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don't mean these 2 million acres, but probably a million acres would be overflowed. There would have to be evacuation of thousands of peo ple. There would be hundreds of thousands who could be disastrously affected.
I think I have said enough, gentlemen, to make you think that in our opinion the present appropriations are not adequate to do the work which is necessary.
I would also like to point out that we think this manmade channel and these manmade levees are an especial obligation of the Federal Government to protect our people in that area. The devastation would be immense in the event these levees were overtopped. I would like to insert my prepared statement.
Thank you very much. Mr. Davis. Thank you, Mr. Jones. (The statement referred to follows:) Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, my name is Elliott Jones, of Houma, La. I am a member of the Atchafalaya Basin Levee Board. The Atchafalaya Floodway traverses our district in its entirety from Old River to the Gulf of Mexico. This floodway is an integral part of the flood-control plan of the Mississippi River and it was designed to carry safely to the Gulf a maximum of 1,500,000 cubic feet per second or half the Mississippi River water arriving at the head of the floodway at time of superflood.
The waters of the floodway from Morganza south are kept within the floodway by guide levees. At least, these guide levees are supposed to keep the floodwaters confined even during a superflood. The plan was conceived following the 1927 flood and overflow.
The guide levees have in large degree been raised to the then calculated grade. It was also admitted in the formation of the plan that it would be necessary to maintąin a channel in the floodway by dredging. Dredging was commenced in the basin about 1932, but such dredging was stopped about 1937, after some 120 million cubic yards had been moved.
Public Law No. 678, adopted in 1936 by the 74th Congress (49 Stat. 1508) provides that the Flood Control Act of 1928, "be amended substantially as recommended by the Mississippi River Commission in its report dated January 19, 1935, to provide :
"Item 6.—The immediate completion of the guide levees of the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway to afford full protection to all lands outside of these levees.
“Item 8.—The improvement of the discharge capacity of the channel of the Atchafalaya and its outlets."
It is necessary now to take a new look at our conditions. In doing so I quote from a report called The Atchafalaya Study issued by the Mississippi River Commission in 1951.
Page 28, “The construction of controlling levees through the Atchafalaya Basin to the presently designed grade and section is extremely difficult. There are many miles of these levees that have been added to at least three times, and they are now barely up to a grade required to pass a discharge of 1 million cubic feet per second through the basin instead of the required 1,500,000 cubic feet per second."
Since these levees traverse a swampy area, the base on which they are built prevents their being raised to any extent. If they are raised, and additional load causes them to subside.
There has been no dredging in the basin since 1937 and consequently there has been an enormous amount of silting.
I now quote again from the publication cited above and from the succeeding paragraph on page 28:
"The immediate need for adequate control of floods passing through the Atchafalaya Basin makes it necessary to perform dredging for the development of a channel or channels with cross-sectional areas sufficient to carry the project flood flow through the Atchafalaya Basin below the end of the levees without raising the elevation of the flood-flow lines above the confining elevations provided by the guide levees."
The capacity of the Atchafalaya River in its upper reaches has been in creasing greatly and in its lower basin deposition has been occurring rapidly filling these lowlands, and building a delta, thereby raising the water stages in the lower basin each year for relative stages in the upper river. This has reached the stage now whereby any major highwater produces stages in the lower basin that approach the maximum grade of the floodway levees. Understand that this occurs without the Morganza Floodway in operation.
Thees facts are now published in official records of the Mississippi River Commission in its report on the study of the capture of the Mississippi River by the Atchafalaya River. The deposition is shown in plates B-54 through B-74 of the cross basin survey ranges. A study of the discharge relation charts B-44 to B-47 indicate the following:
It is obvious from the above that the upper reaches of the Atchafalaya River reflected by the Simmesport, Melville and Krotz Springs gages and discharge has greatly increased in capacity without increase in stage whereas the Atchafalaya Station has increased greatly to carry the same amount of water and that it will continue to increase with each year for relative stages above.
The flood of 1950, for example, sent 630,000 cubic feet per second down the Atchafalaya. The gage at a point some 45 miles below Simmesport went to 30.4 feet.
We believe a siinilar high water today would send this same gage to approximately 33 feet which is close to the grade of the guide levees at that latitude. If the Morganza control structure should be put into operation with a stage of 33 at Atchafalaya Station, our guide levees would then surely be overtopped. In other words, while the carrying capacity of the floodway was designed for 1,500,000 cubic feet per second, danger to the area on both sides of the floodway becomes imminent when 630,000 cubic feet per second comes down the floodway. These guide levees passing through unstable terrain where subsidence is occurring may readily be overtopped or crevassed.
Not all of the land in the 13 parishes would be affected by such crevassing or overtopping, but we believe half of the area would be flooded if the levees are crevassed in the latitude of Atchafalaya Station, or 12,000 farms and 1 million acres of cropland, the major crop being sugarcane. While I do not believe loss of life would be great, thousands of people would have to be evacuated and property damage would be tremendous.
I will repeat, for it should be kept in mind, the lands outside the guide levees and supposedly protected by them, embrace 13 parishes out of the total of 64 parishes in Louisiana. In this area we have 24,000 farms (many of which are large sugarcane plantations) and more than 2 million acres of alluvial farm land, some of the richest in the world. There are many large towns in the area, most of them in the lower part of the basin, two of which approach 25,000 in population. In the past 25 years large oil and gas fields have been discovered and great industrial development has come due to abundant fuel and the nearby production of sulfur and salt. We do not claim the whole area would be flooded by levee breaks in the latitude of Atchafalaya Station which is about midway from the head of the floodway to the gulf, but half of our area could be affected.
Such hazards as we face are not the normal hazards of high water, but they are due to the plans started in operation by the Federal Government to control the waters of the Mississippi to protect all the lives and property in the valley. Those of us who live in the Atchafalaya Basin feel that the floodwaters of the Mississippi are fairly under control down to where our floodway starts at the head of Old River. We are entitled to equal protection to those above us. We believe the completion of the Atchafalaya Floodway should take precedence over all other work in the entire valley. We are in a separate category from all other areas.
At this time we believe it is imperative to continue to raise the grade of our levees. We believe it is imperative by dredging to prevent the carrying capacity of the lower basin from becoming worse. Some channel dredging south of Alabama Station will be helpful and those on our board believe it imperative.
This dredging should be done in such manner and to such an extent to prevent further deterioration in the carrying capacity of the channel. We are not asking now for dredging to the extent that 1,500,000 can be carried, but we now think we can reasonably demand a channel to carry 1 million cubic feet per second safely to the gulf. You understand this is only two-thirds of the capacity for which the floodway was designed. I repeat, this is our request as of today. In due course we expect the Federal Government to fulfill its promise and obligation to complete the work whereby 1,500,000 cubic feet per second may be safely carried to the gulf.
The present condition of people and property in the Atchafalaya Basin is extremely hazardous. This has been brought about by circumstances beyond our control. While we accept the general Mississippi flood-control plan in its completed form, we know we are now inadequately provided for and pray for relief. If the overall budget for the lower Mississippi and its tributaries for 1955 is established at $56 million (approximately) as requested at this hearing, I feel confident the Mississippi River Commission will proceed during the coming year in giving further protection to the Atchafalaya Basin, proceeding under the statute of 1936.
ELLIOTT JONES, Vice President, Atchafala ya Basin Levee Board, Mr. BERBLING. Mr. Chairman, I failed a moment ago, and I want to ask permission now, to insert in the record the tabulation that I gave to you gentlemen.
Mr. Davis. We will be happy to have that placed in the record. (The tabulation referred to follows:) At a joint meeting in Memphis, February 5, the executive and legislative committees of the Mississippi Valley Flood-Control Association voted to request appropriations for the Mississippi River and tributaries in the total amount of $56,885,000. The table shown below which compares the association's asking with the budget estimate shows in detail the committee action.
3, 230, 000
1, 190, 000 2,500,000
Big Sunflower, etc Tensus River Basin:
Boeuf and Tensas
Red River backwator,
1, 900, 000
2, 736, 000
13, 440. 650
9, 801, 000
18. 510.000 41,885, 000
Mr. BERBLING. I also mentioned when I first started so as to reassure the committee, to ask those who are here who are going to file statements to stand up and give their name and file their statements. Those that are not going to testify orally, I would like you to do that at this time-those who are here who have statements to file, will you announce your name and who you are and then file your statement.
Mr. DE WITT PoE. Mr. Chairman, I am De Witt Poe, of McGhee, Ark., living in the northern area of the Tensas Basin area of which Mr. Sessums has testified. I wish to file my statement showing the contribution made by our area on their part heretofore and in years gone by, together with the statements of the county agents of Chicot and Desha Counties, Ark.
Mr. A. C. SMITH. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Albert C. Smith, mayor of the city of Cairo. While we do not have a statement ourselves to present, we have two neighboring cities in which they have representation here today, and Mr. Jim Atherton of the council in the city of Mason.
This is a joint statement signed by the mayors of the city of Mounds, Ill., and the city of Mound City, Ill., in behalf of their particular area. They have a problem there that by the changing of the boundaries of the Mississippi River Commission, the north of us, being affected by having some grade and section to improve on.
Mr. Davis. Thank you, Mr. Smith.
Mr. L. T. WADE. I am L. T. Wade, of Greenville, Miss. I am president of the Board of Mississippi Levee Commissioners of that city. I have a prepared statement which I would like to file for the record which will speak for itself.
Mr. Davis. Thank you.
Mr. Sam H. COKER. My name is Sam H. Coker. I live at Yazoo City, Miss. I am president of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board domiciled at Clarksdale, Miss. I have a statement prepared for the levee board which I would like to file.
I am also vice chairman of the Delta Council and have a statement from them I would like to file.
Mr. Davis. We will be glad to have those statements for the record and glad to have you back with us again this year.
Mr. EARL R. SCHULTZ, I am Earl R. Schultz, chief engineer, the Little River Drainage District, Cape Girardeau, Mo. I have a statement which I would like to file.
(The statements referred to above are as follows:)
STATEMENT OF DE Witt PoE, MCGEHEE, ARK. House Appropriations Committee: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is De Witt Poe. I live at McGehee, Ark. I am chairman of the Southeast Arkansas Flood Control and Drainage Association, which associa-, tion is composed of all of the drainage districts in southeast Arkansas in the area lying west of the Mississippi and south of the Arkansas Rivers, and east of Bayou Bartholomew.
We are in the area of the lower Mississippi Valley program, and respectfully join in requesting adequate appropriations for the continuance of construction and maintenance of that program for the next fiscal year. The carrying out of the plans for flood control and navigation in the lower Mississippi Valley, which have been adopted by Congress, coupled with the faith on the part of the people that such plans will be completed as soon as possible, has brought stability, confidence and progress to the area where the work has been completed. We are not unmindful of the need or advisability of balancing the National budget and are in accord, but we respectfully ask the committee to consider carefully the merits of projects which will contribute to the Nation's progress and welfare.
BOUEF, TENAS, AND BAYOU MACON PROJECT IN ARKANSAS Our vicinity and immediate interest is the tributary project of the Boeuf-Bayou Macon improvement in Louisiana and Arkansas.
The Flood Control Act of December 22, 1944, authorized a project for the improvement of the Boeuf and Tensas Rivers and Bayou Macon south of the Arkansas-Louisiana State line. The Flood Control Act of July 24, 1946, authorized an extension of that project to include a large area in southeast Arkansas, the headwaters area of both of said streams.
A description localizing this area in Arkansas is as follows: All of Chicot and Desha Counties lying west of the Mississippi and south of the Arkansas River levees, all of Ashley and Drew Counties lying east of Bayou Bartholomew, the northeast portion of Lincoln County and a small portion of Jefferson County. The total area is approximately 1,350 square miles. The elevation at the north end of the project is about 170 feet, and it is about 100 feet at the south endthe State line-approximately 80 miles distant, with a fall of less than a foot to the mile.
The outlet for all water in this area is to the southward into Louisiana in the Boeuf River and Bayou Macon, both of which streams have their source in Arkansas.
Formerly, Cypress Creek, which drained 430 square miles in the northern part of the Arkansas area, flowed into the Mississippi River in Desha County, Ark. When the Mississippi was in flood it flowed inland at this “Cypress Creek gap" in the levee and passed through Desha and Chicot Counties into Louisiana. This “Cypress Creek gap" was closed in 1920 in cooperation with the Government for the control of the Mississippi River, and it was necessary for the local interests in Desha and Chicot Counties to provide, at their own expense, a system of canals for the diversion of the Cypress Creek water through said counties. This was done at a local cost of several million dollars; and in addition thereto the area has contributed great sums to the cost of construction of the main line Mississippi River levee and Arkansas River levee, which was required of them before the Government assumed full responsibility therefor. The people have suffered greatly for the past 30 years because of their peculiar location; and because of the interstate nature of the drainage outlet, the people of the area were not able to solve their problems or to make their drainage enterprises function. Their quest for relief resulted in the authorization for the extension of improvement work in this area in the Flood Control Act of 1946, above referred to.
The plans devised for the project will bring the long sought relief. It is estimated that the flood plane will be lowered by 4 feet; therefore, when the project is completed the flood problem will be solved, and several hundred thousand acres of fertile land will be susceptible to cultivation, and will provide homes for thousands of families of the growing population of this country. The average rainfall is over 50 inches annually, and heavy rains fill and overflow the drainage canals and their tributaries and spread over thousands of acres of land, resulting in recurring annual losses estimated in excess of $1 million.