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CIVIL FUNCTIONS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 1954
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The subcommittee met at 10 a. m., pursuant to recess, in room F-39, the Capitol, Hon. William F. Knowland (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding
Present: Senators Knowland, Thye, Hayden, Ellender, McClellan, and Robertson
FLOOD CONTROL-MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES
STATEMENTS OF BRIG. GEN. JOHN R. HARDIN, PRESIDENT, MISSISSIPPI RIVER COMMISSION; H. V. DARLING, ENGINEER, OFFICE, CHIEF OF ENGINEERS; AND A. L. ALDRIDGE, ENGINEER, MISSISSIPPI RIVER COMMISSION Senator KNOWLAND. General, you may proceed. General HARDIN. Mr. Chairman, I am Brig. Gen. John R. Hardin, President of the Mississippi River Commission, stationed at Vicksburg, Miss. The project which I appear before you today on behalf of is the Mississippi River and tributaries project. This project for food control of the Mississippi River and its tributaries was authorized by the act of 1928. It has been amended a number of times. The present money limitation for this project is $1,292,748,500, of which $818,770,400 has been appropriated to date, leaving a monetary authorization of $413,978,100. Based upon this status of funds the project can be said to be approximately 65.6 percent complete. A large amount of this work, however, I should point out, was accomplished at the expense of local interests before the Federal Government assumed full responsibility for the prosecution of the work. Approximately $292 million was expended by local interests on this work before the adoption of the program for flood control in the lower valley, and
to the present time $349 million has been expended by local interests either on their own or in conjunction with the Federal project as their portion of the undertaking.
It is a comprehensive project and will provide protection against the floods in the alluvial valley of the Mississippi River which extends
from the junction of the Mississippi and Ohio at Cairo, Ill., all the way down through the valley to the mouth and down through the Atchafalaya Basin which adjoins the Mississippi in the lower portion with of the basin.
The valley is a wide one and there are many tributaries that contribute to the flooding. The project includes the main stem treatment as well as the treatment of the tributary valleys and their backwater areas.
These tributary areas are the St. Francis, the White, the Arkansas, the Tensas, the Red, Yazoo, and Atchafalaya. When the project is completed—and I might say it is the basis of design of all of its structures-we anticipate it will protect against the maximum probable flow, a flood which is larger than any that has occurred. We think it is prudent to design it that way because nature has a way of always exceeding what she has done before. It is a combination of levee work, cutoffs to improve the pattern of river flow, bank stabilization to keep the river from cutting and destroying its banks, and necessarily the levees which are built upon its banks. It also TELE provides for floodways to relieve the river of its floods that it cannot carry in its main channel, to divert them through other courses, and it includes reservoirs in some of the basins.
It has been effective in preventing major flood losses on three occasions since the great flood of 1927, and it has been effective in many years of lesser flooding. To give you some idea of the worthiness of the project. I can state that it has prevented flood damages since well 1928 of $4.7 billion and the cost ratio, which is the weighing of annual benefits against annual costs, is 3.7 to 1.
The project is well advanced in certain features and yet, as you can see from the percentage of accomplishment that I mentioned, there still remains a lot to be done. The main-line levee work which was necessarily the first order of priority after the work was initiated is well advanced. This main-line levee work consists of approxi. Dela mately 1,600 miles of levee on both sides of the river and about 1,300 have been completed or will be under contract by the end of this year. The remaining raising to be done on these levees is of decreasing up amount as we progress toward the final completion of the levees. They These 300 miles that remain to be completed are not new under
M takings; it is the finishing out of levees to the designed grade and section.
The work which remains to be done on the tributarv streams within the alluvial vallev so far as levees are concerned is, of course, much greater than that which remains to be done on the main stem. Of the 1.955 miles of levee on the tributary streams, annroximately 978 mill be complete or under contract at the end of this fiscal year. Much work in this category remains to he done in the St. Francis, the White, the Arkansas, and the Yazoo Basins.
I mentioned that another method of treatment is the floodways. We have completed the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway and the Bonnet-Carre spillway just above New Orleans, and in the Atchafalaya Basin we have the Morganza control structure operative, which makes that floodway operative even though it is not yet completed. In the Atchafalaya which in itself is a big floodway, a combination of three channels as a matter of fact_namely, the Morganza Floodway on the east, the river itself, and then the West Atchafalaya Floodway which has a fuseplug levee at the upper end—they are all ready for operation.
There is a concern on our part about the status of the levees in the lower portion of that basin inasmuch as that basin is filling and the levee grades are somewhat inadequate because we cannot raise the levee grades continuously on account of difficult foundation conditions. We propose to undertake some dredging in that basin to encourage the development of the river to final capacity and to do so in the interest of flood control because of the hazard to the levees on both sides of the floodways if we just allow nature to take its course.
Senator ELLENDER. Do you wish the general to continue without interruption?
Senator KNOWLAND. No, I would prefer to have questions asked as we go along.
ATCHAFALAYA BASIN Senator ELLENDER. General, you have just stated that the Morganza Flood way has reached a state where it can be in operation. You will concede that if that were done, there is much damage that could come about to the landowners in the southern portion of this project, do
General HARDIN. Below the latitude of Morgan City, Senator. Our current program is advancing on the incomplete work at the lower end of the basin, below the latitude of Morgan City, as fast as funds can be made available.
Senator ROBERTSON. Does that mean if this floodway is built that land not subject to being flooded would be flooded ?
Senator ELLEN DER. You have between the guide lines. What I had in mind, the general just stated that the Morganza Floodway could now be operated. My point is, if it were operated, it would no doubt affect a lot of lands located in the southern portion of this Atchafalaya Basin.
Senator ROBERTSON. That were not contemplated to be flooded ?
Senator ELLENDER. That is right. The reason for that is, the project is not completed in those areas.
Senator ROBERTSON. You mean the levee is there? Senator ELLENDER. That is right. That is why I wanted to make plain that if the floodway were used, let us say, this spring, that the possibilities are that much valuable land south of Morgan Citywhich would include my home town-might be flooded out, is that true ?
General HARDIN. That is very true.
Senator ELLENDER. I did not want the impression to be left that the floodway was completed. It strikes me that more money, if possible,
should be appropriated to complete the project south of Morgan City so that this whole floodway can be effectively put into operation. Until that is done, it could not be used to its full capacity.
General HARDIN. It might be stated that each year that we subject ourselves to the risk, we are just gambling on the results.
Senator ELLENDER. General, does this budget provide the funds sufficient to complete the project south of Morgan City within, say, this fiscal year coming up?
General Hardin. No, sir, it will not complete the project.
Senator ELLENDER. Would it be feasible to spend more money than the budget provides?
General HARDIN. Yes, sir, I think it would be feasible. It might be said to be advantageous to do so. But under the limitation of the budget, evaluating various things that need to be done, these are the distributions that we thought were all that could be provided.
Senator ROBERTSON. Could we take a little from the Table Rock Dam and put it down there in Louisiana?
Senator ELLENDER. This project has been placed on the statute books since 1928.
General HARDIN. Yes, sir.
Senator ELLENDER. It is only 66 percent complete. Most of that completion has been to the north from Cairo on down to around Angola; is that correct?
General Hardin. There has been a large amount of accomplishment in this basin. It has been given treatment to the extent of 85 percent completion. I mean the Atchafalaya Basin.
Senator ELLENDER. That is true from north of Morgan City. But by opening it, you just simply open the floodgates to quite a huge territory.
General HARDIN. Both east and west of Morgan City.
Senator ELLENDER. When, in vour opinion, will this be completed; that is, from Morgan City south? Have you any target date set?
General HARDIN. Yes, sir, we have a target set for it.
In continuation of my remarks, I will mention for the information of the committee that the work which is presently planned will go well into 1958.
Senator ELLENDER. I have a vague recollection that it was contemplated to complete this project in 1955; that is, the lower regions, so that the levees would be built and adequate protection given to the lands just outside of the floodway.
General HARDIN. We would be in a position to have all structures in the vicinity of Morgan City finished by fiscal year 1956. The Bayou Boeuf lock at Morgan City will be completed with the funds we are asking for in the budget for 1955. That structure is the key to the protection to the east. However, the levee, as you recall, below Morgan City on that same side has to be extended southward. It is a levee which has only been initiated in recent years. It has to be built in successive lifts because of foundation conditions. The first lift has only been placed on certain reaches of that levee. We had hoped to be able to do a substantial amount of extension of that levee in 1955, but it will not be possible under the present budget.
Senator ELLENDER. You mean because of lack of funds and not because of the inability to do the work?
General Hardin. That is right.
Over on the west side of the basin our funds for 1955 will advance the various types of protection toward completion, but it will not complete them. It will take more than another year's work in there, if we get the funds, before the pumping plants and the closures of those levees can be completed.
Senator ELLENDER. I notice on the justification here that last year for the entire work on the Mississippi River and tributaries we appropriated $51,876,012, and that has been reduced to $45,693,000, or a decrease of over $6 million. Why was that done?
General HARDIN. That was the limitation that was placed on the amount of funds that could be requested for this budget.
Senator ELLENDER. In other words, that was the cut that was agreed upon for the lower Mississippi River and its tributaries?
General HARDIN. It was the figure in the 1955 budget which was recommended by the President.
Senator ELLENDER. Of course the engineers asked for more, I presume. Could you put in the record what you requested?
General HARDIN. Yes, sir. Our original request for funds for prosecuting this work in 1955 fiscal year was $70 million.
Senator ELLENDER. You got but $45 million. Of course, you felt that $70 million was necessary; otherwise, you would not have asked for it.
General HARDIN. We felt it was the desirable rate to prosecute the project in the interest of economy.
Senator ELLENDER. Do you think it is economy? General HARDIN. Certain works can be prosecuted more economically if we undertake it in larger units, such as our revetment work.
Senator ELLENDER. I notice under item 10 on page 749, under "Land and structures," there is taken off more than half of the $6 million that the estimate is below last year's appropriation. What will be affected by that reduction !
General HARDIN. I believe you are looking at a sheet which is labeled “Scheduled for Direct Obligations.” It is difficult to correlate that with the requested funds for expenditure.
To answer your question generally, I think that item 10, which is a way of classifying obligations from an accounting standpoint, indicates that the funds available for obligations against lands and structures will be $3,444,000 less than the previous year. This is a general classification of activities.
Senator ELLENDER. I presume before you get through with your statement that you can indicate what portion of these projects will be affected by this reduction of almost $312 million under this "Land and structures.”
General HARDIN. I can do that. The features that will be affected are: Mississippi River levees; Memphis Harbor; lower White River, Yazoo River Basin; Atchafalaya River Basin, and Lake Pontchar