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PURGATOIRE (PICKET WIRE) RIVER, COLO.
Washington, September 8, 1943.
1. I submit for transmission to Congress my report with accompanying papers and illustrations, on preliminary examination and survey of Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River, Colo., authorized by the Flood Control Act approved June 22, 1936. Included is a report on preliminary examination and survey of Longs Canyon, Colo., authorized by the Flood Control Act approved June 28, 1938.
2. Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River is formed by the confluence of North and Middle Forks in the Culebra Range of the Rocky Mountains in southeastern Colorado and flows 186 miles northeasterly to enter the Arkansas River 3 miles east of Las Animas, Colo. The stream courses 29 miles from its source through the mountains to Trinidad, thence 35 miles through an alluvial valley, thence 105 miles through a rugged canyon section, thence 17 miles through a second alluvial valley section to the mouth. The crescent-shaped drainage basin of 3,390 square miles has a maximum width of 36 miles. The average annual precipitation over the watershed is 17 inches. The flood plain of the main stem upstream from the head of the canyon section contains about 5,000 acres of land of which 370 acres are in the town of Trinidad, 1,050 acres in cultivation, 1,130 acres in pasture, and the remainder in river area and waste land. Numerous tributaries enter the river from the north and south. Longs Canyon drains an area of 110 square miles and enters Purgatoire River from the south at river mile 164. Trinidad in the headwaters section of Purgatoire River with a population of 13,223, and Las Animas near the mouth with a population of 3,232, are the largest towns. The watershed contains 26,900 inhabitants engaged principally in coal mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. The principal agricultural products are sugar beets, tame hay, corn, beans, and small grains, produced by irrigation and dry farming. Manufacturing consists largely of the processing of clay products, foundries, stone, and broom works, and the processing of meat and dairy produce. The watershed has adequate highway and railway transportation facilities.
3. Floods occur at irregular intervals in different sections of the basin usually as a result of storms in the watershed. They cause damages to railroad property, residences, parks, business, and industrial establishments, streets, sewers, and public utilities, all in the city of Trinidad, estimated to average $29,650 annually, and also damage to crops, farm improvements, roads, bridges, and irrigation structures in the rural areas upstream of the canyon section. The maximum flood of record occurred at Trinidad in September 1904,
produced a peak capacity of 45,000 cubic feet per second, damaged ist communications and transportation and public-utility installations, and destroyed four bridges and several brick and stone structures adjacent to the river. The damages from this flood have been esti- 2 FAQ mated at from $350,000 to $500,000 in the city of Trinidad. Majora floods occurred in July 1925, August 1929, September 1934, and the April 1942. No improvements for flood control in Purgatoire River have been authorized by Congress. After the 1904 flood, the city of Trinidad and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway performed some channel and bank protection works in the city of Trinidad at a reported cost of $62,000. During 1936–38, the Works Progress baud Administration completed and repaired a bank-protection project in Trinidad at a cost of $9,930 of which $6,068 were Federal funds. Bank protection after the 1942 flood is reported to have cost $10,800. in
up Local interests have constructed a number of small diversion dams and irrigation works in addition to minor protective works in the basin. The improvements desired are flood protection, particularly been at Trinidad, and the conservation of flood flows for irrigation. Local interests suggest regulatory dams in Burro, Zarcillo, Lorencito, and Wet Canyons. They also suggest a small dam on Purgatoire River with a connecting canal to store floodwaters in a reservoir in Longs Canyon. They state that flood-control improvements designed to conserve floodwaters for irrigation will make more lands available for lucrative farming, and they offer to participate in the construction cost to the extent of their ability.
4. The district engineer has investigated various plans of improvement for control of Hoods and for storage of water for irrigation purposes in Purgatoire River Basin. He states that reservoirs in Long, Burro, Zarcillo, Lorencito, and Wet Canyons would have some merit for the conservation of a part of the floodwaters for irrigation, but because of their limited drainage areas and small capacities, they would not afford any appreciable flood control in the main valley, He concludes that the combined benefits from both flood control and irrigation would be insufficient to warrant their construction. He believes, however, that local protection works in the city of Trinidad are warranted; and he proposes the construction of channel and levee works through the city as shown on the accompanying map. He estimates the first cost of the improvement at $908,300 to the United States for the construction and $126,200 to local interests for lands and damages, bridge alterations, and drainage and diversion changes, a total of $1,034,500. The total annual carrying charge, including maintenance, is estimated at $42,200. The improvement will provide complete protection to 370 acres of land in the city from a flood of 45,000 cubic feet per second, the maximum of record, and produce flood benefits estimated at $41,650, of which $29,650 will accrue in elimination of flood damage to residential, business, industrial, municipal, and public-utility properties, and $12,000 in enhancement in land value over and above the flood damages eliminated. The improvement will also produce large intangible benefits such as the preservation of nationally important transportation facilities, prevention of service interruptions affecting national commerce, prevention of possible loss of life, exposure, and human suffering due
to flood destruction, and general impairment of community welfare. The district engineer concludes that the annual tangible benefits, which approximately equal the annual carrying charge, plus the annual intangible benefits, are sufficient to justify the improvement and he recommends it subject to the condition that local interests furnish the lands and rights-of-way, hold and save the United States free from damages, make the necessary bridge and drainage alteration and maintain and operate the works after completion.
5. The division engineer concurs generally in the views and recommendations of the district engineer. He believes, however, that in addition to the conditions of local cooperation recommended, local interests should insure that future encroachments that might affect the flood-carrying capacity of the river channel through the city will not be permitted.
6. The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors concurs in the recommendation of the division engineer. However, due to the local nature of the benefits, the Board believes it equitable that local interests contribute substantially towards the cost of construction. The Board accordingly recommends channel and levee construction works for protection of the city of Trinidad, generally in accordance' with the plan of the district engineer, at an estimated first cost to the United States of $849,000 provided that local interests contribute $60,000 towards the initial cost, subject to certain conditions of local cooperation.
7. After careful consideration of the above-mentioned reports, I concur with the reporting officers and the Board that the protection of the city of Trinidad in accordance with the plans presented by the district engineer is advisable and justified economically. The total cost would amount to $1,035,000, and under the usual requirements, that local interests furnish lands and make necessary changes in existing improvements, the cost to the United States would amount to $909,000 and to local interests $126,000. I find no reason to require local interests to contribute an arbitrary $60,000 in cash towards the construction cost of the levee and channel improvements as recommended by the Board. I accordingly recommend improvement of Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River, Colo., consisting of levees and channel works for the protection of the city of Trinidad, generally in accordance with the plans of the district engineer, at an estimated cost to the United States of $909,000, subject to the condition that responsible local agencies give assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will: (a) Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary for the construction of the project; (b) hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction works; (c) make the necessary changes in public utilities, bridges, drainage inlets, and irrigation diversion facilities within the project limits; and (d) maintain and operate all the works after completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War.
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND
THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS,
Washington, D. C., August 23, 1943. To the Chief of Engineers, United States Army.
1. The Board of Engineers concurs with the reporting officers in the view that reservoirs in Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River Basin for flood control and allied purposes are not economically justified at this time. The proposed plan for channel improvement through the city of Trinidad will provide complete flood protection for the city and in the opinion of the Board will produce sufficient flood benefits, both tangible and intangible, to justify the construction. Due to the local nature of these benefits, the Board believes it equitable that local interests contribute substantially towards the cost of the construction. Accordingly, the Board recommends improvement of Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River, Colo., consisting of channel and levee construction works for protection of the city of Trinidad, generally in accordance with the plans of the district engineer, at an estimated cost to the United States of $849,000 provided that local interests contribute $60,000 towards the initial cost and, in addition, furnish assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will: (a) provide, without cost to the United States, all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary for construction of the project; (6) hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction works; (c) make the necessary changes in public utilities, bridges, drainage inlets, and irrigation diversion facilities within the project limits; (d) maintain and operate all the works after completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War. For the Board:
JOHN J. KINGMAN,
SURVEY OF PURGATOIRE (PICKET WIRE) RIVER, COLO.
The district engineer finds that there is a serious food problem in the Purgatoire River basin at Trinidad, Colo., involving not only the welfare of the community but also national interests, in that vital transportation facilities, both rail and highway, are subject to extensive flood damage and attendant interruption, The district engineer also finds that, while flood damages are sustained in agricultural areas and a demand for floodwater conservation exists, flood control or dual-purpose reservoir construction, singly or in combination with channel improvement, is not economically feasible. He further finds that the most economical method of providing flood control benefits to the Trinidad urban area and for the protection of vulnerable transportation facilities located therein is the construction of a channel improvement within Trinidad at an estimated first cost of $1,034,500 and annual charges of $12,200. The district engineer concludes that, since the estimated monetary benefits accruing to the channel-improvement project closely approximate the estimated annual costs, and since important intangible benefits involving the security of the community and nationally important transportation facilities also accrue, construction of the channel-improvement project is justified.
The district engineer recommends that the channel-improvement project at Trinidad, Colo. be adopted as the most suitable plan for essential flood protection in Purgatoire River, Colo., and that Federal funds in the amount of
$909,000 be appropriated for construction and none for annual maintenance;
Albuquerque, N. Mex., January 15, 1943. Subject: Survey report on flood control on Purgatoire (Picket Wire)
River, Colo., and Long Canyon, Colo. To: The Chief of Engineers, United States Army (Through the Division Engineer, Southwestern Division).
1. Authority. This survey report is made in compliance with the provisions of the following authorizations:
(a) Section 6 of the act approved June 22, 1936 (Public, No. 738, 74th Cong., K. R. 8455), which reads in part as follows:
Sec. 6. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to cause preliminary examinations and surveys for flood control at the following named localities. *
Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River, Colorado,
(6) Section 6 of the act approved June 28, 1938 (Public, No. 761, 75th Cong., 3d sess., H. R. 10618), which reads in part as follows:
Sec. 6. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to cause preliminary. examinations and surveys for flood control, including floods aggravated by or due to tidal effect, at the following-named localities,
Long's Canyon, Colorado, A preliminary examination report on Purgatoire (Picket Wire) River, Colo., made under authority of section 6 of the act approved June 22, 1936, was submitted by the district engineer, Little Rock District, December 16, 1937. The report was reviewed by the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and a survey of the stream was authorized by the Chief of Engineers on February 4, 1938. (c) Authority to omit
a separate preliminary examination report on "Long's Canyon, Colo.,” correctly identified as Long Canyon, and to cover both authorities cited above in a single survey report, was granted by the Chief of Engineers on August 6, 1938.
2. Prior reports.-(a) There has been no published report by the War Department for flood control on Purgatoire River or its tributaries. The stream was considered under the subject Irrigation, in the report Arkansas River and Tributaries, published as House Document No. 308, Seventy-fourth Congress, first session. At the time of this report, it was found that:
In the Purgatoire River Basin, no material increase in irrigated area can be made in the upper basin without reservoir development and such development is precluded because of scarcity of reservoir possibilities.
Most of the lower basin is in canyon and opportunity for further development of irrigation is very limited. It is, therefore, probable that irrigation development in the Purgatoire River watershed will be confined to storage of waters in the lower end of the basin for use of lands in the Arkansas River Valley.
(b) In compliance with Public, No. 190, Seventy-fourth Congress (II. R. 7870), a combined preliminary examination report on food control of the watershed of both Purgatoire and Apishapa Rivers in Las Animas County, Colo., was submitted by the Chief of Engineers,