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THURSDAY, MAY 7, 1953.
RED RIVER OF THE NORTH
HON. HAROLD C. HAGEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. Davis. We are glad to have our distinguished colleague from Minnesota, Mr. Harold C. Hagen, before the committee with respect to the Red River of the North.
Mr. HAGEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. For the record, I am Representative Harold C. Hagen, of the Ninth District of Minnesota.
I am here to plead for the appropriation of funds for several projects in the overall program for the Red River of the North, including both Minnesota and North Dakota projects. The projects are mostly of a flood-control nature.
This overall plan for these projects was authorized by Congress many years ago. Money has been appropriated now for some years past; in fact, I believe almost every year some money has been appropriated by the Congress for one or more of the many projects in this whole program, which is aimed to prevent floods and to prevent millions of dollars of damage that has occurred in the past to valuable land in the Red River Valley.
This area was visited by one of the greatest floods of all times, just a few years ago. We had, as you recall, almost every year for about 4 or 5 years very devastating floods which resulted in the loss of many millions of dollars' worth of property-it has been estimated at upward of $300 million during the most serious flood year.
In some areas grounds and even villages were under water for a period of 6 weeks. So I think it is advisable to continue to appropriate money for flood control.
At this time I make a plea here for the Sand Hill River project in the central part of my district. This project is ready for construction. There was a Federal cost estimate of $610,700, to complete. According to a letter I have from the United States engineers at St. Paul, Minn., bids and contracts could be completed, and construction could begin within 2 months after moneys are made available.
And of course, there is a considerable amount of local money, to be contributed to the project, and that is ready and available, and the community is ready to go ahead with their share and responsibilities with the project when the Federal money is made available. This project will save several millions of dollars over the period of time. It is needed and vitally necessary.
The cost ratio to benefits is excellent, extremely high, on this particular project-I think it is one of the most beneficial projects compared to costs in the whole country.
You have some money, allocated in North Dakota, at Grand Forks, and for East Grand Forks, in Minnesota, on the Red River of the North to build dikes and levees. I would like to suggest a saving or reduction in the amount to be allocated. East Grand Forks, in my district, is not ready at this time to contribute its local share, and they are
willing to pass up the opportunity of getting Federal funds at this time. Some years in the future they may be ready, but at this particular time they are not ready, because there are so many local improvements at great cost to be dealt with.
However, on the Grand Forks side of the river they want a dike and levee project for which money should be made available. They are anxious to get the funds to start and eventually complete the dikes and the levees on the North Dakota side of Red River. The amount that may be set aside for both projects-East Grand Forks and Grand Forks- I think perhaps would be in the neighborhood of $700,000, and according to my own previous discussions, I believe the engineers would expect to use about half of that amount on each side of the river. In other words, half for Grand Forks and the other half for East Grand Forks. So perhaps it would be possible to use during the first year the necessary amount where they are ready to go ahead. Therefore you could cut that amount probably $300,000, or something like that and use the money or at least a portion of it to start the Sand Hill River project.
I think perhaps it is rather unusual that I would be here suggesting a reduction; but I am simply trying to show you what the situation is in the city of East Grand Forks. They are not ready as yet for the project.
However, I again would suggest in the appropriation, that you allow perhaps about half of it to the Sand Hill River flood-control project in order to get that work under
way. The engineers have indicated that if they can get, say, $200,000, or as much as $300,000, they immediately could develop a program and start the initial stages of construction and complete it this fall. So that I suggest the possibility of transferring a part of the money that I suggest could be saved, to the particular purpose of the Sand Hill River project.
The other projects in the valley are going along. The Orwell Reservoir dam on the Otter Tail River was finished last fall. The work on the river channel below the dam will be developed to completion this year. But we have other projects that are not completed. So I would like to see these additional moneys appropriated each year so we can complete the various projects, so that we will have a complete program and plan to do the full job of flood control and water conservation. Until they are all completed, they cannot be operated as an overall completed project.
Floods have been continuing since 1946 and less frequently before that time.
Some of this money that may be left over from last year, that you may reappropriate, no doubt will be used to finish up some of the projects in the Red River of the North program. You may have an item for Fargo and Moorhead. You may have had previous testimony on it. Moorhead also is not immediately ready to go ahead with any sort of a levee or dike project. They may be soon, however,
I am telling you these things so that you can shift these amounts where they will do the most good at this time and also save some money from the budget estimates as far as my district is concerned.
So I think that is the story I have to tell to you gentlemen as far as my district is concerned. However, particularly I would like to see some money set aside and designated for the Sand Hill project and you can take it from other allocations set up and approved already by the Budget but which may not be used for the projects for which it was allocated. The money needed to start the Sand Hill River project could be less than and could be taken from the East Grand Forks project since it is not ready to be initiated at this time.
I thank you very much.
THURSDAY, MAY 7, 1953.
OLD HICKORY DAM
HON. J. PERCY PRIEST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF TENNESSEE
Mr. Davis. The committee is pleased to have its distinguished colleague, Mr. Priest, of Tennessee. We will be glad to have any statement that you would care to present to us at this time.
Mr. Priest. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity. I had planned to come a little later under your schedule, but I appreciate the opportunity to cooperate with you and to come a little earlier even though I did not get some of the information that I was seeking.
Let me make it very clear at the beginning that my purpose in coming to the committee simply is this: To ask the committee to be as reasonably certain as possible that there is not any long delay in the construction of the Old Hickory Dam. That dam is in my district.
Now, I have attempted to determine as nearly as possible what the effect of the budget recommendation of $12,600,000 would be on the construction program. I frankly do not have a clear-cut opinion. I have several estimates but I do not have what I can say is a clear-cut opinion as to the affect of that budget. Of course, as I understand it, the Army engineers originally asked for $21 million. That was reduced in the earlier budget to $18 million and then in the revised budget to $12,600,000. I simply want to point this out in connection with that appropriation. I have discussed it with Colonel Dorland who is the district engineer in charge of construction projects, and with others.
My opinion is that the reduction to $12,600,000 will not mean as much as a year's delay but it will mean a rather considerable delay in the completion of the project.
Old Hickory Dam was begun in January 1952. It is supposed to be about 25 percent complete, I think, as of June of this year. The question of a delay, certainly a delay of as much as 1 year, would be a very serious one because of a situation which I shall explain to the committee, and I will not take a great deal of time to do so. Whether we agree that it was wise, or whether it was not, we will not debate that question, but the fact remains that in 1939, by action of the Congress of the United States, TVA became the exclusive utility to supply power for that entire area. I recently reread the hearings before the old Military Affairs Committee when Wendell Willkie appeared before the committee and made the statement, in substance, that it was certainly an unwise policy to have two competing electric utility systems in the area; that he and Mr. Lilienthal had come to an agreement that was entirely satisfactory to the Board of CommonwealthSouthern and TVA, for TVA to purchase the existing utility facility or facilities of Commonwealth-Southern and Congress approved the proposal. Therefore, there is no private utility in the area to furnish electric power. The Old Hickory Dam is scheduled to have installed four power units, of 25,000 kilowatts each, a total of 100,000 kilowatts.
Last July, Congress approved the installation, largely at the request of the Atomic Energy Commission, of a steam plant at Gallatin, Tenn., which is only about 24 miles from the Old Hickory Dam. That is a TVA installation. I realize this subcommittee has nothing to do, directly with the TVA appropriation but I am simply trying to show that there is such a close relationship here that it must be taken into consideration, as I see it.
I know you are interested only in facts, and that is all I have been interested in, in my efforts to see just what the effects of this appropriation would be. TVA has stated that a delay of as much as 1 year in completion of Old Hickory would have a rather considerable adverse effect on the steam plant which they are constructing 24 miles away, because it is necessary by November of 1955, on the present schedule, that a pool elevation on the Cumberland River be as much as 450 feet, or else if that is not true, then TVA will have to install a temporary pumping system to take care of the steam plant at a cost of about three-quarters of a million dollars. So there is a close relationship between the Cumberland River Dam and the TVA. For the entire area it is a rather important problem because there is no other source of power and this 100,000 kilowatts has been counted on by the Defense Electric Power Administration, in a letter dated the 14th of October 1952.
They advised that the Old Hickory project had been included in a list of power projects determined to be necessary power supply to the atomic energy installations. The Defense Electric Power Administration advised at that time that it was imperative that these projects begin operation on the earliest possible schedule and urgently requested that strenuous efforts be made to assure completion of the Old Hickory project on schedule.
Now, gentlemen, I do not know, as I said in the beginning, just how much delay will be caused by the availability of only $12,600,000. The best estimate that I have been able to arrive at on my own is not the 1-year delay that some have considered, but that it will amount to perhaps a 6-month delay in the completion of construction, and the best money figures that I have been able to arrive at on the basis of figures that I have obtained is that $18 million may not be necessary but that approximately $16 million will be if an uneconomical delay is to be prevented.
Now, I present this situation to the committee primarily to point out what I think would be the somewhat tragic consequences of any long delay. Certainly it would not effect not any economy. It is estimated that the annual income from the 100,000 kilowatt at Old Hickory will run well over $3 million. Of course, the quicker it is in production, the quicker that income will be available. I do not, as I say, Mr. Chairman, have any firm opinion as to just how long the delay would be on $12,600,000. I think it would result in a delay of bet ween 6 months and a year.
I think certainly, if it is delayed as much as a year, the cost of the steam plant will be higher because of the necessity to install this temporary pumping system, and the date when income begins to accrue will be delayed.
The lock and dam I think, at Old Hickory, is approximately 40 percent complete now but the powerplant is part of the dam; it is not set off to one side. Therefore, the question of letting contracts on the basis of fiscal 1954 is pretty important to the engineers.
Now, Mr. Chairman, that, in substance, is my purpose in asking the assistance of the committee. I know you gentlemen have your problems and I am not here to say we have got to have $18 million. I simply come asking that before the bill is marked up, we be certain, if possible, that there will not be a long, and I think uneconomical, delay in the completion of the Old Hickory Dam.
That, in substance, Mr. Chairman, is the plea I make to the committee.
Now, I do not know what the Army engineers may have told you. I have 2 or 3 different statements of estimates as to what the possible effect of the $12,600,000 might be on the completion date; that is, as to delay. My own judgment, based on gathering several different sets of figures and knowing something about the situation myself, is that the delay would not be more than 6 months.
Mr. Davis. We are glad to have this called to our attention and we will look into this carefully before we mark up the bill.
Mr. Priest. I appreciate your consideration, Mr. Chairman. The revised budget figure will not stop the work. It will go on. I think it may reach a point when it will be slowed down very considerably, and if it is slowed a great deal, then I think the result would be most unfavorable to the entire area and to the atomic-energy program, because that 100,000 kilowatts has already been figured in the block of power that atomic energy, the new plant at Paducah, plus Oak Ridge, is counting on by 1955.
Mr. HAND. What would be the direct consequence of further delay cther than the necessity to construct some temporary facilities at the steam plant?
Mr. Priest. The only other consequences there would be the failure to bring in 100,000 kilowatts of power that has been counted on by that time. If it does not come in, they are going to have to depend on some standby plants or somebody is going to have to cut back. I know this committee understands this situation fully, but I find many times that Members of the House that are not acquainted with it do not realize the fact that there is no other source of power in that particular area that power must come either from these hydroelectric generation plants or plants on the Tennessee River and its tributaries and allied streams, or through construction of supplementary steam generation.
Mr. CEDERBERG. In that connection, I assume this power will be sold to the TVA?
Mr. PRIEST. Yes; I should have explained that. There is a contract between the Army engineers, of course, for construction of the dam and the Department of the Interior under a contract sells the power to TVA and through their lines they distribute the power. It is handled through the regular Department of the Interior-TVA contract over the TVA distribution system.