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STATEMENT OF HON. FRANCIS E. WALTER, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA Mr. WALTER. Mr. Chairman, at the offset, I want to express to this splendid committee the appreciation of many thousands of people for your indulgence in permitting us to appear and also for your cooperation in having the original resolution adopted and this resolution on which this hearing is being conducted.
At the outset, I think I ought to explain to you that this damage of which we seek to prevent recurrence comes in one of the most highly industrialized sections in the United States. There is a population of nearly 270,000 people involved. The damage in 1942 exceeded by several million dollars the estimated cost of this project. The damage was largely to the industrial areas along the river. In addition to the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, it affected nine other communities ranging in population from 1,500 to 8,000 people.
All along the river there has been a steady encroachment, which is usually the case along our principal streams and along arteries of commerce, that are manufacturing, with the result that the river has been narrowed considerably,
These floods we are cursed with do not come at regular intervals. They come at any time. The one in 1942 very seriously interfered with the operation of the Bethlehem steel plant, which, as you know, was engaged in the war effort.
The damage sustained has been not only to the industrial property but to the residential properties all along the river.
Because of the seriousness of the problem a committee was formed in the Lehigh Valley consisting of leading businessmen, industrialists, representatives of every municipality, every political subdivision of the State, and this committee worked industriously for the past 4 years. They employed at their own expense a very competent engineer who cooperated with the War Department and who has seen to it that every political subdivision of the State is ready to cooperate fully in the acquisition of properties and in the providing of easements and right-of-way. I might say that the State of Pennsylvania made an appropriation. True enough, it is quite niodest, at present. However, I have every reason to believe that there will be an adequate appropriation by the State of Pennsylvania.
This community is prepared now to do its full share in trying to bring about an improvement that so vitally affects the community.
The CHAIRMAN. Any questions? Mr. WALTER. May I say one thing more? The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Mr. WALTER. So far as the ratio of the benefits to the costs is concerned, I do not know how you can arrive at that ratio in a situation such as this. Experts have estimated that in the next 100 years there will be 44 major floods. If they approximate the flood of 1942, then, the damage will exceed by several million dollars the entire cost of this project.
At this point I would like the following statements inserted in the record.
EXTRACT FROM THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF CITY COUNCIL HELD ON
SEPTEMBER 4, 1945
- Mayor Pfeifle then reported to council that he forwarded the following communication to Washington in connection with the proposed improvement of the Lehigh River for flood-control purposes :
AUGUST 31, 1945. RESIDENT MEMBERS OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS,
2 New York Avenue NW., Washington 16, D. C. GENTLEMEN: Supplementing our letter of August 3, approving the report of division engineers of the War Department relative to the proposed improvements to Lehigh River for flood-control purposes, city council has authorized me to say to you that the city of Bethlehem will furnish, without cost to the United States, all lands, easements, and rights-of-way lying and being within the territorial limits of the city of Bethlehem, necessary for the construction of the proposed improvements; that the city of Bethlehem will bold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction of the contemplated work; that the city of Bethlehem will maintain and operate said construction after its completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War; the city of Betblehem will also provide new superstructure and road approaches to the Main Street Bridge, will construct new approaches to Lehigh Avenue Bridge and also construct necessary intercepting storm-water sewers. The city is vitally interested in the proposed improvements, and I trust that the statements herein contained are satisfactory to your Board and to the Secretary of War.
If you desire any further assurances, we will gladly cooperate with you in that respect. Very truly yours,
ROBERT PFEIFL, Mayor. Messrs. Hinkle and Yonik moved this communication be received, spread upon the minutes, and the action of the mayor approved, which motion prevailed on roll call by the votes of the following: Messrs. Hinkle, Wear, Yonik, and Pfeifle, 4.
Certified a true and correct extract from the minutes of the meeting of city council held on September 4, 1945, this 4th day of April 1946. [SFAL)
BERTRAM L. NAGLE, City Clerk.
OFFICE OF THE CITY CLERK
Resolved by the Council of the City of Allentown, That whereas on August 29, 1945, city council of the city of Allentown passed resolution No. 9321, which reads as follows:
"That city council is in favor of the plan as submitted by Army engineers for flood control of the Lehigh River in the city of Allentown and will assume its share of land damages for said project within city limits"; and
Whereas the city of Allentown is now willing to extend further cooperative to the proper flood authorities of the United States in this matter : Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the council of the city of Allentown, That the city council is in favor of the plan as submitted by the Army engineers for flood control of the Lehigh River in the city of Allentown and will assume its share of land damages for said project within city limits;
Also, the city will hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction of these works;
Also the city of Allentown will maintain and operate them after completion in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War.
This is to certify that the above copy of resolution No. 9521 was adopted by city council and signed by the mayor on April 8, 1946. (SEAL]
GEO. W. KISTLER.
City Clerk. The CHAIRMAN. Any questions by Mr. Allen?
Mr. A LLEN. There is one thing I want to settle in my own mind right now. I will direct this question to the colonel. In estimating the damages and costs, and so forth, do you take into consideration
only this particular section of the river between, say, the proposed reservoir, and, say, Allentown, or do you consider the secondary benefits that would flow on down the Delaware? I do not know what cities are on down the Delaware, but there are cities down there. That is what I would like to know. In other words, do you consider the particular area involved or do you go on down the river and consider the damage that is withheld from those communities down the Delaware section?
Colonel HERB. I can answer that question. It varies with each stream. It so happens that at Easton most of the damage is caused by the backwater from the Delaware River. On this particular stream, the Lehigh River, the average annual preventable damages, computed since the year 1902, have been estimated at $722,100. This protection we are proposing will eliminate a certain amount of those damages.
Mr. ALLEN. Maybe I have not made myself clear. It strikes me that you ought to consider the benefits that will accrue to cities on down the main stream as a result of this water being held back.
Colonel HERB. We do that, sir. Mr. ALLEN. For instance, on the Red River in Louisiana, if we adopt suitable measures to hold back the water in Red River, then that affects cities on the Mississippi River and Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Do you take into consideration the secondary benefits? General CRAWFORD. We do, Mr. Allen, particularly on the streams flowing into the Mississippi. In this case, the benefits are taken down as far as Freemansburg, which is above Easton. We have not figured any additional benefits, you might say, on the Delaware. Although, if you followed the same rule we follow with regard to the Mississippi, there might be some benefits reaped on the Delaware.
Mr. WALTER. I can point out to you very easily that you ignored a very important thing, General. These floods which have been the most serious floods came at a time when the Delaware River was low. It was not a case of the Delaware backing up and preventing the Lehigh from flowing off. This flood in 1942 came at a time when the Delaware River was very low.
Here is what happened. As you know, the State of Pennsylvania recently enacted laws that require the coal companies to stop dumping the silt in these rivers. Tons and tons of this stuff is carried down the Lehigh River and the Delaware necessitating very large appropriations annually in order to get our battleships up to the navy yard in Philadelphia.
There can be no question about the secondary benefits. When the Delaware is high and the Lehigh floods, there is carried enough floodwater down the Delaware to do about $200,000 worth of damage to the interstate bridges annually. _ Mr. ALLEN. If we adopt measures to hold back water in the Lehigh River, holding it out of the Delaware River, that is secondary benefits down the Delaware? Mr. WALTER. Exactly. The CHAIRMAN. Any questions by Mr. Clason. Mr. CLASON. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Any questions by any other members of the committee? Any further statements ?
General CRAWFORD. I think Colonel Herb could explain that by reading the distribution of benefits.
Colonel HERB. The estimated average annual benefits for the project are: Freemansburg----------
$5, 700 Bethlehem ------------
285, 700 Allentown----------------
87, 200 Catasaugua -------------
29,000 Northampton ---------
9, 300 Remainder of area Catasaugua to above Bowmanstown--
71,300 Parryville to Mauch Chunk--
67,200 Above Mauch Chunk to White Haven -
33, 100 Total average annual benefits------
-- 589, 100 The CHAIRMAN. All of that information and fuller information will appear in the report which is to be published on its transmission to the Congress. These hearings are being conducted because the Chief of Engineers has been diligent and transmitted his report to the Director of the Budget, and this committee felt that before this bill was finally concluded, the report itself would be available.
Mr. WALTER. Mr. Chairman, do I have your permission to insert in the record at this point a statement by the president of the Lehigh Valley Flood Control Council, together with a list of members of that council who are present?
The CHAIRMAN. We will be glad to have you insert it in connection with your remarks.
(The above referred to material is as follows:)
MEMBERS OF DELEGATION FROM THE LEHIGH VALLEY FLOOD CONTROL COUNCIL, INC.
ATTENDING FLOOD CONTROL HEARING, WASHINGTON, APRIL 9, 1945
George P. Kingsley Bethlehem, Pa., president, Lehigh Valley Flood Control Coun
cil, Inc., and president, Brown-Borhek Co. Alvin A. Shumann, Easton, Pa., first vice president, Lehigh Valley Flood Con
trol Council, Inc., and treasurer, Lehigh Foundries, Inc. Winfield Clearwater, Allentown, Pa., secretary, Lehigh Valley Fiood Control
Council, Inc., and executive vice president, Chamber of Commerce of Allentown. Robert L. Fox, Bethlehem, Pa., city engineer, Bethlehem (representing Mayor
Robert Pfeifle and Bethlehem City Council). E. W. Meckley, Allentown, Pa., city engineer, Allentown (representing Mayor
Brighton C. Deifenderfer and Allentown City Council). John H. Immel, Northampton, Pa., borough manager, Northampton (representing
Burgess George Berg and Northampton Borough Council). George Hein, Lehighton, Pa., borough manager, Lehighton (representing Burgess
William F. Hummel and Lehighton Borough Council). N. J. Hittinger, Bethlehem, Pa., manager of public relations, Bethlehem Steel Co. Charles B. Seib, Allentown, Pa., hydraulic engineer, Pensylvania Power & Light
Co. Robert A. Harrier, Bethlehem, Pa., managing director, Lehigh Valley Flood Con
trol Council, Inc.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE P. KINGSLEY, PRESIDENT, LEHIGH VALLEY FLOOD CONTROL
I am George P. Kingsley, of Bethlehem, Pa. I am president of the Lehigh Valley Flood Control Council, Inc. Our council is composed of more than 1,000 active representatives of all elements of the population of the Lehigh Valley who are faced with the problem of freeing our valley from the scourge of destructive floods which periodically take their toll, bringing commerce and industry to a standstill, disrupting all means of travel and communication, destroying life and property, and in recent decades coming too often for our security and peace of mind. Hunger, disease, and death always stalk the raging waters.
Our council is the chief proponent for flood control on the Lehigh River. It is truly representative of the entire area. Following the disastrous Lehigh River flood of May 1942 which caused tangible damages approaching $15,000,000, all organizations and municipalities in the valley previously concerned with the flood problem organized in the Lehigh Valley Flood Control Council. This active organization is comprised of representatives of county and municipal governments, industries—both heavy and consumer ; utilities of all types including communication, power, railroad, and other transportation; also farmers, timber owners, individual home owners, tenants and civic-minded dtizens interested in the welfare of the valley in which an intense concentration of commerce and industry has developed since the turn of the century.
We have doggedly but patiently pursued our objective. As you know, a War Department investigation of the Lehigh River flood problem, authorized by resolution of your committee on August 20, 1942, at the request of Hon, Francis E. Walter, was halted by the Bureau of the Budget because of the war. Due to the urgency of our problem, however, authority was given by the Bureau of the Budget on October 8, 1943, to proceed, and the district engineer promptly undertook a complete and thorough investigation.
We have eagerly awaited this moment, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, when a carefully studied and satisfactory plan to control the Lehigh River would be available for your approval. We hesitate to consume your valuable time but we would be very remiss if at least a few of us did not appear at this point to confirm the deep concern of our communities in this project. The need for flool protection in the Lehigh Valley is imperative. The damages have been tremendous and can be much greater. The remedy is in sight. Existing conditions should have been remedied many years ago.
The peculiarities of our flood problem are detailed in the engineers' report but I would like to point out very briefly the unusual characteristics of the valley and the extent of its development to show the complexity of the problem which confronted the engineers. Our flood problem is primarily due to the role of the river valley as a vital transportation gateway because two main-line railway routes, that provide access to all parts of the Nation, closely parallel the river within reach of its major floods. The Lehigh Navigation Canal, and a comprehensive network of rail lines, roads, and highways were also cogent factors in the early industrial development of the valley. The physiographic and geologic characteristics of the basin have strongly influenced its occupation and industrial development. The Lehigh River has not developed an extensive flood plain, the principal damage areas being confined to approximately 2,800 acres wherein heavy concentrations of industrial, commercial, and residential property are found. This results from the fact that more than one-half of the floodway is a comparatively narrow trough and the many industries in the area, located here because of the abundance of raw materials and excellent transportation facilities, were logically sited as close to the railroads as possible. Industrial water supply from the Lehigh Canal and the Lehigh River was another contributing factor to the development of this diversely industrialized area. The total value of all property in the area immediately adjacent to the Lehigh River has grown to exceed a half billion dollars. The engineers have calculated the average annual flood damage in this area to be $722,000.
The basin is subject to severe rainstorms which cause frequent flooding. The engineers estimate that we may expect 44 major floods in the next 100 years. Slopes in the tributary streams average 50 feet per mile and drainage into the streams is rapid. The river gradient is also steep in the upper two-thirds of its course. Consequently the river is subject to sudden rises and records show that flood crests in the Lehigh are of short duration. Historical accounts of inundations back through the years indicate that the characteristically fastrising floods of the Lehigh River has routed families from their beds only a few jumps ahead of the onrushing water.
We have examined the report formulated by the Corps of Engineers and have discussed the recommended plan of improvement with authorized representatives in the council from the communities involved. The proposed plan meets with general approval from a local standpoint. There is some disappointment on the part of a few communities in that partial protection, only, has been found economical. However, the provision for retention control by the proposed reservoir and its estimated effect in reducing peak discharges and flood stages at all points along the main stem of the river is at once appreciated. The conclusion