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RIVERS AND HARBORS BILL

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 1946

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON RIVERS AND HARBORS,

Washington, D.C. (Morning session taken up with hearing on the Cumberland River, Ky. and Tenn., which is printed separately.)

AFTER RECESS

(The hearing was resumed at 2 p. m., pursuant to the taking of recess, Hon. Hugh Peterson of Georgia, presiding.)

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. Are you ready to proceed, Colonel?
Colonel FERINGA. Yes, sir.

MISSISSIPPI RIVER BETWEEN MISSOURI RIVER AND MINNEAPOLIS

(H. Dọc. 515, 79th Cong.)

STATEMENT OF COL. P. A. FERINGA, RESIDENT ENGINEER, BOARD

OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS, WASHINGTON, D. C.

Colonel FERINGA. The Committee on Rivers and Harbors of the House of Representatives by resolution adopted March 1, 1939, requested the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review the reports on Mississippi River between Missouri River and Minneapolis, submitted in House Document No. 137, Seventy-second Congress, and subsequent reports, with a view to ascertaining as near as can be estimated the exact damages that may be caused to farm and pasture lands and buildings in the State of Minnesota, by seepage and backwater resulting from the creation of pools Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8, on the Mississippi River;

under date of March 10, 1939, requested the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review the reports on Mississippi River between Missouri River and Minneapolis, submitted in House Document No. 137, Seventy-second Congress, first session, and subsequent reports, with a view to ascertaining as near as can be estimated the exact damages that may be caused to farm and pasture lands and buildings in the State of Iowa, by seepage and backwater resulting from the creation of pools. Nos. 9, 10, and 11 on the Mississippi River; under date of March 16, 1939, requested the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review the reports on the Mississippi River between the Missouri River and Minneapolis, submitted in House Document No. 137, Seventy-second Congress, and subsequent reports, with a view to ascertaining as near as can be estimated the exact dam

ages that may be caused to farms, pasture lands, buildings, and commercial fishing operations in the State of Wisconsin, by seepage and backwater resulting from the creation of pools Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 6 on the Mississippi River, also damages to commercial fishing operations resulting from the opening of gates of dams located at Red Wing, Minn.; Alma, Wis.; Fountain City, Wis.; and Trempealeau, Wis., during flood stage; under date of April 4, 1939, requested the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review the reports on Mississippi River between Missouri River and Minneapolis, submitted in House Document No. 137, Seventy-second Congress, and subsequent reports, with a view to ascertaining as near as can be estimated the exact damages that may be caused to farm and pasture lands and buildings in the State of Minnesota, by seepage and backwater resulting from the creation of pools Nos. 5-A and 6, on the Mississippi River; and under date of June 6, 1939, requested the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review the reports on Mississippi River between Missouri River and Minneapolis, submitted in House Document No. 137, Seventy-second Congress, and subsequent reports, with a view to ascertaining as near as can be estimated the exact damages that may

be caused to farm and pasture lands and buildings in the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin by seepage and backwater resulting from the creation of pools Nos. 5-A, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, on the Mississippi River.

The dams referred to in the resolution of March 16, 1939, as located at Red Wing, Alma, Fountain City, and Trempealeau are dams Nos. 3, 4, 5, 5-A, and 6. Estimated damage at Cochrane, Wis., caused by seepage and backwater resulting from the creation of pool No. 5 was the subject of a separate investigation by the War Department in 1938. In the report thereon, printed in House Document No. 137, Seventysixth Congress, First Session, the Chief of Engineers informed Congress that the best determination practicable of such damages is $33,000. Accordingly, the Cochrane area is not covered in the present report.

The Mississippi River rises in northern Minnesota and flows southerly about 2,450 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Minneapolis is located on both banks of the river in southeastern Minnesota at the Falls of St. Anthony. The Missouri River enters the Mississippi 195 miles upstream from the mouth of the Ohio.

Congress, by the River and Harbor Act approved July 3, 1930, and subsequent acts, has authorized improvement of the Mississippi River for navigation between the mouth of the Missouri River and the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway bridge in Minneapolis, above the Falls of St. Anthony, to provide a channel of 9-foot depth by the construction of locks and dams supplemented by dredging. The project below the Falls of St. Anthony has been completed to the extent that authorized depth is maintained between Minneapolis and the lowermost lock and dam, a short distance above the mouth of the Missouri River. In this section, locks and danis have been constructed at 26 sites which provide for slack-water navigation for the entire distance between dam No. 1 at Minneapolis and dam No. 26, Henry T. Rainey Dam, at the lowermost site. Dam No. 2 of the project is located at mile 815.2 just above the mouth of St. Croix River. Pools Nos. 3 to 11, inclusive, under consideration in this report, extend thence downstream to dam No. 11 at mile 583, about 3 miles upstream from Dubuque, Iowa. The authorized project also provides for making reimbursement for certain estimated damages caused to levee and drainage districts bordering the river by seepage and backwater resulting from prosecution of the project. All these districts are located downstream from the section under consideration in this report.

Commerce on the Mississippi River, Minneapolis to the mouth of the Missouri River, increased from 1,514,000 tons in 1935 to 4,501,000 tons in 1941.

The area under consideration is limited, in general, to lands within the flood plain of the Mississippi River between Hastings, Minn., and Dubuque, Iowa. Also included are the flood plains of a number of tributaries.

The population of the area affected by seepage is largely rural, engaged in farming and dairying and the processing of farm and dairy products.

Local interests owning property in the river bottoms bordering pools Nos. 3 to 11, inclusive, and on the lower reaches of tributaries entering within this section, contend that establishment of the pools and operation of the dams have caused damages for which they have not been compensated. These claimed damages consist of crop losses, depreciation of property values, and miscellaneous items and apply to farms and pasture lands, woodlands, buildings, resort improvements, fishponds, gravel pits, and a variety of other properties. Local interests in interviews have claimed damages totaling $1,455,150 and have filed written statements covering estimated damages of $1,116,780. In addition some have claimed damages without furnishing a monetary estimate of the amount. They desire payments for the damages claimed.

The Department finds that some of the damages claimed do not come within the scope of the present report. Others apply to properties which have been, or in the near future will be, acquired by the United States. Acquisition of some of these properties has been delayed awaiting observation of actual pool operations to avoid securing lands not actually necessary for the improvement. The owners will be properly compensated for these properties under the provisions of existing law. Certain other claims apply to lands riverward of the ordinary high-water line. Local interests have never acquired any rights in these properties adverse to the right of the United States to use them for navigation purposes and therefore insofar as these properties are concerned local interests have not been damaged by establishment of the pools.

The Department has carefully examined each property for which damage claims has been presented and has investigated all additional areas where this appeared warranted. In addition, during the course of the investigations for the present report, the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors held a public hearing in Washington, D. C., which was attended by Members of Congress and an attorney representing local interests. The record of the hearing, at which testimony was presented regarding the amount and character of the damages claimed, all favorable to payment therefor by the United States, was furnished the district and division engineers, together with many letters and

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affidavits from local interests, for consideration in connection with the investigations. These data have all been taken into account by the reporting officers in preparing the present report.

The navigation project has been constructed and is being carefully operated so as to have the minimum practicable adverse effect on riparian properties and activities. Landowners in the area have been, and are being, paid for property taken by the Government for the improvement. Even so, the creation of pools Nos. 3 to 11, inclusive, has resulted in damages to farm and pasture lands and buildings for which reimbursement may not be made under existing law. These damages have been thoroughly investigated by the district engineer in accordance with the resolutions authorizing this report and in the opinion of the Board he has made reasonable estimates of their amounts. Accordingly, the Board reports that as near as can be estimated the exact damages caused to farm and pasture lands and buildings in the States of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, by backwater and seepage resulting from the creation of pools Nos. 3 to 11, inclusive, on the Mississippi River, exclusive of damages in the vicinity of Cochrane, Wis., previously reported upon, are the amounts set forth in the following tables :

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1 No part of the pool indicated is within the State at the head this column. 2 Also includes damages to areas affected by pool No. 11.

The Chief of Engineers concurs with the Board as to the extent of the damages and recommends that, in the event funds are appropriated for the purpose of paying these damages, the Chief of Engineers, or such officer or oflicers as he may designate, be authorized to make payments to the persons he finds entitled thereto in the amounts estimated in the report, totaling $93,880, upon presentation of such evidence, certificates, and receipts as he may consider reasonable and necessary.

The existing project is authorized by various Rivers and Harbors Acts, and under it payment to local people can be made for properties which have been directly affected by the navigation project in the upper Mississippi River. The Government has always paid claims that could be justly proved as proper under the law. In this case the committee passed resolutions requesting the Department to make a study of all properties injured in excess of the amounts that legally could be paid. For instance, there was certain injury to property below the ordinary high-water line, but under existing law the Government had a legal right to occupy the property. After investigating every claim for damages that has been made, we find that the total injury duly chargeable to the navigation project amounts to $93,880; that is, injuries to property bordering the upper reach due to the construction of the upper Mississippi canalization project.

Mr. PETERSON, of Georgia. What is the nature of the damages, Colonel?

Colonel FERINGA. They are damages due to seepage on land that would ordinarily not be subject to excess water, but that now suffers from excess water. Local interests owning property in the river bottoms bordering pools Nos. 3 to 11, inclusive, and on the lower reaches of tributaries entering within this section, contend that establishment of the pools and operation of the dams have caused them damages for which they have not been compensated. These claimed damages consist of crop losses, depreciation of property values, and miscellaneous items, and apply to farm and pasture lands, woodlands, buildings, resort improvements, fishponds, gravel pits, and a variety of other properties. Local interests in interviews have claimed damages totaling $1,455,150 and have filed written statements covering estimated damages of $1,116,780.

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. You mean that is what the claims of the various individuals that have been filed total?

Colonel FERINGA. The total of the written claims for damages amounts to $1,116,780.

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. And you have recommended favorably on a total of $93,880 of this amount?

Colonel FERINGA. That is right, sir. That is the only amount, an estimate made after research lasting over many years and including all damages that we can determine as definitely chargeable to this project.

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. Have you surveyed all of those claims?

Colonel FERINGA. We have surveyed every claim by individuals which included field inspections, and talking to the farmers. For example, a farmer may say I am damaged to this extent because of this or that, and our field man would go out and have him point it out. Based upon thorough investigations we find that local interests have been injured to the extent of $93,880 and under existing law we have no way of paying the claims unless Congress authorizes us to do so.

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. Have you set out in your report all of the claims that have been filed for damages?

Colonel FERINGA. They must be in that compilation. I have not seen them myself, Mr. Chairman, but undoubtedly they are covered in the report of the Department, listing Mr. so and so claiming that he has been injured to this extent, and the district engineer finding that he is injured to that extent.

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. I asked that because it would appear to be very important to have every claim set out and the findings of the Office of the Chief of Engineers so as to conclude the possibility of further action on these claims.

Colonel FERINGA. That is right. Opening the report at random at page 119 thereof, these names are listed alphabetically, and here is the name of Drometer, George P., pool 3, complaint area M-2. Description, sections 16 and 17, township 114, range 16, acres 357.

Area affected by pool, part or all of lots 1 and 2 section 16, acres, 25. Estimated damages, $375. Depreciation to remainder, $150, and then the classification of affected area or nature of damages.

Each claim has been investigated to a similar extent, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. PETERSON of Georgia. So, a number of those claims must have been disallowed altogether.

Colonel FERINGA. That is right. There is one type of claim we disposed of at the time the project was built. There had been a great

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