Segment 1 Of 3 Next Hearing Segment(2)
SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 THE WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1996
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1996
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:09 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Good morning, and welcome to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Today, we kick off a series of hearings on the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, which most of us call WRDA '96, but some of our very valuable staff members prefer to call W-R-D-A. With that deference, I'll continue.
WRDA '96 is top priority of this subcommittee. Since 1986, this subcommittee has worked diligently to produce a water resources bill every 2 years. Unfortunately, as all in this room are aware, this established practice was thrown off-course when the 103rd Congress failed to deliver a bill to the President that we reported out of this subcommittee and it was approved by the full House. The other side of the Capitol didn't follow through.
The failure to enact a water resources bill in the 103rd Congress makes the passage of WRDA '96 an even greater imperative.
The members of this subcommittee are going to work closely with those testifying today on educating our other House colleagues on the importance of passing a water resources bill this year.
The importance of the Corps of Engineers in the construction and maintenance of our Nation's water infrastructure was recently highlighted by an episode in my district. During the flooding that ravaged the northeast, a small Corps' dam built decades ago prevented millions of dollars of additional damage to communities along the Susquehanna River. The East Sidney Dam, a small Corps' flood control structure in Delaware County, prevented over $9 million in flooding during the January thaw that flooded so much of the eastern seaboard.
I can tell you this, I have a lot of witnesses who will testify with great passion on the importance of these projects and the value of them to the taxpayers.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Though the Administration is very anxious to have the Corps vacate much of its flood control mission, I believe the Corps should be continuing its fine efforts in this area. That is a belief, I think, shared by the overwhelming majority of my colleagues, be they republican or democrat.
Yes, we should be looking at new and innovative ways to control flooding, such as the use of non-structural measures, but the Corps of Engineers should be taking the lead in these efforts.
The Corps of Engineers should be increasing its involvement in environmental projects and programs. Though often cast in a less-than-favorable light on environmental issues, the Corps has played and will continue to play a critical role in improving water quality and cleaning up hazardous waste across our Nation.
WRDA '96 will increase the role of the Corps in protecting and improving our Nation's environment.
The final and perhaps most important reason for passing a water resources bill promptly is the dredging and maintenance of America's ports. In 1990, this committee passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. The central tenet of this $151 billion transportation bill was the promotion of intermodalism. For me, intermodalism starts in America's ports, where containerized freight is unloaded from ships onto trainstrains carrying the goods of the world deep into our Nation's heartland.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Productive, efficiently-operated ports are critical to the economic well-being of our Nation, and the Corps of Engineers is a vital link in the operation of our Nation's ports.
I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses on the status of America's ports and harbors.
I would now like to recognize the distinguished ranking member of this subcommittee, a Representative of one of our Nation's great ports, Philadelphia, Mr Borski.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to congratulate you for holding this hearing and preparing to move forward on the Water Resources Development Act.
This program has been a vital part of our Nation's overall infrastructure investment effort, and it must not be allowed to lapse because of the failure to pass authorizing legislation.
There has not been an authorization since 1992, and the backlog of projects needing authorization continues to grow. Many of these projects have important national and regional economic benefits that should not be delayed any further.
At the same time, Mr. Chairman, I want to caution that we are considering this bill while we are on a path to a balanced budget in 7 years.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The Federal Government will be undergoing a major downsizing and, unfortunately, the Corps of Engineers will not be exempt from that process.
In this program, as in many others, we will be forced to determine which are the Federal responsibilities and which will be left to the State and local governments. Which are the Federal responsibilities? Is port development something in which our Federal Government has a vital stake? How about inland waterways? Beach erosion? Flood control projects? How about environmental infrastructure?
It has been made clear to us time after time in this Congress that many Members believe the bloated Federal Government has overstepped its bounds. It is simply not responsible to lead the American people to believe that cuts of the magnitude being discussed will not lead to some pain.
Many people were quoted as saying that when the Federal Government was shut down nobody missed it. When the cuts hit the Corps of Engineers program, people all over the country will miss it.
Investment in our water resources-related infrastructure has been an essential part of our Nation's economic growth for more than two centuries. It has been the Federal Government, through the Corps of Engineers, that has made these programs an important economic tool for every part of the Nation.
I fear that severe cuts in these programs will sacrifice future economic growth to the goal of balancing the budget. It's a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach that will hurt the Nation in the long run.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. We have an extensive list of witnesses today. It's going to be a long day. And I would ask if any of my colleagues have an opening statement, if they would minimize the opening statement.
Is there anyone who feels compelled to share words of wisdom with us? Mr. Poshard.
Mr. POSHARD. Mr. Chairman, I'll just ask, in the interest of time, unanimous consent to have my opening statement submitted to the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered. I thank you for your consideration.
[Mr. Poshard's prepared statement follows:]
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Chairman, I have a similar request for Mr. Menendez.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 [Mr. Menendez' prepared statement follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. All opening statements, without objection, will be inserted in the record at this point.
[Mr. Oberstar's prepared statement follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. Is there anyone that has anything? Mr. Latham, do we have your permission to go forward?
Mr. LATHAM. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. And I would say to all our witnesses today that we would ask you, if you could, to summarize your statement in 5 minutes. Try to keep it to 5 minutes. And I know that's very difficult and you work very hard to prepare these statements, and I'm not going to be arbitrary and at exactly 300 seconds gavel you to a close, but keep in mind this is goingthis is the first of four hearings. We have a lot of witnesses that want to testify. The full statements will appear in the record in their entirety. They will be examined very carefully by the most important ingredient in this whole formula, the professional staff, and we will get guidance from them.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Panel number one, dealing with ports and navigation interests, consists of: Mr. Ken Nagle, president, the American Association of Port Authorities; Mr. Ralph Cox, maritime director for Massport; Mr. Richard S. Weeks, executive vice president, Weeks Marine, Inc., representing the Dredging Contractors of America; from the Port of Richmond, Mr. Lawrence G. Mallon for Mr. Michael R. Powers, who is the port director; and for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Mr. John J. Haley, Jr., who's deputy executive director.
I would ask that we proceed in the order in which you were announcedMr. Nagle first, then Mr. Cox, Weeks, Mallon, and Haley.
Mr. Nagle, welcome.
TESTIMONY OF KURT J. NAGLE, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PORT AUTHORITIES, ALEXANDRIA, VA; RALPH F. COX, MARITIME DIRECTOR, MASSACHUSETTS PORT AUTHORITY (MASSPORT); RICHARD S. WEEKS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, WEEKS MARINE, INC., ON BEHALF OF THE DREDGING CONTRACTORS OF AMERICA, CRANFORD, NJ; LAWRENCE G. MALLON, ATTORNEY AT LAW ON BEHALF OF MICHAEL R. POWERS, PORT DIRECTOR, CITY AND PORT OF RICHMOND, CA; AND JOHN J. HALEY, JR., DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, NY
Mr. NAGLE. Thank you, sir.
Good morning. I am Kurt Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 AAPA represents public port agencies throughout the western hemisphere. My remarks today reflect the views of AAPA's United States' delegation.
Mr. Chairman, AAPA strongly supports enactment of the Water Resources Development Act this year. Despite the efforts of this committee that led to House approval of the Water Resources Development Act of 1994, the Senate failed to take action on a water resources bill in the 103rd Congress.
Port activities link every community in our Nation to the world marketplace, providing opportunities to export goods and deliver products inexpensively to consumers. Deep draft commercial ports of our Nation handle over 95 percent of cargo moving in international trade. In 1993, alone, approximately $15 billion was paid into the general treasury from Customs' duties on imports through U.S. ports.
Ports also play a very critical role in our Nation's defense.
In a letter annexed to my written testimony, AAPA has been joined by 24 diverse maritime, labor, and business groups in calling for action on a water resources bill this year.
In addition, I want to emphasize: one, the importance of continuing the historical Federal/local partnership in harbor projects; two, the need for equitable Federal/local cost sharing for upland and confined dredged material disposal facilities; three, the need to remove unnecessary regulatory impediments to projects; and, four, the need to manage and implement navigation projects more efficiently.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The public port industry has invested $14.1 billion over the last 45 years to develop landside terminal facilities. Over the next 5 years, the cumulative local investment in port facilities will approach $1 billion per year.
To protect and maximize the economic return on this investment, our ports must be dredged. That includes both navigation improvements and full maintenance of existing project dimensions.
AAPA and this committee have recognized the inequity of current disposal facility cost-sharing policies. The House versions of both WRDA '92 and WRDA '94 included provisions which would provide cost-sharing of construction of disposal facilities like other essential project features.
AAPA supports the amendments to the Clean Water Act offered last year by Representative Bob Franks, with broad bipartisan support from Representative Menendez and other members of this committee, that would streamline the dredging permit process.
Existing mechanisms in WRDA '86 provided by sections 203 and 204 were intended to expedite Federal navigation projects by permitting the sponsor to construct the project and consequently seek reimbursement from Congress. However, these provisions have not been successful.
AAPA would like to work with this committee to amend these provisions and improve fast-tracking of dredging projects.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
AAPA supports bringing the navigation program more into line with other transportation sectors by permitting the Corps, upon approval of a project, to provide the Federal share of project funding to the local project sponsors, who could take the lead on project implementation consistent with Federal requirements.
AAPA also supports the following amendments to WRDA '86:
First, cap the local cost contribution by local sponsors during the feasibility stage to the agreed cost estimate. Any additional money due from a local sponsor would be paid upon project authorization.
Two, require immediate action by the owner or operator of a sunken or grounded vessel to remove or destroy that vessel that is obstructing a navigable waterway.
Three, expand the authority for a local sponsor to recover their share of the project cost.
Finally, I would like to address briefly a related concern regarding the harbor maintenance tax. The current surplus in the harbor maintenance trust fund exceeds $600 million. AAPA supports a roll-back of the tax to a level of .085 percent of the value of the cargo. That would eliminate the unnecessary surplus in the fund. The buildup of this surplus was a significant reason why the U.S. Court of International Trade Court recently found the harbor maintenance tax to be an unconstitutional tax on exports. This case is currently being appealed.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The tax was only one part of a hard-fought compromise among the Federal Government, ports, and user of Federal channels. Any alternative funding mechanism to the current harbor maintenance tax would need to be crafted extremely carefully to avoid the confrontation and gridlock that preceded Congressional action on WRDA '86.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to testify today. Again, I cannot emphasize strongly enough that navigational channels are national assets, AAPA's support for action this year on a water resources bill, and that a return to regular authorization cycle is critical.
Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Nagle.
The green light is still on, and you were perfect, and I really appreciate that, and I would hope that the other colleagues could follow your lead.
And I also want to thank you for paying particular mention to the leadership of our colleague, Mr. Franks, on the streamlining of the dredging permitting process. Quite frankly I'll tell you all of us on this committee look to him in that area. He's had some really innovative ideas, and I appreciate your mentioning that.
Next, Mr. Cox.
Mr. COX. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
My name is Ralph Cox. I'm the maritime director of the Massachusetts Port Authority.
I want to thank you for this opportunity to appear before you today and tell you about the Boston Harbor improvement project and to comment on the Water Resources Development Act of 1996.
The Port of Boston is one of the oldest international ports in the U.S., having served U.S. commerce for over 300 years. Our primary cargo is a bulk cargo, particularly petroleum and scrap metals and containerized freight. In 1995, the port handled over 1.1 million tons of containerized cargo, which represents 80 percent of our business.
We are the largest port in New England, serving over 13 million residents of six New England States.
As Secretary of Transportation Pena has observed, the Nation is currently experiencing a dredging crisis that is, in reality, an economic crisis. I am pleased to report that we, at Massport, are poised to embark on a project that will help alleviate both conditionsthe Boston Harbor navigation improvement and berth dredging project designed to deepen three tributary channels of Boston Harbor to depths of 40 and 38 feet respectively.
Specifically, the reserve channel in Mystic River will be deepened to 40 feet necessary so that large, deep-draft vessels which are currently used in the international container business can be accommodated.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The Port of Boston serves vessel traffic on the north Atlantic routes. Currently, deep-draft vessels may incur several hours of tidal delay in order to call in the port. If no dredging project occurred in Boston, and shipping lines are forced to continue to wait for the high tide, the port would certainly see a reduction in direct vessel calls, resulting in added cost to shippers and ultimately increased cost for consumers.
The Chelsea Creek will be deepened to 38 feet to accommodate deep-draft oil tankers, which are used to carry petroleum to locations throughout New England.
Today, heavily-loaded oil tankers must await for the tidal change or be lightened by off-loading petroleum onto barges. This is both highly inefficient and costly, and adds considerably to the risk of oil spill in Boston's inner harbor.
To address these very real problems, the Boston Harbor project was conceived in 1968 by Congressional resolution when port interests identified a need to deepen the channels. It was authorized by this subcommittee as part of the Water Resources Development Act of 1990, which recognized that the timely completion of the project is critical to the maintenance and growth of the port, and, by extension, to the continued economic growth of the Commonwealth and the region.
The total non-Federal share of this project is estimated to be over $28 million, most of which is being funded by Massport and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Governor William Weld and the Massachusetts State Legislature have provided continuous support for this project. Recently, the Legislature enacted a seaport bond bill, which included $15 million earmarked specifically for the project, and yesterday the governor signed the bill into law.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The final environmental impact report was filed on the Boston project in June 1995, and has received the enthusiastic endorsement of both State and Federal regulatory agencies and numerous environmental advocacy groups. As you know, the dredging process is both costly and complicated because the sediments that lie on the bottom of the urban harbors are usually contaminated with a variety of pollutants, and Boston Harbor is no exception.
You should be aware that Massport convened a Dredging Advisory Committee early in the environmental process, and we have continued to work very closely with all the parties involved in the project's decision-making process. A dredging and disposal solution was developed with the active involvement of both regulators and advocacy groups, and the project is now ready to move forward with their support.
The Boston project will dispose of contaminated sediments in channel and deep cells dug within and below the inner harbor areas that are scheduled for deepening.
Special precautions will be taken during both dredging and disposal to minimize the impact of the project on water quality and marine life. This project will also employ a closed environmental bucket to remove the dredged material, and will utilize silt curtains during disposal, as appropriate.
The project will also hire an independent contractor, in addition to the Corps of Engineers' resident engineer, to monitor all dredging and disposal sites for migratory fish.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 However, because of the project's incorporation of the in-channel disposal option, which the Corps has identified as the most economically-and environmentally-feasible alternative, our area of greatest interest in this year's water resources development legislation is in clarification of Corps of Engineers/local partner cost-sharing formulas to include Federal participation in disposal options other than ocean disposal.
For all practical purposes, it appears that ocean disposal of contaminated Boston Harbor materials remains unacceptable. In addition, during future maintenance dredging of the harbor, Massport may be faced with having to dispose of dredged material upland to line landfills.
Under its current interpretation of the statute, the Corps would not share in the cost of disposal at anything other than ocean and ocean site. Instead, the local sponsors of the project are responsible for finding lands, easements, rights-of-ways, and disposal areas.
Because the Corps has interpreted this provision to include all non-ocean disposal contaminant options, Massport believes that this interpretation does place additional unnecessary burdens on anyone who seeks to improve their port's facilities through dredging.
As this subcommittee is well aware, environmental regulations have become more stringent, testing techniques more sophisticated, and that has meant an increased amount of dredging material has been required to be placed in confined disposal facilities.
While current policy only includes a strong economic incentive to utilize open water disposal sites, diking and other containment techniques are positive environmental featuresones that should be encouraged by the Federal Government. To this end, the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, in its report to accompany S. 64, the Water Resources Development Act of 1995, described the cost-sharing issue in the following manner:
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
''With respect to the construction of dredged material disposal facilities, it is apparent that cost-sharing inconsistencies do exist. Federal and non-Federal cost-sharing responsibilities for dredged material disposal vary from project to project, region to region, and port to port. This inconsistency creates incentives for open water disposal and discourages upland and confined disposals, including environmentally beneficial disposal options.''
Massport believes that current statute can be fairly interpreted to have intended the construction costs of the contained disposal areas and navigation project cost subject to cost sharing. Therefore, we would suggest that the proposed clarification does not alter the basic philosophy underlying the cost-sharing debates of the 1986 WRDA Act.
In addition, we do not feel that the change would obligate the Federal Government to provide additional funding for all harbor improvement projects. There are still significant checks in place to ensure adequate national as well as regional benefits before any Federal funding commitment is made.
Again, we believe this change simply corrects the Corps' policy interpretation and restores balance to the consideration of open water and confined or upland disposal options.
Just as the subcommittee did, in its version of WRDA '94, Massport urges you to incorporate language in its reauthorization bill which would require the Corps to provide for full cost sharing for various disposal options, including disposal at in-channel, near-shore, upland disposal sites.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Both the American Association of Port Authorities and Massport have submitted language to the subcommittee, as well as to the counterpart in the Senate. It's our hope that you will include the language or similar language in the final legislation.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, New England has a proud heritage of both fishing and water-borne commerce, and the Boston Harbor improvement project will go to great lengths to maintain the integrity of both.
Again, I would urge the subcommittee to continue their strong support for this project by providing a Federal cost-sharing, non-ocean disposal of dredged material. We have a well-scoped project that is long overdue and ready to go. Thirteen million people and 300 years of history deserve no less.
I would just close by emphasizing that we've been working on this project since 1968. We have the endorsement of the environmental community and regulators. We have the cost-sharing mechanism for the local cost sharing in place, and we are ready to go, and we are truly looking forward to the passage of the WRDA bill.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Cox.
Let the record note that the Chair, a New Yorker, gave the Boston person some extra time. Don't expect the same courtesy from the Yankees.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Weeks.
Mr. WEEKS. Thank you. Good morning. My name is Richard Weeks. I am executive vice president of Weeks Marine of Cranford, New Jersey.
I am testifying this morning on behalf of the Dredging Contractors of America, the national trade association of the U.S. dredging industry.
DCA's members together perform approximately 75 percent of the construction and maintenance dredging contracts advertised for competitive bid by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Our members also accomplish all of the private sector seagoing hopper dredge work allowed to be undertaken for the Government by the private sector.
An essential component of the Nation's maritime industrial base, the entire market for the U.S. dredging industry is worth approximately $540 million per year, a modest investment in light of the huge returns for our economy.
The Federal Government is, by far, our largest customer. As a result of your investment, approximately 12,000 skilled workers nationwide are employed by our industry.
The nationally-important port and waterways improvement and beach restoration projects that are considered by this committee result in observable and documented benefits to the economy at every level. Dredging provides basic economic infrastructure.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. Chairman, the passage of nationally-important project authorization bills on a regular basis is critical to our industry. Although water transportation will always be the most economical and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, and beaches the Nation's number one vacation destination, the decline in overall demand for our services has left companies struggling to survive.
In the last 6 years, four of our former members were forced out of business, due in large part to the lack of sufficient business to sustain them. With the exception of a small handful of port improvements projects now underway, maintenance dredging constitutes the bulk of our work.
As the northern New Jersey delegation knows all too well, even maintenance dredging has come to a halt in some areas. For that and other reasons, the DCA strongly supports the disposal site cost-sharing reforms passed by the House in 1994 but not yet enacted into law.
Mr. Chairman, it will come as no surprise to you that the DCA strongly opposes the Administration's plans to abandon small ports and the Federal shoreline protection program. While some may not see the obvious national benefits in all the projects that are routinely maintained by the Corps, the flat operations and maintenance budget works, in practice, to ensure that every maintained project has risen high on the priority list.
In the meantime, there are numerous Congressionally-authorized projects across the country that are not maintained because of tight budget constraints.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 One thing we do know at the DCA, however: the Corps provides enormous economies of scale in maintaining and managing the Nation's dredging services. Knowing that there is always room for improvement, the Corps understands the unique marine construction activity called dredging. It is an activity for which State and local governments rarely, if ever, maintain an engineering capability.
By contrast, the Corps administers this complex contracting program with fairness and with substantial consistency around the country.
The Corps procures our dredging services on a national basis, and thereby encourages as much contractor competition as possible. It makes no sense to recreate such a specialized expertise in every State, or even local government.
In fact, sending this responsibility to State and local levels will probably decrease overall efficiency and could be considered an unfunded mandate.
Mr. Chairman, in response to 1978 legislation intended to encourage the development of a private sector hopper dredge fleet from scratch, our members, including Weeks Marine, invested heavily in 15 modern hopper dredgers to replace an aging fleet of Federal vessels. Hopper dredging was the only major type of dredging that was not already privatized.
In addition to the industry's fleet, the Corps still maintains a minimum fleet of four hopper dredgers, which they manage from three different Corps district offices. Under the law, the minimum fleet is intended to provide a national defense capability and emergency response.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
DCA agrees with the 1991 Corps' study that finds that neither of the two statutory justifications for the Federal vessels are still valid. The findings of this study, the most thorough ever published on the subject, are hotly disputed in those seaport cities hosting a Federal dredge management staff. Within the non-dredge-owning Corps districts, the opposite opinion frequently prevails.
Whatever your opinion, the foremost issue standing between us and the Government dredge host States is assuring a system to provide dredges for rapid emergency response.
There are existing urgent procurement procedures in place with the Corps that function very effectively, but our association supports a plan to further reduce any real and perceived risks. In fact, we can document substantial savings to the Nation by using industry vessels first, and then using Government equipment in emergencies only.
Solving our problem this way will also help you to find resources to fund other needed projects or for budgetary savings.
The 1978 law allows the Corps to set aside work for Federal vessels in order to keep them operational. In most years, however, 30 to 40 percent of all the available work for hopper dredges is set aside for these vessels. This level of utilization is far more than necessary to keep the Government dredges operational, in good working order, and ready to respond to emergencies.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Our problem, simply stated, is that there is not enough work to keep both our fleet and the Corps dredges fully occupied. Higher private utilization is required to create the investment opportunity we need to secure a robust and financially-viable future.
Over the next few years, hopper dredge-owning companies must make investment decisions concerning fleet replacements. America's private dredging companies are ready, willing, and able to respond to the demands of the marketplace.
Our plan would further reduce the perceived emergency response risk with a new creative proposal to use the private sector to operate and maintain Government vessels in a high readiness, 5-day activation status.
In discussing this problem with the Maritime Administration and marine service experts that provide similar services, the Marine Spill Response Corporation, and others, and using conservative cost estimates, we believe that we can save more than $4 million per dredge per year from current expenditures, while, at the same time, keeping a dredge in active status, ready to respond to emergencies.
Proceeding with such a plan would provide a real-world test of our assertions and would eliminate the need to rely solely on any study to make a decision.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time and attention. We would be happy to work with you and your staff to explain in more detail this proposal and any other affecting the national dredging program.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Weeks.
Mr. MALLON. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear here this morning.
My name is Lawrence Mallon. I'm special counsel to the ports of Richmond, California and the Port of Sacramento. Both of these port projects were authorized in WRDA '86.
I'm going to summarize my remarks and submit them in entirety for the record.
Mr. Powers couldn't be here this morning because he had an unfortunate accident over the weekend.
Both ports want to thank, in particular, Congressman Baker from this committee and Dr. Horn for their support of California water product.
In my 11 years of service on the House Merchant Marine Committee, perhaps the highlight was working with the staff of this committee in what became WRDA '86, and since then I've devoted a substantial portion of my practice to working with small ports in California in attempting to implement the cost-sharing provisions of that legislation.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The Port of Sacramento project is a new project construction start this year, so it's 10 years after project authorization.
The message I would bring to the members of the committee and staff this morning is that it's taken 10 years since authorization to get this project off the ground. It's been difficult.
Richmond is a landmark in the sense it is the first navigation project in the United States that is being financed in part, the local share, by a small local benefit assessment district that private beneficiaries are participating in, so we have a number of large companies and also private landowners are participating in the project, but the effective impact of this is to put essentially a cap on how much a local port can share.
It's been 10 years since project authorization, substantial cost growth over that period of time, and we're right in a very delicate balance, being able to afford the local contribution. That same lesson I might draw from other small projects all authorized in WRDA '86, '88, '90.
The principal reason I'm here this morning is because the Port of Richmond desperately needs the enactment and the inclusion for applicability purposes of the cost-sharing provisions for upland dredge material disposal areas similar to those included by the committee in WRDA '86, passed by the House but not enacted by the Senate, to be included in this year's WRDA.
It may very well be the difference between at least the project in Richmond being able to go forward or not being able to afford its local share.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
I go into it in some depth in my remarks, but I just wanted to point the criticality of that.
Thank you, members of the committee. Both my ports are willing to work with you to enact a WRDA '96, 10th anniversary of WRDA '86.
I appreciate the opportunity, once again, to be here this morning.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I do appreciate that.
Mr. HALEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I, too, will allow the written words of my statement to stand for themselves, and would like to make a couple of points to embellish on what my colleagues have brought up.
First of all, I do want to thank the Chair for acknowledging, in your opening remarks, that the issue of dredging and disposal of the sediment is, in fact, a national transportation problem.
I think the Administration, in the presence of Secretary Pena, has acknowledged that, as well.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
I also want to just briefly call attention to the urgency of solving the problem with a quick anecdote obout one of the first meetings I had upon arriving at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey a year ago.
We were visited by Maersk Shipping, one of the largest shipping lines in the world, and the message that they left us with was loud and clear: that there is an immediate need on the part of the port to dredge and dispose and to increase the depth of critical port facilities or they would immediately have to look for an alternative.
I don't need to describe in any detail. We indicate in our written testimony the consequences of that, not only the impact on the State and regional economies or the States and regional economies of job losses in the largest port in the northeast, but, furthermore, the diminution of Federal investment that's taken place over the years.
As a result of the urgency, both governors in New York and New Jersey have convened a dredging summit. They have appointed high-level people. We are blessed in the region with a very active and supportive Congressional delegation, including several members on the subcommittee, and we appreciate that.
In addition to moving quickly at the local level to consider options and to provide opportunities and methods to deal with the dredging problem, we would ask for your supportcontinued supportat the Federal level in a couple of areas.
What we're looking for is essentially reasonable science-based and cost-effective regulation, predictable Federal funding of the navigation system, and a Federal/local partnership in providing construction of disposal facilities needed to deal with the sediments.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
So with that, Mr. Chairman, I will close and thank you for the opportunity. Thank you, again, for your continued interest and support, and I am available for questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I thank you, and I thank all the panel, and would like to alert the panel to perhaps anticipate some written questions as follow-up to the oral questions you will be receiving today.
Now, to open up the questioning, I go to Mr. Borski, the ranking minority Member.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Weeks, let me start with you, if I can. In your testimony you made several references to a plan addressing the relationship of the private dredge community and the Corps-owned dredge. Do you have such a plan in writing? And, if so, could you submit it to the subcommittee?
Mr. WEEKS. Yes, we do, and we can submit that promptly. Thank you.
Mr. BORSKI. Thanks.
[The information to be supplied follows:]
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BORSKI. In your testimony, you talked about a 1991 study. It's my understanding that study has not been completed or given to the Congress. Is that accurate, as far as you know?
Mr. WEEKS. I believe that study has been submitted, but I'd have to defer to a representative of our organization here.
Mr. BORSKI. All right. It was my understanding the Army or the Corps had had some questions about it, and that it was never fully completed, but we could check later on that.
Mr. WEEKS. It's one of these situations that's been studied ad infinitum, I'm afraid.
Mr. BORSKI. Yes.
Mr. WEEKS. By the Corps, by ourselves, by ourselves again, and by the Corps again, coming up basically with the same conclusion in each instance.
Mr. BORSKI. Yes. I know I have some interest in that, and I've asked the Corps for a finalized report, and I don't believe we've received such yet. That's the only reason I raised that.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. Nagle, you testified to the failure of the fast-tracking procedures for ports in the 1986 act. Is the failure a failure of the law, the Corps, the ports, or some combination?
Mr. NAGLE. Probably the primary situation with the language in the 1996 law is that the Corps' procedure basically requires duplicative reviews. If the local sponsor does a feasibility study or makes preparations, then the Corps has to review that and go through the process again.
Soit doesn't, get through the fast-tracking provisions. It slows the process down, actually, because the Corps ends up having to do the study over again in their review process, so it's a matter of the process.
Mr. BORSKI. Okay. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Cox, you referenced the non-Federal share of the cost of deepening the port.
Mr. COX. Yes.
Mr. BORSKI. It was $28 million, I believe. Could you tell us where you're coming up with the non-Federal share?
Mr. COX. Well, how do you come up with thewe have to pay for our own berths and a portion of the actual channel, itself. And when you add up those two costs, and then your soft costs, legal fees, engineering fees, the channel cost-sharing mechanism, and then the berths of the Port Authority, as well a the private berths of the oil industry, you come up with the local cost-sharing estimate.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BORSKI. How are you getting that money?
Mr. COX. Engineering cost studies. We have a series of engineers that havewell, actual sources, so we're getting actual sources from both the Army Corps as well as our own engineering consultants.
Mr. BORSKI. Who is actually paying the money?
Mr. COX. At this time?
Mr. BORSKI. Yes.
Mr. COX. We are.
Mr. BORSKI. The
Mr. COX. Port Authority. Soft costs.
Mr. BORSKI. Port Authority. So you're the collector and you're
Mr. COX. We are the local sponsor.
Mr. BORSKI. You're the local sponsor.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. COX. We're picking up the tab at this point to keep moving this down the pipeline.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. BATEMAN. No questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Then Mr. Franks.
Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
One question for Mr. Weeks, if I may. Mr. Weeks, if we undertake a test of the industry's capability, would we not run the risk of losing the Government's capacity to assist in the dredging needs of our ports?
Mr. WEEKS. Under the plan that we've proposed, we do not feel that that's the case. What we're proposing is that the Corps, on a one-dredge-at-a-time basis, choose a dredge and maintain it in a state of readiness similar to that which is used with the Maritime Administration for transport vessels in case of war.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Dredge would be available in the event it were needed. We don't think that will be the case.
Mr. FRANKS. Thank you. If I may, Mr. Haley, dredging is not very well understood, I understand, by a lot of people, some of whom have the power to make changes in the dredging process. Maybe you could shed some light on what the extent of the problem is that we face in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
We recently, last summer, were able to dredge some of the berths at the Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island. Could you tell us how that sediment was disposed of?
Mr. HALEY. I certainly will attempt to do that, Congressman. I will tell you in advance that it was not pretty.
We disposed offirst of all, from the standpoint of paying for it, we disposed of the material at a cost of about $18 million, which was picked up locally, mostly between the city of New York and the Port Authority.
We considered several options. It was not eligible for ocean dumping. There was not an upland facility that was made available and, ultimately we reached an agreement with a town in Utah to send the material to Utah.
Mr. FRANKS. The State of Utah?
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. HALEY. The State of Utah.
Mr. FRANKS. The State of Utah?
Mr. HALEY. Yes. I'm sorry. Excuse me.
Mr. FRANKS. This is mud from Staten Island, New York, going to the State of Utah?
Mr. HALEY. Yes. It's from the harbor area, so whether or not it
Mr. FRANKS. Did it make any intermediate stops along the way to get
Mr. HALEY. Well, it wasthe plan was to send it on a barge to Corpus Christi, Texas.
Mr. FRANKS. Texas?
Mr. HALEY. Texas.
Mr. FRANKS. The mud went from Staten Island to Texas to Utah?
Mr. HALEY. Yes. It was transferred
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. FRANKS. How did it get from Texas to Utah?
Mr. HALEY. Well, it was transferred from Corpus Christi to on to freight rail to
Mr. FRANKS. Railroad cars from Texas to Utah. Mud.
Mr. HALEY. So it is truly an intermodal trip.
Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Chairman, you know, there's something fundamentally wrong with this picture where mud is being sent from Staten Island, New York, via barge to Corpus Christi, Texas, put on rail cars, and shipped to Utah.
I think it has now reached a crisis stage, and we need to develop long-term disposal capacity that allows us to maintain these Nation's ports, which you underscored very appropriately are the mainstay to our ability to compete meaningfully in the world marketplace.
There's another more interesting example, Mr. Haley, that I came upon just about a month or two ago. I think a lot of the Members here have family members or constituents who travel regularly to the area and who enjoy looking at some of the most important and well-known tourist locations in this country, among which are the Statue of Liberty.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
What's happening to the Statue of Liberty? I understand that the mud around the Statue of Liberty that needs to be removed is this category three, this really nasty stuff that's laden with dioxin and PCBs and other materials.
If we don't find a disposal option, what's going to happen to the statue?
Mr. HALEY. Well, I think it goes without saying, Congressman, your examples are right on the money and they're very illustrative of the problem, and I would concur completely in your
Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Haley, I'm told by the National Park Service in less thanin between 12 and 18 months there won't be any more visits to the statue.
Mr. HALEY. Well, we are being told the exact same thing, and it goes to the point thatone of the points we wanted to make to the committee today about the importance of having a partnership between the State, local, and the Federal Government in this because, in addition to the need to dredge Staten Island and other local facilities an integral part of the dredging problem in the New York/New Jersey area is the need to dredge the Federal channels, as well.
I would remind the committee that the Federal Government and the Army Corps has deferred dredging, in the port for this and last year.
So there is, in fact, a crisis, and people's ability to come and visit and tour is also at risk, in addition to a very real, very dramatic, and very current potential economic impact.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. FRANKS. Mr. Chairman, I see my time is up, but I simply want to, if I can, take the committee's attention to the fact that this port is now suffering consequences of our ability to measure the level of contamination in this mud, and we're going to have to find better long-term disposal options in order to keep these port facilities viable.
I look forward to working with you and the members of the committee to try to do that.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Yes. There's no question about that, Mr. Franks. I thank you for your contribution.
We're privileged to have with us the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I ask unanimous consent that a statement I would have delivered had I been here be included in the record. It's a very brief statement.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, at the appropriate point.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Haley and Mr. Nagle, I'd like to follow up on the just-concluded discussion.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 On page eight of your testimony, Mr. Nagle, you ask that the Corps be given ''clear authority to issue dredging and disposal permits without being subject to EPA veto.'' We've just heard about a Rube Goldberg scheme here to ship dredged spoils from the New York Harbor, with all of the toxics that come from upstream that are laden in that material, across the country, dump it in Utah, without the ability to EPA to veto it? Is that what you're asking?
Mr. NAGLE. No, sir. It's a matter of
Mr. OBERSTAR. That's what your words say.
Mr. NAGLE. The way the regulation is now is that the Corps of Engineers can issue a permit, but then subject to EPA veto, and it's more a question of the process being extended out and the length of time for
Mr. OBERSTAR. You want the ability to ship that stuff from one State to another, across State boundaries, without the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect people in Utah from the dredged material from the Harbor of New York?
Mr. NAGLE. What we're asking the ability to be able to do is to have that process finalized, reviewed by the Corps, following fully the environmental standards that are out there. In other words, the
Mr. OBERSTAR. You don't want EPA to review what the Corps does?
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. NAGLE. Not sequentially. In other words, so that the processwe're not asking for any environmental regulations to be amended or eased; it's a matter of trying to speed the process, keeping in mind the environmental regulations.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, I can understand speeding up the process, but this is speeding up the destruction of the land somewhere else in America.
Mr. NAGLE. We feel that there are better alternatives out there for providing the disposal options than the
Mr. OBERSTAR. I don't see any better alternative than for the one agency that has the principal responsibility for protection of our natural resources to have a say in whether this material is fit to be shipped somewhere else.
Mr. HALEY. Mr. Congressman, if I may, what we're asking for is in my terms, my word, an elimination of what is a redundancy in the process, the permitting process of the EPA and the Corps. But what we're not suggesting is that you compromise the EPA standards. They would still very much apply. In fact, I would
Mr. OBERSTAR. Except that EPA, under your proposal hereand if you buy into this ideawould be prohibited from saying, ''No, you can't do this.''
Mr. HALEY. I'm sorry. When you say ''my proposal,'' I'm not sure what you're referring to.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. OBERSTAR. No. I said if you buy into this proposal of Mr. Nagle's, it's his idea, not yours.
Mr. HALEY. Okay.
Mr. OBERSTAR. So, you know, I've been a strong supporter of the dredging program. Dredging our harbors and waterways is important to commerce and navigation. I've served on this committee for 22 years. I've never heard anyone come here and make a proposal like this.
Mr. NAGLE. These basic proposals
Mr. OBERSTAR. I understand you've got a lot of frustrations dealing with EPA, but the people of this country don't want land in one part of America polluted with stuff from another part of America.
Mr. NAGLE. No, sir. And, like I say, we are not asking for any easing of the restrictions or of the environmental standards that are issued. It's a matter of the process, having to go through Corps review and then EPA review.
These proposals are part of the package of regulatory reform as included in the Clean Water Act and the amendments through Representative Franks.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, you need to clarify what role you see for EPA. I certainly can't buy the language of your proposal here, and that'sand I don't want to sound nitpicking as picking out one item out of ten pages of testimonythis is one big item.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. NAGLE. We'd be certainly happy to provide for you the specifics of the proposal and how the environmental regulations would be maintained within the structure of the process. We'd be happy to provide that to you, sir, for the record.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, in our part of the country up in the Duluth Superior Harbor, either you find a place in the area where people are agreed upon to store it, or you leave it in the harbor and don't dig it. And it's been costly for us. And I knowI've served on here long enough to see cost of dredged spoil disposalthat's the old word, ''dredged spoil.'' They call it something fancier todaybut dredged spoil disposal go from $0.30 a cubic yard to $6 and $8. I know it's costly.
But if that's the price of protecting the environment, protecting the water column from the material being reintroduced as you dredge it, and from protecting the land from toxic substances, heavy metals going back into the land and into the groundwater and into our environment once again, then that's the price we have to pay. We're paying it up in our part of the country, and I don't see why people in another part of the country shouldn't pay that price.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
I have just a couple of questions. The old adage keeps ringing in my head. Well, first of all, don't send the stuff to Maryland. I'm from Maryland.
Mr. GILCHREST. I don't know what Mr. Hansen thinks about you chucking it out there to Utah, but don't send it down to Maryland. We've got a lot of stuff down here we're trying to get rid of.
It seems the sins of the fathers are visited on the children. Most of ita lot of the problems here, it's the toxic material that we have to dig up in these ports, and nobody wants to put it anywhere.
A quick question, though. Do you know, what was the toxic material contained in the mud that had to be shipped to Utah to make it so dangerous that it had to be shipped to Utah? And then what did they do with it in Utah? Did they incinerate it? What did they do with it?
Mr. HALEY. We in the New York region have three types of categories of sediment. The material we are discussing tested as ''Category 3,'' which is to say it did not meet Federal ocean disposal in the region and needing to promptly dredge because we had a critical economic need to reopen the port facilities, we had to look at alternatives such as the landfill in Utah. It was not because it was too toxic to be put in our region. In fact, ocean standards are much more restrictive than upland standards such as must be met when remediating a Superfund site. Those sediments from Staten Island are not hazardous or toxic.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. GILCHREST. I'm not sure if I understand what you just said. Quick little follow-up, because I have a couple other questions. You have mud that wasn'tyou had mud that was available to be put in this mud box in the ocean
Mr. HALEY. It met the standards.
Mr. GILCHREST. And you couldn'tit was cheaper to send it to Utah than to go out into the mud dump in the ocean?
Mr. HALEY. Well, in a nutshell, it met landfill standards. But in New York and New Jersey upland disposal criteria had yet to be established for dredged material. We had to look for an alternative, but it was not toxic, if you will.
Mr. GILCHREST. So you sent it to a landfill in Utah? And I don't mean to beI am seriously confused. Maybe I can ask Bob about this a little bit later. We have a major problem in the Port of Baltimore to dredge the approach channels and all the canals. We keep the ships coming to Baltimore.
Mr. HALEY. Right.
Mr. GILCHREST. Hopefully, rather than New York or Norfolk. No, but that's just the way competition goes.
Mr. HALEY. Yes.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. GILCHREST. But we have the same kind of problems. You dig up the stuff and you can't put the stuff in the port anywhere, because that's too toxic, and we try to put that on little islands that we build up out there and put signs, ''Don't swim near here'' or whatever.
Mr. HALEY. Right.
Mr. GILCHREST. But there are three problems here. Some of it is redundant regulations, which I think we should try to work on, and I think that can happen with us, and it can certainly happen with the Corps and EPA and local sponsors if they could all have an avenue to sit down at the same table to decide on project by project by project so they don't duplicate environmental regulations, but we don't do away with environmental regulations.
The other thing is you've guys want us to appropriate the sufficient amount of money so these projects can continue, but it seems to me the most difficult thing here, especially in the long run, is that we're running out of places to put the stuff.
If we just don't want to crassly just dump it overboard, take it out in the ocean and put it anywhere we want, which I don't think we want to do, we have to be very creative and with a great deal of foresight, it seems to meand this is what I'd like you to respond towhere are we going to put all the dredged spoils or dredged materials that comes out of these ports and continue to filter back in? Is that the main problem with dredging?
Mr. HALEY. If I may, Congressman, I'mI want to be clear that your description of the odyssey of this particular sediment as Rube Goldberg is absolutely one that we agree with, and it isbut it is an accurate
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. GILCHREST. Can I ask, Was it Federal regulations that caused you to have to do that?
Mr. HALEY. Not entirely. There were some local policy decisions, as well. But the point of all that is that it's an accurate description of the state of the disposal, at least in the New York area. And what we are doing, both short-term and long-term, the short-term range of options that we're looking at that are much more modest, including things like re-profiling, moving sediment between berths, and eventually placing sediments in upland areas.
We believe that the long-term solutions, for the most part, would fall under what you mentioned your area already has, which is a containment disposal facility. We're looking at working
Mr. GILCHREST. That's not real long, though, because it gets filled up and you've got to go some place else.
Mr. HALEY. And there are opportunities to look at making them 20-, 30-, or 40-year facilities as well as looking at potential other sites. That's part ofas well as encouraging, if you will, the state of technology to try to look at other alternatives to disposal.
But in terms of where that is right now, the immediate problem on the horizon is, How do you dispose of the sedimentation?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have any questions. I'd just like to offer the observation that if I had to go on a trip from New Jersey to Utah, I can certainly understand why anybody would want to go through Texas. I'm sure it's for the scenery, if for nothing else.
But I've got no questions. I appreciate this hearing.
Mr. BOEHLERT. It didn't last very long in Texas. They want to get out in a hurry, huh?
Mr. GEREN. Beg your pardon?
Mr. BOEHLERT. I said it didn't stay very long in Texas. They wanted to get out in a hurry.
Mr. GEREN. We don't want them to stay there when they're carrying this sort of thing. We'd like them to go right on through, and maybe spend a little money on the way.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That's why they sent you to Washington.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. All right. Mr. Horn.
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I came in a little late on this because I was testifying before the Transportation Subcommittee of Appropriations on the glories of the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, both of which are in my district, so I'm very sympathetic to what you're talking about.
The New York/New Jersey port system is the same as Long Beach and Los Angeles. They're tremendous economic generators. Just using the figures I mentioned at transportation, we're talking about moving from 116 billion annual value of trade to 253 billion by 2010, and generating 3.2 million jobs.
Every single State is affected by our ports. Every single State is affected by your ports. So I'm very sympathetic on it.
Now, in dredgingand the Corps has done marvelous things for all of us. Let's face it. The Corps does first-rate work.
What I'm curious about is, Was the attempt made to put the clean sediments, if any can be found, over the contaminated sediments so that they were not disturbed? That's an appropriate way to handle that situation. I'm just curious if that option was utilized. And maybe you mentioned it and I wasn't here.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. HALEY. No, Senator. Not in that particular case.
Mr. HORN. You did not use that option?
Mr. HALEY. No. We will in other cases, but not in that one. That was not
Mr. HORN. Were there wave actions so you couldn't use that option?
Mr. HALEY. Yes. There were reasons we could not do that.
Mr. HORN. Yes. Because that is one acceptable thing, and the Corps recognizes it. I assume EPA does. The Corps is simply following the regulations drafted under the laws passed by Congress.
Mr. HALEY. Yes.
Mr. HORN. And I think I can certainly be sympathetic with you that there's no reason for two agencies to be reviewing the same matter. Either you trust an agency, and if they don't, fine, change the delegation, or Congress change the law. But if the Corps is doing it, and all I've seen they've done a superb job, then let's let them do it and not have ten other people review what one person can do carrying out the law as passed by Congress.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Yes, sir?
Mr. COX. Mr. Horn, I'd like to take a chance at answering maybe your question and Mr. Gilchrest's question. I'm from the Port of Boston.
I believe there are solutions. There are solutions, whether I believe it or not, to dredging of contaminated soils. The problem is getting the funds to allow us to do those things.
The Army Corps of Engineers has responsibility to dredge the Federal channels, but it's given a mandate that it can only dispose of it with a cost-sharing mechanism in open ocean disposal.
Today, because every harbor has contaminants, that's no longer acceptable in the open ocean, so we have to find alternative ways to do it.
There are ways of doing that and building landfills or disposal areas, or, in the case that we're doing in the Port of Boston is we are, in fact, dredging in some areas of the port deeper, down to 50 feet, putting the contaminants in there, and then capping it with clean material.
Again, it's a cost-sharing mechanism that we hope will be addressed by this water act that will allow for a cost sharing that will allow us to do that.
We have solutions that don't need to be sending this material to other parts, that can be disposed of within our own communities and within our own State, and it should be up to us to address them and to find those solutions.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
What we're asking this committee to do is give the Army Corps of Engineers room to work with us to find those solutions and move forward with it, because we are at a critical state when you see some of these issues that are taking place and having to go to Texas and send it up to Utah.
So there are solutions, and some of our language I believe asks for some of the funds to go into new technologies. We're going, in Boston, to try a technology that actually puts it in a plastic bag, the contaminated soils, and then buries them.
But we needwe have $600 million in coffers available to help dredge the ports of this country, and we're not able to get at it. And some of the language that we're proposing will allow us to find environmentally safe ways to move forward on what is clearly a critical issue facing this country.
Mr. HORN. Well, I think it's well stated. I think we're all in agreement on that one.
Mr. WEEKS. Mr. Horn, in the case of New York, the alternative of using borrow pits for dredge disposal and capping has been considered on numerous occasions over the past decade, and that concept had been supported by numerous agencies. But, as with almost any dredge disposal method I'm familiar with, you'll always find some group that's opposed to a site and, in the case of a new use, that virtually stops the use of that disposal method
We're actually dredging in New York right now for the city of New York, transporting the material to Virginianot Marylandfor use as cover in a landfill because there's not dredge disposal method available in New York. There's nothing wrong with the material. It works in a landfill just fine. The transport cost is phenomenal, and, in essence, that's a tax on the city of New York.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. Mr. LaTourette.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll be brief.
I was interested that both Mr. Cox and Mr. Haley talked about development of new and interesting technologies to take care of what's really a disposal problem. And I assume you gentlemen all know, but during the clean water amendments of 1995, which were sort of panned in certain parts of the population, there were, in fact, provisions in the clean water amendments that dealt with the continuation of developing new technologies to dispose of contaminated sediments, and I couldn't agree more with those of you that have spoken up.
Obviously, this train trip and barge trip is ridiculous, and if we can find cheaper and better ways to incinerate, bag, whatever the need may be to dispose of that, that helps everybody's problem, as well as maintaining the environment.
The one question that I would haveand I apologize for being a few minutes late. Maybe you addressed it in your written statements, and I'll look at them a little more closely. I think, Mr. Weeks, you probably came the closest to commenting on it.
In some testimony we received last year, the issue of the Corps' continuing authority program came under question, whether or not it was a valuable program, whether or not the Corps' continuing authority obligations should be continued.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
There was a proposal by the Administration that, in fact, it not have continuing authority except in cases of national emergencies, and wouldn't be responsible for local flood control and navigation projects.
I'd just like to ask any of you on the panel as to your feeling, whether you endorse, and if you feel it's worthwhile to have Federal involvement in the form of a continuing authority line item or not.
Anyone who has a thought, I'd be more than happy to hear from you.
Mr. NAGLE. Let me just make a brief comment. We do feel that the program should be continued and, if anything, maybe expanded. It's primarily for small projects at this point, and perhaps be expanded to provide more flexibility in that area for more sizeable projects.
We would be in favor of continuing it.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Mr. Weeks, did your members have any
Mr. WEEKS. As I addressed in my comments, I can't emphasize enough how strong and good a contracting agency the Corps of Engineers is. I mean, we're not only in the dredging business, but in marine contracting, as well, and we deal with government agencies and private entities throughout the country. The Corps' program really stands out in terms of efficient management, knowledge about what they're doing.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
I just don't think you want to give that up. I mean, they know dredging. There is a tremendous amount of expertise throughout the country, and they make good use of it.
Mr. LATOURETTE. And just so I'm clear, you're organization is sort of an adjunct to or contractor for projects, and the contracting agency would be the Corps? Is thatI missed the first part of your testimony.
Mr. WEEKS. The Corps would be our customer, in essence. We work for the Corps.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you very much. And thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back my time.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Mr. Wamp.
Mr. WAMP. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I don't have a question, but I would like to point out at this time that last week I had the privilege of participating with Congressman Coburn in the State of Oklahoma on some hearingsnot official hearings of this subcommittee, but hearings for the purposes of flood control and navigation problems in the Arkansas River basin. But we toured southeast Kansas and held a hearing in Miami, Oklahoma. And from Joplin, in southwest Missouri, through this entire region down through Arkansas, there are significant problems.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I would just ask unanimous consent, Mr. Chairman, that we have the right to submit our findings from that hearing for the record of these hearings either today or tomorrow, please.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection. Thank you very much.
I want to thank all of our panelists. We really appreciate it.
Panel number two consists of: Ms. Rebecca Quinn, legislative officer for the Association of State Floodplain Managers; from American Rivers, Mr. Scott Faber, who is director of the floodplain programs; and from the National Wildlife Federation, Mr. David Conrad, water resources specialist.
I would say to Ms. Quinn and Mr. Faber and Mr. Conrad that your statements will appear in the record in their entirety. We would ask you to be as cooperative as you possibly can with us, recognizing that we have a long day with a number of panels, long list of witnesses, and we would hope that you might be able to summarize in 5 minutes or less.
I also would appreciate your being available to answer any follow-up questions that we might submit in writing.
We'll start with Ms. Quinn.
TESTIMONY OF REBECCA QUINN, LEGISLATIVE OFFICER, ASSOCIATION OF STATE FLOODPLAIN MANAGERS, ANNAPOLIS, MD; SCOTT FABER, DIRECTOR, FLOODPLAIN PROGRAMS, AMERICAN RIVERS, WASHINGTON, DC; AND DAVID R. CONRAD, WATER RESOURCES SPECIALIST, NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, WASHINGTON, DC
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Ms. QUINN. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I'm Rebecca Quinn, legislative officer of the Association of State Floodplain Managers. The association is a volunteer organization representing floodplain managers at all levels of government, despite the ''State'' in our name.
Including our 12 State chapters, we represent over 3,000 professionals who implement flood loss reduction programs on a daily basis. Our members are engineers, planners, mitigation specialists, emergency managers, elected officials, consultants, academics, and scientists.
We work with Federal agencies involved in addressing flood hazards, primarily the Corps of Engineers, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
We've learned a great deal about the many tools that can be used to address flood hazards. Some tools are structural, such as dams, floodwalls, and levees. Other tools that have proven their effectiveness recently are non-structural, such as building codes, land management, flood-proofing, acquisition, relocation, and elevation-in-place.
For decades, this country has relied almost entirely on structural flood control measures that were planned and built by the Corps of Engineers.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The passage of the National Flood Insurance Act and subsequent legislation gave us some non-structural tools to deal with flooding. Congress recognized that building large and expensive projects wasn't always the best solution in all instances.
In large measure, the flood insurance program was implemented to reduce disaster expenditures, to require new development to recognize flood hazards, and to shift some responsibility for financial recovery away from disaster relief, away from Federal taxpayers, and towards floodplain occupants.
The association recognizes that structural works such as those undertaken by the Corps retain a place in our flood loss reduction toolbox, but we believe a more balanced approach can be achieved through stronger State and local involvement. This balanced approach also recognizes that Federal financial resources for large works are limited and likely to be more so in the future.
Federal flood policy should support and encourage State and local solutions. This will protect more people, more property, and economic interests at all levels.
Importantly, the sooner communities accept more responsibility, rather than wait for the Corps to do something, the sooner we will all reap the benefits through lower disaster costs and fewer economic and social disruptions.
A quick look at disaster costs shows that not enough is being done. Despite the Corps' efforts, costing over $38 billion since 1968, the total costs due to flooding continue to rise, even in real dollars.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Unfortunately, because of the Corps' efforts, some communities think flooding is not a local problem but a Federal problem. They waitoften for many yearsfor Corps' projects, or, as sometimes happens, Federal disaster relief, which gets paid out over and over again.
Luckily, many other communities recognize that they can't wait forever for the Corps and they do take responsibility to seek solutions. Unfortunately, their initiative sometimes seems penalized because of Corps' policies.
The association has two recommendations to address these concerns. We believe both are consistent with bipartisan Congressional reports.
Our first recommendation is to implement a simple sliding scale for determining the non-Federal share of a Corps project. This approach will, in the long run, build State and local capabilities so they assume more responsibility for reducing future losses.
Federal programs should augment and encourage State and local efforts, not replace them.
We recommend a basic cost-share formula that starts at 50/50 for communities that are performing certain floodplain management elements to minimum standards. Such standards are not new. A quick look at the flood insurance program reveals some simple measures that are already in place and could be used as a starting point.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The sliding scale for project cost sharing could have two or three steps, perhaps going to 65 percent Federal for communities that demonstrate exceptional floodplain management efforts.
Based on our discussions with this committee and others, we believe there's a perception that the sliding cost-share approach would be complex. But the benefits are enormous, not only saving tax dollars on the project end, but by helping to keep a lid on rising disaster assistance costs.
Although we disagree that it would be overly complex, we believe a small amount of complexity may be well worth the savings.
Our second recommendation is to better integrate the Corps of Engineers' programs with the extensive efforts of others. The Corps is no longer the only good game in town. While in many respects they set a high standard for evaluating and planning flood control projects, they are no longer the only ones capable of performing these functions.
Most States and larger communities have permanent and professional planning and engineering staff. In many parts of the country, special regional organizations specifically deal with flooding on a watershed and inter-jurisdictional basis. The capabilities of these professionals are often under-utilized because the Corps has strict rules, because they seem to operate out of the assumption that only the Corps can plan and determine feasibility of flood projects.
Flood mitigation plans work best when they are strongly supported by citizens in local communities and, where possible, if such plans address a number of problems and opportunities.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Most State and local plans address economic growth, water quality, the need for public open space, recreation, and sometimes even housing issues. Forward-looking communities that prepare flood plans should not be penalized for working towards their own solutions. But currently the Corps usually indicates it cannot participate in a project unless the Corps has done the planning under the water resources authority.
As we all know, that planning process can be lengthy, and often complex. Sometimes 10 years or more may pass, and in the end sometimes the Corps still doesn't participate in a project.
The association believes the Corps' mission and the desire of this committee to reduce flood losses would be very well served if the Corps was allowed to cost share in projects that have their origins in State and local planning efforts.
We appreciate this opportunity. Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. FABER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am Scott Faber, director of floodplain programs for American Rivers, and I'm testifying today on behalf of a broad coalition of recreation and conservation groups, from New York Rivers United all the way to Friends of the Los Angeles River.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Our Nation needs flood damage reduction policies that protect people, property, the environment, and the taxpayer. Despite spending more than $38 billion on levees and dams, flood losses have more than tripled since 1951, when adjusted for inflation, to more than $4 billion annually.
Rather than addressing the causes of increased flood losses, agricultural and urban land uses that increase overland flow and inappropriate floodplain development, our flood damage reduction policies have treated symptoms by building levees and dams that temporarily protect some floodplain communities at the expense of other typically-poor floodplain communities and farmers.
Sadly, images of volunteers placing sandbags on levees, presumably fighting Mother Nature, are more accurately images of upstream and downstream communities at war with each other.
The consequences of public and private decisions to drain agricultural and urban lands are felt every day in floodplain communities, where embattled public works agencies like the Corps and private levee districts continue to fight losing battles against past and present land use practices that increase overland flow.
Throughout the Nation, land that one absorbed rainfall, recharging wetlands and groundwater supplies, has been engineered to drain as quickly as possible to reduce upstream property losses.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 At the same time that our rivers are rising faster, more people are moving into floodplains. The national flood insurance program, originally created to reduce disaster costs, has made the development of many flood-prone areas economically possible.
Our over-reliance on levees has created a false sense of security that has further encouraged the development of flood-prone areas, multiplying the consequences of a levee's inevitable failure.
New Deal Era programs that assumed responsibility for flood losses by building and repairing levees, by providing relief, and ultimately by subsidizing flood insurance, have eliminated the incentive for strong floodplain and watershed management by State and local government.
Relying solely on levees and dams to compensate for poor watershed management has dramatically altered many of the natural processes by which rivers sustain fish and wildlife populations.
Linkages between a river and its floodplain are critical for river health. During periods of high water, fish and wildlife migrate out of the channel and onto the floodplain to use newly-available habitat and resources. Flood control dams alter the movement of sediment and nutrients, block the migrations of fish, and dramatically alter the temperature and chemical composition of water.
As our Federal resources grow more scarce, we must find ways to meet our economic and environmental objectives for water resources. At the same time that the Corps is expected to decrease funding by 30 percent, the costs of operating and maintaining existing projects, which already consume more than half of the Corps' annual appropriations, will continue to increase.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
By the turn of the century, many of the structures in the Corps' $125 billion arsenal of water resources projects will have reached their design life and will require rehabilitation. Building new projects will only add to future O&M costs.
Let me be clear that structural flood control projects will always be needed, but a policy that relies solely on levees and dams will not protect people, property, the environment, and the taxpayer.
We believe that Congress should give communities the tools and incentives they need to develop strong mitigation programs. Congress should link cost-sharing to strong State and local floodplain watershed management, and should expand the Corps' technical assistance programs to give communities the tools they need to manage their floodplains and watersheds to reduce flood losses.
Managing floodplains and watersheds to reduce Federal losses utilizes many of the same techniques, such as conservation tillage, already used by many landowners to reduce nonpoint source pollution and erosion.
In the wake of the Great Flood of '93, more than 8,000 homes and businesses were voluntarily relocated to higher ground, and more than 90,000 acres of flooded farmland were voluntarily converted to wetlands.
And since that historic flood, communities throughout the midwest have initiated dozens of watershed-wide planning efforts to reduce flood losses.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
This month, representatives of industry, agriculture, and environmental groups met for the first time ever to discuss steps that we could take together to reduce flood losses and to protect the upper Mississippi River.
As you noted, Mr. Chairman, the Corps has enormous environmental expertise. Sadly, much of that expertise remains untapped. Congress should allow the Corps to use its hydrologic expertise to work with communities to develop watershed-wide flood loss reduction strategies.
In particular, Congress should encourage the Corps to thoroughly develop non-structural alternatives during the agency's formal decision-making process, including alternatives that lie outside the agency's jurisdiction.
Effective flood loss reduction requires a flexible, coordinated effort on the part of all levels of government. The Corps can and must play a central role, but the Corps cannot solve these problems alone.
Before we start new projects, we must make sure that our flood damage reduction policies protect people, property, the environment, and the taxpayer.
We urge you to link cost-sharing to strong State and local floodplain and watershed management, increase technical assistance to communities, and to allow the Corps, the Nation's hydrologic experts, to work with communities to develop watershed-wide flood loss reduction strategies.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Faber.
Mr. CONRAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is David Conrad. I am water resources specialist for the National Wildlife Federation, the Nation's largest conservation education organization.
Mr. Chairman, it has been nearly 10 years since Congress enacted landmark policy guidance for the Corps of Engineers' water programs. While the 1986 act included many crucial reforms, probably the most important were the measures that institutionalized consistent cost-sharing requirements.
We believe that cost sharing, as a tool, has served the Corps' programs very well. We also believe that a strong case can be made for some important adjustments in formulas and policies to respond to today's realities.
In addition, it does seem a near certainty that Federal water resources development budgets will be constrained, maybe severely, over the next decade, at least, when projects in the next WRDA would likely seek funding. There will clearly be a need to stretch dollars.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
A lot of experience has been gained in water resources since 1986. Certainly, an area that has received a great deal of attention, as well as reflection, has been the area of flooding and flood policies.
Considering this context, I would like to make three points:
First, for years concern has been growing that the basic Federal approach to reducing flood damages has been flawed and improperly balanced. There has been an over-reliance on Federally-funded projects.
The current Federal flood control cost-sharing formula of 75 percent/25 percent, although that has a few differences in it, is so generous that it drives the over-reliance and has created an unhealthy dependence on Federal projects.
This has been combined with a lack of incentives for State and local governments and the private sector to assume responsibility and to utilize their own powers and authorities to help manage flood risks.
The result has been that current policy has often worked to induce, not discourage, unwise and risky development in floodplains. In addition, the benefit/cost system ironically rewards those communities that do the least to manage their flood risk.
For instance, the more buildings a community allows to locate in a floodplain, the higher the damage benefit potential and the more likely they will be enlisted to bail a community out with a project.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Second, Mr. Chairman, despite enormous Federal sums being spent on flood control projects, flood damages are continuing to rise at an alarming rate. Nationally, average annual flood damages, in adjusted terms, have risen from about $1 billion a year in the early 1950s to around $4 billion today.
Flood disaster relief costs are also rising. Within the past 9 months, the Federal flood insurance fund has had to borrow some $442 million from the Treasury to pay recent claims.
Thirdly, in study after study the need has been recognized for a much greater sharing of responsibility for flood problems with States, local governments, and individuals.
Mr. Chairman, we believe that a 1996 WRDA should include changes in the current Army Corps flood control cost-sharing formulas. We believe that real change in this area should begin, at a minimum, with a shift to a 50/50 basic Federal/non-Federal cost-sharing approach, which essentially would codify the partnership concept.
Such a shift would make substantial headway towards addressing rising costs and adjusting roles and responsibilities that is necessary. This should be accompanied by strong, meaningful threshold floodplain management requirements.
We would also urge that incentives be established, including certain basic requirements for States to be involved in floodplain and flood risk management activities.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Another matter which we would strongly urge this subcommittee to address in the 1996 WRDA is the decided bias of the Corps program towards structural and against non-structural flood damage reduction solutions.
The current Federal approach, as has been said, is to rely almost exclusively on one expensive type of toola structure, a dam, a levee, channelization or drainage canalwhen it often may be less expensive and less environmentally-damaging to use a non-structural approachopen space zoning voluntary buy-out and relocation, building elevation, or floodproofing, etc.or a combination of those approaches.
A tremendous effort was made in the wake of the 1993 midwest flood to use voluntary buy-out and relocation to assist victims and to reduce future flood risks.
To date, some 10,000 homes and businesses have been removed and relocated. Because of these efforts, when the State of Missouri experienced a near repeat record flood in May 1995, many communities had disaster assistance costs that were a tiny fraction of what they were in 1993. This was a major testament to the effectiveness of non-structural efforts.
Mr. Chairman, we believe the Corps should be given more encouragement to use non-structural approaches. While the Corps has authority to carry out certain types of non-structural projects, the current principles and guidelines for planning Corps projects now discourage such projects.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, it appears that certain supporters may urge the Transportation Committee to include an authorization in the 1996 WRDA for the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the billion-dollar Auburn Dam on the North and Little Forks of the American River near Auburn, California. We would strongly oppose such an authorization and would urge the subcommittee to vigorously oppose it, as well.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
In 1992, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected a $700 million version of this dam, particularly because of its high cost, its major environmental impacts, and because it appeared that other less-harmful and less-costly alternatives could be fashioned to address Sacramento's flood control needs.
Since then, alternatives have been well developed and analyzed that would provide high levels of flood protection for Sacramento, with costs ranging from one-third to just over one-half of the Auburn Dam cost, but with less environmental impact; yet, the Corps is now attempting to push an even larger and more wasteful project.
We have included in our written testimony a laundry list of issues of concern, we would think, to the committee in this regard.
We urge members of the committee to support legislation offered by Representative Petri that would halt pursuit of this misguided and wasteful project.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. I'll start the questions where you ended your testimony, with respect to the Auburn Dam.
Do you make any distinction between a wet dam and a dry detention dam?
Mr. CONRAD. We don't, Mr. Chairman. The environmental effects associated between those two projects are both unacceptable.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. I think that's very clear.
Mr. Faber, let me ask you: you've got a recommendation to protect and restore some nationally-significant rivers. What sort of cost-sharing arrangement do you recommend?
Mr. FABER. Well, thewhen it comes to certainly inland waterways, as you know, the cost of operating and maintaining that is borne by the Federal Government. We are now proposing that environmental mitigation for the impacts of the lock and dam system on the upper Mississippi River, for example, be paid completely by the taxpayer, but that they be shared by the State at a 75/25 percent cost-sharing arrangement, the current arrangement.
Currently, the Corps has a program on the upper Mississippi, the environmental management program, which is increasingly cost shared by State government so that they can have more control over the planning and designing of those restoration projects.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Let me get back to Mr. Conrad. Do you think there's any need for flood protection in the Sacramento area?
Mr. CONRAD. Yes, we do. And I think one of the most exciting and valuable exercises that conservation organizations and flood planners have been involved in has gone on over particularly the last 2 years to develop project proposals, very well laid out, to upgrade the existing flood control system for Sacramento that provide a high level of protection without the terrible environmental effects that would be involved with the dam. And these proposals are within the capability of the community.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. I would assume they'd be a lot less costly.
Mr. CONRAD. And one-third to one-half the cost.
Mr. BOEHLERT. What are the terrible environmental things that would happen if we constructed the Auburn Dam?
Mr. CONRAD. Well, we're talking about a canyon that is utilized bywhere the Auburn Dam would be located is a canyon that is now utilized by half a million people a year for recreation: boating, hiking, fishing. It is one of the most popular whitewater rafting areas in the western United States. It is a very sensitive area to inundation.
And even the ecologists and the environmental and resource agencies have said that the occasionaleven the occasional flooding of the area would leave an ugly scar in up to 39 miles of that canyon.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Where is the push coming from? Is the State of California really going all out for this?
Mr. CONRAD. The State of California, through the Corps Reclamation Board, has indicated, by a six to one vote, that their preferred option would be to build Auburn Dam.
Locally, a Sacramento area flood control agencywhom I believe will testify tomorrow, and you can hear more from themthey have voted seven to six, a much closer vote, on
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. Can't get much closer than that.
Mr. CONRAD. Right. On this dam project, I believe that the six are pretty well dug in and wanting to do other alternatives.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
When this committee developed legislation in response to the 1993 floods, we took the most aggressive steps up to that time to encourage relocation as an alternative to structural response. What improvements could we make to that legislation?
Mr. FABER. Well, as you recall, that legislation dedicated 15 percent of all Federal relief dollars, minus administrative costs, to mitigation. One of the things that we found consequently in Texas and in California, and I'm sure we'll find it in the northeast and the northwest, is that this new demand for relocation after a flood is far outstripping FEMA's ability to respond.
More than 10,000 homes that wanted to be relocated in Texas were not able to be relocated because the 15 percent simply did not go far enough. Consequently, literally thousands and thousands of people who had voluntarily decided to move to higher groundwhich, of course, includes a local cost sharehad no choice but to return to the floodplain and will certainly be flooded again, if not this spring, certainly within the next few years
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
So one change might be to increase that percentage so that a larger portion of Federal disaster funds are being directed towards those people who really do want to relocate. The benefits are obviously that, rather than paying these people over and over again, we pay once, we move them out of the floodplain, we help them, we help the Federal taxpayer.
Ms. QUINN. If I may, there's another element at work here that may address part of the problem, and is not within this committee's jurisdiction.
In 1994, the National Flood Insurance Reform Act was passed and signed by the President. It created a small change in the flood insurance program that will provide an additional benefit to people who have policies mitigation insurance that will help them either move their house or elevate their house or, if they want to sell, buy another lot.
It will cost something more, anywhere from $5 to $75 for each flood insurance policy, but it will provide an additional benefit.
That will particularly help when there isn't a flood disaster. There are many floods that don't get declared a disaster so there's no Federal assistance. Mitigation insurance will basically pay for itself that I think will go a long way.
I think one of our concerns with regard to the change in the NFIP, which we very much supported and appreciate, and will for a long time to come, is that so far we have some pretty good anecdotal evidence of the benefits of acquisition, relocation, and elevation.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 We are concerned that at some point someone's going to say, ''Where are the hard numbers.'' When I was a State floodplain manager and we moved houses out of the floodplain, nobody called me when it flooded, so I couldn't keep a record of how many houses didn't flood because of our program.
So we know that we're going to have to come up with some good benefit statement for you, but I think it's clear, from the evidence in just that one flood, that the benefits are tremendous.
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Conrad.
Mr. CONRAD. Well, I think I would like to point to some comments I made in my written testimony about how the Army Corps, at this point, is constrained from being involved in non-structural activities.
In particular, the current economic principles and guidelines that help the Corps to plan their projects will allow benefits to be claimed for protected buildings. But if a building is removed from the floodplain, no benefits are calculated for that.
As a result, there's just a very strong bias to build upbuild a structure, as opposed to take on a project where you may have repeated flood problems and everyone knows about it, but, just because of the mechanism that they use to make these plans, they don't count those benefits.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
They also count benefits for appreciation of land, which skews this even further.
So the Corps of Engineers could be very helpful in solving flood problems through this mechanism if there were some attention paid to that in their program statute.
Mr. BORSKI. Would improved floodplain management, including greater use of non-structural measures, reduce Federal flood control costs? Would it reduce Federal disaster assistance? And would it reduce port maintenance costs?
Ms. QUINN. As speaking floodplain managers, clearly there's a lot of development in this country that predated what we know about floodplain management.
The country grew up along waterwaystransportation, communication, waste treatmentand there are a lot of problems that we're not going to solve overnight.
It is patently obvious to me that States and communities that do a good job of recognizing hazards have, indeed, reduced damage in the country.
The flood insurance program is often criticized for encouraging development. We take a slightly different tack. If you say, ''Don't build,'' there's a constitutional taking issue. We say, ''Recognize the hazards. Make an informed decision.''
And, quite frankly, in many communities and States it means it's too expensive to develop, so people do go elsewhere.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
We do believe that good floodplain management will reduce the Federal disaster costs, as well as State and local disaster costs.
With regard to port costs, I would say, from another part of my experience, that clearly dredging costs are increasing, but that's because the sediment keeps coming off the land. And it's beyond my expertise, but it would seem obvious to me that there's a need to look at the land treatment and stabilize channels and see what can be done to reduce sediment loading, rather than just find more places to dump it after dredging.
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Faber.
Mr. FABER. Well, there's no question that relocation has helped reduce the cost to the taxpayer. David mentioned earlier that in Missouri, where we had enormous relocationI think it was more than 2,000 structures and several thousand acres of land were retired after the flood of 1993when those flood waters returned in 1995, there was hardly a mention of the flood as a disaster.
In fact, if I could pull out the ''St. Louis Post Dispatch'' of that day, the headline was something like, ''Relocation Works.'' And the story was not that people were out of their homes for 30 days, or that they couldn't get across the river to go to work, or that they'd lost their family heirlooms, but that they were high and dry and safe. And, consequently, this Body was not required to make an additional appropriation to help them recover.
One of the consequences of building new flood control projects is not only the expenditure of new money, but also that these projects have very high repair costs, which we saw after the flood of 1993, and that, so long as we rely on this policy of simply relying on levees, those structures will have to be modified later, as we're seeing on the Los Angeles River in California, to compensate for changes throughout the landscape.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Throughout the country now, the Corps is having to recalculate the original capacity of many of their flood control projects simply because we're getting more water than we did when these projects were originally designed, and it's causing more and more problems, as we're experiencing in California.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. BATEMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The statement was made that flood damage costs are rising, even as the cost of flood control projects has also been rising. That's not a very cheerful statistic. But has there been any analysis of what the flood damage cost would have been if the flood control costs had not been rising?
Mr. CONRAD. Yes, Congressman. Annually, the Army Corps of Engineers assembles a little study that adds up the benefits for flood damages avoided. We and a number of folks in the Corps of Engineers have had some trouble with this particular calculation every year because it is done in a very mechanistic way.
When a project is built, the staff of the Corps develops what they call a ''stage damage curve,'' where when the river comes up to a certain stage they figure how much damage did we avoid. And they do this running this mechanistically year after year after year, and it just piles up a very large number.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
But you often can have situations where you are saying that your damages avoided were avoided every 6 months or every year, just continually.
Obviously, that's not the way things would really work out on the ground if the project were not there, so it gets rather difficult to really honestly predict what damages avoided would really be in the real world.
We're looking at a situation where there's the road and the road not taken. Floodplain managementmany communities are doing an excellent job of floodplain management. They are very aware of the risks that are right out there. Some choose to put a levee around it. That levee may only protect from a 50-or 100-year storm, but when that storm comes, if a lot of buildings were located there, then you can have catastrophic damage.
So we're just urging that, in order to address the problem, that damages are going up. We could keep going the way we are, but I think we'll see damages continue to rise to an unacceptable level. We're already there.
Mr. BATEMAN. Mr. Conrad, I don't think anyone is going to make the case that we don't need sound floodplain management.
Mr. CONRAD. Right.
Mr. BATEMAN. That, however, is not going to alter the fact that we haven't had sound floodplain management for many years, and we have many circumstances that, nonetheless, have to be dealt with.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
You comment that the Corps of Engineers' calculations are mechanistic. It seems to me they almost have to be, but I'd be very happy to see some in-depth analysis of how the calculations might be changed and improved.
You indicated, Mr. Conrad, that the Corps of Engineers has a bias for structures, and I heard part of your testimony about some of the way they make the calculations. But I think, before I could reach the conclusion that they are unduly, inappropriately biased toward structures, I'd have to have some kind of analysis that says that they could have accomplished the same protection from flood damage by a method other than a structure that would have been as effective as the structure.
It seems to me that there's a degree of non-objective, judgmental determinations here that I'm not quite sure I'm comfortable with.
Mr. CONRAD. Yes. Well, Rebecca said that there is going to be a continual need to produce numbers when we carry out programs such as buy-out and relocation.
In my testimony, in my written testimony I pointed to St. Charles County, Missouri, which removed several thousand structures after the 1993 midwest flood, and literally, when they had a flood in May 1995, less than 2 years later, were able to point tothis is from the Missouri State Emergency Management Agencyto disaster relief costs in St. Charles County that were 99 percent less than what they had had in 1993.
So there arewe will have numbers, and we're beginning to get some pretty startling numbers now.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BATEMAN. Mr. Chairman, just if you'd indulge me for a moment longer.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Sure.
Mr. BATEMAN. I don't think anyone would argue the fact that relocation may not be cost-effective and the more desirable remedy in certain circumstances, and you clearly have cited one where I have no reason to quarrel with your analysis that it was cost-effective, but that does not leave us without the need for flood control projects on a selected common-sense basis that do even include structures.
Mr. CONRAD. And we would not argue that structures are unnecessary. I think it's a matter of a case-by-case situation.
Mr. BATEMAN. Very clearly. One last item, since the Auburn River project has been raised and criticized rather strongly in your testimony.
I'm not sure that the Congress, or this committee and the Congress, are the appropriate forum to determine the merits and demerits or the advantages/disadvantages of something of that magnitude. I don't know that I'm ever going to have the time to pursue it to where I have all the expertise on making that kind of a judgment that I ought to have if I'm going to participate in making that judgment.
It sort of concerns me that obviously there are funding questions there, and if someone says, ''This needs to be done. It ought to be done. The cost/benefit is in favor of it being done,'' you obviously reach funding decisions as to when you can provide the Federal share of doing it.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
But do you have any observations as to procedurallyare we the proper forum to make these judgments?
Mr. CONRAD. I think that ultimately Congress is probably where the buck stops. I will just say that, in this case, you have the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service saying Auburn Dam is unacceptable.
We have the Army saying itnot there yet, but about to say maybe that they would like to build Auburn Dam. Their arguments will be, though, limited in terms of scope
I think ultimately the decision on Auburn Dam is a political decision.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this panel's testimony and their thoughtful responses to questions.
Mr. Conrad, I have been observing the National Wildlife Federation before this committee for 30 years, since I started as a young staff assistant, and yours is one of the best presentations I've seen in all these years.
You really touch precisely and I think effectively on the central issue facing our committee and facing the Corps of Engineers and the environmental community and local government in the flood control questions, and that is: how much development should be permitted, and where in the floodplain, and whose decision is it? Who should lead thewhich level of government should lead the decision-making on this issue?
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Now, clearly, where development already was in the floodplains, there is some degree of responsibility to protect it. There is also a responsibility on the part of local government, State government, Federal Government, to discourage further development in that floodplain, to limit the Federal Government's exposure, as well as local government's exposure.
Which level of government leads that decision-making? Where is the leverage best exercised, Mr. Conrad, to force that decision, to force people to come to face the reality of making that decision?
Mr. CONRAD. Obviously, from our testimony, we believe that at this time the Federal Government, through the way we have crafted our policies and our cost-sharing arrangements and that sort of thing, provides a crutch for local communities and State communities sometimes to not really take responsibility, to allow a problem to get worse, and then to come back to the Federal Government and say, ''Please help us out. Please take over and fix our problem for us.''
What we would like to see is a real partnership be developed in the floodplain management area where the Federal Government recognizes all those things that you just said. There's no Federal interest in promoting development that is going to be at significant risk.
That can be done, one, by adjusting the level of responsibility that's represented by cost sharing. If it's going to cost the community more, they're going to take it more seriously.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. OBERSTAR. I understand the partnership part you're talking about. But if you just get the partners to come together, they're all going to look at each other and say, ''Well, you do it.'' Someone's got to force the policy issue.
Mr. CONRAD. Yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Now, you quote the White Task Force report, which cites three factors. Some development is undertaken because of ignorance of the hazard, some in anticipation that the Federal Government is going to come bail you out, and somea lot of itbecause it's very profitable. To make it less profitable, you have to reduce the anticipation level and we have to increase the understanding.
Mr. CONRAD. Yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Ms. Quinn, you talk about a sliding scale in Federal/non-Federal cost sharing of flood control projects. How do you intend to apply that in such a way that it discourages profitablethe idea that development of the floodplain can be profitable because, if there's any risk, it's going to be bailed out by the Federal Government?
Ms. QUINN. Well, a brief comment on your earlier question. Clearly, land management decisions are local. I mean, some States have growth management policies, some have regulations, but who builds what and where is a local decision.
There are lots of policies that can influence that, and I think what Mr. Conrad has said is that in some communities they hold out, especially if the Corps has initiated some sort of planning concept, they say, ''Gee, we're going to get a big flood control project, so we don't have to make those tough land management decisions now.''
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
With regard to the sliding cost share, if the basic
Mr. OBERSTAR. At that point they're going to build a flood control project that's going to protect us; therefore, we can go ahead and develop in the floodplain.
Ms. QUINN. That happens in some communities. And, unfortunately, as has been mentioned before, flood control works have a limited life span, or you have to put a lot of money into maintaining them, repairing them, and upgrading them. Or, as has been shown in some parts of the country, there will always be a bigger flood at some point and the levee will over-top, or the dam may not hold back flood discharges as it was originally designed.
So there's always a significant risk at placingin fact, we feel, in many instances, if you build a flood control project and allow additional development in the protected area, you're actually putting people at greater risk
Mr. OBERSTAR. Right.
Ms. QUINN.because when it floods and a project fails, damage is more severe.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And they do that in reliance and in anticipation of the Federal Government coming in and bailing them out.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Ms. QUINN. I'm not convinced that that's
Mr. OBERSTAR. You make it more costly for them to do it, they won't build there.
Ms. QUINN. I think that is part of the decision. I'm not convinced that every time a developer wants to go build in a floodplain he says, ''Ah, the Feds are going to bail these people out.'' That's not top on their mind.
In areas where projects are sort of in the planning process and have been for years, I think that is a significant influence.
With regard to your question on the cost share, if a community that has an existing problem is eligible for a higher cost share because they're doing better floodplain management, then we win both ways.
Remember that in a lot of communitiesand in this case that includes an incorporated countythey may have a wonderful flood control project in one part of the county, but their flood management concepts apply everywhere.
If they're doing excellent floodplain management throughout the entire county in order to help qualify for a higher cost share in one problem area, then we gain everywhere. It's not just that one problem area.
Mr. OBERSTAR. You know, I have seenif I may proceed for just a moment further, Mr. Chairman.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. Sure.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I have watched the television interviews, post-flood. I've been down to flood-prone areas in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area in the southern part of my State, and I hear these folks again and again say, ''It's such a big risk, but we sure love living near the water.''
And then they complain that FEMA doesn't come and bail them out and FEMA hasn't been here fast enough and hasn't provided the relief and we need help.
It's just like the noise-impacted areas of my good friend from Fort Worth, Mr. Geren, with the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport development. Folks wanted that third runway development, but the local government let folks build in the noise footprint of the airport, and there was a very difficult problem about who's going to protect them from all this noise.
Ms. QUINN. You've actually just touched on one of our more complicated issues, and that has to do with redevelopment.
Under the FEMA rules, if a house is damaged more than 50 percent, then it must be rebuilt in accordance with today's ruleselevated, off the ground. Well, obviously that's sometimes difficult where there are 12, 13, 15 feet of water.
Unfortunately, because people see that as onerous, they often find ways around that rule. We are hopeful that the mitigation insurance that I mentioned earlier, which will provide people some financial resource, not just to rebuild, but to rebuild properly, that that will help move us in the long run towards better-protected property, not through structural works, but through non-structural works that would be financed through an insurance mechanism, not taxpayers.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank you very much for your response. Mr. Chairman, we've got a big policy issue to facenot a new one.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Not a question about that.
Mr. OBERSTAR. A recurrence policy issue to
Mr. BOEHLERT. And we'll look to you for some guidance on how to solve the problem. We work well together.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'd first like to welcome Ms. Quinn, who's from Annapolis, Marylanda pretty part of the District, pretty part of the State.
I'm reminded, when Mr. Oberstar was talking, and somebody said something, ''If you build it,'' and it reminded me of that movie, ''If you build it, they will come.'' Build a baseball diamond, kids are going to go out there and play baseball. If you build a dam, you're going to have shopping plazas and houses.
The other question was: who has the responsibility? Who should take the lead on all of these policy decisions and management plans?
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
My best guess, since I've just bought a computer and my 13-year-old daughter is showing me how to use it, is that we ought to put it on the internet and then you won't have to worry. Everybody would have all the information.
On a serious note, I do think that sharing of this informationFederal, State, local planning and zoning people who decide all those things, open spacethe more people that have information, the better the decision is going to be. I think the result is going to happen.
I see that in my own District on a variety of things. When you get people out, you give them the information, the decision-making process, as a shared endeavor, is always going to work better under our system.
I would like to see the Federal Governmentand I know they're the lead agencies, and we want the EPA to check what the Corps is doing, because they don't always have the same goals. But the central government, Federal Government, can't do all of it. It's got to be disseminated, and I think you've given us some good ideas.
But I do want to ask a question to be a little bit more specific. We've been talking about structural dams and non-structural dams, and we're talking about cost sharing with a more Federal role with those areas that have better floodplain management plans.
If you build a dam in California, whatever the Federal cost share is going to be, $700 million or $1 billion, I guess that's 75 percent of the cost of the dam, or whatever. And that's real money, $700 million. Maybe we should put that to the Federal Congressional pensions. I don't know. But given how things are going up heredid I say that?
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. GILCHREST. That's just a joke. I hope there's no press in the room.
You have $700 million that's going as a Federal share to the dam in Auburn, California, to prevent flooding downstream, and you have some alternatives to that, non-structural alternatives.
I suppose those non-structural alternatives are much more multi-dimensional than the dam, itself, but are still, to a degree, costly. And part of that may be purchasing land or rezoning land, or whatever.
Do you see the $700 million being targeted to those endeavors as well?
Mr. CONRAD. First, just to correct where we're at on this Auburn Dam in California
Mr. GILCHREST. We can make it hypothetical. It doesn't have to be specific.
Mr. CONRAD. Okay.
Mr. GILCHREST. It could be any dam anywhere.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. CONRAD. Okay. I think that there are probably many very cost-effective investments that could be made in non-structural projects that are not being made right now because of the way the system is set up, that would save enormous dollars in the long run.
So some of these monies need to be spent in that area. That's one point.
To the extent that we could save several hundred million in California by taking on a more prudent, less expensive, but fully adequate course, those dollars theoretically would be available to solve other problems elsewhere.
Mr. GILCHREST. Would you say to thesure.
Mr. FABER. If I can just add one thing, it seems like the questions keep revolving around why aren't we pursuing more of these less-costly alternatives, or why
Mr. GILCHREST. And can the less-costly alternatives, which comes up with the same result
Mr. FABER. Right.
Mr. GILCHREST. Less flooding. Can we find a mechanism to throw some of those dollars that way?
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. FABER. What seems to happen around the country is, where communities get involved in the planning and design of these flood control projects, they often have non-structural features.
California is a great example of that where there have been a number of projects where peoplelocal planners, private hydrologistshave come in and worked with the Corps to design projects that meet multiple purposes.
And, as you said, the Corps has a mission, which is to reduce flooding, and they're sometimes a little single-minded about that.
What unfortunately is the case is that most communities don't have the resources to work with the Corps in that capacity all the time. Certainly, the environmental community doesn't have the resources to work on the 75-odd projects that are now under construction, or the 100 more that are under planning right now.
So, to the extent that we canthat this Body can instruct the Corps to consider alternatives that are typically outside their jurisdiction, alternatives that they may not implement, but alternatives that may reduce flood losses, that will help us to bring more of these good ideas to the surface.
What's happened traditionally is the Corps has said, ''Well, there are a lot of good ideas out there about how to reduce flood losses, but, because of our authorities, we can only build a levee or we can only build a dam.''
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Now, maybe the NRCS or somebody else can help us, but we don't have any control over them, so we're not going to display those alternatives in our EIS, our decision-making document.
So what we're asking you to do is to sort of force the Corps to really analyze all of the alternatives, even if they're alternatives that they can't implement, alternatives that probably the local jurisdictions would have to implement, so that more of these non-structural alternatives will actually be fullyactually compare to the structural alternatives.
Ms. QUINN. And I have a short answer.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Short answer.
Ms. QUINN. The short answer was yes.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That's very short.
Ms. QUINN. Yes. We do feel
Mr. BOEHLERT. You can give a modified short answer if you'd like.
Ms. QUINN. Thank you. We do feel thatpart of the question was, ''Well, instead of building a $700 million dam, should those monies be used for other projects,'' and the answer is, ''Yes, if they achieve the same Federal objective of reducing cost, protecting people and property.''
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Where the concern comes is, as my colleagues have touched on, is the Corps' authority and, in particular, in their principles and guidelines and in their benefit/cost analysis. They just don't show those types of projects to reflect the kind of benefits that we know they have. They don't look at the full range of benefits, and it would be nice to see some adjustment in policy there.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Gilchrest.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'd like to go a little far afield from this specific cost share that we're talking about, but an area that the Corps has been increasingly active in, and would like to ask for Mr. Faber and Mr. Conrad toI would expect this would fall under their responsibilities with their organizationstalk about the Kissimmee project in Florida and whether you feel like that's been a success, and just assess the results from the perspective of your organizations over what's taken place down there over the last 2 or 3 years.
It was a project that the Corpsvery innovative project for the Corps and one that, if we've talked about it in the committee, I wasn't here when we did, and I'd like you all to help educate us on the results.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. FABER. Well, the project is still in the process of being completed, but the Kissimmee's a great example of the kinds of projects that the Corps will increasingly have to be involved in if we're going to simultaneously have healthy, economically-healthy waterways and biologically-healthy waterways.
And, although I think one of the lessons we learned from the Kissimmee is that there are more efficient ways to make environmental investments, the Kissimmee is providing a good example of the direction the agency really needs to go.
We have rivers across the country in the waterways that are suffering severe environmental consequences, and our goal as a Nation should be to find a way to balance the needs of navigation and nature on the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Appalachicola, the Columbia, and all of these important economic resources.
And the Kissimmee and other Corps restoration projects are providingare acting sort of as laboratories or demonstration projects of how we're going to do that.
It goes again to the problem that we face, that in order to have rivers that continue to support fish and wildlife populations, we're going to have to make environmental investments. We're going to have to make investments in flood control and navigation that keep environment in our minds.
So it's important that when we try to set policy for the Corps, that we're tryinginstructing them to strike that kid of balance.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. GEREN. When you said that it could have been done in a more cost-effective way, what did you mean by that?
Mr. FABER. Well, one of the programs that, unfortunately, I think was completely cut in the fiscal year 1996 budget, was a program designed to help the Corps make smart decisions about environmental investments, looking at the dollars invested and the number of habitat units or the amount of habitat that those projects created.
So the Corps is really refining the state of the art in terms of making good decisions about environmental investments.
And, as the chairman said earlier, or alluded to, they've become our environmental experts. They do more restoration than any other Federal agencyprobably any other agency in the worldand they are really pushing the state of the art when it comes to how to restore degraded systems like the Everglades or the Mississippi.
Mr. GEREN. Just as far as its status, as I understand, it has been pushed back out into its original stream bed now, or river bed.
Mr. FABER. That's right.
Mr. GEREN. Did you all assess what type of effects it has had on the area wildlife or the fisheries that it supported?
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. FABER. I have to say I haven't seen any reports by Corps biologists about the biological response in the Kissimmee, per se, but we do know that rivers have to go through certain processes in order to create and maintain habitat. One of those is they meander, they erode, they deposit new sediment, they change the nature of the river bottom to create habitat for bass or other species that we enjoy.
And one of the other benefits of restoring meanders that we're seeing in the upper Mississippi basin, for example, is that when meanders are restored, sediment tends to drop out of suspension, which would have implications for port dredging, for example.
On the upper Mississippi, we're looking at ways to restore tributaries as they enter the floodplain so that sediment that would normally be delivered to the main channel, and then, of course, be dredged and have to be disposed of at a very costly way, would drop out of suspension before it reaches the main channel.
So there are all these benefits associated with restoration that, as Ms. Quinn was saying, we have a hard time calculating, or certainly the Corps has a hard time calculating.
Mr. GEREN. Mr. Conrad.
Mr. CONRAD. I agree with Mr. Faber. The National Wildlife Federation has been very strongly supportive of the efforts of the Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior and the South Florida Water Management Agency in the efforts to restore the Kissimmee River to its original channel, to bring back the water quality, which is directly related to the speed and flow of water through that system.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Ultimately, the Evergladesthe future of the Everglades depends upon this project and its success, and also other projects that are being planned.
Mr. FABER. One thing I'd like to add is that the Corps has proposed, and we strongly support, the idea of adding flexibility to their current restoration program, their 1135 program. It's a program that has been enormously successful, but has been sort of artificially limited by a requirement that the restoration projects have to modify an existing project.
The Corps has proposed that that be broadened so that the Corps can construct a project, restoration project, in any system impacted by a Corps project.
Because of this artificial limitation, the Corps has had to make environmental investments that might not be as rewarding or efficient if they had been done elsewhere downstream or upstream.
Mr. CONRAD. I would add just one more thing, and that is a general point that we do have some very troubled ecosystems around various places in our country today, and ultimately it's probably going to beat least part of the solution is going to be the water development that we have done, carefully recalibrated and managed with more of an environmental consideration in terms of flows and the seasonality of the use of our reservoirs, etc., that really the Corps of Engineers' program is part of the answer, in the long run.
Mr. GEREN. Thank you.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you.
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This is a very difficult situation, the Auburn Dam. I recall it 35 years ago when I was on the Senate staff working for the ranking member on the Interior Committee.
I think good people are going to be on different sides of this, and I share a lot of the concerns that were expressed by the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Bateman.
You've got the problem of the investment to protect a floodplain, and you have the problem, if you do nothing, of the cost to tens of thousands of citizens in that floodplain who really didn't go there thinking the Federal Government would bail them out if they ever had a flood. That just doesn't make any sense. A handful might have done that. Nobody likes their life possessions washed down the river, and nobody is going to do that.
We've gone through sort of a drought period, and now suddenly we have floods all over that we have to be prepared for.
When you're talking about the Sacramento areaand I did spend 6 months of my life there, and I visited, obviously, hundreds of times as a Californianyou're talking about 400,000 people living in that floodplain, you're talking about 160,000 residential structures, 5,000 businesses, 1,200 governmental facilitiesit's the largest capital in the United States outside of Washington in governmental buildings7 of the region's nine hospitals, 130 schools, and a flood depth prediction of 5 to 30 feet to spread over that floodplain. You're talking about wiping out billions of dollars of investment.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
I must say, I am very sympathetic to doing what you can at the tributaries that go into the main stream so that we don't have to build huge levees, huge walls, which is what we face right now on the Los Angeles River.
I have found the Corps, and Colonel Robinson, particularly, as district engineer for Los Angeles, very sympathetic to listen to the environmental groups and try to solve some of these problems.
Now, you do face a cost problem. It turns out that the environmental approach, which personally I think makes a lot of sense in these areas, to get up there where the water is slowly starting to trickle down, divert it, etc., there's a cost to that. Structures are going to be built. They might not be big dams. They might be a lot of little dams, whatever, that tries to solve the problem.
So I am assuming, Mr. Chairman, that Mr. Fazio and Mr. Doolittle will be in here to discuss in depth the situation, but, since it came up
Mr. BOEHLERT. They will be here in our March hearings.
Mr. HORN. The situation, as I understand it, is that, in a survey of the residents that is said to be scientificand you can ask the two Members how scientific it wastwo-thirds of the Sacramento area residents supported the dam at Auburn, less than 17 percent supported the non-dam alternative.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 I think basically, as I understand it, the Corps settled on the dam because they got a two-to-one benefit-to-cost ratio, whereas the so-called ''step release plan'' that they looked at also had a one-to-one ratio.
I think, when you look at the people involved, which is the same way as the L.A. River, my constituents and ten other Congressional Districts along that river's constituents say, ''Hey, we don't want eight-foot levees and walls up there, because they'll be filled with graffiti within 24 hours of the cement drying.'' So that's one of their gripes.
But the fact is, through no fault of anybody, given the propensities of rivers to floodand we learned a lot from the Mississippi River, that we were cycling too much between concrete walls in some areas that dumped everything under the sunand I was home the last District work period. We had thousands of pieces of this and that dumped into the Port of Long Beach where the L.A. River enters into it. That water is coming down at a tremendous velocity, and we need obviously to redirect it, let it sink in wherever we can, etc., etc.
But I'd just say some of these things we're going to have to be a mutual giving here to solve the problem, because you've got 400,000 people and their livelihood at stake, and I think we can't forget the people.
Mr. CONRAD. Congressman, I think it'sthere are a lot of facts associated with the Auburn Dam situation. To suggest that Auburn Dam is the only solution to protectadequately protect the people of Sacramento is just wrong. It's also the most expensive solution for that purpose.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 In addition to that, there are other factors. That dam proposal is located on an earthquake fault. A week ago the United States Geological Survey put out a report indicating that the design values for thethat the Corps of Engineers had not adjusted the design values yet in light of the last 17 to 20 years of data on earthquakes in California, and they said they need to go through a major study to get those values looked at again, and there are potential cost issues associated with that, maybe even feasibility questions.
So in this particular case we have competent flood control alternatives that are presented to the Congress. The Corps of Engineers has looked at them. They are tending to choose the 500-year-type protection project.
There are whole arguments over the way the hydrology was calculated and what the real flood control capacities would be of simply modifying Folsom Dam and the existing flood control works, and what are the potentials that could be gained in terms of providing those protections.
This particular case is not a matter of there being only one reasonable proposal, and that's why the board I think is at seven-six.
These cost issues may ultimately become very important, given the benefit claims that are being talked about.
And, just to correct one other thing, the benefit-cost ratio of the non-dam alternatives, as I recollect at least the last numbers that I saw, we were looking at 1.9 and 1.8 between Auburn Dam andI guess it was the Folsom modification project.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
So these are still in the range. They're not asthey're not a two-to-one difference.
Mr. HORN. Well, I just think, Mr. Chairman, before we get into that hearing, we need all the basic data before us on the cost analysis of various alternatives so we can ask them intelligent questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I think we're all confident we're going to be hearing a lot more about the Auburn Dam before this is over.
Mr. HORN. Right. Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Horn.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll be brief, but I want to pick up where Mr. Horn let off and where Mr. Bateman was talking.
I have to admit, being from Ohio, I hadn't heard of the Auburn Dam until I returned from my District work period yesterday and had three phone calls from people who wanted to talk to me about the Auburn Dam.
On page seven of your testimony, Mr. Conrad, you make reference toand I guess my concern is Mr. Bateman's concern, is that, whether we like it or not, somebody on this subcommittee or the full committee is going to be asked to make some decisions, because I think, as I look at the agenda and the schedule, we're going to have some people come in and pitching the Auburn Dam as early as tomorrow.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
You say that these alternatives, which have been fully reviewed by responsible Federal and State agencies, would modify the existing flood control dam and levee system. Who are the responsible Federal and State agencies? Where does this body of information exist? And can you, if the committee doesn't already have itand maybe the chairman already has done his usual fine job and has collected everything, but if he hasn't, can you get all that stuff to us? Would you be
Mr. CONRAD. Yes, we can. I think the committee probably has this, or is expecting to get a 40-pound package here very shortly on that.
But basically what we're talking about is that the Corps of Engineers has been asked to assemble an analysis of at least three different proposalsthe Auburn Dam proposal, the modified Folsom proposal, and what they call ''step release'' proposals, which arethe latter two being what are sometimes referred to as the ''non-dam'' alternatives, although they are not non-dam alternatives. They are modifications of an existing dam and levee system that has been protecting Sacramento since the 1950s.
So those materials have beenhave gone through or are in the process, at least, of going through full review, just like any Corps project.
Mr. LATOURETTE. And when the one board out in California voted seven-to-six to proceed in favor of the dam, that close margin that you were talking about with the chairman, was that a vote between the Auburn Dam and one of these other two proposals?
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. CONRAD. Yes.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Were they out there being considered?
Mr. CONRAD. Yes. And I think another important point to point out is that itthis board, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, is a joint powers agency of a number ofjoint-jurisdictional agency.
Those who represent the six who voted against Auburn Dam are the ones who represent the portion of the community that is most likely to have to pay the costs. Those on the other side will probably wind up paying less, or considerably less of the cost.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I should point outand I think you know, Mr. LaTourette, that tomorrow we have one panel devoted exclusively to the Auburn Dam issue, both proponents and opponents, so I think we'll have total immersion.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Good. And I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman, and Imy only observation would be that, when we're dealing with a $3 billion potential appropriation, I don't want anything bad to happen to Mr. Fazio's or Mr. Doolittle's people, but that seems like a heck of a lot of money to me.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. And I would thank all the panelists.
Our third panel of the day, dealing with general water resources issues, consists of: Mr. Kenneth J. Smith, vice president of American Shore & Beach Preservation association. He's from Long Beach Island, New Jersey; Mr. Brad Iarossi, legislative officer, chief dam safety division, Maryland Department of the Environment, representing the Association of State Dam Safety Officials; and the chairman of the Upper Mississippi River Flood Control Association, Mr. John A. Robb.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Gentlemen, your statements will appear in the record in their entirety. We would ask, in the interest of time, that you summarize in 5 minutes or less and be available to respond in writing to any questions we might submit in writing.
Thank you very much. We'll start with Mr. Smith.
TESTIMONY OF KENNETH J. SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAN SHORE AND BEACH PRESERVATION ASSOCIATION, LONG BEACH ISLAND, NJ; BRAD IAROSSI, LEGISLATIVE OFFICER, AND PAST BOARD MEMBER, ASSOCIATION OF STATE DAM SAFETY OFFICIALS (ASDSO) AND CHIEF, DAM SAFETY DIVISION, MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT, BALTIMORE, MD, ON BEHALF OF THE ASSOCIATION OF STATE DAM SAFETY OFFICIALS; AND JOHN A. ROBB, CHAIRMAN, UPPER MISSISSIPPI FLOOD CONTROL ASSOCIATION, GLADSTONE, IL
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
May I take just a small portion of my 5 minutesthe panels have been excellent, but there are some issues that I'd just like to briefly address.
On behalf of the New Jersey Alliance for Actions Maritime Resources Council, which I Chair I want to comment Mr. Franks and Bob Menendez for the work they've done.
And, just to clarify something, we didn't want to send that stuff to Utah. I mean, that's $117 a ton. It's not $6 or $8 a ton. Obviously, we can't keep doing that.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
What the problem that we have with the three categories of material is that the goal posts have been changed. Now that we can test in more finite details, we've made category one category two, and three, and so on. It's like looking for an olive in the World Trade Center. We're testing in parts per trillion.
So what we really need to do with these ports, and particularly New York, at the edge of a precipice and totally blocked from any movement on this, is we need to do some risk assessment, to really look at the issue scientifically, both in terms of biota and humans, and apply some scientific expertise to the problem and try to get off some of the anecdotal rhetoric that has been preoccupied with this.
Also, the testimony of Ms. Quinn on flood insurance, I just wanted to point out that the v-zones which are along the beach, the velocity zones, the FEMA construction criteria for new construction have reduced damages by 83 percent in those areas, and have probably saved the Federal GovernmentI think FEMA's estimate is about half a billion dollars a year.
Also, everyone looks at Florida as the hurricane State. Hurricane Alley. The last long-term study that was done by FEMA showed that from 1978 to 1992, 14 years, Floridians were paid about $250 million in flood damages. They also, in that same period of time, they paid in over $2 billion in premiums, which is about 1,100 percent. That's a ratio that any insurance company would love to have. So they've been a big winner for the program.
Yes, it does need some revisions, but I just wanted to make those points.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. Chairman, I am Ken Smith. I'm vice president of the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, organized in 1926. We're an organization national of coastal professionals, engineers, public officials, and there's some beach lovers thrown in there. We promote the technological solution to beach erosion, where it's justified.
I'm very pleased to be here today to testify in strong support for the continuation of the shore protection mission within the Corps of Engineers, and for the security of Federal commitments to States and local governments to restore their beaches and protect their coastal communities from storms.
Most peopleand a new study has come out from the National Research Council, through the Marine Board, clarifying this. Most people, when they look at beach nourishment projects, or if they're the beneficiaries of them, they realize that they work. And if they're professionally designed and monitored, constructed properly, they do work.
The advantage of partnering with the Federal Government obviously is that the Corps has the procedural and technical capability to resolve a whole host of engineering, environmental, and economic issues through the study, design, and construction process.
Congress seems to have been content with the program. The 1986 WRDA established the cost sharing for the program, and I think everyone has been fairly happy with that.
Projects in Miami Beach, Ocean City, Maryland, and New Jerseymany projects have demonstrated the generation or the maintenance of significant local and national revenues, and over $30 billion in taxes.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The problem is that that mission today is in jeopardy. This has been going on for about a year now. Those who planned with confidence now encounter declinations, delays, and the uncertainty resulting from the Administration's expressed goal of eliminating the Corps' shore protection program.
Projects which are otherwise justified are put on hold, the local sponsors are told that they will not be constructed due to the new policy; ongoing projects or studies are to be funded to completion, but new studies or construction starts are stopped cold.
Virginia Beach just got the word last week that a project they've been planning for years, they're ready to go to construction, and it's dead in the water.
Extensions of projects which are eminently justified with benefit/cost ratios are declined. Studies are left hanging in the air, incomplete, with seeming no intent to finish them.
Districts and customers are told that nothing new will be funded after fiscal year 1996, and, beginning in fiscal year 1998, all Federal operations and maintenance funding is to be eliminated from over 500 small craft harbors and inlets, including every shallow-draft inlet and harbor in New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, and California, and many other States.
I've provided quite a bit of documentation that I obviously won't read. We'd be here all day. But mainly what I want to say is there has been no change. The Administration has been unmoved.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The information that I've submitted to the committee includes economic information on the value of maintaining beaches, a list of the projects that are to be turned over to State, non-Federal interests as far as small craft harbors.
The scope and the impact of this policy are far-reaching. I think that the impact is going to greatly offset the Administration's forecast of about $940 million in savings by the year 2000.
But, in spite ofthere was a letter sent to the President by 18 coastal Senators, which I've included a copy of, strongly requesting the President to reconsider. In spite of that, in spite of the strong repudiation of the policy last year in the Appropriations Committees, the many letters and communications received in opposition, the overwhelming economic arguments, in spite of all that, we're told by the Corps that the policy will continue.
So let me just make this as direct as I can. The Federal shore protection program is going down the tubes. The Administration is pulling out all the stops and they're using every available administrative technique to cut the life out of shore protection projects and to end the program as quickly as possible.
There's insecurity and chaos among the district offices and among their partners. We're being stymied at every turn by indecision.
It really is up to Congress to stop the implementation of this policy and to get the mission back on track. Let me suggest a couple ways that perhaps you could do this.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Projects are justified by three main criteria: engineering, environment, and economics. The Corps should be required to report to Congress every project which is so justified, but which is delayed or declined solely due to the new policy.
The WRDA should be amended with language directing the Administration to process all decision documents, including the transmission of feasibility reports, to the Congress, without regard to whether or not projects comply with the Administration's proposed new policies.
That wording was included in last year's energy and water bills, and you may consider adding that to the WRDA.
If justified in feasibility studies, specific projects should be authorized in this year's WRDA, without regard to the new policy.
Absecon Island, which is Atlantic City, I think is one project like that that will be coming before you.
All we're asking is fairness for the coast, no different from inland areas, flood control projects.
We also have to consider that, particularly in Florida, inlets are responsible for over 80 percent of the erosion in that State, which was caused by navigation projects, not necessarily people building too close to the ocean.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Obviously, I can't come down to Congress in this budget-cutting mode and not offer something, and I know we have discussed going to 50/50 cost sharing. I can't represent my State on that, but we want what is fair for the other flood control interests, and we would certainly be willing to discuss that with you. I would much rather discuss that than jettisoning the whole program.
So I would just suggest that we listen to the experts, we consider the desires of a populous, we look at the economicthe overwhelming economic returns for the minimal investment that we make. And I hope this committee will work with the private sector to restor and continue this critically-important program for our Nation.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. IAROSSI. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Brad Iarossi. I'm the legislative officer for the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and chief of the dam safety program for the State of Maryland.
I appreciate this opportunity to discuss the safety of 100,000 non-Federal dams and the important role of the Federal Government.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 We are requesting this subcommittee incorporate the association's proposed language into the 1996 WRDA reauthorization. A copy of the proposed language is attached to our testimony.
In 1986, this subcommittee recognized the need and included the Dam Safety Act in the WRDA reauthorization. That act authorized the Secretary of the Army to establish matching grants programs for States, Federal training programs for State engineers, a Federal research program to improve techniques and equipment for evaluating dams, and an updated national inventory of dams. Yet, only the inventory was ever implemented.
Current Administration proposal, as reflected in S. 640, only includes the national dam inventory program and lacks authorizations for the more important programs necessary to make substantial improvements in this Nation's dams.
Dams are a vital part of our aging national infrastructure and provide us with water supply, flood protection, irrigation, recreation, and hydroelectric power. But dams threaten lives and property should they fail, and this country has suffered through many tragic dam failures.
The failure of the South Forks Dam in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, killed 2,209 people in 1889. In 1972, 125 people were killed when the Buffalo Creek Dam failed in West Virginia. In 1977, two separate dam failures in Pennsylvania and Georgia killed 79 people.
But dam failures are not just historical events. In 1994, 23 States reported 273 failures, 250 in Georgia, alone, with over $54 million in cleanup and repair costs.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
In 1995, the Timber Lakes Dam in Lynchburg, Virginia, failed, and two people died as a result of the flooding.
And just last month in Delaware County, New York, a failure of a dam during rapid snow melt and heavy rains contributed to flooding which washed out a downstream road, killing five people.
Attached to my testimony is an inventory of dams for each State. While safety is important for all dams, it is most critical to the 9,500 high-hazard dams, meaning their failure will cause loss of life and significant property damage.
Even more alarming are the 1,800 dams that are unsafe.
Nearly every member of this subcommittee has at least one unsafe high-hazard dam in their State. In New York there are 373 high-hazard dams, 69 of which are unsafe. In Missouri there are 658 high-hazard dams, and 87 of these are unsafe. And in New Jersey, where there are 190 high-hazard dams, 33 of these are unsafe.
The responsibility rests almost entirely with States, which regulate 95 percent of the dams in this country. Many States are struggling with limited budgets and staff. A handful of States don't have adequate programs in place to regulate the safety of dams.
The situation is critical. As the dams deteriorate, more land below them is being developed, and support for regulatory programs is shrinking in some States and lacking in others.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Dam failures do not respect State boundaries. A failure in one State can easily affect another State.
It should be a Federal concern, because clean-up costs come from the President's disaster relief fund and the national flood insurance programs.
We urge this subcommittee, in the strongest terms possible, to adopt the association's proposed language, which would confirm a Federal commitment to dam safety and provide much-needed leadership.
Our proposals retain the same provisions in the 1986 act only under FEMA, except the national dam inventory would remain under the Corps of Engineers.
FEMA, being heavily involved in hazard mitigation, is an excellent agency to administer this program. FEMA currently administers grant programs for flood and earthquake hazards, which are also major causes of dam failures.
We have significantly reduced the funding levels from the 1986 authorizations. A Federal investment in this very modest program will be repaid many times over with fewer deaths, reduced property damage, and reduced Federal expenditures, as one dam failure alone could easily exceed the cost of this program.
On behalf of the association and every State program in the country, we urge you to include our proposed language in the reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
We have been working with Senator Bond's staff and will share any refined legislative language with this subcommittee.
I'd like to submit for the record endorsements by the National Governors Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers, which we did not include in our written statement.
And, finally, I'd like to submit for the record a videotape of an NBC News ''Dateline'' feature on dam safety.
Thank you very much for this opportunity. I'd be happy to respond to any questions.
Mr. GILCHREST [assuming Chair]. Thank you, Mr. Iarossi from Baltimore, Maryland.
Mr. ROBB. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am John Robb, chairman of the Upper Mississippi Flood Control Association. Our membership includes several disciplines, which are all interested in the continuing improvement of flood control, navigation, economic development, and habitat protection along the navigable rivers of the midwest.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The upper Mississippi and Illinois and Missouri River Valleys are the most productive areas of the world. The navigable waterways are strategically located, almost perfectly configured, and the envy of our world trading partners.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers has transformed this great natural resource into the essential centerpiece for our midwest economy.
In the 1930s, the navigation system was modernized and our great transportation infrastructure advantage was established; however, today that infrastructure advantage is slipping and our state-of-the-art system is becoming an antique.
Those in the midwest who provide the labor, management, and capital to keep our economic engine running have been pleading for improvements to accommodate increasing world trade; however, the environmental interests have blocked those efforts.
The Federal and State biologists continually lament that, because of flood control and navigation, the upper Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers are on the verge of ecological collapse. We must all be reminded that these same groups have pronounced a zillion other environmental collapses that have not occurred.
In early April each year, America's largest amateur bass tournament is held at Quincy, Illinois, on the Mississippi River. And in December 1995, fishing experts were advising the hottest spots for the great sports fish walleye and sauger were by the tow boats and outlets along the Illinois River.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The most sought-after hunting and fishing areas along our major midwest navigable rivers are in the levee and drainage districts. The levee and drainage districts produce more wildlife than the wildlife refuges, which are all protected from flooding by levees, unless the refuges are farmed to produce a food source.
The flood control projects for the Fish and Wildlife Service receive these benefits in the cost/benefit analysis, but the levee districts do not.
The midwest economy and the environment can prosper together. The midwest economy will not prosper with the environmentalists setting our agenda.
The greatest threat to the river transportation, fishing, and recreation is the accumulation of sand alongside the channel and in the backwaters. The Corps, for the past 50 years, had not removed maintenance dredge material from the floodway. The material has been placed along the beach, on islands, and in deep water.
As the midwest navigable rivers are continuing to fill with sand and sediment, the environmentalists are promoting two solutions, which are the only ones being discussed.
The first environmental solution is land treatment to prevent soil erosion. The Soil Conservation Service, farmers, and the construction industry have done a great job at reducing erosion; however, all the tributaries are already loaded with sand. Sand does not float. It erodes along the bottom. If not another grain of sand was eroded from the land, the tributaries will deliver sand for the next 50 years.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The second environmental solution is to hinder, diminish, or completely stop the navigation system from being improved. This strategy is already working. The environmental hype is preventing the implementation of sound policy which could stop the degradation.
In the meantime, if a city, industry, or community wants to improve their economic base by improving flood control or navigation, the idea is declared economically impossible by rigged economic formulas or environmentally-infeasible because it would destroy the ecosystem.
In June 1995, we had a blockage to navigation about mile 420 on the Mississippi above Burlington, Iowa. It held up navigation for about two weeks.
The traffic went from 80 tows a week through lock and dam 18 to up to 100 tows. When that happened, the tariff rate went from 250 percent to 350 percent. In October, when the traffic dropped down to 80 tows through lock and dam 18, the tariff dropped again. So traffic congestion has a direct reflection upon the cost of our products to our customers overseas.
The area of this blockage was alongside a levee district, some 50,000 acres, which is 8 percent of the tax base of the county it's in. The levee district pleaded for the material to be placed on their levee and agreed to furnish the land, right-of-way, and pump the dredge water back into the river through their pumping facilities.
The Corps could not choose the levee site because their cost/benefit analysis does not allow benefits for infrastructure improvements, reduction of future disaster cost, and future economic development or cost for filling the river and pumping the same sand again and again.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The Corps must be directed to change the cost/benefit formula to reflect the real values.
The midwest farmers are being told that we're getting ready to enter the Golden Age of Agriculture because of the very strong increase of the demand from importing nations; however, South America has 75 million acres in Argentina, grasslands that have never been plowed, Brazil has 150 to 200 million acres of grasslands that have never been plowed, and our customers, China and South Korea, in particular, are already looking at South America as a supply source.
They have infrastructure projects, a 4- to 7-year phase, and a 20-year phase. Some of these projects are being completed. Some are still on the drawing board waiting for the dollars to be right so that they can implement these projects and improve their transportation and reduce the cost of their delivered grain.
As the price of grain in this country goes up and our cost goes up because our rivers are filling with sand and we can't navigate them, South America's going to develop their infrastructure.
We think there's going to be a great backlash to this effort for floodplain management which takes away from the Corps' ability to build infrastructure.
As I listened to this testimony earlier, I thought, ''Floodplain management means or non-structural methodsnon-structural methods means no jobs.''
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
As I look around this room and I see the pictures of projects this committee has been responsible for over the years, I see infrastructure. That's what we need from this committee. We need the Government to provide infrastructure private enterprise can utilize to create good jobs.
These major rivers along the midwest are different than all the other rivers that are flooding. We agree that floodplain management is a good idea if there's not any protection from flooding.
But in the areas along the navigable rivers, if we do not continue to maintain our rivers, clean this material out, put it along our levee system to improve the economic development opportunities to help pay for the system, like Europe and the rest of the world is doing, we're going to diminish our opportunities to compete in world trade. And when our Nation stops competing in world trade, our entire Nation is going to decline.
I have several other comments and requests included in my printed testimony. I see the red light is on. I'd ask you to include those in the record, and thank you very much for my opportunity to express my views before this committee.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Robb. You got a lot in in 5 minutes, and we will read the rest of your testimony.
Mr. ROBB. Thank you.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. GILCHREST. I'd like to askyou talked a great deal about environmental hype, and I'm sure you, as anybody elseand this is why I want to read your testimony, because the explanation that you gave is enticing enough to read a little bit further, because I don't think you're saying you don't want floodplain management. I don't think you're saying you don't want spawning areas for fish.
Mr. ROBB. No.
Mr. GILCHREST. I don't think you're saying you don't want areas where people can go and recreate in natural environments where I think we all need that for a number of reasons in some particular cases.
You talk a good deal about environmental hype.
Now, the panel before you, which you mentioned, testified for non-Federal share of project cost should be substantially raised, the non-Federal share. I think they referred to it as 50/50 if you have a floodplain management plan, 65/35 or whatever, should be a prerequisite to Federal participation.
What impact would this have on flood control projects if we took the recommendations of the panel before you and implemented their recommendations? What would you see the problem, or the solution?
Mr. ROBB. Probably would stop them altogether. The Mississippi, Illinois, and Missouri Rivers are major watersheds over major geographic regions, and if it comes down to a local area to handledeal with all this water that's coming off of improved drainage systems all over the watershed, and a floodway that's filling with sand, filling with billions of tons of rock that the Corps of Engineers put in these navigable rivers to train the channel, and trees and vegetation that the Fish and Wildlife Service and the environmental interests want inside the floodway between the levees, which reduces the flow capacity of the floodway, the local communities can't deal with that.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
If we're going to drain everything, which we're all forwe all want to improve our economic base, you know. We're all for that. But if more water's going to come our way, we have to have the help on a national basis to protect ourselves from that water.
And, you know, we've sat here and we've talked about explosions of economic development when we put up a flood control system. That's exactly what happens.
On the lower Missouri, we have three levee districts thereEarth City and Riverport, and just above is Chesterfield/Monarch. Chesterfield/Monarch flooded in 1993 because they had a 100-year levee and it was lamented as a disaster because the 100-year levee encouraged people to come in and build, and they did, and there was a great loss.
But in 1995, almost the same level of flood elevation, the Corps went to just above where the river was squeezed together, going under Highway 61 Bridge, and added just 4 to 5 feet of rock and prevented the flood in 1995.
So their economic development there is protected, they're thriving, they have good jobs. Now they're getting ready to put in a 500-year levee, and they're going to tame this wild Missouri River, which the environmentalists say we can't tame, and there's going to be another explosion of economic development.
That's why I had, in my closing comment, if you read my statement, that economic development and jobs, that's what we must pursue; otherwise, we cannot provide for these nice things of recreation and environmental improvements.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. GILCHREST. I guess we've got to pursue economic development. I think we're about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars re-correcting the waterways in southern Florida from what the Corps did 50, 70 years ago.
So I would hope, as we pursue economic development on the Nation's navigable inland waterways, that we don't attempt to tame the rivers, but understand how we can use the rivers much more wisely.
But I would like toyour testimony is enticing enough to me, given some of the problems I have in my District, to pursue this line of questioning, and I'd like to contact you after the hearing.
Mr. ROBB. Yes, sir.
Mr. GILCHREST. Maybe in the next couple weeks. We have some of the same dredging problems in the canals that we made in our area 100 years ago, but we don't haveat least to the extent that you described, in some of the canals in Maryland we don't have the same virulent problems, at least as I see it, that you are describing in the west or in the midwest with environmental groups opposing the type of dredging and things that you're talking about.
I would like toI have a question for the gentleman from Maryland on dam safety.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 We sure have covered a lot of ground. I was waiting for Jimmy to walk past me, and I didn'tI know he doesn't have to walk past me. I was just wondering where he was going to sit on this side.
One more question, and I'm going to turn this back over to the chairman.
The Conowingo Dam and the little town of Port Depositthis is of national significance. That's why I'm asking the question. Do you have a role to play with the management plan for the town, as coordinated with Conowingo Dam, as far as the opening up of the different gates and what that means to the community?
Mr. IAROSSI. Yes, we do, Mr. Gilchrest. We regulate the dam, along with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, both in operation, as well as their emergency action plan for dam failure, as well as opening up gates.
We're also on the governor's work group right now to investigate both the operation of the dam during the flood, as well as the notification to Port Deposit to see if we can't make improvements on both fronts.
Mr. GILCHREST. What I would like to donot to be too colloquial hereI'd like to sit down with the people in the community. We've talked about this with the mayor and the town administratorto sit down with the folks from the Conowingo Dam, the people in Port Deposit, and your office to alleviate a lot of the fears that are continuing as a result of the flood and to have some give-and-take dialogue.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The more information the people have, the more education they have, the less fear there is. I think you can enhance the quality of communication, and certainly maybe avoid, if it doesn't happen again for a number of years, but avoid the kind of situation that resulted from that sort of catastrophic big snow, warm weather, heavy rainshad to open the gates, otherwise the water goes over the dam.
But I appreciate your testimony.
My time is up.
Mr. Smith, we do beach replenishment in Ocean City.
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. GILCHREST. We're trying to continue that, not at the expense of the environment or the taxpayers, but good management of it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Excuse me, Mr. Gilchrest. I had three exhibits here. I want to know if I was successful in getting them in the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection.
Mr. GILCHREST. Without objection, the chairman says, so ordered.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. SMITH. Thank you so much.
Mr. BOEHLERT [resuming Chair]. I want to thank this panel very much for your cooperation.
Our fourth and final panel of this hearingfor the purpose of two introductions, I'd like to recognize our distinguished colleague from Louisiana, Mr. Hayes.
Mr. HAYES. I appreciated Mr. Gilchrest's remarks about which side of this isle I was seated on. The former Speaker of the House used to have exactly the same problem. He couldn't tell what party I was in, either.
It is, indeed, a privilege to get to return to the committee upon which I served for a few moments this afternoon to introduce two people to you.
I'm going to ask that I just place into the record the curriculum vitae of Jack Caldwell. I will translate part of it for you. I was looking down at it.
When you actually know somebody, you don't know as much about them as if you don't know them, because if you never met them and don't know them at all, then there's no reason for you to ignore reading all these things. If you really do know them, you never ask them any of these things, and therefore it never came up in conversation.
Well, here's what I get out of it. Education: Suwanee Military Academy. That means his parents couldn't control him and got him to a military school. Louisiana State University, that means Tulane was full. B.S. in business administration and an honor graduate. That means he also played sports and they probably, without any question, raised his grades. Louisiana State University, Order of the Coifnow, that is a very significant accomplishment, because that means you actually learned a whole bunch of law, and that ties down to all these cases with which he was successful later.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
But the real qualification here is being able to practice in Franklin, Louisiana, with Acob, Corn, Caldwell, and Colman, and survive those people for that many years. That's an incredible accomplishment.
Then he comes over to LaFayette at Milling Benson. And then he does an extraordinary thing. He changes what has been a pattern in Louisiana government for too many years. Governor Mike Foster is elected. Governor Mike Foster runs as a democrat, changes parties to the republican party less than a month before election day, leads in the open primary in Louisiana, and then wins a runoff two-to-one. He is a person who attracts independent voters throughout the State, democrats and republicans. Louisiana only has 19 percent registered republicans, which explains why the governor was held at 63 percent of the vote.
Once that happened, the governor looks around and starts looking for people that emulate his own style. He starts making appointments not on the basis of what party someone's in, but on the basis of their qualifications.
And when he gets to the very, very important issue of natural resources in Louisiana, he looks not only to someone whom he knew, but to someone whose integrity was never, ever, at any time, on any place, questioned, and he makes the appointment of Jack Caldwell.
And I'll bet you anything that Jack was as surprised as anybody in the State of Louisiana when he got the call about that appointment, and I think you're going to see in the future of our State the reflections of those decisions that were made by our current governor on the basis of what he thought was public service and the best interest of Louisiana.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
He's going to talk to you today about the Barataria Basin project, which I think has national significance and which may well be one of the more important accomplishments, not just of our current administration in our State, but something to which the Nation can point to with a great deal of pride.
Mr. Benoit, I'm also going to put hissince I don't know Mr. Benoit as well, I can't give him the same flack that I just gave Jack, so I'm simply going to, with constraints of time, put his resume into the record, as well, and tell you that he's going to tell you about Lafayette and the Vermilion River.
Mr. Chairman, it's extremely important that you pay attention to both Lafayette and the Vermilion River because Lafayette is my home town and the Vermilion River is where my Mom lives. And she's going to find out what's inserted in this record, I guarantee you, if it's not extremely complimentary to Mr. Benoit, Lafayette, and the Vermilion River.
With that, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me the opportunity to give these introductions, and thank both of you for being here. And, further thanks, thank both of you for making the sacrifice of public service in Louisiana.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Live from Louisiana, it's Saturday Night.
Mr. BOEHLERT. We're very glad to have you back to the committee, and we appreciate those introductions.
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Now, for the purpose of another introduction, I recognize our distinguished colleague, Mr. Pomeroy.
Mr. POMEROY. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
I understand that the testimony will follow the introduction. My remarks will be more to the essence of the topic before us.
Fifty-three years ago in North Dakota an irrigation project was completed that turned a semi-arid portion of northwestern North Dakota into the most productive farmland to be found west of the Red River Valley along the eastern border of our State.
This irrigation district, known as the Buford-Trenton Irrigation District, drew water out of the Missouri River and created the most beautiful conditions for the growing of sugar beets you can imagine.
Ten years following that, some decisions were made which bring us to this hearing today. The reservoir level established at Lake Sakakawea, the reservoir behind the Garrison Dam, a Federal dam on the Missouri River, has doomed this irrigation project.
Unlike some actions of Federal Government which represent more of an abrupt taking, this District has been dealt a long, slow, painful death to be found by the growing silt in the river.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The Missouri River, the one from which they draw their irrigation water, has now lost 14 feet as it has silted up, a direct result of the lake reservoir level.
The conditions and the inevitable lossthe conditions deteriorating the productivity of the irrigation district, inevitably leading to its utter destruction, will be outlined by Buckshot Gannaway, the chairman of the irrigation district.
The irrigation district is 10,000 acres. It represents a number of family farmers continuing, as I mentioned, this 50-year tradition of extraordinarily productive agriculture.
The trick in a situation like this isn't to find the cause of the problem. The problem is the Federal project and the reservoir level set in the building of the Garrison Dam.
The trick is to find an equitable solution. An equitable solution has been found that would allow the just compensation to the landowners, while keeping it in private hands and as productive as possible as long as possible.
The resolution we had in the last Congress in the House-passed water bill would have worked just fine. The resolution in the Senate committee-passed legislation awaiting Senate action this session would also work just fine.
But let me give you the ultimate expert on this topic. I'm proud to introduce an individual who has devoted enormous personal time on trying to get this situation resolved, Buckshot Gannaway.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BOEHLERT. All right. Before you start, Mr. Gannaway, we also have two other members on the panel that I would like to introduce. They don't have their colleagues here from their Congressional Districts.
We have from the city of Phoenix, Council Member Mr. David Garcia, who is on the Environment and Resources Committee; and also, from the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Mr. Dennis Roth. He is a vice president. He is from Silver Spring, Maryland.
What we'll do is go in the order of introduction, so we'll go first with you, Mr. Caldwell. We know all bout you now.
TESTIMONY OF ROBERT BENOIT, DIRECTOR, PUBLIC WORKS, PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, LAFAYETTE, LA; JACK C. CALDWELL, SECRETARY, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, BATON ROUGE, LA; AND ROBERT GANNAWAY, PRESIDENT, BUFORD-TRENTON IRRIGATION DISTRICT, TRENTON, ND
Mr. CALDWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and honorable members of the committee.
I first want to express my gratitude to my good friend, Congressman Jimmy Hayes, and I hope it will not be too long before we can call him Senator Hayes in Louisiana.
At the mouth of the Mississippi River lies 40 percent of our Nation's coastal wetlands. These wetlands are disappearing at the rate of 25 square miles per year. We've already lost about 450 square miles, and it's expected we will lose another 300 square miles if the situation is not remedied.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The cause of this enormous loss is not hard to find.
I have with me what looks like an aerial photograph, but it is not. This is a digitalized computer-generated map which is based on satellite photographs, and it shows the mouth of the Mississippi River. I made a few blown-up versions of the lower part of this photograph, available for the committee if you want to follow in greater detail.
The key to the problem was when we leveed the Mississippi River, and thereby cut off the flow of fresh sediment and fresh water into the marshes. When that happened, the marshes began to sink and salt water began to intrude into the marshes.
As you can see on your aerial photograph, we get initially a Swiss cheese effect as the marsh disappears, and then eventually the gulf moves in and takes over and wipes out the marsh.
So eventually the city of New Orleans, which is about 10 or 15 miles upstream, will be on the gulf coast in about 50 years, if something is not done.
Fortunately, the Federal Government and the State of Louisiana have joined forces to reverse this enormous amount of damage that's being done.
Among the many projects on coastal restoration in Louisiana are two of the major projects which are designed to restore fresh sediment and fresh water to the marshes, protect the marshes against further deterioration, and hopefully build some new land.
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
On the east bank we have what is known as the Breton Sound project, which is a freshwater structure where, when the water is high enough, they open the gates and let freshwater come flowing through the marshes, and thereby replenish the marshes.
This project was complete in 1991 and has proven to be enormously successful. Not only is the marsh being restored as a result of the freshwater and sediment, but the fisheries, crabs, shrimp, and oysters have all increased enormously in this area. As a result of this very small, $26 billion project we've gotten enormous benefit.
On the west bank we have an even more ambitious project called Davis Pond, which is up here on the circle, as you can see on the map, and we're going to introduce water from a structure on the Mississippi River that will feed freshwater and sediment into the entire Barataria basin.
If you'll recall, this is where the pirate Jean Lafitte used to hang out, right down here on Grontier Island in Barataria Bay.
But we're going to fill the entire basin, from the Mississippi River over to Bayou Lafourche with fresh water and fresh sediment. It is going to be a tremendous project. It is going to accomplish an enormous amount of good. And this is about an $80 billion project.
The reason I'm here today is that, in this wonderful process, somebody overlooked something very important. When they opened the gates in Breton Sound and let this fine fresh water into the marsh, it killed off all of the oysters in Breton Sound, because oysters cannot live in water fresher than five parts per thousand.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
No provision had been made to relocate those oyster beds, so at the present time on the east bank we're faced with a class action damage suit brought by approximately 1,000 oyster lease-holders against both the Federal Government and the State government in the approximate amount of some $80 million.
Moving to the Davis Pond, I came into office six weeks ago, and I was handed a proposal to request bids, construction bids. Davis Pond is ready to go. I said, ''Well, how about the oyster fishermen?'' Well, we have 3 years to solve that problem, I was told.
I said, ''Yes, I have a big picture. I go out there to cut the ribbon, and I'm handed a Federal court injunction against flooding the oyster beds.'' So I have declined to sign it until we get a handle on the oyster problem.
As you will see on the aerial photograph, we already know exactly what is going to happen. The top line shows today's five parts per thousand line. The bottom line shows where it's going to move to as a result of constructing Davis Pond
In this area, there are 8,700 acres of producing oyster leases. They're all marked in yellow on the aerial photograph. Below that, we have a total of 106,000 acres. So if we're right, the damage will be limited; but if it's greater, we will damage even more oyster leases.
So what we're asking this committee to do is to correct what should have been done initially, and that is to have the relocation of these oyster leases authorized as a first cost in the project.
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The Davis Pond project, like the Breton Sound, is shared one-quarter Louisiana and three-quarters Federal Government, and we're willing to pay our share, the one-quarter of this relocation expense.
The relocation expense is estimated at $2,200 per acre, or a total cost of about $19 million. Some of these leases are expiring. No new leases are being granted. And so we hope to minimize the damage, because, as these leases expire during construction, those people will have to move out.
That completes my testimony
Mr. BOEHLERT. That's very good testimony, and I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
Mr. CALDWELL. Yes.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Are Mr. Garcia or Mr. Roth in the audience?
Mr. BOEHLERT. No-shows.
Now, upstate New York we pronounce it Benoit, but my grandfather was Louis Xavier Champou, so are you Benoyt or Benoa?
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Mr. BENOIT. ''Benwa''.
Mr. BOEHLERT. All right. Mr. Benoit, welcome.
Mr. BENOIT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
What really brought us here is we've been having a problem with the frequency of flooding in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, that really left us no other alternative than to solicit Federal assistance, and that assistance came in the form of a reconnaissance study which was approved in 1994 in the Energy and Water Appropriations Act.
The purpose of my visit here today is to request continued funding for the feasibility study, which is the next phase, and to also request that some of the feasible projects be short-circuited or expedited.
I'll give you a brief, brief history about Lafayette. It's approximately 50 miles west of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Our population's about 170,000 people. And the Vermilion River is the main artery that captures the Coulee runoff and transports it to the Vermilion Bay, ultimately flowing into the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles away.
The southern portion of the study area in the reconnaissance study varies from between 5 feet and 7.5 feet above sea level, so we're pretty low and susceptible to inundation.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
Significant floods were reported in Lafayette as early as 1907, and in the last 75 years we've had approximately 16 major floods. One of the things that really concerns us is we had three major floods in the last 5 years.
From 1978 to 1993, our average annual rainfallactually for 30 years, from 1963 to 1993, was 59 inches. In the last 5 years we've been experiencing approximately 73 inches of rainfall.
The 1993 event was a major flood that involved approximately 500 flood insurance claims which exceeded $5 million. We had additional flood that occurred recently in December of 1995, and those figures are not quite available yet, but I would estimate it probably would be in the $2 to $3 million range.
From 1978 to 1992 combined, the total flood insurance damages was $5 million, so we've far exceeded that in the last 5 years.
And this doesn't include other public and private losses, such as vehicle flooded, uninsured losses, reduction in property value, and losses in public infrastructure such a roads and bridges.
In 1940, we had a major flood in Lafayette Parish, and that flood produced river level seven feet higher than those that we recently experienced in 1993. The flood of 1940, if that level would be reached again today, the damage would be catastrophic.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 The local interest, we're continually doing everything we can to make improvements to our flood structures, but we're having trouble keeping pace with the severity of the problem. In addition, we've recently required commercial developments and some residential developments to put in retention ponds to store the water and not let it out as quickly.
Structures that are built below the 100-year base flood elevation will continue to flood, and inundation will increase with additional development.
The new structures that are being built willtheir flooding should be diminished through participation in the national flood insurance program; however, we still have areas that are above the 100-year base flood elevation that do flood still.
The reconnaissance study, which was completed in 1995, evaluated alternative measures, including diversions of flood waters, retention basins, channel modifications, levees and pump stations, and flood control structures, and other non-structural alternatives.
In the essence of time, I'll limit my remaining comments to those which had a favorable benefit/cost ratio.
There are two structural alternatives in the reconnaissance study, and the non-structural measures which were determined by the report, which was done by the Corps of Engineers to be economically and environmentally feasible to reduce the magnitude of flooding in Lafayette.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 One, in particular, is a retention gravity storage in the Bayou Tartou Swamp, which is right adjacent to Lafayette. What this does is this project would reduce Vermilion River flooding by managing water levels in the Bayou Tartou Swamp.
During the feasibility stage, features of this will be modified and new features added that incorporate the northern portion of the Bayou Tartou Swamp, the method similar to alternative three in the reconnaissance study. However, the features will differ to ensure a favorable cost/benefit ratio.
This project also includes installation of some low lift pump stations and two gravity flow structures with sluice gates.
Elevation of the southern swamp would be maintained at three feet NGVD, and when the river reaches eight feet NGVD the gravity structures would be opened. The additional storage in the swamp will result in much lower stages along the Vermillion River.
The estimated gross investment of this phase is $3.8 million, without the additional modifications, provides an annual benefit of approximately $856,000, and the cost/benefit ratio is 2.73, which is very good.
The other one which was determined feasible is channel modifications on Isaac Verot Coulee or drainage ditch. In Louisiana we call them coulees. I know that's not a very common term.
The channels will be improved to carry a 10-year storm within the bank. It's an estimated investment of $26.4 million, with an average annual benefit of $2.7 million, with a cost benefit ratio of 1.23.
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
This project seems to be a perfect candidate for short-circuiting, and can be moved forward, hopefully, to the pre-construction and engineering and design phase.
The remaining two measures that they looked at are non-structural measures which looked at four areas of the parish or the county, which hadonly two of them had a favorable cost/benefit. One of them is the Demanade Park subdivision. Approximately 50 homes were impacted as a result of the 100-year storm.
The study looked at floodproofing, ring levees, and structure raising. The study indicated structure raising the most feasible, with a cost of $1.5 million and a benefit/cost ratio of 1.07.
The last non-structural measure they looked at was a group of subdivisions in south Lafayette, which our study indicated, for a cost of $2.2 million, we could construct ring levees, with a cost/benefit ratio of 5.3.
The methods used to investigate the four areas revealed that the non-structural measures can be effectively used to combat flood damages.
In summation, Mr. Chairman, the people in Lafayette Parish and myself would like to thank Congress for budgeting the funds for the reconnaissance study and to request continued funding for the feasibility stage.
In addition, we'd like to proceed to the pre-construction, engineering, and design for the non-structural measures, as well as those structural measures that are ready to design.
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
That's basically my comments. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to address them.
Mr. BATEMAN [assuming Chair]. Thank you very much.
I guess that brings us to Mr. Gannaway.
Mr. GANNAWAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify today in support of legislation to address a very serious problem in my State of North Dakota.
Garrison Dam was built on the Missouri River by the Corps of Engineers under the 199 Pick-Sloan Flood Control Act. It created Lake Sakakawea. This is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.
At the time the dam was built, there was much controversy over what would be the operating levee of the pool.
On February 18th, 1954, the mayor of Williston, North Dakota, testified before the House Appropriations Committee that the planned pool level of 1850 feet would be destructive to the city of Williston and to the irrigation districts located along the Missouri River.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
The operating level was established at 1850, and has reached a high of 1854.8.
There are approximately 3,700 acre feet of silt deposited annually in the reach of river between the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers and the start of Lake Sakakawea near Williston.
The specific problem that I am asking the committee to address in its 1996 water bill relates to the Buford-Trenton Irrigation District, a 10,000 acre irrigation project located along the Missouri River 15 miles southwest of Williston.
The Buford-Trenton project was originally developed by the Bureau of Reclamation between 1940 and 1943. The farmers produce such crops as sugar beets, durum, alfalfa, and wheat.
The North Dakota State University has estimated the economic impact to the area at approximately $11 million, and responsible for about 140 jobs beyond the farmers, themselves.
The gates at Garrison Dam were closed in 1953, but Lake Sakakawea did not reach its operation level of 1850 until the summer of 1965. Just 2 years later, water was being found in basements along the river, and crop production was suffering due to the rising water table.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3 Mr. Chairman, there are some areas where at certain times of the year a person has to only dig down several inches in our fields to hit water. At times, some of this land will not even support heavy farm equipment. It's virtually being flooded out from underneath.
With regard to possible solutions, there appear to be no economically-viable structural solutions; therefore, we have zeroed in on two possible non-structural options.
The first is to have the Corps acquire the land in fee title and lease it back to the farmers. While this may be the simplest way to go, the irrigation district, Williams County, the city of Williston, and the State of North Dakota all view this option as a last resort.
Few in my State want the Federal Government to own more land. Locally, they do not want to further reduce the property tax base.
Also, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have indicated they cannot afford such an undertaking.
Therefore, instead of the fee title acquisition, we believe the preferred option is to have the Corps purchase flowage easements on the land.
Mr. Chairman, our people have been waiting for 30 years. What the mayor of Williston predicted in 1954 has come true. Our livelihood is slowly being taken away from us by a project constructed by the U.S. Government.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
In 1994 we were very pleased that this committee responded to our concerns by authorizing the purchase of flowage easements in the Water Resources Development Act. We were disappointed that the legislation failed to pass the Senate before the 103rd Congress adjourned.
We are hopeful that you will again see fit to include this provision in this year's legislation.
I thank you for this opportunity to appear before the subcommittee. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have at this time.
Mr. BATEMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Gannaway.
I believe that's all of the witnesses who have been able to appear. I want to thank each of you for your testimony. You have certainly presented, in each instance, very worthwhile projects. I hope the committee will have the wherewithal to be able to do the things that you ask of us.
Between now and the time we begin the focus on the markup of the bill, if there are questions and clarifications that the committee needs to seek through the staff, I'm sure you will be happy to respond to them.
Sorry that the schedule in the House today seems to be particularly difficult for members of the committee, that you have not had more of them to listen to your testimony.
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 3
We do appreciate your coming, and the staff will be in touch with you as we go forward with the bill.
I'm also asked, for the record, to announce that our hearings will convene again tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., when we will receive the testimony of the Administration through the Honorable Mark Lancaster, the Assistant Secretary of the Army, followed by a panel on port and navigation projects and issues, a panel on inland navigation projects, a panel on the American River watershed, and a general panel on flood control projects.
That will be tomorrow's hearing schedule.
Thank you again for being with us today.
[Whereupon, at 1:39 p.m., the subcommittee recessed, to reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 28, 1996.]
Next Hearing Segment(2)