From "Reclamation Era."
...Once construction is completed and water projects go into service they generate a steady stream of annual recurring benefits to a number of industries.
An example is the Columbia Basin Project in Washington where Reclamation completed an economic study in 1966 in cooperation with Washington State University. The irrigated project area and an adjacent dry-farm area were studied for their economic impact.
Shipments from the irrigated project area increased more than threefold from 1950 to 1962. The principal commodities presently being shipped out of the project consists of perishable and semi-perishable crops such as potatoes, both fresh and frozen, dry onions, and melons. Freight out of the adjacent comparison area consists almost entirely of grains that are consigned to coastal points for export.
Wholesale value of inbound shipments to the irrigated Columbia Basin Project are in 1962 totaled $86.4 million. Of this, $40.3 million came from the Far West, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, and Plains regions and $46.1 million came from the Great Lakes, Southeast, Mideast, New England States, and Canada. Outbound shipments totaled $63.7 million, of which $39.8 million went to the Western regions and $23.9 million to the Eastern regions.
Inbound shipment to the comparison dry land area totaled only $12.8 million in wholesale value, of which $6.9 million came from the West and $5.9 million came from the East. Outbound shipment from the comparison area totaled $21.5 million and were consigned entirely to the Far West and Rocky Mountain regions.
A comparison of the two areas indicates that the irrigated are has provided a substantial impetus to growth in the regional transportation industry. Inbound carloads, gross freight revenues and transportation employees per 10,000 acres of cropland in the project area exceeded those of the comparison dry land area by ratios in excess of 20 to 1. Outbound shipments favored the irrigated areas by a ratio of 8 to 1.
The larger ratio of inbound shipments is due to the fact that the expanding farm and business economy in the project area is drawing investment capital to it.
The Columbia Basin Project in Washington provides an excellent example of industrial expansion as the water project grew. Approximately 6 miles of branch line was completed 2 years ago from the connecting point on the main line to the fertile Royal Slope area of the project. This area has about 86,800 irrigable acres for which water service is now available to 76,900 acres.
Another example in the Columbia Basin is about 55 miles of railroad being built from Mesa, across the Wahluke Slope to Mattawa. Again, this line will greatly enhance the development of the project and the economic environment of the area.