner 
was in pressing need of money, the sale of a free perpetual right 
was one of the surest means of obtaining it The money thus paid 
did not go into the betterment of the canal, but did impair forever 
after its income, and when the State became the owner of the property 
these free rights became a burden on the community. In most cases 
the supplying of these free rights is a source of irritation to other 
water users from the canal, because they not only have to pay large 
assessments for keeping the canal in order, but their rights to receive 
water are inferior to those of the men who pay nothing either 
for the water itself or for the expenses of its delivery.* The rights 
sold in this canal include the water supplied to several individual 
ditches and power to four mills and several industrial establishments. 
Since the canal became State property there has been an important 
addition to its income from power, 600-horsepower being furnished 
the electric-light plant of the town of Casale. 

The advantages of uniting the different water supplies and operating 
a large number of canals as one system had long been manifest. The 
Government constructed the Depretis Canal as a means of supplying 


the hijifhia' Ijiiuls, and as ejirl\' sis IS^iO had purchiuswl the Ivrea Canal. 
The (Toution of one coniprohensivc system, however, made little sub- 
stantial progress until 1S40. At this time the needs of irrigation had 
become so great that farmers were insistent on more water and addi- 
tional canals. In response to this demand the Government in 1846 
arranged to purchase the Gattinam Omal, but the purchase was post- 
poned by the war of IS4S and 1849. 

Previous to 1S58 farmers had little benefit from Government owner- 
ship of canals. The properties belonging to the State were farmed 
out to speculators, who were given a free hand to make what<»ver 
terms they could with the irrigators. These canal lessees, having no 
permanent interest in either the canals or the success of agriculture, 
often charged oppressive mtes for water, which farmers, having no 
other source of supply, had to pay. In 1S53, however, the Govern- 
ment put an end to this pnictice. A cooperative society of farmers 
was organized, which included all the users of water from the Stjite 
canals between the Dora Baltea and the Sesia. This societv of irri- 
irators rented the canals directlv fnmi the State and did awav with 
the speculative middlemen. 

In addition to unitinir the canals in one system this societv aimed to 
brinir about certjiin oth(»r n»forms. State waters were not distin- 
guish(Hl from jH'ivate wat<M*s. l^he discharges of canals were unknown. 
Th(»re W(»re no definite tariff nites for water. An irrigator could not 
tell one year what he would have tx) pay the next. Out of the associa- 
tion of farmers, begun in 1S54, came the following results: 

Purchase by the* State of the Molinara C^inal; i)urchaseof the prop- 
erties and canals b(»longing to the Mauriziano Order; acquirement of 
the canal and the water rights belonging to the Vercelli Hospital; 
acquinMuent of the Vercelli C^anal belonging to the nuuiicipality; 
acquirement of tlie French canal belonging to Sc^q^pa Brothers; accjuire- 
ment of the Sartinina Canal and the (Jamarra Canal from the Manpiis 
of Hreme; authorization of the expense necessary for the enlargement 
of the Cigliano Canal; acquirement of the diversions from the P^lvo 
and of the water rights belonging to Count Avogadi'o of Casanova; 
acquirenient of the watiM* rights ))elonging to C/Ount Avagadro of 
Quinto; acciuirement of the Marcova Canal belonging to the Count of 

The purchase by the Government of these (*anals was only one 
feature of the scheme for the extension of irrigation, and was sub- 
sidiary to the larger project of building a main canal to furnish an 
additional water supply from the Po Kiver, which, crossing the dniin- 
age lines of tin* country, would serve as a feeder and ecjualizer for both 
rivers and ditches. When active work on this canal was begun in 
1S40 the idea was over two hundred years old, having been first pro- 
posed in Ui:>8. It did not, howev(»r, take distinct form until presented 


to the Government by Francesco Rossi, a civil engineer of Vercelli. 
The phm of Rossi secured the support of Couut Cavour, who was not 
only the foremost friend irrigation ha« ever had in Italy, but one of 
the ablest statesmen of modern times. 

To divert a torrential river like the Po and to carry a great canal 
over a river like the Dora Baltea, and under another, the Sesia, was a 
stupendous undertaking, and the country, impoverished by the expenses 
of the struggle with Austria for independence, was in no condition 
to carry it put directly; but Count Cavour persevered and his engi- 
neering assistjint. Carlo Noe, completed the surveys and prepared a 
definite project for its construction in 1854:. The wish of Count 
Cavour was that the (iovernment should construct the canaK but the 
wars of 1859, 18G0, and 18(51 delayed this, and in 18()1 Count Cavour 

Not having the money to build the canal, the (jovernment in 1802 
made a contract with a syndicate of English and French capitalists, by 
which it sold to this svndicate all of the canals taking water from the 
Dora Baltea, Elvo, Cuervo, and Sesia rivers, then owned by the State, 
for $4,06(),(H)0, the company, however, being o])liged lo respect all of 
the ancient rights in these canals and to carry out the (yovei'nment's 
contract with the farmers' association at Vercelli. It was estimated 
that to pay for the State works and build the (Javour canal to serve 
as a connecting link between them would require ^n outlay of 
$16,000,000. The Government agreed to aid in securing these funds 
by guaranteeing for fifty years the payment of G per cent interest on 
this amount of bonds. With this guarantee ))ehind them, it was 
expected that the bonds (tould be sold for enough to pay the State for 
* its properties, purchase some additional canals needed, and build the 
Cavour Canal. In consideration of the (jovernment's guarantee, the 
compaii}' agreed to turn over to the State at the end of fift}' years 
the entire i>roperty free of debt. 

The prospects of the com[)an3^ at the outset were such as to justify 
confidence in its success. With its interest [)ayments guaninteed for 
a half century at a raU» greater than that of most Govermnent securi- 
ties, and with a large numl)er of irrigation canals aln^ady in successful 
operation, it would seem that the project ought to have })een a finan- 
cial success; but there were certain factors connected with the enter- 
prise which apparently foredoomed it to failure. In the first i)lace 
the (company was crippled by the fall in price of Government securi- 
ties. When negotiations Iwgan, Ihilian Government bonds were sell- 
ing at 05. When the company was ready to sell its bonds they had 
fallen to 60, and before they w^ere all sold tlu* price had fallen to 40. 
Because of the heavy discounts which had to be made, only $1 1,2(K),000 
wa.s realized from the $1(),000,000 worth of securities sold. 

At first it was. thought that the Po would furnish all the water 



needed. Afterwards it was found that a supplemental supply would 
have to be drawn from the Dora Baltea, and that the diverting canal 
from that river would increase the cost of the entire work from 
$7,000,000 to $10,660,000. Of the estimate of $16,000,000, $1,200,000 
was to pay for private canals and the construction of additional canals 
to distribute the water from the Cavour Canal. The difficulty of 
obtaining money to meet the construction expenses of the main canal 
led to delay or neglect in the construction or purchase of these dis- 
tributing works, and when the main canal was finally completed there 
was a lack of laterals to receive and distribute the water. The com- 
pany was unable, therefore, to carr3' out its agreement with the irri- 
gation association at Vercelli, and the association had the option of 
terminating its contract. This, with the tinancial difficulties of the 
company, added to its inability to sell bonds, caused it to be declared 
bankrupt in 1867, and for practically three years the whole project 
was tied up in litigation and other complications. 

When the main canal had been completed, at an outlay of more than 
$10,000,000, onl}^ about one-tenth of the water could be disposed of. 
The small revenue which this produced would not pay the interest 
guaranteed by the State, and as the canal had not been built in accord- 
ance with the specifications, the Government refused to pay this. In 
the suit which followed the Government was defeated, l>ut the bank- 
ruptcy of the company and the complications and controversies which 
beset it led to the creation of a commission in 1870 to determine vrhat 
the Government should do. The Government took over the property 
under the law passed in June, 1874, together with the other canals 
which it had originally owned and those which had been built or 
bought as a part of this system. For the last thirty years the canal 
has been operated as a State work. 



The national road from Turin to Casale crosses the Po about 15 miles 
below the first-named city. The head gate of the Cavour Canal is 
about a quarter of a mile l)elow the bridge on this road. As origi- 
nally planned, the water was to be turned into the canal by nieans 
of a masonry dam extending entirely across the stream, with a series 
of sluice gates close to the banks on the canal side to scour out the 
sand and keep the head of the canal from filling up. The onl}- part 
of this structure completed was the sluiceways, shown in Plate X. 

In the place of the permanent masonry dam, a temporary diversion 
weir has been built by driving two rows of piles, placed 3.28 feet apart 
and 4 feet apart in the rows, in a curved line extending diagonall3'^ 
upstream. The space between the rows of piling is filled with huge 
blocks of granite, and smaller stones have been thrown in as riprap- 

if s 



FiQ. 1,-ViEW OF Head Gate of Cavouh Canal, fhom Above. 

Sluiceway jlioivn In Fl. X antU wall at rlirhi. 

-».«o,., F,„„ „.,„., e„o„. C„.. ov„ DO,. B.„,. R„„. 



s < 




ping on both the upper and h)wer aides. The piling does not extend 
more than halfway across the stream. Beyond that it is intended 
that during flood time all obstruction to the water shall be washed 
out and then replaced when the river falls. The replaceable section had 
been restored at the time of my visit, and was made of stone blocks and 
bags of coarse wire filled with bowlders. This diversion weir had 
been extended out from the end of the rock-pile dam when the river 
fell below its crest. The wire bags filled with bowlders are an excel- 
lent expedient for this, owing to the ease with which they can be han- 
dled. They can be filled at the point where they are to be dumped into 
the stream, and when rolled in they are less liable to be moved by the 
current than blocks of stone. In front of these bags of bowlders sand 
bags had been thrown, making a water-tight dam, so that the entire 
flow of the river was being turned into the canal. The sluiceway next 
to the canal consists of granite masonry piers, resting on a concrete 
foundation, with 14 openings 4.5 feet wide and 8 feet high. The open- 
ings in the sluiceways are closed by means of oak planks, which are 
dropped into grooves when the river is low, and taken out when it is 
high, exactly as is done in similar structures in the West. The head 
gate is sot back into the canal 700 feet from the riv^er. The variation 
between high and low water in the river is about 25 feet. This has 
made it necessary to raise the banks and protect them by means of a 
high and heav}' retaining wall of cut granite, adding greatly to the 
expense. In view of this expense and the greater difficulty of keeping 
this 700 feet at the mouth of the canal clear of sand, the reason for 
locating the head gate so far from the river was not apparent. It 
seems as if it would have been cheaper and better to place it close to 
the river bank, where the sluiceway in the diversion weir would have 
been more effective in keeping sand away from the gates. 

The head gate is of an imposing and monumental character appro- 
priate to a great public work (PI. XI, fig. 1). At the west end of the 
head gate there is a beautiful bronze statue of Count Cavour, mounted 
on a marble pedestal. The ])ase of this is shown beyond the doorway 
of the head gate in Plate XII. Plate XIII shows the elevations and 
foundatic^n plans of the head gate, the drawings being reproduced 
from a report on Italian irrigation by Colonel Moncrietf. Plate XII 
shows an interior view of the third story of the head gate, the super- 
intendent being in the act of lifting the gates. 

The water is admitted into the canal through 21 openings, each 4.1)2 
feet wide and 7.2 feet high, separated by granite piers 1.8 feet thick. 
There are two sets of gates, one at the front and the other at the back 
of the structure, the purjK)se of the double set being to relieve the 
pressure in operating them when the river is high and as a precaution 
against accident. Above the openings is a second story, in which the 
masonry on the upstream side is solid, as a precaution against floods. 


which sometimes attain a height of 25.5 feet. The third story is both 
a bridge for crossing the canal and a gallery wheic the gates are 
operated, iron stems extending from the gates into this gallery. The 
gates are operated by means of a leyer, and are held in place by pins 
inserted in the stems (PI. XII). On the east side of the gates is a 
second waste way haying 9 openings each 5.5 feet wide and 10 feet 
high. The floor of this wasteway is 1 foot below the canal gates, and 
some of the openings are always kept open to aid in scouring out the 

On the day the head gate was yisited all the water of the Po was 
being turned into the canal. Below the temporary dam the channel 
was a bed of dry sand, and the onl\^ water which appeared wiis perhaps 
a cubic foot per second leaking through the sluiceways, shown in the 
right of Plate X. Forty-three cubic meters, or 1,51S cubic feet, per 
second was passing through the head gates, which is a little less than 
half of the IH) cubic meters (3,1T8 cul)ic feet) per second which the 
upper section of the canal was built to carr}'. 

The total length of the canal is 51.1 miles. At the head it is 181 
feet wide on the bottom, and is planned to carry water to ft depth of 
8.2 feet. The width gradualh' diminishes. One and eight-tenth miles 
from the head the canal is 82 feet wide on the })ottom, the sides are 
inclined 45 degrees, and it carries water to a depth of 11.25 feet. Two 
and one-half miles below the head gate the canal crosses the Dora 
Baltea Riyer on a massiye and beautifid masonry aqueduct 65() feet 
long and 45 feet high. It is supported on arches built of granite 
masonry and resting on conca-ete foundations 5 feet thick. The 
arches, sills, and spandrels are of brick with joints of cement. The 
width of the water channel is 0() feet. The side walls arc 12 feet 
high and 5.75 feet thick (PI. XI, tig. 2). 

The wat(?r of the Po is especially desired by irrigators because it is 
warm, and because the sediment has great value as a fertilizer, hence 
all that can be diverted is taken out in midsummer. But this is not 
sufficient and a considenible part of the supply nuist be taken from 
the cold glacial waters of the Dora Baltea. The Farini Canal was 
built to proyidt^ this supplemental suppl3\ Its head gate is about 3 
miles aboye where the CJayour Canal crosses the riyer, and is very 
similar to the head gate of the Cavour. A submerged concrete dam 
650 feet long extends across the river, making it possible to turn the 
entire flow of the stream into the canal whenever necessary. When 
the river is high this dam causes great pressure agjiinst the head gat^^s 
and water is forced through the openings with such velocity as to 
cause nmch dtunage, and a heavy outlay han been necessary to protect 
the sid(»s and ])ottoms of the canal below the head gate, which are 
now lined with substantial granite i)aying for several hundred feet. 
Beyond that the bottom is lined with large stones thrown in loosely. 


The head gate is divided into 9 sections b}'^ interposing piles, each 
part surmounted by an arch having a span of 10.5 feet with a rise of 
1 foot. Each of these 9 sections is divided into two equal parts by 
a pillar of hewn stone in such a wa}^ that there are 18 openings with a 
width of 4.5 feet each. The gates are 9.5 feet high, and are operated 
in the same maimer as those on the ('avour. Above the gates the 
structure consists of two galleries, the lower one being closed on the 
upstream side, but open on the lower side. The upper galler\^ is used 
to operate the gates. The total height of the gate structure is 38 feet 
and the width 78.5 feet, and the cost was $29,000. 

The Farini Canal is built to carry 2,472 cubic feet per second. The 
Cavour was delivering 4,590 cubic feet per second when visited. Of 
this 1,518 cubic feet per second came from the Po, 2,472 cubic feet per 
second from the Dora Baltea through the Farini (^anal, and 000 cubic 
feet per second from the Ivrea and Cigliano canals. In order that the 
management may keep informed regarding the quantity of water 
being received from the different sources and delivered to the different 
branches, every inlet and outlet gate has a float connected with an 
electric register which notifies the superintendents of the rise or fall 
of the water be3'ond certain limits. In addition to this, all branches 
of the system arc connected b}^ telegraph and t<3lephone lines, so that 
what is taking place in every part of the 51 miles of the main canal is 
known at headquarters. 


For 6 miles above the head of the Farini Canal the river bhiffs 
border closely the west side of the Dora Baltea, but there is a broad 
valley bordering the eastern side. The ))ottom lands have luxuriant 
crops of corn, clover, and alfalfa. Considerable marcite is grown on 
the uplands, but the slope of the land is too great to permit the supply 
ditches to run down it as thev do around Milan. Thev have to run 
across the slope, and water is distributed from one side only of the 
supply ditches. At the foot of the sloi)e, al)out every 100 feet, there 
is another parallel ditch which catches the water from the slope above 
and turns it over the slope below. Although the losses ))v seej>age 
from all the canals diverting the sediment-laden waters of the Dora 
Baltea were far less than from those diverting the clear water of the 
Ticino, the duty of water in this section is not appreciably higher 
than in Lombardy, where these seepage losses have to be sustained. 
One farmer who cultivates 200 acres buys 1.65 cubic feet of water per 
second. This gives a duty of 121 ac»res for each cubic foot per second, 
almost the same as that under the Villoresi Canal near Corbetta. This, 
however, is above the average duty. Where water is not paid for by 
the farmer it does not serve more than half the above area, and this is 

32^56— ^^o, X44, pt 1—04 6 


the prevailing condition in the country bordering the river, where 
many of the canals have ancient rights giving them all the water they 
can use. The Government canals provide water more liberally in this 
section than elsewhere, and the injurious etfccts of this liberality were 
shown in the neglected laterals. 

One of the interesting canals of this region is the Rotto. The 
inscription on the gatehouse at the head states that it was built in 14()0 
by the Duke of Monferi*ato. The structure is of brick and shows the 
marks of age. The gates are primitive, and are lifted by a crowbar 
inserted in slots in the stems. It has the earliest right on the stream, 
and is entitled to 275 cubic feet per second. 


Above the head of the Rotto C0.nat two other canals, the Depretis 
and the Ivrea, are built along the hillside east of the valley. Both of 
these canals have to tm verse a broken country in order to. reach the 
higher lands of the plain, but are below much of the best land. Many 
survevs have l)een made in an effort to secure a line which would 
cover the upper part of tlie plain, but such a canal would have to go 
through a broken country and coarse, gravell}' soil, which together 
have made the outlay prohibitive. In order to irrigate a part of this 
land there has }>een installed at Cigliano, near the head of the Rotto 
Canal, a pumping station which is operated b}^ water taken from the 
Depretis Canal and discharged into the Rotto. It has been in operation 
since 1889 and serves to irrigate about 3,700 acres. Three hundred 
and eighteen cubic feet of water per second drops from the Depretis 
Canal 21.3 feet on to four turbine wheels. The water lifted is taken 
out of the Ivrea Canal through an iron pipe 3.94 feet in diameter, 
carried down through the pumps, and then lifted from there, tlie pres- 
sure from the Ivrea Canal assisting, of course, in their operation. The 
drop from the Ivrea Canal to the pumps is (>2 feet and the lift from the 
pumps 131 feet, making the net lift of the water 69 feet. On August 
12, 46 cubic feet of water per second was being pumped. This can be 
increased in times of emergency to 53 cubic feet per second. The 
pump and pumping house are of excellent design and construction and 
are kept in perfect condition. The total cost of the plant was $173,700, 
making the cost of installation $46.95 per acre. In addition to this, 
the owners of land have to pay the annual cost of raising and apply- 
ing the water. It is a heavy outlay, but it has proven profitable. 

The pumping station was built through an agreement with the Gov- 
ernment, both the Depretis and Ivrea canals being State property. 
Under this agreement the irrigators have free use of the water for 
power, and until 1898 paid $27.34 per cubic foot per second for the 
water tsiken from the Ivrea Canal. In 1898 this charge was raised to 
$82 \)ei' cubic foot per second for the remainder of the concession, 

U. S. D.pi. of Ag... Buf. 144, OHic. of £.«. St.ironi i„.,>i,pii,on>, Plate XIV. 

FiQ. 1 .—Diversion Gates from Cavour Canal Pumpino Station Near Novaha. 



FiQ, 2,— View of Inlet to Siphon under Sesia River. 


which ends December 31, 1905. The four turbines and the pumps 
which they operate have been in use twenty years and are still in first- 
class condition. The lands that are irrigated are worth three times as 
much as the adjacent lands not irrigated, and great regret is felt that 
the works were not originally built large enough to irrigat-e the whole 
of the 20,000 acres of fine land above the Ivrea Canal. 

There are two other pumping plants connected with the (lovern- 
ment canals in Piedmont. The one at Casale was not visited, but the 
one nownearing completion, 4.5 miles northeast of the city of Novara, 
was inspected. This will lift wattn* for the land aroimd the town of 
Cameri which has hitherto been largely devoted to stock raising. Lack 
of irrigation has limited the amount of hay which could 1)0 raised, and 
farmers have been compelled to rent meadow land around Novara for 
winter pasturage. This involved an annual expenditure of $20,000 
and serious inconvenience in the moving of stock. 

The pumping station which is to supply these farmers with water 
for irrigation is located at the head of the lateral which runs down to 
Novai*a from the Cavour Canal. Here the Cavour runs along the hill- 
side. The water which runs into the latenil has a drop of 10.3 feet, 
and the pumping station has been arranged so that 882 cubic feet per 
second of the 988.7 cubic feet per second which is turned into this lateral 
will pass through two sets of turbine wheels. In one group are two 
sets of turbines of two each, and in the otlier one set of three turbines. 
These will generate about 1,000 horsepower, part of which will be 
utilized to lift the water through a masonry tube to a measuring basin 
built on top of the slope above the canal. Here a measuring weir 
provided with a waste gate will discharge back into the Cavour any 
surplus water raised. 

The land to be irrigated rises to the north with a uniform ascent of 
about 3.5 feet in 1,000. The tnict is about 3.5 miles wide, and the 
upper side is 70 feet above the water level of the Cavour Canal. 
Instead of pumping all the water to this height the tract has been 
divided into four parallel zones. The lift to the upper edge of the 
first one is 1S.8 feet; to the second one, 14.8 feet; to the third, 18 feet* 
No provision has as yet been made for lifting to the fourth level. All 
the water — 58.76 cubic feet per second — has to be lifted into the basin 
which supplies the first zone. From this station the water for the next 
two zones will be elevated by means of electrically driven pumps, the 
current being generated by electric motors connected with the second 
group of turbines. The gates which let the water from the canal are 
sections of a cylinder supported by truss framework and turning on 
an axis placed above the center of pressure (PI. XIV, fig. 1). They 
were made in Novara after designs hy Engineers Travaglini and Ber- 
toli. The gates are lifted by means of two chains fastened to tlie outer 
circumference and attached to a winch above, Each gate is 21.3 feet 


long and 7 feet high. Gat^s of a similar pattern are now being 
installed in the head works of the Twin Falls Canal in Idaho. 

This pumping station is being built by a private cooperative asso- 
ciation of farmers cultivating the land around Cameri. It made an 
agreement with the Government in September, 1899, by which the 
Government gives free for thirty years the use of the power necessary 
to raise 58.76 cubic feet of water per second. The water lifted is sold 
to the association at $90.72 per cubic foot per second, with a discount 
of 30 per cent for twenty-nine years. Under this agreement 3,107 
acres of land are to l)e irrigated. Calculations of the quantity of water 
and the cost of service to farmers are based upon an estimate that it 
will cost $4,342 to manage, operate, and maintain the plant, and that 1 
cubic foot per second will water 02 acres of land. According to this 
computation, irrigators will have to pay $8,000 a year interest, |vl,500 
a year for operation, and $5,500 a year for the water purchased, mak- 
ing a total outlay of $18,000 a year, or about $5.80 an acre. In iiddi- 
tion to this, provision is made for a sinking fund, amounting to alx)ut 
$10 an acre. This makes the annual charge for water $16 jxir acre in 
a region where the annual i*ainfall is about 30 inches. The fiu-^t that 
this is })eing done in a countrv when* adjacent lands have l)een watt^red 
for centuries, and where the value of irrigation is not a matter of experi- 
ment, but a demonstrated fact, means much for the extension of 
irrigation in the eastern part of the United States. 


The most important siphon on the Cavour Canal is at the crossing 
of the Sesia River. Its design is shown in Plate XV and its appear- 
ance in Plate XIV, figure 2. It is 820 feet long, composed of 5 oval 
tubes 16.4 feet in their horizontal and 7.54 feet in their vertical diam- 
eter. These tubes are of brick, varying in thickness from 1.77 to 2.3 
feet. The concrete foundation on which thev rest is 2.6 feet thick. 
There are masonry walls at the sides of the conduits, alx)ve and below, 
as far as the abutments, which are 4.6 feet thick. Above the mouth 
of the siphon is a basin 75 feet wide and 213 feet long. Out of it is a 
wasteway leading into the Sesia. 

Protection of this work has been an important source of expense. 
During violent floods t^he discharge of the Sesia reaches 28,000 cubic 
feet per second. This volume of water flowing over the siphon, and 
at times beating against the protecting walls at the ends, threatens 
their integrity, and the danger is occasionally increased by the neces- 
sity of opening the wasteway and removing the water of the canal. 




The Cavour Canal was sold to the Government in 1874, with all the 
connecting canals, their rights, and privileges. The properties trans- 
ferred, with the improvements made in them since, represent an out- 
lay of nearly $20,000,000. The}" are administered b}' the treasury 
department, the head office being in Turin, with branch offices in 
Chivasso, Vercelli, No vara, and Mortara. The general manager, 
water masters, and ditch tenders are connected with the treasury 
department; the engineering force with the department of public 
works. Two branches of the Italian Government have therefore inti- 
mate relation with Government irrigation works. The work to be 
performed by eac*>h department is, however, clearly defined. 

The general manager superintends the making of contmets or con- 
cessions, fixes water rentals, and arranges for the delivery of water to 
customers. He has charge of all surveys and plans for improvements 
and for the disposal of water for purposes other than irrigation. He 
represents the Government in all lawsuits and signs all contracts. The 
supervisors, ditch tenders, and tax collectors are subordinates of the 
general manager. The supervisors and ditch tenders manage the canal 
and regulate the quantities of water turned in and out in order that 
customers shall be supplied with the amounts contracted for. The tax 
collectors collect the water rentals, although payments may be made 
directly to the provincial treasurers. Civil-service regulations govern 
employment under the treasury department. One-half the vacancies 
among supervisors must be filled from the mnks of subordinates, and 
the other half taken from the minor officers in the army. All vacan- 
cies among ditch tenders except the lowest rank are filled by promo- 
tion. These regulations have given to the canals a body of highl}^ 
trained and thoroughly competent men. 

The chief engineer is connected with the department of public works, 
but is under the direction of the general manager. He makes plans 
for improvements or repairs, prepares estimates of expenses for oper- 
ation and maintenance, and is authorized to do emergency work with- 
out instruction from the general manager. He purchases all supplies, 
superintends the construction of any work undertaken, examines 
applications for water-right concessions, and is the expert engineering 
adviser of the general manager on all questions, whether administra- 
tive, legal, or technical. 

Plans and estimates for any work to cost more than $400 must be 
approved by the engineers of the department of public works. Con- 
tracts which involve an expenditure of more than $8,000 nuist be let 
by public bid. Contracts which involve more than $1,000 may be let 
privately, but must first be submitted to the Ministry of theTreasur3\ 
In emergency cases the general manager can' mtike contracts up to 
fl,600 without this reference. 



A considerable part of the water carried by Stiite canals l)elon^s to 
the holders of ancient perpetual rights, which are not aifected })y 
tariffs or other regulations. In disposing of the water supply which 
has no such incumbrance, pa3'ments depend upon the use made of 
the water, the different uses being classified as follows: 

Summer irrigation. 

Wintor irrigation. 

Power for operating farm machinery. 

Power for industrial establishments. 

Water for ice making. 

There is a regular tariff for each of these uses except power for 
industrial establishments, where special agreements are nuule in each 
case. The price charged for water for power varies, according to 
the distance from the head gate, from a maxinmm of $20 to a mini- 
mum of $4 per theoretii^al horsepower, which is calculated from the 
difference in level of the water above and below the wheels. In none 
of the contracts of the Government is there any guamnty against 
damage because of shortage in the water supply in the streams or 
from accidents, but where the full amount is not furnished the amount 
paid is proportionately reduced. As far as possible, contracts for 
power are made subordinate to contracts for irrigation. 

Three methods of regulating charges are used in this system: 

(1) Charging according to the, area irrigated. 

(2) Charging for the quantity flowing through a simple opening in the side of the 

(3) Charging for the quantity delivered, measured hy regulating either the pressure 
on an orifice or the depth flowing over a weir. 

Prior to 1854 the Government, in farming out its canals, sometimes 
charged so nuich for the use of the canal regardless of the amount of 
water it carried and sometimes for the quantity furnished. Before 
1845 the rate where water was charged for by the volume was $35 per 
cubic foot per second. This was raised in January, 1845, to $65 per 
cubic foot per second. In 1853 this was succeeded, in the territory 
west of the Sesia, by a contract with the general association under 
which $75.45 per cubic foot per second was paid for all water turned 
into the canals from the Dora Baltea and $93 per cubic foot per second 
for all water received from the Po. This contract ran for thirty years, 
ending January 1, 1884. A new thirty -year contract was then made in 
which the price was fixed at $142 per cubic foot per second. This was 
reduced in January, 1894, to $126 per cubic foot per second. These 
prices were based upon measurements made at the head gates without 
any allowance for losses by seepage or evaporation. 

In the district east of the Sesia the Government rents water to dif- 
ferent associations at varying rates. Under the Sai-tirana Canal the 


price fixed in 1857 was ^185 per cubic foot per second. Thi8 was 
reduced in 1860 to ♦142 per cubic foot per second; increased in 1870 
to $165 per cubic foot per second; and reduced in 1876 to $120 per 
cubic foot per second. 

All the changes made before 1860 were during the time the Cavour 
Canal was managed by a private association. Since the canal became 
a State work the tariffs have been twice changed, the present i*ates 
f)eing as follows: 

(1) The regular price for 8ummer irrigation is $125.75 per cubic foot per second. 

(2) The Hpecial i)rice for summer irrigation is $82 per cubic foot i)er se<'ond. 

(8) A reduction of 20 percent is made for three years when land is irrigated for 
the first time. 

(4) The price for winter irrigation is $9.84 per cubic foot per second. 

(5) The price for power puriK)ses is $1 per horsepftwer per month. 

(H) The price for water fumishe<i by the day during the summer is $2.18 i>er cubic 
foot per second. 
Where payment for water is Imsed (m the area irrigated, the (charges are as follows: 

(7) Water for rice fields, $7.81 an acre. 

(8) Water for meiidows, $4.69 an acre. 

*(9) Water for n)arcit<i irrigation, $5.86 an acre. 

The average annual income of the system of Government canals in 
Piedmont for the three years ending 1901 was as follows: 

Income from Government canals in IHednwnt. 

From the sale of perpetual rights $20, 643. 86 

Rent of water for summer irrigation 4(59, 031 . 50 

Rent of water for winter irrigation 26, 322. 69 

Rent of water for power purposes, industrial plants 33, 687. 57 

Agricultural mills, power 2, 493. 17 

Rent of public mills 18, 808. 81 

Miscellaneous 5, 821 . 46 

Total 576, 809. 06 

The cost of water supplied to irrigators by private canals varies 
widely. Where these canals are owned by the farmers water is cheap, 
as the canals cost but little to operate and there is either no charge or 
onlv a small State tax for the water diverted from the stream. Where 
the canals are owned by the nobility or large landowners who rent the 
surplus left after irrigating their own estates, the rentals are as a rule 
high. Esi^ciall}" is this true in sections not reached by State canals 
and where there is no competition. Where State and private canals 
cover the same areas, competition has lowered both classes of rentals. 
The distance from the stream also affects nites. This is particularly 
true along canals close to the Po where the water, if not used, would 
be wjisted. In the portion of Piedmont l)ordering the Po there are 
many seepage canals which gather up the waste water f nmi the State 
canals and the water which percolates from the rice fields above. 
Kates under these canals are low because they cost little to build, are 


not subject to dangers from storms, and the water supply can not 
always be relied upon. There is often a shortage in the spring when 
the irrigation on which the seepage flow depends is delayed, and there 
is often an injurious surplus in the rainy season when the wastewa^^s 
of the higher canals are open. 

In the irrigation of rice water rentals are frequently paid in a share 
of the crop. It is interesting to note that this plan has also been 
adopted in the rice districts of Louisiana and Texas. Where the water 
rental is so paid the share varies from one-fourth to one-seventh, 
according to the place and the amount of water required. In all such 
transactions the farmer has to insure against hail. 

The greater part of the water from State canals is sold to farmers' 
associations, the policy being to discourage contracts with individual 
irrigators. These associations buy at wholesale rates and then retail 
to their members. They also as a rule le^ise and operate the secondary 
canals used in the distri})ution of the water purchased, where these 
secondary canals belong to the (iovcrnment. Man}^ of these associa- 
tions are important. Among them the one which manages the Monte- 
bello C^anal controls the watering of 12,000 acres of land in Novara; 
the Association of (Talliata controls the irrigation of 12,CM)0 acres. 
The largest and most successful is the (Jeneral Association West of 
the Scsia. 

The map (PI, XVI) will aid in understanding the relation between 
State and private canals in the irrigation of the country between the 
Dora Balteji and Ticino rivers. In this map the State (*anals arc 
colored red and the private ones blue, so it is easy to distinguish them. 
Altogether a})out 750,000 acres are irrigated. South of the Cavour 
nearly all the large canals belong to tlie State, but l)etween the Sesia 
and Cerro rivers private works are the rule. These latter are man- 
aged l)y district organizations similar in character to those authorized 
by the laws of Idaho, C/olorado, and California. The green-colored 
portion of the map shows the boundaries of the General Association 
W^est of the Sesia, the 3'ellow, the boundaries of the projected Novara 
Association, and the uncolored portions show where ditches and canals 
are operated independently. ^ 


The feature of irrigation of most interest in Vercelli is the above- 
named association. It is more widelv known than either the rice fields 
or costly canals, and has influenced irrigation development in many 
parts of the world. This unique and effective society is the creation 
of Count Cavour and is one of his most valuable contributions to the 
agricultural prosperity of his native province. Its organization grew 
out of the unsettled water rights, the conflict between public and pri- 
vate ditches, between the appropriators of water from streams and 


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those who depend on seepage supplies. To put an end to these water- 
right troubles and to the difference in water rates, Count Cavour took 
a leading part in a movement to combine all the appropriators and all 
the canals which distributed water under one management. It is in 
effect the application of the trust idea in irrigation and is one of its 
earliest examples. In it.s general features it is a voluntary coopera- 
tion of all the irrigators living in the territory shown on the green- 
colored portion of Plate XVI. It controls every canal within this 
territory, fixes the prices of all the water used, manages its deliv- 
ery, and exercises a large direction in the selection of the crops to l)e 

Some idea of the extent of its operations maj" be gained from the 
following statistics. It has 14,000 members, operates 9,600 miles of 
ditches, has 266 miles of telegraph and telephone lines, supplies water 
for the irrigation of 141,000 acres of land, and does a business of 
$600,000 a year. It buys between 1,250 and 1,800 cubic feet of water 
per second each year f i-om the Government canals. In consideration 
of this large purchase of water the Government gives the association 
control of all the secondary Stjite canals through which the water is 
distributed. In addition to the wat^r bought from the State, the 
asswiation controls and distributes all the water belonging to private 
canals and private rights within its territory. Under legislation 
secured by the society, the owners of these private water rights are 
compelled to turn the water over to the association Iwcause it is illegal 
for even the Government to sell water to individuals or to anv one but 
the society within it« territory. Holders of private water rights are, 
however, paid for the quantity taken, the price given them l)eing 20 
per cent less than that paid to the Government. In addition to the 
water purchased from the State canals and from private holders, 
theix* are ancient pei"petual rights to 498.4 cubic feet of water per 
second^ the holders of which are entitled to have this amount of water 
delivered to them free of cost. 

The Association West of the Sesia has assumed for the Government 
the responsibility of supplying these vested rights, the Government 
furnishing the water at the head of the distributing canals, with 7 per 
cent added to compensate for losses by seepage and ev-aporation. In 
addition to the water purchased, the association collects a large amount 
of seepage water, which it supplies to its members. Altogether the 
association distributes to its members about 2,275 cubic feet of water 
per second. 

The general offices of the association are in Vercelli. Its affairs are 
dire(»ted by a general manager assisted by three undermanagers. The 
general manager lives in Vercelli, as does one of the undermanagers; 
the other undermanagers live at Santhia and Trino. The territory 


administered bv each of the under managers is shown on the map 
(PI. XVI). 

In the irrigation season the regulation of head gates requires the 
services of 80 water masters, and these in turn are assisted bv the 
twelve or fiteen subordinates in each consorzio or association along 
the different laterals. The statutes, by-laws, and regulations of the 
society make a book of 173 pages. Some of the powers exercised 
seem extraordinary when compared with American practi(!e. For 
instance, the association deteimines how many acres in each district 
may be planted to rice and how many to cultivated crops. The farm- 
ers nmst plant as the association decides, as there is no appeal from 
the ruling of the superintendent. The reason for conferring this 
authority on the manager is that it takes seven times as nmch water 
to irrigate an acre of rice and three times as much to irrigate an acre 
of meadow as it does to irrigate an acre of land seeded to corn or 
wheat. If, therefore, because of high prices farmers wished to extend 
the area seeded to rice, the association could not supply the water 
required. Or, if rice growing was suddenl}- abandoned, tliere would 
be a large surplus water supply to be dis[)osed of or the association 
would V)e purchasing a large volume of water for which it would have 
no use, as its contracts for water are not made each ,year, but for 
thirty -year periods. Having a definite quantity of water which it nmst 
sell, the association requires the farmers to plant crops which will 
insure a market for it. The man who does not cultivate rice on the 
land which the association assigns to that crop must pay the same 
water rent as if he did, and can collect no damage for seepage if he 
attempts to grow some other crop on lands on which the association 
has said rice should be grown. Men w ho waste water or who under- 
take to make a profit from waste water or seepage water coming from 
their own land may be fined. 

The cost of water to members of the association is determined by 
adding to the purchase price the expenses of the societ}' for adminis- 
tration, maintenance, and repairs. The books are balanced and com- 
putations made in October. The assessments must })e paid between 
November and January — that is, payments are made after the service 
has been rendered inste^id of in advance. The promptness with which 
payments arc made is little less than marvelous. In the tift}^ years 
that the society has been in operation there has never been an instance 
of a member failing to pay his assessment witliin the prescribed time. 
One reason for this is the severit}' of the penalty which the society 
can impose, and that is to refuse to furnish water to such members 

The members of the association file their applications for water for 
the next year in the autumn. These applications must state the 


amount of water desired and the acreage of the different crops pro- 
posed to be grown. The manager of the association, when he examines 
the applications, may modify them and change the number of acres of 
corn, rice, or clover for the reasons before explained. 

The V arious officers and employees of the association are under civil- 
service regulations. Each one when appointed has to serve a proba- 
tionary period of two years, and after he has served acceptably for 
this length of time he can not be discharged except for cause. Every 
question connected with water rates, the relation of individuals to the 
association or to each other as far as water matters are concerned, 
may be referred to a court of arbitration composed of three membei^s. 
This court or board has authority to punish with fines any member of 
the society found at fault, and the sentences it imix)ses are considered 
as law-court sentences and the property of the offender may l)e seized 
and sold in order to carry the sentence into effect. Parties to these 
trials, if they are so disposed, may appeal from these decisions to the 
law courts, but there is no disposition to do so. In the fifty 3^ears 
during which the society has been in existence, there has never been 
such an appeal. On the contrary, the celerity with which decisions 
are rendered, the cheapness of the proceedings, and the popular con- 
fidence in the integrit}^ and fairness of the tril)unal are so great that 
there is a constant tendency to bring before it other than irrigation 
matters for settlement. 

In the southern part of the association's territory land rents for 
$14.35 to $15.60 an acre cash rental. In the northern part it rents 
for $8.20 to $21 an acre. The annual cost of water to members in the 
southern part, where the ground is sandy and a large amount of water 
must be used, is $8.20 to $8.90 an acre. In the northern part it 
varies from $1.60 to $2 an acre. The low price in the north is, how- 
ever, more largely due to the fact that cultivated crops take the place 
of rice and marcite than to difference in the soil. 

The society was organized in 1854. Its first contract for water was 
for a period of thirty years. This was renewed in 1884, so that two- 
thirds of the second period has now passed. At the outset it was an 
experiment. The combination of the control of State and private 
canals under one authority and the exercise of authority over farmers 
in the crops to be grown were both novel innovations on the previous 
practice of this district. Their success has been both a public and 
a private benefit. It has given the farmers a secure water supply and 
cheaper rates. It has given the State an efficient management of its 
canals and a stable market for its water supply. Its influence along 
social and economic lines has been equally valuable. It has been 
really a little republic of irrigjition and has trained farmers to under- 
stand and practice self-government and to exercise large adminis- 


tration in public affairs. Undoubtedly, the credit for the working 
out of the original plan is due to Count Cavour, but the success of the 
adniinisti"ation for fiftv years shows ereat capacity on the part of the 
oiBcials and a high order of intelligence and ciyic yirtue on the part of 
the members. To those acquainted with the contentions, jealousies, 
and anxieties of irrigators under neighboring canals in the Western 
Stjites, the fact that the measuring boxes on over 9,(K)0 miles of canals 
haye been opened and closed for a half century without a single law- 
suit or an appeal to the courts from the rulings of their own officials, 
is one of the most remarkable features of Italian irrigation. . The 
division of a river among ditches and farms is a complicated problem 
in transportation and needs the same preliminary organization as a 
railroad or express line, if each farmer is to get what belongs to him. 
It also requires that farmers shall submit with the same readiness to 
the regulations of a canal that they do to those of a railwa3\ It needs 
a public sentiment which will regard the stealing of water as no dif- 
ferent from the stealing of any other commodity, and the opening and 
closing of head gates without authority as much law breaking as 
the robbing of a vault or the burglary of a house. Itecause public 
sentiment does not so regard interference with head gates or the 
taking by one irrigator of water whi<'h belongs to another, because we 
have failed to make the welfare of the community superior to the 
welfare of the individual, there is friction and controversy between 
farmers and litigation between ditch owners in many sections of the 
arid region. Competent investigators say that, if this could be done 
away with, it would add $1()(),0()0,000 to the selling value of the lands 
now irrigated and lessen the annual expenses of operating canals and 
ditches by more than another million. Legislation alone will not 
bring this about. It nmst come through. the growth of the spirit of 
cooperation among the farmers themselves. 


For many years water-right controversies Were a source of constant 
annoyance and loss to the irrigators of Piedmont, but during the last 
half of the century nearly all these have been settled. As the settle- 
ment seems to have been linal, it was felt highly desirable to know 
just what procedure had been adopted, and, following the plan pursued 
in Lombardy, it was decided to choose some typical stream and tind 
out what had taken place there, letting it serve as an illustration for 
all. The irrigation authorities conferred with urged a visit to the 
valley of the Dora Uiparia River, which waters 20,000 acres of the 
plain northwest of Turin, outside of the field of Government canals. 

The Dora Riparia River cjirries about 350 cubic feet of water per 
second when it is low and about 1,100 cubic feet per second when 


high, twenty -one irrigation canals and a large number of power 
canals utilize its waters. There are numerous ancient diversions l>elow 
the city of Susa. Until the water reaches Borgone, the stream's great 
fall supplies powder to important industries, wiiich, however, return 
the water to the river at once. The following table gives all diver- 
sions, from above downstream: 

Sant' Aiitonino ( Villarfotvhiardo) Right. 

Rivoli (San Michele) Right. 

Casellette (Vi liar Dora) Left. 

Avigliana (Sanf Aiiibrogio) Right. 

Biittigliera (Sanf Anibrogio) Right. 

Graglia.sco ( Alpignano) Right, 

Becchia ( Alpignano) Left. 

Orlmssano ( Alpignano) Left. 

Pianezza ( Pianezza) '. I-»eft 

Venaria Reale ( Pianezza) I^eft. 

Brovere ( Rivoli) Right. 

Collegno ( Pianezza) Left. 

Barola o Druent ( Pianezza) T^ft. 

Barco (Collegno) Right. 

Putea (Pianezza) ■. Right. 

Conte Collegno (Collegno) / Left. 

Cossola (Collegno) Right. 

Lucento Nuova ((Collegno) I^eft. 

Lucento Vecchia (Collegno) Lt;ft. 

Martinetto (Turin) Right. 

Parco (Turin)...' I.eft. 

The total discharge of all these canals, as nearly as can be determined, 
is 1,059 cubic feet per second in periods of abundance, 7O0 cubic feet 
per second in ordinary periods, 580 cubic feet per second in low- 
water stages, and 358 cubic feet per second in periods of unusually 
low water. 

The irrigation canals reach only a small part of the broad plain 
through which the river flows, leaving the greater part crossed in going 
from Turin to Avigliana hot, dry, and dusty. The large area of land 
adapted to irrigation and needing water, the high prices for agricul- 
tural products, making it possible to pay high prices for water for irri- 
gjition, and a surplus during flocxl seavson; tempting men to build more 
canals than the river can till when low, provide all the cronditions 
needed to create controversies over water rights, and it was desired to 
ascertain if any such controversies existed. At the upper end of the 
stream everything was peaceful and satisfactory. There were no evi- 
dences of shortage under the ditches in this part of the country and 
no farmer or ditch manager could recall any grievances of the irriga- 
tors farther downstream. This was so contrarv to what would have 
occurred in America and to what was expected from conditions in the 
lower part of the valley, that a call was made on the Government 


civil engineers in Turin to find out what were the facts in the case and 
their explanation. The statements of irrigators were reported to Mr. 
Carlo Carosso, engineer in charge of the irrigation office of the depart- 
ment of public works in Turin, and request was made for information 
regarding the present condition of water rights on the Doi-a Riparia 
and as to whether the Government had any part in the protection 
of these rights. In response to this inquiry the following fact« were 

Prior to 1839 the irrigators along this river were in much the same 
condition as those along many overappropriated streams in the West. 
More canals had been built than could be tilled in midsummer and ' 
controversies over water were continuous and bitter. In order to put 
an end to these a commission was created by royal authority to meas- 
ure the stream and the gmde and size of the different canals diverting 
water, and to take testimony regarding the priorities of the different 
diversions and the areas of land served by each canal. The report of 
this commission was published in 1851. The testimony filled a (luarto 
volume of 400 pages. The gaugings and surveys of the river and 
canals were reproduced in a second report, which included colored 
plates, giving the cross sections of the river and of the canals at each 
head gate and a map of the land served by each canal and ditch at the 
time the investigation was made. Accompanying these were detailed 
drawings showing the size and construction of every head gate and the 
carrying capacity of each canal at the head under certain conditions in 
the stream. For each canal that is entitled to water these reports are 
their patents to their supply and obstacles to changes in the claim of 
any other appropriator. They fix beyond all question the location and 
size of each head gate at the time these rights were defined. 

The report of the commission as to priorities and amounts of water 
used was based upon an investigation extending over thirteen years, 
and was accepted by those interested as final. Following the deter- 
mination of the rights, the Government assumed control over the rais- 
ing and lowering of head gates in times of scarcity and thus brought 
peace and security to those who had liitherto had to fight their own 
battles. It was found that the stream had been overappropriated and 
that when water was most needed some of the ditches last built were 
not entitled to anything. These have been practically abandoned. 
Those having valuable rights came to an understanding with each 
other and formed a district organization similar to that now being 
attempted by ditch owners on some of the streams in Colorado, under 
the irrigation district law of that State. Under this arrangement the 
supervision of head gates by the Government has been dispensed with, 
and the association employs a civil engineer to regulate the gates and 
divide the water among the canals. There are times, however, when 
his authority is disputed. When this occurs the engineers belonging 


to the department of public works are appealed to. The irrigators 
who believe the}'' are being wronged complain to the prefect of the 
district. A copy of this complaint is sent to the Government engi- 
neers at Turin, one of whom looks over the records of priorities, 
gauges the amount of water ])eing diverted, and, if need be, takes tes- 
timony. If he finds that prior rights are being encroached upon, he 
regulates the gates, acting very nmch as water commissioners do under 
the laws of Colorado, Wyoming, and other States. 

The physical conditions on this river are not so favorable as the 
social conditions above described. Many studies have been made for 
the purpose of lessening the variation in flow, but so far without 
result, because of too many diversions and too great a variety' in agri- 
culture and industry. There should be substituted a few large canals 
on the right and left banks, located in such a way as to serve the 
lands for which water is to be used. The canals now serving these 
lands could be connected with these new canals as distributors. 


Rice is the most important croj) in the provinces of Vercelli and 
Novara and the chief consumer of the water furnished by the Govern- 
ment canals. The methods of irrigating and cultivating rice in Italy 
differ somewhat from those in the United States either in theCarolinas 
or along the Gulf coast. This is due largely to the cheaper labor of 


The land is very carefully leveled, in order that the water may flow 
in a thin, even film over the entire surface. The fields are divided into 
sections, with small ridges around each raised high enough to hold the 
water on the section to a depth of 3 to 5 inches. The method of pre- 
paring these sections is similar to the checking of land for irrigation 
in California, except that it is more carefully graded and the surround- 
ing ridges are not so high. The leveling is all finished in March and 
seeding ])egins about April 1. The land where rice is to be sown is 
covered with a thin film of water. The rice is soaked for a day in 
order to make it heavier, then sown broadcast, the seeder being fol- 
lowed by a number of barefoot men and women, who tramp the ground 
up and muddy the water, thus securing a covering of soil for the seed. 
From the time of seeding until harvest the water is not let off the 
field, the depth being gradually increased until the latter part of the 
season, when it is about 4 inches. Eight or ten days before harvest 
the water is drained off to permit the soil to dry. 

In some parts of these provinces lice is grown as a permanent crop, 
having been grown on some fields continuously for sixty years, but as 
a rule this is not regarded as good practice, and three years continuous 
cropping with rice is the usual limit, although in some instances the 
rotation adopted provides for the continuous growing of rice on some 


fields for six years. In the rotation adopted by rice growers it is pos- 
sible to use wheat, corn, oats, and rye, with lupines for green manure, 
but in the region visited the principal crop was clover. The rice had 
been followed by a cultivated crop, and the land then seeded to clover 
for the remainder of the rotation period. In the districts where rice 
is not exclusively grown the best results require the cooperation of 
neighboring farmers in order that other crops may not be damaged by 
seepage from the rice fields. 

Yields are largely influenced by the number of years rice is grown 
upon a particular field. The fii*st year after the rotation period is 
always the best. One farmer, who cultivates 1,100 acres of land, gave 
the following as the average yield of his fields for the years rice was 
grown in the rotation: 

Yield* of rice. 

per acre. 

Firet year 4, 215 

8e<."()n<l year 3, 510 

Thinl year 3,040 

Fourth year 2,330 

The growing of rice requires a large volume of water. In 1902 the 
farmer above referred to rented 7 cubic feet of water per second for 
a rice field of 182 acres. This gave a duty of 1 cubic foot per second 
for 19 acres. He paid for this $87.4:(> per cubic foot per second, 
which is less than the wholesale price the association pays the Govern- 
ment under the agreement of 1894. This is due to the income derived 
from the sale of water gathered up from drainage and seepage ditches 
and allowance made for distributing water to holders of ancient rights. 
From these sources so much water is obtained that costs nothing that 
it more than pa3's the running expenses of the association and makes 
the retail price less than the wholesale. 

llice land is valuable, prices in these provinces varying from $370 
to $410 an acre. Rough and uncleaned rice sold last year for 2 cents 
per pound; cleaned rice for 3.5 cents per pound. 

The most serious evil with which the rice growler has to contend is 
a kind of grass which grows so rapidl}' that it can not be drow^ned out 
and which, if not removed, tends in time to ruin the crop. The 
method of getting rid of it is to pull it up. This is done by hand, the 
laborers working in the water. 

Hail is another menace to the rice crop. As a precaution against 
injury from it, the Government loaned cannon to certain districts. 
These are stored in small houses in the midst of the fields where they 
can be discharged when a storm occurs. The belief in the effective- 
ness of these explosions has, however, about disappeared. 

A disease known as '* brusone,'' "which atbicks the rice about the 
time of ripening, destroying in a short time the whole crop, is a third 

F House *nd a Part of Connj 

F Farmyard, Showing Implements. 


evil with which the Italian rice grower has to contend. It affects most 
fields where rice has followed meadows, and Bertone, a rough vari- 
ety of rice, is most susceptible. The disease is liable to develop in 
times of sudden change from hot to cold njghts and the twilight mists 
seem to be the principal means of it^ diffusion. 

Meadows stand next to rice with respect to acreage. Clover and 
alfalfa meadows predominate beciuise they form a part of the rice rota- 
tion, but there are some marcitc fields in districts where rice is not 
allowed or can not be grown. Marcite can be grown only where it 
can be watered in winter; that is, where a water supply can be had 
from springs or seepage. 

Orchards and gardens have little importance and are grown onl}^ in 
the vicinities of towns. Wheat, rye, and oats have an acreage in 
about the order given. They form a part of the rotation in the rice 
fields, wheat being grown in the compact soils and rye in the less com- 
pact and drier lands, while oats are frequently grown as the crop 
preceding rice after the meadows have been plowed up. Wheat is 
planted in the fall, the land being sown to clover in the spring. This 
grows in the stubble, producing a crop of hay after the wheat has 
been harvested. Oats are sown in the spring, with clover or grasses. 
In July the oats are harvested and later on the crop of clover is har- 
vested. Hemp and flax are errown on small farms, but have no 
commercial importance. 

Rice growing and silk raising do not flourish together. Keeping the 
ground covered with water kills the mulberry trees, nor can they be 
made to thrive in adjoining fields because of the seepage which almost 
always exists. 

Plate XVI 1 shows two views of a farmyard on a rice plantation, 
where over 100 men and women were employed as field laborers. 
Rice thrashers and hullers were operated b}' water power tiiken from 
irrigation ditches, and the equipment of machinery was in many 
respects equal to that of a modern American farm, although the low 
price of farm labor causes many things to be still done by hand which 
in America would be done with tools. Many of the tools, such as 
hoes, scythes, and rakes are cruder and heavier than those in use in 
the United States, the difference in pattern of scythes and hoes being 
shown in the implements in Plate XVII, figure 2. 


Rice is grown on more than half the irrigated area of Novara and 
Vercelli, hence more than half of it has to be kept continuously under 
water throughout the growing season. This thin film of water becomes 
hot, making the losses from seepage and evaporation enormous. Tak- 
ing the whole district north of Mortara, including rice fields, cultivated 

32656— No. 144, pt 1—04 7 


crops, and marcite, the avemge duty of water is about 1 cubic foot of 
water per second to 28 acres. South of Mortam the duty falls in 
places to the surprisingl}' low figure of 1 cubic foot per second to 5 
acres, if no account is taken of the waste water which escapes at the 
lower end of fields. The failure to measure waste water makes 
statistics as to water duties in this part of Italy misleading. Never- 
theless, it is probable that in the southern part of Piedmont the net 
average dut}'^ is not more than 1 cubic foot per second to 30 acres. 

Because of the large amount of water required frequent complaints 
were heard as to its cost. The prices charged by the General Associ- 
ation West of the Sesia are not excessive where a duty of 1 cubic foot 
per second to 50 acres is reached, but where, as in some cases, 1 cubic 
foot per second irrigates only 15 acres the cost of water, under the 
tariff, is $10 per acre. This is regarded as the limit of cost in rice 
irrigation, and where 1 cubic foot per second irrigates only 5 acres the 
tariff charge for water makes the cost prohibitive. On the farms 
where rice is excluded and cultivated crops are largely grown the duty 
is quite high, and the cost of water under the present tariff is usually 
only $1.50 to $1.80 per acre. 

In applying water it is kept running over the rice fields constantly. 
Cultivated crops are irrigated twice and meadow lands everj^ week or 
ten days. The estimated average duty of water for the whole of 
Piedmont, taken from the report quoted from above, is as follows: 

Estimated average duty of water in Piedmont. 

Rice 1 cubic foot per second for 26.5 acres. 

Meadow 1 cubic foot per second for 62 acres. 

Field croj[>s '. 1 cubic foot per second for 93 acres. 



The problems of water measurement on the Cavour and its connect- 
ing canals. are difficult of solution. Orifices are not suited to the 
measurement of large volumes of water such, for example, as have to 
be measured from the main to secondary canals. It is difficult with 
weirs to get rid of the velocity of approach. Especially is this true 
at head gates of secondary canals. Varying conditions of pressure 
and velocity have made it necessary for the Government engineers to 
make reductions and corrections for the theoretical formulas. The 
results are, from the nature of things, uncertain and unsatisfactory. 
To correct this the Government has made an appropriation of $60,000 
for the construction of a h^^draulic testing station to be used in deter- 
mining the corrections necessary in the formulas used in measuring 
water on canals. The results of these experiments will have great 
value in advancing engineering knowledge throughout the world. 


The civil <^ode of Italy makes the module the legal standard of meas- 
urement in agreements for water. It is equivalent to 100 liters per 
second (3.53 cubic feet per second). Either the weir or the orifice 
may he used in its measurement. Many of the ancient measures are 
still in use. All of these were based upon a gate or opening of a 
given form. Altogether a large number of orifices of different shapes 
and sizes are in use. 

The following description of some of these measures is taken from 
the report of the Italian department of agriculture before referred to. 


In ancient Piedmont three meaauree were used — ^the wheel, the oncia, and the 

(1) Piedmont wheel, — The water wheel, inventeii and proposed by Francesco 
Demenico Michelotti, was ** that quantity of water that freely and by pressure passed 
through a vertical gate of a Miprando* foot square, made of a very thin flat stone 
and placed with the upper side at the level of the water." This wheel was divided 
into twelve parts equal to oncias. 

In the table of equivalents, compiled under a ministerial order by a special com- 
mission in 1845, the discharge of the Michelotti wheel is estimated to be 335.1.38 
liters per second; therefore each oncia was estimated to be 27.928 liters per second. 

(2) Piedmont oncia, — Until 1730 a measure known as ** oncia" was useil in the 
diversion of water from the State canal of Caluso. This measure was an imitation 
of that which from 1585 was in use in the Milan territory, with the 8ul)stitution of 
the linear measure of Piedmont for that of Milan, so that the dimensions of the gate 
and the head above the opening which in the Milan oncia are expressed in oncias of 
the Milanese bracchioarein the Caluso oncia expressed by an equal number of oncias 
of the liprando foot. 

The gate is 4 oncias high, 3 wide, with a head above the opening of 2 oncias of the 
liprando foot, and its discharge ac<x>rding to the table of equivalents was fixed at 
24.053 liters. 

(3) Oncia of Ignazio MicJielotti, — Ignazio Michelotti succeeded his father in the direc- 
tion of the State canals and introduc;eil for the measure of water the use of the wheel, 
and, as the gates at the level of the water could not be easily used, he substituted 
another standard of measure known as the oncia, that was estimated to be equal to 
one-twelfth of the wheel invented by his father. The new oncia was the quantity 
of water flowing from a gate 4 oncias wide, 3 high, and with a head above the open- 
ing of 4 oncias of the liprando foot. But calculations made showed that the oncia of 
Ignazio Michelotti gave a dischai^ greater than one-twelfth of the wheel pmposed 
by his father. The discharge of the Ignazio Michelotti oncia was fixed in the table 
of equivalents at 28.86 liters. 

(4) Alhertini module. — This was a module used in ancient Pie<lmont. It is 
described in article 643 of the Albertino civil code as follows: 

In new concessions of water in which shall be agreed or expresse<l a constant 
quantitv of flowing water, called also a concession at a taxed gate, the quantity con- 
ceded shall be in all public acts expressed in "modules of water." 

A module is that quantity of water that by its own pressure alone and with a free 
fall passes through a rectangular opening placed so that two of its sides are vertical, 


2 dei;i meters wide, 2 decimeters high, and opened in a thin slab along which the 
water is flowing and is maintaine<l with its highest surface 4 decimeters higher than 
the lowest side of the gate. 

In the alxjve-nientioned table of eijuivalents the discharge of the Albertino module 
is fixed at 57.938 liters. 



(a) Milan official oncia. — This is a type upon which were based many of the stand- 
ards of measure used in Piedmont and Lombardy. ** It corresponds to a volume of 
water that by pressure alone flows through a rectangular gate with a width of 3 oncias 
(0.14873 meter) of the Milan bracchio, 4 oncias high (0.19831 meter), with a head 
above the opening of 2 oncias (0.09916 meter), opened in a slab 3 oncias thick.'' It 
is the only gate that is provided with a true regulator, which, while not perfect, is 
nevertheless very ingenious. 

The structure of the irrigation gate was conceived and proposed by the ICngineer 
Soldati in 1571. The rule of Poncelet and Lesbros does not apply here to the form 
of the regulating structure itself, as on changing the width of the gate contraction 
is not equally modified and the discharge is as much greater as the gate is larger. 
Turazza says: 

It is in this sense that the assertion of Brunacci is true, *4hat the Milanese prac- 
tice is not free from error, where, in order to obtain a double, treble, etc., discharge, 
the width of the measuring gate is doubled or trebled.'' A large gate, for instance, 
three times as wide as the mo<lule or oncia, gives a dischai^ a little greater than 3 

Colombo, in his valuable work, gives for the dischai^ of tne Milanese official 
oncia the following figures: 

Milanese oncia from a gate of 1 oncia, 35 liters. 

Milanese oncia from a gate of 10 oncias, 47 liters. 

This gives an idea of the increase in discharge with the increase in the number of 
oncias supplied by the gate. In the table of equivalents the Milanese oncia is esti- 
mated to have a discharge of 34.5 liters. 

(b) Novara onna. — Imitating the Milanese oncia, the Novara oncia is the quan- 
tity of w^ater flowing from a gate placed under conditions identical with those of the 
Milan oncia and with similar dimensions — with this difference only, that these 
dimensions are based on the oncia of the Novara bracchio instead of the Milan 
bracchio. The Novara bracchio is 0.606213 meter, divided into 12 linear oncias. 
The resulting Novara module (oncia) is 4 oncias high, equivalent to 0.202 meter; 3 
oncias wide, equal to 0.1515 meter, with a head above the opening of 2 oncias, equal 
to 0.1010 mt^ter; and with a thickness of the stone in which the opening is made of 3 
oncias, equivalent to 0.1515 meter. The discharge of this gate is estimated to be 
36.117 liters in the table of equivalents. 

(c) Parla oncia. — This was modeled after the Milan oflicial oncia, except that the 

linear oncias are based upon the Pavia bracchio of 16 oncias. 


Width 3 oncias = 0.1179 

Height 4 oncias = . 1572 

Head 2 oncias = .0786 

Its discharge in the manual of Calandra is fixed at 19.5 liters. 

(d) Xoiara Rodigio. — It has not l>een iK)ssible to obtain information upon the 
form of this gate and the conditions under which it must o|)erate. It seems, how- 
ever, that the rodigio indicated the quantity of water necessary to operate an 
ordinary mill wheel, and that its discharge was about 6 Novara oncias. Sospizio, in 



his valuable work upon Irrigation in Piedmont, gives the discharge of the Novara 
rodigio as 207 liters. 


Professor Turazza prefaced his estimates of the discharge of various modules by 
some remarks that it is necessary to report here: 

The modules that we have described above present such various conditions as to 
make very difficult the correct estimates of their discharges, at least without having 
recourse to direct and repeat^ed experiments. In these the flow is almost always 
impeded. Very seldom is the water so quiet at the gate as to be considered stag- 
nant, and this gate is almost never made of thin stone. On the contrary, in the 
Cremona module and in those patterned after the same model, the true measurer of 
the water is not a gate but a conduit of appreciable length. In investigating their 
discharge I was obliged to abandon the use of the calculations, at least every time 
when, DV direct experiments, more exact information could be obtained than was 
possible oy the rules for openings. It is only to those modules for which the opin- 
ion of the practical man is still desired that I tried to apply these rules, and here I 
am obliged to say that the discharge must be considered as only approximate, and 
even then within wide limits, perhaps. 

These observations of the illustrious master should be kept in mind by those who 
desire to use the data r^arding discharges referred to in the following table: 

Table of equivalentSf Italian units for vxUer measurements. 

Units in use in various prov 
inces in Italy. 

Italian module 

Albertini module 

Wheel of F. D. Michelottl . - 
Oncia of Ignazio Michelottl 

Oncia of Caluso 

Oncia of Milan 

Oncia of Novara 

Oncia of Pa via 

Oncia of Lodi 

Oncia of Crema 

Oncia of Cremona 

Quadretto of Verona 

Quadretto of Mantua 

Mole of water or rodigio . . . 

feet per 
























6. 1332 







Wheel of 
F. D. 

1.0000 I 
6.7724 j 
.4975 I 
.4120 ' 
.3112 ' 



Oncia of 


Oncia of 





























13. 1518 



Oncia of 















Units in use in various prov- 
inces in Italy. 

Italian module 

Albertini module 

Wheel of F. D. Michelottl 

Oncia of Ignazio Michelottl. . . 

Oncia of Caluso 

Oncia of Milan 

Oncia of Novara 

Oncia of Pa via 

Oncia of Lodi 

Oncia of Crema 

Oncia of Cremona 

Quadretto of Verona 

Quadretto of Mantua 

Mole of water or rodigio 

Oncia of 















Oncia of 

Oncia of 





2. 9743 


17. 1692 






1. 7691 











1. 1589 

7. 4543 


16. 1194 


10. 6153 


Oncia of 


3. 2127 













Oncia of 

retto of 

retto of 




2. 8515 



16. 4601 






























15. 4637 



10. 1769 


.6585 ( 

Mole of 
or rodi- 





A visit was made to the school of engineers in Turin, where Profes- 
sor Taricco, assistant lecturer in geology, showed their extensive 
equipment for experiment and instruction in hA^draulics. It includes 
a series of open canals in the univei'sity grounds, equipped with head