Reclamation and Arizona
What Reclamation Has Done for the Salt River Valley

By John P. Orme

To show what reclamation has done for this wonderful valley it is only necessary to contrast present conditions with those existing previous to the passage of the reclamation act.

Having pioneered in irrigation in this valley and with 45 years' actual experience in every phase and angle of irrigation from the digging of ditches and canals and leading water on to land to serving in the official capacity as president of the Salt River Water Users' Association for eight years, I have had a great opportunity to see and appreciate what marvelous things reclamation has done for this valley.

Before passage of the national reclamation act in 1902 only 85,000 acres were in seasonal and partial cultivation, though at one time about 145,000 acres had been intermittently watered. But a series of years of droughts, followed by short periods of higher water, destruction of brush and loose rock diversion dams and consequent loss crops, litigation over water rights, and strife between water companies and farmers, the acreage under cultivation dropped to about 85, 000 acres. There are at present (1922) over 200,000 acres in the association and another 100,000 acres in the vicinity, but not under the project.

By way of comparison of this period of reclamation with that of the pioneering age that preceded it, I will give a few figures. Land values at the time of the national reclamation act were $25 to $50 per acre. The total assessed valuation for Maricopa County was $3.5 million dollars. In 1921, the averaged assessed for Maricopa County was $188 per acre and the total assessed valuation was $128 million. School appropriations in 1902 were $48,000. Last year they amounted to $1.5 million. We now have in this county a public school system that ranks among the highest in the United States. The population of Phoenix was at a standstill in 1902 at about 5,000 people and had been for five years. It is now nearly 35,000 people. Maricopa County built more concrete roads in 1921 that any county in the United States and expects to duplicate the feat this year. When the program is complete we will have about 300 miles of concrete roads. All this astonishing growth and advancement is due to reclamation.

Water is delivered to the 160 acres on a 48-hour demand notice. It is especially gratifying to feel that no crop ever suffers on this class of service. Much has been said of the drainage problem of waterlogged land on irrigation projects. At the present time, the condition has been practically eliminated on this project by the installation of pumps that retard the rise of water to the detriment of production farming and produce a quality of water that is excellent for good farming. All water used for irrigation is diverted through five power houses. This income practically pays for the operation and maintenance of the system.

Taken and modified from Reclamation Era, June 1922, pg 118.

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