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Senator ELLENDER. I do not want to anticipate what you have in your statement; I just wanted to find out if I could specifically find out what particular part of this project will be affected by this reduction of almost $342 million.
General HARDIN. Very well, sir.
The next tributary basin which deserves comment is the Yazoo. I mentioned there are some reservoirs in this comprehensive project. We are finishing the last of the four reservoirs currently in the Yazoo Basin. The Grenada Reservoir was just closed this month and impoundments started.
The Yazoo Basin is referred to in the Deep South as the Delta portion of the Mississippi Valley. It is extremely well developed agriculturally and the work which remains to be done in that basin outside of the reservoirs is a continuation of the channel improvement work in order to capitalize upon the impoundment capabilities of the reservoir. To make myself more clear, we can impound water in the reservoirs but we are hindered by the rapidity of release. If we release it as fast as we would like to, we will flood the adjacent areas until the channel improvements are accomplished.
Senator ELLENDER. You say you will provide sufficient money to complete the last of those four reservoirs ?
General HARDIN. That is correct. That was in last year's program. I mean this current year.
The well-known cutoffs along the main stem of the Mississippi River have been completed. These cutoffs have been very effective in reducing the length of the Mississippi by some 160 miles and improving its flood-carrying capacity and greatly improving its navigation capabilities. We have, though, remaining in the main stem of the Mississippi a large and important part of the basic project called Bank Stabilization, which is to hold the river in a desirable pattern once it reaches that pattern. Of course the cutoffs were intended to assist the river in reaching a favorable pattern, one where it would not be actively scouring its banks and destroying the levees built along the banks.
Senator McCLELLAN. How much do you lack having that bank stabilization complete? What, percentagewise, is the amount you have completed now?
General HARDIN. I do not have the percentage before me, but of the total amount of bank stabilization planned—450 miles, approximately 092 miles have been completed. It is about 64 percent.
Senator McCLELLAN. And how much do you have in the budget this year to carry on that work? Did you take a drastic cut in that particuiar project?
Senator ELLENDER. Just about $600,000 more than last year.
General Hardin. The funds appropriated last year were $18,145,000 and the budget figure for this year is $18,775,000.
Senator McCLELLAN. That is for bank stabilization, your revetment work?
General HARDIN. Yes.
General HARDIN. But it does not mean we can do more work than we did this year because this year we had a carryover to add to the appropriation for fiscal year 1954.
Senator McCLELLAN. Do you have any carryover now?
General Hardin. We will have a small carryover. We built 35 miles of bank revetment in fiscal year 1953 in comparison with the 23 miles we estimate we will build in fiscal year 1954.
Senator McCLELLAN. Is that because of lower cost of construction!
General HARDIN. No, sir. It was because we had more money for the preceding fiscal year due to the carryover.
Senator THYE (presiding). You are asking this year for about $600,000 additional funds for this bank stabilization work?
General HARDIN. That is correct.
Senator THYE. Because I notice here in the appropriations for 1954 you had $18,145,000; whereas, this year you are asking for $18,775,000.
Senator ELLENDER. Isn't that a field in which you could spend much more money than you have allocated for that purpose ?
General HARDIN. That is correct. If the fiscal situation permitted it, we could spend very effectively and economically as much as $30 million on that work.
Senator ELLENDER. What is the effect of postponing this? Is there not much land that is sloughed off and lost by virtue of this postponement in that area?
General HARDIN. That is a material factor. The river attempts to change its course, as it has over the centuries, and is still active in that regard. Land is lost to the river by the meander of the Mississippi. We are very desirous of seizing and holding the river in its present pattern, which was the result of this great cutoff program constructed some years ago. The river is beginning to leave that pattern. Unless we do seize it in its present pattern, we will have lost a lot of what we gained.
LAND LOST BY WORK POSTPONEMENT
Senator ELLENDER. Can you give us the number of acres per year now being lost because of the postponement of this work? I mean just for this area, just to complete the rest of this work. You said 65 percent of what was contemplated has been completed. Of course there remains the 35 percent to complete. By virtue of postponing the work on the 35 percent, what, in your opinion, is the amount of good land being wasted each year?
General HARDIN. I think I would have to figure that up in many small increments, but I think it would not be overestimated to say a thousand acres a year is lost in that fashion. However, Senator, our feeling that the program could be conducted to better advantage and more economically if more funds were available rests primarily upon the full utilization of a very expensive amount of plant that we use in this work. The sinking plants, three in number, should be fully employed to give the best return to the Government. After they are mobilized and the crew is engaged, necessarily the amount of work which we are able to do in the construction season will depend upon the overall distribution of those general charges, and it results in a lower unit price if we have the plant fully engaged during the season.
Senator ELLENDER. I think it was pointed out last year, with refer- few ence to the bank stabilization work below Dennison Dam southward, that the rate of acreage lost in that area was over 1,600 acres per year or more.
General HARDIN. On the Red River, that is right.
Senator ELLENDER. I want to bring that in to show the losses that are sustained by virtue of this continuous postponement. That is land we can never recover. It is gone, brought down the river into the ocean or the gulf. I will discuss it later, but with reference to that particular project, last year we got almost $600,000. This year it is cut in half. I would like the engineers to address themselves to that when we get to that particular phase of the budget.
DIVERSION OF RIVER
General HARDIN. Very well, sir.
I would like to mention briefly a subject which I am rather sure you are generally familiar with, one that has been actively discussed before your committee in the past, Mr. Chairman. It has to do with the Atchafalaya Basin and particularly the intentions of the Mississippi River to divert its course through the Atchafalaya Basin. We refer to it as the necessity for the control of the old river. I believe my predecessor mentioned to you that he had initiated studies on the features to control this diversion of the Mississippi. I have carried on his work, and we are in the process at the moment of preparing a comprehensive report for submission to the Chief of Engineers and the Congress in mid-February.
UNOBLIGATED AND UNEXPENDED FUNDS
Senator THYE. While we are speaking about that report, would you furnish for the record a statement of your unobligated and unexpended funds as of June 30, 1953? That was the unobligated and unexpended funds at that time. The appropriations for the fiscal year of 1954, your actual obligation and expenditures to December 31, 1953, and your estimated unexpended and unobligated balances on June 30 of this year. If we have that, I think it will give us a better understanding of what the entire financial situation actually is. General HARDIN. We will furnish that statement, Mr. Chairman. (The material referred to follows:)
$35€, 952 $51, 433,000 $39, 274, 975 $12, 514.977
51, 716 535, 213 943, 881 51, 433, 000 39,326, 691 13,050, 190
General HARDIN. So our report on the control of the diversion of the Mississippi will be completed by February 15. We hope to get consideration of that recommended improvement in this session of Congress.
Senator ELLENDER. Will it be necessary to obtain any new authorization, or do you figure that this is a part of the original project?
General HARDIN. While it can be properly said to be a part of the original project, inasmuch as it has always been intended that the Atchafalaya shall carry half of the flood burden of the lower Mississippi Basin, there was no provision in the original authorizing legislation or subsequent amendments which provides the monetary authorization for the necessary corrective features. It has been habitually our practice, I feel, to bring to the attention of Congress any major changes in this project which require a change in the monetary limit.
Senator ELLENDER. When this project was first submitted to the Congress, was the old river project considered?
General HARDIN. Yes, sir, very definitely.
Senator ELLENDER. In other words, the Corps of Engineers anticipated what might happen?
General HARDIN. Yes.
Senator ELLENDER. In other words, the Corps of Engineers anticipated ? That is, about 50 percent of the Mississippi River flow at about Angola going south; is that right?
General Hardin. That is true. Half of the total project flow is to be accommodated in the Atchafalaya Basin.
Senator ELLENDER. It is your considered judgment, I presume, that unless the old river structures are taken care of soon that it is possible that the Atcha falaya will take a great deal more of the water of the Mississippi River than you anticipated.
General HARDIN. It will do that. The difficulty that goes along with it is that there will be a severe deterioration of the lower Mississippi Channel which will have a very adverse effect in the accommodation of its flood flows as well as navigation, municipal water supplies, industrial water supply, and all of the attendant complications.
Senator ELLENDER. Since you have not completed your study of that and you expect it to come to the Congress in February, I am not going to go into any details about it. But I hope to go into it very thoroughly when it does come up in February.
Senator THIYE. What would you anticipate the magnitude of that cost would be?
General HARDIN. For the remedial work in the latitude of Old River for flood-control purposes, and exclusive of any other features such as navigation, it will probably be in the magnitude of $50 million. I am just in the process of reviewing the final cost estimates, but I think it can be said to be in the approximate magnitude of that estimate.
Senator THYE. As you do review these costs, are you giving a sort of general overall study to what the rising cost might be as it affects the various features of the overall projects, because I noticed in reviewing your estimate that although various items had been adjusted according to page 3 of your planning report the last adjusted estimate of your overall cost was made in the year 1950. I also note that the increase that was made in the act of 1950, was based on the engineering news record cost index of 1948.
You point out that this index has continued to rise since that time. Then
show that as of 1948 the theoretical increase in the cost of construction due to rising costs was shown to be at $325,534,314, and that in the 1950 act the Congress did allow a $200 million increase in authorization due to the rising costs. This left you an estimated deficit, due to the increased costs there, of $125,534,314. I just wondered whether you had made a restudy of the estimates in the 1948 overall review of the cost index and the increase you were allowed in the 1950 act, that $200 million—just what is the situation at the present time? Are your costs holding to somewhat near the theoretical anticipated increases ?
General Hardin. Senator, to clear up my mind on your point, you are referring to the overall Mississippi River tributary project, this $1.292,748,500?
Senator THYE. That is the estimate I have of the work which is involved here.
General HARDIN. I will have to ask a member of my staff on that question.
Mr. Chairman, I find that the figures which were presented to the committee in 1950 are these figures which give the total of $1,292,758,500. We are still carrying our cost estimates currently, and the deficit of over $125 million due to increased cost made known to Congress in the hearings on the 1950 Flood Control Act still exists. However, the cost of construction has leveled off considerably in recent years and recent months, and we have detected no further increase and possibly maybe some gain on that deficit. We have not asked for any change in the authorization overall, pending a little more lapse of time.
Incidentally, we have in mind making a thorough engineering review of the project, too, in the coming months which will assist us in determining whether or not we should present to the Congress a request for an increase in authorization. But there seems to be no immediate necessity for that.
Senator THYE. In other words, the overall cost is on the decrease, and there you think you are going to make a gain in the course of this year's operations in regard to lesser costs in materials and men!