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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA., FLOODWALL
STATEMENT OF HON. A. S. MIKE MONRONEY, A UNITED STATES
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Senator MONRONEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your letting me come in now. I want to appear in behalf of the Oklahoma City Floodway, which is now under construction. It is a part of the very important flood control system on the North Canadian River, which, through the years, has been one of the major problems of the city of Oklahoma City. The river divides the city roughly by onethird. In this one-third are the industrial area, including some 20,000 workers at Tinker Air Force Base, a large number of homes; and a larger part of the city's retail section. It makes a semicircle around the metropolitan area. The floodway project, when completed, will be 15 miles in length, and will definitely confine the riverflow to a predetermined channel.
Effective channel flow control will minimize the recurrence of devastating floods, afford protection for more than $84 million of public and privately owned facilities, 14,000 people residing in the flood plain, and 5,000 acres of land—2,000 of which will be reclaimed by fill from channel excavation.
It will benefit public health, aid family rescue and rehabilitation, and help combat delinquency, both juvenile and adult, all of which have their origin in the substandard river bottom. Public and private construction can then proceed in the area where flood danger now makes it impractical or impossible. Modern express highways along the protected area will speed traffic through the city. A program of general improvement will transform this drab, dangerous area into an inviting, attractive residential and industrial community.
There has been previously appropriated $2,200,000 for this undertaking, and the first unit is almost completed. I wish to point out particularly that to date local interests have provided $4,791,000 as evidence of public approval and support, more than twice the amount of the Federal contribution.
Maximum benefits cannot be realized until the floodway is completed in its entirety. The portion already near completion is subject to severe damage, and has already sustained minor damage.
The President has requested $2,314,000 to continue construction. This is the absolute minimum, and I strongly urge that the full amount be allowed. Otherwise, it will be necessary to authorize the Corps of Engineers to incur contractual obligations to enable construction to continue at a normal rate.
Detailed data on the benefits to be derived from this project will be filed for the record by Superintendent Cunningham which I am sure you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of your subcommittee, will find enlightening and helpful. Mr. Cunningham is also prepared to answer any specific questions which you may have.
COMPLETION OF FLOW LINE
I would like to urge the Senate version of the flow line for Muskogee, Okla., be rewritten into the bill this year. As you know, last year you did write in an authorization for $1,100,000 to complete this flow line. It is of vital importance.
The Army engineers have admitted their obligation to replace this vital water supply. The proof of this is the fact the flow-line connection was placed in the dam when the Army engineers constructed it. Arguments have been made on various points, but never on the Government's liability to replace the loss of Muskogee's water supply with water from the Fort Gibson Dam.
It would be in the interest of the Government, rather than to dump this water in the channel, many times that needed by the city, to let Muskogee pick up the water from the dam, thereby eliminating the vast wastage that occurs along with many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of hydropower which could otherwise have been produced.
You have spent many thousands of dollars in relocating railroads, putting them far above the high-water mark. You have spent thousands of dollars relocating utility lines and highways. Yet here in this city of 40,000 that thus far has been denied, because of a lack of firm understanding, its right to an uninterrupted supply of water from this river which it has had since 1902.
I sincerely hope the Senate will again take the action taken last year by making available the funds required to reimburse Muskogee for construction of this vital flow line.
Senator KNOWLAND. Thank you. We are glad to have your testimony.
The committee will be glad to hear from Mr. Cunningham at this time.
STATEMENT OF HON. MORRISON B. CUNNINGHAM, CITY WATER
DEPARTMENT, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. I would like to file a statement and make a few remarks.
Senator KNOWLAND. Your statement may be printed in full.
(The material referred to follows:) STATEMENT OF HON. MORRISON B. CUNNINGHAM, SUPERINTENDENT, OKLAHOMA
CITY WATER DEPARTMENT Gentlemen, my name is Morrison B. Cunningham. I am superintendent and engineer of the city of Oklahoma City Water Department. My appearance here is formally authorized by the Mayor and City Council of Oklahoma City. I appreciate your courtesy in permitting me to present to you information concerning the Oklahoma City Floodway project, and respectfully urge approval of $2,100,000 as a minimum budget request to continue construction work on the floodway project. These funds will complete the present contract, continue relocation of two railroad bridges, and begin construction of the next unit of the channel.
Construction work on the second unit of this project will start within 30 to 60 days and consists largely of earth excavation, and will have a material effect on relieving some of the average annual flood loss of $407,910. New construction within area since the flood-loss report was made would materially increase this amount. To carry construction of the project forward would, we belive, be in the best interests of the Federal Government and local interests.
This project has received public approval by vote of the people of Oklahoma City on May 9, 1950, at which time $2,775,000 was made available for the procurement of the necessary rights-of-way, and for required local participation in the first unit of construction. The rights-of-way are now available for the first part of the project, and certification impending on second section. Additional funds voted Dec. 8, 1953, by Oklahoma City
$1, 812, 000 Additional funds voted Dec. 8, 1953, by Oklahoma County
204, 000 Additional funds voted May 9, 1950 by Oklahoma City-
2, 775, 000
Total funds provided to date by local interests.
4, 791, 000 The confidence of local interests that the floodway construction will be expedited has resulted in $5,833,000 of new construction per year July 27, 1950. In addition, $81,360,000 of essential publicly and privately owned facilities depend upon protection from floods, offered by this project.
Reviewing our records at the time the city council agreed to the terms and conditions of floodway construction (July 27, 1950), publicly and privately owned facilities located in the area to be protected amounted to $63,860,000. Present value --
$81, 360, 000 Now under construction
2, 700, 000
84,060, 000 These figures show construction and work under way amounted to $20,200,000, or an average of $5,833,000 per year since July 27, 1950 (342 years). This construction was built in good faith and was contingent upon the belief that the floodway project would progress as a rate considered reasonable. Now if completion is delayed, this poperty will be in danger of great flood damage.
When the project was initiated, we had contemplated a 3-year completion, subject to availability of funds.
Also, as work progresses in the outlet section, evidence of damages due to sand deposits has already been encountered. Such deposits are not expected to be an undue problem upon completion of entire project.
Community planning is built around completion of the project-especially 12 miles of expressways awaiting construction are within the area to be protected from floods.
This is the basis of our request for $2,100,000 as a minimum requirementFederal funds to keep work progressing. Summary of the project
The project has been designated by the Corps of Engineers as "Oklahoma City Floodway-North Canadian River.” It runs through Oklahoma City (bisects the city) and areas adjacent thereto, extending east and west of the city property—two-thirds of the city being on the north side of the river, and one-third on the south side. The type of construction is an excavated channel. Surplus excavation will be used for making fills for proposed urban and express highways, and for filling the law areas in the flood plain, making them usable for park beautification and adjoining areas, for residential, business, and industrial purposes.
The length of the floodway project is 15 miles.
The Oklahoma City Floodway project is one of a system of four flood-control projects on the North Canadian River, in Oklahoma, of which the two reservoir projects at Canton and Fort Supply—upstream from Oklahoma City-have been completed; and the fourth is the authorized Optima Reservoir, still further upstream. Value of property to be protected
Evidence of confidence the project will be constructed without delay is shown by the value of property in the flood plain which the Oklahoma City Floodway project will protect from flood damage, as follows: Public property, $19,525,000, and private property, $64,535,000—making a total of all essential public and privately owned facilities, $84,060,000.
A recent review shows that 90 percent of all the facilities and services within the flood plain areas are essential to the national defense program. (Detailed more fully in supplement attached.)
Summary of major benefits to be secured by the protection against floods, and
the construction of the Oklahoma City Floodway project (a) It will vitalize the construction of 52 miles of expressways provided for in the Oklahoma City, and Oklahoma County, master plan; 12 miles of these expressways are within the area to be protected from flooding, and include the new expressway from Tinker Field to Oklahoma City. We have acquired most of the rights-of-way for these expressways.
(b) The new state fairgrounds, recently purchased by the ci and for the construction of which $4,775,000 in funds were provided through the bond issue of May 9, 1950, requires flood protection and drainage in certain portions which this floodway will provide. The new State fairgrounds is designed with modern, fireproof buildings, for year round use. Construction of these facilities are now under way. It will be a great center for educational purposes, such as 4H and FFA, and is closely tied in with the Oklahoma A. and M. College demonstration farm.
(c) The present State fairgrounds, which is presently being converted into a Negro vocational high school, and other Negro public facilities, is now partly inundated at times of flood. This flood protection will expand usable portions of the grounds and help improve facilities for the Negro population of Oklahoma City.
(d) This project will protect lives and property. Fourteen lives have been lost by flood. The average annual flood loss, without floodway, totals $407,910. We estimate double this amount due to construction added since report was made.
(e) Two thousand acres of land adjoining the floodway will be filled and reclaimed with earth wasted from canal excavation. A total of 5,000 acres in the Oklahoma City area will be protected from floods, and made available for general use.
(f) Under the Oklahoma City and County bond issues, and the 1950 and 1953 city bond issues, the master plan of the city and county highway system has been established and fixed as to location.
This master plan provides for the vast development of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, and much of Oklahoma County, thereby making it available for zoning for residences, business, and industry. This development is progressing on the assurance that the Oklahoma City Floodway project will be constructed rapidly.
(9) Public health will be improved through the elimination of low areas, where disease-carrying insects multiply.
(h) Family rescue and rehabilitation in low river-bottom areas, now a major problem at times of flood and flood threat, will be largely eliminated.
(i) Elimination of juvenile and adult delinquency, a major portion of which has its source in the substandard river-bottom area, will go forward through stimulation to better homes and healthier surroundings, and beautification by construction of parks and recreational facilities in areas now subject to flood.
(j) Public and private utilities cost of construction and maintenance will be lowered by confining the North Canadian River to a definite location and width, through lesser flood-protection requirements; and by shortening river crossings. Rail, highway, and street crossings will be similarly benefited. Storm sewer construction will be greatly benefited by the construction of lateral drainage as a part of the floodway construction.
(k) Permanent new public-school construction will be warranted with funds now available in sections of the flood plain where the present flood threat makes such construction impracticable. General
A program of general improvement, beautification, and utilization is now being planned throughout the North Canadian River area. The floodway is basic to this area. Its construction will permit utilization of some 2,000 acres now largely waste, and will further give flood protection to some 5,000 acres covering areas of residential, commercial, and industrial development now subject to possible flooding.
Plans for local participation through bond issue are based upon assumption that the Federal authorization of funds, and appropriation of sufficient funds, will be made to continue construction of the Oklahoma City Floodway project as rapidly as possible.
On behalf of the city of Oklahoma City, I want to express our appreciation for your consideration, and for permitting this statement to be presented.
SUPPLEMENT No. 1
THE OKLAHOMA CITY FLOODWAY
Essential industries and services which will receive protection from flood damage
through construction of the Oklahoma City Floodway NOTES—The term "essential” is given those operations which will directly support a national defense program, or which are of a type easily converted to such.
The flood plain referred to herein is that of the greatest flood of record (1923).
1. Based upon dollar value of existing facilities, 90 percent of all facilities and services within the flood plain area are essential to a national defense program.
2. Upon the basis of services necessary to the city as a whole, and therefore to any part of a national defense program in which this city may engage, a very large proportion of the essential services and operations in the flood plain are absolutely indispensable. Particularly is this true with reference to rail and truck transportation services which are highly centralized in this area; and to utilities which serve all or large portions of this city. Disruption of these services would be disastrous to the entire city.
3. Cost of the project lies largely in earth movement, land for right-of-way, and general labor, rather than in materials. Use of critical materials such as steel and concrete will be at a minimum in proportion to the size of the project. Consequently, benefits in ratio to critical materials is high.
The following detail supports these conclusions. 1. General description of river area and derelopments therein
The North Canadian River flows eastward directly through Oklahoma City. Approximately two-thirds of city development lies north of the river-one-third south thereof.
Center of the downtown business district lies approximately three-fourths mile from the nearest point on the river.
Record flood plain ranges from 1 to 134 miles in width through the city, reaching to within one-fourth mile of the center of the business district.
Flood damage begins with flow of 8,000 cubic feet per second. At 16,000 cubic feet per second damage is widespread and a large proportion of operations within the area are halted, streets overflowed, and hundreds of families must be moved out of the area.
Greatest flood of record (1923) produced a flow of more than 100,000 cubic feet per second. This flood, modified by reservoirs now in place at Canton (60 miles upstream) and at Fort Supply (140 miles upstream), would produce 20,000 cubic feet per second flow at Oklahoma City. Engineers are agreed that it is possible for as great a flood to develop below these protective works. Local floods up to 42,000 cubic feet per second are of record, such as June 1932.
Authorized floodway channel will carry 45,000 cubic feet per second.
Although there are large areas of waste or unused land in the flood plain, nevertheless many of the city's most important and essential industries and seryices—both public and private-lie therein. Summary of the essential publicly and privately owned facilities located in the
Residential housing.–Residences in the flood plain house approximately 14,000 people. Lower residential areas are inundated beginning the 8,000 cubic feet per second; most of the areas with 16,000 cubic feet per second flood. Approximately half of these people who are employed work for business or industry essential to the war effort, and many of them are employed at Tinker Field.
Employment.—Total employment in this area, subject to floods, is estimated to be 6,000. Employed in essential industries and services, public and private, is estimated to be 3,000. Floods of 16,000 cubic feet per second seriously damage and stop work within the area.
All railroads serving the city traverse the river area. Four of the five railroads have their central facilities—passenger and freight depots, yards, two roundhouses, and miles of general and industrial trackage-within the flood plain.
On May 9, 1950, the people of Oklahoma City voted a $36 million bond issue, of which more than one-third of the money will be used for the construction of community facilities within the area to be protected by the floodway.