Page images

The CHAIRMAN. Is there any further statement, General Crawford, or Colonel Herb, that you desire to make!

General CRAWFORD. No, sir; I think not.

The CHAIRMAN. Is there any witness from California who desires to make any statement or submit anything with respect to any of the projects?

I am inserting for the record a statement presented to me by the Honorable Gordon L. McDonough, Representative in Congress from the State of California.



Mr. Chairman, I desire to urge your committee to grant full approval of the authorization for flood-control funds to carry out the comprehensive floodcontrol program in Los Angeles County. I speak from personal knowledge of the urgent need of these funds, having served as a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles County Flood Control District Board for 11 years. I have every confidence in the Los Angeles County flood-control engineer, Harold E. Hedges. I know he would not ask for funds for any payment that was not needed to carry out the Los Angeles County comprehensive flood-control program which has had the approval of the United States Army engineers and is needed to protect life and property from serious damage.

Another point of information in this connection is the fact that the population of Los Angeles County has increased tremendously during the war, which requires additional subdivisions for homes for these new people and veterans. We need these funds to protect the locations of these new homes from flood damage. We need the funds for the construction of the Whittier Narrows Dam which will remove the menace of flood damage to Long Beach and other cities in that vicinity.

I know your committee will give Los Angeles County the consideration it deserves and I urge you to approve the funds requested so as to provide the flood protection we badly need.

Do you gentlemen of the Bureau of Reclamation have any additional statements you would like to make ?



Mr. WARNE. In the light of the hearing this morning, which has simply been a review of the existing authorizations, I have nothing to submit unless you would like a review of the past year's activities under section 1 of the Flood Control Act as it applies to these projects in California.

The CHAIRMAN. I think we are rather familiar with that. Of course, we have not gone into it with the Corps of Engineers. Not having gone into it with them, I see no occasion to go into it with your Department. You understand we are to hear from all of the agencies on Thursday or Friday if they desire.

Mr. WARNE. If you take it up again, may I have a notice from you with regard to it?

The CHAIRMAN. Notice is given to you now that if we take it up it will be Thursday evening, after we have completed all of the other items. If we do not reach it then it will be Friday.

I am inserting for the record a statement of the Los Angeles County flood-control district:



In August 1941 Congress approved -a general comprehensive plan for flood control and other purposes in the basins of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers and their tributaries and Ballona Creek in Los Angeles County, Calif., at an estimated cost to the Federal Government of 16342 million dollars, as recommended by the Chief of Engineers (H. Doc. No. 838, 76th Cong., 3d sess.), and at that time authorized 25 million dollars to be appropriated for partial accoinplishment of this program. In December 1944 Congress authorized to be appropriated an additional sum of 25 million dollars for further prosecution of the comprehensive plan. Authorization is still lacking for the appropriation of approximately 11342 million dollars by the Federal Government, or over twothirds of the approved program.

The flood hazard to life and property which exists along the streams in these basis has been described by the Chief of Engineers in House Document No. 838 and fully justifies the earliest possible completion of all of the items in the program.

During and since the war, expansion of industrial, commercial, and residential development has occurred at an unprecedented rate. Adequate protection against the devastating floods which periodically recur in this area is a fundamental requisite for the security of development which has already taken place and which may be expected in the immediate future. The need to complete these proposed improvements is even more urgent at this time than in 1941 when the recommendation was made by the Chief of Engineers and this district is anxious to see that all legislative steps essential to its consummation are completed without delay.

It is essential that expansion and development of the county be coordinated with definite plans for flood-control work, therefore authorization for additional appropriations is necessary to permit an orderly development of plans and construction by the United States Engineer Office and the financing and acquisition of the necessary rights-of-way by local interests.

It is urged that the committee include in its recommendations for a new floodcontrol bill a new authorization of at least $50,000.000 for further prosecution of the general plan for flood control on the Los Angeles River, San Gabriel River, and Ballona Creek Basins, which will be in addition to the $50,000,000 authorized in 1941 and in 1944.

The attention of the committee is also invited to the fact that the project for the control of floods on San Antonio Creek and Chino Creek in the Santa Ana River Basin estimated to cost $14,400,000 (H. Doc. No. 688, 75th Cong., 3d sess.) has a current authorization of but $6,500,000, as provided in the Flood Control Act approved June 28, 1938. The San Antonio Wash traverses a typical outwash cone formation and flows in an ill-defined channel in or adjacent to Los Angeles County for a distance of 8 miles. Situated on this cone in the direct path of overflow waters are the cities of Pomona and Claremont and surrounding highly developed agricultural areas containing a population of 24,000 persons. This project is greatly needed and should be constructed as a unit at the earliest possible time. Authorization for the appropriation of funds for the balance of the project in the amount of $7,900,000 is urged.

A third flood-control project in Los Angeles County for which additional authorization is needed is the program of development proposed by the Department of Agriculture for the Los Angeles River watershed (H. Doc. No. 426, 77th Cong., 1st sess.) at an estimated cost to the Federal Government of $8,380,000. This project was approved by act of Congress in December 1944 (Public Law 534) but the authorization granted, according to our interpretation, was less than $2,000,000. The Forest Service and the Soil Conservation Service are currently engaged in preparation of plans for extensive development in order that construction can be started at an early date and arrangements have been made for the furnishing of the necessary funds by local interests. Additional authorization for this program is urged.

The importance of early and orderly development of adequate flood-control plans has been recognized by the State of California. In July 1945 the State passed legislation whereby approval was given to Federal flood-control proj cts in California and the local cooperation required was guaranteed by the State when needed. Furthermore, a procedure was set up for studying and giving consideration to State assistance on flood-control projects not of Nation-wide concern. In March 1946 a State appropriation of $10,000,000 was made available, this amount being approximately one-third of the total local contribution required for all Federal flood-control projects within California that have been approved by Congress.

This district again pledges its wholehearted support of these flood-control programs and stands ready to give its cooperation as required to the extent of its ability.

Mr. Voorhis is present. Mr. Voorhis desires to submit a statement on the Whittier Narrows project, and with his statement the hearings for the morning will be concluded.

Before you came in, Mr. Voorhis, we had the complete picture with respect to the authorizations in the State of California.

Before you make your statement I suggest both to you and to the Chief of Engineers, if in view of the opposition that has been made to the construction of this project, resulting in the Committee on Appropriations not making any appropriations, Mr. Voorhis feels and the Corps of Engineers agree that there should be a review of this project, then, the matter may be handled in that way.

Mr. Voorhis is a former member of this committee. He was always most industrious and diligent.

Mr. Voorhis, we will be glad to have your statement.




Mr. VOORHIS. Mr. Chairman, this is an item for Whittier Narrows Dam in Los Angeles County. The community that I am concerned about here is a community of some 40,000 or 50,000 people. It has been the most rapidly growing area over a period of the last 50 years in population in the whole of southern California. It is a community of comparatively modest people, many of whom have constructed their small homes. They have small farms. A lot of them are working people, and they feel, and I agree with them, that their community is going to be ruined if Whittier Narrows Dam is built.

I think it incontrovertible that the basin, which will undoubtedly accumulate a considerable amount of debris and other things that will be washed down there, will be an unsightly proposition, and also incontrovertible that since there is already a serious problem of underground drainage in the area, which has affected the city of El Monte very seriously, caused water to back up in the basements of its buildings, to build a dam right there that will further retard the flow of that underground, which would aggravate that situation most seriously.

It is my contention that the dam is unnecessary. The Santa Fe Dam, for which I worked very hard as a Member of Congress, and still do, is only about 6 or 8 miles upstream from this area. It is a huge retarding basin not yet quite completed. We do not know yet what the practical aspects of the operation of the Santa Fe Dam will be. The Morris Dam also has been thrown in as a flood-control dam in the last year or so, with the storage of 16,000 acre-feet.

We believe that channel improvements will have to be made in any event. Under the present plan for flood control at Whittier Narrows, even if Whittier Narrows is built, the present program calls for cutting down an estimated peak flow of 70,000 second-feet to 40,000 second-feet, whereas, in the flood of 1938, which was the biggest flood of record in that area, the actual flow through Whittier Narrows was only 48,400 feet, indicating you would only cut that flow down by less than 20 percent, even if the dam is built and would still have channel improvement work to do, because the overflow obviously would be a serious problem at the same time.

Hence, we contend that the right answer to this problem is to spare this beautiful community here, and save the Government a tremendous cost, which it will be to condemn that land and take it over and move the people out, and to develop a program of channel improvement on the San Gabriel River which would be a more effective means of flood control, in our opinion.

A great many people, people who have lived there for a long time, people who have drilled wells all through the area, claim, and I believe with justification, that the nature of the substrata underneath where the dam is to be built is of such nature as to make the dam, in all probability, an unsafe structure. They claim that it will be built upon virtually quicksand and that there will be every likelihood that the water will go underneath and bubble on the outer side, and so forth, things I do not profess to be competent to talk about in a technical sense.

I would like to point out that the Engineers themselves, out of the goodness of their hearts, have changed this plan once very drastically. Their plan once called for reducing an estimated peak flow of 131,000 second-feet down to 22,000 second-feet, which has more recently been altered to a plan which would reduce an estimated peak flood from 70,000 to 40,000. So there is question about the project at the very least.

My belief is that the cost will be very much greater than is presently estimated. The assessed valuation of the area to be flooded is about $4,000,000. The present market price would be at least four times that amount. The people will not give up this property without having it condemned I am convinced. The value of the farm land in the area, as farm land, runs from $1,000 to $12,000 an acre. The home sites and subdivided areas cost very much more.

The Temple School, of which there are pictures here, will be completely removed, the property value of which is $400,000, one of our prettiest little schools that we have in that area.

A fine community is going to be ruined. Over 3,000 acres will have to be taken over. Some people believe it will be 4,500 acres.

Undoubtedly, there will be consideration periods of storage of water there although in the past we have been told that it will be short, we are now being told that it will be stored for a considerable period of time.

A beautiful area of farm lands will be turned into a waste area. About 1,000 homes will have to be vacated at a time when we have a serious shortage of housing facilities in that area.



As far as our schools are concerned, they are already terribly crowded and burdened with debt. The people in the area are paying more than the legal taxes now. Four million of our tax base for the support of those schools will be taken away. In the case of the Temple School, the problem is relatively simple because it will be completely eliminated, but in the case of other schools, to which those children will have to go, and other schools, where a portion of their tax resources will be taken away, the problem is going to be intensified by an increased number of children and a less amount of income to take care of it.

Furthermore, we have been told that the rental from the land would be used to help out in this, but we have absolutely no positive assurance that this will be done and no positive assurance that any considerable amount of the land can, as a matter of fact, be rendered.

I have already mentioned the problem of ground water, which is most serious in this area, and which would be rendered quite uncontrollable if the dam is built.

I can readily understand why some people in our area want the dam built. I would like to point out that if the dam is built, then the Federal Government must pay all the costs of lands and damages under their present flood-control law, for the Federal Government must pay all of those costs in the case of a reservoir whereas if channel improvements take place instead, the local interests must participate in it, and therefore I think we have part of the explanation why some local interests are anxious to have the da'm built.

I appeal on behalf of the people in my district and in behalf of one of the finest communities in my district, right in the very middle of which this dam will take out $4,000,000 of assessed valuation, 3,000 acres of home sites and farms, seriously affecting the underground water problem in the whole community of 40,000 or 50,000 people, create a blighted area where now it is a beautiful place.

That is why I hope the committee will see fit to change the authorization for the Los Angeles County project so that Whittier Narrows will not be included, and pending the possibility of the committee taking such action, I would most earnestly urge that they recommend and that the Corps of Engineers agree, as the chairman has proposed, that in the light of the present situation, that this whole matter be resurveyed.

In conclusion, I might say that on four occasions, twice before the House Appropriations Committee, twice before the Senate Appropriations Committee, that money for Whittier Narrows has been refused on the basis, simply, of the testimony of one little old Member of Congress, namely, myself, plus a couple of very earnest citizens from this community, one man who is superintendent of schools, and another man who is an old engineer, who has lived there for 50 years. The committees agreed with the testimony of this engineer.

We must have a case that amounts to something, Mr. Chairman, under those circumstances.

That is all I have.

Mr. ALLEN. Thank you very much, we are glad to have had your statement.

Mr. Voorhis. I would like to say that we are supporting very earnestly all the rest of the flood-control program in the Los Angeles

« PreviousContinue »