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HARRY W. BASHORE, Commissioner
THE Bureau of Reclamation during the fiscal year maintained at
record levels its production of food and power for a fighting Nation, and carried forward its plans for further development of Western resources in meeting the problems of peace.
Food production on Federal Reclamation projects during the war years has been stepped up to the highest levels in history. In 1944 the gross value of food and fiber crops reached an all-time peak.
Power plants operated by the Bureau at its great dams in the West have been a major factor in the rapid expansion of war industries in Western States, and the power output of these plants during the past year totaled almost 14 billion kilowatts, most of which went into production of planes, tanks, ships, and other commodities to sustain our fighting forces in all parts of the world.
While directing major attention to its programs in support of the war effort, the Bureau during the year has also made substantial progress on its plans for undertaking a greatly expanded program for development of Western resources during the postwar period. With the end of hostilities the Nation faces not only the problems of the immediate reconversion period, but also the longer range problem of maintaining a high employment and high production economy at a permanent level. The postwar program of the Bureau of Reclamation is designed to gear into both the reconversion period and the leveling-off period which follows it.
That program, outlined before a congressional committee in April, calls for full development of the agricultural and industrial resources of 17 Western States through construction of multiple-purpose projects to provide irrigation, power production, flood control, and other benefits. The Bureau's postwar inventory of projects listed 415 proposed for construction after the war, including those on which work is under way or authorized and those on which studies are still being made. Construction of these projects, estimated to cost nearly 5 billion dollars at 1940 price levels, would provide thousands of jobs, open new lands for settlement by veterans and others, stimulate the development of new industry, and in many other ways help meet
the problems of reconversion and in permanently building for a better, stronger America.
The late President Roosevelt, in a letter written a few days before his death to Representative John R. Murdock, chairman of the House Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation, emphasized the importance of Reclamation projects as a means of providing job and farm opportunities for returning veterans. An excerpt from that letter, dated April 10, 1945, is as follows:
As I stated in my message to the Congress of January 13, 1944, demobilization starts long before the war ends, and it is essential that programs of assistance to veterans be authorized and adequately prepared now. One such program has been under active study and is in the advanced stages of planning through the work of the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior. I have frequently spoken with pride of the accomplishments of this administration in western Reclamation projects. The great Columbia Basin project in the Northwest, the projects in the Missouri River Basin, and others of equal significance, will, as I said at Chicago on October 28, 1944, be golden opportunities for returning veterans. Such projects constitute great increases in national wealth and income. They also offer splendid opportunities for secure and abundant livelihood to men and women willing to engage in the arduous, though stimulating, tasks of pioneering these latest frontiers. I commend and urge your favorable consideration of Federal Reclamation projects as an important opportunity for returning veterans.
A program to facilitate settlement of returning veterans on farms can be of great value in assisting them in returning to civilian life. It can also be of great value in the reconversion of our national economy to fully prosperous peacetime basis. Full enjoyment of the great productive resources of this Nation by all of the people requires that all have opportunity to engage in productive labor. The purchasing power created by reclamation projects is a stimulus to industry and commerce, thus promoting full employment throughout the Nation. Those engaged in agricultural production should secure ample livelihood so that they can participate in enjoyment of the products created by full industrial employment. Measures in addition to those dealing with Federal Reclamation projects will be needed to round out a comprehensive program in this regard.
Projects included in the Bureau's inventory are integral parts of programs for coordinated resource development on a basin-wide scale in each of 15 major river valleys in the West. The first of these comprehensive studies and reports was completed during the fiscal year for the Missouri River Basin, and the Congress approved the joint plan of the Bureau and the Corps of Engineers by passage of the Flood Control Act of 1944. The postwar inventory includes 29 Bureau projects initially authorized for construction in carrying out this coordinated plan.
Production of food and power on 52 operating projects of the Bureau during the year was maintained at record levels, as was generation of power for war production.
Construction activities of the Bureau were continued during the year on a restricted basis, confined mostly to war food and war power projects approved by the War Production Board. Work was halted by War Production Board stop-orders, or deferred because of the war on
more than a billion dollars worth of construction planned by the Bureau. Project planning activities and the preparation of designs and specifications were also carried forward during the year, primarily on projects included in the postwar inventory. Work was hampered by limited funds and the lack of trained personnel.
The Bureau is now resuming construction on a considerable number of projects. Among those slated for early development are the Columbia Basin project in Washington State, the Central Valley project in California and various projects in the initial development stage for the Missouri Basin. The report on the allocation of costs for the Columbia Basin project was submitted to the Congress during the year and repayment contracts setting forth the terms under which water users will repay part of the cost of constructing the irrigation system were to be submitted to landowners in the Basin at a special election in July.
The Federal Government now has an investment of $952,893,000 in projects built and under construction by the Bureau of Reclamation. The cost of constructing the irrigation features of the projects actually in operation was slightly in excess of $312,000,000, of which at the end of 1944, more than $71,000,000 had been repaid by water users under Reclamation law. The gross value of crops produced on these lands for the single year 1944 amounted to more than the cost of building the irrigation systems.
More than 91,000 family-sized farms are provided with irrigation water through the 52 operating projects of the Bureau, and nearly five million people live in the areas served with irrigation and power from its systems.
Disruptions caused by the war have affected the work of the Bureau in many ways. More than 1,800 members of its staff, many of them skilled technicians, joined the armed services. Operations were hampered by shortages of manpower and materials. Needed repairs and maintenance work on irrigation systems and power plants were delayed.
An expanded irrigation acreage and development of other resources is necessary to insure the continued growth of the West. In the Pacific States and several of the Mountain States, population growth has outstripped agricultural production. The drought experiences of the Plains States, on the other hand, point to the need for increased irrigation to stabilize their agriculture and to stimulate development of other resources.
The war has placed a tremendous drain upon our natural resources. It is essential that remaining resources be conserved and utilized to the greatest possible advantage if the Nation is to continue its role of world leadership. To this objective the work of the Bureau of Rec- . lamation is dedicated.
MISSOURI BASIN DEVELOPMENT The Congress this year called upon the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation to shoulder major responsibility for the biggest single development job in the Nation's history—that of harnessing the Missouri River and putting it to work as a constructive force in expanding the agricultural and industrial frontiers of the West.
The Bureau's program to control and put to greater use the waters of one of the country's most unruly and destructive rivers was approved by the Congress in passing the Flood Control Act of 1944, under which the coordinated plan of the Bureau and the Corps of Engineers for development of the Missouri Basin was adopted. The latter agency will be primarily responsible for flood control and navigation projects. The Bureau of Reclamation, working closely with other agencies of the Department of the Interior, will construct projects for irrigation and power development. The Congress authorized an appropriation of $200,000,000 each for the Bureau and the Corps of Engineers in carrying out the initial phases of the program.
This comprehensive program for coordinated development of Missouri Basin resources surpasses anything of similar nature ever undertaken. It will affect a region embracing approximately onesixth of the area of the continental United States, extending from the eastern slope of the Rockies in Montana where the Missouri starts its twisting 2,500-mile course, to where it empties into the Mississippi near St. Louis. The drainage area of the river and its tributaries includes 10 States—all of Nebraska, the Great Plains of Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, parts of Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.
The magnitude of the engineering tasks involved in this development program can be realized from the fact that coordinated plans call for the construction of more than 100 dams to create storage reservoirs of 63,000,000 acre-feet capacity, almost equal to the present storage capacity of all present Bureau reservoirs combined. The works to be constructed will provide for irrigation, the development of hydroelectric power, flood control, improved navigation, municipal water supplies, fish and wildlife conservation and opportunities for recreation.
Projects to be constructed under the coordinated plan will aid greatly in stabilizing the agricultural economy of an area which has known the devastating effects of both droughts and floods. The projects proposed will provide for the irrigation of 4,760,000 acres of moisture-famished land never before irrigated, and for supplemental water for 547,000 acres now inadequately irrigated. A total of more than 150 major and subsidiary units for irrigation are contemplated in the seven arid or semiarid States of the Basin. Hydro