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to the levee district in Louisiana and Arkansas, have been called upon to expend, not $4,000,000, as estimated by the Chief of Engineers when Congress adopted this project, but closer to $9,000,000, as I understand, because the proposed relocation will cost in the neighborhood of $4,000,000, and the aggregate acreage would be 75,000 acres, in round numbers.
I want to say this, Mr. Chairman, that on February 15, 1932, the committee reported H. R. 4668, and the report is no. 417, and that bill, as I recall, was favorably reported to the House by the Committee on Rules.
The language of that bill, in the first section, is different from the language of the pending bill, and, personally, as I understood from you, Mr. Chairman, we can go into that a little bit later. But I am not at all convinced that the landowners will be as well protected by the language of the pending bill as by the language of the previous bill, nor am I altogether clear that the pending bill really clarifies the provisions of the act we reported 3 years ago.
That part of the section that is different
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We can discuss that in the committee in executive session.
Mr. WHITTINGTON (continuing). Provides for compensating the owners of land between the existing levees and the low-water channel which will be behind the old lines of the adopted project and the high-water channel of the Mississippi River, by reason of set-backs, modifications, or other changes.
Personally I doubt, with all deference to the author of the bill, that the language of the pending bill is as definite as that, although it is fair to say that the chairman has undertaken to provide for that difference by eliminating clause 3. But under the bill we reported section 2 of the act was to take effect as of May 15, 1928, and become thereby a part of the original act.
In this connection I call attention to the hearings before the Flood Control Committee on February 7, 8, and 9, 1934, and to my statement begining on page 108; and I also call attention to my statement in the hearings on H. R. 4668 before the Flood Control Committee on January 26, 1932, beginning on page 143.
I have nothing further to say, Mr. Chairman, unless some member desires to ask me some questions.
Mr. WEARIN. Mr. Chairman, this bill, it seems to me, is a reasonable proposition, but living on the Missouri, as I do, I am particularly interested in a problem which is not exactly like this one.
A good many landowners along the Missouri River have been faced with the problem of having the Federal Government come in and alter the direction or flow of the current of the river in such a manner that it will cut out a considerable portion of a farm in changing the flow of the water.
As I understand the situation, there is no existing law which permits those people under those circumstances to recover for the damage to that property. It seems to me there should be some provision to take care of that, where the Federal Government itself proposes an intentional change of the current of the river so that a man loses a quarter or half section of land that he has had, after having legitimate title to it for 40 or 50 years, that there should be some provision whereby a man under those circumstances could be compensated.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that within this particular project?
We have here this morning a number of landowners or gentlemen representing landowners who desire to make statements to the committee in reference to the matter we have under consideration. But inasmuch as an important matter is coming before the House when it meets today, we will take a recess now and meet again at 2:30 o'clock this afternoon.
(Thereupon, the committee took a recess until 2:30 p. m., this day.)
The committee reconvened at 2:30 p. m., at the expiration of the recess, Hon. Riley J. Wilson (chairman), presiding:
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that Dr. Wolfe, Mr. Jacobs, and Mr. Adams have some information they desire to give the committee.
We will be glad to hear Mr. Jacobs at this time.
STATEMENT OF HARRY JACOBS, ASSOCIATE ENGINEER, STATE
BOARD OF ENGINEERS, NEW ORLEANS, LA.
Mr. JACOBS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I really wanted to make a statement again on the subject of the lands thrown out by the rebuilding of the levee system in the State of Louisiana, on the Mississippi River. However, in making such a statement, I would be brief for the reason that the board of State engineers has worked up a statement of each levee district, showing the new levees constructed in the parishes, the statement showing the names of the levee projects, with the total number of acres taken, the total assessed value of the land, and improvements actually paid for, the amount for the acreage taken, broken down to show the part taken by highways and showing the total amount of obligations, which includes outstanding certificates of indebtedness, with the amounts that have actually been paid off. However, in making such a statement, it would be more or less a repetition of the statements made before this committee in 1932 and 1934, and for the benefit of the new members of the committee, who are going to pass on this question, I would like to make my statement when they are present.
I feel quite sure that with the record as it stands now, there would be slight chance of having the members to go through the statement and make a detailed study of what I wish to present. I cannot see anything to be gained by simply making a statement at this time when so many members are absent. Therefore, I would like to request that the committee permit me to appear when you have a larger attendance present, in order that I may present my argument with regard to the interests of the State as they are affected by the levee system on the Mississippi River in the State of Louisiana. That will include the affect it has had on the Louisiana Highway Commission in the rebuilding of some 160 miles of new roads, involving a total expenditure of about $2,000,000.
affected by your bill, H. R. 7349. Now, under your interpretation of this bill, there will be only one levee district in the State of Louisiana that will be reimbursed on account of lands taken. The only levee district in the State of Louisiana that would be reimbursed is the Fifth Levee District. The Fifth Levee District of Louisiana has had 47,332 acres thrown out, of which 7,933 acres were used for levee locations. Therefore, payment would be made to the property owners of that levee district for about 47,000 acres.
All the other levee districts are left out of the question, as I will show you from this map. This map [indicating] shows a stretch of levee on the Mississippi River at a point about 15 miles above Baton Rouge, on the west side of the river, and down the west bank. of the Mississippi River to Donaldsonville. This sindicating] is a part of the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District, on the Mississippi River. The only levee which the Board would be reimbursed for, under the terms of this bill, would be in the area shown here in red [indicating] which is Australia Point. However, every levee you see on the map here [indicating] is a new levee. Every one of these levees [indicating] was rebuilt new under the 1928 act. All of the improvements in there have been moved back. They disturbed all the improvements. That is true of all the improvements in the area along the river front, and all of the highways in that section are along the river front. Yet there would not be one dime of reim-bursement for the people in this levee district.
The CHAIRMAN. What you are talking about there are levee bases and foundations. That is something we cannot provide for in this bill, because that would involve the repeal of the Flood Control Act. We would have to have a different piece of legislation for that. We could not cover that in a bill of this kind, because this bill specifically relates to areas that are thrown out because of levee lines constructed on new locations.
Mr. JACOBS. If you take the situation in the State of Mississippi, below Greenville, you will find that the new concrete highway down there follows the base of the levee; yet they would have no reimbursement.
The CHAIRMAN. We had that same question, involving levee foundations, up in another bill.
Mr. Jacobs. This would be absolutely worthless to the State of Louisiana, except in the Fifth Louisiana Levee District.
The CHAIRMAN. There is no way of writing into this bill a provision covering levee foundations. That is an obligation that is assumed by every local interest under the Flood Control Act. In order to carry a provision of that sort, the Flood Control Act would have to be repealed. This is merely a clarifying bill to take care of property between the old levee site and the levee lines on the new location.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I appreciate what Mr. Jacobs says.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I appreciate it. Senator Overton prepared a bill along that line. You cannot provide for that under this bill.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I can appreciate what Mr. Jacobs has said, because quite a large amount of the cost of the local boards in Mississippi has been in the city of Greenville, and there was a very considerable amount spent at the town of Friars Point.
Are we going ahead this afternoon?
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Jacobs, if you want to go ahead and discuss
Mr. JACOBS (interposing). This information has been prepared for the committee, and I would like to have the opportunity of presenting it and explaining it when more members of the committee are present. I would like to have consideration given to the other levee districts in the State of Louisiana, as well as to the Fifth Levee District.
The CHAIRMAN. There is nothing provided specifically in the bill for the Fifth Levee District.
Mr. Jacobs. Of course, I appreciate that; but I would like to appear before the committee and present reasons why these other districts should be given some consideration in the matter of reimbursement, regardless of whether the areas are used for levee foundations or are lands that are thrown out.
In this connection, I would like to call your attention to statements contained in the hearings before this .committee in 1932 and, also, again before this committee in the hearings held on February 7, 8, and 9, 1934, on the same question. There was a bill providing reimbursement or payment for lands thrown out. There was a bill which made provision for the reimbursement of the levee districts, regardless of whether they were set-back levees, or not. We certainly would not have gone to the expense of preparing all this data had we known it would have no consideration. I thought that this bill was a repetition of the other one.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee made a favorable report on that bili.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. Will we have further hearings on this tomorrow?
The CHAIRMAN. I think we will probably have to hold further hearings on this tomorrow morning.
(Thereupon, the committee adjourned to meet tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Apr. 30, 1935, at 10:30 o'clock.)