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li E P O 11 T 




Lieut. Col. B. H. ALEXANDER, Corps of Engineers, O. S. I 
Maj. GB;0R'GE H. MENDELL, Corps of Engineers, U. S. i 
Prof. GEORGE DAVIDSON, United States Coast Survey, 


V B li N M E N T V K I N T I N Ci O ir 1' 1 C IC . 

, Google 






Lieut. Col. B. S. ALEXANDER, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A., 
Maj. GEORGE H. MENDELL, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A., 
Prof. GEORGE DAVIDSON, United States Coast Survey, 




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( Ex. Doc. 
\ No. 290. 




The report of the Commissioners on the Irrigation of the San Joaquin, Tu- 
lare, and Sacramento Valleys, in the State of California. 

March 24, IST4.— Eeferred to the Committee on the Pablie Lands and ordered to h 

To the Senate and Rouse of Bepresentatives : 

I have the honor to transmit herewith the report of the Board of Oom- 
misaioners on the Irrigation of the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento 
Valleys of the State of California, and also the original maps accompa- 
nying said report. 

r. S. GliANT. 

Executive Mahsion, March 23, 1874. 

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Report oj the Board of Commissioners on the Irrigation of the Sa» 
Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys of the State of California. — 
lAewt. Col. B. S. Alexander, Corps of Engineers, V. S. A. ; Major 6eo. 
S. Mendell, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A. ; Prof. George Davidson^ 
United States Coast Survey, Commissioners. — February, 1874. 


Chapter I. 
1, lottoduotory. — 2. Preliminary reoonnaiaaance.— 3. ' 
Chapter II. 
The necessity for ircigatiott ia California. 
Chapter III. 
1. Necessity of surveys. — 9. The system of ii 
on the navij;ntioD of rivers. — 4. What ia i 
caiiaU. — 6. General considBratious. 

CnArTEit IV. 
History, desotiption, and statistics of irrigation in foreign cou 
Chapter V. 
Cost of irrigation,— Conclusions. 


Ho. 1. Irrigating Association in Italy. 

No. 3. Statistics of Sau Joaquin and Tulare Valleys. 

No. 3. Existing Icgislatiou on irrigation. 


1. Introductory— Law of Congress anthorizing the eommi.^sion —Order of the President 

creating it — Its final organization — Scarcity of funds. 

2. Preliminary reconnaissance — Examination of the rivers and lakes in the valleys of 

San Joaquin, Tolare, and Sacramento — These three valleys designated " the Great 
Valley of California." 

3. The map; it embraces the Gieat Valley of California; wbat it shows — Sketch ol 

the valleys and foot-hills. 


The following is the act of Congress authorizing tlie commission : 

D far the Son Joaqain, 

Tulare, aad SacraiueQtio Valleya, ia Ci 
Be it enacted by the Seaate and Souse of MepreieutaUvm of the Uailed States of Ajaerica 
in Congress assembled. That tlie President be, and he is hereby, authorized to assign two 
engineers of the Army and one officer of the Coast Survey now stationed on the Pacific 
cosBt, for the pnrpose of examining and reporting on a system of irrigation in tlie San 
Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys of the State of California ; and for that par- 



poae the ofBcf re so asaigned n 
survey of Calilor"- --'-•- 

Skc. 2. That these fire peraons shall coustitute a hoard, with power tofllWi , 

whose duty it shall he to make a full report to the President on the best sjatem of 
irrication for sajd valleys, witli all necessary plana, detaUs, engineering, statistical, 
and otherwise ; which report the President shall transmit to Congress at its next ses- 
sion, with sach recommendations as he shall think proper. 

Sec. 3, That the Secretary of War shall furnish subsistence and transportation for 
the board while in the field, and the compensation of the members of the board who 
are not in the service of the United States shall not eiceed two thousand dollars each, 
but the other members of the board shall receive no additional compensation for their 

Approved March 3^ 

War Dei'autment, Adjutant-General's Office, 

WaskingtoH, JpHl 9, 1873. 
Under the act of Congreas approved Marcli 3, 1873, pablished in General Orders No, 
56 of 1873 from this office, Lieut. Col. Barton S. Alexander and Moj. George H. Men- 
deU, Corps of Engineers, are hereby appointed members of the commission, iieut. Col. 
Alexander Xo be president thereof, for the pnrpose of examining and reporting on a 
HjBtem of irrigatiou in the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys of the State 
of California, and ■will hold themselves iu readiness to proceed to the duties of the com- 
mission on receipt of farther instructions from the Secretary of War. 
By order of tlie President of thfi United States : 



J. P. Mamtn, 

Assistant A(1jiitant-Gei:eta!. 

Also the further instractioiis of the Secretary of War : 

Office of the Chief of Esc.ikeers, 

Washington, D. €., April 12, 1873. 

Sir: A copy of the act of Congress approved March 3, 1873, published in General Or- 
ders No. 56, curreot series, Adjutant-General's Oltice, authorizing the assignment of 
two engineers of the Army and one oMoer of the Coast Survey now stationed oa the 
PaclRo coast, for the purpose of examining and reporting on a system of irrigation in 
the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys of the State of California, and for 
that purpose the officers so assigned may associate with themselves the chief of the 
geological survey of California, and also one other civilian distinguished for his knowl- 
edge of the subject, is herewith transmitted for your information and guidance. 

The President has, iu Special Orders No. 75, Adjutant-Gieneral's Office, Washington. 
April 9, 1S73, a copy of which is inclosed' herewith, appointed yoa and Major Mendetl 
members of the board, and also Prof. Geoige Davidson, assistant in the Coast Survey, 
as contemplated in the first section of the act. 

The board so constituted are authorized to associate with themselves the chief of 
the geoli^ioal survey of California, and also one other civilian distinguished for his 
knowledge of the subject. 

As the president thereof, you will convene the board iu San Francisco, or such other 
oonveuient place as you may select, and proceed to the business devolving upon it. 

As soon as practicable, the board will proceed to the valleys mentioned, and make the 
investigations called ftir in the act, reporting progress monthly. 

Having completed these investigations, the board will retarn to San Francisco and 
make np their report, and, if practicable, transmit it te this office in time to be handed 
to the Secretary of War before December I, 1873. 

Estimates will be made upon this office fiom the appropriation for "surveys for mili- 
tary defenses," for such, sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of the 
act, not exceeding in amount live thousand dollars. 

By order of the Secretary of War : 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

Brigadier-General and Chief of Eng'neeri. 

Lieut. Col. B. S. Aluxasdeh, 

Corps of Eagineei'S, San Francisco, Cal. 



Professor Davidson received the following instrnctiotis from Prof. 
Benjamin Peirce, the Superintendent of the Coast Survey : 

dent of the United States ns eomimssiouer jor examininj; aod reporting on a ejHtein of 
irrigation in the San Joaquin, Tnlare, and Sacraioeuto Valleys of California, aa by act 
of Congross approved March 3, 1873. ' 

You are authorized to accept the appointment, aiiU to proceed to the discharge of the 
duties specilieil in the act. 
Yours, truly, 

Su^eriaUiideitt United States Coast Survey. 
Georoe Davidson, Esq,, 

Asiistaat, Coast Survej/, San Fraiiciseo, CuJ. 

In accordance with these instructions the board, consisting of Lieiit* 
Col. B. S. Alexander, Corps of Engineers ; Maj. George H. Meudeli, 
Corps of Engineers ; and Prof. George Davidson, of the Coast Snrvey, 
met in San Francisco, April 23, 1873, organized, and elected Professor 
Davidson its secretary and Major Mendell its treasurer. 

A letter signed by the members of the board was forwarded to Prof. 
Joseph D. Whitney, State geologist of California, bnt then at Cam- 
bridge, Mass., inviting hira, in accordance with the first section of the 
act of Congress, authorizing the commission, to become a member of 
the same. 

At the same time a telegram was sent to Professor Whitney asking 
him to join the commission as a member. 

In answer to the telegram, Professor Whitney replied that he could 
not join the commission. 

On the 6th of May, 1873, it was unanimously resolved that the presi- 
dent of the commissioa be instructed to invite Mr. K. M. Brereton, of 
San Francisco, to join the board as a member, in accordance with the 
terms of the act of Congress. 

In answer to the letter of the president of the commission, Mr. Brere- 
ton declined to become a member in consequence of professional 

Having thus exhausted the requirements of the law creating the 
Board of Commissioners on Irrigation in reference to its organization, 
it was determined to proceed to the duties before us, uuder our preseat 
organization, and without any further addition to our numbers. 

We may add that we were driven to this course by the want of funds 
at the disposal of the commission for the purpose of making the neces- 
sary reconnaissance and report. 

Only $5,000 were allotted to na for carrying out the provisions of the 
act of Congress in reference to this subject. 

If two civilians had been associated with the board, they would each, 
by the terms of the law, have been entitled to $2,000 as compensation for 
their, services. This would have left us only $1,000 for making the 
necessary maps to illustrate our report, and for the tran.sportation and 
subsistence of five members instead of the present organization of only 
three meuiui>.5 without salaries. 

With only $1,000 for these purposes, we feared that the object to be 
attained in creating the commission would have been defeated. 


On the 13th of May the board proceeded to make an examination of 
the Merced, San Joaquin, King's, Kaweah, and Ktrn Eivera, from the 

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plains to the moantains. They also examined the eastern side of Talare 
Valley as far as Kern Lake, and inspected the systems of irrigation 
that have been introduced at Centreville, Visalia, and Bakersfleld. 

Betnining, the board examined the west side of the San Joaquin 
Valley, between Watson's ferry and Banta's, observing particularly the 
works of the San Joaquiti and King's Eiver Canal and Irrigation Com- 
pany, and the system of irrigation which this compi.ny is introducing 
on the west side of that valley. 

In the month of June, the board examined the Tuolumne, Stanislaus, 
Calaveras, Mokolumne, aud Cosumnes Rivers, on the east side of the 
San Joaquin Valley, from the points where they escape from the foot- 
hills to the plains. This completed our examination of the San Joaquin 
and Tnlare Valleys. 

The Sacramento Valley was also thoroughly examined at various 
times during the summer and fall. 

On the east side, we examined the American Eiver, the different 
branches of the Yuba and Feather Eivers, and the various small streams 
emptying into the yaeraniento River between the Feather River and 
Tehama; and on the west side of the valley we examined the Sacra- 
mento Eiver itself as high up as the town of Shasta ; also Stony Creek, 
Cache Creek, (including Clear Lake,) and Puta Creek. 

Having thus examined the three valleys mentioned in the act of Con- 
gress^the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento, which, taken together, 
we have designated " the Great Valley of California," and having seen 
the lands which maybe irrigated, and ascertained from observation the 
neccHsity for its irrigation, and having seen the principal lakes, rivers, 
and creeks from which the water for irrigation must l>e obtained, we 
proceed, in accordance with onr instructions, to present our views on 
the subject of the irrigation of these valleys. 


For the purpose of illustrating this report we have had a topograph- 
ical map of the great "Valley of California" prepared. This map 
embraces the San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys, and shows 
the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the east side of the valley, and the 
Coast Range of Mountains on the west side, to the summits of the 
respective ranges. We rtfer to this map in all subsequent discussions. 
The map shows the " Great Valley of California," and the foothills and 
mountains by which it is surrounded, all the lakes, rivers, and principal 
creeks, with their catchment-areas ; the overflowed or swamped lands, 
of which there are about 1,325,000 acres ; the division into counties, and 
the township-lines of the United States surveys; the railroads and 
principal towns. On this map the canals that have already been con- 
structed are laid down in heavy, full, red lines; the canals that have 
been projected, and actually surveyed, on the southern end and west 
side of the valley, in light, full, red lines ; and we have also indicated 
a hypothetical system of irrigating canals on the eastern side of the 
valley in dotted red lines. 

On the eastern side of the Great Valley, all the way from the southern 
end of Tulare Valley, south of Kern Lake to Red Bluff, the ground rises 
from the lowest depressions or central lines of drainage in a gentle 
inclined plain, swelling then into undulations, and then into foot-hills, 
which, as we proceed eastward, rise into mountains, culminating in the 
Sierra Nevada. 

On the western side of the valley the groand first rises in a plain of 

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gentle slope, theii swells into foot-hills, thea mountains, culminating in 
tlie Monte Diablo range on the west side of the San Joaquin and Tulare 
ValleySj and in the Coast Eange on the west side of the Sacramento 

The ascent from the foot-hills to the summit of the mountains is much 
steeper on the western side of the Great Vallpj than it is on the eastern 
side, and the drainage-area is much smaller on the western side than it 
is on the eastern. 

Again, the Sierra Nevada being much higher than the Coast Eange or 
the Monte Diablo range of mountains, the condensation of moisture, or 
the amount of rain-fall and snow in a year, is far greater on the Sierra 
Nevada than on the lower mountains to the westward. 

An inspection of the inap shows a marked contrast as regards the 
water-supply of the eastern and western sides of the valley. 


1. Necessityfor irrigation in California — Tiie Biibject a novel one to the United Statea — 

iteasonB why irrigation in necessary, 

2. The climatic oonditioaa of the Pacific coast — The wet and dry seasons described- 

Tabular atatements. 

3. The orogvaphioal features of California— The monatain-ranges and their effect upon 

the law of precipitation of rain. 

4. The average yearly rain-fall sufficient to insure good i — Th am t f -fall 

necessary for a crop— -The radn-fall at different lo( 1 t th |,h t h \ lley 
of Calif om la. 

5. The variability of the average yearly rain-fall, and th ir g I t f f 11 in 

each year — Tabular statement of extremes of rain f 11 — Sea f dr ght 

6. Annual crops may be seonred hy a proper system of t 11 g a d d 1 g the 

waters of precipitation — Visit to irrigated land — C ud m th d d pt d for 

7. Mildness of the climate especially well adapted for an- It al p ts — Appear- 

ance of the face of the country in the wet season— Th w ath th d y sea- 

son — Matnred crops standing all summer — Tables f t mj t re 

8. The Great Valley of California is admirably adapted f gat — It th m rked 

geographical feature of the Pacific coast in the United States — Detailed descrip- 
tion of the Great Valley— Map to show its relation to California and Nevada — 
Soil of the Great Valley— Average product per acre — Volunteer crops— Perma- 
nent effects of irrigation — Prospective populatioa. 


The subject of irrigation is a novel one to the inhabitants of the States 
lying east of the one hundredth meridian, where the harvests are so uni- 
formly assured that a season of five or six weeks of continuous drought 
during the growing of the crops would be looked upon as a great national 
calamity, and prayers would doubtless, as heretofore, be offered in the 
churches for rain. There the average yearly rain-fall ia 39 inches, some- 
what regularly distributed through the different months ; but on the 
Pacific coast there are two very marked seasons, one long, dry. and almost 
cloudless, embracing part of the spring-months, all of the summer, and 
part of the autumn, the other comparatively short and wet. 

Some of the peculiarities of the climate and of the rain-fall have been 
frequently stated throughout the United States and abroad, but their 
effects upon our agricultural industry have been very rarely considered. 
The subject, however, has been practically brought home to the people 
of this coast; and all painfully realize the fact that if the country bor- 

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8 ikrigat:on m califoekia. 

dering the Pacific aud that lying between the Eocky MouDtaiDs and the 
Sierra Nevada are to be developed aud the crops assured for the sup- 
per^ of their inhabitants and for exportation, some system of controlling 
the available waters and delivering them to the land miist be devised 
and esecnted. 

The extent of the Great Valley of California is hardly appreciated by 
the inhabitants of the State itself, certainly not throughout the United 
States or in Europe, and yet it contains in one body an area of almost 
level iilains equal in the aggregate to the States of Massachusetts, Con- 
necticut, and Bhode Island, and greater than that of Maryland, or 
of New Jersey aud Delaware. If the area of the rolling foot-hills be 
added to the plains, the total arable land of the Great Valley is equal 
to the area of Massachusetts and Maryland, or nearly equal to half the 
entire State of Ohio. 

The soil of this great valley is capitally adapted for the cultivation of 
grain, cotton, tobacco, the viae, and many of the subtropical fruits. The 
exportation of wheat, &c., after seasons of good rain-fall, is ample con- 
firmation of this fact if the personal knowledge of the commissioners did 
not certify to it. 

Under circumstances so anomalous in the experience of the United 
States, it therefore appears necessary to state, in consecutive order, 
the reasons that render irrigation necessary ; then, to add short expla- 
nations to these reasons; and, subsequently, to give more extended 
exemplifications and illustrations. 

" IS ;nbcbssary on the 

A. The climatic conditions of the Pacific coast are such that crops 
are uncertain south of latitude i2'^. 

"B, The orographical features of the country conspire with the cli- 
matic conditions to render crops especially uncertain in certain local- 

C The average yearly rain-fall over the basin of the Great Valley is 
sufficient to insure good crops annually. 

D. The rain-fall iu different years is very variable, and seasons of 
drought aud of great floods occur; and in anyone season it is very 
unequally distributed in difi'erent sections. 

E. With a proper system of controlling the waters of precipitation, 
and delivering them to cultivated lands when needed, annual crops may 

F. The climate is mild throughout the wet or winter season, and espe- 
cially well suited for all agricultural pursuits. 

G. The Great Valley of California is admirably adapted for irriga- 

A. — The climatic conditions of the Paaijic coast are such that crops are 
uncertain south of latitude 42"^. 

The climate of the Pacific coast west of the Sierra Nevada and Cas- 
cade Mountains is altogether different from that of the Atlantic coast, 
and differs also from that of the country included between the eastern 
slope of the Eocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. The ordinary 
form of rain-fall tables fails to exhibit its characteristic, so that upon 
this coast tabulated results of precipitation of rain and snow are made 
out for the rainy season, which extends from about October 15 to 

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April 1. No rain, iq the ordinary acceptation of the term, falls during 
the dry season, between April 1 and October 15, in the latitude of 
38°. Northward of that latitude, and especially northward of latitude 
40°, there is frequently a small fain-fall during the suaimer and a heavy 
rain-fall dnring the winter. 

Southward of 38° the rainy season is shortened and the dry season 
lengthened, so that at San Diego, in latitude S2^°, the rain-fall on the 
immediate coast averaged only 9.2 inches during twenty-three years. 

Oil the coast, about latitude 28°, is the region of the " doldrums," 
where little rain falls, but where a cloudy region exists. South of 
that latitude, the seasons are changed, and our rainy season is the dry 
season of the southern part of Lower California, and oiir dry season 
their wet season. 

At the extremity of the peninsula of Lower California only 3J inches 
fell last summer. The rainfall at San Francisco, which may be taken 
as a type, averages 23.5 inches annually, distributed as follows : 

Inclies. luches. 

June 0. 04 ) 

Julv O.Olf Total for the summer 0.07 

August 0. 02 > 

September 0. 10 ) 

October 0.04S Total for the autumn.... 3.57 

November 2. 83 > 

December 5.42'} 

January 5. 30 [- Total for the winter 14. 33 

February 3. CO \ 

March 3. IS i 

April ■ 1. 74 > Total for the spring 5. 56 

May . . , 0. 04 > 

Yearly aveiage - , 23. 5 

The tabulated results of rain-fall upon the western coast of the United 
States, from San Diego to Puget Sound, given by the Smithsonian Con- 
tributions, No. 222,* conBrm this example as a type, having the foliowinlg 
characteristics : 

lontlis, amoaiiting, at some places, to 
late iu December. Batige excessive. 

But, perhaps, the marked conditions of the wet and dry s 
of the Pacifle coast, as compared with the rain-fall iu the Atlantic States, 
can be best illustrated in the two charts annexed, wherein is graphic- 
ally shown the peculiarity of the summer and winter rain-falls over the 
whole United States.* 

Other tables and other more extended charts could be produced to 
illustrate a characteristic iu the winter rain-fall, namely, that during 
that season there is a marked cessation of rain, ranging from one to 
four weeks. 

This cessation does not occur at any regular epoch, so that its effect 
is not seen in a chart constructed only upon average quantities, but it 
has occurred nine years out of ten. Very frequently during this cessa- 
tion of rain, the cold winds from the north, accompanied by ajclear sky, 

•Tables and B^sults of the Precipitation, of Eaiu and Souw in tlieJ^pited States, 
Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, No. 333, by Chas. A. Sokirfr, U. S. C, S., 
1872, p. 133. 

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blow fiercely, aud blast the ;?oimg growing crops ; or when this dry in- 
terval is prolouged, even without these cold northers, the weather is 
usually clear and fine, perhaps hot, and the young grain withers and 
may be wholly lost, even for fodder, if the last rains of the season come 

In some years the rains cease suddenly in February, and the crop is 
lost. This was notably so in the Great Valley in the spring of 1873, 
where a most promising harvest was blighted by the ceasing of the 
rains, and only those few fields that were irrigated yielded a crop; 
those that had been summer-fallowed yielded about half an average 
crop ; the lemainder, especially in the southern half of the valley, 
yielded probably an average of six or eight bashels. 

Southward of the Great Valley, to the Mexican boundary, the neces- 
sity for irrigation increases, and the problem becomes more intricate, 
because the exteusive arable sections have a limited supply of water, 
and the country is not so easily watered. In the San Diego Eiver no 
water flowed through its lower parts for about five years ending No- 
vember, 1873. 

Although the commission has not been required to examine any other 
than the Great Valley, the foregoing fact is stated in confirmation of 
the peculiar climatic conditions of the coast. 

B. — The orographical features of the country conspire with the climatio 
conditions to render crops uw^ertain in particular sections. 

The orographical features of the Pacific slope are such that, were 
other conditions equal, the uniformity of rainfall can nowhere take 

Speaking generally, the Coast Range of Mountains and the Sierra 
Nevada run parallel with the coast-line, and the Great Valley lies be- 
tween them. 

The Coast Eange of Mountains maintains an average elevation of over 
2,000 feet, reaching as much as 6,200 a few miles south of Monterey ; 
and 3,800 on the peninsula of San Francisco. 

The southerly storms of winter bring up rain north of latitude 2S° to 
30°, and drive the moisture-laden air against the southwestly or sea- 
ward tianks of these mountain-ranges, and the precipitation of rain 
amounts to two and a half times the quantity that falls upon the east- 
ern flanks. This has been established by measurement at the reservoirs 
of the Spring Valley "Water Company, and confirms the reports of the 
farmers and stockmen. 

Nine years' observations at Pillarcitos Dam give an average of 58 
inches of rain, while San Francisco, distant only fourteen miles, has 
23.5 inches. 

The same law holds good along the western flauk of the Sierra Nevada, 
which chain averages 9,500 tfeet elevatioii. From several years' obser- 
vations on the line of the Central Pacific Eailroad, the fall of rain at 
Summit station is three times that between Eocklin and Auburn, and 
many times greater than on the eastern flank of the Sierra, where the 
rain-Call is very limited. 

The same law is well known along the southernmost part of Lower 

At the head of the Sacramento Valley, in latitude 41°, where the 
Coast Eangi; of Mountains crowds npon the Sierra Nevada, the clouds 
are banked up heavily, and it is safe to say that four times, and in some 

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seasons perhaps ten times, as mach raia falls at Shasta as Id tbe region 
of Kern Lake at the soiithwesteru extremity of the valley. This latter 
section is the driest region in the whole valley, and probably only half 
the rain falls there that falls about the vicinity of Bakersfield. 

On the Coast Eange of Mountains snow very rarely falls, and never 
lies over twenty-four hours ; but on the Sierra Bevada it falls to a depth 
of 60 or 70 feet, (observations at Summit station, 1866-'67,) and lies 
throughout the winter with an average depth of 14 teet. This snow forms 
a great natural store-house of water. It supplies the streams throughout 
the year. If the greater body of it is melted during the winter by warm 
rains it causes disastrous floods ; but in ordinary seasons the main body 
of it is melted about June and causes the summer-rise in the rivers. 

The law of the greatf'r precipitation of rain upon the western flanks 
of the mountains is well exhibited in the number, size, and volume of 
the streams which have their sources in these mountain-ranges. The 
streams of the west, or seaward, flank of the peninsula of San Francisco 
and of the Coast Kauge northward are greater than those on the eastern 
flank ; and especially marked is this in the case of the Sierra Nevada, 
where it may be also noted that the streams of the west flank exceed 
in aggregate volume those of both flanks of tbe Coast Eange. 

The flgures to establish this well-known law are not produced in this 
place, as they will be used in the remarks upon the unequal fall of rain 
over the country. 

C. — The averayt yearly rain-fall over the basin of the Great Valley is 
svfficient to insure good crops annually. 

This proposition embraces two vital questions : 

1st. What amount of rain-fall, if properly distributed, will insure a 

2d. What amount of rain-fall is there over the entire basin ? Because 
if the amount of water is iusuflicient to insure crops over the entire val- 
ley, the whole subject of irrigation becomes limited and restricted, and 
also more complicated in every aspect. 

We are satisfied that the proposition is correct. 

We can best determine what amount of rain-fall will guarantee a crop 
by a good practical example, and fortunately that is at hand. During 
the rainy seasons of 1870-71, 1871-'72, 1872-'73, a record of the rain-faU 
at Visalia, in the ^utheastern part of tbe Great'Yalley, was kept by 
Dr. James W. Blake, and is so instructive that we introduce tbe daily 
raiu-fall for the year, upon which good crops were obtained in that sec- 

In 1870.-'71 the total rain-fall was about 0.8 inches; in 1871-'72, 10.3 
inches ; in 1872-'73, 7.3 inches. In the flrst and third of these years the 
crops were failures; in the second year the harvest was an abundant 
one. In 1872-'73 the distribution of the rainfall was very equable and 
atleqnate to the end of February ; after that only one-quarter of an inch 
of rain fell upon one day in March and one in April, and the crops were 
virtually lost. 

The critical period in the growing crops appears, in this as in other 
districts, to be about the middle or end of February, when the grain is 
several inches high, and another rainfall of one or two inches would give 
good crops, whilst a cessation of rain leaves them blighted. 

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Bain-fall at Vtsalia, 1871-'72, ichen a full crop was secured. 


















... .0. 12 








. . . .0. OC 


0. 38 


... .0. 28 






28 ... . 



... .0. 15 


0. 05 








16. . . . 


29. . . . 









Total inches . . 


Throngliout the southern sectious of California crops have beeo 
secured whea 12 iuches of raia have fallen in the wet season ; hat the 
precipitation is not so reliably nniform as farther north. Farmers and 
stockmeD claim good crops with 15 inches of rain, if it iias fallen some- 
what evenly throughout the season. This amount would not be neces- 
sary to mature the crops if, at the beginning of the rainy season, the 
earth had not been parched several feet deep by the excessive dryness 
and hept of sonimor. 

earth to a sufficient deptli. During May we experienced a temperature 
of 130° in the sun between Bakersfteld and San Emedio Canon, and for 
months the temperature in the sun ranges over 100°. This great heat,^ 
accompanied by excessive dryness of the atmosphere and months of 
cloudless sky, evaporates every particle of moisture from the ground, 
and produces conditions which the farmers of the Atlantic States can 
hardly comprehend. It also demands a larger supply of water for 
maturing a crop than would be the case if the ground were moist when 
the proper sea.son of plowing and sowing arrived. 

The second question under this proposition now prises, What is the 
amount of rain-fall over the basin of the Great Valley ? 

Although the statistics are not as numerous as could be desired, yet 
they are sufBcient to enable us to affirm with certainty that the average 
yearly rain-fall is not less than 20 inches, and may be mucli larger. 
This, it must be understood, is over the whole basin, from the crest of 
the Sierra Nevada to the crest-line of the Coast Eange. 

Commenciug at the northward, we gather the following statistics 
from the Smithsonian publication already noticed, and from other 
sources : 

At Fort Crook, on the Upper Sacramento River, elevation 3,390 feet, 
in eight years, from January, 1858, to October, 1867, an average of 23,7 
inches of rain- fall, 

At Fort Reading, on the Sacramento Elver, near Redding, in three and 
three-quarter years, from April, 1852, to March, 1856, 29.1 inches 

At Clear Lake, head of Cache Creek, in six years, from 1867 to 1873, 
34.4 inches. 

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At Sacrameoto, in twenty -four years, from September, 1849, to August, 
1872, 19.6 inches. 

At Beuicia, in thirteen and a half years, from November, 1849, to 
December, 1864, 15.1 inches. 

At Stockton, in three and one-half years, from January, 1854, to Decem- 
ber, 1857, 13.7 inches. 

At Millei-ton, on the San Joaquin River, in six and three-quarter 
years, from July, 1851, to June, 1858, 19.0 inches. 

Thence, through the broadest part of the valley to Fort Tejon, we 
have no observations except those at Visalia during the three dry win- 
ters of 1870-'7 l-'72-'T3, as already detailed, and averaiging 8.1 inches. 

At Fort Tejon, .3,240 feet above the sea and 3,000 feet above the val- 
ley, in four and two-third years, from March, 1855, to August, 1864, 19.5 

From the mouth of the S&cramento southsvard along the west side 
of the valley, to its extremity, there are no records by which we can 
approximate the rain-fall. 

The averages of the foregoing results, giving them weights jiropor- 
tionate to the number of years of observations, give the following 
results : 

Average yearly rainfall in the valley, or foot-hills of the Valley of Cali- 
fornia, north of the mouth of the Sacramento River, equals 23 inches ; 
average in the valley south of the Sacramento Elver, 16 inches. 

In the southern part of the valley, the average rain.fall over the val- 
ley proper is barely sufflcient for maturing a crop if we consider that 
at Fort Tejon, in the monntaiue, the rain-fall is heavier than in the 
valley, and tlierefore that the derived average of 16 inches, which 
was obtained for a short period and few stations, is too great. 

This is confirmed by the experience of the country where the usual 
estimate is that one crop in three years or two crops in five years is all 
that can be raised. 

But both in the northern and southern parts of the valley, the flanks 
of the mountains, where, as we have shown, the largest rain-fall takes 
place, have a greater area than the plains of the valley, and therefore 
throughout the northern and southern parts of the basin there folia, on 
the average, a superabundance of ivaterfor all the purposes of maturing 

D. — The rain-fall in different years is very variable, and seasons of drought 
and of great floods occur, and in any one season it is very unequally dis- 
tributed in different sections. 

A glance at the annexed charts of rain-fall will show to what a narrow 
belt of coast the rain-fall upon the Pacific slope is restricted, in fact, 
embracing but the State of California, part of Oregon, and Washington 
Territory, while the region for which irrigation ia required embraces 
but a fraction of California. 

Hence it is very evident that any slight modification in the immediate 
causes which occasion. the precipitation of rain along the coast will 
lead to large variations in the rain-fall of different localities and of differ- 

A deflection of the oceanic current which bathes the western coast of 
the United States, or the decrease of the temperature of this stream by a 
few degrees, and the absence of the vapor-laden air which hangs over it, 
or the absence or moderate character of the " southeasters " during the 
winter months, or all combined, will be accompanied by months of 

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beautifallj clear skies, mild wealher, and a very small amount of raia- 

But no matter what the eaases are, we have to deal with the facts as 
we find them, and can best illnstrate our proposition by some examples 
in California from the Smithsonian tables collated to 1867. 

Table showing the extremes of rain-fall at various localities in California. 

Incbes. Inches. 

At Fort Reading, (3 years,) range 37. 4 to 15. 9 

At Sacramento, (17 years,} range 27. 5 to 11. 2 

At Millerton, (6 years,) range 40. 3 to 9. 7 

At Stockton, (3 years,) range 20. 3 to 11. 6 

At FortTejon, (6 years,) range 34. 2 to 9.8 

At Monterey, (5 years,) range 21. 6 to 8. 2 

At San Diego, (12 years,} range .., 13. 4 to ,6. 9 

At Eenicia, (12 years,) range 20. to 11. 8 

These results* do not, however, fairly represent the ranges, because the 
yearly averages of the tables are computed from January 1 to Decem- 
ber 31 of each year, as is done in the Atlantic States, but they are the 
best available. 

From other sources we have the following results reckoned by wet 

Inches, luclies. 

At Clear Lake, (1,300 feet elevation, 6 years,) range 60. 7 to 16. 2 

At Visalia, (3 years,) range 10. 3 to 6. 7 

At San Francisco, (^3 years,) range 49. 3 to 7. 

At Pillarcitos, (9 years,) range 82. to 39, 

At Sacramento, (24 years,) range 36. 4 to 4. 7 

At San Diego, (22 years,) range 14, 8 to 4. 5 

At Modesto, (1870-'71) 2. 4 

At Stockton, (187a-'71) 5. 

At Marysville, (1870-'71) , 6. 7 

f These minima clearly indicate that there must exist years of drought 
when the crops cannot niatuie, and we have shown that a few inches 
more of water from raiD4'all or from irrigation would have saved the 
produce of large areas of land. 

In some seasons the greater volume of rain falls early in the season, 
and if the seed is sownbeforothat the crops seem assured; but a follow- 
ingdry spring, asin 1873, cuts off one-half thecrop throughout themoister 
parts of the valley, and totally destroys the crops in the southern part, 
except those isolated places blessed with the waters of irrigation, which 
we visited at localities on the east and west sides of the southern part 
of the valley. 

The rain-fall of the years 186S-'69, 1809~'70, 1870-'71, was marked 
as not only below the average over the whole extent of the country, 
but throughout the southern section south of Monterey, and in the 
southern part of the Great Valley the rainfall was so limited that 
neither grain nor grass grew. Hundreds of farms were abandoned, and 
stock -men were compelled to drive their cattle, horses, and sheep to the 
gulches of the mountains not only for food but for water, 

* Smithsoaian Contribution b to Knowledge No. 222, already cLted. 

t At Sbaata it is reported that 94 inches of rain fell in 1870-71, whicli was a dry win- 
ter over the rest of the State, and 32 inches in 1879-73, which was a wet winter with 
moderately dry spring. 



In Pebruary, 1870, DOt a blade of grass was to be seen over the 
^tensive valley of the Santa Clara; and the broad plains of Los 
Angeles, corering over one million of acres of arable land, were nearly 
desolate even to the borders of the streams. From Tulare Lake to San 
Diego, the country was nearly desolate; and in March, 1871, the usual 
seafion when the crops should be luxuriant, not a blade of grass was 
to be seen over the great plains and through the valleys, which are 
richly covered after favorable rains. Hundreds of thousands of sheep, 
horses, and cattle were lost by starvation. 

The practical deduction of the farmers in the southern part of tUe 
Great Valley is that they can secure about two crops in five seasons ; 
bat this is still reduced in the extreme southern section, where we 
traversed ten and twenty miles at a time without a cabin to indicate a 
claim, yet where the land was remarkably good. The great drought of 
the seasons 1862-'63, 1863-'64, when only 13.6 and 10.1 inches of rain 
fell at San Francisco, was not so severely felt by the State, because the 
population was much smaller, and grain-crops were not then so largely 
cultivated; but a recurrence of such years at the present time or in the 
futiu'e would be accompanied by the most disastrous results to the 
prosperity of the country, unless artificial meaus be adopted to secure 
the use of the waters from the streams. 

In 1S50 only 7.0 inches of rain fell at San Francisco ; such a season 
now without irrigation would produce a famine, 

B* — With a proper system of controlling tlw, waters of precipitation^ and 

Slivering them to cultivated landa when needed, annual 'crops mag be 


The statistics of rain-fall which we have presented and our personal 
knowledge of the country satisty us that the average rain-fall is sufficient 
to secure an annual crop if the water be properly distributed ; but a still 
more important question arises, whether in seasons of insufncient rain- 
fall enough water can be gathered from the streams draining the flanks 
of the mountain-range and applied to the cultivated lands, in addition 
to the rain-fall, to matore the crop. The statistics of rain-fall and crops 
at Visalia, already given, though limited, are valuable in this connection ; 
but the experience last spring of the farmers on and beyond the line of 
the San Joaquin and King's Kiver Canal is particularly interesting. 

In this section we examined about twenty thousand acres of nearly 
matured crops at the end of May, and received from the farmers them- 
selves their statement of the effects of irrigation. 

Up to the time when the rains ceased, in February, the prospects of 
the farmers were particularly bright, and they would not take the waters 
of irrigation. 

The giain was about six inches high, and very strong; but the dry 
weather, clear skies, and north winds soon parched up the earth, and 
the wheat began to grow yellow and sickly. 

About the beginning of March every exertion was made to use the 
waters of the canal for irrigation ; secondary ditches were hurriedly cut, 
and the water conveyed to the lauds in a very crude manner. 

One good flooding was given to saturate the soil; the grain revived, 
the crop was saved, and when we visited it the farmers claimed from 
thirty to as high as fifty-five bushels of wheat per acre. 

They were earnest and enthusiastic in their praise of irrigation, as 
well they might be, for it was simply the difference of a total loss of 
their year's labor and grain that would yield them $1.20 per bushel. 

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Much of this land had previonsly failed to secure purchasers at $3.50 
per acre, and mauy farmers had debated whether to abandon their farms 
or wait for another rainy season to make up for previous losses. 

These crops raised the value of all landa capable of irrigation from 
#2.50 and less to $25 and $30 per acre. Many farmers from the western 
side of the valley visited these growing crops to compare them with 
their own parched fields, and there was a unanimous expression of 
opinion of the value of irrigation. 

We examined similar effects at other points on the western side of 
the valley, and throughout the whole of the flanks of the Sierra Nevada 
where the water from the mining-ditches is used for irrigating the 
hill-sides for grain, grass, alfalfa, and fruit. 

But all the irrigation that has been effected so far has, with one or 
two notable exceptions, been done with little or no system, and with a 
lavish waste of water that could never be permitted in any well-arranged 
system where the minimum of water would necessarily have to be hus- 
banded to accomplish a maximum of results, 

Bo-ealled canals and ditches have been constructed without regard to 
permanency or regimen, or the least foresight. And the "dog-in-the- 
manger" policy has been carried out by those claiming the water-rights, 
some of which are of the most extravagant character, and if fully 
persisted iu must prevent the full development of which irrigation is 

Onr examinatiou has taken us over the entire valley and foot-hills, and 
we have visited all the principal and most of the small streams of the 
eastern and western sides. From rough measurements we became satis- 
fied that with well constructed main irrigsiting-canals to receive and con- 
duct the waters of the streams and lakes, with the secondary, tertiary, 
and other ditches leading therefrom, and with a proper system of distri- 
bution of water, there was ample water to irrigate a large part of the 
whole valley ; and, moreover, that if the waters were properly stored 
in those localities where large areas of good land exist with the smallest 
amount of rain-fall, there would be safftcienfc water to irrigate the whole 
area of the valley. But the system of irrigation would require to be of 
the highest character to attain this end ; with some exceptions, the dis- 
jointed canals now constructed could not he made to approximate such 
a result; and when others are added iu similar de&ance of sound engi- 
neering, the result will be a partial and temporary good for only a part 
of the valley, and will lead to an intricacy of endless legal troubles. 
liose canals that have been properly constructed can be readily con- 
solidated with an extensive system. 

F. — The clwtate is mild throughout the wet or winter season, and especially 
well suited for all agricwltural pursuits. 

Throughout-the whole of the Great Valley a alight fall of snow, such 
as occurred in December, 1873, is looked upon as strange and unusual. 
It then fell to a depth of a few inches and lasted but a few hours ; but 
many years intervene without the occurrence of snow. 

Ice is very seldom seen, and only iu the early morning of some day far 
helow the usual temperature, which averages nearly 50° Fahrenheit 
throughout the winter. 

During this season, all agricultural pursuits are steadily carried on 
without a thought or care of a cold period sufficient to injure the crops; 
the stock roam the pastures and hill-sides without protection from the 

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■, and by the first of February the whole valley aiul moimtaiti- 
flauka are clad in the brightest and richest green. 

Delicate flowers that thrive only in hothouses in the Atlantic and 
Western States are cultivated in the open-air and grow to great size. 
If the rains have been late, plowing is carried on to the end of Decem- 
ber, and even later; or if the early rains have been very heavy and have 
inundated the lowlands so that the seed is destroyed, the land is again 
plowed and another crop planted. In fact, open-air pursuits are here 
carried on during the winter- months as comfortably as daring Miiy in 
the Middle States. 

The exceptional " northers " that blow strongly and cold with a dry 
wind are apt to blight the young crops; but toward the end of a mod- 
erately dry season they have a good ellect if without much force. 

After the last rains in March, the warm weather increases rapidly; the 
clear, sunny weather, and the dryness of the atmosphere aid in matur- 
ing the grain very rapidly. Then follows a remarkable feature in the 
agriculture of this country : the crops when ripened need not be cut for 
months ; in some cases they are not cut until the next wet season 
approaches, or if cut and thrashed the grain is sacked, piled up, 
and if necessary allowed to remain upon the dry earth until the rains 
of October. 

The effect of this dry weather i^ seen in the qaality of the wheat, which 
produces a flour with much less moisture than any in the Atlantic 

During this dry season the heat is very excessive, but unaccompanied 
by the enervation and lassitude which an equally-heated and humid 
atmosphere would certainly cause. 

Throughout the valley at midday, in the middle of summer, the tem- 
perature very closely approximates 100° in the shade, and is frequently 
above that. 

While we were in the vicinity of Kern Lake, the temperature at the 
end of May was 130° In the sun, yet we were able to drive in an uncov- 
ered wagon, forty miles per day, without much discomfort; even with 
this high day-tempp.ratiire, the nights were pleasant. 

Along the foot-hills of the Sierra, the heat of last July was very great, 
reaching from 100° to 110° in the shade for seventeen consecutive days 
in some localities. 

But before this excessively-heated season of the year has been reached, 
the crops have been matured and are safe, because the hot, dry weather 
and the parched surface of the ground prevent the standing grain from 
being mildewed, and it is not even shriveled. 

It has been difficult to collect observations for temperature in con- 
nected series ; but the following tables have been compiled to exhibit the 
yearly mean temperature at various localities, together with the max- 
ima and the minima temperatures. 

They fully confirm the mildness of the winter-season and the equa- 
ble temperature of alt seasons. 
H. Ex. 290 2 

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I'?, nil iHu 

lUB iniB nioji Isj; ^ij is; 

^Z ^s^^^l SS^H^S^Th 

^1^ ga5^^^S5 ^SE5«--S^si^ 

S -Pirn JO n 


^gs gsgssri ggsig^ass 

I III nil liipi I 

, i lllllll 




The foregoing tabular statement gives a mean temperature of 610.4 
throughout the valley, givuig weights to the different results in propor- 
tion to the years of observation ; the average of the maxima, 91°,8 ; and 
the average of the minima, 35°.4; and the extreme range observed, 58° .4. 

The following table exhibits the monthly temperature of one station, 
Sacramento, in the valley, and of three upon the coast; the latter in- 
troduced to exhibit the relation between them. 




„|. rn 


int. 11 

San DieffO, aO 10-12 





























V.33. ' 


i mImS 







sn n 


^■" 1 

50,M 1 

The observations at Sacramento are by Dr. Thomas M. Logan ; those 
at Fort Point, San Diego, ami Astoria, by the United States Coast 

{}. — The Great Valley of Cail/ontla in admmhli/ adapivd for irrigation- 

This great valley is a marked geographical feature of the Pacific 
coast of the United States. 

To show its relation to the State of California and of Nevada, we ap- 
pend the mapof the State geological surveys; and to exhibit it in gi-eater 
detail, we append the map of the valley on a larger scale as drawn in 
the office of the geological survey, with additions under the direction 
of the commission. It lies between latitudes 34° 50' near Fort Tejon, 
and 40° 40' near Shasta, giving an extreme length of four hundred and 
fifty miles, and an average width of forty miles, including the foot-hills 
of the mountains. The general trend of its longer axis is north-north- 
west and south-southeast, lying parallel to the Pacific coast line, from 
which the middle liue averages a distance of eighty-five miles. 

It lies between the great range of the Sierra Nevada on the east and 
the Coast Mountains on the west, the crest-lines of these ranges being 
nearly parallel. 

The average elevation of the former is perhaps 9,500 feet ; that of the 
latter over 2,000 ; while the valley ranges from 30 feet at Sacramento, to 
282 feet at Kern Lake at the south, and to 556 feet at Bedding at the 
north. These ranges of mountains are separated by an average breadth 
of one hundred and ten miles; and from Mount Shasta at the head- 
waters of the Sacramento Eiver to the Tejon Pass, the length is five 
hundred and twenty miles. This gives an area of 57,200 square miles, 
equal to that of Illinois, or Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Iowa, or Ohio and 
half of Indiana combined, or of half the area of all the Middle States. 

The drainage of this large area is effected through the Sacramento 

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and Sao Joaquin liivers, tlie former being one of tbe few great rivers 
of Iforth America emptying into the Pacific. 

This great basin is bemmed in on all sides hy mountainn, except at 
the great rupture in the Coast Range occupied by San Francisco, Saa 
Pablo, and Suisiin Bays, into which the Sacramento River empties. 

The only direct communication with the Pacific Ocean is through the 
Golden Gate, which is one mile wide at its narrowest part. 

The northern part of the valley is more contracted than the southern 
part, and the extent of the low flat lauds much less. It is drained by 
the Sacramento Kiver and its tributaries through the center of the 
valley proper. 

TJjis liver presents a striking peculiarity, in that, with mountains on 
either side, it does not receive a tributary of note for twohundred miles 
of its course northward ftom the confluence of the Feather Eiver. 

Like all rivers flowing through broad valleys, it presents the phe- 
nomenon of running on a ridge down the middle line of the valley ; 
on either side, at a distance of three or four miles, the valley is lower 
than the river-banks, reaching 20 feet in the vicinity of Colusa ; and in 
seasons of continuous heavy rains, the river discharges part of its 
volume through sloughs into the parallel depressions, which also receive 
the discharge of the mountain -streams, and large areas thus become 

On the western side from the mouth of the Sacramento northward 
the flanks of the mountains are narrow and nearly treeless, the rain-fall 
comparatively small, and the streams very short and generally dry in 

The only streams that carry water in summer are Puta Creek, Cache 
and Stony Creeks, but in summer these lose their waters beneath their 
beds soon after leaving the hills. On the western side, north of Knight's 
landing, the plains are destitute of trees. 

On the eastern side, north of the mouth of the Sacramento Eiver, 
the distance from the river to the crest of the Sierra Kevada is nearly 
twice that of the western side. The flanks receive the winter-clonds 
driven against them by the southerly gales, and condense the vapor into 
rail! or snow, and the rain-£ill over given areas is three or four times 
that on the west side of the valley. There are consequently more and 
larger streams tributary to the Sacramento, the Mokelumne, Consumnes, 
American, Yuba, Feather, and numerous smaller streams, each equal, 
or nearly so, to the Puta, Cache, or Stony Creeks. 

The mountains are well timbered ; the foot-hills moderately so. The 
lowlands and plains have a narrow belt of wood along the streams, and 
scattered trees and groves are found over the greater part of the plains. 

Soath of the month of the Sacramento River the valley gradually 
increases in width to the vicinity of the Kaweah Eiver, where it reaches 
a breadth of seventy miles. 

Through the middle or rather west of the middle line of the valley 
runs the San Joaquin Eiver and the connecting line of sloughs and 
lakes from the southern extremity of the valley. 

As on the Sacramento Eiver, the banks of the San Joaquin River are 
higher than the land two or three miles on either side, but in a much less 
marked degree than in the former case ; and the same general feature 
holds good for all the streams. 

On the western side the flanks of the mountains are narrow and tree- 
less, and the rain-fall upon them probably not over one-third or one-fourth 
that of the eastern side; consequently the streams are all very short, 
the courses small, and in summer the beds dry at the base of the foot- 

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hills, while tbe plains are treeless, except a narrow fringe along the 
banks of the streams. 

On tbe eastern side of the valley, the flanks of the mountains are very 
broad, averaging over fifty miles in width, well timbered in many places, 
but the quantity of the timber decreasing to the southward, while the 
foot-hills are sparsely wooded and in very many localities treeless. 

The number of the streams and their relative volumes decrease to 
the southward, but they drain large areas, as we have elsewhere shown. 

.The Calaveras, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced, San Joaquin, King's, 
Eaweah, and Korn Rivers are all good streams, and some of them quite 
large. The plains and most of the foot-hills are treeless, except along 
the valleys of the streams ; and toward the southern extremity many 
miles are passed without seeing a tree. 

One of the features of this part of the valley is the large lakes, Kern, 
Buena Vista, and Tulare, which receive the drainage of the streams at 
the southward. King's, Kaweah, and Kern. 

Tulare Lake haa an area of seven hundred square miles, equal to half 
the area of the State of Hbode Island. It is about 40 feet deep, and has 
very low marshy banks, which are subject to overflow in wet seasons, 
when the area, of the lake becomes very much increased. 

The lakes Kern and Buena Vista have an aggregate area of about 
forty- four sqitare miles; the former we sounded across, and at the end of 
May, 1873, it had a maximum depth of 16J feet. The water was then 
very green, warm, and unfit for domestic use. 

As a general proposition, the whole valley may be considered as formed 
of four plains, two north of the mouth of the Sacramento Eiver and two 
south of it. The two northern plains slope toward each other along the 
line of the Sacramento Rivei. and at the same time slope toward the 
south. The two southem plains slope toward each other along the line 
of the lakes and San Joaquin Eiver, and at tbe same time toward the 

So flat and level do the-^e plains appear that the eye is constantly 
deceived by them and the judgment undetermined which way they slope 
until instrnmental means are applied. 

From Bedding to the mouth of the Sacramento Eiver, the fall of the 
valley is 556 feet in one hundred and ninety-two miles: from Kern Lake 
to the mouth of the San Joaquin, it is 282 feet in two nundred and sixty 
miles; while cross-sections indicate that the slope of the east and west 
plains'toward the line of greatest depression is quite moderate. 

la the southwestern section of the valley, between Firebaugh's and 
Hill's ferries, the levelings show that the ground falls from the foot-hills 
to within four and a half miles of the river at the rate of ti feet per mile, 
thence, it is nearly level to within a half mile of the river, which it then 
approaches with an ascent of 1^ feet per mile. 

At Banta!s tbe plains are contracted, and the fall reaches 18 feet per 
mile towaj-d.the river. . In the southeastern section of the. valley the 
fall of the land from the vicinity of Bakersfleld to Tulare Lake is. about 
5| feet per mile for thirty-eight miles ; Tnlqre Eiver, from the crossing 
of the Southem Pacific Eailroad, falls at the rate of 3 feet per mile to 
the lake in eighteen miles ; and the fall from Visalia to the north point 
of Tulare Lake is 4J feet per mile for twenty-nine miles. 

For the norcheastern and northwestern sections of the valley the com- 
mission has no data available to exhibit the cross-section. 

We have mentioned in general terms the two main rivers which drain 
the valley ; but it appears necessary to state more in detail that their 
tributaries are generally well distributed for controlling and delivering 

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water, and that they divide the valley into natural irrigation-districts. 
This is notably so on the eastern side of the valley from its northern 
extremity to the Kaweah Kiver at Visalia. In the southeastern part the 
main reliance is upon Kern Eiver, which is a good-sized stream, flowing 
probably 2,500 cubic feet a second, (May 23, 1873,) where it leaves the 
canon, and losing comparatively little in 'volnme where it leaves thefoot- 
hills near Bakersfield. But the area to be irrigated from this source, 
aided by the small streams im the extreme southeastern part of the 
valley, is very large, and the water must be economically distributed. 

This river drains the highest and wildest part of the Sierra Nevada, 
and its course is said to be marked by deep canons, above each of which 
there may doubtless be opportuuities to establish large reservoirs, while 
advantage can be taken of forming reservoirs in the hills to hold the 
water of all the minor streams. These are, of course, propositions for 
the future. 

North of the Kaweah the streams are well distributed, and there is au 
ample supply to supplement the ordinary rain-fall on the plains, except 
possibly, in a long series of years of drought. 

The principal streams on the eastern side of the valley, commencing 
at the southward, with their area of catchment above the points where 
dams should be constructed, as taken from the map herewith appended, 
are the following : 

Square miles. 

San Emedio and other small streams 650 

Agua Caliente, Tehatchipi, &c 461 

Kern Eiver : 2, 382 

Posa Creek 278 

Tula River 446 

Kaweah Biver 608 

King's Biver i , . . 1, 853 

San Joaquin Biver 1, 630 

Fresno Creek 258 

Chowchilla Creek 303 

Mariposa and Bear Creeks 248 

Merced Eiver 1, 072 

Tuolumne Eiver 1, 513 

Stanislaus Eiver 971 

Calaveras Biver 389 

Mokelumne Eiver 573 

The branches of Dry Creek 208 

Consumnes Eiver i 589 

American Eiver 1, 889 

Ooon and Bear Creek and branches 484 

Yuba Eiver 1, 329 

Feather River 3, 393 

Small streams hence to Redding, about 1, 600 

SevPTal small streams Jying between some of those enumerated have 
not been mentioned as having less than one hundred miles area each. 
The total of those enumerated is 22,127 square miles of catchment ; but 
without surveys it is impracticable to estimate the ratio of area of each 
catchment to the area to be irrigated in the different districts. 

On the southwestern side of the valley the sti'eams are, as already 
related, short, small, and drain small areas where the rain-fall is a min- 
imum. There the main reliance for the waters of irrigation must be 
upon Kern and Buena Vista Lakes, with an aggregate of forty squaie 

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miles, HpOQ Tulare Lake with an area of seven hundred square miles, and 
upon the waters of the San Joaquin, as already used by the San Joaquin 
and King's River Canal and Irrigation Company. 

Although the small streams of the Bouthwestern side lose themselves 
as soon as they leave the foot-hills, yet they drain a total area of two 
thousand squai-e miles, and in the future the waters may he retained iu 
hiU-teservoirs for the uses of irrigation. In this section the following 
are the areas of catchment of streams ha\'ing each over a hundred square 
miles, the areas reckoned above the positions of the necessary dams; 

Sq^uare miles, 

Los Gatos - - . - 420 

Cantua 164 

Big Pauoche 319 

Little Panoche 13G 

Thence to the northward as far as Corral Hollow Creek the total 
area of catchment is five hundred and thirty-three square miles. 

On the northwestern side of the Great Valley the streams are larger 
than on the southwestern. Some of them drain large areas, and are 
capable of affording a good supply of water for comparatively broad 
tracts of land. Clear Lake, with an area of eighty square miles, and 
1,350 feet above the sea, forms a great natural reservoir, discharged 
through Cache Creek ; and for a very trifling sum its surface may he 
raised 15 or 25 feet by the construction of a dam a few miles below the 
head of the creek. 

The waters of this creek have already been dammed for irrigation, as 
elsewhere related. But the main source of supply for this northwestern 
section is from the Sacramento River at a point near Eed Bluff. A 
canal from this vicinity will irrigate the lands skirting the foot-hills and 
reaching to the bottom of the trough described as running about three 
miles from aud parallel with the Sacramento Kiver and as much as 20 
feet below its bank, while another canal may follow the right bank of 
the river to irrigate westward .to the lowest line of the valley. 

The rain-fall in this region averages larger than throughout the whole 
southern or San Joaquin part of the valley, but it is probably less than 
one-half what Mis on the northeastern side. 

Por the irrigation of the comparatively small belt of flat land lying 
between the tbot-hills and the canal, leaving the Sacramento River at 
Eed Bluff, there are numerous small streams available, but the following 
are the principal streams, naming them from the mouth of the Sacra- 
mento Eiver northward, with their areas of catchment above the proper 
location of the necessary dams : 

Square miles. 

Putah Creek 584 

CaeheCreek, (Clear Lake).-.. 1,024 

Stony Creek 591 

Arroyo de los Sancos 212 

Reed's Creek 219 

Cottonwood, near Eedding, about TOO 

Or, a total of 2,330 

We elsewhere state that the area of the lands which may be readily 
irrigated is about 7,650,000 acres, and, if we include what are called 
swamp or overflowed lands, this area is increased to. 13,300 square miles, 

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or 8,500,000 acres ; but if the low foot-hills are included, it is estimated 
that 18,750 square miles, or 12,000,000 acres, are capable of irrigation. 

In the former case, the area of catchment outside of the lauds to be 
irrigated is between three and three and a half square miles to each 
square mile to be irrigated, while in the latter case it is about three 
square miles to one. 

Kow, if a monthly average of 3 inches of the rain-fall over the whole 
area of catchment was delivered during the rainy season by all the 
streams, they would famish a supply equal to a monthly average depth 
of 10 inches of water over the whole of the first-mentioned area. Of 
course, i* consecutive seasons of drought this amount would be much 

From rough observations. of the actual discharge of Kern Eiver near 
the end of May, 1873, it was found to be equal to a depth of IJ inches 
per month from the, whole area of catchment of 2,400 square miles. 
This would give a depth of 3 inches for irrigation over 1,200 square 
miles, or 768,000 acres, which is larger than its natural irrigation-dis- 
trict j or, to express the foregoing quantity in other terms, the Kem 
Eiver in May was daily discharging a body of water equal to a stratum 
3 inches deep over an area of 25,600 acres. The discharge was doubt- 
less much larger from the middle of February to the end of March, 
when the waters of irrigation are most needed. These pariial results 
are very suggestive and satisfactory, and we are convinced that the 
whole eastern side of the valley northward of the Kern Eiver will yield 
more ample supplies of water. 

The soil throughout the Great Valley is of the best and most readily- 
worted character, but the commission has not the^data to «nter into a 
detaOed description of such an extensive region, 

In some of the localities visited by us, more especially in the southern 
section of the valley, small areas of otherwise fine land showed the pres- 
ence of " alkali ;" and east of Kern Lake a rude manufacture of salt bad 
been attempted by the evaporation of water obtained from shallow wells. 

Broad belts of " adobe" are found throughout the southern section of 
the valley, while loam occupies the larger part of the main depression 
through which the rivers and lakes drain. 

On the southwest side of the valley we found that on some of the 
irrigated lands near Los Bauos Creek the adobe soil, dried hard to a 
depth of 2 inches after one complete flooding in March, prevented the 
evaporation of the moisture beneath, and the owners of one tract of 
three thousand acres claimed for the standing club-wheat (June 1) a 
probable yield of fifty-five bushels per acre. This crop would have been 
a total failure but for the waters of the San Joaquin and King's Eiver 
Irrigation Company. 

Along the eastern side of the valley, close under the foot-hills, there 
are considerable areas of good soil of small depth underlaid by what is 
locally known as "hard pan." Over other areas the soil is of moderate 
depth over gravel deposits. But threughout large areas of the valley 
and on the eastern side, extending in, many places from the foot-hills to 
beyond the line of the Southern Pacific Eailroad, the surface of the soil 
is peculiarly marked by innumerable and contiguous nearly cireular 
moundSj locally known as " hog-wallows." These mounds, lying without 
perceptible symmetrical arrangement, are moderately uniform in shape 
and size; ranging from 6 inches in height to as much as 3 or 4 feet, 
although by far the greater number average about 1 to IJ feet, as 
exhibited in the railroad-cuttings, and from 20 to 50 feet in diameter. 

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The largest we saw were on the Kaweah, above Visalia, and were 
composed of gravel, &e. 

Id many places the immediate sabstratara of these mounds is '• hard 
pan ;" hut over large areaSj where they abound, there appears to be no 
difference between their soil and the aubaoil. 

The mounds are mentioned because, where they occur on otherwise 
level plains, the waters of irrigation will not reach the tops of them, and 
it will require two or more seasons of plowing, conducted with special 
reference, to sufficiently reduce them for receiving irrigation. This we 
saw successfully done when crossing the valley from Millerton to Wat- 
son's Ferry. The farmers agree in saying that the summits of these 
mounds give a ranker growth of grass or grain than the low intervals 
between them. It is not our province to discuss their mode of forma- 
tion, although it would appear to be the results of glacial action. 

!S"otwithstanding these drawbacks, which are comparatively limited, 
it may be safely said that with water, the life-blood of this country, and 
with intelligent cultivation, the greater part of the plains of this great 
valley will annually yield an average of thirty bushels of wheat, or an 
equivalent of any other crop, to the acre. 

The average in seasons of ample rains on fresh soil well cultivated is 
over that amount ; but, unfortunately, there is little or no rotation of 
creps, no manure is supplied to the ground, and the cultivation is gen- 
erally of the poorest character- 
Where water has been available from rain-fall or irrigation, and the 
cultivation intelligently conducted, remarkable crops have been gath- 
ered, reaching from fifty to eighty bushels of wheat per acre, and as 
many as five crops of alfalfa, yielding an aggregate of fifteen tons an 
acre per year. 

Throughout the country " volunteer crops" (that is, crops vfithout cul- 
tivation, from dropped seed of the previous crop) are frequently relied 
upon for successive seasons, and reach as high as forty-flve bushels of 
barley per acre under favorable circumstances. 

The ofBcial reports of the State Agricultural Society abound with 
proof of the great fertility of these virgin plains, and of the salubrity of 
the climate for maturing and harvesting. 

It is on record that in the San Joaquin Valley two crops of barley, 
each averaging over forty bushels per acre, were grown and harvested in 
two hundred and forty-five consecutive days. 

Nevertheless, without a regular and certain supply of water to the 
laud, the limit of cultivated land will soon be reached, and, conse- 
quently, the limits of population ; but when five, eight, and twelve mill- 
ions of acres are cultivated, and the regularity of good crops almost 
assured, it will be impossible to estimate the vast population and the 
varied industries which the valley will support. 

But it will not be the Great Valley alone which will be filled with 
people; the valley of every stream, hirge and small, will be cultivated 
with part of the water which will subsequently reach the lower lands. 

This great basin should in twenty years become the granary of the 

The effects of irrigation will be permanently advantageous, because, 
when the soil once becomes moistened it will subsequently require the 
application of less water for each crop, and when once a thorough and 
comprehensive system is adopted the waters could readily be applied, 
if necessary, before the first rains to soften the ground and make it fit 
tor the plow. 

In fact, the whole method and season of cultivation would doubtless 

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be modilied, and it is within the range of probiibility to look forward to 
an average of two crops a year, 

lu the development of the irrigation of the valley another favorable 
feature would naturally be added in the ealtivatiou of trees. These 
would not only be a remunerative source of iuvestment, but would have 
a beneficial influence upon the soil and upon the young crops, because, 
if in sufficient bodies and numbers, they would protect the crops froKi 
the strong cold northers which have been mentioned as blighting the 
young and tender grain; and they would in a measure prevent the 
excessive rate of evaporation which now prevails during the hot sum- 
mer-months in this comparatively treeless valley. 


1, Necessity of snrveye— The funds at tLe diapoaal of the comniiasion woulil not author- 
ize saryey 8— Necessity of an iuBtruineutal reoonuaiaaauce and of detailed snrveyn. 

9. System of irrigation — No continuous canal od the eastern aide of the Groat Valley — 
Saoh river tuay Iiave one or more dama and oanala — The San Joaquin and King's 
Eiver Canal— Other canals— Some portion of the plain paunot be thoronRhly irri- 
gated — Canals on the western side of the Sacramento River — Main canal may bo 
navigable— Clear Lake and ite contents, 

3. Influence of irrigation on the navigation of rivers— This infloeoce is small — Ex- 

perience in Italy and in India — Argument to show that this inflncnoe will be small 
on the navigation of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivera — Compensation by 
makiuc some canals navigable. 

4. What ia irrigation t — Mistakes that have been made — Deacription as to how water 

is tu be taken from a river and distributed oyer the land by dams, head-works, 
and canalff— Examples taken from the San Joaquin and King's Eiver Canal Com- 

5. Existing and hypothetical canals— Existing canals at Bakerafleld and Tiaalia — Ca- 

nals ftom the King's River— The Chapman Canal— The Fresno Canal— Small ca- 
nals — Hypothetical canala shown on the map. 
C. General considerations— The irrigation of the foot-hills — Storage-reservoirs- Min- 
ing — Eeclamation— Necessity of proper plans and location of works- Neceasity 
of some authority — Farmers alone will never project and execute a comprehen- 
sive aystem- Connection between the irrigation of the foot^hilla nod niiniug and 
reclamation — Duty of Government. 


We remark that it was evident to us from the moment we commenced 
■onr examination of the Great Valley that it would be entirely impossible 
for us, on account of the limited time at our command, as well as the 
limited means at our disposal, to enter into details as regards the many 
problems in engineering which must present themselves for solution 
before a full report on the best system of irrigating these valleys could 
be perfected. 

Such a report, as well as the first legislation on the subject of irrigat- 
ing the Great Valley, should be founded on a careful instrumental recon- 
naissance, to embrace all the streams, and determine where a dam or 
dams on each of them can be best located ; the amount of water that 
may be utilized ; and the lines of main irrigating-canals. This would 
enable the valley to be divided into districts, and determine the amount 
of land that may be irrigated in each. 

After such reconnaissances shall have established the extent and 
resources of the natural districts into which the valley is divided, then, 
when worlss of irrigation are contemplated in any given district, a 

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miuute survey should be made of tliat district, to determine the detailett 
location of the main canals and distributing-ditches. 

The first reconnaissance specified could be made of a reasonable out- 
lay, but the subsequent minute surveys, embraciug specifications, plausj 
and estimates of the cost of works, will require a large expenditure. 

It is not necessary, however, that the proposed instruoiental recon- 
naissance shall be undertaken anjd carried through the entire valley at 
once, because the different districts are somewhat independent of each 
other, and are not in the same immediate need of irrigation. 


We see from the topographical features of the eastern slope of the 
Great Valley that although water for irrigation is abundant, yet there 
cannot be any long line of continuous canal on that side, because all 
the rivers named above, and many smaller streams, flow down from the 
Sierra Sevada Mountains, and enter the plains in a direction more or 
less perpendicular to the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, into 
which nearly all of these rivers finally empty. 

No continuous canal can, therefore, be built, without great cost, along 
the foot-hills on the east side of the valley, because siich a canal would 
cross the rivers escaping from the Sierra Nevada Mountains generally 
at right angles. The expense of bridging these streams with aqueduct* 
or siphons to carry an irrigating-canal, in this country, with the pres- 
ent price of labor and material, would be enormous. 

The system of irrigation on the eastern side of the Great Valley must, 
therefore, be by many short canals, so as to avoid crossing the different 
rivers and smaller streams by aqueducts. 

Each river may have one or more dams thrown across it in the most 
fevorable places. 

All other considerations being the same, the higher up the streams 
the dams are placed the better, because it will always be desirable that 
the location and plan of the canals should be adapted to the irrigation 
of the largest area practicable at reasonable cost; and, besides, by 
keeping the canals which draw their supplies of water from the main 
rivers on a higher level, we will be enabled to draw water from them 
to supply those canals which are fed from the smaller streams, such as 
the Fresno, Chowchilla, Calaveras, Cosurpnes, and Bear Rivers, as well 
as many others still smaller, which do not bead in the high mountains, 
and whose water will, therefore, fail in the dry season. These dams 
across the larger rivers, as a general thing, will not be for the purpose 
of storing the river-water, however desirable such storage might be, but 
for the purpose of raising the surface of the water to such a height as 
will enable it to be carried out over or through the banks of the rivers, 
and get the canals into the plains which are to be irrigated at the least 
possible expense. 

Each main river on the eastern side of the valley may tLus have two 
canals, one on its right bank, the other ou its left bank, and these main 
canals may be carried along on the proper grade so as to intersect the 
similar canals of the adjacent rivers to the right and left, supplying 
water, also, where it is wanted and where it can be made available to 
those smaller canals on a lower level which draw their supplies from 
the streams that do not head high enough in the mountains to have a 
perennial supply. 

The proper location of the dams across the main rivers, and of the 
head-works and alignment of the main exterior canals, wiil present the 

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most difBcult and important problem wbich the hydraulic engineer 
undertaking the irrigation of the eastern side of the Great Valley will 
have to solve. 

The dividing-line between a cost too great, in order to embrace more 
land, and the sacrifice of land that should be irrigated, will often have 
to be carefully determined by financial considerations. 

It may be remarked that the banks of the rivers as well as of the 
smaller streams, as they flow through the lower plains, are, in many 
cases, higher than the plains to the right and left. The increased ele- 
vation of the banks of the rivers and creeks is usually discernible by 
the naked eye ; but where instrumental levels have been taken the 
increased height of the banks, in some eases, appears to be very marked. 
Thus, on the Sacramento river, a few miles south of Colusa, the bank on 
the west side of the river was found by accurate levels to be twenty-one 
feet higher than the land at a distance of two and a half miles westward 
from the river. On the lower parts of the plains, where the river-banks 
are higher than the adjacent country, it will be necessary to carry the 
primary or secondary canals along ou these banks in order that the ad- 
jacent plains may be irrigated. 

It being impossible for us, on account of the limited time and means 
at our command, to enter upon such a minute reconnaissance of the 
Great Valley as must be made before a comprehensive and economical 
system of irrigation can be planned, we have availed ourselves of all 
attainable information bearing on the subject of irrigation of the valleys 
mentioned in the- act of Congress. 

The information thus obtained, mostly from surveys for proposed 
canals and from railroad-surveys, together with our own observations 
while traveling through and examining the country, fnrnish much of 
the data for this report. 

fortunately, our information about the west side of the San Joaqtdn 
and Sacramento Valleys is quite full, and is sufficient to enable us to 
lay down, with tolerable accuracy, the alignment, size, and slope of the 
main canals on that side of the Great Valley. 

The San Joaquin and King's River Canal and Irrigating Company 
have already built a canal for irrigation from the great bend in the San 
Joaquin River (a few miles below Watson's Ferry) to Los Bancs Creek, 
a distance of forty miles, and that company have caused an extensive 
system of experimental surveys to be made on the west side of the San 
Joaqnin Kiver, all the way from near the mouth of that river, to and 
around Kern Lake, to Kern River. 

These surveys were made with the view of extending their present 
canal and also of ascertaining the practicability of constructing other 
canals on a higher level, drawing their supply of water from Tulare 
Lake and Kern Eiver. 

The company having kindly placed all the data in their office at our 
disposal, we are enabled to lay down the alignment of the canals for 
irrigation on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, 

These canals are : 

Ist. The canal already built from tlxe great bend of the San Joaquin 
Eiver to Los Baiios Creek, a distance of forty miles. It is 28 feet 
wide on the bottom, is 6 feet deep, has a sectional area, when full, of 
2T6 square feet, and with a grade of 1 tbot per mile. The canal, when 
full, will therefore deliver 726 cubic feet of water per second, which 
would irrigate one hundred and forty-five thousand acres of land, allow- 
ing 1 cubic foot of water per second for two hundred acres. 

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2d. The proposed continuation of this canal, on a grade of 6 inches to 
the mile, to the Lower San Joaquin River, near Moore's landing. 

3d, A proposed canal from Summit Lake, but actually drawing its 
supply of water from Tulare Lake, (which ie fed by King's, KaweaL, 
Tule, and Kern Rivers,) and extending from Summit Lake to the Lower 
San Joaquin River at Antioch. This canal is laid down from actual 
surveys made by the company and is on a grade of 6 inches per mile. 

4th. A proposed canal carried from Kern Eiver, on a grade of 3 inches 
to the mile, beginning on the left bank of that river above Bakersfleld 
and extending around and to the southward of Kern and Buena Vista 
Lakes. This canal would irrigate the country between it and Kern River 
and those lakes. 

Here we may properly remark that the plain to the east and sooth of 
this latter canal, lying between it and the surrounding foot-hills, does 
not seem to be capable of irrigation, because it is higher than the pro- 
posed canal, even with its small grade. 

Doubtless, some irrigation of portions of this plain can be effected by 
storing the water which now escapes through the, small streams from 
the surrounding mountains during the winter- season. It may be possi- 
ble, too, in the distant future, when the country becomes rich enough 
to stand the expense, to irrigate all of this land by taking the water out 
of Kern Eiver high enough up that river to enable it to flow over the 
entire plain, but the expense of such a eonatruetion would be too great 
for many years to come. 

The same remarks apply to the extensive plains southwest and north- 
west of Tulare Lake, between that lake and the line of the tipper canal, 
(leading to Antioch,) and the foot-hills of the Coast Range. Except par- 
tial irrigation of small portions of these plains by storage-reservoirs, 
they must be considered as non-irrigable ; for there is no large supply of 
wat-er on this side of the valley that can be spread over them, and water 
cannot be brought from the large rivers on the eastern side of the valley 
except^t a cost which would be disproportionate to the benefits to be 
derived from such enterprises. 

We also have a very good preliminary survey of the alignment of a 
canal for irrigation and navigation on the west side of the Sacramento 
River, leading from a point just below Red Bluff to the navigable waters 
of Cache Slough. This survey was made under the auspices and by 
authority of the State of California in 1866. 

We have laid down on our map the route of this canal as projected 
by its engineers. It leaves the Sacramento River just below Red Bluft, 
keeps close to the ttaot-hilla, so as to irrigate all the lands below it, and 
finally terminates at the head of navigation at Cache Slongh, 

The quantity of land to be irrigated by this canal was estimated to be 
783,000 acres, and the quantity of water necessary for the irrigation of 
this land and for navigation was supposed to be 6,571 cubic feet per 
second. This canal was projected for navigation as well as irrigation. 
In view of this fact, we think if a canal for irrigation alone were to be 
built here, important changes in the location, size, and slope of sucli 
canal could be made, whereby the cost would be greatly reduced. 

But even if this canal be made for navigation, which it probably 
ought to be, its size may be greatly reduced if Stony, Cache, and Puta 
Creeks be used as feeders, which was not done in the original project. 

A branch-canal leaves this main canal on the right bank of Stony 
Creek, and extends thence to the Sacramento River, and then down on 
the right bank of the river to Knight's landing, for the purpose of irri- 
gating the laud between the river-bank and the " trough," or lowest 

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depression of the valley between the river aud the foot-.hill8 to the 

A private corporation, the Clear Lake Water-Works Company, 
Las niidertakeu the appropriation of the waters of Cache Creek for pnr- 
X)ose of irrigation, 

A canal is now partially completed for the irrigation of sixteen thou- 
sand acres of land in Capay Valley, and a dam has been constructed at 
the lower end of this vallej' for the purpose of starting two canals, one 
on either side of Cache Creek, for the irrigition of the iilaiiis in Solano 
and Yolo Counties. 

Clear Lake, which is drained by Cache Creek, is a fine natural reser. 
voir, covering about eighty square miles; and as its drainage-area, 
together with that of Cache Creek, is one thousand square miles in 
extent, and as most of the water can be stored in the lake by inexpen- 
sive works, when it is not wanted for irrigation it follows that a large 
body of land, probably four hundred thousand acres, can be irrigated by 
the proposed canals, which are to draw their supply of water from Cache 
Creek This company has also kindly placed at our disposal all the infor- 
mation which their plans and surveys furuish, and we have laid down 
their tinished canal as well as their proposed canals on our map, 


It has been su]H)osed by some persons that the withdrawal of large 
qnantities of water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Eivers, and 
from their tributaries, and the appropriation of theso waters to par- 
poses of irrigation, would be inconsistent with the navigation of these 

The supposition is natural; but, anomalous as it may seem, the expe- 
rience of the extensive irrigation of the plains of India aud of Italy would 
seem to contradict it. 

Captain Baird Smith, in his "Italian Irrigation" says, pp. 171 and 

I may meution liere thut tlie singular and interesting iilionomeiiou of percolation, 
■which IS eo marked in the beds of the Himalayan rivers of India, ia not less stcifcingly 
shown in those of Northern Italy. In seasons of great dryness the entire volames of 
the Tieino and other irrigating rirers have at times been entirely exhausted to meet 
thedemoudsof thecnitivatorB. The results are thns adverted to by M. Lombardini,a 
minute and accurate observer, who has devoted Jiiraself especially to the study of river 

"The snbterranean waters witli which the plain is charged are also occasionally 
■oolleoted in the rivers, whose beds are below tUe level of the ground. These streams, 
exhausted in their upper portions by the channels of irrigation derived from them, are 
found to become gradually refilled at lower levels witfi new waters. The Tioino at 
Tornavento, the Adda at Caesauo. aud the Oglio at Torre Pallavioina, in times ofgreat 
dryness, are entirely closed and exhausted. Yet, without the aid of any visible affluent 
whatever, the streams soon re-apppcar, formed by new supplies derived from percola- 
tion through the banks and springs in the bcila, so that tlicy early again become navi- 

This ia precisely the result observed iu. Northern India, and with which the 
main objection urged against the grand Ganges Canal, that it will ruin the navigation 
of the river, has hitherto been combated. I am glad to be able to bring Italian as well 
-IS Indian experience to the support of this work, oeaidcs which even the greatest of the 
Lombardian canals appear small. 

In speaking of the effect of the canals on the navigation of the river 
Jumna in In^, the same author says, {Baird Smith, p. 386 :) 

During fou^months it is occasionally necessury to abstract the eutire visible stream 
for the supply of the canals, and for eight or ten miles below tlio bunds or embank- 
ments employed for the pnriiose, the bed is dry. Beyond this distance water appears ; 



il bj tbe time tUe river Las reaclietl tlie latitude of Saiiarunpfir, it has become a deep 
f ] ble stream, with a conaiderable velocity of current. The explanation of fcliis 
gol teBnlt, observed in greater or less degree in all streams whioh traverse the 
tra t f coniitrj nndei the Siwalic Hills, bolh east aud west of the Ganges, is not 
d ffi It From sections exposed by wells sunk in the vicioity of the- Jumna, it is evi- 
d t th t the bed of the nver is composed of a porous, readily permeable stratum of 
h ffl esting upon clay or clay sand, which is comparatively impervious. The upper 
or shingle stratum is thoroughly saturated with water to a depth whioh, from sections 
we have otecrved, may be estimated at ftom 60 to 80 feet. The slope of the bed for the 
first ten miies from the lower hills is escesaive, and there is consequently a considera- 
ble under-current through the sliingle bed. The volume of the river may therefore he 
regarded as consisting of two separate parts: 1st. The visible stream, over the 
shitiele bed ; and, Sd, the invisible or under-stream through the shingle bed. The 
can tu bunds aitect only the former; and it is the latter which malies its appearance 
when, at the lower levels of the river's coui'se, the sub-stratum of clay outcrops, and 
the porous shingle bed terminates. The under-current is thus thrown to the surface, 
and uooatJtntes the main body of the river, and, with the additions it receives tcota 
arSuents, is tiJe volume availiiblefiir navigation during the months of miuimiim sup- 

From our obser various, we believe tliat if a general system of irriga- 
tion of tbe San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys is carrieil out, 
the effect of such irrigation will have very little influence on the navi- 
gation of the Sacramento and San Joaijuiu Givers, which are the only 
navigable rirers in the Great Valley of Califorqla. 

It should be observed that the quantity of water that will be used for 
the irrigiition of the valleys mentioned above will J)e only a portion of 
the flow of these two rivers at and below the points at which they are 
now navigable; and of tliis portion a (rertain quantity will find its way 
back into the rivers again by percolation and underground drainage 
after it has done its work of irrigation. This will be particularly true 
of the San Joar[uin Eiver, where the greatest amount of irrigation is 

This river is navigable for steamboats in its high stage only as high 
as the mouth of Fresno Slough, where the head-works of the San 
Joaquin and King's Eiver Canal are located, and in its lowest stage only 
as high as Stockton Slough, which is below the influence of the tides. 
Now, during its high stages when water is always abundant in the rivers 
flowing ftom the Sierra Nevada, the San Joaquin Itiver receives the 
drainage of the wliole Tulare Vjilley through Fresno Slongh, a tew miles 
below Watson's ferry. 

The irrigation of the Great Valley above this point can therefore 
have verj- little influence on the navigarion below it ; for it is only the 
quantity of water which is taken up by the increased evaporation due 
to irrigation, and that going to form a component i>art of the increased 
vegetation of the country that is lost to navigation. 

After once wetting the soil down to the water-bearing strata, all the 
remainder of the water of irrigation will be carried off by underground- 
drainage, and will find its way into the river at or above the point 
where winter-navigation ceases. Indeed, it may well be questioned 
whether the iiTigation of the southern cud of the Great Valley will 
not tend rather to improve than to injure the navigation of the river; 
for the water of irrigation will be held back during floods, when it is 
uot wanted for navigation, and tliat portion of it which finds its way 
»gaiu into the river by uuderground-dramage will do so in a groat 
measure when the river is falling, and at the time, therefore, when it is 
wanted for navigation. 

In considering the effect of the abstraction of water for the irrigation 
of the San Joaquin Valley from that river, and from its tributaries below 
the mouth of Fresno Slongh on the navigation of the river, we have on the 

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west side the San Joaquin and King's River Canal, with a maximum dis- 
charge of 726 cabic feetper second, which iaonly about one- tenth the actual 
flow of the river at that poiut in the summer-season. It is said that the 
effect of this canal in lowering the water in the river has been tested by 
the experiment of closing the head-gates in the canal so as to exclude 
all water from the canal. The effect was. to raise the water ia the river 
below the head-works one inch and a half, from which we may conclude 
that the withdrawal of the quantity of water which the canal carries 
ftom the river lowers the water in the river one inch and a half. 

To this extent, therefore, this canal may at certain stages of water 
injure its navigation. 

The effect of canals of irrigation drawing their supply of water from 
the tributaries of the 8an Joaquin Eiver on its eastern side, say 
from the right bank of the Upper San Joaquin Eiver itself, from the 
Presno, the Merced, the Tuolumne, and the Stanislaus, on the naviga- 
tion of the river between Stockton and the head of high-water naviga- 
tion, we believe will not be injurious, and^ in fact, may be beneQclal. 

The effect of drawing water for irrigation from tlie tributaries of the 
San Joaquin below Stockton, from the Calaveras, the Mokelumne, and 
the Cosumnes, Can scarcely be felt on the navigation of the San Joaquin 
below that point, for here the depth of the water in the river is influ- 
enced by the ebb and flow of the tides. 

The west side oPthe Sacramento Valley, as we have seen, must be 
irrigated by water drawn from the Sacramento River at, or a short dis- 
tance below. Red Blaft^ and from Stony, Cache, and Pata Creeks. 

The Sacramento River is navigable during the season of high water 
as far as Red Bluff; though since the coQsoIidation of the railroad 
company with the California Steam Navigation Company it is rare that 
steamers are sent up the river higher than Princeton. 

During the low stage of water, Colusa may be regarded as the head 
of navigation. 

The effect of withdrawing a large quantity of water by a canal for 
irrigation, leaving the fiver in the vicinity of Ked Bluff, would tie to 
decrease the depth of water in the river at and immediately below that 

At the time, however, when irrigation will be most needed — doriog 
the winter and spring — the river is always high, and the withdrawal of 
the quantity of water that will be required for irrigation would scarcely 
be felt. 

During the late summer and early fall, when the riverislow, but little 
water will be wanted for irrigation, and the withdrawal of what would 
be required could have but little effect on the navigation of the river 
at Colusa or Princeton, the bead of navigation at that season of the 
year, for these places are one haiidred miles by the river below the head 
of the proposed canal- 

Of course, there will be a certain stage of the river when it is falling, 
and again when it is rising, when, without the withdrawal of any water 
from the river for irrigation, it would just be navigable for small steam- 
ers between Colusa and Red Blutt'. If, at this stage, a large quantity 
of water be withdrawn from the river, the depth of water would be 
decreased, and the river would not be navigable. 

How much the influence of such a canal on the navigation of tlie 
upper part of the river at these stages would be felt, it will be impossible 
to state with certainty without knowing the discharge of the river at 
snch times and the quantity of water that would be taken from it by 
t'ie canal. 

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We may remark, however, that it is ouly tlie falling phase of the 
river that need be cousidered in this connection. In the months of July 
and Angust the river falls very slowly ; and if it is just navigable at a 
certain stage, the withdrawal of a large quantity of water from it at 
that time might affect the navigation for some weeks ; but in the fell, 
when the river rises, after the first rains, it rises suddenly, and the 
effect of the cause we are considering could only be felt for a few days, 
and generally only for a few hours. 

The effect of withdrawing a portion of the waters of Stony Oreek for 
irrigation could have but little, if any, influence on the navigation of the 
river ; for the greater portion of this water would find its way back 
again into the river above Princeton, which is the practical head of 
navigation, unless the river above be im proved. And the appropriation 
of the waters of Cache and Puta Creeks to irrigatiug-purposes cannot 
affect the navigation of the river ; for both of these streams fiud their 
escape into the river through Cache Slough, a tidal arm of the Lower 

On the east side of the Sacramento Eiver, between Eed Bluff and 
the city of Sacramento, the principal tributaries are the Feather, 
the Tuba, Bear and American Eivers. Besides these rivers, there are 
numerous smaller streams, escaping from the foot-hills of the Sierra 
JTevada, and emptying into the Sacramento River above the mouth of 
the Feather, the largest of which are Butte and Ohico Creeks, which 
ai'e living streams all the year round, in the vicinity of the town of 

We do not think that the appropriation of all the water that will be 
wanted for the irrigation of the eastern side of the Sacramento will 
have any injurious effect on the navigation of that river, and for the 
reasons already stated in speaking of the tributaries of the San Joaquin 
on its eastern side. 

On the whole, therefore, we conclude this subject by stating it as our 
belief that the irrigation of the Great Valley of California, in the nian- 
ner we have sketched on our map, will have no injurious effect on the 
navigation of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Elvers except for a 
short time, at a certain stage of their waters, and for a short distance 
below the points where the proposed canalsleave them, viz, the mouth 
of Fresno Slough on the San Joaquin, and Red Bluff' on the Sacramento. 
Even here we do not think that the injury to navigation will be at all 

The canals for irrigation on the western side of the valley, owing to 
the necessity of giving them a. gentle slope, may easily be made navi- 
gable. The San Joaquin and King's Eiver Canal as far as constructed 
is navigable, and its continuation as projected will furnish a more cer- 
tain and cheap navigation than that of the Upper Sau Joaquin Eiver. 

A canal from the Sacramento Eiver, leaving it at Eed Bluff', on its 
western side, may readily be made navigable. Thus, these two nav- 
igable canals would afford compensation to any supposed or real injury 
they might do to the navigation of the rivers. 

When we reflect that no canal for navigation could. iro- proposed in 
this or any part of the United States without the i>ossiWe 6r supposed 
injury of some railroad, and, in fact, that no great pnblic work of any 
kind can be carried into execution without iiuufiously affecting some 
existing interests, we think, if a comprehensive sekphie for the irrigation 
of the Great Valley of California is ever undertaken, the eflect of 
such irrigation on the navigation of its rivers may be disregarded. 
H. Ex. 290 3 

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It may be well to state here, in general terms, in what the works of 
irrigation tor these plains must consist ; or, in other words, how the 
water is to be taken out of the rivers and spread over the land. This 
appears to us to be necessary to a proper comprehension of the subject, 
because the irrigation of the land has been practiced bat very little by 
the farmers of the United States. With the eseeption of rice-culture 
along the sea-coast of a tew of the Southern States, agricultural irriga- 
tion may be said to be almost unknown in this country- 
Even in California it is yet in its infancy, although it was practiced 
for many years in some places by the old Spaniards, particularly in the 
sontheru portion of the State. 

The profession of the hydraulic engineer for agricultural purposes is 
almost unknown, and the farmers, as a general thing, do not understand 
how to use the water when it is delivered alongside their lands. 

We have noticed that in some of the new canals which have been 
built, many mistakes as to their alignment and slope have been com- 
mitted. In fact, the very first principles of hydraulic engineering, as 
applicable to agriculture, have been violated. 

This is particularly the case in relation to the canals, or irrigating- 
ditches, at Visalia and Batersfield. The irrigating-ditches at these 
places have too great a slope. The consequence ie that the banks are 
washed away and the bottoms of the ditches scoured out, so that the 
water cannot be elevated sufficiently in many places to flow over the 
surface of the land which was intended to be irrigated. 

Again, no attention, apparently, has been paid to drainage. The con- 
sequence is that the surplus water of irrigation, and that which escapes 
at low places through the banks of the ditches and sloughs, settles in 
pools in the lowest ground, becomes stagnant, and, under the influence 
of a sun which may be called tropical, renders the vicinity of these two 
towns unhealthful in the summer-season, 

A main canal for irrigation must be taken from a river or lake. The 
quantity of land to be irrigated, the nature of the soil, the minimum 
rain-fall on this land during the year, and the kind of cultivation, or the 
amount of water which the land will require in a given period, are the 
elements which determine the size of the canal or the quantity of water 
it mast deliver in a given time. 

The first thing to be done is to raise the surface of the water in the 
river to such a height as will enable it to flow out through a canal on 
to the plain to be irrigated at the least possible expense. This is tisu- 
ally done by a dam across the river, though sometimes water can be 
taken from a river without a dam. The dams, as a general thing, will 
not require to be built to the full height of the banks of the rivers, but 
only high enough to command the highest land to be irrigated. 

The canal will then be carried from the water above the dam, through 
the river-bank, in more or less deep cutting, ou to the irrigable land. 

These worji^by which the water is taken from the river out to the l^nd 
to be irrigattd and its quantity regulated, are usually called "The head- 
works of the c^itl." It would be useless to enter iuto a detailed 
description conecrflisg them, because they will differ in every river. 

In looking over ^& " head-works " of the canals for irrigation in India 
and in Italy, we find great numbers of these works, buf no two of them 

The size and slope of the main canals will depend on the quantity of 

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water which they must carry iu a given time, and the tenacity of the 
soil forming their bottoms and sides. 

Perhaps the easiestway of showing how the land in these plains should 
be irrigated will be by an example. But it must be understood that 
these examples, in practice, wilt be of almost iniinite variety, and it is 
only by understanding the principles upon which the canals and ditches 
must be laid oat and constructed that a E)roper system of irrigation can 
be suceeesfuUy introduced. 

Let it be borne in mind that tlie objept to be accomplished is, at any 
given time, to put from two to four inches of water on the soil, and hold 
it there until it is absorbed; say, one irrigation in the fall of the year, 
to enable the land to beplowedand the grain to be sowed; and three or 
four irrigations in the winter and spring, depending iu number and 
quantity on the kind of cultivation and the amount of rain-fall during 
that time. 

In order to show in the clearest manner in what the works for spread- 
ing the water from a main canal over the laud usually consist, we hare 
taken a ease fi-om the actual practice of the San Joaquin and King's 
Kiver Canal Company, in which a portion of the land represented is 
prepared for the irrigation of wheat or barley, and the remaining por- 
tion for grass-pasturage. The system is shown on the sheet herewith, 
marked A. 

The main canal has a grade of 1 foot per mile, and the ground slopes 
from the canal toward the lowest depression of the valley, which in this 
case is the San Joaquin River, about 8 feet per mile. The slope is shown 
on the sketch by dotted contour-lines for each foot of elevation. 

Water is not taken directly from the main canal to. the ground to be 
irrigated. It is first drawn from the main canal into a series of smaller 
canals, called "primary ditches." These primary ditches leave the 
main canal where the slope of the ground is favorable, in a direction 
more or less at right angles to its course. They follow the highest part 
of the land to he irrigated. 

The distance apart of these primary ditches will vary according to 
the circumstances of the ground. In the example we are considering 
t^is distance is one mile. 

The section of these primary ditches, like that of the main canal, is 
usually made partly in excavation and partly in embankment. In the 
example before us, however, these primary ditches are entirely in em- 
bankment, the water running on the natural surface of the gi'ound, the 
earth to form the embankment being taken from outside the ditch. As 
a general rule, the water should not be taken from them directly to the 
ground to be irrigated. They are feeders drawing the water from the 
main canal and distributing it through a series of secondary ditches 
of smaller size, in which the water is on the surface of the ground, and 
retained in a given channel by banks of earth from 1 to 2 feet high. It 
is from these secondary ditches that the water is drawn oif into the 
plow-furrows, and distributed on to and over the land to be irrigated. 

It will be noticed that in the example of practical irrigation shown on 
our map, the contour-lines show that the ground slopes in nearly a true 
plane away from the main canal at the rate of about 8 feet to the mUe. 
We have seen how the water is first delivered from the main canal into 
primary ditches, running down this slope at distances of one mUe apart, 
and how this water is again distributed from the primary into secondai'y 
ditches, located one quarter of a mile apart, and running parallel to each 
other, with a slope of from 4 to 5 feet per mile ; each of the secondary 
ditches is to irrigate the land between it and the next one below it. 

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This piece of ]and in the example is eighty acres. We have now to 
show how the water is actually applied to the fjrotmd. For the salie of 
clearness we will confine our attention for the moment to the eighty 
acres shaded on the map, shown also in the sketch annexed marked 
B. The secondary ditch, marked A B, is to irrigate these eighty acres. 

This land is first divided by plow-furrows parallel with the primary 
ditches and placed 40 yards apart. These are shown at 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, &c., 
up to 39-40. It is again divided by plow-furrows, called "check8,"Iaid out 
parallel to the secondary ditch A B, at distances of fifty yards apart, 
measured along the line parallel with the secondary ditch. These are 
shown at 41-42, 43-44, up to 53-64. 

The note on the drawing marked A shows that each secondary ditch 
has a capacity sufidcient to fill ten of the little boxes leading from it at 
1, 3, 5, 7j &c., into the plow-furrows. 

To irrigate this land, then, we first close the gate at in the middle 
of the secondary ditch A B, and open the gate at A, which communi- 
cates with the primary ditch, then the water will flow into the secondary 
ditch from A to C Open the little gates at 1, 3, 5, 7, &c,, and it will 
escape into the plow-furrows and run down to the first check-furrow, 
41 41J, where its flow will he checked, and it will gradually flow over 
the belt of land hetween A C and 41 41J. This little belt can then be 
irrigated to any depth that may be required. When this is done, the 
plow-furrows at the intersection with the first check at 1 2, 3 4, &c., 
with 41 42, are opened with a hoe, and the water will then run down 
on to the next belt, included between 41 41J and 43 43J, and so the 
process is continued until the forty acres included in the parallelogram 
A C D E has all been irrigated. 

Now, if the gate at be opened and those at 1, 3, 5, 7, &c., be closed, 
the water will flow into the lower part of the secondary ditch from C to 
B ; and if the gates at 21, 23, &c., be opened, the other forty acres, C 
B F E, can be irrigated in the same manner. 

As the ground slopes away from the secondary ditches and the par- 
allel check-furrows at the rate of 8 feet to the mile, and as these checks 
are fifty yards apart, the slope between the adjacent checks will be 2.7 
inches. When the water has hacked up on the upper side of any given 
check-furrow to the depth of 2.7 inches, it follows that the ground on 
the lower side of the next check-furrow above will just be covered, and 
when it is 4 inches deep on the upper side of the lower check it will be 
only ].3 inches deep on the lower side of the upper check. This does 
not give an entirely equal distribution of the water, but in porous soils 
there is a system of compensation for this imetiaal distribution by the 
percplation of the water standing in the secondary ditches and check- 
faiTOWS finding its way to the belts of land immediately below them. 

Thus, in the example we are considering, the water from the secondary 
ditch A B will irrigate the ground immediately below this ditch by per- 
colation if the soil is porous, and the water on the upper side of the 
checks 41 42, 43 44, &c,, will be absorbed and irrigate the soil imme- 
diately below them. Of course, where the soil is impervious to water, 
like clay or adobe, the check-furrows should be closer together, in order 
to insure a more equal irrigation. 

In the example of irrigation for alfalfa or permanent pasturage, the 
little furrow-channels are multiplied, insuring a more equal distribution 
of water. 

The water which is not absorbed by the ground is carried off by the 
catch-drains and utilized for irrigating lands at a lower level. 

This whole system of the distribution of water on to the land, as 

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illustrated in onr sketch, is in accordance with the principles which the 
experience of European countries as well as of India has established. 

It should not be forgotten, however, that the quantity of water, as 
well as the details of its distribution, will vary according to the kind of 
cultivation. As the cultivation of wheat will require a difference in the 
times and details of irrigation from that of alfalfa or other grasses, so 
the cultivation of Indian corn will differ from wheat, and sugar-cane 
would differ from either of the others. In fact, each product will require 
a difference in the method of distributing and a difference in the quan- 
tity of water for each irrigation. 


Although we have been enabled to lay down on our map, with some 
approach to accuracy, the canals for a comprehensive system of irriga- 
tion on the west side of the Great Valley of California, because we have 
had access to surveys which were made for that purpose, such is not 
the case on the eastern side of the valley. Here we have no detailed 
surveys of the country. 

It is true there are several small canals and irrigating ditches on the 
eastern side of the valley, some of which are completed and in opera- 
tion ; but, as a general thing, those canals have not been laid out on sci- 
entific principles ; they have not been projected on a plan, so as to fc^m 
a part of. a comprehensive irrigation-system for this side of the valley, 
and the surveys of these canals, even if attainable, would furnish ua 
with very little valuable information. 

We may mention, among these small canals and irrigating-ditches, 
those at Bakersfield, where the water is taken from Kern Eiver; the 
irrigation at Visalia, where the water is taken from Kaweah Kiver 
three small canals leading from King's Biver, now partially completed 
the Chapman Canal, on the right bank of the San Joaquin Kiver: 
and the Fresno Canal, on the left bank ' of the Fresno Kiver, {botli 
partially completed, and laid down on our map.) Of these, the Fresno 
Canal is the best. 

Besides the foregoing, there are small systems of irrigation scattered 
at different points throughout the foot-hills, all the way from the Tuo- 
lumne Eiver to the Feather, the water for irrigation being drawn from 
ditches that were originally constructed for mining-purposes. 

Many of these ditches have been more or less abandoned for mining, 
and their water is now diverted to the irrigation of gardens, orchards, 
and vineyards, which betoken the permanent settlement and eultivatioa 
of these foot-hills. 

It results from oar lack of detailed topographical knowledge of the" 
country on the eastern side of the Valley of California that we can now 
only sketch a hypothetical system of irrigating-canals on that side of 
the valley. This we have done on our map. 

The location of the supposed canals are shown in broken red lines, 
and are laid down as near as may be in accordance with the principles 
heretofore mentioned in this report ; that is, each main river has two 
canals, one on either bank, extending to the right and left just below 
the base of the foothills, until they meet similar canals from the adja- 
cent rivers ; the whole of them taken together forming, as it were, a 
main exterior canal of large size, extending from the Kern River, on 
the south, to the vicinity of Ked Blutt' on the east side of the Sacra- 
mento Kiver. From these main exterior canals, hugging close to the 
foot-hills, the country below them and lying between them and the een- 

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tral lines of draiEage of the Great Valley can be irrigated by brancL- 
canals, which will be the service-canals for the distribution of water for 
irrigation. The branch-canals in their turn wonid have their system of 
primary and secondary ditchea, as has been already explained. 

The hypothetical system of exterior and branch canals for the eastern, 
side of the ralley shown on the map mast be understood as being only 
hypothetical. Although we have examined all the rivers on the eastern 
side of the valley with great attention, we do not know that we have in 
any single case selected the proper point on any river from which a 
main exterior canal should leave it, and, of course, it follows that we do 
not know that we have laid down any canal in the position it ought to 

Ko comprehensive system for the irrigation of this portion of the 
valley, nor in fact for the irrigation of any country, can be made with- 
out a complete instrumental survey made for that special purpose. 
Then, the proper location, size, and height of the dams across the dif- 
ferent rivers and streams can be discovered; the alignment, size, and 
slope of the exterior and interior canals, as well as of distributing- 
ditches, determined, and the country divided into different irrigating-dis- 
tricts which would be more or less independent of each other. 

Here it may be remarked that all such natural districts, because 
they are natural, cannot be altered by legislation, and their boundaries 
are independent of the artificial boundaries of a State, county, or town- 
ship unless those boundaries follow the natural lines of drainage, or the 
divisions of drainage-areas into different water-sheds. 


In the preeeding'discussion of this subject, we have confined ourselves 
entirely to the imgation of the valleys mentioned in the act of Con- 
gress. We have endeavored to show the necessity of their irrigation, 
and some of the results that will flow from it. 

That these plains will be extensively irrigated in the future, we have 
no doubt. But tie works for a complete system of irrigation will be 
enormous and the cost too great for the present day. 

A large increase of population in these valleys will be necessary before 
such works can be perfected. Time will bring this about, but probably 
fifty years will be necessary to complete it. 

It is all-important that the works should be properly planned and 
located in the beginning, so that whatever is done to meet the present 
requirements of a sparse population may form a part of those that will 
be necessary to meet the demands of a population of millions by simply 
enlarging them. 

Canals that may eventually cost $13,000 per mile need not at first cost 
more than $5,000 per mile, but they should be located on the right 
ground and so planned and built as to admit of enlargement without 
shifting the banks. 

The works required, even at the present time, will be extensive and 
costly, and unity of action is absolutely necessary to their proper execu- 
tion. If the Government of the United States lends any aid toward 
the accomplishment of this great scheme of irrigation, it should do so 
in full accord with the government of the State of California ; and what- 
ever action the State government may take in the matter should be 

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taken in tlie interests of tlie people of t!ie State, or otherwise the scheme 
of irrigation will be a failure. 

Some authority must be exercised, in the first instance, in planning 
and locating any proper system for comprehensive irrigation. If left to 
themselves, the farmers in any country of large extent can never devise 
or execnte such a system. 

Constant conflicts would take place among them about the rights of 
water. The streams ought not to be left to the exclusive control of 
those living on their banks. 

The main canal in many places will be miles away from where the 
water is most required ; and if the location and coustrnetion of such 
canal anil the distribution ditches be left to many different proprietors 
to carry out, each anxious for his own interests, and those interests in 
conflict or in apparent conflict with each other, and there be no author- 
ity to control their action, it is manifest that the system of irrigation 
will be begun in confnsion and will end in financial disaster. 

In future the foot-hills, particularly the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada 
range, will also call for irrigation. In fact, as we have before stated, 
they are already irrigated in many places by water from mining-ditches. 

The plains will furnish the large farms, but the homes of the well-to- 
do farmers will be found in the foot-hills or mountains. Their more 
healthful climate, more varied and picturesque scenery, finer fruits, and 
greater facilities of obtaining building-materials, as well as wood and 
water, mark them as places for the farmer's permanent home, and then 
they too will call for irrigation. This will be an irrigation different from 
that of the plains. The water will come from the Sierra Kevada Mount- 
ains, Large storage- reservoirs will then be constructed in the gorges 
and valleys of the mountains, and water will be brought down from 
them in ditches, pipes, and flumes, as water for hydraulic mining is now 
carried to the mines. 

This system of irrigation for the foot-hills will doubtless be com- 
bined with obtaining water for mining those extensive gravel deposits 
of gold, which are yet almost untouched for want of water at sufficient 
elevation to work them profitably ; many of which deposits could not be 
exhausted in a hundred years. 

As the gold production of these mines will be immense, we may sup- 
pose that in the future the works for supplying them with water and for 
irrigating the foot-hills will be in like proportion. 

The western flank of the Sierra Sevada will be dotted with reservoirs 
like some portions of India, Their water will first be used for mining- 
purposes, where it will be as valuable as for irrigation. Afterward it 
will be used for watering the foot-hills, and the waste water finally car- 
ried into the canals leading from the different rivers built for watering 
the plains. 

We are aware that we are not called upon by the strict letter of our 
instructions to mention these considerations, and we allude to them only 
to show that in a complete and comprehensive consideration of the subject 
of irrigation in Oaliforuia they should not be forgotten. 

And there is one other view of the subject which should be stated: 
we allude to the reclamation of the overflowed and swamp lands in the 
San Joaquin, Tulare, and Sacramento Valleys. Extensive irrigation 
will assist in their reclamation, for the water of irrigation, and particu- 
larly that stored for future use, will be held back during floods, when 
these lands are liable to damage, and will escape by percolation or be 
let into the rivers again through artificial channels after the floods are 
over, when it can do no injury. 

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It lias been well said that " water is the wealth of California." If it 
has been so in the past, we believe it will be still more ao in the future. 

If the people of this State can be once convinced that the irrigation 
of the plains will be extended in time to the foot-hills, and their irriga- 
tion will be combined with the development of new and extensive min- 
ing-enterprises ; that all irrigation will assist in the reclamation of more 
than one million acres of rich land, now almost valueless on account of 
being overflowed in wet winters; and that the water, after having been 
nsed for mining, will not be injured, but rather benefited for purposes of 
irrigation, we believe, after a complete system of irrigation is laid out 
for them, and proper laws and regulations in reference to the use and 
abuse of water established and enforced, that unity of action would be 
insured, and the people would take hold of the subject of irrigation with 
a will, and carry it out, except perhaps in particular instances, without 
much aid from Government. 

But it is the duty of the Government to teach the value of irrigation, 
and lay out a comprehensive system, and enforce proper laws on the 

Sistory, description, and statistics of irrigation in foreign countries. 

IntrodactOTg remarlca : Authorities — Irrigation in India; ita necessity — Famines— Ex- 
tent of proposed works — Price of latior — Description of Ganges Canal — Other canals 
in the Punjab and in the northwest provinces — Delta-systems of Southern India — 
Other canals in India — Tanks; their numbers and dimensio — M dd k Maaoor 
tank — Mode of construction — Inundation-canals — Wells — Supen ty f h nel- 
irrigation — Improvements by the English — Silt — Velocity of 1 — D ge; 

its relation to health— Measuring water ; its necessity in Cal t — N g tion 

of canals — Primary ditches — Administration of canals in Indi 

StaiisticB : Of Western Jnmna Canal — Of Ban Doab Canal— <)f oth g t -o ah 

in the Punjab — Of inundation-canals from the Sutlej and Id E —Of the 
Ganges Canal — Of Eastern Jumna Canal — Of Dhooa Canals, 

Gmeral remarke : Financial aspect — Cost of maintenance ; of repairs. 

Description and statistics : Of Delta-irrigation in Madras — The Cauvery Delta — The 
Kistna Delta — The Godavery Delta^Offlcial report for 1873— Financial statement- 
Prospects for the nest five years- Private enterprises in India — Madras Irrigation 
Company; its affreement; embarrassments— The East India Irrigation Company ; 
agreement; failure — Opinions of governor-general of India and of home office. 

In the rainless regions of Egypt and in some portions of India, irriga- 
tion and systematic agriculture are of the same age, the latter being 
quite impossible separate from the former. The present purpose does 
not require an inquiry into the date of its origin and the circumstances 
attending the introduction of irrigation iu ancient times. It is sufficient 
on this point for us to know that it has been used for thousands of years, 
and that in some countries it has been continuously applied throughout 
ttieir historic existence. The wide distribution and range of this mode 
of cultivation under the most diverse climatic conditions deserves to be 
referred to. 

This range is almost as long and as wide as that of civilization itself. 
It embraces countries where the rain-fall is high and the mean tempera- 
ture that of the temperate zone, and others where the temperature is 
tropical and the rain-fall small or very unequally distributed. Within 
its limits are included England, France, Spain and Italy, Egypt and 
India, Java and the neighboring islands, the West India and the Saud- 

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■wicli Islands, Mexico and Peru, Even in our own country, irrigation 
exists in tberice-eultivation of the South and on a small scale in our 
acquired territorywhereitwas introduced by the Spaniards, who,in their 
turn, derived it from the Moors. The vestiges of works found in Arizona 
and Mexico point to a time when this mode of cultivation existed to a 
much greater degree than it does at present, and when perhaps the rain- 
fall was in excess of its present amount. It is also practiced to some 
extent in Utah. 

In an investigation lookiug to the extensive introduction of irrigation 
into our imperfectly-watered plains, it is essentia! to inquire into the 
circumstances of its existence in other countries, in order to ascertain the 
proper principles of construction and of administration as they appear to 
have been established by the experience of other nations. The litera- 
ture of irrigation is extensive, and the occasion is such that one might 
easily be tempted to collate liistorical and descriptive information, all 
interesting enough, on a scale that might defeat or interfere with the 
practical ends in view. It will be sufficient to give our attention chiefly 
to the modern phases of the subject, and to examine the conditions 
existing in countries whose civilization corresponds in some degree to oiir 
own ; to ascertain the principles of a^lministration ; and to refer to those 
countries where it has long been established, or where it is being most 
widely extended, to leam its effects and its methods. 

It is, then, the object of this chapter to take a cursory view of irriga- 
tion as it exists in some of the countries where it has long been estab- 
lished; to ascertain whether its influence is or has been favorable 
upofl the prosperity, manners, and health of the people; to learn how 
works of this kind are provided and managed ; to inquire into their 
financial condition, the 'cost of construction and of maintenance; and, 
generally, to inform ourselves as to what other nations have done or are 
now doing to introduce or extend this system of cultivation. 

It may be remarked here that a sound financial basis is essential for 
the existence of irrigation ; and if this basis be wanting, we ought not 
to permit the judgment to be carried away by beautiful pictures of 
trees and flowers and growing crops ; these have in some cases been 
purchased at too dear a price. Irrigation may be desirable, but indis- 
criminate irrigation may be disastrous. The same conditions of care and 
prudence and judgment apply to this as to all other industrial enter- 

Some of our points of inquiry could be better studied on the fields of 
practice than from the descriptions in books ; but under existing circum- 
stances we are compelled to draw our information from the researches 
of others. Portunately, we have descriptions of most of the existing 
systems from the hands of intelligent observers, and, if we find diver- 
sity of opinions and inequality of mental vision when directed to the 
same circumstances, we only repeat a common experience. Irrigation 
has its panegyrists and its depredators. The truth will most probably 
be found to lie between — in the middle way. 

The principal authorities for what follows are these, namely : Ool. 
Baird Smith, Irrigation in the Madras ProvincGs ; Ool. Baird Smith, 
Italian Irrigation ; Lieut. Moncrieflf, Irrigation in Southern Europe ; M. 
Aymard, Irrigation du midi de I'Espagne ; I. B. Eoberts, Irrigation in 
Spain ; papers and discussions by various civil engineers in England, 
published in Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers ; various par- 
liamentary and official reports in regard to Indian irrigation from 1848 
to 1872. 

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India affords us the moat conspicuous examples of irrigation on a 
grand scale, and it is here more than anywhere else in the world that 
a great systematic scheme is in progress of development. Irrigation in 
some other countries is merely an incident. It permits the cultivation 
of certain crops, which, indeed, add greatly to general and individual 
wealth, and if it were withdrawn the general prosperity would doubtless 
suffer, but the basis of future existence would remain. In many parts 
of India, irrigation is the very condition of existence, both of the govern- 
ment and of the people. More than half of the revenne of India comes 
directly from the products of the soil ; and the country is so vast, and 
the communicatjons have been so difBcult, that a generally good harvest 
has not sufficed to preserve large districts not so favored from the most 
dreadful ravages of famine. The failure of the northeast monsoon in 
1832 caused in the Madras presidency most severe and extended suffer- 
ing ; and in Guntoor, out of a popnlatioo of 500,000, it is estimated that 
200,000 persons died of famine and of the fevers resulting from scarcity 
of food. More recently, in Orissa, a severe famine, causing a great loss 
of life, oecorred, (said to be 1,000,000 persons;) and now in Bengal a 
similar disaster is impending. 

Hence, for double reasons, both for humanity and for the sake of its 
own revenue, the government is impelled to provide a remedy for these 
terrible evils. This remedy is irrigation, which is indispensable to in- 
sure a crop of rice, the main staple of food among the people. Under 
the influence of these powerful motives, the government has been, for 
some years, and is now, actively engaged in building canals and in ex- 
tending irrigation on a scale that certainly appears, at first glance, large, 
but which, in comparison with the work to be done, is no more than 
reasonable. The works that are now in course of construction and that 
are now projected, it is estimated, will cost $175,000,000, and the rate 
of expenditure is now many millions of dollars each year. When we 
attempt to realize the possible results of so great expenditure, it is 
important to notice that prices of labor and of most materials are 
very much below those ruling in our own country. The wages of a 
skilled laborer are 50 cents per day, and of an ordinary laborer 12 ceuts 
per day. Earth-excavation may be done for 5 cents per cubic yard, and 
masonry from $1.50 to $3 per yard. Ou the other hand, it is well to re- 
mark that the constructions are of the most permanent character, and 
of a much more expensive kind than we would be likely to adopt in our 
western plains. 

The great extent of the country, its topographical features, its enor- 
mous population, and the volume of its large rivers, permit and require 
canals of length and section surpassing beyond all comparison any to 
be found elsewhere, unless it be in the single instance of the Imperial 
Canal in China. 

The Ganges Canal is, indeed, an artificial river. It is intended to carry 
nearly 7,000 cubic feet of water per second. Its depth is 10 feet, and 
Its width 170 feet in its upper part. Including its principal branches, it 
is nine hundred miles in length, and it is intended to irrigate 1,500,000 
acres of land, an extent equal to that watered by the whole system of 
canals in Lombardy and Piedmont. Its length much exceeds the ag- 
gregate of the irrigation -lines in Lombardy and Egypt combined. It 
is the unrivaled instance of modern times. Its original capital cost was 

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aljout $12,000,000, not including interest or other charges. In the 
United States the same work woidd cost $100,000,000. 

The Ganges Canal is arranged for navigation as well as for irrigation. 
This circumstance, and others, relating to the diificnlties of the coantiy, 
and to its populous condition, which rendered necessary a great number 
of bridges, account for its cost, which, with the low prices ruling in 
India, is, however, regarded as excessive. Its aqueducts and embank- 
ments are necessarily on a very large scale, and it presents many points 
of interesting study in an engineering point of view. Some of these 
are, the proper slope of the bed, which at first was, and, although im- 
proved, is still too great; the means for reducing this slope by over- 
falls ; and the different arrangements to effect the result. 

"We learn from its history the prime necessity of giving the proper 
velocity to the water, and of the disastrous results that may follow from 
the velocity being too great or too small. Reference will be made to 
this point again in the statistics of the canal. 

This canal is purely the work of the English; it was projected and 
built by the government. 

The other canals of importance in the northwest provinces and of 
the Punjab are the Eastern Jumna, the Western Jumna, and the Bari 
Doab Canals, carrying from two to three thousand cubic feet of water 
per second, and each several hundred miles in length. 

Passing from Northern to Southern India, we find in the deltas of the 
Cauvery, the Godavery, and the Kistna Eivers, a comprehensive sys- 
tem of canals, no one of which, indeed, can compare in length or in 
dimensions with those just named, but which, taken together, irrigate 
large areas in their respective deltas. 

The map of the Cauvery Delta, herewith attached, will illustrate better 
than a verbal description the arrangement of the canals and the system 
ot irrigation. These delta-systems were not the earliest of the works 
restored and extended by the English, but they have been the most 
successful. They have enriched people and state alike. They have 
placed declining districts in a condition of the highest prosperity, antl 
they have produced this result in a remarkably short time. 

The slow development of irrigation, so noticeable generally on other- 
canals, is wanting here. 

The flowing water wasin demand and was brought into use at once. 
The reasons for this remarkable success were the facts that the people 
were familiar with irrigation, and that from the eouditions of the cli- 
mate there could be no successful cultivation without irrigation, and, 
further, that by a conjunction of fortunate circumstances the works 
were very cheaply provided. 

These systems form the staple of the argument for the extension of 
this mode of cultivation in other parts of the country. 

The limits of this meagre review of the Indian system will permit 
us only to refer by name to some of the other important canals recently 
completed or in course of construction. These are the Soonsekala and 
Bellairy Canals from the Toombuddra Eiver, three hundred and fifty 
miles long; the Saone, just completed, from the river of the same name, 
to carry 4,500 cubic feet per second, with a capacity to irrigate about 
1,000,000 acres ; the Sirhind Canal, from the Sutlej River, to cost 
$15,000,000 ; the Lower Ganges Canal, to carry 6,000 cubic feet per sec- 
ond ; the Orissa Canal, built by the East India Irrigation Company, 
all of which are very large enterprises, some of them rivaling the' 
Ganges Canal in magnitude and importance. We may add to these the 
Agra Canal from the Jumna, and the Eastern Ganges Canal, There 

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are other new works and extensions of existing systems to which it is 
not necessary to allude by name. 

The government has built or restored, or is in the act of btiilding, all 
of these canals bat two, and it now owns all except oae. 

The history of private enterprise in this connection will be given else- 
where. Its- efforts thus far have been unsuccessful, and there seems to 
be no prospect that it desires or tbat it will be permitted to undertake 
any fnrther entei'prise of this character. 

This for the present may end our sketch of the channel-system, and 
we may pass to the notice of another conspicuous feature in Indian 
agriculture, namely, irrigation from tanks, or, to use our own more familiar 
term, from reservoirs. 

One cannot restrain surprise when he first looks upon a map of the 
Mailras provinces, and notices the number and distribution of these 
tanks. They appear to occupy nearly as much land as remains to be 
cultivated. In fourteen districts of the Madras presidency, the English 
found, in better or worse condition of preservation, fifty-three thousand 
tanks, estimated by Col. Baird Smith to have 30,000 miles of embank- 
ment and 300,000 separate masonry works, consisting of sluices and 
waste-weirs. These tanks afford a revenue of $7,500,000. How many 
more there are in India it is probable no one knows. We do know that 
the numbers above given are found in a relatively small area. 

These tanks are, it is believed, all, or nearly all, of native origin, and 
the dates of their construction remain in uncertainty. It is known that 
some have been in existence for many hundred years. 

The English have repaired many of these works, but so far as is known 
they have not built them, at least to any great extent. 

Eecently there have been plans for building new or restoring old tanks 
on a large scale. 

Tanks are necessary adjuncts to a system of irrigation which aspires 
to use a very large portion of the water iu a country where heavy 
freshets prevail, or where the rains tall in a short interval, for they store 
the surplus waters. 

In size tanks vary greatly. ThePonairy tank in Trichinipoly had an 
embankment of thirty miles in length and a storage-area of about sev- 
enty square miles. The Veevanum tank, which is shown on the map of 
the Cauvery Delta, has an embankment of twelve miles in length and 
an area of over thirty square miles. 

A reference to the details of the Mudduk Masoor tank on the river 
Choardy may serve to give us some sort of conception of the labors 
undertaken by the natives four hundred years ago to secure a supply 
of water for cultivation. 

It is interesting, too, ia au engineering point of view, to notice the 
height of the dam ; for it has been claimed by high authority that it 
is impossible to build safely earthen dams approaching this one in 

The dam, or ImnA, as it is called in India, bridgesa narrow gorge, its 
extremities resting on high mountains on either side. Its length on top 
is 550 yards. Its interior slope varies from 2^ to 3 base for 1 in altitude. 
This slope was revetted with large stones laid dry. The greatest height 
of the dam is 108 feet and the base in its broadest part is 1,100 feet; 
it is made of red earth containing considerable gravel. It possessed no 
waste-weir, and this fact ia supposed to account for its ruin. The depth 
of water in the tank is believed to have been from 90 to 95 feet, which' 
would give a storage-area of forty square miles, and contents of 

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1,400,000,000 cubic yards of water. Its drainage-basin is about &ve 
hundred square miles. 

Most of these tanks are, of course, not nearly so large, and those on 
the plains are generally shallow, having a depth of 6 feet and up to 
10 feet. They were generally placed where the accidents of the ground 
favored an economical storage. In some cases they were supplied 
directly from the natural drainage ; in other cases they were filled by 
artificial channels which brought to them the flood- waters of the rivers 
to he stored for times of need. 

The dam is usually of earth and built in the native way, that is, the 
earth was carried in baskets and distributed in layers of 6 to 8 inches 
in thickness, which were packed by the feet of the carriers passing to 
andfroj no clay puddling was used, the si!t, carried by the infiltrating 
water, serving to render the dam finally water-tight. They were pro- 
Tided with masonry sluices to deliver water into the chanels which irri- 
gated the land below. 

The interior slope was usually revetted with stones. They were gen- 
erally provided with masonry waste-weirs, which stopped several feet 
short of the height of the earthen dam. In the crest of the weir were 
placed stone posts 4 or 5 feet high, which permitted the easy construc- 
tion of a light dam of brush or straw to hold the water up as high as 
possible. If a flood came, this temporary dam, when not previously 
removed, gave way easily and the flood-water took its course over the 

From various causes, their numbers are becoming less; some are filled 
l)y silt ; others are breached &om want of attention and repair. 

The extension of the channel-system thrcfugh the tank-districts super- 
sedes the tank-irrigation by degrees. 

The fertilizing silt, brought from the mountains, gives the running 
water a value superior to that stored in tanks, where the matter in sus- 
pension is deposited. On the other hand, by reason of this deposit in 
tank-beds, they are classedj where dry, as among the most fertile lands 
of India. 

A map of a small district in the Madras presidency is attached which 
may serve to give some conception of the numbers and average areas of 
these reservoirs. 

Among the irrigation-facilities not yet noticed are what are termed 
inundation-canals. These differ from the class first noticed, which may, 
with some allowance, be called perennial, in the fact that they only 
carry water from the rivers in seasons of high freshets. The beds are on 
a higher level than those of the perennial canals. The season of fresh- 
ets is so unequal, and the supply of water is so precarious, that irriga- 
tion by inundation-canals becomes peculiarly uncertain, even, when the 
water carried by them is stored in reservoirs. The irrigation in Egypt 
is of this character. 

These canals are of nativeorigin. As a rule, they have no head-works, 
and they are peculiarly liable to injury from breaches, by floods, and by 
silt deposit. 

Some of the principal canals of this character are taken from tlie 
Indus and the Sutlej Elvers. 

Wells afford another source of supply, from which an unknown acre- 
age of very large extent is watered. These wells are generally square 
pits lined with masonry, from a few feet to f30 feet in depth, and from 
each three to ten acres are irrigated. 

The details of the raising and distribution of the water are very curi- 
ous and interesting, but for our purposes we may dismiss them with 

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the remark tliattlieyinclicatea patient, painstaking population of which 
the people of our own western country afford few examples. This sys- 
tem may impress us with the value of water, t)ut otherwise it has no 
lesson for us. 

The water in these wells rises to a higher level where the canal passes 
near them, a fact which may be noticed in California. 

The cost of irrigatiou from wells in some cases is stated to bcas much 
as $7.50 per acre each season. 

The canals afford better water so much more cheaply that the -well- 
supply loses its importance. The change to channel irrigatiou is, how- 
ever, slow, as the history of the various cauals hereafter to be alluded 
to will show. 

This completes the outline of the modes of irrigation-supply existing 
1q India. We do not find any statement of land irrigated nor of the 
relative proportions irrigated from the various sources. Nor is it 
important that we should be able to state this amount with even an 
approach to accuracy. 

The main conclusions are plain that canal-irrigation is considered to 
be the most economical and the most valuable, and that every eftbrt is 
made to replace the old methods by the new, and that as 'yet the work 
has only beea begun. 

British India contains 800,000 square miles aud a population of 
200,000,000, and but a small proportion of the land is yet under this 
mode of cultivation. 

The English appear as restorers and promoters of irrigation, and not 
as its originators. 

The service they render is to place the system under sound principles 
of construction. The native system, like all the earlier systems of the 
■world, was defective in alignment and expensive in repairs. 

The English are introducing proper slopes and proper velocities, and 
are making the arrangements permanent, where before they were tem- 
porary. The construction of permanent dams in the sandy beds of the 
rivers was beyond the native skill. They were compelled to rely upon 
■temporary structures, generally banks of aand, which were swept away 
by the annually recurring floods. To protect the canals from the de- 
structive action of floods, tlie natives closed the head by a temporary 
bank, to be removed when the flood had passed. The English have pro- 
vided permanent head-works, arranged with sluices, by which the floods 
may be controlled. The drainage, which was little considered by the 
natives and which yet remains in heed of correction in some places, is 
now attended to, and regulations are provided to guard against the 
sanitary evils which follow upon the presence of stagnant pools in hot 

Silt is a formidable enemy in India. The rivers in floods come, down 
aden with particles of soil in suspension. The Ganges in flood has in 
Isuspension one fifteen-hundredth of its bulk. The Ganges Canal, 
flowing 6,000 cubic feet, therefore receives for a time. 4 cubic feet a sec- 
ond, or nearly 13,000 cubic yards of silt in a day. 

The great problem is to dispose of these large quantities. When the 
velocity is slackened, as it must be in a canal, for generally the banks 
and beds cannot sustain so great a velocity as the river maintains, the 
silt begins to make deposits. Then, again, if the silt is of a fertilizing 
-character, it is very desirable to transport it in suspension to the irri- 
gated land to assure its fertility. 

Again, the water of the river in its lower stages may contain very 
little silt, and a velocity which siltladen water may carry with safety 

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tlirough earthen beds and slopes becomes under the changed condition 
erosive and produces great injury. So the conditions may contradict 
themselves, as, indeed, tbey actually do in tlie Ganges Oanal. 

Tlie ciueation of the proper velocity to be given may thus not admit 
of positive solution in some cases; but when the solution is possible, its 
importance cannot be overestimated. Upon this point may hinge the 
snceess or failure of the canal. 

If the Telocity be too great, it may involve h'eavy expenditures for 
repairs, which finally may become so burdensome that the canal has to 
be lined with masonry, as is the case on the canal of Caluso and others 
in Italy ; or, if the velocity be too low, the canal-section has to be in- 
creased to carry the requisite quantity of water, thus entailing increased 
expense, and perhaps the canal must be closed once or twice a year for 
clearance, at a large outlay. 

The canals in India show great differences in the cost of repairs. 
In some cases the canal-section at its head for a mile or so is 'made 
wider than the general section to insure the deposit in this part, so that 
when clearance has to be made it is done at one place rather than all 
along the line. Then, too, the river at the head of the canal may silt 
up tothe level of the crest of the dam, and the canal-supply may thus 
be cut off. This is generally provided for by placing a number of sluices 
in the dam or adjoining it, so arranged as to scour out a channel above 
and leave the canal-head clear. 

For clearance of flood-water in the canal, waste weirs are sometimes 
placed in its banks connecting with natural channels, which shall carry 
off the surplus water. 


Standing pools of water as connected with irrigation are, of course, 
the result of defective drainage, but they may be produced in different 
ways or proceed from different causes. In India these cases occur when 
an embankment is carried across a natural channel, leaving no exit for 
the water collected above. Such a construction, it is plain, endangers 
the safety of the canal. Again, there is leakage through the pervious 
beds and banks, and when the canal is carried 20 or 30 feet above the 
ground, as is the case in the Ganges Canal, this leakage may be con- 

Another source is careless practice in distributing the water, and in 
nob providing for its escape after it has done its duty. There is plain 
loss to the canal in all of these cases, and, worse than this, the sanitary 
condition of the neighborhood becomes unfavorable. 

The rice-cultivation, which, in a certain sense, involves the opposite of 
drainage, is too well known to be productive of miasmatic diseases, in 
all parts of the world, to deserve more than a reference here. 

We know what to expect of rice-tields, but there is danger that wheat- 
fields may prove no mean rivals of rlce-flelds iu unheatthfulness. It 
costs money to secure good drainage ; and if this fact is no reason why 
there ought not to be good drainage, it certainly accounts, in common 
with ignorance, for its absence in many cases. 

It has been thought by many that the introduction of a system of sell- 
ing water by the cubic foot instead of making a definite charge per acre 
irrigated would, by making it to the interest of the cultivator to use the 
water economically, put an end both to waste and to part of the evils of 
bad drainage. 

The same crop on different soils requires different quantities of water, 
while there is equal variety in the amount required by different crops 

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on the same soil. This latter dift'erence is recognized in India, the 
charges depending on the character of the crop ; the sugar-cane, tor 
instance, pays about $3, while cereals pay about one-fonrtli as much, but 
no discrimination is made either for the receptiveness of the soil or for 
care and economy on the part of the irrigator. 

It certainly seems to be a reasonable proposition that water should be 
sold, as all other articles of commerce are sold, by measure; but the dif- 
ficulties attending it's measurement under different and ever-varying 
heads, and through varying dimensions and shapes of outlets, and more 
than this, the ignorance and suspicious character of the cultivators, 
have thus far been able to defeat the establishment of such a system. 

It may well be considered whether such a system ought not to be in- 
grafted upon the irrigation of California in its infancy, where the people 
are in some degree familiar with the measurement of water by the min- 
er's inch, and where their superior intelligence ought to be equal to the 
comprehension of its justice, and of the favorable sanitary results it 
promises to secure. If, however, this mode of measurement cannot be 
established at once, we may be doubtful of its later success. 

The new canals in India generally combine navigation with irrigation. 
It may be remarked that in the abstract those objects conflict. The 
irrigation-canal ought to carry water at a high velocity, as high as its 
bed and banks will permit. The navigation-canal ought to have little 
or no velocity. Where the soil is light, the velocity of the irrigation- 
canals may of necessity be so low as to permit navigation at little or no 
additional expense. The case is one to be determined by attendant cir- 
cumstances of facility of communication and expense, and no absolute 
rule can be laid down. 

A canal from Tulare Lake, for instance, to irrigate the west side of 
the valley, would necessarily have a low grade in order to insure a com- 
mand over the maximum quantity of land. The velocity would be small, 
and. navigation would be iwacticable as well as desirable. 


It is important for the success of the canal that the primary 'ditches 
should be laid out on the proper lines, ithis line may not be the one 
desired by any particular cultivator. The considerations that should 
govern its location are mainly topographical and general. 

To insure a good location and an economical distribution of the water, 
it seems essential that the owners of the canal should mark them out 
even if they do not build them. 

It is also regarded as conducive to economy and good drainage that 
irrigation should not be allowed directly from the canal, but only from 
the primary or secondary ditches. 

It is to other countries more nearly assimilated to our own in institu- 
tions and modes of civilization than is India that we must look for an 
administration system that shall fit our condition, if, indeed, any such 
system can be found. In India, the- government does everything and 
the people do nothing in the management of the canal-system. Ou the 
other hand, in our country we expect the people to do everything and 
the Government nothing. There, all power and authority are in the 
hands of the ofiicials, whose range extends to the merest details. This 
state of affairs is much lamented by intelligent observers, but in the 
present condition of the people any other system is impossible. We 
shall find in Italy and Spain that the principles of self-administration, 

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and, in some degree, of self-government, haveexisted in irrigation-associa- 
tions for years, and in some cases for ages. 

Americans will doubtless find in this kind of administration some- 
thing congenial with tlieir opinions, and perhaps they may discover in It 
the germ of their own modi&ed system of the future. 

We may terminate this review of Indian systems with the following 
observations from the pen of an intelligent observer and critic, well 
informed in the history and experience of irrigation : 

Statistical details and magisterial experience abow cleailj' tbat where irrigation, 
with its pleasant train of ooaseqaences, is introduced, crime diminishes, plenty and 
seonrity prove the liest polloomen, lawless liabits yield to their genial innueaces, and 
men who were the Islimaelites of society fall without force or constraint into tlic;ranli9 
of the Kreat army of industry. 



Western Jumna Canal. 

This canal was built in the fourteenth century by the Mogul Emperor 
and was restored by the English about 1830. In 1871 the capital 
account stood at $1,381,000, leaviug out the interest and charges which 
had accumulated against the enterprise during the years when its re- 
ceipts did not defray its expenses. It required fourteen years to work 
up to its expenses. It irrigated, in 1871, 444,385 acres ; the capital 
cost per acre being something over $3. Its length is over four hundred 
miles. It carries from 1,800 to 2,200 cubic feet of water per second. 
The maximum water-rate per acre is $3.50 ; the minimum 67 cents, the 
average being $1.22 per acre. The cost of maintenance in 1871 was 46 
cents per acre- The profit for the year was 26 per cent. The govern- 
ment reaps additional profit from increased tax on lands. The princi- 
pal crops are sugar, rice, cotton, and wheat. One cubic foot per second 
irrigates in the summer 102 acres and in the winter 114, making a total 
of 216 acres. The rain-fall near head of canal in 18T1 was 70 inches and 
at the lower end about 11 inches. 

The Ban Soab Canal. 

This canal was buUt by the English, and openedabout 1860. To 1871 
it had cost $6,297,600, to which should be added for interest and deficit, 
in paying expenses, $1,388,672, making a total cost of $7,686,272. Itirri- 
gated, in 1871, 287,070 acres. The canal has carried 2,300 cubic feet per 
second, but in low water it may come to 1,300 feet, and has capacity to 
irrigate about 500,000 acres. When it attains this extent of irrigation, the 
capital cost per acre will be about $15 ; the maximum charge for water 
per acre, $2.94 ; the minimum charge for water per acre, 75 cents ; the 
average gross income per acre irrigated, $1.17; cost of maintenance, 
65 cents per acre, being 56 per cent, profit on original capital in 1871 ; and 
in 1872, 2.68 per cent., and, including land-tax, 4§ per cent., which rates 
are the same for the next preceding year ; repairs of principal distribnt- 
ing-ditches about $8 per acre. It irrigates in hot weather 41 acres per 
fijot a second j in cold weather, 111 acres per foot a second ; total, 153 

H. Ex. 200 1 

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Delhi and Gargaon Works. 

These works have cost $92,000, and they irrigated ia 1871 about 
8,000 acres. They were worked at a loss of over $3,000, and in the pre- 
vious year the loss was about $7,000. If the eDhaocement of the land- 
revenue be included, the profit is said to be about 10 per cent. 

Lower Sutlej and Chenab Jnundatwn- Canals. 

These are old Mohammedan works, which carrj- water only during the 
prevalence of freshets. The period of freshet fluctuates very much, and 
irrigation is peculiarly uncertain. Capital expended, $56,000. Expenses 
exceed direct revenue to the extent of 33 per cent, of capital; acres 

irrigated, 188,000, 

Upper Sutlej Canals. 

These canals are of the same character as those last mentioned. They 
have cost $282,000. Deficit, 1871 and 1873, $50,000, 16 per cent, of cap- 
ital ; 87,000 acres irrigated. These inundation-canals in all are six hun- 
dred and fifty miles in length. The repairs upon them are enormous. 
In the last year 2,300,000 cubic yards of silt had to be taken from them. 

Indus Inundation- Canals. 

These are old native works over five hundred miles in length ; cost, 
$192,509; loss iu 1871 and 1873 about $50,000, over 25 per cent, of cap- 
ital ; loss previous year, 6 per cent.; irrigate 144,000 acres. 


The Ganges Canal. 

This canal was began in 1842 and opened in 1850. In the year 1860-'61 
it first paid its expenses; 1862-'63, deficit of $50,000; 1863-'64, 
paid 1 per cent, profit ; 1864^'C5, paid less than 1 per cent. : 1805-'66, 
paid 2.83 per cent. ; 18ti6-'67, paid 3 J per cent. ; 1867-'68, paid 2.44 per 
cent.; 1868-'69, paid 7.29 per cent.: 1860-'70, paid 4.69 percent. At 
the end of 1870 this canal had cost $12,038,305. The deficit of revenue 
and the interest on the capital had accumnlated a further charge, 
variously stated, the minimum being $4,0u0,000, the maximnm more than 
$5,000,000. Tliis added makes the cost of the canal in 1871 from 
$16,000,000 to $17,000,000, and as the profits above given are calculated 
only on the paid-up capital, the rates should be diminished in a corre- 
sponding ratio. 

Progress of irrigation. 

Iu 1861-'62, in-igated 373,332 acres ; lS63-^'63, irrigated 205,605 acres ; 
1833-'64, irrigated 449,788 acres; 1804^'65, irrigated 566,517 acres; 
1865-'0G, irrigated 573,129 acres; 1866-'67, irrigated 634,734 acres j 
18S8-'69, irrigated 1,441,918 acres ; 1869-'70, Irrigated 1,089,673 acres. 

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Sates of water per acre irrigated in lS6i bj/ Ganges Canal. 

Sugar-cane, $2.20 per acre ; 12 per cent, of land pays this rate. 

Gardens, rice, $1.25 per acre ; 20 per cent, of land pays this rate. 

Indigo, cotton, &c., 80 cents per acre; 51 per cent, of land pays this 

Grains, 60 cents per acre; 17 per cent, of land pays this rate. 

Giving mean rate of $1.02 per acre. 

lo 1866 and 1867 average gross revenue per acre irrigated, $1.21j coat 
of maintenance per acre, 50 per cent., or 61 cents. It required ten years 
for this canal to reach 30 per cent, of its probable ultimate irrigation. 
The Eastern Jumna, which now pays a handsome profit, took thirty 
years to reach the same condition. 


This is a canal taken from the river Jamna. It was an old native 
work, which had fallen out of repair, and it was restored by the English 
and opened in January,. 1830. It did not pay its expenses until the year 
1838; the dedcit up to that time being about $130,000 In 1839, 18ii, 
and 1844 it ran largely behind its expenses. In 1845_, 1846,, and 1847 
its Income was insignificant; including 1847, and counting from its open- 
.ng, it was behind its woricitig expenses $141,000, to say nothing of 
nterest on its capital cost and of previous deficits. In 1856 it was 
again behind $20,000. In '1857 and 1858 deficit were $3,230, and 
it was not until 1865 that its profits caught up with charges of interest 
and maintenance. In 1867 its capital was $876,030, and it irrigated 
239,555 acres. The capital cost was at this time $3.70 per acre. It 
paid this year a revenue of 25 per cent,, and the state was further bene- 
fited, indirectly, by increase of land-assessment. The average income 
per acre irrigated was $1.12; cost of maintenance, 25 cents, being 22 
per cent. 


Capital expended to end of 1865, $266,830. "Worked at a loss ever 
since 1841. Accumulation of charges and interest to 1S65, $129,770. 
In 1866 and 1867 Dhoon paid a profit of 2| per cent, on original capital, 
and irrigated 8,852 acres. Capital cost per acre irrigated, about $30. 

The Eohilcund Canals irrigate about 100,000 acres; in some years, often 
very much less. The cost of these canals, without interest, is about 
$170,000, They have generally been worked at a loss. The water-tax 
is only about 25 cents per acre. 

Agra Irrigation Works coat over $100,000, and have in some years 
not paid their expenses, while in other years they have returned an in- 
significant income. Since 1864 they have been closed for sanitary rea- 


The canals and irrigation works in the northwest provinces, comprising 
Ganges, Eastern Jumna, Dhoon, and minor works, had cost, at the end of 
1869, $13,503,625 ; add interest and charges, $4,589,000, giving a total of 
$18,092,525 ; net revenue 1869-'70, $683,515, being about 5 per cent, on 
the capital alone, and less than 4 per cent,, inclnding capital, accumu- 
lated interest, and charges. If we include the enhanced land-tax due 
to irrigation, the revenue is considerably increased. The amount of in- 
■ to beestimatedas due to irrigation cannot be ascertained with 

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precision, but it is probably sufficient, wben added to the direct revenoe' 
to make a fair return on the capital invested. Nevertheless, the fliiancial 
aspect of these enterprises, taken as a whole, is not at present satisfac- 
tory, Theslowdevelopmentof irrigation is certainly a remarltablefeature 
in. their history; itissuffteientalonetoruinflnanciallyanenterpriseof this 
character. No joint-stock company could exist on such abasia; none 
could be formed to bnild a canal which, when finished, could not for five 
or ten years pay its expenses, and from which no profitable return could 
be expected for twenty or thirty years. Tet it deserves to be remarked 
that the value of these properties increases from year to year, and that 
the time must come when they will be very valuable. It may also be 
noticed that an enterprise of this kind may, by reason of increase in 
land-tax, be profitable to the government when it would be disastrous 
to a joint-stock company. 

In India the government is really the landlord, a circumstance which 
makes the obligation of irrigating the country peculiarly strong, and 
which, at tbe same time, insures a share of profit which could not inure 
to a private company. The cost of maintenance of the canals when 
built and in full operation deserves to be remarked. This ranges from 
66 per cent, of gross receipts on the Eari Doab, SOper cent, on the Ganges, 
37 per cent, on the Western Jumna, to 22 per cent, on the Eastern Jumna. 
In this item are included all expenses of salaries, of repairs, and of con- 
tingencies. It is the item of repairs which it is important to nptice, for 
the repairs may alone eat up all the profits, as indeed they actually do 
in the innudation- canals of the Sutlej and Indus, The repairs on the 
Bari Doab Canal are 33 per cent, of the whole expense of maintenance, 
■whereas they are but 15 per cent, on the Western Jumna. 

In the Ganges Canal the expenses on this account have been enor- 
mous, amounting almost to a remodeling of the work. Both in the 
Bari Doab and the Ganges Canals these repairs are stated to be neces- 
sary, on account of the faulty original construction, owing to which great 
erosion of the beds and banks occurs in some places and large deposits 
are made in other places. This is alluded to here merely to show that 
a correct adjustment of dimensions, slope, and mode of construction has 
a direct relation to the financial state of these enterprises. 

The works in the deltas of the Cauvery, Godavery, and the Kistna 
Eivers have been the most remunerative in India ; but some explanation 
of tbe circumstances attending the development of irrigation is neces- 
sary for even an incomplete comprehension of the case. Different au- 
thorities estimate returns from these works so variously that we may 
well despair of getting any clear knowledge. 

Pirst, in the Cauvery delta there have been irrigation-works from the 
dawn of history. A dam made of stones of moderate dimensions, set in 
clay, is still in existence, which has stood sixteen hundred years, and 
which is yet an important part of the system. Many channels were cut 
ftom the river-bank, which were supplied by the aid of temporary dams, 
and an extensive system of channel-irrigation has existed for ages. 

The English came into possession of Tanjore in 1801, and about thirty 
years afterward attempts were made to correct some evils which had 
been growing in magnitude, and which affected the prosperity of the 
district and even threatened to destroy it. 

The Cauvery Eiver on entering the delta is divided into two channels 

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•one called theOauvery, and the other the CoTeroon. From the Cauvery 
505,000 acres of rice-land were irrigated, which required a supply of 
12,600 cubic feet per second ; while from the Coleroon 165,000 acres 
were, watered, requiring 4,125 cubic feet per second. Now, the trouble 
was this, namely, that the Cauvery in 1833 could supply but 9,375 feet, 
while the Coleroon had 7,500 feet. The Coleroon had too much water, 
the Cauvery, too little, the gross amount, however, being equal to the 
duty required of both channels. Moreover, there was considerable 
danger that the whole river would go to the Coleroon, and leave the 
Cauvery district without water. 

The English began to regulate the rivers, first, by building a dam 
across the Coleroon adjusted in height to give the Cauvery the needed 
increment of supply. After a time, the Cauvery, instead of not getting 
enough water, got too much, and there was danger that the whole river 
would go to the Cauvery, to the destruction of the lands depending on 
both streams. This danger was averted by a dam across the Cauvery, 
and after eight or ten years the engineers were able to control both 
rivers, and to distribute the water as was required. This was accom- 
plished in 1845. 

The whole story is very interesting and instructive, and it is well told 
by Col. Baird Smith. 

The English, therefore, did not build the system of canals shown on 
the map of the Cauvery Delta. They, however, saved them from ruin, 
and improved them, and thereby assured the prosperity of the district. 
When, therefore, we hear of the profits of irrigation in this delta 
being so great, we should reflect that the profits paid are on the capital 
expended to save, and in some cases to restore, old works, and not to 
build them. This district is termed the Lombardy of India. 

CoL Baird Smith estimates the profits in 1853 to be 23 per cent, ; 
others place them much higher. The fluctuations of the crops, which, 
before these operations, were as much as 50 per cent., have since beea 
quite insignificant. In these provinces the government-tas; is la the 
tbrm of a percentage of the products. The rate in this districfis two- 
fl,fths of the gross products, which includes land and water tax, and 
■which certainly appears very high. 

We cannot avoid having respect for the ancient rulers of India when 
we reflect upon the intelligence displayed in the arrangement of the 
system of canals in the Cauvery Delta. 

The Kistna Delta. 

The irrigation of the Kistna Delta was effected by the English, who 
were moved to undertalie it by the terrible famine in Guntoor, already 
referred to. These works are comparatively recent, having been com- 
menced in 1852. The profits are estimated at 15 per cent. 

The Godavery Delia. 

The Godavery Irrigation Works are intended to irrigate about 800,000 
■acres. They were constructed by the English, beginning in 18i7 ; and in 
1862 and 1863 the returns were estimated to be 47 per cent, on the capi- 
tal expended. 

It has already been stated that the circumstances of these delta-works 
were peculiarly favorable. The rivers run on the crest of the alluvial 
deposits they have themselves made, and their banks are flrom 6 to 20 
feet above the land to be irrigated. This circumstance gives the canals 

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command of the land at once. There were many old channels in these 
deltas, which were used to convey the water, which saved the construc- 
tion of new works ; and when new channels w6re needed they were 
easily excavated in the alluvial soil. 

The delta-works on these three rivers, in allj irrigate about 1,500,000 
acres of land. The cultivation is generally in rice, 40 acres of which 
require a cubic foot per second. The quantity of watfer used would be 
sufficient to irrigate fully five times as much land in cereals. 

Among the projects sanctioned by the government, which are now in 
course of execution, are large extensions of irrigation-works in each of 
these deltas. 

From the official report of the government of India for 187.3, whiifh 
lias just been received, we make the following extracts, showing the 
present financial condition of the irrigation-works as estimated from 
the "best informati6n available :" 

CaplM accouBt 
to the and of 

Inoorae aa 
atest in- 

Madras, (30 works onlyl 




H 000, 000 


Korthweste™ provinces 

5S40, 000 



1 Incl 

A c 


of «ID,000,000 
of lana-reten 
or Und-reven 


e W the 

L loss of $112 500. 

inaJs of 1380,000. 
Hnaleof ei90,000. 

This report states — 

That BO fai as esUting iaformatioD g(i«s, tlie net results of the eutire outlay oa iiri- 
g»tioa-woikH, up to tbe year 1872-73, la a retnrn. o£ §2,058,200 per anuum. above the 
Intereatj at 4 per cent., ou the flist cost of the worka. 

We may remark, in regard to this claim, first, that the government is 
leceiving a very large portion of this revenue from works which it never 
built, but to which it fell heir, and of which the cost does not enter the 
capital account; secondly, the deficits of working expenses on many of 
these works for years, and the interest on these deficits, are not included 
in these capital accounts. 

In further considering the prospects of works of this character for six 
years in advance, the report states : 

■No profits Lave been calculated from any of the new works within the period 
embraced in the forecast. 

It ie found by esperience that, as a rule, the growth of irrigation from new canals is 
Blow, and in tlie first few years the canals hardly pay working expenses. 

The only source of increased income to be reckoned, therefore, is the growth of the 
letums from tlie canals already working. 

It has been found from experience that returns continue to grow long after the works 
aie apparent]}' in fiill use. 

This growth is largely due to increasing economy in the use and 
management of the water, which permits the cultivation of a larger 
area with the same amount of water. 

The increase of net revenue for the nest five years it is estimated will 
be 1100,000 for each year. 

The new works sanctioned by the government, which are now la 

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progress, are estimated to cost $115,000,000, and the estimated 
yearly expenditure from loans on this account tuns from $5,000,000 to 
$8,000,000 for the next six years. 

Other works are contemplated, and are in course of survey and ex- 
amination, whicli are not included in the statement given above. 

It farther appears from this report that the Ganges Canal irrigated 
in the last year but 684,139 acres ; that its capital account is now 
$13,000,000; and that the direct returns for the past year were 3 J per cent. 
on this expenditure ; that the capital account of the Eastern Jumna 
Canal is now $1,030,000 ; that its acreage last year was 184,153, and its 
direct returns were iOJ per cent, on the invested capital. These returns 
are less favorable than those which we have already given for the pre- 
ceding year. No explanation for this difference is known to us, but it 
is probable that the rain-fall was more favorable to the cultivators than 
was the case in the two preceding years, and hence that there was not 
so great a necessity for irrigation. 

A large portion of the cultivation in these districts is devoted to 
cereals, and in some seasons the rain-fall is such that these crops do not 
require irrigation. 

The facts contained in this last official report add further evidence 
in support of the conelnsions, resulting from oar previous inquiry, and 
conSrm the opinion that, except in particular and favorable instances, 
the irrigation-works of India are not such investments of capital as 
private companies would desire to malse. It does not follow from this 
proposition that it is not good financial policy for the government to 
extend these works. The government has indirect sources of revenue 
depending upon the production of the csuntry, which may more than 
make up for direct deficits. This, at least, is the opinion of the govern- 
ment of India. 


Under the English supremacy, the native works of irrigation remained, 
as before, the property of the government, which undertook to keep 
them in repair, to administer them, and to receive their revenues. The 
results of irrigation have always appeared so favorable to the Indian 
government that it has endeavored in every way to extend their range 
and increase their facilities. In order to hasten the work, after very 
full discussion, it was decided to call in the aid of private capital. To 
this course there were many objections. It was generally held that the 
property in water conid not safely be intrusted to private hands; that 
the ignorant cultivators would, without the intervention of the govern- 
ment, be helpless against a powerful corporation ; and that any super- 
vision by the government, to be effectual in protecting the cultivators, 
woiild interfere with the freedom of the enterprise, and, therefore, with 
its prosperity and success. At this time it was thought by the govern- 
ment that the profits of irrigation were great and immediate, and that 
they should inure to the government and not to a corporation. On the 
other hand, the demands upon India for railways and other improve- 
ments were so great, and its resources so inadequate, that it appeared 
indispensable to call in private aid, if the development of irrigation was 
to be undertaken on an extensive scale. So it was determined to make 
the experiment of private irrigation ; and in 1858 an agreement was 
entered into with the Madras Irrigation Company to build a canal, esti- 
mated to cost $5,000,000, and upon this sum the government guaran- 
teed an income of 5 per cent. The system of guarantee had been the 
rule with the government for some years in constructing the lines of 

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railways. The government was to _divid6 ali profits above 13 per cent. 
The other conditions of the . agreement were substantially the same as 
those yet to be mentioned in the contract with the East India Irrigation 
Company for the construction of a canal in Orissa. The history of the 
Madras Company's enterprise is briefly this : The company raised and 
expended $5,000,000. They found that a considerable sum would yet be 
requii'ed to complete their worts. Tliey applied to the government for 
guarantee on an increase of capital. The government declined to grant 
further guarantee, and the company was unable to raise any more fauds. 
The government under these circumstances felt obliged to give further 
assistance, which it did by lending the company $3,000,000, to be repaid 
from the profits of irrigation. In 1872 the government had paid 
52,559,200 in interest, and had expended in all $5,559,260. The com- 
pany had expended $5,000,000, making the total expenditure $10,559,260, 
to which should be added, for five years' interest on $3,000,000 at 5 per 
cent., $750,000 ; total coat, $11,309,260. The works were commenced in 
1859 and completed in 1871. The prospect of immediate returns is 
quite unfavorable. The company expected to irrigate in 1872 at least 
40,000 acres and perhaps as much as 100,000 acres. The rate is $3 per 
acre. The estimate by the government is not as favorable as that enter- 
tained by the company. It is worthy of remark that the system of 
guarantee of interest on the capital removes from the company a great 
motive for economy. The operations of this company have been con- 
sidered extravagant, and the cost unnecessarily large. 


The Madras Company bad hardly made a beginning before the East 
India Company undertook to build a canal in the delta country of Orissa 
under the following conditions: JSo guarantee of interest by the gov- 
ernment ; the government to give, free of charge, all land required for 
permanent works ; when the works are completed, the company shall sell 
to the government all the water that irrigators shall desire to usej that 
the government shall distribute the water, and shall return to the com- 
pany the net amount received from cultivators, fuU expenses of distri- 
bution and collection of water-rates to be deducted from gross receipts ; 
the price of water shall be fixed by the government and the company, 
by arbitrators, two chosen by each party, and an umpire selected by the 
arbitrators in case they fail to agree ; the government to have the right 
to purchase for six months after the expiration of the twentieth, thir- 
tieth, fortieth, and flttieth years of occupation, paying the mean market- 
value of the stock in London for three years preceding purchase ; the 
company shall keep their works in good repair, and if they fail so to do 
the government may make the necessary repairs, re-imbursing itself 
from the water-revenue; when the net profits exceed 25 per cent., the 
excess shall be equally shared by the company and the government ; 
the works shall be executed under inspection of the government, and 
the company shall reconstruct any part not approved by the govern- 

It appears, from this statement, that the company builds the works 
and keeps them in order. The government acts as the agent of the 
company, and reserves to itself the right to protect the cultivators from 
inordinate charges on the part of the company. 

The company proceeded under this contract to execute an extensive 
system of irrigation, but before long they fell into embarrassment, and 
were unable to raise the means to carry on the work. The government" 

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gave them assistance from time to time, and finally purchased the works 
from the company before they were completed. 

The famine which occurred in Orissa during the progress of these 
works, by which many hundred thousand persons perished, demanded 
the speedy construction of the canal, and this added to a growing convic- 
tion, now become settled, that under the peculiar circumstances in India 
it was undesirable that irrigation-works should be intrusted to private 
parties, indnced the government to make propositions of purchase to the 
company, which were accepted and the works passed out of its hands. 
This transfer leaves the Madras Oompany, before mentioned, the only 
private corporation engaged in selling water for irrigation, at least on 
a large scale. 

All the principal works now in progress or that have been undertaken 
for the past ten years are in the hands of the government. Private 
enterprise, never heartily engaged in this kind of work, appears now to 
have been compelled to abandon the field. The opinions of the govern- 
ment are made clear by the following extracts, viz : 

Minute hy his excellemy Sir William Denison, governor-general of India, 
January, 1864, and dispatch of the Jtome government to the government 
of India, dated August 8, 1864. 

These extracts give a fair statement of the views of ail the govern- 
ment council of India, and it does not, therefore, seem necessary to quote 
further from the oMcial correspondence on the subject. 

Minate iy his excdlencg Sir William Beiiison, goKemor-geaeral of India. 

My esperienee of the workincof the Irrigation Company in Madras juatifieB me in 
asserting that the system which has been adoptod in denliug witti this company is 
esaeutiafly faulty, and will lead to every luind of complioation ; disputes will arise, as 
indeed they have already arisen, as to the valae of the water, the mode of distribu- 
tion, the quantity to be given per acre, whether the occupier of land under the level 
of the aapply-ohannel is to be compelled to take water, -&e., ail iii/iititiiia. I see no 
means of framing the clauses of a contract in Buch a manner as will reconcile the 
rights of the government as proprietor of the water, as landlord of the eatato, and as 
protector of the rights of its subjects, with the claims of a company whose only object 
is to make as large a profit as it can upon the oupital it expends. 

In our anxiety a few years ago to introduce capital and to hasten the completion of 
certain worlcs of acknowledged utility, we overlooked the difficulties which we were 
Trained would jirise out of the conjoint action of the government and the company in 
dealing with questions relating to assessment of land. I think our experience now is 
aufficieat to justify a statement on our part that the system upon which we have dealt 
with the company is not likely to be to our advantt^e, aud that we decline altogether 
to extend it beyond the projects which have already been nudettaken ana com- 
menced, viz, that of the Madras Irrigation Company under a partial guarantee and 
the Orissa project ; and I should propose to word this oomninuication to the company 
in flTich a manner as to exclude any proposed extension of Ihair uudoctakings under 
existing contracts. 

There are two modes in wliichthis or similar companies should bo dealt witli. They 
may act either as contractors for the execution of tlie worlts, in which case they would 
not be responsible for the plans ; or, they may agree to carry out a given work for the 
supply of water to a given district, such water to be delivered at points determined 
by the government, and to be paid at a fixed price per 100 cubic yards, or for any 
selected amount of measurement; it will then be for the government to determine 
the quantity it can profitably employ at each issue from the canal, and to state the 
maximum it will pay for under any circumstances, aud tlie ininimum which the com- 
pany must ho bound to deliver. The coaipauy should have nothing to do with the 
profits of che application of the water. 

Fablic loorke. — Diepafdk from the secretarg of state to the goea-nment of India, dated 9lh 



for and against tlie sjatem werefnlly considered ; and it was during ttie periM of finalQ- 
cial difBcnlties, wlien doulita were entertained of the govemntent being a.ble to 
Taiae funds for tlie execution, bo a grand scale, of works of this character, taat it was 
determined by tlie home goverumeat to avail itaelf uf the oSeir of a p'^''^^''^ company 
as an esperi mental measure. 

3. It is now for consideration whether, under a different state of financial affairs, tlie 
system then introduced should be continued, or whether works of irrigation should, as 
a general rule, in future be carried out under the direct control of the government. 

4. The experience that has already been had of ttie working of irrigation companicB 
tends to show the correctness of the objections to the employment of Uiia agency which 
thoae opposed to tho system entertained, and which have been now so forcibly put for- 
ward, as well by the late govemor.general. Lord Elgin, and by Sir Wiliinm Denison, 
when temporarily acting asgovornor-general, asbyMr. Maine, inhiaminuteof theSOth 
September last ; and it appears that however desirable it may be for the government 
to avail itself of the agency of companies in. carrying on railways and other similar 
works of public utility, the close connection betweeu the iutereats of the government 
which receives and those of the rigot (fermer) who pays the rent of tho land, and tho 
intimate relations which are thereby created between tbem, render it very undesirable 
that works of irrigation, and the arrangements connected with the return from them, 
by which those interests and relations maybe so materially affected, should, be in 
other hands than those of the government, 

7. After carefully considering this important subject in all its bearings, and the able 
minutes recorded by the several members of yonr government, I have to signify to yoa 
my concurrence in the conclusions at which you have arrived: tliat the state should 
undertake directly all the irrigation- works that it can practically manage in preference 
to intrnstiug them to private companies ; and that when the surplns rereuuea and avail- 
able balances prove insniHoient to aupply the requirement* of the country, funds, by 
means of loans, should be raised ; andlshall bepreparedto give favorable attentloa 
to the practieaJ steps you may propose to adopt to give to these oonclusiona. 

8. In tho mean time it would seem to be premature to inq^uire what concessions it 
might in certain contingencies be proper to make to private irrigation -companies. 

Undoubtedly, it wonid be better that such ccmpanies should be encouraged than th^t 
important irrigation-works should either not be undertaken at all or sbould be indcH.- 
ttitely postponed. 

But since it has been determined that your government shall at once make arrange- 
men1» for prosecuting such works to the estent of ita means, it will be advisable to 
wait to see whether those means may not Buffi.oe of themselves before considering on 
what terms extraneous aid might be obtained. The objections to irrigation-corapanieB 
in India may not be iuauperable, but they are anffieiently strong to make it a— ■■"-'■'" 
that resort shonld not be had to such companies. 


Rain-fall and temperature— Mean and maximum temperature — Comparison with Cali- 
fornia—Historical sketch— Canals in Lombardy — Tabulations— Canals in Piedmont 
— Tabulations— Area irrigated in Piedmont; in Lombardy; cost — The Cavour 
Canal : agreement ; history ; details of canal — Ownership of canals — Administra- 
tion — Associations — Marcite meadows — Measurement of water. 

If California possessed a rain-fall equal in amount, and distributed in 
the same way as it is in Italy, she would not requirfe artificial means of 
■water-supply, at least for tbe staples she now produces. 

The mean annual rain-fall of Lombardy and Piedmont differ little, 
and may be taken at 37 to 38 inches. 

In Piedmont 28J inches fall in the irrigatiug-months, from March to 
September inclusive, giving an average of seventy-one rainy days. 

The meteorological facts are contained in the following table, viz : 

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labl showing temperatart, r^n-faU, and viealher duHng the seaton of irrigation in Fied- 












For Lombardy -we have the following table, viz : 

1 of Lombard;) during ihe ae 








a! 8 
3. a 





4a a 




19a 9 



Inclnding the statistics for other parts of Lombardy, we have aborit 
22 inches of rain-fall ia the irrigating-season and about eighteen rainy- 

Table of temperature in Milan from March to September. 














The mean temperature in the irrigated region of Lombardy from May 
to August ranges from 7(P to 75°, and the maximum from 85° to 90°. 

If Italy, with a met-eorology like this, requires irrigation, what shall 
■we say of the necessities of California ? 

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"We are without data for complete tables of our own meteorology, but 
sometliing like the following will not be an inexact statement for a large 
section of our principal valley : Mean annual rain-fall, 10 inches or les8^ 
minimum annual rain-fall, 5 inches ; number of clear days in the year, 
275 ; maximum summer-temperature in shade, 110° to 115°, with periods 
of several weeks in which the thermometer every day passes 100° and 
sometimes 200 days in succession in which no rain falls. 

It is not so much the amount of rain-fall as its distribution which 
affects the prosperity of agriculture, 

In Orissa, (India,) with a rain-fall of 60 inches, there was a terrible 
famine. In California, with 15 inches well distributed, we often have 
fine crops. 

There are traditions of irrigation in Italy in earlier ages, but the first 
authentic instance of a canal for this purpose is one taken from the 
Vettabbia Eiver by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle in the twelftii 

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Naviglio Grande, from 
the Ticino, was built ; and in 1220 the large canal Muzza was commenced. 
In the fourteenth century no work of importance was executed. In the 
fifteenth century the canal Martesana, one of the earliest provided with 
locks, was built. In the interval, from the end of the sixteenth century 
to the nineteenth century, very few canals were constructed. The canal 
of Pavia belongs to the nineteenth century. It was first opened in the 
fourteenth century, but, falling into disuse, it was ordered to be rebuilt 
by Napoleon I in 1805, and was completed in 1819. 

The above enumeration relates to Lombardy. 

In Piedmont the caual-system dates from a later age, the first works 
having been executed in the fourteenth century. In the fifteenth cen- 
tury there was considerable activity in this kind of enterprise, while in 
the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries there was but little 
extension of irrigation. In the nineteenth century we have the canal of 
Charles Albert and the Cavour Canal from the Po, the last the greatest 
and perhaps the most unfortunate of all. 

The following tables, taken from Col. Baird Smith's work on Italian 
irrigation, places before us in condensed form the i)riocipal facts which 
we are now concerned to know. 

Bala in regard to the canals from tli^ Ticino River 



= S 













^1 ■ 










1. Naviglio Graudo 





iB i 













From other small streams, viz, the Lambro, Olena, &c., canals con- 
taining 240 cubic feet irrigate 20,181 acres, giving 8i acres per foot, and 
furnishing indirect returns of $60,540. 

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JJii(o in regari to the canals from the Adda Biver. 
















1 Canal Ma za 











gUoInterno of Milan. 

Canals from Brembo, five in number, wliich carry 298 eabie feet per 
second, and irrigate 27,425 acres- 
Canals from Serio, fourteen in number, carry 501 cubic feet, and irri- 
gate 44,200 acres. 

Canals from the right bank of the Oglio, carrj' 1,372 cubic feet, and 
irrigate 142,500 acres. 

Canala from the left bank of the Oglio, ten in number, carry 1,523 
cubic feet, and irrigate 136,433 acres. 

Canals from the Mella, six in number, carry 439 cubic feet, and irri- 
gate 36,300 acres. 

Canals from the Clisio, four in number, carry 828 cubic feet, and irri- 
gate 74,500 acres. 

A canal carrying an average of 510 cubic feet per second is taken 
from the Mincio, which irrigates 30,500 acres, principally of rice. In 
addition, this river supplies five small canals, which irrigate a few thou- 
sand acres. 


Canals from the Dtfra Htura and Oreo Rivers. 

Seven canals are taken from these streams. They were built at 
various periods between 1556 and 1790. Their aggregate length is fifty 
miles. They carry 770 cubic feet of water per second, and irrigate 
19,855 acres. The price per acre irrigated is from 63 to 75 cents. The 
net income is $6,855. 

Stafielics of canals from the Dora Baltea. 















I ai,e75 






Statistic) ofcanaU from the Seaia, ^c. 


















6; 915 

13; 860 











SmdJ^^Mllfrom -VriS^ 
Sundry canale frojn Tardoppio 

SlaiistuD 01 canaU fiom tU 
















The Cavoar Canal takeu from the Po at Chivasso is intended to carry 
■3,885 feet per second. 

This completes the enumeration of tfte principal works in Lombardy 
and Piedmont. 

To gather the main facta in a summary form, it may he stated, first, for 
Piedmont, that the total quantity of water applied to irrigation is 8,290 
cubic feet per second, not counting the supply of the Cavoar Canal. 

The total area of irrigable land commanded by these canals is stated 
to be 1,335,680 acres.. If we deduct one-third for roads, villages, marshes, 
.&c., the net irrigable land will be about 900,000 acres, of which 306,600 
are actually irrigated. 

If we add the scattered irrigation in the upper valleys of Piedmont 
not before included, amounting to 180,000 acres, the total area irrigated 
is 486,600 acres. 

In particular districts the area actually irrigated is aboat half of the 
irrigable area. 

In Lombardy the area actually irrigated at the date of Col. Baird 
Smith's report, 1851, was 1,074,1^9 acres, which is about one-fifth of the 
productive area. 

Between the rivers Ticino and Adda nearly nine-tenths of the surface, 
between the Adda and the Oglio two-tenths, and between the Oglio 
and the Adige one-seventh of the plain are irrigated. It is estimated 
that the aggregate length of the canals and their principal branches iu 
Lombardy exceeds 4,500 miles. 

To sum up, we may state that Italy employs for irrigation more than 
24,000 cubic feet of water per second, supplying 1,600,000 acres of land. 

It is estimated that there'have been expended for the irrigation of 

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1,000,000 acres iu Lonibardy not less than $200,000,000. This expendi- 
ture hm been spread over seven hundred years, and lias made Lom- 
bardy a garden. This estimate, however, is made from very incomplete 
and uncertain data, and is supposed to cover outlay made for every 
purposB connected with irrigation, not only the construction o£ the 
channels, large and small, Wie aqueducts and siphons, but also the 
adaptation of the ground for the special irrigation required. This ex- 
penditure, therefore, includes not only that made by the owners of the 
canals, but also that incurred by the cultivators. The returns from this 
large investment of capital are to be sought in the indirect revenues 
accruing to the government from the increased production and the gen- 
eral prosperity of the country. 

The canals are chiefly owned by the government; some, however, 
are in private hands. The same lesson ia to be learned here as in Indian 
as a jmancial investment for fritate parties, irrigaUon-works have not gen- 
erally been, favorable. 

So far as the government is concerned, it is to be said that on the old 
canals the many private grants of water, made ages ago for services 
rendered to the state or trom caprice, detract largely from the revenue, 
and they should be considered in estimating the financial character of 
this kind of enterprise. 

The Cavour Canal, before mentioned, is the most important work of 
the kind in Italy ; and, inasmuch as it is a recent construction, and as it 
was made by a joint-stock company, it will be of interest to inquire 
what conditions were considered necessary by the government in the 
light of its extended experience of the working and requirements of 
irrigation. It was the intention of the government to construct this 
canal ; but on account of its financial diflaculties, arising from the wars 
with Austria and Eussia, it was prevented from carrying out the project, 
and was induced to intrust it to a corporation. 

The principal points of the contract between the government and the 
'English company, made in 1862, are as follows, viz : 

The company were to construct and work a canal from the river Po, 
to contain 3,885 cubic feet per second, to irrigate the Novarese and 
Lorvellino districts, and to combine with this the waters of the Dora 
Baltea, to bo used also in the Vereellese. The company was to com- 
mence the work in six months, and to complete it within four years, in 
spite of all circumstances of every kind. 

The government granted a reduction of 50 per cent, of the customs- 
duties on all material introduced for the construction and maintenance, 
a complete remission of duties on all instruments and tools, and a par- 
tial remission of registration-duties on all deeds and contracts. 

The government sold to the company the royal canals from the Dora 
Baltea, with every appurtenance of factories, mills, &e,, for the sum of 
^4,060,000, to be pa-.d in installments. 

The company is to have the use of the irrigation for fifty consecutive 
irrigating-years, after which time it shall revert to the state, without any 
compensation whatever to be made to the company. 

The company is to raise a capital of $10,000,000, of which $10,680,000 
is to be devoted to the construction of the new works, and the remain- 
der to be applied to the purchase of the crown canals above mentioned, 
and other canals or volumes of water. 

The government guarantees interest to the amount of 6 per cent. 
annually on the capital of $16,000,000. 

The company is authorized to issue 6 per cent, bonds to the extent of 
^11,000,000, the shares to be issued for 85,000,000. The sum raised 

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by bonds ia to be deposited in the public treasury, to be issued to the 
company as required. The goFernmerit must approve of the works 
to be constructed ; and it has the right to superintend their exeeutiou,- 
and to inspect the management of the canal. 

The amount of the water-rate and the price of water-power " shall be 
fixed by the government in consultation with the society, an approxi- 
mation to the average of current prices being agreed on, and the society 
shall not vary the prices without the approval of the government." 

The company is obliged to lease the wat«r carried beyond the Sesia 
to an association of proprietors at a price to be &sed in the way just 

The obligation of the government to pay the 6 per cent, interest is 
conditional, and shall onlyapply when the net income of the canals shall 
be insufhcient to meet the expense. 

The canal-rates shall be collected by tlie proper offteer of the govern- 
ment in the same way that public taxes are collected. 

The company shall deposit in the treasury, as security, $200,000 in 
Italian bonds at their nominal value, to be refunded when the company 
shall have expended $2,000,000. 

The state shall have the right to purchase the works after twenty 
years' occupation, paying the capital corresponding to the mean annual 
net income for the preceding three years at 5 per cent., deducting the 
sum previously paid by the government on account of its guarantee. 

These are the important points of the agreement, and it must be con- 
fessed that the government made a good bargain. 

The history of the enterprise is melancholy. In the first place, the Po, 
instead of carrying 4,000 feet a second in its lowest stage, falls to 1,500 
feet. It is simply impossible to understand how such an error could 
have been committed in Italy. 

The Dora Baltea has, however, water in sufficient excess of its re- 
quirements, and it is possible to remedy the error by a comparatively 
small expenditure. 

Then there was extravagance and bad management on the part of the 
company, and the government declined to pay interest on the capital 
because the works were not absolutely completed within the specified 

By decision of the courts, however, the government was re-quired to 
pay the interest. Under all these disadvantages, the company failed, and 
the enterprise passed into the hands of its creditors. 

The character of the works on this canal may perhaps be in some 
degree realized by an enumeration of its principal features. 

The canal is 55 miles long, and at its head it is 131 feet wide on the 
bottom, and Ofeet in depth. The general slope of the bed is 1 in 4,000; 
in places it is as much as 1 in 2,800, The side-slopes are one upon one; 
but on the curves and on the embanked portions, the slopes are revetted 
with masonry. These dimensions give a velocity varying from 4J to 5 
feet a second. The soil, however, is gravelly. 

The canal crosses five streams of torrential character by aqueducts 
and siphons of considerable length; the aqueducts being approached by 
long embankments- 

There are 345 bridges, or passages, for water over and under the canal, 
being more than six for each mile. These constructions are of the 
most substantial character. 

The cost of the work, however, is largely due to the fact that the 
canal is carried across the drainage of the country. Its alignment 
would have its counterpart in California in a canal skirting the base 

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of the foot-hills of the Sierra Nevada, and erossiDg, by aqueducts or by 
siphous, the succesaive parallel streams which discharge into the 
Sacramento or into the Sau Joaquin Eiver. Indeed, the resemblance 
between the topography of the southeru flank of the Alps and the east- 
ern side of the valley of California is complete. The Sierra corresponds 
to the Alps, the Po to the 'San Joauquin, and the feature of parallel 
draiuage-lioes is common to both. 

The canals are quite generally owned by the state. They are undeir 
the control of the finance department of the government, which has a 
staff of engineers to superintend the repairs and to see that the works 
are kept in efdcient order. 

The usual practice is for the government to farm out the canals to 
contractors for a period of ntue years. The contractors arrange with 
the cultivators tor the distribution and measurement of the water, and 
fix the rate of payment under some restrictions. 

Disputes between the contractors and cultivators are decided by the 
civil tribunals. 

Each canal forma a district for administration; it may, however, 
include more than one district. 

lu each district, under regulations prescribed by the government, the 
irrigators form associations, which administer the aft'airs connected with 
the distribution and use of the water. 

We need make no further reference here to the description of these 
associations, for the reason that we attach to this report, as an appehdis, 
a fiill account of one established by Count Oavour about twenty years 
ago, for the irrigation of the Vercellese district. This association may 
be regarded as the most recent result of Italian experience. It embodies 
the principles which are believed in Italy to be most conducive to the 
interests of all concerned in irrigation. 

This description is taken from a book by Lieut. G. C. S. Moncrieff, 
Royal Engineers, entitled " Irrigation in Southern Europe." 

We should. infer, from the uieteorolugical det(iils already given, that 
cereals and most other products scarcely need irrigation in Italy. Indian 
com and flax are irrigated to some extent, but irrigation is mainly con- 
fined to rice-cultivation in the summer, and to meadows in the winter. 
These meadows are devoted to the cultivation of a grass called marc^ite. 
This crop requires that a thin film of water sh^Jl pass continuously or 
almost without intermission, except at the periods of cutting, over the 
grass. This is secured by shaping the laud in planes about 30 feet wide, 
■with a slope of 1 in 12 or 15. On the crest of the planes there is an 
irrigating-channel, from which the water is spread over the land ; the 
surplus being carried off bv drainage channels 

The accompau) ing section ot the land wdl cou\ev an idea of the 
arrangement tor the dittnbution ot the watei 

The amount of watei necet-sary for these meadows exceeds, beyond 
comparison, that required for any other cultivation. A cubic foot per 
second, if economized, may irrigute as much as three iwire-*. Tlie pro- 
duction is very great. The meadows near Milan are cut seven. times a 
year. An ordinary result is 50 tons a year, with exceptional yields at' 
75 tons, per acre. These meadows are, however, fertilized by the sewer- 
age of Milan, which is distributed over the land directly by the irri- 
gating-channela. In less-favored localities, the yield falls as low a? 
H. Ex. 290 5 

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24 tons per acre. This production cannot, however, be sustained ueIcss 
the land is richly manured. 

On the crown-canals, water is measured as it leaves the principal 
(shannda by an apparatus known as a module. There are various 
examples in different provinces, but the best kiiowu and most reliable 
is that used in the Milanese. 

It seems scarcely necessary here to give a description of the arrange- 
ments made for this purpose, inasmuch as the information is readily 
accessible. We may, however, mention that the principle of the measure- 
ment is that the head of water is kept constant, whatever may be the 
changes in the level of the canal. After the water leaves the mala 
channels, there does not seem to be a uniform practice of measuring it 
on its distribution into the secondary ditches. There are so many 
usages in this country, sanctioned by long periods of time, that it has 
hitherto been impracticable to introduce complete and thorough meas- 

There are always some persons who profit by the absence of regula- 
tions on this point, an^ their influence exerted against change has 
proved sufficient to defeat the purpose of the government. 

Baiu-fall and temperature— Comparisoo with California^— Value of irrigated land in 
various parts of Spain — Irrigation introdnced by the Moors — Water annesed to 
land in Valencia — Variety in owDerBhip of water — Valae of water in different 
provinces — Spanish law — Method of obtaining a grant of water — Privileges to irri- 
gation-enterprises— Exemption from taxation — Minority compelled to pay their 
part for oanalB — Snbsidies; how given — Position of ^vernment of Spain— Irrigat- 
jQg-aasociatious — Subsidies to canals — Area of irrigation — Hnetta of Valencia — Ad- 
ministration of irrigation — General assembly — Syndic — Kinds of cnltivatlon — 
Drought — Tribnnal For deciding disputes — Its composition and modes of proced- 
ure — The canal of Mencade. 

In somB parts of Spain we seem to be near home. There is some- 
thing; fpiailar in a rain-fall of 7 inches and a temperature of 111°. 

The meftyi antiual rain-fallfor difereni parts of Spain for four years, from 
1»58 to 1861. 

Granada '• 

Valadolid .. 

Valencia ■ . . 


, . 13. 6 

In ltj59, at Alicante, 
there were only 7.1 
inches of rain. 

TabUofralH-fall and temperature for the irHgatiug-monlhs,from March 

to September. 

Mean rain-fall, in 

Mean temperi- 
tare, in de- 

Mfl:sinium tem. 
ffTooa, Fnhren- 



A comparison of the meteorology of the 
irrigated portions of Italy, will show for 8 
ture and a smaller rain-fall. 

The climate in our interior valleys dift'ers from that of Spain, ia the 

3 parts of Spain and of the 
lain both a higher tempera- 



fact tliat the latter country lias a summer rain-fall ranging from 5 to 9 
Inches, whereas in California we often have no raiQ worth measuring 
from April to December ; and generally from the beginning of May to 
the end of October not a rain ■cloud obscures the sun. 

Spain, by common consent, needs irrigation, and perhaps of all the 
countries in the world it best repays Irrigating. 

We might establish the remunerative character of this mode of culti- 
vation in other ways, bot it is probable that no way can be more satis- 
factory than to give the values of land as established by sales, both of 
irrigated and of unirrigated land. 

Bear the city of Valencia, irrigated land is sold at prices running 
from $700 to $900 per. acre, and ata distance from the city from $400 to 
$500 per acre, while land of the same quality not irrigated is sold at $80 
or less per acre. 

Don Juan Eibera, a Spanish engineer, states that land near Madrid is 
increased in value by irrigation from four to ten fold, land of the lowest 
price being most appreciated in value. 

Prom sale.s made at Castellon in 1859, it appears that the average 
price of irrigated land was |700 per acre, while unirrigated land in the 
same neighborhood was sold for $50 per acre. 

Parts of the huerta of Murcia have been sold at $2,500 per acre, dry 
land close by being worth $150. 

At San Fernando, near Madrid, the rental of irrigated land is $25 per 
acre, which is the price in fee of dry laud in the vicinity. 

In the valley of the Esla River irrigated land is worth $600 per acre, 
and dry land $50. 

In the valley of the Tagus it is said the produce from irrigated land 
is twelve times that from unirrigated laud. In parts of France where 
irrigation is not nearly so much needed, irrigated land is only appre- 
ciated 50 per cent, by irrigating. 

Spain may be described as a country where the water is more valuable 
than the land in a ratio of from 5 to 20, and we feel assured that the 
same proposition is equally true of large jiarts of California, 

Spain is, fi-om the value attached to water, an interesting study. It 
is interesting to know what st«p8 have in recent years been taken to ex- 
tend the use of water, and what systems have been adopted. 

The Spaniards have an experience of a thousand years behind them, 
and they ought to be convinced of the value of this mode of cultiva- 

There is probably no part of the world where water is more carefully 
applied, and there certainly is no country where the legislation is more 
clear and precise. 

Irrigation in Spain is a legacy left by the Moors. All or nearly all of 
the old systems were the work of this wonderful people. Not only the 
works bnt the customs of the Moors remain in some provinces almost 
untouched since their departure. These customs may be said to be 
imbedded in the hearts and minds of the people of certain provinces, 
and we must regard it as a tribute to the intelligence of the conquered 
race that their regulations, adopted by their enemies, have been able to 
exercise a sway so complete that the efforts of rulers and the progress 
of events have alike failed to change them in their essential features. 

We find in Spain every variety in administrative systems for using 
water. In Valencia, in the lands irrigated from thb Jucar River, and in 
Murviedro, the water and the land are, so to speak, married, without a 
possibility of divorce. When the land is Sold, the water that irrigates 
it goes with it ; neither can be sold separately. The irrigator cannot 

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even dispose of his turn or privilege of water. The same is true in 
the province of Murcia, and at AIiuaDsa. 

As Elche, on the other hand, the water belongs to parties who do not 
own the land. The laud has no rights. When the farmer needs water, 
lie buys it as he buys any other article. There is a daily water ex- 
change, where one may bay the use of water in an irrigating channel 
for twenty-four hours, beginning at six in the evening. The prices that 
are stated to have been paid in times of scarcity, tax our credulity very 

lu 1S61 it is said that water was sold at more than $11,000 per cubic 
foot a second. 

At Lorca there is an auction of water held daily. 

These are all old works, where the customs of past ages prevail. 
The new canals are generally built and owned by capitalists, under con- 
ditions which will hereafter be explained. On the Heuares Canal, just 
built, it appears that the company owning the works made agreements 
with the farmers before building as to the price to be paid for irrigation. 
The government fixed the value of water on this canal to be $l,)i75 for 
one cubic foot a second for one year. 

It will be remembered that in Italy the annual value of the same 
quantity is about $75 to $80. 

The different meteorologies of the two conntries make the basis of 
this difference of value. 

On the Heuares Canal to cover an acre with twelve inches of water 
costs $2.88; on the Esla Canal, $1.70. 

At Alicante the price of 16,000 cubic feet of water, which is about ij 
inches over an acre, has varied, according to scarcity, from 50 cents 
to $13. 

At Larca the average price of 17,500 cubic feet of water, nearly 5 
inches over an acre, is 16.25. 

The canal Llobregat charges on an average $2.75 per acre, and as 
high as $4.25. 

The canal of Urgel charges $4.75 per acre. In Malaga the price is 
about the same, 

On the old Moorish works, which are now the property of the irri- 
gators, the price is only what is necessary to pay the expenses of the 
works and keep them in repair. 

The farmers have agreed to take water from a new canal in Navarra, 
and to pay $3 per acre for four irrigations in a season. An irrigation in 
Spain is generally from 2J to 3 inches in depth. 

The latest enactment, which seems to be most complete and detailed, 
and which contains three hundred paragraphs, is dated August 3, 1866. 
Although all the provisions would doubtless be of interest to those 
called upon to legislate upon the subject of water, we cannot do more 
than refer to those points which bear immediately upon our subject. 

Article 236 states that all grants of water made to owners of laud for 
its irrigation shall be in perpetuity. All grants made to parties to irri- 
gate the lands of others shall be for a period not exceeding ninety-nine 
years, which period expired, the works shall become the property of the 
irrigators. An application for a grant of water shall be accompanied 
by proof that the applicant ttwns the land he proposes to irrigate ; or if 
not, the rates of payment proposed to be paid by the parties who own 

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the land or who are to buy the water ; or if a particular district is to Tie 
irrigated by the owners tliereof, that the agreement made by the major- 
ity of the owners reckoned by the area owned. The project is thea to 
be advertised, and objections may be made for a month. The project is 
referred to various authorities, to ascertain whether it is desirable, 
whether it interferes with any vested rights, whether it promises to en- 
danger the public health, or whether the constructions proposed are 
suitable. Any grant of water is subject to rights of other parties pre- 
viously established. 

Certain privileges are granted to nndertakings of this class, as follow, 

1st. To quarry on the public land. Sites for the necessary works, 
shops, kilns, &c., on the public lands are given free. 

2d, Exemption ftom certain charges required in transfer of property. 

3d, The capital invested is exempted from tax of every kind ; and all 
foreign capital invested in these enterprises will be under the protec- 
tioo of the government, and it shall never be eouflscated in time of war. 

4th. Employes have certain local privileges. If the company allows 
the works to fall into bad repair, and does not restore them within the 
period assigned by the government, or if the new works shall not be 
finished in the stipnlated time, they may be sold at public auction to the 
highest bidder. 

All the land included in any project which is called for by the major- 
ity of the proprietors shall pay the approved rate, whether the owners 
wish to take water or not ; and those who refuse to pay are obliged to 
sell their lands to the company at a price equal to the assessed value of 
the land, for taxation, increased by 50 percent. If the company declines 
to purchase the lands at this price, the proprietor shall be exempt from 
any payment. 

The law of April 23, 1849, provides, that for ten years after the works 
are completed all products of irrigation shall be free from taxation. 

All land brought under irrigation is taxed as unirrigated land for ten 

The law of July 11, 1865, appropriated $5,000,000 to be given as sub- 
sidy or as loans, without interest, to irrigating enterprises, in sums not 
to exceed $100,000 for each enterprise. The special authority of the 
Cort«s is necessary to permit a larger grant. This subsidy is generally 
given to the amount of 15 per cent, of the estimated cost, as certified 
by the government engineers, and it is paid in three installments : 

1st, When the earth-work is finished. 

2d. When the bridges and culverts are finished. 

3d. Wheii the work is completed and the irrigating is begnn. 

The attitude of the government toward the administration of these 
enterprises is commended by M. Aymard in the following terms : 

We may inquire, Wliat is tlie nature of the action of the government in regard to 
enterprises of irrigation ! What is the character of its interventioa or sapervision J 
Does it lead or does it follow the people f 

The government is in advance of the people, but It does not enercise au iujudicloos 
pressure. Wtere customs sanctioned by antiquity prevail, it does not seek to over- 
throw ttem merely for the purpose of securing unity of administration. 

Itis in advance of the people in this sense, namely, that it lays down with clearneaa 
and precision in the laws the modern principles of the administration, so that tho 
moment that the necessity for a reiortn is felt, the people are at ouce informed in what 
direction that reform is to be sought. 

In regard to the terms on which new concessions are granted, the 
same author says : 

In the activity wlijoh baa recently prevailed in the extension of enterprises of irriga- 
tion, the problem was to guard me rights and interests of future generatious, while 



making Buch couoessioDS to the commeiciil spirit ot the present an would induce tbe 
extension of these ueocaaaiy work-i In its decrees the government lays down with 
great wisdom the general terms of ill cnni-essionv of water-franchises, and defines 
flie respective rights of the propiiet rs and of the nsera ; so that enterprises of this 
ofaaracter may be undertaken with9nt hesitation or embarrassment. The outline of 
every possible enterpnse is defined in the statutes and in ea«h partiGular case it is 
only necessary to nil in the details 

One clause in these statutes piovides tbat in every irrigatiug-district 
or community theie ought to be established a syndicate or association, 
and a system ot leguLitionb tixing the details in every respect concern- 
ing the use of the water ; which regulations must he approved by the 
government or by the provincial authorities, as the case may be. 

The general principle which forms the base of the syndicate is this, 
namely, that the administration of the water-supply anij use shall be in 
the hands and under the control of the irrigators. 

We see that the Spanish systems of a thousand years' duration lead 
to the same general conclusion that the experience in Italy has estab- 
lished and exemplified iu tbe association for the irrigation of the Ver- 
cellese, an account of which is given elsewhere. 

This conclusion may be stated iu these terms : that where the irriga- 
tors do not own the irrigating-woi'ks, they ought nevertheless to have 
the control of the distribution of the water, and of the details of irriga- 

A conclusion which is fortified by the experience of hundreds of years 
in Italy and Spain, where the people cannot be supposed to be more 
familiar with the principles of self-government than are our own people, 
which is supported by the wisdom of a mau like Uavour, which promises 
relief from the difficulties attending the administratioo of water by cap- 
italists-having no direct interest in the land, but looking for the best 
return for their money invested, and which, moreover, is congenial to 
ibe habits and feelings of people like bur own, must, perhaps, with mod- 
ifications, prove the solution of our own vexed problem. 

It is worthy of remark, and it is conflrmatorv of the general conclu- 
sions derived from the experience elsewhere, that in a country where 
irrigation is so desirable, and where its effect is to increase in so striking 
a manner the value of the lands, the government feels obliged to aid 
works of this kind by subsidy and by exemption from taxes. 

According to the ofBcial reports, the area of irrigated laud iu Spain 
is four thousand four hundi-ed and thirty-nine square miles. 

The principal canals, however, irrigate only 500,000 acres. There are 
many small canals and a few tanks or reservoirs, which increase this 
area considerably. If we accept the official reports, the greater part 
of the land must be irrigated by wheels or noHas. These wheels have 
buckets or jars attached to the circumferences, by means of which the 
water is raised. The motive power may be the curreut of the river, or 
it may be animal power. 

We close this review of Spanish irrigation by a brief description of 
the agriculture and system of administration iu the highly-cultivated 
tf^e^ta of Valencia. 

This district extends for eight or nine miles along the river Guada- 
laviar, from which the canals which irrigate it are derived. 

It has been under this kind of cultivation for perhaps a thousand 
years. The Moors introduced irrigation, and the executive and judicial 
system established by them retains to this day its essential character- 

The water in this district is, as has already been stated, annexed to 
the laud, and when land is sold the right to water goes with it. A per- 

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SOU canuot even give to another the water to wbich be has a right; if 
he does not nse it, it reverts to the common benefit. 

The plain of Valencia is irrigated by eight small canals, four of 
which are on each side of the river. Each canal is entitled to an ali- 
quot part of the river-supply, and the proportions are established by 
the levels of the sills of the head-worts, which are of masonry, and 
which have remained unchanged since the days of the Moors. It is, 
however, only in the low stages of the river that it becomes essential 
to observe the prescribed division of water, for at other periods there 
is an abundance for all. 

The aggregate length of these canals is but forty-two miles. The 
longest is but twelve miles in length. The dams are of masonry. 

The administration of these canals is at least carious, and it will be 
interesting to recount it briefly. 

Each canal forms a district; the irrigators of which meet once in two 
years to elect a permanent committee of administration, to assess the 
expenses or taxes, and to elect the officers of the diati'ict. The princi- 
pal officer is called the syndic ; we should probably call him the super- 
intendent. He mast be an actual cultivator : not a proprietor merely, 
but one who actually holds the plow. He must have a good character 
and be owner of a certain quantity of land in bis own zone or district. 
He is elected by a majority of votes, and he may be re-elected. His 
term of oflBce varies between two and four years. He is chief admin- 
istrator ; he expends the (uuds, and in time of drought he is an abso- 
lute dictator in regard to the distribution of the water. The other em- 
ployes are appointed by the syndic, or by the permanent committee, 
or sometimes they are elected by the general assembly, 

Usaally the taxes are assessed by the general assembly. Generally 
each irrigator pays according to the land under cultivation, but not 
always so. In some cases he pays in a measure proportionately to the 
quantity of water used. The taxes are collected in a summary manner. 
If any one fail to pay big taxes, he is deprived of the use of the water, 
and if he take it he is liable to a severe line; or if any official shall 
allow him to take water, the latter is exposed to the same fine- 
There is no regulating machinery for the distribution of water. The 
arrangements are at the discretion of the officials, who keep themselves 
informed as to the condition of the crops, and who supply water to those 
which seem to need it most. No cultivator can claim a definite quantity 
of water. 

The cultivation is various; hemp, corn, wheat, beans, pears, melons, 
artichokes, and peppers are among the proilncts of the soil. Hemp is 
regarded as the most valuable crop. It is cut in July, before the water 
gets very low, and therefore it seldom suffers from scarcity of water. 

In times of drought the syndic gives water to the crop that needs it 
most, keeping in view, however, the value of the crop. Hemp being the 
most valuable crop, receives attention iirst if it needs it, which is seldom 
the case ; next pome artichokes, the order being established by long 
custom. If all of a given crop cannot be saved, the water is applied to 
half of each field, the other half being allowed to suffer. The decision 
is in the hands of the officials, none of the cultivators being permitted 
to take water without permission. 

This is certainly a verj' rigorous kind of administration. It is demo- 
cratic HO far as its deliberations and constitution are concerned, but in 
its action it is essentially autocratic. Doubtless the long line of cus- 
toms descending from a thousand years serves in practice as a guide 
for the action of the syndic, and divests it, in a measure, of its arbitrary 
appearance. The responsibility is, however, not divided. In times of 

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droagbt some respoDSibility must be taken, and one man eau take it 
better than a number. Tbe working of the system must be favorable, 
or it would long since have fallen under the opposition of its enemies. 

These canals have a curious tribunal, which has come down from the 
Moors, and which is as simple and untechnical in its constitution and in 
its modes of procedure as can be desired. Its proceedings are not re- 
corded, unless at the request of one or both of the parties concerned. 
Itenforces its decrees in a summary manner, and there is no ap]>eal from 
its decisions. 

This tribunal of the canals is composed of the syndics of the canals 
of the plains. It meets every Thursday at IL o'clock in the public 
square in front of the Cathedra! in Valencia. The judges are seated, 
while the parties concerned and the spectators stand respectfully a few 
paces distant. The syndic in whose district the grievance or ofl'ense 
was committed brings the case before the court. He questions the wit- 
nesses and presents the case, but be does not vote. When the case is 
heard, the judges discuss in a low tone for a few minutes, and announce 
their decision. ITo expense is incurred by the parties to the case, if the 
fines or damages assessed are paid at once. If they are not so paid, the 
tribunal has power to enforce its decisions by processes which entail ex- 
peose upon the recusant party. The fines attached to particular offenses 
are stated in a code of laws. The jurisdiction of the court is absolute 
in matters of fact and police over those who appear before it. Any per- 
son may decline to appear before the tribunal. If, having been twice 
summoned, any person shall fail to appear, the matter is turned over to 
the ordinary courts, where its adjudication is attended with consider- 
able expense. It is said that cultivators rarely fail to appear before this 
tribunal when summoned. 

It may well be supposed that this institution has often been assailed. 
A court of peasant judges, whose piflceedings are not recorded and 
whose .decisions admit of no appeal, could not fail to attract criticism 
and invite intervention. The government has more than once attempted 
to make changes in harmony with the usual course of procedure, but 
the steadfast attachment of the people interested in the tribunal has 
sufficed to maintain it substantially as it descended from the Moors, 
Whatever may be its defects, we cannot doubt that it has dispensed 
even-handed justice; otherwise it could not have existed so long. 

The canal of Moncade, wliich is also taken from the Gnadalaviar 
Biver, has some dilferences iu administration which indicate the char- 
acter of the changes which the government has wished to make in the 
ease just described. This association has a code of regulations which 
prescribes fines for the various offenses. The superintendent or syndic 
of the caual is invested with authority to impose fines in accordance 
with the code. The parties concerned have the right of appeal to a 
court elected by the irrigators, which resembles iu many respects the 
tribunal of the canals, and there is a further right of appeal to one of 
the ordinary civil courts. On this canal each irrigator has a right to 
water on fixed days for a certain number of hours. 


Governmeat owns canals — How canals are built and how managed. 

Irrigation is quite extensively practiced in France, and several new 

canals have been built in the past few years. 

There is nothing so specially distinctive iu French irrigation as to 

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require detailed descriptiou. The principle of manrtgeriieDt of works 
by the irrigators applies here as well as in Spain and Italy. There is, 
however, more interference by the government. 

The government owus no canals. They are generally built by the 
landownprs. The government encourages the construction of canals. 

In the charter of the Carpentras Caual, built in 1854, the irrigators 
were guaranteed that no increase of the land -assessment should be 
made for twenty-five years after the completion of the works. 

There is no provision in the French law corresponding to the Spanish 
statute which permits a majority of proprietors to carry on an irriga- 
tion enterprise and compels the minority to bear their share of the ex- 

When a charter for a canal is given it states the quantity of water 
which is granted. The plans for the works must be approved by the 
government. In some cases the canals are built under direction of en- 
gineers of the Corps of Pouts et Chausees. In all cases the works are 
periodically inspected by engineers of this corps. 


1. Cost of irrigation— Qnantity of water required— Secondary and tertiary ditches to. 

be made by cultivators — Canals and primary ditcheB will cost aboat 810 per acre 

2. Conclusious— Large bodies of land in "tbe great Vallpy of California" require irri- 

gation ; abundance df water; irrigation mucli needed — Coat — Ignorance of the 
Bubjeot — A comprehensive ayatem cannot be devised by the farmers— Duty of gov- 
ernment— Proper laws depend on reeonnaissanoe and surveys— Irrigation will be 
the work of time — Land and water should be joined together — State and counties 
benefitted — Private capitaJ — Relation of the United States to irrigation- Sup er- 


Before making an estimate of the cost of canals, it is necessary to 
inquire how much water is required to irrigate an acre of land. It will 
readily be understood that the quantity will depend upon a number of 
considerations. In the first place, it will depend opou the character of 
the soil, whether sandy or clayey; upon the character of the substratum, 
whether pervious or impervions, and upon the depth and inclination of 
an impervious stratum. It will depend upon the character of tbe culti- 
vation. Rice and sugar fields, vegetable-gardens, orchards, and mead- 
ows require more water than cereals. 

The present staples of this country are cereals. There is some cotton- 
cultivation, which will probably be extended; and, with abundance of 
water, we shall doubtless have a good deal of Alfalfa or Lucerne grass. 
Every farmer will have a little orchard, and will raise the vegetables 
required for home consumption. 

The evaporation is high in the interior valleys of the State, quite 
equal to that in Madrid, where it is about 13 inches in July. 

The amount of water lost by absorption in the bed and banks of the 
canal, is an unknown and variable quantity, depending on the dimen- 
sions of the canals and on the character of the soil. In the absence of 
exact data upon these points, we may for the present adopt the rule laid 
down by engineers for other countries of similar climate, and estimate 
the loss of water from these causes at 15 per cent. 

The rivers of California generally run full for about seven months. 

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The rains of the winter increase their discharge, and the melting of the 
snows keeps it up, so that we may say that the streams from the Sierra 
Nevadas are well supplied with water from December to August. The 
atreamsfrom the coast range have no snow reservoirs of much extent, 
and they are generally dry in summer. 

Let us assume that the streams on the east side of the valley are well 
supplied with water for two hundred days in the year, and, to make up 
for any overestimate on this point, let us neglect their tiow for the re- 
mainder of the year. 

How much land ought a cubic foot of water, supplied every second 
for two huDdred days, to irrigate J 

We will make a further suppositiou that the water is used for four • 
teea hours out of the twenty-foar. Irrigatiou at night is practiced in 
other counties, aud we may be assured that iu seasons of scarcity it wQl 
be. practiced here if it shall prove to be necessary to save the crops. 

In fourteen hours there are fifty .thousand four hundred seconds, and 
hence one day's supply, at one cubic foot per second, will give us the 
same number of feet. Deducting 15 per cent, for loss by absorption 
and evai)oration, we shall have remainiug 42,840 cubic feet, which num- 
ber, although a little less, we may take to be the same as the number 
of square feet iu au acre. Hence, one day's supply will put 13 inches of 
wat«r over au acre, or 2 inches of water over six acres, and in two hun- 
dred days a supply of a cubic foot per second will cover two hundred 
acres with 12 inches of water. 

Wheat planted in October or !S"ove!uber oi summer-fallowed laud, 
well watered when the rivers are high, will probably make a good crop 
without further watering, except what it gets from the winter rains, even 
when they prove scanty. 

Wheat planted in January or February will probably ueed one or two 
irrigations of 3 inches each to make a crop. Wheat or barley planted 
later, and with irrigating facilities, (there seems to be no reason why, in 
these hot valleys, the sowing-time may not be extended to April,) will 
probably ripen with 12 inches of water judiciously applied. We know 
that good crops of wheat are raised without irrigation when there is a 
raiu-fall of 12 inches, or even less, which comes at the required times. 

On the Tule or reclaimed lands, barley sowed after wheat-harvest has 
been gathered comes to maturity. 

The water required for cotton will probably not esceed that neces- 
sary tor wheat, llice-cultivation is so unhealthful that its introduction 
into California will hardly be looked upon with favor. 

Alfalfa, if cut five times for hay, will require 12 inches of water or 
more, depending on the nature of the soil; this in addition to the usual 

There is another point to be considered. The whole of the land com- 
manded by the canal will not be irrigated ; some of it will be waste 
or unsuitable for cultivation ; some will be fallow, and if we add the 
areas taken up by the roads, fences, buildings, farm-yards, &a., we ought, 
according to experience elsewhere, to deduct one fourth, at least, from 
the irrigable lands. ■ This deduction of oue-fourth, we assume, will make 
np for any kind of cultivation, such as gardens, orchards, &c., requiring 
larger supplies of water. 

Our opinion is, therefore, that a reasonable allowance for the land 
commanded by the canals is one cubic foot a second tor each two hun- 
dred acres. 

In seasons when there is a great surplus of water there can be no ob- 
jection to a more liberal use of it, but it seems to us indispensable that 

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tlie State should lay down a general rule. There ought to be aa estab- 
lished allotment, whiuh may vary in different districts. The cultivators 
who come first ought not to be allowed to appropriate more water than 
they require, because, if they do, those who come after will not be able 
to procure a fair supply. 

There are probably exceptional places where the lower average of 
rain-fall aud porosity of the soil may combine to require a larger allot- 
ment of water than we have assigned. Such places are about Tulare 
Lake, on the west side of the valley. There is no cultivation in these 
portions, and before the occasion may arise to irrigate them further in- 
formation will probably be available to enable a proper conclusion to be 

As the population of the irrigated di_stricts increases there will be an 
increased demand for water, and it will probably result that the allow- 
ance which is sufScient in this generation, may prove entirely inadequate 
fifty years in the future. 

When the state makes the survey elsewhere recommended in this 
l-eport, we will learn both how much water and how much land there is, 
and will be enabled to proportion the supply to be granted. 

It may then be a qnestion, in seasons of scarcity, whether a smaller 
supply of water will be given to the whole land or a larger supply to a 
portion of it. 

There is so much variety on this point, in the circumstances of climate, 
soil, and cultivation, and so much difference in the statements of differ- 
ent authorities, that we cannot derive, from the experience of other 
countries, any defiitite conclusions applicable to ^urown; but as a matter 
of interest it will not be amiss to mention the duty of water in other 
irrigating districts. 

In Borth India a cubic foot of water per second irrigates five acres 
per day. 

Taking the interval of irrigation at forty days, we have the duty of 
two hundred acres for one foot a second for cereals. 

In Granada a canal from the GenU irrigates, of wheat, barley, and 
vines, two hundred and forty acres per cubic foot. 

In Valencia, where it is very hot, wheat is watered four or five times, 
giving about two hundred acres per foot. 

In Elche, where water is very scarce, a cubic foot goes as far as to irri- 
gate one thousand acres. Wheat here in some years scarcely requires 
artificial watering. 

Bice-fields in different parts of the world vary from thirty to sixty, 
and even eighty acres, to the cubic foot. 

la the heavy monsoons of India ninety acres per foot are irrigated. 

lu some of the huertas or gardens in Valencia, only from thirteen to 
twenty acres per foot are irrigated. Here, however, there are at least 
two crops a year, and a part is devoted to rice. 

The grants for six recent canals in Spain run from seventy acres per 
foot to two hundred and sixty acres per foot. 

Assuming, then, that a cubic toot per second will water two hundred 
acres of land, we proceed to give some considerations in regard to the 
probable cost of construction of the canals and their primai'y ditches. 

The secondary and tertiary ditches will, it is supposed, be made by the 
cultivators. They can be made by the farmer in seasons of leisure, and 
in the general case their cost will hardly be felt. The case will be some- 
what difi'erent with the cultivator who farms on a large scale, and who 
is obliged to hire laborers. 

It is plain, on the slightest consideration, that the cost of a canal will 

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be so (iepeudeut on local and special circumstances tfaat it is impassible 
to deduce a perfectly satisfactory conclusion from a given or hypotheti- 
cal case. 

The dam, the character of the soil, the quantity of land to be irri- 
gated, tbe manner in which it is disposed, the relative remoteuess, and 
the resources and population along the line, are all eiemeiits which vary 
from case to case, and either of which may affect the cost by a very 
■considerable percentage. 

Still it seems essential to know wiihin some limits the probable cost. 

If a canal is to cost $100 per acre irrigated, the subject may be dis- 
missed without any further consideration. 

It is plain that we cannot afford to pay that price. If, on the other 
band, canals may be built for iive or twice live dollars per acre, it is 
equally plain that now or before many years we shall be able to afford 
them, and shall have a fair prospect of return from such investment. 

The value of the estimate which we proceed to give, will be under- 
stood from what precedes. 

Let us take the most favorable case that can happen, namely, when 
the excavation equals the embankment. 

We assume a canal to carry 315 cable feet of water per second, having 
*he dimensions given in the figure. Dedacting from this 15 per cent, 
for loss, the water available for irrigation is 2GS cubic feet, which will 
irrigate 53,600 acres. 

If we suppose the irrigable land to lie on one side of the canal in a 
strip five miles wide, and that the ground permits straight parallel pri- 
mary ditches spaced ooe mile apart, it follows that for each mile of 
«anal there must be five miles of primary ditches, and that the quantity 
of irrigable land for each mile of canal will be 3,200 acres. Deducting 
one-fourth for land not actually watered, we shall have 2,400 acres of 
■irrigated land for each mile of canal. 

Let us take a primary ditch of capacity to carry 50 feet of water per 
second. Allowing for loss, this size will be rather more than sufficient 
to cover the 2,400 acres with 3 inches of water in seven days and seven 

The canal can fill at the same time six of the primary ditches, so that 
in seven days 14,400 acres can be covered with 3 inches of water, only 
aix of the primary being full at a time. And in twenty-six days 3 
inches of water may be put over the whole amount of the land, namely, 
-53,600 acres. 

If the water is used only for fourteen hours for each day, the time 
necessary to go over all the land with 3 inches of water will be forty- 
flve days. 

Under our hypothesis, in order to irrigate 2,400 acres, we must build 
one mile of mnin canal and five miles of primary ditches. 

Placing the excavation at 30 cents per cubic yard, we find the cost 
^er acre to be about $5. 

The section of the main canal will diminish toward its lower end, but 
to be on the safe side, so far as cost is concerned, we keep it of uniform 
size. The price of excavation may be somewhat in excess of its actual 
cost in some places ; but inasmuch as in it a*'e included all incidental 
and contingent expenses, we believe it is not far from correct. 

We have omitted from this calculation all estimates for inequality of 
the ground, by reason of which the amount of excavation may be eon- 
■siderably increased ; all expense due to the fact that generally one or 
several miles of canal have to be made at its head before the water is 
high enough relatively to the adjoining land to irrigate it, and we do 

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not include the cost of a dam, jFhich generally will be indiapensiible, 
Neither do we iQcliide the cost of head-works or of the bridges and 
sluices which will be required, or of the measures that may be neces- 
sary to pass the drainage of the country into, over, or ander the canal. 
We do not estimate for these points, for the reason that no estimate 
can be made, the circumstances in no two cases being the same. 

Speaking generally, we are of the opinion that the omitted points 
will cost as much as the excavation, and hence that the rate' per acre 
just given should be double. 

This brings us to the conelusiou that it will cost about $10 per acre 
to irrigate these valleys. 

It is, however, to be remarked, that large portions of the eastern 
side of the San Joaquin Valley are underlaid 2 or 3 feet from the surface 
by a hard stratum, which it will be necessary to blast, or, if not blasted., 
the canals must be very shallow. This fact leads us to believe that the 
cost per acre in these sections will be increased 25 to 33 per cent, above 
the estimate already given. 

The irrigation of the foot-hills will of course cost more. Here the 
problem will be more similar to that presented in other countries. So 
far as we are able to judge from descriptions given by writers, we are 
inclined to believe that the physical conditions in these valleys are ex- 
ceptionally favorable for irrigation. This fact accounts in a great mea- 
sure for the smallness of our estimates as compared with the actual cost 
of canals in Spain ; for instance, where the price of labor is so mach 
cheaper than it is in California. 

A further reason for this difference lies in the character of the con- 
structions. The dams, head-works, and sluices of foreign works are 
made of masonry, and in the most thorough manner. In California 
all of these constructions will for many years be of wood. It is cheaper, 
with the present rates of interest, to build of wood, and to rebuild when 
the works decay, than to constrnct once for all of masonry. 

The cheapest canal that we find in Spain is that from the Esla, which 
cost $15 per acre. The other modern canals in Spain have cost more 
than twice as much. There are no longer in these old countries any 
lands which admit of easy irrigation, and on all these lines there is a 
great deal of heavy work in excavation, tunneling, aqueducts, and iu 
revetment- walls, which the valley works in California will not require. 


1st. That there are large bodies of fertile laud in the great valley of 
California — extensive plains, in fact — that require irrigation to make 
them productive, and that the natural features of these plains are favor- 
able to artificial irrigatiou. 

2d. That there is an abundance of water for the irrigation of all land 
on the eastern side of the valley by canals from the rivers. 

3d. While there is a scarcity of water on the western side of the val- 
ley, at the necessary elevation, particularly on the western side of the 
San Joaquin and Tulare Valleys, yet there is sufficient water attainable 
there, and at a sutticient elevation, to irrigate large areas of land on that 

4th. That irrigation is much needed, particularly in the San Joaquin 
and Tulare Valleys. The productions of these valleys could be increased 
many fold by a comprehensive system of irrigation. The value of the 
irrigable laud and of the revenue derived from it, both by the State 
and by the people, will be increased in the same ratio. 

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5tli. The cost of a coinpreheDsive system of irrigation for tliese valleys 
will be great, but as the different portions are not equally in want of 
irrigation, the complete system may be the work of time. 

6th. Irrigation is but little understood in this country, either by our 
engineers, who must design, plan, lay out, and execute the works for 
that purpose, or by the farmers who are to use the water whea it Is 
brought alongside their farms. 

7th. That the experience of other countries appears to prove that no 
extensive system of irrigation cau ever be devised or executed by the 
farmers themselves, in consequence of the impossibility of forming 
proper combinations or associations for that purpose. That while small 
enterprises may be undertaken by the farmers in particular cases, it 
would not be in accordance with the experience of the world to expect 
of them the means or inclination to that co-operation which would be 
necessary to construct irrigating- works involving large expenditures. 
That enterprises of this character, 'if built at all, must be built by the 
State or by private capital. 

8th. That it is the duty of government, both State and national, to 
encourage irrigation, and the flrst step in that direction ought to be to 
make a complete instrumental reconnaissance of the country to be irri- 
gated, embracing the sources from whence the irrigating-cartals ought 
to commence, gauging the flow of the rivers and streams, and defining 
the boundaries of the natural districts of irrigation into which the 
country is divided. 

9th. Then, when it is proposed to irrigate any particular district, an 
accurate topographical survey of that district should be made, so that 
the canal and other necessary works for its irrigation may be designed 
on an intelligent and comprehensive system, and in harmony with the 
neighboring canals, and these works executed in the most economical 
manner. In this way every farmer will be informed, before he will becalled 
upon to contribute to the worts of irrigation, whether or not his land is 
irrigable ; and if it is, of the quantity of water he will obtain ; the exact 
place or places where it will be delivered to him, and of its probable 

10th. While these surveys are being made, we think it would be a step 
in the right direction if the Government of the United States, as well as 
of the State of California, would inaugurate measures for obtaining from 
foreign countries all possible information relating to the more modern 
systems of irrigation in these countries, and for disseminating this 
information throughout this country. 

11th. After the necessary reconnaissance shall have been made, and 
a knowledge of the most improved systems of irrigation in other coun- 
tries has been obtained, the general system of irrigation can be properly 
planned and the outline of the principal works determined, the laws under 
which a proper system of irrigation for the great valley can then be 
decided upon intelligentlyj the country divided into those natural dis- 
tricts which its topographical features require, and all, or nearly all, 
the land-owners will then know what benefits they are to derive from 
irrigation. Light will be thrown on a subject which is now in compara- 
tive darkness : unnecessary clashing of private interests can be avoided 
or harmonized. The rights of water which have given so much trouble 
in other countries where the laws regulating these rights have grown 
up with their systems of irrigation, and, as history teaches us, have 
often been made for the benefit of private parties or particular districts 
of country, can be established beforehand, if not for all time, at least 
on the principle of " the greatest good for the greatest number." 

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12th. That while the irrigation of these plains would probably be 
effected in the cheapest and most thorough manner by a comprehensive 
system of canals, such as we have sketched, we by no means recommend 
that all irrigation should await the development of such a system. We 
are taught by the experience of other countries to expect such develop- 
ment to be the work of many years. In the mean time, ten or twenty or 
fifty farmers, having lands so situated as to be irrigable from a neigh- 
boring stream, may desire to construct the works necessary for that pur- 
pose, to be operated for their benefit, or they may desire to enter into an 
agreement with other parties, who shall build the required works. In 
either case, if the proposed works do not conflict with the general sys- 
tem of irrigation, we believe that such an enterprise should be permitted 
and encouraged by the State. 

13th. As a matter of public policy, it la desirable that the land and 
water8houldbejoinedtogether,nevertobe cutasunder; that the fanners 
should enjoy in perpetuity the use of the water necessary for the irriga- 
tion of their respective lands ; that when the land is sold the right to 
water shall also be sold with it, and that neither should be sold sepa- 

14th. That the i)artie8 chiefly benefited by irrigation are the farmers 
or land-owners. That there is every reason to believe that the value 
of land in the driest districts will be appreciated many fold ; that it re- 
sults from this that the lands should, as far as possible, pay for the con- 
struction of the necessary works. 

15th. That the State and counties will be directly benefited by the 
appreciation of land and by the increase of wealth in their revenues 
from taxation. That, consequently, it may be good policy for them to 
aid such enterprises. 

16th. That there is this difficulty in the way of the proposition that 
the lands shall pay for the canals, namely, that in many places tbe 
lands at present are not worth more than $5 per acre, if so much, aud 
that the irrigation -works may cost $1.0 per acre. 

17th. That whatever aid is given by the State or county should be 
extended in a cautious way. That in many parts of the country where 
irrigation will ultimately best repay expenditure there are now no people; 
that the population must be imported, tbe houses, barns, and equip- 
ments of thp farms must be created before returns can follow the invest- 
ment. That for these reasons we must look for a comparatively slow 
development of the country. 

18th. That while we believe, as we have already stated, that the best 
policy is for farmers to build and own the canals, we also believe that 
where the farmers are unable to build, and where theState is unable or un- 
willing to build, it may be, and it probably will be, the best policy to invite 
the aid of private enterprise. We refer to numerous instances in Spain 
and Italy, where this system is now in successful operation, in support 
of our opinion. 

19th. That private companies undertaking such enterprises should 
be subjected to certain conditions, some of which are as follows : 

That after a stated period the franchise shall lapse in favor of the 
State or of -the irrigators ; or that, after a certain period, the State 
shall have the right to purchase on certain previously-defined condi- 
tions. That the price of water shall be fixed by agreement, each party 
in interest being represented by arbiters. That the State shall have 
the right to charter an association of irrigators to administer the works, 
the company merely selling the water, and having nothing to do with 
jt after it leaves their channels, the association making all arrange- 

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menta for its diatributiou and for the collection of the water -rates.. 
This latter provision has several advantages ; It relieves the company 
from the odious duty of discrimiuating in times of scarcity, and from 
the endless disputes which attend the distribution of water, and puts 
the responsibility where it belongs, on the irrigators. It favors each 
irrigator; for he becomes a member of a company, which is strong enough 
to stand np for its rights in any contest with the capitalists. 

Por a successful system of this kind, we refer to the "Assoeiatiou for 
Irrigation in the Vercelles, Italy," given elsewhere in this report. That 
we see no reason why the rights of farmers aud the rights of capitalists 
may not be adjusted by some such plan, on the basis of justice and of 
mutual interest. 

We observe that the conditions just referred to place a company of 
capitalists in the light of temporary- owners, and that they contemplate 
a period when the works shall be owned by the State or by the farmers. 

20th. That there is no reason to 'suppose that for a long time capital 
will look upon this kind of investment with favor. The financial his- 
tory of most irrigating enterpriser in other countries is not favorable, 
80 far as the interests of shareholders are concerned. It may be a ques- 
tion for the State to consider whether it is good policy to offer any 
special inducements in aid of such enterprises. 

21st. That the relation of the United States to the irrigation of Cali- 
fornia is for the most part indirect, but that — in the sonthern end of the 
valley, between Visalia and Bakersfleld, and south of this town— it' is- 
believed that the United States own many thousand acres of land which 
are capable of irrigation ; that most of this land cannot be cultivated 
under existing eircnmstauces ; that it has no valuft, except for pastur- 
age, during part of the year ; that, if irrigated, its value wonld be in- 
creased many fold ; that nnder these circumstances it may be a gnestlou 
whether the United States ought not in some way to encourage the irri- 
gation of these lands. 

22d. That when any canals are built, the State should establish a sys- 
tem of inspection by which a proper construction shall be assured ; that 
the quantity of water to be taken from a river at its mean stage, for the 
irrigation of a definite quantity of land, should be fixed by a reason- 
able rule, so that those who come later shall not find all the water 
taken up, and so that proper drainage shall be secured. 

23d. That such supervision will probably be distasteful to the parties 
concerned ; that, nevertheless, we believe it is essential to future pros- 
perity, and that its neglect now will bring a fruitful crop of contentions- 
in the future, will delay the development of the country, and that by 
making irrigation nnhealthM it may make it odious. 

24th. That the water-rights of the streams now taken up for mining- 
purposes in the mountains do not conflict with the irrigation of the 
plains, the water being returned to the natural channels above the 
points where it will be taken out for irrigation, at least for many years 
to come. 

Respectfully submitted. 

Lieut. .Col. of I'n^ineirs, U. S. A., PresH Board of Commissicners:, 
Asmstant JJ. S. Coast Survey.. 

San Francisco, Cal., 

February 20, 1874. 

Major of Engineer a. 

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A large portiou of the water of the Gavour Canal is sold to a 
of co-operative society at Vercelli, known as the " General Association 
of Irrigation west of Sesia." 

This society was founded by government under an act of 3d of 
July, 1853, and owes it origin to Count Cavour. It had for its object, 
at starting, to lease, administer, and employ in general, according to an 
economical and matured system of irrigated cultivation, the waters of 
the Crown Canals derived from the Dora Baltea, in terms of the grant 
made with the state finance for the irrigation of the respective proper- 
ties of the shareholders, with the power of extending successively the 
benefits of the association, even to the mutual assurance against losses 
by hail, flre, and such like, and to other social objects of mutual profit. 

By the terms of the agreement made between the society and govern- 
ment, the society were thereby granted a thirty years,' lease of all the 
waters of the Crown Canals of the Dora Baltea with certain exceptions 
in favor of the owners of old hereditary rights, entitling them to a free 
use of a portion of their waters. 

The volume thus reserved amounts to no less than 793 cubic feet per 

When the Cavour Canal Company was formed it was obliged to abide 
by. this agreement with the irrigation society, and in 1867 there was 
supplied to the latter from the waters of the Po 900 cubic feet, and from 
those of the Dora Baltea Canals, after the deduction above alluded to, 
537 cubic feet per second, while this year (1868) they have sent in an 
application for 971 cubic feet of the former and for 659 cubic feet per 
second of the latter waters. 

The regulations and statutes of this Irrigation Society are too long 
to give in detail, for they consist of 379 articles, in 76 pages octavo j 
but the system possesses sufficient interest to be described minutely. 

In each commune or parish irrigated by these canals, there is a society 
termed a comorzio agrario, composed of all the proprietors within the 
parish who take water for their lands; or, in certain cases, a eonsor^sio 
may be composed of proprietors of adjoining small parishes. Each 
comorzio elects by universal suffrage one or two deputies, according as 
it uses a discharge of less or more than 30 module (61.4 cubic feet per 
second) on its irrigation. These deputies form an assembly for the 
general administratiou of affairs. They must be themselves members 
of the society, over twenty -five years of age, " sufBciently acquainted 
with agriculture," and men of good character. They receive no salary 
as deputies, nor are they allowed to hold any paid office under the soci- 
ety. They are elected for three years, and may be re-elected. They 
meet regularly twice a year, on the 15th of March and the 15th of No- 
vember, and half their number form a quorum. They elect from among 
themselves a president and vice-president, whose functions last for three 
years, and each year they choose also an honorary secretary and two 
assistants. They pass the accounts of the year, settle how much is to 
be paid by each consorzio, what salaries their employes are to have, 
listen to suggestions for the benefit of the society, and, in short, gener- 
ally direct and control the whole of its business. The rules passed by 
the assembly are binding on all the members of the society. To help 
them in forming decisions, they have a legal and an engineering adviser. 

From among themselves the assembly elect three committees: the 
H. Ex U90 6 

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direction general, the committee of surveillance, and the council of 

The first is the committee of management of the affairs of the society. 
Jt consists of a director- genera!, three members, a secretary, and an 
assistant secretary. If the director-general likes, be may ai)point a col- 
league, with the approval of the assembly, to take his place in case of 
illness or absence. 

The director- general may call on the assembly to dismiss any of the 
members of his committee, or he himself may suspend them for not 
doing their duty. He has iu every way to watch over the iutferests of the 
society, to see to the conduct of its servants, and to give them rules for 
their guidance, to direct any works, to disburse expenses, to arrange 
with the government (or with the canal company) lor the amount of 
water required at each point, to see generally to the distribution of the 
water over the irrigated district, to carry on all communications with the 
government — in short, to be getteral manager. The director-genei^l 
receives an allowance of $1,800 a year, from which he is expected to pay 
a number of small charges, and each member of his committee receives 
a certain salary. This committee has its headquarters at Vercelli, and 
renders an account of its proceedings at each meeting of the general 

The committee of surveillance is " the eye of the assembly over the 
direction- general," and has to see that it carries out faithfully its duties 
toward the society. It consists of three members, of whom the oldest 
presides. They meet once a week, and each time receive a ticket 
which entitles them to a small allowance, as fixed at each general assem- 
bly ; in 1866 the whole amount being only $153. Sliould they think 
necessary, they may call an extraordinary meeting of the assembly, and 
at each ordinary meeting they make a report of their proceedings. 

The council of arbitration has for its object, " 1st, to settle all disputes 
regarding affairs of the society which may arise between the members 
and the society, or between the society and its servants j 2d, to decide 
cases of breaches of the rhles and discipline of the society ; 3d, to assist 
the society in actions before the courts ; 4th, to give their advice on 
whatever may be referred to them by the director-general ; 5tb, to fix 
and settle, in case of dispute, the compensation for the passage-outlet, 
or any other obligation or damage occasioned by the flowing distribu- 
tion, employment, recovery in drains, and escape of the waters of the 
society, whether siffeeting the interests of the society with its members 
or among the consorzios or members with each other," 

This council is comjjosed of three members of the assembly, who must 
be resident in Vercelli, and are elected annually. They receive no reg- 
ular pay, but get certificates of attendance at meetings like the com- 
mittee of surveillance, and these certificates entitle them to a small re- 
muneration, of whidi the whole amount in 1866 was $223. Their 
decisions are settled by the opinion of the majority. There is always 
the power ot appeal from them to the ordinary courts of justice ; and, to 
admit of this appeal, the execution of their sentences is deferred for fif- 
teen days after being promulgated, unless in cases where, for the sake 
of the crops, it must be carried out at once. After fifteen days, if no 
appeal has been made, the decisions of the council are looked on as 
final. When necessary, the council summon a lawyer or engineer to 
their assistance. All charges of this council are paid by whoever 
loses the case. The director-general is not allowed to carry on any 
lawsuit on the part of the society without the previous sanction of the 
council of arbitration. 

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The money transactions of the society are under a caeliier, wlio has 
to give a security for $4,000, and who is responsible for all connected 
with their cash. His chest has three keys, of which be keeps one, the 
director-general another, and the third is held hy the largest shareholder 
of the society, who is a member of the general assembly, and happens to 
live in Vercelli. Money is issned on the checks of the director-general, 
and once a month he and the member who keeps the third key of the 
cash-bos count the cash and audit the cashier's books, 

To effect the distribntion of the water, the area irrigated is divided 
intoacertainnumbprof districts, (at first only tbur, bat increased since,) 
in each of which there is an overseer in charge of the irrigation, termed 
the delegato, who receives his orders from the direction-general, and 
several guards or water-bailiffs, termed acquainolo. These officers patrol 
the water- CO arses, see that the modules are discharging their proper 
amount, that the water that passes ofif the fields is not running to waste, 
bnt is caught in catch-water drains^ from which at a lower level it can 
be again utilized, (a point attended to with admirable care in the Pied- 
moQtese irrigation,) and do all the other ordinary duties connected with 
their position. Heglect of duty or disobedience of orders subjects them 
to fines, reduction of salary, or dismissal. 

It may be seen by the agreement between the society and government 
that, while the latter became responsible for the entire maintenance of 
the main canals, the irrigation society has to pay for all current repairs, 
&c., of the minor canals, which repairs the government (or now the Italian 
Canal Company) executes for them, and that all further operations 
of distributing water, &e., are entirely carried out by the irrigation so- 
ciety's agents, and at their cost. This society, then, has in its employ no 
engineers, but a number of irrigators. Their executive operations are 
divided into those of interest to all, and those affecting merely single 
cotisorzii. To the former belong the general maintenance of the branch 
canals, the formation of new ones, the catch- water drains, &c., which are 
paid for from the funds of the society at large. To the latter belong the 
maintenance of small water-courses and minor-works, which are charged 
to those consorzii alone who are benefited by them. 

The cost of executing such works is paid for at the time by the society 
and recovered from the consorzii afterward, who tax each individual ac- 
cording U) the extent and species of his inigated crops, which is sup- 
posed to give a fair approximation to the proportionate share of water 
which he has consumed. 

This is a point to be noted. Previously to visiting these canals; I nn- 
derstood that water was universally issued by module, arid that the 
administration of the canal had no monetary interest in the question of 
■whether a cultivator made an economical use or not of the discharge 
allotted to him. I believe this is nearly the ease in Lombardy, but by 
no means in Piedmont. 

The Piedmontese module of 2.047 cubic feet per second is too large a 
unit to apply to small properties, and in most cases the cultivator may 
be said to pay, according to the area he waters, just as much as with us 
in India. 

Article 16 of the statutes of the irrigation society runs as follows : 
"All payments for irrigation are to be made in money at the rate of so 
much per hectare." The society, it is true, buys its water iVom the ca- 
nal company by module. It distributes it by module among its districts, 
and the irrigation overseers supply it by module to the various cowsorm. 
But there the measurement ceases. 

In November of each year each consorzio makes out an indent of the 

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number of acres of each description of crop that is desired to be irri- 
gated within its limits during the summer of the year following, and 
each December this ought to be sent in to the director-general ; and on 
these indents are settled how many modnles are to be issued to each. 

At the end of the season each eonsorzio is ealletl on to pay for a cer- 
tain discharge of water received by it, as well as for the maintenance, 
repairs, &c., of the works particularly connected with it, and for its 
share in the general expenses of the whole society. The jjroper system, 
then, is to make out a calculation for each irrigator, which is done in 
each consorzio, allowing at the rate of one cubic foot a second tbr 433 
acres of rice, one cubic foot a second for 100 acres of meadow, ana 
one cubic foot a second for 304 acres of Indian corn. 

Supposing, then, that an irrigator had watered 10 hectares of rice, 20 
of meadow and 20 of maize, he would be charged for 60 modules, 
or 1.23 cnbic feet per second ; and if the whole consumption of the 
consorzio had been 24 modules, and the whole cost $6,000, he would 
Lave to pay one-fortieth, or |150, for the irrigation of his 50 hectares, or 
123.5 acres. But the nest year he might find he would have to pay 
considerably more or less, according as the working-expenses of the 
year had increased or diminished. 

Should any cultivator have used great economy of water, and irri- 
gated fields which he had not entered in the annual indent, he would 
be charged for all this irrigation, although by so doing he might help 
to cheapen the water issued to the consorzio ; that is, the consorzio as a 
whole would pay for its 24 modules ; and if, by any means, some of its 
members make the8e24goa8fara8 30modules that had been calculated 
for, the effect would be to reduce the rate on every hectare within the 
eonsorzio. This, however, is not a case that is likely to occur. The cer- 
tainty of getting atixed supply and having to pay a fixed rate for it, irri- 
gating year after year precisely the same lands, ia preferred to the chances 
connected with any system by which a man's endeavors to economize 
water might be rewarded by having to pay less for it. 'Sot do I believe 
there is much waste, so carefully is the water collected in drains round 
the fields and passed off to other distribution-channels. 

In North India the case is totally different. There a man's irrigable 
area, as a rule, far exceeds that for which in any one year he will have 
sufficient water. Here the whole irrigable area maybe watered; and if 
it is not, it is because in the rotation of crops irrigation is not required 
for it all, not because there is any lack of wat«r. 

While, then, the Italian irrigator is enabled every year to get the fields 
watered which he wishes, and is contented to pay a fixed moderate sum 
for it, the more intelligent and industrious of the North Indian peasan- 
try consider the more water they can get the more the area they will irri- 
gate. The system of supplying water by module to them, which has 
been so highly extolled, and which as yet has never succeeded, would 
doubtless be an inducement for the more indolent classes to use the 
precious element with economy ; but I think my brother canal-officers 
who have most experience in the matter will agree with me that among 
the villages inhabited by the hard-working castes (I instance especially 
the jata in the districts of Delhi, Meerut, and Kumal, with whom I am 
personally best acquainted) there will be very little saving of water 
effected by introducing the module system. Its other advantages in 
restricting the canal establishment to their own works and removing 
the interference with the vilFages caused by the yearly measuring par- 
ties, with their concomitant amount of rascality and bribery, I think are 

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The system above described has been called the proper system, for ifc 
is the one which the society has laid dowu in its statutes. In the case 
of the water-rate for rice, however, the old system ia still in vogue, to 
some extent, of paying in kind. 

Before the cultivator is allowed to reap his rice-crops he is obliged to 
give due notice to the acguainolo, in order that one of the society's 
agents may inspect the field. When the rice is cut it most be conveyed 
to a thrashing-floor provided in each consorzw by the society, and there 
its agent takes as payment for the irrigatiou one-sixth of the crop, 
which is thereupon conveyed at the expense of the irrigator to the 
great central granary which the society possesses at Salasco. 

Why this system should be still allowed to exist seems strange. In 
Col. B. Smith's time he found it unpopular, and the society in their stat- 
utes provide for doing away with it and receiving payment in money 
for rice aa for the other crops ; but still it goes on, although only to a 
small extent. 

The rice irrigation is generally continuous, any one taking just what 
he requires, and when he requires it. The other irrigation is conducted 
by a rotation, or ruota, as it is termed, of fifteen days, beginning each 
year on the first of April. 

The mareite fields or meadows, arranged in succession of ridges and 
furrows, receive their waters in summer in the same way as the regular 
crops by a regular rotation ; but in winter the sy8t«m is quite difterent. 
This is "the only species of irrigation that goes on at all during these 
months, and the waters of the fontanili (springs) having a higher tem- 
perature in winter than that of the canaJs, is generally preferred for 
this kind of irrigation, which must go on continuously, or the finest sets 
in about the grass and checks its growth. 

The irrigation society has the lease of all the fontanili belonging to 
the crown and of mnny others within the limits of its irrigation, and 
these are put up to auction, for periods not exceeding nine years, to be 
used for mardte irrigation from the middle of September to the middle 
of March. For the rest of the year these /omfaniH are used tor general 
irrigation, and do not belong to the winter tenants. 

Tor the local management of the eonsorzii, the members in each elect, 
along with their deputy who represents them at the general assembly, 
six others, (or, if there be over 200 electors, nine others,) and these, with 
the deputy as president, form an administrative committee. They have 
the whole management of the irrigation with their own consorzio. They 
correspond with the direction-general, arrange what works requir erepair, 
and in fact are the mouth-piece and representative of their parish. 

The society undertakes, when it has enough of water, to supply lauds 
with irrigation which do not properly come within its area, as, for in- 
stance, when they only require an occasional watering, and are so situ- 
ated as not tobeableto receive it continuously. These lands are charged 
at the same rate as those belonging to the society. 

The water-power is let to millers, the rates being fixed by the number 
of stones driven, rather than by the head of water disposable. 

Article 244 of the statutes lays down that "every member of the 
society is obliged to place, without any return of identification, at the 
full disposal of the society all the trenches, channels of fontanili, ditches, 
and water-courses, with the buildings pertaining to and connected with 
them, and all the works of all kinds without exception, which exist on 
his property, in order that the same may be made use of for the passage, 
distribution, and employment of fresh waters, as well as for those re- 
covered by the drains, and for the transit of drains." 

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The proprietor, too, is obliged to keep these channels in woriiing-order 
at his owu expense, or, if he neglects to .do it, the direetion-general will 
do it for him, and charge him with the amount. All the water that passes 
off the irrigated fields into the society's drains becomes again the prop- 
erty of the society, so that the irrigator has only a right to the use 
of the water while it passes over his lands, and he must not prevent its 
escape into the drains provided for it. 

If any member of the society possesses a fontanile, or has a hereditary 
right to a certain discharge of water beforehand, he may make this over 
to the society at a valuation, which they will give him for it by way of 
yearly rental. 

The statutes provide a number of fines for breach of canal laws. 
Anyone interfering with the channels or water-courses maybe fined 
from $4 to $12. Any one tampering with the canal -buildings or alter- 
ing the sluices may be fined from $6 to $18, There is a fine of $3 for 
hindering the water from going into the drains, and one of from $20 to 
$60 for wasting the society's water. Any member caught selling the 
water is fln^ double the sum he is believed to have got for it. 

Whoever tries to cheat in paying his rice contribution is fined double 
the amount he tried to escape paying, and whoever conceals fields he 
has irrigated is charged $10 for every hectare he has concealed. The 
amount of fines goes one-half to the funds of the society and the other 
half to the charitable support of old aequainoli who are unfit for work. 
The half that accrued to the society's fund in 1866 was only ; $68 double 
of that, $136, represents the whole fines of the year. They are certainly 
very low. 

There remains to describe not the least important part of the society's 
administration, namely, the financial. By its agreement with govern- 
ment, the irrigation society was bound to rsiise ami maintain a reserve 
fund of $60,000, as a security for its proper management. It was per- 
mitted, however, to borrow from this fund capital to carry on its ex- 
penses the first year, and in any other year when there should be ex- 
traordinary charges to meet. It was further allowed to raise this capi- 
tal by a loan to be paid off in four installments, so as not to press too 
heavily the first year on the sociecy. Each irrigator then, from the 
government canals, was called on to become a member of the society, 
and to send in a statement of the area and description of crops which 
he was in the habit of watering and wished to continue to water. The 
same calculation was then gone through as given, allowing per hectare 
■028 module for rice, .012 module for meadow Irrigation, and .004 module 
for Indian corn, and, according to the number of modules thus required 
by any irrigator, he became a shareholder in the society. 

Supposing his whole area required .60 module, and that all the origi- 
nal shareholders together require 300 modules, he would be considered 
as the owner of one five-hundredth of the concern, and would have to 
pay that fraction of the fund of $60,000, or $120. The original shares 
thus formed are liable, like any others, to rise or sink iu value, and 
may be divided, sold, and bought, &c., along with the lauds to the irri- 
gation of which they refer. Any irrigating proprietor not entering the 
society when he might have done so, and wishing to do so afterward, 
is bound to pay for the shares according to their market-value at the 
time, and, in addition, an entrance subscription equal to half the origi- 
nal value of his shares. 

Those, however, joining afterward, on account of the society having 
brought them irrigation they had not before, {the new irrigators, for 
Instance, on the Cavonr Caual,) are not obliged to pay this entrance 
subscription, but merely to buy their shares at their value at the time. 



I have before me the detailed accounts for the year 1866, from which 
I have made the following abstract : 


Abstract of expenditures and receipts for the year 1866. 
Expenditure, (neglecting the decimals :) 

Salaries for establishment for the year $12, 350 

Price of water purchased, Italian Oanal Company ' 135, 505 

Price of water purchased from various private sources 7, 200 

Maintenance and supervisiou of secondary channels 8, 355 

Maintenance and supervision of water- courses, &c., from 

fountains 7,360 

Hire of buildings 315 

■Compensation for land occupied 400 

General expenses of office and direction 5, 290 

Expenses of society's rice-granary at Saiasco 1, 125 

Allowance to members of committee of surveillance for their 

sittings 150 

Allowance to members of council of arbitration 225 

Legal expenses 1, 480 

Interest at 5 per cent, of the capital of society 5, 380 

House of refuge for old servants 760 

Advances to eowsomi for carrying on works 38, 775 

Sundry ordinary charges 1, 355 

Construction of various new works 7,325 

"Various extraordinary charges — purchase of land, &c 2, 940 

Balance of receipts paid as bonus to shareholders 11, 770 

Grand total 248,060 

Receipts : 
For 1,559 cubic feet per second of water sold for irrigation. ,. $152,480 
Price agreed on for watering about 4,750 acres of rice in 

various places 20, 955 

Value of 1,043 sacks of rice of sorts, paid in kind as water- 
rent 5,746 

For sundry other detached portions of irrigation 8, 970 

Jtent of rice and com mills, with water-power. 7, 270 

Advances, for carrying on works, to various consorzii, re- 
covered 38, 775 

Interest received from capital of the society 8, 160 

Pines for breach of rul^s 70 

Oommission paid to council of arbitration for cases referred 

to them 195 

Rent of houses and lands belonging to the society 465 

Various sundry ordinary receipts 965 

Sundry ordinary receipts, recovery of advances, &c 2, 370 

Befunded by Italian Canal Company for work done for them. 1, 305 

■Capital of society increased by purchase of shares 335 

Grand total 248, 060 

The chief item of expenditure of course is for the water brought from 
the Italian Oanal Company. Of this, 714.4 cubic feet per second was 
water brought by the Cavour Canal from the river Po, and bought at