Water Resource Collections and Archives


Sidney Twichell Harding, 1883-1969

Sidney Twichell Harding, 1883-1969

Sidney Twichell Harding was born on October 20, 1883, in Brookfield, Massachusetts. After a boyhood spent in Texas and Kansas, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1905 with a degree in civil engineering.

Prior to joining the faculty of the University of California in 1914, Harding worked on irrigation projects in various capacities in Washington, Montana, and California. His assignment in California resulted in the first comprehensive inventory of water and land resources of the state; and it brought him into contact with Professor Bernard A. Etcheverry and the University of California. For the next 35 years, the combination of Etcheverry and Harding brought fame to the University in irrigation engineering and produced the graduates and concepts that sparked the development of California's agricultural land.

As Professor of Irrigation, Harding taught such subjects as Irrigation Practice, Water Rights and Organizations, and Operation and Maintenance of Irrigation Systems. His book Operation and Maintenance of Irrigation Systems, published in 1917, was a classic in the field, as was his 1935 treatise Water Rights for Irrigation. Near the close of his tenure with the University he turned his talents to administrative duties, serving as Chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering from 1944 to 1946. In 1949, at the age of 65, Professor Harding retired from the University to devote his full attention to water problems of the West, particularly those of California.

Throughout his career, Harding maintained an extensive consulting activity, advising federal and state agencies as well as private clients on practical and disputed matters of water resource development. Almost every important water project or adjudication case in California and neighboring states called for his expert advice and counsel. From 1940-1954, he participated in the preparation of the Engineer's Joint Council report on National Water Policy. In 1964 he was presented a Certificate of Honor for service to the California Irrigation Districts Association.

Upon graduation from college in 1905, Harding joined the American Society of Civil Engineers. In later years he was President of the San Francisco Section and served as Director of the Society from 1949-1951. He also served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Irrigation Division, including the post of Chairman. The Society presented him with its Royce T. Tipton Award in 1967.

Among Harding's major hobbies were studies of the confined lakes of California and of means of reducing evaporation from water surfaces. Out of his love for California and his long familiarity with the State's struggle to develop and utilize it water came his final book Water in California, published in 1960. It presents a history and an analysis of water conditions in the State. Harding's oral history, A Life in Western Water Development, was published by the Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, in 1967.

Professor Harding died on April 28, 1969 in Berkeley, California.

Excerpted from: In Memoriam, by P. H. McGaughey, J. W. Johnson, and D. K. Todd, 1970.

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Sidney Harding


Sidney T. Harding Papers, bulk 1912-1969 ca. 15 linear ft. (40 boxes)

Correspondence; technical reports on various aspects of irrigation; reports and surveys of specific irrigation projects throughout California, and in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota; and miscellaneous material relating to water costs and requirements, water rights, groundwater and surface water supply, flood control, legislation, dendroclimatology, enclosed lakes, and the Central Valley Project and Feather River Project in California.

Online collection guide available via the Online Archive of California.

Call number: HARDG

Last modified: 5/4/2011 11:56 AM by S. Haren

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