Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/506

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water supply of the United States, including the investigation of underground currents and artesian wells in arid and semi-arid regions. . . ." (Passed August 18, 1894.)

The demand on the survey from time to time for information concerning the water resources of the country has increased from year to year, especially from the arid and semi-arid regions of the west. Inquiries come from farmers seeking to provide water for domestic use and for irrigation, from individuals and from municipal organizations seeking artesian water supply and water power, and from members of Congress having in view legislation concerning the regulation of streams flowing across State or national boundaries. Response to the inquiries made requires not only broad knowledge of the topography, geologic structure, and meteorologic conditions of the regions involved, but also more or less familiarity with local conditions. In' the past the hydrographic work of the survey has been limited because of the small sum available for the purpose. Such results as have been secured were largely an incidental product of the brief irrigation survey, which was practically suspended in 1891. Under the law above quoted, the work was taken up systematically during the present year, and will now be prosecuted as thoroughly and extensively as the money appropriated for the purpose will permit. A large amount of volunteer assistance has been given by local observers who realize the value of the work, and by railroad companies which are sufficiently interested to have their bridge-tenders read the river gauges. By this co-operation much more extensive results are possible than with the limited resources thus far at the command of the survey.

The water which has been utilized for irrigation by the farmers of the west is that which is most readily available, but both the great supply of storm water and the underground yield are scarcely touched. The utilization of this unappropriated water is the first condition for the further development of the arid and semi-arid lands in both public and private ownership. In order that the water may be intelligently utilized it is necessary that a thorough investigation should be made to obtain information as to the quantity and its fluctuations, before dams and reservoirs for storing it can be economically constructed.

The range of the requests for information on this point and concerning water powers shows the popular appreciation of the best work in this direction. From this standpoint the inquiries are encouraging; at the same time they are embarrassing, in that it is assumed that the survey has extended its investigation over the whole field. The data, however, are far from sufficient, and for their completion there is demand for a field survey which should be prosecuted at once and in the most thorough and sys-