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Between the Eudora floodway and the Morganza floodway there are the the Red River, flowing southeastward and emptying into the Mississippi River below the Eudora and above the Morganza, and the Atchafalaya River, whch starts at or near the Mississippi River and flows down into the Gulf of Mecixo through a separate channel.
The Overton Act of 1936 provided that neither the Eudora foodway nor the Morganza floodway should be constructed until options covering 75 percent of the estimated value of the flowage easements in both floodways combined had been obtained at prices satisfactory to the Chief of Engineers. The provision of the act to which I refer reads as follows:
That no money appropriated under the authority of this Act shall be expended upon the construction of the Eudora floodway, the Morganza floodway, the back protection levee extending north from the Eudora floodway, or the levees extending from the head of the Morganza floodway to the head of and down the east bank of the Atchafalaya River to the intersection of said Morganza floodway until 75 per
of the value of the flowage rights and the rights-of-way for levee foundations, as estimated by the Chief of Engineers, shall have been acquired or options or assurances satisfactory to the Chief of Engineers shall have been obtained for the Eudora floodway, the Morganza floodway, the area lying between said back protection levee and the present front line levees.
This provision linking the Morganza and the Eudora floodways under the combination option form provided for in the act was inserted mainly at the insistence of representatives from the Yazoo Valley of the Mississippi River. We had considerable controversy about what provisions should go into the Overton bill in 1936. We had controversies with the War Department, with the Chief of Engineers, and with different representatives from the alluvial valley of the Mississippi.
I raised no objection to this provision linking the two floodways because I understood at the time that there was no very serious opposition tc the construction of the Eudora floodway and that what opposition there was could to a very large extent be overcome. In fact, I was advised that 90 percent of the options in both floodways could be obtained within 90 days after the passage of the act.
Experience with this provision has not borne out the optimistic prediction that was made. Almost 2 years have elapsed since passage of the Overton Act. The Federal Government has been able to obtain options covering only 28.8 percent of the area in the Eudora floodway. The landowners—that is, an overwhelming majority of them-refuse to give options. Of the 28.8 percent of options that have been obtained in the Eudora floodway, it is my unofficial information that a large number of them would not be accepted by the Chief of Engineers and the War Department for the reason that the prices stipulated in the flowage easements in those options are too high.
On the other hand, there has been very little, if any, opposition to the construction of the Morganza floodway. In fact, I think I am safe in making the statement that there is no opposition on the part of the landowners to the construction of the Morganza floodway. The Chief of Engineers has obtained to date 84.2 percent of the options in that floodway. Therefore, so far as the obtaining of options is concerned, the Morganza is ripe for construction.
The necessary options have not been obtained in the Eudora floodway, however, and there is no prospect that at any reasonable time in the future the necessary options for construction of that floodway can be obtained.
We are, therefore, dealing in Louisiana with a situation that, I think, requires legislative attention. We are confronted with a situation that makes it impossible to construct a very vital project in the floodcontrol program for the lower Mississippi Valley, and that is the Morganza floodway. The Army engineers are ready to proceed with the construction of the Morganza. The landowners are willing to proceed with the construction of the Morganza. Everybody is ready to go ahead with the construction of the Morganza; that is, everybody directly affected and interested in its construction.
All that I am asking and all that I am proposing in this bill is a severance of the Gordian knot that links the Eudora with the Morganza. There is no engineering reason why the two should be linked together. All of the floodways in the lower Mississippi Valley have been actually constructed or have been authorized to be constructed as separate and independent units with the exception of the Eudora and and the Morgan za floodways.
The Bird's Point-New Madrid floodway, opposite Cairo, was authorized to be constructed and was constructed as a separate unit. The same is true of the Bonne Carre spillway, just above New Orleans. The same is true of the West Atchafalaya floodway that has been constructed and is now ready for operation. Its construction was not dependent upon the construction of any other project in the entire flood-control program.
That was originally true of what is known as the Boeuf floodway, which was authorized and still is authorized but has never been constructed, the Eudora floodway having been included as a substitute for the Boeuf floodway.
So, in view of the fact that we are unable to obtain options in the Eudora floodway, what we in Louisiana now want to do is to go ahead with this project that is authorized, for which the options have been procured, and which is very essential for the protection of a large area of Louisiana and will be of benefit not only to Louisiana but to other portions of the alluvial valley, and that project is the Morganza floodway.
Here is the situation that we have at the Morganza floodway: As I stated, it is just south of the mouth of the Red River. The engineers state that in time of superflood the Mississippi River will be called upon to carry 3,000,000 cubic feet per second from the mouth of the Red River on down. The leveed channel of the Mississippi River, according to their statements, cannot hold more than 1,500,000 feet, or only one-half of the volume of water that will go down into the Mississippi opposite the Morganza floodway.
The Morganza floodway will take care of 500,000 second-feet in addition. The Atchafalaya River proper, through its riverside levees, will take care of an additional 500,000 second-feet. Therefore, there will be 2,500,000 second-feet taken care of with the inclusion of the Morganza and the Atchafalaya proper. Then, in case of absolute necessity we have what is known as the West Atchafalaya floodway, which will take care of the additional 500,000 second-feet, making the lower portion of the valley safe from flood.
The Morganza floodway when constructed will protect a large area in south Louisiana, the area lying west of the Mississippi and east of the Atchafalaya.
General Markham, in his report of February 12, 1935, stated:
The Morganza floodway will afford positive assurance that the food discharge capacity of the Mississippi below will not be overtaxed. It should save the lands on the west side of the Atchafalaya from inundation except in extreme flooding. * The proposed Morganza floodway will afford positive protection to the densely populated region involved (the southern section of the Mississippi below the mouth of Red River) against the hazard of a great flood.
The Morganza will be of great advantage in protecting the city of New Orleans and all of that area south of the mouth of the Red River. It will be of advantage to portions of the alluvial area of the State of Mississippi, at least from Natchez on down. It will not be injurious. or harmful to any area in the lower Mississippi Valley.
I want it understood that I am not trying to alter the law, insofar as the Eudora is concerned. I know that people in the Yazoo Valley are interested in the construction of the Eudora floodway. My bill does not undertake to alter the provisions with respect to the Eudora floodway. The Eudora floodway can be constructed as soon as the options have been obtained. However, since the options have been obtained for the Morganza and the landowners and engineers are ready to go ahead, the position I take it that the Morganza sbould not be choked off by reason of the fact that the necessary number of options for the construction of the Eudora floodway cannot be obtained; that is all. I am not trying to alter the law in any way except to authorize a project that is so essential to the protection of the lower Mississippi Valley and not have it tied up with another project that will require a great deal of delay, to say the least, in having it authorized by obtaining the necessary options.
There was held in Natchez, Miss., a meeting at which there was approval of the construction of the Morganza floodway and approval of the enactment of the bill we now have under consideration. Following my remarks I should like to have that resolution printed in the record.
Senator SHEPPARD. It is so ordered.
(The document referred to appears at the conclusion of Senator Overton's statement.)
Senator OVERTON. Now, Mr. Chairman, I desire to call your attention to another fact that I think is important in the consideration of this bill. The acreage involved in the Morganza floodway is only 60,531 acres. The acreage involved in the Eudora floodway is 822,037 acres. So, the inclusion of the Morganza with the Eudora in the option formulary is of no advantage to the Eudora. The area in the Morganza is only 7 percent of the combined area of the Eudora and the Morganza. When, therefore, it is said that options must be obtained covering 75 percent in both floodways, it is not particularly helpful, if it is helpful at all, to the Eudora floodway, because the Morganza area is only 7 percent of the combined area of the two floodways.
Furthermore, more than 75 percent of the options have been obtained already for the Morganza floodway. Therefore, the engineers can go ahead with the construction of the Eudora floodway as soon as the Eudora comes across with its 75 percent of the options.
There could be, Mr. Chairman, only one purpose that I can conceive of in undertaking to hold the Morganza and the Eudora under this formulary, and that is in order to use the Eudora as a bludgeon to compel the giving of options upon the theory that the people in the Eudora floodway, in order to get the advantage of the Morganza floodway, would go ahead and give options in the Eudora floodway. But the Morganza floodway is not of any particular benefit to the property owners in the Eudora floodway. The fact that the two are sinked together in this option formulary does not have the effect that was anticipated at the time when this provision was inserted in the bill, and that is that it could be used as a bludgeon over landowners in the Eudora floodway to compel them to give flowage-easement options in that floodway.
Mr. Chairman, having made this opening statement, I should like you to call Governor Leche.
(The resolutions adopted at mass meeting of citizens of Natchez and Adams County, referred to by Senator Overton, are as follows:)
RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED AT Mass MEETING OF CITIZENS OF NATCHEZ AND ADAMS
COUNTY, HELD AT MUNICIPAL BUILDING, ON TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 1938
Whereas there has been introduced in the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, House Resolution No. 9435, entitled, “A bill to amend the Act entitled 'An Act to amend the Act entitled “An Act for the control of floods on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and for other purposes”, approved May 15, 1928,' approved June 15, 1936,
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the Act entitled 'An Act to amend the Act entitled "An Act for the control of floods on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and for other purposes”, approved May 15, 1928,' approved June 15, 1936. is hereby amended so that the construction of the Morganza floodway is authorized to be undertaken as soon as options at reasonable prices on 75 per centum of the value of the lands, easements, and rights-of-way (as estimated by the Chief of Engineers) for that floodway along have been acquired”, and,
Whereas after extensive consideration of the proposition and investigation into the situation, we believe it to be the concensus of opinion that,
(a) The people and property owners in the Morganza floodway desire immediate construction of that floodway and have signed options acceptable to the Chief of Engineers, in proportion required by existing law, and that,
(6) Construction of the Morganza floodway will give immediate relief, not only to the people in the Morganza floodway but to the people and property owners in the Eudora floodway, and also aid to the people and property owners in the Delta section of the State of Mississippi, and also will give immediate aid in lowering the flood height of the Mississippi River, so that the lands in the State of Mississippi, on the east bank of the Mississippi River, between the foothills, may again be made productive, and that,
(c) The adoption of said amendment will then leave it so that the Eudora Spillway may later be constructed, in the event the Government acquires the requisite lands in that spillway, and, in the event it should be shown that the construction of the Morganza Spillway does not solve the situation as to overflow to a degree satisfactory to the land owners and people on both sides of the river; and that
(d) It is a recognized and established fact that the construction of the cut-offs in the Mississippi River has had a tendency to increase the velocity of the Mississippi River, and thereby endanger the Morganza floodway area, to such an extent that, unless the people and property owners in that area have immediate relief through the construction of the Morganza floodway, then further delay in the construction of that floodway will imperil the lives and property of the people in that area, and that
(e) To our minds, it is not to the best interests of the State of Mississippi that our Representatives in Congress should oppose the adoption of this amendment, simply for the reason that the construction of the Morganza floodway is not by them believed adequate at this time to meet all their requirements, because it is intolerable to a sense of justice that an improvement confessedly good should be prevented, and, because the opposition to the amendment by the Representatives of the State of Mississippi, in the House and Senate, are engendering a narrow, partisan controversy with the Representatives and Senators of the State of Louisiana, thereby bringing about a situation where the Senators and Representatives in both States might not cooperate thereafter for the advantage of each State; and that
(f) We also understand that the opening of the Morganza floodway will have the effect of reducing the volume of water that otherwise would pass through the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and it is believed that, unless the volume of water that will pass through the Bonnet Carre Spillway is reduced, that such a volume will pass through said spillway as to injure seriously the oyster beds in the Mississippi Sound and along the Mississippi Gulf coast to the serious detriment of the oyster industry on the Mississippi Gulf coast, and that this danger has been increased since the last flood, due to the thorough clearing out of obstacles in the Bonnet Carre spillway; therefore, be it
Resolved, That we, the people of Natchez and Adams County, sincerely and earnestly urge upon our Senators in the United States Senate, and upon each and every Member of the Mississippi delegation in Congress that they, to the fullest extent, support the said amendment, H. R. No. 9435, and also similar amendment offered in the United States Senate by Senator Overton of Louisiana to the said Flood Control Act, and do everything within their power to the end that the construction of the Morganza floodway may be undertaken at the earliest possible moment, and that no obstacle be by any of them placed in the way of the immediate construction of the Morganza floodway. We point out, in this connection. that, in the event it should be demonstrated that the Morganza floodway will not adequately solve the flood problem in connection with the Mississippi River, that the right to construct the Eudora floodway still remains in the act, and can be exercised whenever the Government acquires the requisite lands in the Eudora floodway area. Respectfully submitted.
W. J. BYRNE,
A. B. LEARNED,
C. C. GOETZ,
Committee on Resolutions.
FLORENCE LEC. EISELE, Secretary, Natchez Association of Commerce, Natehez, Miss. Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 26th day of February 1938. (SEAL
PROFILET COUILIARD, Notary Public. My commission expires July 8, 1940.
Senator SHEPPARD. Governor Leche, we are very glad to have you here and shall be happy to hear your statement.
STATEMENT OF HON. RICHARD W. LECHE, GOVERNOR OF THE
STATE OF LOUISIANA
Governor LECHE. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I assure you that it is a pleasure to appear before this committee.
We are here today to urge this committee to render a favorable report on Senator Overton's amendment to the Flood Control Act.