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We submit, therefore, that all projects of flood control that apply to the middle section of the river are of vital concern to us.
In 1897 our district suffered its last levee failure. The crevasse occurred at Flower Lake about 10 miles north of Helena at a Memphis stage of 37.66 feet. The levee was overtopped. In 1927 the Memphis stage was 46 feet, or 8.34 feet higher than in the flood of 1897. At Helena there was an increase in flood height of 5 feet over 1897. In 1937, however, the stage at Memphis was 12.71 feet higher and at Helena it was 8.5 feet higher than in 1897.
Since the 1927 disaster it has been apparent that levees alone cannot be depended on to carry a flood of such magnitude and the higher flood of 1937 throughout our district demonstrated to us that, in the interests of safety, the flood plane must be allowed to rise no higher.
South of Helena the flood of 1937 received little tributary increment. It was practically a Mississippi River flood and was not long sustained. The flow at Arkansas City was somewhat greater than in 1927 and, with 1929 channel conditions prevailing, the stage there would have been somewhat higher than in 1929.
Because of the increased hydraulic efficiency of the channel, due to the cut-offs below Arkansas City, however, the crest stage there was actually 5 feet lower than the stage for the smaller 1929 flood, indicating an actual lowering of more than 5 feet.
At Vicksburg, however, the stage was only 2 feet lower and at Natchez 3.5 feet higher than in 1929 and 1.4 feet higher than any previous flood.
Evidently the hydraulic efficiency of the channel has not been increased below Greenville as it has from Greenville to the mouth of the Arkansas River. Due to this increased efficiency, the river will not take in at Arkansas City a larger volume than the capacity of the levees farther down. While more water will undoubtedly pass down the river at the same stage through the fuseplug section than in 1927, in the light of the 1937 flood we must again revise upward our conception of the ultimate volume for which we should prepare and the necessity for a floodway that will assue the integrity of the levees in the middle section is now as great as it was in 1927.
We believe that if the Arkansas and the White had added a flood flow equal to that of 1927 to the 1937 flood, a floodway through the Tensas would now be in process of construction.
We are definitely opposed to the proposed amendment because we believe it would hamper or destroy our opportunity to secure a floodway through the Tensas Basin in any reasonable time.
We realize that hydraulic conditions are being changed and it is probable that the type of spillway and floodway structure should be changed to meet conditions.
We believe, therefore, that unrestricted control should be given to the Army engineers and the River Commission as to plan and the execution of this vitally important work.
That is all I care to present.
STATEMENT OF ED C. BREWER, CLARKSDALE, MISS., ATTORNEY
FOR THE YAZOO-MISSISSIPPI DELTA LEVEE BOARD
Mr. BREWER. My name is Ed C. Brewer. I am a lawyer and am interested in cotton farming. I reside in Clarksdale, Coahoma County, Miss. I have been a member of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board and am now attorney for this board. I shall be brief and undertake to speak to the point.
The flood of 1927 to a layman showed that levees only along the Mississippi River would not prevent overflows in major floods. I am advised that all Chiefs of Engineers of the United States Army, since that great disaster, have insisted that the levees only must be supplemented by a diversion that will provide for approximately 1 million cubic feet per second in the middle section, which is the section between the mouth of the Arkansas River and the mouth of the Red River.
The act of 1928 undertook to make provision for such diversion through the Boeuf Basin. The terms were indefinite. The problem was studied for 8 years and finally in 1936 the people of the lower Mississippi Valley, under the leadership of Senator Overton, cooperated in the passage of the Overton bill June 15, 1936. It was sponsored by the senior Senator from Louisiana. It adopted the recommendations of the Chief of Engineers. Mississippi cooperated with Louisiana. It provided for both the Eudora and the Morganza.
If there is to be a comparison, the Eudora will protect a much larger and a much more important area than the Morganza. If there is to be priority, I believe it would be logical to construct the Eudora first.
We are not opposing the Morganza floodway, but we are supporting the vigorous efforts of Senator Bilbo of Mississippi, a member of this committee, in opposing the divorcement of the two projects, because we believe the divorcement of the two projects means the construction of the Morganza and the elimination of the Eudora. We further believe that the divorcement would be a thrust at the very heart of the largest and most important area in the lower Mississippi Valley, and would be a blow to national flood control in the lower Mississippi Valley from which it would be difficult for that valley to recover.
Nature has provided two outlets in the lower section of the Mississippi River. The waters are carried between the main levee from the mouth of the Arkansas River to the mouth of the Red River. They are there divided between the lower Mississippi and the Atchafalaya. Moreover, the main lower Mississippi River has been aided by Bonnet Carre. We supported the construction of Bonnet Carre. The Atchafalaya River will be aided by the Morgan City floodway, which we supported. We believe that with two natural outlets in the lower section, reinforced by two artificial outlets, it is unsound to think that the main river only, without any outlet or diversion, can carry waters from the Arkansas to the Red.
We are not opposed to the Morganza floodway, but we are advocating that no steps be taken with respect to Morganza that will destroy Eudora.
We understand that the people of Louisiana are unanimously for Morganza. If this contention be true there is a vested right in the Eudora floodway under the act of 1936 which will be destroyed by the divorcement of the two projects. They are combined in that act. We believe that the Chief of Engineers should be given power to condemn. Until that power has been conferred he will have in addition to the power to condemn 25 percent of the Eudora, power to condemn an additional percentage if the people of Louisiana are unanimous for Morganza. This is a vested right that would aid in the construction of Morganza.
Until 1922 there was always a diversion in the middle section of the river. It was here that the last natural outlet to supplement the levees was closed. Cypress Creek was closed in 1922 with the approval of the Mississippi River Commission. A great mistake was made. The first great flood thereafter in 1927 overflowed the alluvial valley. The next act passed by the Congress of the United States provided for the correction of that mistake. Since the act of 1928 all efforts have been made to improve and to expand the adopted projects to provide for the greatest good to the greatest number of people. The results have been obtained by cooperation. Those asking for protection have been accorded protection. All States are entitled to equal protection. If there be amendments of existing laws to further protect Louisiana, the citizens of Mississippi and of Arkansas, as well as citizens of other parts of Louisiana, are well within their rights in asking that they be protected at the same time.
The Yazoo Delta is content to leave the engineering work to the
ief of Engineers. They know that the reputation of the Corps of Engineers is at stake. Consistently the corps has recommended a diversion in the middle_section. The Chief of Engineers in 1935 recommended that the Eudora be substituted for the Boeuf. We followed his recommendation. The cut-offs in the Greenville bends have merely moved the point of danger farther south, and the wisdom of substituting the Eudora for the Boeuf has been vindicated.
We take occasion to say that Senator Bilbo was right in 1936 in cooperating to secure the passage of the Overton Act. We know that he is right now in opposing the pending legislation that will destroy the diversion that is imperative for the protection of the very heart of the middle section.
We are not opposing Morganza except as Morganza may destroy Eudora. We believe that it would be unwise for the Federal Government to make no provision for supplementing the main levees and thus in a major flood cause breaks on the east and west sides of the river, overflowing a much larger area, with no provision for protection, and then farther south providing additional protection for a much smaller area.
I trust that I am constructive. The people of the Yazoo Delta advocate the construction of both the Eudora and the Morganza floodways. We further advocate their utilization in major floods to supplement the main levees. If existing legislation is not sufficient to provide for their construction, and for such operation, we urge that constructive amendments be adopted that will provide for the speedy construction of both projects. We oppose any effort indirectly to destroy Eudora by separating the two projects that were united in the act of 1936. The people of the Yazoo Delta are 100 percent behind Senator Bilbo, of this committee, in his efforts to continue to urge the construction of both floodways.
Senator Bilbo. Do you have any other statement that you want to make?
Mr. BREWER. Senator, I want to say this, that the people of my district are deeply indebted to you and Mr. Whittington for the efforts you are making and have made, and I firmly believe that when the matter is concluded those efforts will result in benefits not only to the people of Mississippi but also to the entire alluvial valley, including Louisiana and Arkansas.
Senator Bilbo. Mr. Brewer, Mr. Chairman, is one of the leading lawyers of the Delta, stationed at Clarksdale.
Mr. BREWER. I do not mind that going into the record. (The witness withdrew from the committee table.)
STATEMENT OF W. T. WENN, PRESIDENT, DELTA CHAMBER OF
COMMERCE, GREENVILLE, MISS. Mr. WENN. As president of the Delta Chamber of Commerce, for which Mr. Blake made a statement, may I be permitted to adopt that as my statement, and make a short statement in addition thereto?
Senator OVERTON. Certainly, sir.
Mr. WENN. Mr. Chairman, we people in the Delta are not opposed to Morganza. We want to see you get it, just as quickly as possible. We think that however altruistic or good the purpose of this bill, the procedure is wrong. First, if this bill is passed unamended, my understanding is that it accomplishes nothing, because the sill is too high to give to General Ferguson and the commission adequate flowage rights through Morganza and obtain really good results. We want to see Morganza take out as much water as possible.
Second, we think that this bill is wrong because the effect of it, we believe, will delay or destroy Eudora, thus dividing our people in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, whereas we should be united 100 percent for any legislation affecting the lower valley.
Since this hearing has developed new suggestions for construction, my personal views are these, that no solution of Morganza or Eudora or the back levee will ever be adequate until the problem is turned over to the Corps of Engineers 100 percent to locate, to build, construct, condemn, buy, and, if necessary, sell, in any manner they see fit, and determine the height of the sill.
My reason for that is this: As I see it, we now have a divided authority. Up until 1916 local interests constructed levees. It was then that Congressman Humphreys helped create the Flood Control Committee. As a result thereof I believe the Government contributed $2 for every $1, and local interests contributed the rights-of-way. It was not until 1928 that the Government assumed the full responsibility for the levees and the entire flood-control problem. I believe the Government has assumed that authority but has not got it, because any legislation passed by Congress affecting the control of these floods, we all have to admit must have the sanction of the Corps of Engineers. Therefore, in lieu of Arkansas or Mississippi or Louisiana suggesting legislation, should not all legislation come on the recommendation of the Corps of Engineers?
In other words, that is best illustrated in the Tennessee Valley Authority today. Their jurisdiction is divided. I think possibly if there had been one head there we might have eliminated that discussion.
I believe in consolidated authority, but I believe as to Eudora, Morganza, and the back levee in Arkansas that when the time comes we will want to give to the Corps of Engineers full authority, unrestricted, to build as they see fit; and I think that when that day comes we will get better results. If it should be that the Corps of Engineers tomorrow should say that Eudora is unnecessary, the Mississippi Delta would abide by it 100 percent.
Senator OVERTON. Of course that would be a very easy solution of it, to turn the whole matter over to the engineers, and probably that would be satisfactory to Mississippi. But when we look back on the history of the flood-control program in the lower Mississippi Valley we people in Louisiana see these things standing out. Starting with the Jadwin plan we were to have floodways, but no compensation was to be made to the property owners for flowage rights, as to any of the lands subjected to these floodways, and no provision was made for the control of the floodways. That was the position taken by the Corps of Engineers. It seemed to us hardly just and proper.
Then, in 1936, a law was enacted requiring compensation to be paid and undertaking to designate just what the floodways should be and where they should be located. Now, if the Corps of Engineers were given carte blanche authority in this matter there is no telling what might be done, with all due respect to the engineers--and I know they have the interests of the valley at heart. At the same time, they might do a great many things that would not be so very beneficial to that portion of the valley. Louisiana is, as you know, and as I have said before, made the dumping ground for all the waters, with the exception of some portions of Arkansas; and we want to undertake to have some say-so as to how these waters shall be diverted and as to what compensation shall be paid us and what shall be the circumstances under which the taking by the Government can be effected.
Mr. WENN. I also think that the right of eminent domain should be exercised and full compensation should be paid to the landowners. But in any legislation that we get together and agree on we always immediately have to get the approval of the Corps of Engineers. Therefore, in the long run, it is practically their legislation. If the legislation is not agreeable to the Corps of Engineers it is futile.
Senator OVERTON. We experience that same difficulty in Congress, to be perfectly frank about it. We do not enact flood-control legislation unless it meets with the approval of the War Department and the Chief of Engineers; and I think that is proper. In order to solve the problem with which we are confronted-and we are not able to go ahead with these floodways—I proposed a bill that has met with the approval of the War Department and the Army Engineers. I do not know that any other bill would meet with their approval, but I know that this one does. It has been so reported. It seems to me that would be a solution of one of our difficulties. It would permit us to go ahead with a portion of the program, and that is Morganza.