Page images
PDF
EPUB

over many years by means of both regular and special programs of investigation.

During the 4 years, July 1, 1941, to June 30, 1945, the Geological Survey made more than 15,000 special reports on water at the request of war agencies. Of these, 4,225 were made in the fiscal year 1945. There is no basis for exact estimates of the value of these reports. Many of them have given assurance of the adequacy of available water supplies and so have led to sound and efficient developments; adverse reports have prevented unwise development and waste of money in inefficient or useless construction. Some of the reports have certainly been worth many hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars; others may have been worth not more than $50, but assuming conservatively an average value of $1,000 each, the over-all value of the 15,000 special reports has been at least 10 to 20 million dollars.

Other significant values of the service of the Geological Survey in relation to water are indicated by the fact that Federal agencies have for several years transferred to the Geological Survey nearly $1,000,000 annually for special water investigations made in addition to the continuing programs conducted in cooperation with States and municipalities. No estimate has been attempted of the great value to private and corporate industry and to the general public. The values of water facts during the years of war are illustrative of even greater values in the many years of peace, when supplies will be more fully utilized and need for knowledge of them becomes more critical.

Continuing Activities The operations of the Water Resources Branch have been conducted by five administrative divisions—surface water, ground water, quality of water, utilization of water, and power resources.

Records of the stage, quantity, and availability of surface waters are collected through 65 field offices at about 5,600 gaging stations distributed through every State and Hawaii, the number of stations depending largely upon the funds made available by 166 cooperating State and municipal agencies and by transfer from other Federal agencies.

The investigations of ground water relate to the water from which wells and springs are supplied. Investigations in nearly every State and Hawaii are conducted through 38 field offices and in cooperation with 74 State and municipal agencies. During the year, periodic measurements of water levels or artesian pressure were made in about 7,000 observation wells. Observations were continued to determine the depletion caused by the numerous war industries and other war establishments and to provide against possible shortages. Attention was also given to natural and artificial replenishment of the ground

water supplies, and to their maximum utilization for the many prospective postwar demands. The war has caused heavy overdrafts on ground-water storage at many places. Data are not available for computing this overdraft exactly, but it may be as much as a few hundred billion gallons.

Chemical analyses of 2,048 samples of water were made in the Water Resources laboratory in Washington, and analyses of 4,867 samples were made in laboratories in Safford, Ariz.; Albuquerque, N. Mex.; Raleigh, N. C.; Stillwater, Okla.; and Austin, Tex. Many samples were collected in connection with studies of water supplies for Army and Navy establishments and for munition plants and housing developments. Cooperative studies of the chemical character of surface waters were started in Pennsylvania and Virginia and were continued in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas. Samples were analyzed for cooperative studies of ground waters in other States. Interpretations of analyses or advice about water problems were furnished to other Federal departments and to independent agencies.

A variety of hydrologic and hydraulic studies and compilations were made on the utilization and control of streams, and the Water Resources Review, a monthly summary of stream-flow and ground-water conditions in this country and Canada was issued. The administration of certain features of permits and licenses of the Federal Power Commission has been continued. Investigations of water problems along the international boundary between the United States and Canada have been continued for the State Department and the International Joint Commission. After the death of A. H. Horton, for many years its Chief, the Division of Power Resources was discontinued as of March 31, 1945, and its functions transferred to the Division of Water Utilization.

CONSERVATION BRANCH The classification of the public lands of the United States as to mineral and water resources and the supervision of operations for the development of these vital natural resources without waste are functions of the Conservation Branch. This work involves intricate problems of geology, engineering, economics, and administration in complying with legislation enacted by the Congress, which contemplates that these resources shall be developed by private initiative in accordance with wise conservation practices. The activities include field investigations and preparation of reports dealing with water power, fuels, minerals, and chemicals essential to national war and postwar programs.

Classification of Lands Mineral classification.—The Mineral Classification Division, in response to war-engendered demand for new sources of oil, gas, coal, potassium, and magnesium from the public domain, continued and increased markedly all phases of its service during 1945.

In all, 13,079 cases were acted on during the year, an increase of 20 percent over 1944. Initial or revised definitions of the known geologic structure of 7 producing oil or gas fields were prepared and promulgated; geologic appraisal was made of 80 unit-plan submissions; and 53 special reports were rendered to the General Land Office on new discoveries of oil or gas on or adjacent to Federal lands, including 22 applications for the royalty benefits accorded by the act approved December 24, 1942 (56 Stat. 1080), for the discovery of new oil and gas fields or deposits during the national war emergency

The Division established during the year a sixth regional field office with a resident geologist in charge at Tulsa, Okla.

Water and power classification.—The work of obtaining basic information concerning the water-power resources and storage possibilities of Federal lands was on projects proposed for development to assist in the prosecution of the war or for postwar construction. Topographic surveys were made of 147 linear miles of streams including 8 dam sites. In cooperation with the Water Resources Branch, supervision of construction and operation was given to 163 power projects under license from the Federal Power Commission, to 212 such projects under permit and grant from the Department of the Interior, and to 157 in cooperation with the Office of Indian Affairs.

Office activity resulted in the addition of 110,278 acres to powersite reserves and the elimination of 7,929 acres, increasing the outstanding reserves in 22 States and Alaska to a net total of 6,774,297 acres; in the publication of maps of 180 miles of stream valley and 18 dam sites; in final action involving hydraulic determination on 267 cases received for report from departmental sources and the Federal Power Commission, and in water-power classification on 1,939 cases, which also involved mineral classification. Reservoir-site reserves in 9 States remain unchanged at 137,172 acres.

Mineral Lease Supervision

Mine supervision.—The Mining Division supervises operations for the discovery and production of coal, potash, phosphate, sodium, silica sand, sulfur, and oil shale on public lands; of gold, silver, mercury, and quartz on various land grants; and of all minerals except oil and gas on tribal and restricted allotted Indian lands. The total output of such minerals from Indian and public land was valued at more than $66,000,000 during 1945. The Division serves as consultant to the Department of Agriculture on mining leases under the jurisdiction of that Department and also supervises production of minerals from public lands by the Metals Reserve and the Defense Plant Corporation. The supervisory work involved on June 30, 1945, 572 public-land properties under lease, permit, and license; 235 Indian properties under lease or permit in 14 States and Alaska; and 3 secretarial authorizations in 3 States. The Division cooperated with the Departments of War, Justice, and Agriculture, other bureaus of the Department of the Interior, the War Production Board, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Defense Plant Corporation, and Smaller War Plants Corporation by furnishing information on potential sources of minerals necessary to the successful prosecution of the war. The production of potash was maintained at a high level during the year, with continued diminution of known high-grade ore reserves on public lands in New Mexico. Test holes drilled cooperatively by the Geological Survey and the Bureau of Mines in and adjacent to the potash reserve created by Executive Order 6797 indicated that the reserve contains several million tons of high-grade potash ore. Prospect drilling by the three large operating companies in advance of mine development disclosed additional high-grade reserves. The increasing demand for fertilizer materials, because of the need for increased food production, has intensified interest in the development of phosphate deposits in the western States. During the year one phosphate lease was modified to include additional land and production was begun under two leases previously issued. The suspension of action on the issuance of phosphate leases by Departmental Order 1294, of July 2, 1938, except in particularly meritorious cases, continues in force. Most of the sodium from the public domain is produced from Searles Lake, Calif., the plants there being operated at maximum capacity, with available labor, to meet the war-induced demand for chemical products used in the manufacture of war materials, such as percussion caps, bombs, flares, shells, smokeless powder, synthetic rubber, armor plate, range finders, bomb-sights, and fire-control apparatus. Sodium products are used also as food preservers, water softeners, and refining processes. Oil and gas supervision.—The Oil and Gas Leasing Division supervises operations for the discovery and production of petroleum, natural gas, natural gasoline, and butane occurring in public lands of the United States, in naval petroleum reserves, and in all Indian lands subject to departmental jurisdiction, both tribal and allotted, except those of the Osage Nation, in Oklahoma. During the year these duties were accomplished through 18 field offices and suboffices in California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.

Four special-study groups were engaged in investigations to aid in secondary recovery operations and other engineering practices necessary to conservation and maximum ultimate recovery of petroleum from public-land leases. During the year studies were completed and preliminary reports prepared on the Buena Vista Front Pool, Calif.; Square Lake and Grayburg fields, N. Mex.; Cole Creek and South Oregon Basin fields, Wyo. A limited supply of mimeographed copies of reports for the Hogshooter and Nowata-Claggett fields in Oklahoma was prepared for public distribution.

On public lands, 7,041 oil and gas properties were under supervision at the end of the fiscal year, aggregating 4,596,053 acres in 20 States and Alaska, an increase of 32 percent in the number of properties and nearly 48 percent in the acreage under supervision at the close of the previous fiscal year.

Drilling on public lands during the year included the spudding of 566 wells and the completion of 626 wells, 440 of which were productive of oil and gas and 186 of which were barren. In all, 11,460 publicland wells, including 6,289 capable of oil and gas production, were under supervision on June 30, 1945. The production from petroleum deposits of the public lands during 1945 was somewhat more than in 1944.

The efforts to fulfill the need for new petroleum reserves were reflected in an increase of 4 in the number of new unit plans approved during the year, the total being 22; 11 unit plans were terminated because all rights thereunder were relinquished or abandoned, leaving 121 approved plans covering 1,421,487 acres outstanding on June 30, 1945. Production under approved unit agreements constituted about 54 percent of the petroleum obtained from public lands during the year, 71 percent of the natural gas, and 80 percent of the gasoline and butane. In addition, two Indian-land unit agreements covering a gross area of 11,685 acres were in effect during the year.

On Indian lands the work of oil and gas lease supervision involved 4,786 leaseholds in 9 States, containing at the end of the year a total of 7,569 wells, 3,987 of which were productive of oil or gas and 146 of which had been completed during the year. Notable increases in production of natural gas and crude oil were reported from the Chickasaw and Choctaw lands in Oklahoma, from the Blackfeet lands in Montana, and from the Shoshone lands in Wyoming. Rentals, royalties, and bonuses accrued from Indian-land operations during the fiscal year are estimated to aggregate $3,073,728.

On behalf of the Navy Department supervision was continued over operations for the production of oil, gas, gasoline, and butane from 31 properties under lease in Naval Petroleum Reserves Nos. 1 and 2 in California. Production from 312 active wells on this reserve ag. gregated 3,284,300 barrels of petroleum, 3,584,300,000 cubic feet of

« PreviousContinue »