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confine those waters so that they can get the proper depth in the channel.
Revetment work secures the integrity of that channel for the engineers, and it is usually used for navigation purposes, although it affords a dual value.
The CHAIRMAN. Did you give the distance around the old levee ? Mr. DRIVER. It is 14 miles around and 2 and a quarter miles across.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Whittington, if you desire to make a statement, we will be very glad to have you do so at this time.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. The pending bill, H. R. 7349, provides for the payment of the cost of the landowners of the setback levees, not contemplated by the Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928.
The Flood Control Act of May 15, 1928, provided that the local interests should furnish the rights-of-way for the levees along the Mississippi River. That act authorized an appropriation over a period of 10 years of $325,000,000. Eighty millions of the $325,000,000 were for revetments. The hearings disclosed that the life of the levees along the main river was approximately 20 years.
The proposed legislation is really a clarification of the Flood Control Act of 1928 and does not involve any additional authorization or appropriation. It is to compensate the districts and the landowners where the project has been or really will be constructed for less money than was contemplated under the act of 1928.
Instead of constructing new levees based upon a life of 20 years, the Corps of Engineers constructed them based upon a life of 30 years.
Instead of levying and expending the $80,000,000 provided by the act, the Corps of Engineers have set back the levees to eliminate the costs of revetment.
I am not familiar with the Willow Point case-
Mr. WHITTINGTON. The Wilson Point case in Louisiana and the Willow Point case, too, because there is a Willow Point case as I recall.
But I have in mind many cases where the banks were revetted, and as I remember in cases between Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana, and in the vicinity of Greenville, Miss., the cost of the protecting levee, as enlarged to the 1928 grade and section by the construction of revetments costing from $600,000 to $1,000,000 a mile in some cases would be very much greater than the cost of setting those levees back, even including the cost of the flowage rights to the landowners.
So I repeat that the proposed legislation is in reality a clarification of the act of 1928. It will not relieve the local interests or the States of any obligations provided for by that act, but it will compensate the landowners, and in cases where local interests have provided rights-of-way and flowage rights, for the damages sustined by virtue of having provided them.
By reference to the hearing held by the Committee on Flood Control, on page 4830, parts 6 and 7 of the hearings on the Flood Control Act of 1928, you will note that the cost of all rights-of-way as given to us by the Chief of Engineers under the adopted project was $4,088,790.
There are two levee boards in the State of Mississippi between Memphis and Vicksburg, the upper levee board located at Clarksville, and the lower levee board located at Greenville.
I wanted to know what the local interests would be required to contribute under the terms of the act of May 15, 1928, so on page 4830 of the hearings I asked General Jadwin the cost to the local interests of providing rights-of-way in the upper Mississippi River district, and the answer was that his estimate was $68,796.
When the new levee line was constructed, taking in the old levee districts and extending approximately 90 miles below Memphis to the northern boundary line of Bolivar County, instead of rebuilding the existing levee line and protecting it by revetment as contemplated by the act, they set back that levee and required the local levee board to provide rights-of-way for those set-backs, with the result that the local levee board, instead of being required to obligate itself for $68,796, the amount given us by the Chief of Engineers, were required in that district alone to expend and obligate themselves for more than $900,000, or more than ten times the estimated cost as given to the committee by the Chief of Engineers.
If the Government is to reimburse that levee board and the property owners out of the authorizations already made and out of the appropriations already made, it would be more economical on the part of the Government than to have built the necessary revetments and to have protected the relocation of the levees as contemplated in the act.
In the lower Mississippi or Greenville Levee District there have been even larger relocations. There was an enormous set-back in the city of Greenville, and the mayor of Greenville, Hon. Merlin Smith, is here this morning at this hearing. That level board, according to the statement of the Chief of Engineers at the time of the hearing on this act and the modifications and amendments under consideration, stated that the cost of the relocation in that district was approximately $1,168,420.
That levee district has already expended some $450,000, or $500,000 more than the Chief of Engineers estimated, by reason of the cut-offs across these lands instead of revetting the banks.
So I submit that the act under consideration will merely effectuate the intention of the Flood Control Act of 1928, and will not require any additional authorization or appropriation, but will pay those owners down there for land required for a levee that would survive for 30 years, or for 20 years, and not only that, but by that will largely eliminate the construction of levees.
In other words, in respect to this matter the Chief of Engineers, General Jadwin, testified that the costs of the rights-of-way in the lower valley, including whatever values there were for the setbacks then contemplated to the local interests would be around $4,000,000. As disclosed by the hearings, and in the hearing on the pending bill
, the chief engineer for the Mississippi River levee district and for the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Mississippi River district stated that was the exact amount, substantially as I have given it, that those two levee boards were required to obligate themselves for to provide for rights-of-way and flowage rights for the execution of the project. Those levee districts, with the information before the committee as
to the levee district in Louisiana and Arkansas, have been called upon to expend, not $4,000,000, as estimated by the Chief of Engineers when Congress adopted this project, but closer to $9,000,000, as I understand, because the proposed relocation will cost in the neighborhood of $4,000,000, and the aggregate acreage would be 75,000 acres, in round numbers.
I want to say this, Mr. Chairman, that on February 15, 1932, the committee reported H. R. 4668, and the report is no. 417, and that bill, as I recall, was favorably reported to the House by the Committee on Rules.
The language of that bill, in the first section, is different from the language of the pending bill, and, personally, as I understood from you, Mr. Chairman, we can go into that a little bit later. But I am not at all convinced that the landowners will be as well protected by the language of the pending bill as by the language of the previous bill, nor am I altogether clear that the pending bill really clarifies the provisions of the act we reported 3 years ago.
That part of the section that is different
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). We can discuss that in the committee in executive session.
Mr. WHITTINGTON (continuing). Provides for compensating the owners of land between the existing levees and the low-water channel which will be behind the old lines of the adopted project and the high-water channel of the Mississippi River, by reason of set-backs, modifications, or other changes.
Personally I doubt, with all deference to the author of the bill, that the language of the pending bill is as definite as that, although it is fair to say that the chairman has undertaken to provide for that difference by eliminating clause 3. But under the bill we reported section 2 of the act was to take effect as of May 15, 1928, and become thereby a part of the original act.
In this connection I call attention to the hearings before the Flood Control Committee on February 7, 8, and 9, 1934, and to my statement begining on page 108; and I also call attention to my statement in the hearings on H. R. 4668 before the Flood Control Committee on January 26, 1932, beginning on page 143.
I have nothing further to say, Mr. Chairman, unless some member desires to ask me some questions.
Mr. WEARIN. Mr. Chairman, this bill, it seems to me, is a reasonable proposition, but living on the Missouri, as I do, I am particularly interested in a problem which is not exactly like this one.
A good many landowners along the Missouri River have been faced with the problem of having the Federal Government come in and alter the direction or flow of the current of the river in such a manner that it will cut out a considerable portion of a farm in changing the flow of the water.
As I understand the situation, there is no existing law which permits those people under those circumstances to recover for the damage to that property. It seems to me there should be some provision to take care of that, where the Federal Government itself proposes an intentional change of the current of the river so that a man loses a quarter or half section of land that he has had, after having
legitimate title to it for 40 or 50 years, that there should be some provision whereby a man under those circumstances could be compensated.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that within this particular project?
We have here this morning a number of landowners or gentlemen representing landowners who desire to make statements to the committee in reference to the matter we have under consideration. But inasmuch as an important matter is coming before the House when it meets today, we will take a recess now and meet again at 2:30 o'clock this afternoon.
(Thereupon, the committee took a recess until 2:30 p. m., this day.)
The committee reconvened at 2:30 p. m., at the expiration of the recess, Hon. Riley J. Wilson (chairman), presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand that Dr. Wolfe, Mr. Jacobs, and Mr. Adams have some information they desire to give the committee.
We will be glad to hear Mr. Jacobs at this time.
STATEMENT OF HARRY JACOBS, ASSOCIATE ENGINEER, STATE
BOARD OF ENGINEERS, NEW ORLEANS, LA.
Mr. Jacobs. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I really wanted to make a statement again on the subject of the lands thrown out by the rebuilding of the levee system in the State of Louisiana, on the Mississippi River. However, in making such a statement, I would be brief for the reason that the board of State engineers has
up a statement of each levee district, showing the new levees constructed in the parishes, the statement showing the names of the levee projects, with the total number of acres taken, the total assessed value of the land, and improvements actually paid for, the amount for the acreage taken, broken down to show the part taken by highways and showing the total amount of obligations, which includes outstanding certificates of indebtedness, with the amounts that have actually been paid off. However, in making such a statement, it would be more or less a repetition of the statements made before this committee in 1932 and 1934, and for the benefit of the new members of the committee, who are going to pass on this question, I would like to make my statement when they are present.
I feel quite sure that with the record as it stands now, there would be slight chance of having the members to go through the statement and make a detailed study of what I wish to present. I cannot see anything to be gained by simply making a statement at this time when so many members are absent. Therefore, I would like to request that the committee permit me to appear when you have a larger attendance present, in order that I may present my argument with regard to the interests of the State as they are affected by the levee system on the Mississippi River in the State of Louisiana. That will include the affect it has had on the Louisiana Highway Commission in the rebuilding of some 160 miles of new roads, involving a total expenditure of about $2,000,000.
If you will permit me, I would prefer to make that statement when the committee has a quorum present, so that the full membership of the committee may hear what I have to submit.
Mr. McCLELLAN. Is your statement in support of Judge Wilson's bill?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes.
Mr. McCLELLAN. That is, the bill we had under consideration this morning
Mr. JACOBS. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. What the committee is interested in, and what the bill involves, is the question of the flowage rights over the lands exposed to flood waters on the Mississippi River by reason of changes due to the setting back of the levee line, going back to the act of May 15, 1928. We are interested in knowing what is the acreage involved, and what is the value of the property affected by such changes. Of course, information along those lines is always of importance for the use of the committee in its consideration of the matter covered by this bill.
Mr. Jacobs. That is true; and if you will permit me, I will state further that, at your request, some 8 months ago, I prepared this statement I have before me, which is an actual listing of every piece of property that has been taken and used by the Government engineers in the rebuilding of the levee system. The preparation of this data has cost the State board of engineers of Louisiana some 6 or 7 thousand dollars. We have expended that much in the preparation of this matter, and I would not want to throw all of this work before you without having an opportunity to explain it to more members of the committee than are present now.
I would like it to submit to the full committee before you enter upon your deliberations on the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. As I have said, what we are interested in is to know the acreage involved in these changes, and the values. You have a list of the properties, with the assessed valuations, and so forth, covering the property taken, and, of course, that data will be available to the committee. The statement should show the assessed value of the properties and the losses or damages incurred by reason of the changes. We would want the information just as it was developed this morning with reference to Wilson Point, and also Pecan Point, as listed by the Arkansas authorities. We would be glad to have all that information before the committee.
Mr. Jacobs. If you will permit me, that will be developed further along in my statement. The reason I make the request I do is this: Your bill, H. R. 7349, in amending section 3 of the Flood Control Act of 1928, on page 2, reads as follows:
To reimburse the States or legally constituted and empowered local agencies. for the cost of flowage rights over all lands, including compensation for damages to improvements thereon at the time of the taking.
From that language, I judge the meaning to be that the payment. would be made, or the consideration would be made for the area taken, plus the improvements.
The CHAIRMAN. Read further, and you will see what areas are involved.
Mr. JACOBS. That refers to section 3 of the Flood Control Act.