Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 53 of 61
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conservation and utilization of our flood waters and the reclamation
and cultivation of our overflow lands and our semi-arid
and other lands needing irrigation, will come nearer making Texas
an independent commonwealth than anything she has accomplished
since she won her freedom on the field of battle.
OUR FLOOD LOSSES.
The flood toll of life and property is becoming greater each year.
As we build cities and railroads, and highways, and factories, and
homes, the ever-recurring flood constitutes an ever-increasing menace.
Conservative statistics indicate that during tht past ten years in
Texas the loss to property has averaged eight million dollars a year.
In 1913, not less than seventy-five million dollars worth of Texas
property washed into the Gulf of Mexico. This year the State from
the upper Panhandle to the coast has been twice flood-swept. Federal
statistics advise that more than a half million acres of land,
growing in crops, cultivated by twenty thousand Texas farmers, were
washed by floods, at an aggregate loss of twenty million dollars.
Twenty-four thousand acres of corn and cotton belonging to the State
penitentiary system washed into the Gulf in one night. This flood
came nearly a week after it had quit raining in South Texas, where
the farms are located. The water that overflowed the penitentiary
lands came down the channel of the Brazos River seven hundred miles.
A supine toleration by sane and sensible people of these conditions is
inexcusable and indefensible. These floods can be prevented by building
dams, by constructing reservoirs, by maintaining levees, by straightening
river beds, and by removing obstacles from river channels.
INCREASED VALUE OF LAND.
It is easy to demonstrate the value of our dry land when irrigated
and our overflow land when protected. During the last few years,
586,000 acres of land in Texas has been put under irrigation. This
land was worth before irrigation eight million dollars. It is now
worth ninety million dollars. There is now protected by levees in
this State, 400,000 acres of overflow land. This land was, when unprotected,
worth about $15 per acre. It now sells for over two hundred
dollars an acre. This land now brings to the State each year
in taxes $140,000 more than it did before it was protected from the
floods. It would pay the State in cold cash to spend some money in
this project of conserving our water and in preserving our lands. The
area of land in Texas that could be irrigated with our own water, if
conserved, is equal to the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode
Island. The area of land that could and should be protected from
flood waters is equal to the combined area of Massachusetts and New
Jersey. Our imagination cannot grasp the wonderful possibilities
that could be realized by the reclaiming of all this land and adding it
to the wealth of Texas.
Here’s what’s next.
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/53/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .