Irrigated Areas in Arid Region.
|State or Territory.||Acreage under
by the irrigators.
|Kansas (west of 97°)||990,000||120,000||50|
Some of the artesian wells are of enormous size, and yield four and five million gallons of water daily, capable of irrigating a section of land. The greater number are small, however, and probably not capable of irrigating more than five or ten acres. Half a million acres is the utmost limit of the present wells. Some artesian districts contain at least that acreage, so that, if the water supply is sufficient, a vast area will be reclaimed by this method.
In the above table the most noticeable fact is that less than half the area lying beneath the water ditches, and capable of irrigation, is now cultivated. This is because it takes a number of years to settle the country, break up the soil, and bring it into cultivation. In progressive communities the possible acreage keeps ahead of the demand until the water supply or the land supply is exhausted. Judging the future by the past, and taking into consideration many projected ditch lines, there will be from thirty to thirty-five million acres under some irrigation system by the close of the decade, and the actually cultivated area may be close upon twenty million acres.
California has had a longer and more extensive experience with irrigation than any other division of the arid belt, and immense sums have been wasted in litigation and experiment. The systems now in use in different districts illustrate all the details of the business. All the larger problems connected with irrigation, such as seepage, drainage, reservoirs, alkali deposits, economy in distribution, can be studied in the valleys of California. More particularly one sees private ownership and district ownership in operation side by side, often in the same county.
The Wright irrigation act, passed in 1887, gave a great impetus