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Then there is Hon. Kika de la Garza, a member of the Texas House of Representatives from Hidalgo County, who succeeded me in the legislature some years ago, also my very good friend.
Mr. Worth Wood, a friend of mine for many years, who is the mayor of Harlingen, Tex., is here. Harlingen is located on the map in the lowermost county.
The spokesman for this group who would like to make a very short statement is Mr. Jack Drake who is the executive vice president of the Valley Chamber of Commerce. He does not appear in that capacity, but appears as a representative of the Valley Water Committee.
Mr. Seldon. Mr. Drake, you may proceed with your statement.
STATEMENT OF JACK H. DRAKE, SECRETARY, LOWER RIO GRANDE VALLEY WATER COMMITTEE, WESLACO, TEX.
Mr. Drake. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Jack H. Drake, secretary of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Committee of Weslaco, Tex.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Committee is a volunteer group of irrigation districts, attorneys, farmers, and businessmen interested in the orderly development and solution of the water problems of the Rio Grande watershed.
We are thoroughly in accord that there exists a need for the Amistad Dam project to provide additional flood control on the Rio Grande.
We recognize and urge this additional flood control structure be built and maintained to prevent the loss of life and property damage that has accrued to the area above the Falcon Dam Reservoir as well as the need for additional protection in the area below Falcon Dam that has at times become inundated since the construction of Falcon Dam.
Due to the short time we have had since being notified of this hearing, we respectfully request the committee to continue the hearings at a later date so that we may present our views on H.R. 8080. We submit that we can be prepared to present testimony to the committee any time after February 29,1960.
Thank you for your kind attention to this request.
Mr. Seldeh. Mr. Drake, as chairman of this subcommittee I can assure you that the subcommittee will take no action on this legislation until you gentlemen have had an opportunity to be heard, and I will coordinate any additional hearings with your Congressman, Mr. Kilgore. You will be notified accordingly.
(A further statement by Mr. Drake appears on p. 190.)
Mr. Drake. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Kilgore. Mr. Chairman, with regard to the matter of a continuance, it is neither Mr. Drake's purpose nor the purpose of any of his committee and certainly not my purpose in seeking to arrange their testimony at a later time, to delay this bill.
Not only is it not our purpose, but we will work diligently with the committee to see that the testimony is promptly presented so that the committee may then proceed in orderly fashion with consideration of the bill at the earliest possible time.
Mr. Selden. We will work with both Congressmen Kilgore and Fisher in connection with your request.
Mr. Drake. Thank you.
Mr. Kilgore. Mr. Chairman, there is also a man from my district here to appear, Mr. Glenn White, of Donna. Mr. White appears here as a spokesman for the Texas Farm Bureau Federation. He has been very active in matters of water legislation and water rights on the Rio Grande for many years. He is a director of the State Farm Bureau and though he appears for an agency larger than my district, since he is from home, I would appreciate very much presenting him to you.
Mr. Selden. Mr. White, we are pleased to have you with us, and we will be glad to hear from you.
STATEMENT OF GLENN G. WHITE, DONNA, TEX., REPRESENTING THE TEXAS FARM BUREAU FEDERATION
Mr. White. Thank you, gentlemen of the committee. I consider it quite a privilege to be able to come before this body and I want to say in passing that I have appreciated your very friendly reception of all of the gentlemen who have had matters to bring before you.
Many times we come to Washington just a little bit—with a little fear and trembling for fear someone will shoot some stuff at us that puts us on the defensive and perhaps in an embarrassed position.
As Congressman Kilgore indicated, I am a member of the State Board of Directors of the Texas Farm Bureau. The Texas Farm Bureau is a voluntary statewide organization. It is the largest farm organization in the State. We have about 80,000 farm family members. I am the chairman of the Water Committee of the Board of Directors and we have many of our people interested in the Rio Grande, and the Pecos River and the Devils River from the water standpoint.
I am here today to bring into the record of this committee the statement of policy adopted by the Texas Farm Bureau in its annual convention. We are a policy organization on farm matters and irrigation water, of course, is of primary interest to those of us in the State who have a short supply of water.
This is read from the policy statement:
Whereas, the Governments of the United States and Mexico have by treaty agreed to construct several dams on the Rio Grande; and
Whereas, said dams are to be constructed principally for the purpose of flood control and the impounding of water for irrigation; and
Whereas, the laws of the State of Texas shall determine the manner by which the American share of the impounded irrigation water shall be apportioned to water users:
Therefore, he it resolved,, That the Texas Farm Bureau use all means possible to assure that such apportionment of irrigation water be in keeping with the provisions of the treaty, itself, that is, on the basis of prior beneficial use.
It has been inferred there is a controversy between the upstream and downstream water users and I think the Texas Farm Bureau, in its statement of policy, has indicated that as long as the dams are constructed and water is handled under the provisions of the treaty, there is no controversy. There are other references in the policy statement of the Texas Farm Bureau that point up the fact that the date of prior beneficial use should always be recognized between irrigators when it comes to appropriation.
With the conclusion of that statement I will put on my other cap and talk as a member of the local Farm Bureau in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. I am also chairman of the Valley Farm Bureau Water Committee. I guess perhaps I am the only actual farmer in this crowd from the way all the others have testified. They are businessmen and chamber of commerce men. I am actually a farmer and irrigator.
I live on a small farm between Donna and Weslaco. In the 40 years I have lived there since I went to the area after the First World War, water and the assurance of a supply of water and flood control have been of primary interest to me as a farmer.
There are several observations I should like to make as a result of all of those years of study and observation. Also, I worked for several years on a project to build a gravity canal in our area and made a very close study of the behavior of the Rio Grande.
The testimony this morning touched on it, but it perhaps might have missed your attention. I refer to the fact that we are talking about a drainage area where the water is supplied by "storm water." It was pointed out how the area of the land is so situated that the warm Gulf atmosphere moves in and there are heavy rains in spots. But actually when you trace the production of water of the Rio Grande system, it is a tremendously fluctuating figure. The river will run along with a few hundred second-feet or a few thousand second-feet and then all of a sudden it is up to a real large delivery. I mean in the 30,000, 40,000, or even 60,000 second-feet flow, and it is always because of a heavy storm that has hit somewhere in that wide range of drainage area.
So that actually when you get right down to studying the figures, averages don't mean too much. But it is the possibility that we are looking at and that is why our Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Laredo people are pleading to get this dam built as quickly as possible, because of the constant threat of tremendous floods. We have also experienced heavy flooding from tropical storms coming in along the Mexican coast below Brownsville, Tex., passing inland dumping tremendous amounts of water in the drainage areas on the high lands of northern Mexico or the trans-Pecos or both. It is entirely possible that such a storm can be followed by a repeat performance before the runoff from the first storm could get underway. That is what we are building against and that is why the project is so urgent.
Those of us who are irrigators visualize this dam, particularly if conservancy area is included, serving as a giant "surge tank," built to accumulate and hold a vast amount of water to be controlled and released for its most beneficial use. So that the control of unpredictable tremendous floods, the saving of devastation and losses from such floods, the economic value of the controlled use of the water, all point to such a total economic and humanitarian gain to the Nation as a whole that there seems to be no room for questioning the feasibility, the desirability, or the absolute need of the project.
I wasn't expecting to be heard until tomorrow so I did not come today with a prepared statement. Since it has now developed that there is going to be an additional hearing, I might skip a point that I wanted to bring out. The point has not been touched on here today and I'm not sure but that I might be out of order referring to it at this time and if I say something you don't want in record as yet, just shut me off.
I am concerned about the suggestion from some sections that there be an assessment against the water users for water that is impounded for conservation.
I believe I can accurately report to you that we have unanimity up and down the river against that particular point if it does come into the picture. It is not in our bill but there is a possibility, as I understand from reports, that we may be called on to pay for the conservation area if we want to use water that is impounded in the Amistad Dam for irrigation.
We think we should revert to the treaty. There was never any intent that irrigators should be called on to repay any portion of the structures. I believe I am correct in saying that in all the testimony and the discussions surrounding the development of the treaty, its approval and authorization of the construction of Falcon Dam was never any reference made to irrigators paying any of the cost of conservation. The performance of Falcon Reservoir, handling floodwater and conservation, already during the short period of its existence to date has proven its value to the economy of the Nation and has justified itself. Which we think proves that the repayment for conservation in Amistad should not be considered.
In fact, we feel from the standpoint of how it would be policed, how it would be enforced, how it would be carried out and made equitable as between water users from that far away from the ultimate user, the proposal is impractical. The possibility of interests coming in with unused water permits? that do not have the funds to contract for the water, we consider is a danger to the rights of all the present water users.
We do not think it is good for our international relations with Mexico that the American water users should have to pay for the impounding of the relatively small amount of additional water that Amistad would develop when Mexican users would not be called on to pay.
This may be a little out of order to bring this in at this time, as there hasn't been any testimony given as yet covering this requirement, but I understand there has been some proposal to that effect.
Mr. Selden. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. White. Yes, sir.
Mr. Selden. I think you are quite in order in bringing up this subject, because contained in the Senate document are recomendations by the Bureau of the Budget in this connection. Of course, the subcommittee will have to go into that subject.
If the gentleman wishes to do so, he can wait until he comes back for the second hearing, to which he referred, to go into the matter more thoroughly. But certainly he is in order in referring to the question at this time.
Mr. White. I don't think, then, I have done any damage by referring to it at this time and giving you something to think of. Perhaps our friends from up and down the river will get together on that particular subject. For fear that I might not have had the opportunity to develop this thought, I just threw it in for what it is worth, and with that I will say thank you for your indulgence, and I certainly have appreciated the opportunity to present our angle.
Mr. Selden. Thank you very much, Mr. White.
Are there questions from any of the members of the subcommittee?
Mr. O'hara. Mr. Chairman, I would like to make an observation.
I have noticed there doesn't seem to be much controversy among you people from Texas, or apparently among our friends in Mexico. To me, that is a beautiful contrast to the situation we found in my section when the city of Chicago for the health of its people vitally needed Lake Michigan water diversion and some of our neighboring Middle West States stood on their heads and howled.
Mr. Selden. I would like to make an observation, also. I have river development projects in the district that I represent, and I am nearly always on the other end of the hearing. I am usually appearing before some committee in an effort to get authorization or funds appropriated for a project.
I do know that local interest is extremely important, and certainly this is a very fine delegation from Texas that has appeared here today. In my opinion, it has strengthened your case. I want to personally express the appreciation of the subcommittee and my own appreciation to you gentlemen for giving us the benefit of your views.
Are there any further observations or statements?
Mr. Burleson. Mr. Chairman, I would like to include State Representative de la Garza and State Representative Murray in our thanks to all these fine people who have contributed so ably to the furtherance of this project.
Mr. Selden. Mr. Fisher.
Mr. Fisher. I have a statement here from Mr. J. E. Sturrock, general manager of the Texas Water Conservation Association of Austin. That covers the entire State of Texas.
It is a very active and a very vital organization so far as water conservation and flood control projects in Texas are concerned. He strongly endorses this project and asks me to seek permission of the committee to have a brief statement inserted in the record. Do I have that permission?
Mr. Selden. Without objection, the statement will be included at this point in the record.
(The statement referred to follows:)
Statement Of J. E. Sturbock, General Manager, Texas Water Conservation Association, Austin, Tex.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is J. E. Sturrock. I reside in Austin, Tex., and I am general manager of the Texas Water Conservation Association, a statewide organization dedicated to the task of promoting the sound and orderly development, conservation, protection and utilization of the water resources of Texas for all beneficial purposes.
I submit this statement in support of H.R. 8080 subject to the following qualifications:
Under date of December 11, 1958, Hon. Price Daniel, Governor of Texas, transmitted by letter to Hon. R. R. Rubottom, Jr., Assistant Secretary, the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., the order of the State Board of Water Engineers approving the feasibility of the proposed Diablo (Amistad) Dam and Reservoir project, which has been submitted to the Governor for review and comment.
Governor Daniel stated in his letter: