SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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PROPOSALS FOR A WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1998
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.
WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MARCH 31, APRIL 22 AND 28, 1998
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
PROPOSALS FOR A WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1998
PROPOSALS FOR A WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1998
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WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MARCH 31, APRIL 22 AND 28, 1998
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPrinted for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSUE W. KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
FRANK RIGGS, California
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JACK METCALF, Washington
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCNICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
JAY W. JOHNSON, Wisconsin
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York, Chairman
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota Vice Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JACK QUINN, New York
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
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FRANK RIGGS, California
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
VITO FOSSELLA, New York
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
JAY JOHNSON, Wisconsin
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
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March 31, 1998
April 22, 1998
April 28, 1998
MARCH 31, 1998
Beyke, John C., P.E., Director of Engineering and Chief Engineer, Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District, and President, National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies, Louisville, KY
Conrad, David R., Water Resources Specialist, National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DC
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Cook, Harry N., President, National Waterways Conference, Inc., Washington, DC
Faber, Scott, Director, Floodplain Programs, American Rivers, Washington, DC
Larson, Larry A., Executive Director, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Inc., Madison, WI
MacDonald, Anthony B., Executive Director, Coastal States Organization, Inc., Washington, DC
Marlowe, Howard, President, American Coastal Coalition, Washington, DC
Nagle, Kurt J., President, American Association of Port Authorities, Alexandria, VA
Sickles, Mark D., Executive Director, Dredging Contractors of America, Alexandria, VA
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Lampson, Hon. Nick, of Texas
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Menendez, Hon. Robert, of New Jersey
Poshard, Hon. Glenn, of Illinois
Tauscher, Hon. Ellen O., of California
Thune, Hon. John, of South Dakota
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Beyke, John C
Conrad, David R
Cook, Harry N
Larson, Larry A
MacDonald, Anthony B
Nagle, Kurt J
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Sickles, Mark D
SUBMISSIONS TO THE RECORD
Nagle, Kurt J., President, American Association of Port Authorities, Alexandria, VA:
Chart, Deep-Draft Harbor Projects, FY99 Funding Requirements vs. Administration Budget Request, February 9, 1998
Report, The Impacts of Changes in Ship Design on Transportation Infrastructure and Operations, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Intermodalism, February 1998
Sickles, Mark D., Executive Director, Dredging Contractors of America, Alexandria, VA:
Response to questions from Rep. DeFazio, letter, May 11, 1998
Heiberg Associates, Inc., memo, Audit on Dredging Industry, November 10, 1997
APRIL 22, 1998
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Calvert, Hon. Ken, a Representative in Congress from California
DeLauro, Hon. Rosa L., a Representative in Congress from Connecticut
Dooley, Hon. Cal, a Representative in Congress from California
Doolittle, Hon. John T., a Representative in Congress from California
Fowler, Hon. Tillie K., a Representative in Congress from Florida
Frost, Hon. Martin, a Representative in Congress from Texas
Herger, Hon. Wally, a Representative in Congress from California
Kind, Hon. Ron, a Representative in Congress from Wisconsin
Lee, Hon. Barbara, a Representative in Congress from California
Matsui, Hon. Robert T., a Representative in Congress from California
Pallone, Hon. Frank, Jr., a Representative in Congress from New Jersey
Pomeroy, Hon. Earl, a Representative in Congress from North Dakota
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Salmon, Hon. Matt, a Representative in Congress from Arizona
Shaw, Hon. E. Clay, Jr., a Representative in Congress from Florida
Visclosky, Hon. Peter J., a Representative in Congress from Indiana
Weldon, Hon. Dave, a Representative in Congress from Florida
Weller, Hon. Jerry, a Representative in Congress from Illinois
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Calvert, Hon. Ken, of California
DeLauro, Hon. Rosa L., of Connecticut
Dooley, Hon. Cal, of California
Doolittle, Hon. John T., of California
Fowler, Hon. Tillie K., of Florida
Frost, Hon. Martin, of Texas
Herger, Hon. Wally, of California
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Kind, Hon. Ron, of Wisconsin
Lee, Hon. Barbara, of California
Matsui, Hon. Robert T., of California
Menendez, Hon. Robert, of New Jersey
Pallone, Hon. Frank, Jr., of New Jersey
Pomeroy, Hon. Earl, of North Dakota
Salmon, Hon. Matt, of Arizona
Shaw, Hon. E. Clay, Jr., of Florida
Visclosky, Hon. Peter J., of Indiana
Weldon, Hon. Dave, of Florida
Weller, Hon. Jerry, of Illinois
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SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Frost, Hon. Martin, a Representative in Congress from Texas, letter, Mayor Elzie Odom, City of Arlington, April 21, 1998
Matsui, Hon. Robert T., a Representative in Congress from California, report, Sacramento Flooding A Region at Risk: The Locally Preferred Approach for Reducing Flood Damage
Pallone, Hon. Frank, Jr., a Representative in Congress from New Jersey, letter from Weeks Marine, Inc., April 25, 1997, and the State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection, June 6, 1997, concerning the Long Branch, New Jersey fishing pier
Salmon, Hon. Matt, a Representative in Congress from Arizona, statement of Mayor Skip Rimsza, City of Phoenix
Weldon, Hon. Dave, a representative in congress from Florida:
Chart, Partial List of Corps of Engineers Storm Damage Protection Projects with Cost Sharing Adjustments Due to Mitigation of Erosional Effect of Federal Navigation Projects
Letter, Kevin R. Bodge, Ph.D., P.E., Senior Engineer, Canaveral Port Authority, December 1, 1997
APRIL 28, 1998
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Parcell, John H., Associate Tax Legislative Counsel, Office of Tax Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Zirschky, Dr. John H., Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, accompanied by Michael Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Policy and Legislation, and Major General Russell L. Fuhrman, Director of Civil Works, Army Corps of Engineer
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Emerson, Hon. Jo Ann, of Missouri
Lampson, Hon. Nick, of Texas
Mascara, Hon. Frank, of Pennsylvania
Oberstar, Hon. James L., of Minnesota
Thune, Hon. John R., of South Dakota
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Parcell, John H
Zirschky, Dr. John H
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SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Zirschky, Dr. John H., Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works:
Section by section Cost Estimate for the Administration's Proposal for WRDA 98, chart
Response to request from Rep. Horn concerning the 11 Recommendations of the California Marine Affairs and Navigation Conference
Response to question from Rep. Lampson concerning beach erosion
Performance of the U.S. Army Civil Works Program, Second Quarter, FY98
Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Civil Works Program, FY93 and FY97 Median Time to Complete Studies
Department of the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program, FY93 and FY98 Continuing Authority Projects Median Planning and Design Time
Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Program, Permit Applications Over 2 and 3 Years Old
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCDepartment of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Civil Works, FY99 Budget Ceilings vs. Requirements
The Army's Environmental Mission
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
Barrett, Hon. Thomas M., a Representative in Congress from Wisconsin, statement and executive summary
Brown, Hon. Corrine, a Representative in Congress from Florida, statement
Campbell, Hon. Tom, a Representative in Congress from California, statement
Coburn, Hon. Tom, a Representative in Congress from Oklahoma, statement
Dean, Henry, Chairman, Interstate council on Water Policy, and Executive Director, St. Johns River Water Management District, statement
Fazio, Hon. Vic, a Representative in Congress from California, statement
Foley, Hon. Mark, a Representative in Congress from Florida, statement
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Fowler, Hon. Tillie, a Representative in Congress from Florida, statement
Harrison, James M., Public Affairs Director, Minnesota-Wisconsin Boundary Area Commission, statement
Hayworth, Hon. J.D., a Representative in Congress from Arizona, statement
Henry, James T., President, EC-MAC Motor Carriers Service Association, Inc., also on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Tariff Bureau, Inc., and the North American Transportation Council, statement
Kingston, Hon. Jack, a Representative in Congress from Georgia, statement
Koeper, John F., P.E., Executive Director, The Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, letter, May 7, 1998
Lema, Joseph E., Vice President Manufacturers and Services Division, National Mining Association, statement
Lewis, Hon. John, a Representative in Congress from Georgia, statement and statement of Major Bill Campbell, City of Atlanta and report, Regional Atlanta Watershed and Clean Streams Program, A Summary of Funding Needs for a Comprehensive Strategy to Meet Federal and State Environmental Infrastructure Requirements, March 30, 1998
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC McHugh, Hon. John M., a Representative in Congress from New York, statement
Mica, Hon. John, a Representative in Congress from Florida, statement
Ortiz, Hon. Solomon P., a Representative in Congress from Texas, statement
Red River Valley Association, statement
Thorne, Mike, Executive Director, Port of Portland, statement
Thurman, Hon. Karen, a Representative in Congress from Florida, statement
Underwood, Hon. Robert A., a Delegate in Congress from Guam, statement
Vanselow, Glenn, Executive Director, Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, statement
PROPOSALS FOR A WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1998
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTUESDAY, MARCH 31, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m., in Room 2318, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Good morning. The hearing will come to order. The Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee meets today to officially begin a new season of hearings on a Water Resources Development Act. And I might note that major league baseball teams meet today to officially begin their 1998 season. All in all, a most important day.
A high priority of this subcommittee, indeed the Congress, is to enact every 2 years a comprehensive bill providing authorization and direction to the Army Corps of Engineers for the Nation's largest water resources program. This year should be no different. The bipartisan leadership of the subcommittee and the full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure are united on the task of making the Water Resources Development Act of 1998 a reality.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In many respects, we hope to achieve the same kind of success we achieved in the Water Resources Development Act of 1996. That law authorized and modified important projects and, to an unprecedented degree, emphasized the Corps' mission of environmental restoration and protection. This year's bill isn't likely to be as large as WRDA 1996keep in mind that was a 4-year bill; this will likely be a 2-year authorizationbut it will certainly be as important, at least in terms of continuing the 2-year cycle of reauthorization, emphasizing the Corps' environmental mission and extending the traditional missions of the Corps.
Today we will hear from national organizations on topics ranging from navigation, transportation trust funds, port development, flood control, floodplain management, environmental restoration, and shoreline protection. On April 22nd, we will hear from Members of Congress, and on April 28th from representatives of the Corps of Engineers and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
I welcome our distinguished witnesses and thank them for being resources for this subcommittee. We listen attentively. We pay attention to your recommendations. We don't always agree, but we always welcome your valuable input.
It is now my pleasure to recognize Representative Borski, the Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, for any remarks he would like to make at this point regarding our hearing or, for that matter, the opening of major league baseball.
Mr. BORSKI. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. This is a great day. Can't wait for Curt Schilling to pin back the Mets. You are a Yankee fan; that doesn't bother you much.
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This morning the subcommittee begins its efforts to craft a Water Resources Development Act for 1998. Just as we did in 1996, I fully expect this subcommittee to develop legislation which will receive the support of the full committee and the House and which will be signed by the President prior to the end of the year.
Mr. Chairman, the regular enactment of water resources legislation is critical to the orderly continuation of the program, to the protection of the health and safety of citizens, to the improvement of the environment, and to the economic well-being of the Nation. Furthermore, regular enactment of water resources legislation allows for Congress to update the program, modifying it to adapt to changing needs and priorities.
Two years ago during our water resources hearings, I cautioned that we were considering major infrastructure legislation while we were on a path to a balanced budget, and that the Corps would not be exempt from the major downsizing of the Federal Government. Furthermore, I stated that I believed that it is simply not responsible to lead the American people to believe that cuts in discretionary programs of the magnitude being discussed would not lead to some pain.
Unfortunately, my concerns have been realized. As many of our witnesses today will testify, the pain has arrived. The deep cuts in the Corps' budget are a direct result of the downsizing fever which has engulfed the Congress in recent years.
Mr. Chairman, severe cuts in the Corps' programs will sacrifice future economic growth and environmental protection to the conflicting goals of tax cuts and balanced budget. It remains, in my view, a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach that will hurt the Nation in the long run.
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I believe that it is particularly timely for the subcommittee to be conducting this hearing just 5 days after we heard testimony regarding the disaster relief program. As our colleagues, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Lampson, and others discussed, there is a critical need to better coordinate the way we approach preventing, minimizing the impacts of, and responding to disasters, particularly flooding.
In the 1996 act, this subcommittee took some important first steps in causing a more creative and innovative look at flood control. And I am encouraged by the President's upcoming proposal, Challenge 21, to develop the creative solutions to flood control needs in combination with ecosystem restoration and protection. I look forward to the administration's testimony when we return from the Easter recess.
Of course, I also look forward to the testimony of today's witnesses, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much for yielding me this time.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. And without objection, members' opening statements, unless anyone feels a compelling need to personally deliver it, will be placed in the record at this juncture.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Poshard, Ms. Tauscher, and Lampson follow:]
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. Just let me point out that the path that Mr. Borski outlined has led us to the promised land. Quite frankly, we are pleased to be sitting here and telling you that we do enjoy a budget that enjoys a surplus, and we anticipate surpluses for many years to come. That is the good news.
The bad news is in looking at the administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 1999, there is a recommendation for a 47 percent cut in the construction program for the Corps, and that is something we are going to look at very carefully. Quite frankly, I think that is more than we will be willing to pay.
Don't mind giving a pint of blood at the local blood bank, but when you are asked to give two quarts, that causes some consternation.
Let us go with panel number one, consisting of Mr. Kurt Nagle, President of the American Association of Port Authorities; Mr. Harry Cook, President of the National Waterways Conference; and Mr. Mark Sickles, Executive Director of the Dredging Contractors of America.
Gentlemen, your statements will appear in the record in their entirety. We would ask that you try to summarize in 5 minutes or so. We are not going to be arbitrary, but we do want to move this hearing right along.
And we will go in the order introduced, so Mr. Nagle of the American Association of Port Authorities, you are first up. Look forward to hearing from you, sir.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTESTIMONY OF KURT J. NAGLE, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PORT AUTHORITIES, ALEXANDRIA, VA; HARRY N. COOK, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL WATERWAYS CONFERENCE, INC., WASHINGTON, DC; AND MARK D. SICKLES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DREDGING CONTRACTORS OF AMERICA, ALEXANDRIA, VA
Mr. NAGLE. Good morning. I am Kurt Nagle, President of the American Association of Port Authorities. As you know, AAPA represents public port agencies throughout the Western Hemisphere. Our remarks today reflect the views of AAPA's United States delegation. Mr. Chairman, AAPA commends you for convening this hearing on the Water Resources Development Act of 1988.
Also, I want to thank the members of this committee for their strong leadership on two other pieces of legislation of importance to the port community: ISTEA and Superfund. The full committee's unanimous approval last week of BESTEA marks the next step in the development of a truly intermodal transportation system as new policies are put in place to address the growing need for efficient freight movement from ports to highways and railways. In addition, we appreciate the hard work of this committee in clearing a Superfund reform bill that will help many urban areas revitalize their once great industrialized areas. This Nation's public ports are partners in this effort to revitalize contaminated sites and put people back to work in family wage jobs.
If I leave one message with you today, it is that ports and all who benefit from the services we provide depend on biannual passage of water resources legislation as well as continued adequate annual appropriations levels. Navigation projects are our Nation's highways to the international marketplace.
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As you know, the Federal investment in improvements to our Nation's navigation infrastructure is matched by a local share as well as a very substantial additional local investment in landside terminal facilities. These investments develop significant economic returns at the local, regional, as well as national levels. All of the benefits that justify inclusion of navigation projects in water resources legislation are national economic development benefits.
In my testimony today, in addition to stressing the importance of passing a water resources bill this year, I would like to stress four points:
First, the need to continue to review and improve the partnership between the Corps of Engineers and the ports forged in WRDA 1996.
Two, the port industry's alarm at the President's fiscal 1999 budget request as it relates to investment in our Nation's deep-draft harbors.
Three, the need to ensure that maintenance dredging continues if the Supreme Court finds the Harbor Maintenance Tax unconstitutional as it applies to exports.
And fourth, the need to continue to review and improve dredged material management policies and programs to avoid costly delays in dredging projects, to ensure protection of the environment and gain additional benefits to the Nation.
The enactment of the Water Resources Development Act and Federal investment in navigation is of critical importance to the Nation's economy. If projects are not authorized, the national benefits, as well as regional economic diversification and job creation opportunities, will be delayed.
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I would like to address some of the policy changes that U.S. ports would like to see included in this authorization bill. First, AAPA believes that Congress should revise the cost-sharing formula to adjust the upper cost-sharing threshold to reflect the changes that have occurred in the general cargo fleet. The fact is that in the years since 1986, the container ship fleet has undergone a major evolution. The world's ocean carriers have greatly increased the size of vessels and the number of large ships they use.
A recent Maritime Administration report documents the trends in general cargo ship design and their impact on transportation infrastructure. The report finds that by the year 2010, one third of containerized cargo will be transported in vessels carrying more than 4,000 20-foot equivalent container units. AAPA believes the norm for general cargo navigation channels will be as great as 53 feet, and we ask that the cost-sharing formulas in WRDA be amended so that the 60 percent local cost-share be triggered at 53 feet rather than the current 45 feet to reflect the changes in vessel types and sizes.
In our written testimony, we identify additional recommendations for policy changes that will simplify and streamline the partnership between the Federal Government and the Nation's public ports.
Let me turn to the administration's proposed budget request for the Corps of Engineers, which is nothing short of a disaster for deep-draft navigation projects. The proposed budget seeks appropriations for investments of only $40 million in fiscal year 1999 for new construction of deep-draft projects. This amount is only 12 percent of what is needed to fund ongoing and already authorized new projects. We need your committee's help in ensuring adequate funding levels for these important projects.
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With regard to the Harbor Maintenance Tax, AAPA is greatly concerned that if the Supreme Court strikes down the tax on exports, that the Federal Government must continue to ensure that maintenance dredging continues uninterrupted. 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 1986. Priority must be given to ensure operation and maintenance dredging occurs at traditional levels.
In addition, if the Congress were to construct a new user-fee system, they must ensure there is some relationship on return to the port based on money contributed by the cargo transiting that port. In other words, any proposal should strive to achieve equity among contributors.
Finally, with regard to dredged material management, we have seen progress since the adoption of a national dredging policy to facilitate the timely and cost-effective dredging of our Nation's navigation channels. However, we still have more work to do. We still need to work toward consistent and expedited approval of all dredging and disposal alternatives separate from the 404 wetlands provision of the Clean Water Act and for consideration of relative costs, risks, and benefits of each alternative. Additional changes should be considered to emphasize prevention of pollution that contaminates sediments and to require full consideration of the use and value of the waters and channels to navigation in establishing appropriate criteria and standards.
Finally, AAPA wants to maximize the opportunities for the private sector to take a greater role in using dredged material in innovative uses, such as the creation of mitigation banks or the restoration of brownfield sites.
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AAPA appreciates the efforts by this subcommittee to address some of these issues in the last Congress, and we look forward to working with you as you consider changes to the Clean Water Act and other relevant legislation as well as authorization of water resources.
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Nagle, thank you very much. I noticed in your opening remarks you talked about strong leadership on two very important pieces of legislation, ISTEAor BESTEA as we call itand Superfund. BESTEA is on the floor tomorrow. We will pass it by a substantial margin. We are on a fast track with that. Superfund will take a little while longer, but not that much longer. We are working on it. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Now, the President of the National Waterways Conference, Mr. Harry Cook.
Mr. COOK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Harry N. Cook; I am President of the National Waterways Conference. It is quite literally a nationwide conference of waterways interests, primarily in the navigation field, working together to promote a better understanding of the public value of investment in the waterways infrastructure.
We thank you for holding these hearings today. We strongly support the biennial enactment of water resource development legislation authorizing needed waterways projects and also addressing significant policy issues.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We strongly believe that public need should govern project selection, not adherence to any arbitrary monetary ceiling on total project cost. It is extremely important, we believe, that legislation be considered on a regular and timely basis; otherwise, as we witnessed in the decade prior to the enactment of the historic 1986 act, a legislative logjam could result, which defies an easy solution and places the entire water resources program in jeopardy.
As you have already indicated, Mr. Chairman, the number one challenge facing the waterways community today is the serious shortfall in the President's fiscal year 1999 budget request for the Army Corps of Engineers' civil works program. The White House has asked for only $3.2 billion, far below last year's appropriation level, and the level which is necessary to sustain the Corps of Engineers' construction and major rehabilitation, operation and maintenance, MR&T, general investigations and other programs. Based upon our survey of program needs, we believe the waterways require a minimum of $4.5 billion in fiscal year 1999, or about 28 percent more than the President requested.
The area which warrants immediate attention is the construction-general account. In fiscal 1998, Congress appropriated $1.5 billion for this account, but the fiscal 1999 budget cuts this figure by an astonishing 47 percent. Rather than $784 million, which is all the President asked, we estimate the Corps of Engineers must have about $1.8 billion to continue ongoing construction in a timely, cost-efficient manner. If construction is slowed down and stretched out, project costs will balloon, and some have estimated it will balloon by about $400 million, adding that much to overall cost. And the realization of project benefits will be unnecessarily delayed, losing benefits, according to one Corps of Engineers' study, amounting to, over a period of years, about $2.8 billion.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our organization enthusiastically supports Chairman Shuster's leadership in the campaign to move the transportation trust funds off budget. As of January 31, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund had a surplus of about $310 million. The trust fund is used, of course, to pay one-half of the cost of new navigation construction and major rehabilitation projects on the shallow-draft, fuel-taxed inland waterways system.
In a typical year, the trust fund takes in about $100 million in fuel taxes, perhaps another $20 million in interest. In the current fiscal year, outlays from the trust fund are estimated at only $70 million, and next year the administration envisions spending only about $50 million.
While construction needs multiply, the surplus in the trust fund grows ever larger, yet it cannot be spent. Taking the Inland Waterways Trust Fund off the Federal budget is long overdue. More importantly, it would help get waterways modernization back on course.
The President's budget request for fiscal 1999 proposes that the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA start charging both deep-draft and shallow-draft cargo carriers for navigation assistance; that is, placing and maintaining buoys and other aids to navigation, radio navigation, vessel traffic services, perhaps ice-breaking, tide and current tables, marine charting and so forth. In sum, the objective is to recover about $165 million a year.
The Coast Guard has maintained they already have the authority in the Independent Offices Appropriations Act of 1952 to levy user fees to recover navigation-assistance costs. The American Waterborne Commerce Coalition vigorously denies this assertion. We urge your committee to resist any efforts to impose these so-called navigational fees.
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Also, the continued operation of the Tennessee River Navigation Program deserves the committee's attention. In last year's appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development clearly stated it does not intend to provide funding for the Tennessee Valley Authority's non-power programs any longer. If TVA does not operate the Tennessee River navigation system, who should be given this authority?
What makes this question all the more serious is the fact that one of the navigation locks on the Tennessee River is outmoded and rapidly deteriorating. In fact, TVA has already announced that unless something is done, the 60-year-old Chickamauga Lock, just above Chattanooga, will have to be shut down about 2005. If this happens, the upper 313 miles of the Tennessee River navigation system would be closed to navigation, cutting off barge service for a number of chemical, petroleum, paper, agriculture, wood products and other industries in the reach between Chattanooga and Knoxville. We hope responsibility for the operation of the Tennessee River navigation system and indeed its modernization can be speedily resolved.
We thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your stalwart support of water resources development programs. These programs have produced broad-scale economic, social and environmental benefits to the American public. In the process, jobs and incomes have been provided, the tax base increased, and the standard of living improved for millions upon millions of our citizens. Investments in the water resources infrastructure have been in the nature of seed money which allowed America, and particularly inland regions, to grow and prosper. That is why we say enthusiastically, waterways work.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I would observe that you are preaching to the converted when you are talking about trust funds and off budget or on budget, as will be evidenced by what we do on the floor tomorrow.
Secondly, I would just ask, when you talk about the Great Lakes, are you including Lake Champlain?
Mr. COOK. No comment.
Mr. BOEHLERT. All right. Third member of the panel today, I am pleased to welcome Mr. Mark Sickles, the Dredging Contractors of America. Mr. Sickles.
Mr. SICKLES. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Mark Sickles, Executive Director of the Dredging Contractors of America. DCA is the national trade association for small, but indispensable, heavy-industrial marine construction trade. The national market for all dredging submarkets is only about $500 million per year. For comparison purposes, the market for all heavy-industrial construction exceeds $14.2 billion. Our largest customer by far, for purposes of disclosure, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mr. Chairman, this subcommittee's support of the Corps civil works program is greatly appreciated by the 12,000 workers employed by the dredging industry and its associated suppliers. Staying on a 2-year project authorizing cycle is good policy and sends yet another signal to the administration of congressional support for water resources infrastructure.
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Like surface transportation, our waterways infrastructure benefits every American, but does so mostly out of the public eye. This fact places the burden on all of us to publicize how these national investments contribute so immediately and fundamentally to the Nation's economic success. I provided for the committee a copy of our picture book brochure that you may find before you, that shows some of the products of our industry.
The policy gulf between the administration and Congress is put in stark relief by the fiscal 1999 budget proposal. By not budgeting for projects added by Congress, Corps employees will spend countless hours between now and September reevaluating project construction schedules and thereby infuriating local project sponsors with demands for information that may never be needed. For dredging and marine construction projects, ''stretching out'' construction is the equivalent to increasing project cost. In the case of the Houston Galveston project alone, it will cost over $50 million more for the new proposed schedule.
We also are very concerned about the lack of commitment to the Shore Protection Act of 1996. Flood control at our Nation's shorelines is just as important as flood control in America's heartland. But a sandy beach provides both flood protection and a coastal community's basic economic building block. While the administration opposes beach nourishment generally, it funded a ''new start'' for the Interior Department's undeveloped Assateague Island in Maryland. The occasional beach fill to save fish and wildlife habitat is rarely discussed in press accounts of the somewhat tired retreat-or-replenish debate we read about. DCA also strongly supports the American Coastal Coalition's effort, that I hope you will hear about this morning, to ensure that local project sponsors do not have to pay for sand from the federally-managed Outer Continental Shelf.
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Mr. Chairman, the port and waterway maintenance must be accomplished in a regulatory maze, frequently during proscribed environmental windows, heightening the need for our industry's close working partnerships with our customer, the Corps. I am glad to report we are meeting the challenges before us with a renewed emphasis on planning and scheduling the workloads by the various coastal districts. Legislative language in WRDA 1996 directed the Corps to improve its planning and distribution of hopper dredge projects, and it is working.
On the downside, the flat operations and maintenance budget has produced a maintenance backlog at many harbors and waterways. Recreational boaters are most often affected by the Nation's poorly maintained channels. Spinning these responsibilities off to a lower level of government is not the answer. Why force States and local governments to duplicate the infrequently needed, peculiar planning and engineering expertise available in the Corps?
Mr. Chairman, DCA's hopper dredge owners would like to thank you and the committee for the opportunity given us in 1996. This year, 1998, marks the 20th anniversary of legislation that led to the creation of the private hopper dredge industry, the only type of dredging that was completely served by Federal vessels prior to 1978. Currently, the Corps operates four hoppers and industry owns 15 of various sizes. For our companies, the management of four public vessels is a serious issue when contemplating investing in a new $40-70 million dollar vessel to serve a somewhat limited market worth about $100 million a year.
Having experienced over the years both very high demand and very low demand for our services, DCA recommends a''use industry first'' policy. We believe that, ideally, the government should not schedule routine nonemergency dredging work for its well-maintained ready-to-sail vessels. A''use industry first'' policy would create the best possible private investment environment as well as maximized joint public-private dredge capacity, a goal sought by everyone.
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Section 237 created a test of this policy using the dredge WHEELER, a policy that has been in effect now for 6 months. We are glad to report the Corps is taking the new readiness mission seriously, and with a year and a half to go on this demonstration, DCA is not seeking any further changes to the law. However, we do believe this readiness program, if expanded, has the most potential to provide needed and timely hopper dredging services to our customers. We would request legislation this year only if a consensus among all parties is developed.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, should the Supreme Court strike down the Harbor Maintenance Tax this spring, DCA urges Congress to develop a new cost recovery mechanism, and we certainly support giving it off-budget status so that it is not abused once again for general government purposes.
I thank you for your attention and I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Sickles.
I am just going to ask one question and then I will yield the balance of my time to Mr. DeFazio, who is a member of the full committee, not of the subcommittee, but he has a special interest in the topic today and he has a compelling need to be someplace other than here.
So the first question I will ask is particularly of Mr. Cook and Mr. Nagle. Purportedly, the budget proposal for flood control and navigation projects, when you factor in inflation, is lower than it has ever been in the history of the Corps. What do you believe the impacts will be on navigation projects generally; and do you believe that local sponsors will begin to lose some faith in the Federal Government as a partner in filling the infrastructure needs of the Nation?
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Mr. Nagle, how about you?
Mr. NAGLE. Yes, sir, we do believe there will be serious impacts if, in fact, the administration budget is the final amount that is provided to the Corps of Engineers, particularly in the deep-draft navigation side. A level of $40 million, as I mentioned, is only 12 percent of what is needed. It is more in the range of about $328 million is required for projects that are currently under construction or have been authorized.
As Mr. Cook mentioned, some preliminary analysis shows that lost economic benefits can be anywhere from $2.8 to about $3.6 billion, as well as increasing the actual cost of the projects in the range of about $400 million. So I think the dollars and cents of it is very significant.
Certainly from the local ports and the local interests that are providing their local share of the investments, it is of extreme concern. Ports themselves are investing about $1.3 billion a year in landside facilities, as well as their share of the construction of deepening projects, with really the expectation and the understanding that the Federal Government will be carrying forward its responsibility of the share of the funding.
As local port authorities go to their local States or local entities, whatever the overseeing governmental agency is to the port authority, they are going there with the request for these needed funds for the local share, and requiring the backup that the Federal Government will be providing its share. If, in fact, it becomes more of a question, as this administration's budget proposal seems to include, it is going to be more difficult for the local port authorities to gain their share of the funding as well.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Cook?
Mr. COOK. Yes, it seems that the OMB is throwing up obstacles to slow down the program rather than speed it up. For instance, the new construction starts, which were added in the bill last year by the Congress, some 50 projects, were the subject of a directive from OMB back in November that there would have to be lump-sum contracting only; there could be no continuing contracts. When a number of Senators protested this directive, OMB's reaction, just a few days ago, was to add the dozen new starts that the administration itself had requested.
This has the impact of keeping this money that was appropriated last year from being obligated and the contracts from being executed now, and ensures that there is a lot of carryover to next year. It just keeps the program gummed up. And instead of moving forward with deliberate speed, it is slowed down.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Well, thank you very much.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your indulgence. I represent half the Oregon coast and have a considerable interest in this issue.
If I could address Mr. Sickles in particular. Mr. Sickles, what I am glad to hearand we do concede there is underfunding and not enough commitment by the Federal Government. And we also want to see the most efficient allocation of resources. You have in your testimony that the shift of private dredging operations has saved millions. I want to see some specific documentation of that.
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And now to my question. You recommend that we put the entire Corps' fleet on standby, and you want to use industry first. The Corps' study says that that, in fact, is the most expensive option in terms of the total pie of Federal resources. It is the most beneficial to the industry, they point out, but they point out also that it would cost more.
Now, in a time of limited resources, how can you justify that? If you justify it by saying you disagree with the Corps' study, when you commented on the Corps' study, did you provide a detailed analysis and refutation of the Corps' conclusions?
And I would like brief answers because I don't have much time.
Mr. SICKLES. It is a big subject. The study, as you know, did not have a lot of analytical detail with it. I know a lot of
Mr. DEFAZIO. Did you provide analytical detail in your response? If you could, I don't have much time.
I would think if you are going to make these broad-ranging assertions that you are saving so much money, if you are going to present a position that says thatwhen the Corps says it is the most expensiveI think in order to make your case you are going to have to provide some detailed analysis. Even if you do not refute the Corps' base conclusions, you are supporting the most expensive option, which will hurt us in a time of limited resources.
Let me go on to another question. You can respond in writing to that.
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Do you believe there is sufficient capacity available on the West Coast to provide competition today?
Mr. SICKLES. The West Coast market for hopper dredging is relatively small, with the two government dredges working at a largeif they increase it to 250 days, as in the recommendation you just mentioned, we would have no industry at all on the West Coast. That is how small it is.
Mr. DEFAZIO. You are suggesting we should then not have any Federal presence on the West Coast?
Mr. SICKLES. Not saying that at all.
Mr. DEFAZIO. You are saying put everybody in stand-by.
Mr. SICKLES. That's right, and have a
Mr. DEFAZIO. Industry first, and if no one bids, they come out on stand-by.
Mr. SICKLES. We think government should provide insurance, not displace private industry. I represent relatively small businesses who have a lot at stake. It is a risky business. We have three companies now in Chapter 11, and so that is the perspective we come from. When I said we are saving millions, I'm talking about
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Mr. DEFAZIO. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Sickles, I appreciate that, but if we can stick to succinct answers, I'm trying to be as succinct in my questions.
Are you familiar with an ongoing investigation by the Justice Department subsequent to the report of the U. S. Army audit agency alleging price-fixing?
Mr. SICKLES. I am not aware of any prosecution taking place.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Not prosecution, investigation.
Mr. SICKLES. The Justice Department antitrust division is looking at the business of contractors in every area all the time.
Mr. DEFAZIO. But are you aware of an ongoing investigation?
Mr. SICKLES. No, sir.
Mr. DEFAZIO. You are not aware of it. Okay. Well, according to the Justice Department, there is an ongoing investigation. Whether they will prosecute or not is not yet determined.
Are you familiar with the audit agency's report on bid rigging?
Mr. SICKLES. I am very familiar with it.
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Mr. DEFAZIO. Would you like to respond to that in writing? Because there are
Mr. SICKLES. Either way. Be happy to respond now, if the members would like to hear, or be happy to respond in writing.
Mr. DEFAZIO. You can do so on someone else's time because I think we are about done with my 5 minutes.
I am saying when you make broad statements that you can do something more cheaply, and then you have not responded in writing to the Corps, which says, no, it would be more expensive, in fact; and when we have allegations by the U.S. audit agency of bid-rigging, and you have not responded in detail, I think that you should.
We need to protect the public interest. We need a competitive industry. I think you have admitted at the moment there is not competition on the West Coast. I guess what you are saying is I should take it on faith if we lay up those two dredges on the West Coast that someone else will come in and it will be more competitive.
I want to go to one other instance and then I will have used my time. This was a bidder for Coos Bay. It was 800,000 cubic yards. Cost estimate, of course, was secret, but was $746,000. The first round of bids were all too high, so the Corps said it was going to do it. The dredgers asked that it be rebid under an abbreviated process, now that they knew the estimate. So now the bids came in at 23 percent over. You are allowed to be 25 percent over.
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These are the kinds of things they are talking about in this bid-rigging report. It is peculiar they were all much higher, but next time around the bids were not.
Now, here is my problem with what you are talking about. The winning bidder didn't have a dredge to do the work. So they subcontracted to another bidder, who was second highest bidder, who did the work for considerably less than they had bid. I assume they made money.
So I would like you to look, and I will provide you the specifics of this particular situation, at how you think this reflects competition, how this protects the public interest. And for the kicker, the number two bidder, who was given the subcontract to do the bid, which had been higher, was supposed to do another small job down the coast. They said, well, we cannot do that because we are doing this one. So the Corps had to sail past where they could have done the dredging cheaper, all the way to California to do that job because there was no capacity available. So it cost the public more and it cost more in terms of our private contract.
Now, how does this best utilize private resources? And I will provide you the specifics of this situation. I know you cannot respond now, and I hate it when people ask me about very specific situations, but I will provide you the specifics of this and perhaps you could tell us how this reflects how we are saving money in this system. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Sickles, you will be given an opportunity to more fully respond in writing. And all the panelists, I would like you to know we will have some questions following this hearing that we will submit to you in writing and we would appreciate a timely response.
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[The information follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. We are also mindful of the fact that there are some conflicting reports, and some reports indicate the private sector is doing things more efficiently and more cost effectively than the U.S. Government. But we would welcome more definitive responses to Mr. DeFazio's very pointed questions.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, I should have done one of those disclaimers you see on NPR; that I did not necessarily represent the views of the sponsor of my time, et cetera, et cetera. So I will do that now, for the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Dr. Horn.
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Nagle, I wonder, the port communities have advocated a cost-share formula for navigation projects to a 45-foot depth be extended to a 55-foot depth in order to accommodate the larger and larger and deeper vessels that now are plying the oceans. Do you have any cost estimates on what this change of going from 45 to 55 would mean for the taxpayers?
Mr. NAGLE. Yes, sir, there is some preliminary analysis that indicates that it would be in the rangeit would depend certainly on the overall appropriations level and the scheduling of the projects, but it could range in the order of between roughly $10 to $40 million, depending on those levels. And that considers moving the cost-share depth to 53 feet.
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Mr. HORN. If the Congress were going to approve lowering the cost-sharing for the non-Federal sponsor on the deep-port projects, those greater than 45 feet, how many ports do you think would seek a deeper project than now? Have you done a survey on that at all?
Mr. NAGLE. As far as an indication of the number of projects that may be looking to go deeper than 45 feet, I believe there are four projects that are currently authorized to go deeper than 45 feet, and then there are an additional, approximately seven projects that might be looking toward going deeper than 45 feet, sir.
Mr. HORN. Are there more of those on the East Coast than the West Coast?
Mr. NAGLE. Actually, looking at the likely scenario, there is probably, looks likeactually, relatively split between both the East Coast, West Coast, as well as the Gulf Coast.
Mr. HORN. Should there be a rationing of this? Or how are we to handle that if there is only so much money available? Is it just first-come, first-served? Essentially, who is ready?
Mr. NAGLE. Partly it is a matter of timing, of when the project has gone through the review process and determined what its national benefits are, as far as the timing of that; and then, also, obviously, the local share being ready to be contributed toward that investment.
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Mr. HORN. Let me move to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. As everybody knows, you have a Supreme Court reviewing the lower courts' decisions. If the Supreme Court of the United States says it is indeed a tax and it is unconstitutional, what do you suggest we do; either you, Mr. Cook, or anybody that wants to get into this, Mr. Sickles, what do you suggest we do if it is found unconstitutional?
Mr. NAGLE. Certainly our overall concern is that there be uninterrupted funding for maintenance dredging. We certainly believe the downside to not continuing the funding for the maintenance of the Federal channels is the lost economic benefits as well as our decreased international competitiveness, which is the overriding concern.
As far as a specific alternative, I think it is premature at this point to try to lay out what is feasible. A lot will depend on the Supreme Court decision. If, in fact, they do consider the current tax unconstitutional, they will obviously, in their decision, provide some guidance as far as what might be a reasonable or alternative approach to the current formula.
I think the key principles from the ports' perspective is that there continues to be a priority for the operation and maintenance dredging, in that there should be some striving for equity. So that ports that have cargo passing through their ports, that are paying into the tax and are not having funds contributed to that port, have some funding provided so that there is some equity to contributions from a port as far as what goes back to a port. That has been part of the discussion as far as the lower courts' decisions, and I think that would be part of any ultimate analysis.
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Finally, I think we should ensure that whatever new funding mechanism be established so that there not be any surplus accumulated. As Mr. Cook mentioned, as far as the surplus in the Inland Waterways Fund, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will have a surplus approaching $2 million by the end of next fiscal year. And, again, that is something that is of concern and has been of concern to the courts in ruling on the current fee.
Mr. HORN. Going back to the cost-share for a minute, I am told that the New York-New Jersey port movement from 45 to 55 feet would be over a billion dollars, and that the cost-share would be about $250 million. Does that strike you as about right?
Mr. NAGLE. Sir, I honestly don't have individual information on an individual project such as New York.
Mr. HORN. I am told there is a bedrock problem; that they have to blast their way through.
Mr. NAGLE. We can get that information for you.
Mr. HORN. Good. Thank you. Appreciate it. Yield back my time to the chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. Mr. Borski.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to follow up on Dr. Horn's questioning about the Harbor Maintenance Tax and where do we go if it is ruled unconstitutional.
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Mr. Cook, you pointed out the surplus we currently have in the Harbor Trust Fund. I guess my question with that is, is it possible that people may be refunded money if this tax is ruled unconstitutional? If so, the surplus could very well disappear on us. And I guess, more importantly, I would request your help, both Mr. Nagle, Mr. Cook, and all those interested, in talking with us about an alternative proposal should the courts rule that this tax is unconstitutional.
I am reminded that while these budget cuts are severe, and I will work with the chairman to try to make sure they don't happen, the real cuts are coming later down the road. Seventy to 90 percent of the budget cuts in our budget agreement are going to happen in year 3, 4 and 5. So it seems to me we have a major problem with how do we make sure that the Harbor Maintenance Tax is around in some form. And, second, how do we make sure we get it and we wall it off so that it is not amassed to hide the rest of the budget deficit?
Again, tomorrow, I think by a big margin, we will take the highway trust fund off budget. That is going to create a difficult problem for us because discretionary government will be cut somewhere. So, again, to the beginning, are you giving thought to and can you share with us, or when can you share with us what alternatives may be available to us?
Mr. Nagle, do you want to start?
Mr. NAGLE. Obviously, with the concern that ports have with the current court case, we are looking at concepts and at least potential alternatives, again with the provision that it is uncertain as far as what might pass muster depending upon the Supreme Court's decision and its guidance that it provides.
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But we would certainly be willing and interested to discuss with the committee some possibilities, pending the ultimate decision by the Supreme Court; because we do believe it is something that will be, if in fact the Supreme Court rules ballpark June, or somewhere in that areathere would be a relatively short period of time following that that something would need to be provided as an alternative funding mechanism to make sure the funding can continue.
Mr. BORSKI. Seems to me, if I may, the constitutional prohibition is a tax on exports, and it is hard for me to imagine we could win that one. And the European Community is challenging the tax on imports as a violation of GATT. If the court rules in June, may we be hearing from you shortly thereafter? I know you don't want to talk about it before the action takes place, but we assume it will take place.
Mr. NAGLE. We would hope to be at a stage that very quickly after the Supreme Court decision, with that guidance, we could provide some recommendations and suggestions to the committee on potential alternatives.
Mr. COOK. It is a very difficult issue. I wish I were as confident as Mr. Nagle that it could be resolved that speedily. I would point out it took about 5 years in the early 1980s for this issue to be resolved.
The inland waterways system, while not directly affected, is watching very closely to see what happens, because most of the commerce that moves down the river system for export is relatively low value and price sensitive, coal and grain particularly. If a higher maintenance tax is put on that commerce, it could cost markets abroad.
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So it is a very touchy issue. The answer that would satisfy the waterways shippers probably would not satisfy the courts, and the answer that would satisfy the courts would not please the shippers. So it is a very difficult issue.
Mr. BORSKI. And I don't expect it is going to get any easier between now and June. And, again, I would just urge you all to put your best thinking caps on and try to help us with a very impossible problem.
Mr. Nagle, can I ask you one other question on the deepening of the ports you suggested?
I know in Philadelphia we are currently studying ways to get from 40 to 45 feet. Do we need to be going well beyond that; is that what you are suggesting? Is it meaningful to go from 40 to 45, or should we be trying to find ways to get to 53 feet?
Mr. NAGLE. It certainly depends on the individual port and the cargo moving through that port. The issue of going to the 53 feet, as far as the cost-share, relates to the trends really in the larger container ship vessels that are going on stream.
The Congress, when it first formulated WRDA in 1986, established the 45-foot level. It was based on the current fleet at that time, and that 45 feet would cover the vast majority of all the vessels in the general cargo containerized vessels. With the changes in ship design, it is certainly going deeper.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But as far as an individual port, it depends on what that port's cargo is and whether there would likely be a load center where some of these very large vessels may be coming in, or that their market is more in a specialized cargo or break bulk operation as opposed to large container ships. So it is really an individual port basis.
And I think it relates somewhat to Representative Horn's question that it is really on an individual port determination, and the port as well as the Corps needs to look at what are the national benefits of going deeper on an individual project.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Johnson.
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I guess I will just do another follow-up on the Harbor Maintenance Fund. Do you know of any groups anywhere that are working on replacement ideas pending the outcome from the Supreme Court decision for funding?
Mr. NAGLE. I am sure there are groups. Certainly I can say the Port Association and our members are currently working on concepts and alternatives that might be suitable alternatives, depending on what the Supreme Court says. I believe the Corps of Engineers has also done some preliminary work on their behalf as far as some alternatives. There is certainly a lot of consideration being taken as far as what potential alternatives there are.
From the port perspective, our goal is, hopefully, to have a position that not only passes muster with the courts, and it is seen as something that the Congress could support and enact, but would also provide a consensus within the port industry to alleviate and not have the issue and the gridlocks, at least from the ports' perspective, that Mr. Cook related to in the early to mid-1980s.
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Mr. JOHNSON. Some people have suggested that the programs that are supported by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund might be able to continue unaffected even if the Harbor Maintenance Tax fails to survive the legal challenge, because the revenues generated from the imports under the tax are more than enough to fund the programs supported by the tax.
If the Supreme Court just talks about the exports, does that mean we may not have to be concerned about the outcome of the lawsuit now before the Supreme Court?
Mr. NAGLE. As you mentioned, the Supreme Court case is strictly on the exports. However, as Mr. Borski mentioned, as well, there is currently a challenge by the European Union before the World Trade Organization regarding the tax on the imports. And it is also generally considered unlikely that a tax on imports would be allowable under GATT if, in fact, the export tax went away by being considered ununconstitutional.
So while in the short run, the Supreme Court decision would only immediately affect the tax on exports, I think in the near term, after that, it would likely have potential problems on the import side as well.
Mr. JOHNSON. I am sorry, Mr. Cook; did you want to respond at all on that?
Mr. COOK. Well, that is primarily a deep-draft issue and the American Association of Port Authorities has been at the forefront of trying to work out some type of solution.
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Mr. JOHNSON. A different subject, Mr. Nagle. You asserted that the Corps has never used existing authority to dredge outside a navigation channel to remove and remediate the contaminated sediment. Are there specific impediments that have prevented the Corps from using its authority to clean up these contaminated areas, or is it because of financial considerations of the project by both the Corps and the local sponsor?
Mr. SICKLES. If I might, Congressman.
Mr. JOHNSON. Yes, Mr. Sickles.
Mr. SICKLES. On that question, the problem in that case is almost always finding a disposal site for the material. And if a disposal site can be foundand the Corps is having trouble finding disposal sites for clean material, much less stuff that is dirtywe are spending an extraordinary amount managing slightly contaminated material. That is generally the reason it hasn't been used.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Nagle.
Mr. NAGLE. That is right.
Mr. JOHNSON. Okay. That is all the questions I have, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Menendez.
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Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, first of all, I have a statement I would like to include in the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, as you know
Mr. BOEHLERT. Is it in support of Superfund?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Excuse me? I am sorry?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Is the statement in support of Superfund?
Mr. MENENDEZ. Well, it has something to do with Superfund, so we will get to that in a minute.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, since I arrived here in the Congress, I have been working for the last 5 years on this subcommittee, and most particularly on the question of dredging and contaminated sediments, and am probably more intimately familiar with it than I ever hoped to be. But since the Port of Elizabeth and Newark, which is in the Port of New York, is in my district, and it generates regionally 180,000 jobs and $20 billion of economic activity, it is an incredibly important issue.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I listened to my friend and colleague, Mr. Horn from California, who also has ports in his district, and I am sure he understands the incredible importance of WRDA and some of the issues we face. I am a little nervous about his concern about how much it is going to cost on the New Jersey/New York side. I can see where he is headed, so I will have to have a discussion with him because we need to mutually help each other as we try to keep ports remain open in our Nation instead of moving our cargo to other places, such as Canada.
Halifax has a natural deepwater port, has no harbor tax, has a whole series of advantages since the Canadian Government is spending a billion dollars in rail connections. These factors made it incredibly difficult for our ports to compete, except that we have tremendous amounts of consumers in our ports, for example, in the Port of New York. So that is what our advantages are, but we are facing some tremendous competition.
And I am equally concerned, as the panel has expressed, about the appropriations as it concerns navigational dredging in the Federal channels. Understanding that this is really about both interstate and international commerce. All of the efforts that our colleagues here in the House and in the Senate, and the President promote in the context of international trade ultimately comes to the ports of the Nation.
Ninety-five percent of all the Nation's commerce moves through ports, and each time one of those ports faces a barrier, and each time one of those ports faces increased competition because of our own failure to act, we, in fact, go ahead and undermine all of these efforts in global trade that we are promoting. So there is a tremendous integration here.
I have one or two questions that I would like to ask the panel. First, let me echo what the Chair and Mr. Borski and my other colleagues have said. I am an attorney, and I can almost read the opinion that the Supreme Court is going to issue. I don't say I am clairvoyant, but I have a pretty good sense of what it is going to say, and the bottom line is I would urge the Port Association and all those others who were involved to lead, or else you will find yourself following and getting out of the way, or you may not like what comes down the pike.
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I do not think this is an issue on which the Association can sit back and other affected parties can sit back and play the wait-and-see game, because then we will be in emergency mode and you will not like the consequences. And I urge you to follow what Mr. Borski said and start sharing with us some of the things that you believe can be done. Because if you wait for the decision, we can have one or two scenarios of what that decision will be. I think we can begin to work now and we need to work now. So I would urge you to do that.
[Mr. Menendez' prepared statement follows:]
Mr. MENENDEZ. I have two questions. One is, Mr. Nagle, you said in your testimony, with reference to the whole question of something that I tried to amend in the last WRDA bill, section 404, and where in the wetlands provision it relates to dredging of sediments, do you not believe that we should be out of that section and, in fact, be dealing with a question of sediment dredging, separate and apart from a wetlands provision?
Mr. NAGLE. Yes, sir. Most definitely we do believe there should be a separate provision for dredge material management aside from section 404. Section 404 did start out as a dredging issue, and has become very specific in the wetlands areas, which, based on some of the decisions, does complicate the issues on the dredge material management side. So we definitely support this committee's action toward making a separate provision for dredging, yes, sir.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MENENDEZ. I look forward to working with the Chair and the Ranking Member to try to do this time. I think when we integrate wetlands issues with sediment issues, that we are complicating unnecessarily the Nation's commerce. They were joined at one time and, in my view, there is not a good substantive reason for it.
Secondly, getting to Superfund, it is my intention at some point in time to offer legislation looking at contaminated sediments, which is a major problem in some of our ports, as part of a natural resources damages provision of Superfund.
Does the Association, the dredging contractors or any of the other members of the panel have any views as to that; as to including contaminated sediments in the context of natural resources damages? Because, in fact, this is, to us, a natural resource, whether it be the Hudson River or whether it be other areas of the country.
The fact of the matter is that contaminated sediments are causing not only complexes in the context of dredging but also in the very wildlife that is promoted in those rivers. And every time a ship strikes the bottom, for lack of dredging, they, in fact, move contaminated sediments into the chain. So we are, in fact, hurting ourselves in this process.
Is there a sense of the Association being in support of having contaminated sediments included in the natural resources damages provisions of the Superfund Act?
Mr. NAGLE. We are very supportive of this committee's actions and planned actions regarding Superfund reform as far as the potential innovative and beneficial uses of those sediments. In fact, as you are well aware, New York is one of the ports that is used quite a bit for the restoration of a brownfield site, to use that for beneficial purposes. So we certainly encourage that opportunity.
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Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you.
Mr. THUNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a statement I would ask be included in the record.
[Mr. Thune's prepared statement follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection.
Mr. THUNE. Thank you. In that statement I allude to some of the problems that we are experiencing in South Dakota. Namely, there is an ongoing maintenance need, several needs actually, that are not being addressed adequately by the Corps.
The dams established on the Missouri River particularly have been the target of much criticism and, through the years, we have seen a buildup of sediment in various areas of the river which is altering the flow of the river, reducing its navigability and causing substantial amount of residential flooding. The high water flows and above average power generation needs have further exacerbated this problem in the last few years. And on top of this, now the administration has proposed a 47 percent decrease in the construction-general account for fiscal year 1999 and has thereby chilled multiyear operation and maintenance projects.
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First of allI would direct this to anyone on the panel who would care to answer itwould you say that the Corps has in place an adequate organization and mission to address the ongoing dredging channelization and waterway maintenance needs?
Mr. COOK. I think so. The Corps of Engineers is uniquely qualified to deal with problems of this nature, if they are adequately funded. That is the issue. No other Federal agency has the expertise that the Corps has to deal with these particular problems, and we think that they should have the resources to exercise their good judgment and their capability to solve problems.
Mr. SICKLES. Congressman, some of the districts of the Corps have only a couple of dredging projects, and their expertise is not nearly as strong as it is in others. They are making efforts to use centers of expertise because they can't close any district, which they tried to do, and more rationalize some of their personnel.
There is a feeling in the engineering community that the Corps doesn't have the expertise they used to have. They still, by far, have more expertise than any other agency in this area, because dredging is so unique and no one else does it but the Federal Government. Maybe 5 percent, by dollar value, is done under the permit program and is not federally funded.
It is also a struggle with the Federal salary levels to attract and keep good engineers. It is a very serious problem and something that the Congress needs to keep a close eye on, I think.
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Mr. THUNE. Any suggestion that you might have, of course funding being an obvious problem to most of us, but how the Corps could deal with some of these ongoing needs in a more progressive preventive fashion as opposed to sort of what has been, at least in our judgment in our State, a very piecemeal retroactivereactive, I should sayapproach?
Mr. COOK. Well, I think that some stability in funding would help the civil works program over a period of years, rather than erratic funding. The budget comes out in the early part of the year; it is not really enacted until September or even October 1, and because of this uncertainty of how much money is going to be available, there is a difficulty in gearing up to handle these programs. There is a concern that maybe Congress won't fund the program as much as is needed, and so there is a downsizing. And then when the Congress comes through with additional money, it takes a while to gear up. It is not a very efficient way to run a business.
Mr. NAGLE. I agree certainly that the predictability of some level of funding would be very beneficial. We have also had an ongoing and continuing-to-improve partnership between the ports and the Corps of Engineers. But, clearly, we need to continue to strengthen that partnership, and also work towards streamlining the process so that clearly necessary and needed projects are able to move forward on a more timely basis, as far as the number of years it takes for a project to go through all of the various studies and analysis and duplicative permitting processes and things like that.
Unfortunately we are, to a large extent, building at this point projects and our channels to accommodate yesterday's vessels and not being able to accommodate today's and the future's vessels. So we would certainly encourage a more proactive stance so we are able to design and build our Nation's channels and our entire transportation infrastructure to accommodate future needs as opposed to, at best, current and, more often the case, past needs.
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Mr. THUNE. Well, it does seemand I would hope that we can in the future do a better job with thatour situation is one where it has been studied and studied and studied, but it is getting to the point where very much we are operating in a reactive-type mode and the problems just continue to worsen. And it is something that I would hope in the context of this legislation we can address some of those issues.
So I thank the panel and I thank the Chair.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am going to wait for most of my questions for a later panel, but I did think it might be worthwhile to ask Mr. Sickles if he wanted to comment on any of the questions that were being asked by Mr. DeFazio earlier as an explanation of how there might be money saved.
Mr. SICKLES. Well, the statement that he was questioning in my written comments about saving millions of dollars was referring back 20 years, when we had no private industry, until today. The government was faced in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a very old fleet of steam-powered vessels. They didn't have the money to replace these vessels. They needed to put a modern fleet into place. And there is just no question that the money that we are spending now, in constant dollars, to what we spent then is much less for this subject.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Part of it is not just the operation, and maybe the majority part is not just the operation of the vessels, but how the projects are managed. Because if you have a contractor doing work for you, you have to measure the outcome. If you have a government operation where you are paying a daily rate, production is meaningless. So they didn't have to use payment hydrographic surveys, like we do now.
For example, the channel cut has side slopes and a bottom. It is very easy to have high-production digging in the middle of a channel. When dredging is done by contract, all parts of the channel must be dug to the specification, and we cannot leave the job until that is the case. So what we do now is measure a lot more. If you go back and look at historic records of what the government said that they were dredging, it was a manufactured number, based on yards through the pump not surveyed volume.
And there is nothing necessarily wrong or evil with the old way, it is just that they didn't have to measure because they didn't have to pay anybody for work completed. Now the Corps has a handle on what is out there and what is being done. And in the districts who manage this program, the majority of them, not all of them, the ones that have their own dredges have a different view; but most of the districts would rather have us working for them under contract because, paradoxically, they have more control over our operations than they have over the government vessels. So those kinds of dynamics have saved money.
We are probably not doing make work now. When we bid a job on a unit price, we have the most incentive possible to produce, as fast as possible to get out of there and to lower our costs. And so that is the reason why it has changed so much.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The hopper dredging business, is subject to both seasonal ups and downs within the same year and also from year to year. We have gone through some drought years where hopper dredging is in low demand, and wet years when the rivers are high as is dredging demand. The Mississippi River, especially, drives this whole market. When we went through a drought in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we were hurting very badly, and that is when we renewed our effort with Congress to try to see if we could reduce the impact these four vessels, if operated full time, can have on our marketplace.
We had a relatively new fleet, and we are stuck, tied to the dock. And the companies I work for are just apoplectic that they were not working when a government operation keeps going during these down times. That is what has brought us, for several years now, to advocate what I referred to as a ''use industry first'' policy. We think the government should be the insurance policy, the backup.
The two statutory reasons for keeping a minimum fleet in the 1978 law were national defense and emergency response. Those were the two statutory justifications for having the government fleet. If they work on a full-time basis in a down year, it very much hurts our business. The Corps of Engineers knows that. They recognize that, and so what we are really talking about is not getting rid of equipment but how to best manage the 19 dredges we have together.
They want us to invest and we want to invest. The Corps wants us to build more vessels, we want to do it, and we are trying to work with Congress to create the best possible investment environment. And we cannot do that if we know that there will be some years we cannot make the mortgage payments on these vessels. It is very expensive. To build one of the big ones that we have, as I said, is a $70 million investment.
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So it is a complex issue, and Congressman DeFazio's district is a very unique situation because he has a dredge that rarely works anywhere outside his State. The other three dredges are much more flexible. When Senator Hatfield was chair of the Appropriations Committee the first time, and this was right in the beginning in the years right after the 1978 legislation, he had two dredges built for the Portland District. One was designed primarily for the Oregon coast. It has no substantial mission outside the Oregon coast. The second one, the Essayons is probably the best dredge in the Corps fleet and does have a lot more flexibility.
But what Congressman DeFazio is reacting to is a study the Corps released last October that recommended getting rid or not using the small dredge. The Corps has now backed down and apparently told him they want to keep that one as well in a ready stand-by reserve like I was talking about. The Corps has become strong advocates for what we would call the ''use industry first'' or maximum capacity program.
So Congressman DeFazio's constituents are fearful that if the dredge Yaquina, the small dredge, is ever put in this readiness status, that the budget cutters will go after it saying it is a waste of taxpayers' money. The Corps of Engineers, on the other hand, is convinced it can operate these dredges in a ready state, in an efficient manner, by sharing crews and other things to save money to keep them ready to go.
And that is where we are in this whole debate, and that is probably more than you ever wanted to know.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you, very much. I want to thank all the panelists for serving as resources and, as I indicated, you may be receiving some written questions and we would appreciate a timely response. Thank you very much.
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I am pleased to report we are joined by our distinguished colleague from Kentucky, and she is glowing this morning after last night's victory, so I want to give her some time to brief the Congress and the committee on theno, no, we are not going to do that, but for the purpose of an introduction, the Chair is pleased to recognize Congresswoman Northup.
Mrs. NORTHUP. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It was a happy night in Kentucky last night and we have a big smile on our faces.
I am also pleased to have an opportunity to introduce somebody from my hometown who is here with us today, John Beyke, who is the President of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies. He is also the Director of Engineering and Chief Engineer for the Louisville and Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District.
He is an advocate for the partnership between the Corps of Engineers and local sponsors. Mr. Beyke knows firsthand the importance of flood control projects, Mr. Chairman. As a member of the Louisville community, he witnessed, as I witnessed, the devastation caused when Louisville was hard struck by floods last year. The flooding was the worst in 30 years, wreaking enormous damage to our community. The destruction highlighted the necessity for effective flood control projects.
John Beyke has a distinguished career in civil engineering. As I mentioned, he is the Director of Engineering and the Chief Engineer at MSD in Louisville, where he is responsible for procurement of all engineering services and general management of MSD's $60 to $80 million capital program. Prior to that position, John was the city engineer for the city of Louisville.
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Currently, John serves on several committees for the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Water Environment Federation. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the Kentucky Association of Professional Surveyors. John is also a member of the State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors.
Mr. Chairman, and Members of this committee, I am pleased to introduce to you Mr. John Beyke.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Well, thank you very much. With that introduction I can understand why you are interested in water resources. You probably walk on it.
I can't promise the other panelists as glowing an introduction, but let me ask them to join Mr. Beyke. Mr. Larry Larson, Executive Director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers from Madison, Wisconsin; from here in Washington, D.C. is Mr. David Conrad, who is a Water Resources Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation; and from the American Rivers Group, Mr. Scott Faber, Director of Floodplain Programs.
We ask all of you if you would try to restrict your formal testimony to 5 minutes or so. Your entire statements will appear in the record at this juncture, and we will go in the order introduced.
Mr. Beyke, you are up first.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTESTIMONY OF JOHN C. BEYKE, P.E., DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING AND CHIEF ENGINEER, LOUISVILLE AND JEFFERSON COUNTY METROPOLITAN SEWER DISTRICT, AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FLOOD AND STORMWATER MANAGEMENT AGENCIES, LOUISVILLE, KY; LARRY A. LARSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATION OF STATE FLOODPLAIN MANAGERS, INC., MADISON, WI; DAVID R. CONRAD, WATER RESOURCES SPECIALIST, NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, WASHINGTON, DC; AND SCOTT FABER, DIRECTOR, FLOODPLAIN PROGRAMS, AMERICAN RIVERS, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. BEYKE. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and thank you. I want to thank the honorable Congresswoman from Kentucky for the fine introduction. I am not sure all of thatI felt good just hearing it.
As she stated, I am the President of the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies and also wear a different hat as a chief engineer and director of engineering for a flood control agency. MSD, my employer, is an agency that operates a regional special district under the authority of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. MSD performs a variety of functions, including both wastewater and stormwater management. We operate a stormwater utility in Jefferson County.
In March 1997, as Congresswoman Northup indicated, Jefferson County, along with many other areas in central Kentucky, were inundated by a storm that exceeded all our expectations. The flood protection system, built over 60 years ago, over the course of the last 60 years, worked very well, but it still left us aware that there were many deficiencies that needed to be addressed as it related to flood control and in order to protect the citizens and the property of the citizens within Jefferson County, Kentucky.
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There are several things that I would like to emphasize. They are in the written comments, so I won't dwell on them to any great extent, but there are a few I wish to specifically address.
Partnership has become a way of life between NAFSMA members and, in particular, MSD and the Louisville District of the Corps of Engineers. We believe that the partnership that has been developed over the last 20 to 30 years relative to Corps sponsorship and relations must continue. Although local sponsors are assuming much of the decision-making and many are able to assume much of the management of the projects, there is still a great need for continued involvement by the Corps.
The Corps brings a wealth of accumulated knowledge and expertise that cannot yet be assumed by local sponsors. The Corps, as mentioned earlier, is able to provide a significant environmental power to ensure that projects are sensitive to environmental issues. Corps funding is essential for America to maintain its aggressive attack on damages associated with flooding.
As mentioned earlier, the partnerships must also include others. We need to include other Federal entities, such as FEMA, Flood Insurance Agency, Environmental Protection Agency, and others.
The second item I want to address is the cost-sharing formula. It was raised for the local sponsor in 1996. We believe that further reductions in Federal funding will severely impact the local sponsor's ability to provide services to our constituents and your constituents. There are many projects that would not be constructed or that would be delayed significantly if the Federal sponsor's share is decreased.
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Project maintenance. We feel that it cannot be encumbered by regulatory impediments. There is a significant flaw in the current interpretation of congressional intent, we believe. Local sponsors are having a significant problem with unnecessary regulatory impediments being placed in the way of maintenance of flood control facilities.
As a part of our responsibility as a local sponsor, we are required to operate and maintain those facilities that are built with Federal dollars. These responsibilities are accepted by the local sponsors. We do not object to that. However, another wing of the Corps, the regulatory arm, is insisting that before we can maintain these facilities, in some cases, that we must be permitted to ensure that we comply with wetlands requirements. We do not think those things should be linked.
A typical example: In the weeks following the flood of 1997, our agency was expending tremendous amounts of resources in contract work and in our own employees removing blockages from stream channels. The banks of the channels, because of the super-saturated conditions, had slipped into the channels. In order to prepare ourselves for the potential for another storm, we were actively and aggressively removing those sloughages from the channels. We were approached by the Corps' regulatory branch, based on directives from headquarters, and advised that they could not allow that removal because it violated the provisions of section 404 of the Clean Water Act. After several meetings and several weeks, we were able to work out a compromise. However, that impediment was unnecessary and the timing was incredible.
There are other such horror stories that were presented in NAFSMA's testimony before the subcommittee last April on the Tulloch litigation. We think all the tools in the tool box need to be used. We must recognize that the proper solutions are diverse, and many of the tools in the tool box have to be used in different situations.
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We believe that there is a Federal increased focus on nonstructural solutions. We agree with that, but we also believe that structural solutions are necessary in many cases. We work very diligently to evaluate whether nonstructural or structural solutions are appropriate for the particular situation, but we believe all the tools need to be in the tool box.
As mentioned by the previous panel, we think the funding for the Corps' programs is deficient. Over the past several years the Corps' budget has been continually reduced. We believe that this trend must be reversed. Stability in funding must occur in order that the Nation's commitment to the vital infrastructure programs can continue. Local communities and sponsors will do their part, but there must be a continuation of the funding from the Corps to support their efforts.
There are several other issues written in the written comments that I would urge you to consider in your deliberations but, in summary, we critically need the expertise and resources of the Corps through the WRDA to complete the commitments made and the expectations of the local community. I believe that the local Federal partnerships which exist as a result of WRDA, its intent and spirit is an excellent example of how government should work: local government paired with Federal Government. I urge you to continue support of this important program, these partnerships, and to encourage that partnerships be expanded to include other areas.
Thank you for the opportunity to present these views.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. LARSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. On behalf of our nearly 4,000 members at the State and local level, essentially your partners in helping reduce flood losses in the Nationthose are the people out on the front lines who are daily doing the work, some of which John talked aboutI want to thank you for not only holding this hearing but for your leadership and the Congress' leadership in the 1996 WRDA bill.
The steps toward policy change that we think are important to better reduce costs and losses for flooding in this NationI am going to talk mostly about policy today. I will not talk about projects but policy, and how some of the current policy is not doing what we think can be done to better reduce our costs in the Nation.
Some people ask me, why aren't States and locals doing more to reduce flood losses? They are the ones who have the abilityland use, building permits, and that sort of thingto reduce flood losses. While some of them are, I want to explain to you why some of them are not.
Frankly, in some ways, you do too good a job. You are picking up too much of the cost for those who choose at the State and local level to do nothing. If you continue to do this, you can hardly blame them for not picking up their share of the cost. Or it is not really a cost factor as much with them as taking the initiative to do some things that may not necessarily become a cost item but are actions they could be taking to reduce losses.
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As long as after major disasters the more structures that a community or State has at risk, the more apt they are to either get a presidential disaster declaration, the more apt they are to get a higher cost-share for that presidential disaster declaration, and the more apt they are to get Federal projects, you are not going to see those States and communities taking steps out front to reduce their losses. They will put their priorities on other things. And you can hardly blame them.
Right now our disaster policy and our cost-sharing policy seems to reward those who do the least. I would suggest to you if you want to reduce the Federal cost, and I am sure you do, of Federal disasters, we need to start rewarding those States, locals, and citizens who do more to reduce their losses. That means perhaps moving further in the cost-sharing than you have and somehow putting in a sliding cost-share, a sliding cost-share that says there is some base level for all projects for cost-sharing, as should be similar for disaster relief. But for those States and locals who are doing a better job, you get a larger cost-share.
Now, that still should save you money, because they have done more things to prevent it. The Federal costs will still be lower, and it seems to me that puts our system into a balance that we need to do to approach this effort.
We are currently, as I said, penalizing those States that do the best in two ways. First of all, they are not getting these declarations and cost-sharings and, secondly, their taxpayers are helping to pay for those States and locals who do get them. We need to have an incentive system in place.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The sliding cost-share need not be complex. It need not interrupt the budgetary process. It can be worked in. And I think you can ask the Corps of Engineers to work that out and to come to you with a plan worked out with their partners that will make sense.
There is one area I want to briefly mention in here in the course program that I believe deserves support, and that is Challenge 21. This is, of course, the proposed new initiative on working with local and State partners on flood mitigation and environmental restoration in a nonstructural approach. We believe that this provides those communities who are unable to obtain, for example, a structural project because the benefit-cost ratio may not be there, it still provides them the opportunity to work with the Corps to reduce their flood problems and to restore their riverine systems to the benefit of the community.
So, overall, we believe there is a very positive step where the Corps can again provide a better mix of structural and nonstructural solutions for those communities and States, so we would definitely support that.
I will conclude my oral testimony there. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Larson.
Mr. CONRAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is David Conrad. I am Water Resources Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to share with the subcommittee the Federation's views on the water resources program of the Corps and to highlight certain issues we believe should be addressed in the 1998 Water Resources Development Act.
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First, Mr. Chairman, as the subcommittee begins the process of assembling a 1998 WRDA, we would urge that special attention be paid to cost-sharing policies as critical tools for guiding water resources development. Twelve years ago, following years of controversy and stalemate over the Army Corps' civil works program, the importance of establishing a consistent cost-sharing policy for the Corps was recognized and implemented in the landmark 1986 WRDA. The basic theory of cost-sharing is that by requiring non-Federal sponsors to pay a meaningful and substantial share of project costs, Congress has an important indicator of the true need for and cost effectiveness of projects. As a result of these and other fiscal and environmental planning reforms, large savings have resulted, greatly benefiting the United States taxpayers and the Nation's environment.
The Federation and other organizations are concerned about the inevitable pressures that arise to reduce non-Federal responsibilities and to propose varying procedures for certain projects in water resources legislation. We are also concerned about the degree to which questionable projects have recently been included in appropriations bills without appropriate consideration in the normal authorization process. So we especially urge the subcommittee in developing a 1998 WRDA to maintain strong project planning requirements and consistent cost-sharing policies.
Mr. Chairman, the National Wildlife Federation believes that WRDA 1998 should provide important opportunities to address the role and function of the Corps of Engineers' flood damage reduction activities. In recent years it has become clear that changes are needed in the Nation's approach to solving flood-related problems. We have witnessed flood damages rising alarmingly. Since 1990, according to the National Weather Service, noncoastal flood-related damages have topped $45 billion in current adjusted dollars, an amount far higher than any similar period during this century.
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Many experts believe what is required is a much greater focus on floodplain management and significant increased emphasis on avoidance and mitigation of flood risk, especially through greater reliance on nonstructural approaches. Numerous recent studies have been undertaken by a variety of entities in response to rising costs and human suffering and to the increasing incidence of flood disasters in attempts to help point the way. Some key repeated themes are:
Current Federal flood control, disaster relief and insurance programs and policies discourage the initiative of State and local governments and private individuals to assume their own responsibility for avoiding and mitigating the risks and costs of floods. This is particularly due to generous formulas and lack of incentives for managing risk.
Federal flood control projects have often fostered a false sense of security for growing numbers of residents and businesses that locate in flood-prone areas and many projects have resulted in induced floodplain development.
Greater direction and coordination is needed among Federal agencies to provide support and necessary technical assistance at State and local levels to encourage flood hazard mitigation and greater use of nonstructural approaches.
The National Wildlife Federation greatly appreciates the leadership provided by this subcommittee in the 1996 WRDA with the inclusion of the change in the flood control cost-sharing formula from 75-25 to 65-35 for Corps projects, and inclusion of a requirement to develop floodplain management plans in communities receiving local Corps flood protection projects. These changes represent important first steps in response to general concerns that have been raised.
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The NWF believes, however, that flood control project formulas should be further modified to provide incentives for local and State governments and private individuals to reduce risk and more carefully manage development in the vicinity of flood-prone areas and to decrease the reliance on future Federal projects to bail out the results of poor planning. Ironically, as Larry mentioned, current formulas tend to discriminate against communities that are carefully managing floodplain development.
We would recommend that as a next step, the subcommittee consider reducing the standard Federal cost-share for flood control projects to 50 percent or less, but with modifications to include a sliding scale of incentive levels rising up to 65 percent Federal cost-share for those communities and States that institute a broad range of nonstructural measures to better manage flood risk and implement floodplain management. And there are a number of possibilities, well tested possibilities, providing for such nonstructural measures ratings.
We also would strongly urge the subcommittee to support the Corps of Engineers' new Challenge 21 Initiative, which we believe would give the Corps the capability to assist communities with nonstructural flood damage reduction approaches as a complement to the agency's current structural flood control program.
Mr. Chairman, there is strong evidence that the public is increasingly supportive of such nonstructural approaches. The director of FEMA recently reported that the agency has accomplished voluntary buyouts of more than 20,000 flood-prone structures nationwide since 1993. The cities of Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota recently have undertaken voluntary buyouts of more than a thousand damaged residences and businesses and the two communities have decided on a major setback of their levees and establishment of a greenway through the cities to restore the capability for moving floodwaters of the Red River.
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In addition, Napa County, California, recently voted by more than two-thirds majority to impose a sales tax on its citizens to support an innovative flood damage reduction project developed jointly by the citizens and the Corps of Engineers. The project would lower dikes and setback levees, restore river meanders, marshlands, wetlands and wildlife habitat, support purchase and removal of highly flood-prone structures, and open the floodplain, where practicable, to restore the Napa River's natural floodplain function.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, NWF believes that the 1998 WRDA may also have potential to resolve another longstanding issue: restoring a high level of flood protection for the Sacramento area on the lower American River in California. As the subcommittee is aware, the Sacramento area flood control agency has recently voted overwhelmingly, 10 to 3, to seek Congress' approval in the 1998 WRDA for authorization of construction of the locally-preferred Folsom Dam Modification and levee improvement projects, basically as described in the 1996 supplemental information report.
The Sacramento area residents have spent years attempting to develop an environmentally, engineeringly, and economically acceptable project to restore needed protection from possible future floods. The Army Corps and the California Reclamation Board, in their 1996 report, said the following about the project now being sought by the city and SAFCA: ''The stepped release plan also ranks high in effectiveness because of the high level of flood protection and contribution to recreation and the environmental restoration goals.'' We strongly urge the members of the subcommittee to support the city of Sacramento and Sacramento Flood Control Agency's request for construction authorization of the dam modification and levee improvement project in the 1998 WRDA.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I can assure you we are paying attention to what is happening out in Sacramento these days.
Mr. FABER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As my first exposure to disasters was in 1978, when I witnessed firsthand the collapse of the 1978 Red Sox, I
Mr. BOEHLERT. And they haven't recovered yet.
Mr. FABER. They haven't recovered, and neither have I. So I can appreciate the importance of this issue.
Mr. BOEHLERT. You have Martinez and you have Garcia. Well, no contract for Mo Vaughan yet.
Mr. FABER. Right.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Go to it.
Mr. FABER. As you know, American Rivers has long been a strong supporter of the Corps' emerging environmental mission, including the section 1135 program, section 206 program, and efforts to restore Florida's Everglades. But this morning I would like to talk to you about another Army Corps, the Corps of Discovery led by Lewis and Clark nearly 200 years ago, and the opportunities to revitalize the Nation's longest river, the Missouri River.
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As many of you know, Lewis and Clark bore witness to some of nature's greatest scenes in 1804. Meriwether Lewis identified species previously unknown to science, ranging from coyotes to prairie dogs to least terns. On August 8, 1804, he witnessed a blanket of white coming down the Missouri River, a flock of white pelicans over 3 miles long and 70 yards wide.
Today, mostly what Lewis and Clark saw we cannot. Nearly 200 years after their voyage of discovery, Lewis and Clark would hardly recognize the Missouri River. Today, white pelicans are rarely seen on the Missouri and the least tern is considered endangered by the Federal Government.
We have dramatically altered the Nation's longest river, eliminating the natural meanders and oxbows that once supported more than 400 different species of wildlife. We have reduced the average width of the river between Sioux City and St. Louis by two-thirds, replacing the river's meandering braided channels with a shorter, stabilized canal. Nearly all of the river's side channels, islands, and sandbars were lost. And as these nurseries for wildlife were destroyed, one-fifth of the species native to the Missouri River have been placed on Federal and State watch-lists also. Many species have fallen to 10 percent of their historic population levels.
Fortunately, the Missouri River enhancement program, proposed by Congresswoman Danner and Congressman Hulshof, present an historic opportunity to revitalize the Missouri River. Clearly, we cannot restore the river that Lewis and Clark knew, but we can repair much of it. We can certainly create a Missouri River that Lewis and Clark would recognize.
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In the few minutes I have left, I wanted to share my support for two proposals, one to expand the environmental management program for the upper Mississippi River, and ongoing efforts to reform our natural flood control policies, including the Challenge 21 Initiative.
The environmental management program, or EMP, has been an untold national success story, restoring 28,000 acres of habitat for river wildlife in five States. But despite the best efforts of the Army Corps, sloughs, side channels, and backwaters continue to fill with silt and sediment faster than they can be replaced; and the Corps recently concluded the upper Mississippi River, the river between St. Louis and St. Paul, will soon experience a shift to less desirable fish species, poorer water quality, and fewer areas able to support migratory waterfowl if our restoration efforts are not expanded.
In addition to being the Nation's hardest-working transportation artery, the upper Mississippi is also a nationally significant natural resource, sheltering more than 400 species of wildlife and acting as the migration corridor for 40 percent of North America's migratory waterfowl. But, of course, far more than fish and wildlife are at stake. More than 12 million people annually recreate on the upper Mississippi River each year, four times more than our most popular national park, spending $1.2 billion and supporting 18,000 jobs and riverside communities.
Finally, I would like to urge the committee to continue to reform our national flood control policies to give our riverside communities the tools and incentives they need to reduce long-term flood losses. In particular, I urge you to link cost-sharing for Federal flood control projects with local efforts to reduce flood damages, and urge you to give the Corps greater authority to work with local officials to relocate vulnerable homes and businesses before disaster strikes.
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While structural projects will obviously continue to be needed, our Nation's flood control experts have frequently urged us to place greater reliance on voluntary relocation, elevation, and other solutions which permanently reduce the threat of flood losses. We have already seen the benefits of voluntary relocations in places like Arnold, Missouri. Disaster relief for Arnold flood victims topped $2 million after the great flood of 1993. But following a voluntary relocation program, Federal assistance was less than $40,000 when floodwaters returned in 1995. And in the wake of recent floods, more than 20,000 homes and businesses across the Nation have been voluntarily relocated, elevated, or acquired since 1993.
Now we have an opportunity to relocate repeatedly flooded structures before disaster strikes, rather than waiting for the floodwaters to arrive. The Challenge 21 Initiative proposed by the Corps and other proposals by FEMA and others to expand predisaster hazard mitigation should be essential components of our flood loss reduction strategies.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony this morning. I would be happy to answer your questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I can't resist the temptation to say Bucky Dent sends his best.
Mr. FABER. You can have Mike Torres back.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Let me ask you, Mr. Faber, and you, Mr. Conrad, the same question. Mr. Conrad specifically talked about complementary treatment. Do you believe that nonstructural flood control measures should be given preferential treatment in computing the cost and benefits of a given alternative?
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Mr. CONRAD. Well, I think there could be an argument made for giving some preferential treatment in that regard. But I also think that in putting a program like that together, the advantages of providing a permanent level of protectionin other words, all flood control projects have potential residual risks associated with them. And a permanent evacuation project, such as some of the voluntary buy-out projects that have been done, have been proposed, would not necessarily have a residual risk associated with it.
Mr. BOEHLERT. But that would be nonstructural.
Mr. CONRAD. Right. Right. So what I'm saying is, the nature of the project gives an argument for some preferential treatment.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Faber.
Mr. FABER. In a similar vein, one problem with the current Corps calculation of benefits and costs is that the Corps does not include as a cost the catastrophic losses associated with the failure of a levee. And those are the residual risks, the residual costs that are not included in a cost-benefit calculation. So, frequently, what happens is a nonstructural project appears less attractive because of the way the Corps is calculating benefits and costs.
Another problem with the way the Corps calculates benefits and costs is they exclude the benefits of undeveloped floodplains, or floodplains that are serving as parks or golf courses or those sorts of uses. Those benefits include enhanced recreation, improved water quality, quality-of-life benefits, enhanced open space and, perhaps most importantly, additional flood storage, essentially giving the river some more room to spread out during periods of high flow. So when the Corps considers the virtues of a nonstructural alternative, say acquiring land or acquiring easement, they have not yet included a way in their benefit calculations to include those sorts of benefits. They have only included the benefits of flood damages avoided.
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So I think there are two ways to think about this matter. One is that we could change the way the Corps calculates benefits and costs to more accurately reflect the trade-offs between structural and nonstructural projects. A better solution, or another solution, might be what the Corps has proposed to do with the Challenge 21 Initiative, which is to simply create a separate program so that communities can make an affirmative choice. If they decide through their local planning processes that a structural project is what they need, then they can go through the traditional means to get that project. But if they decide a nonstructural project better suits their needs, let's say they want a ballpark, a baseball park in their floodplain, then that option exists as well.
Right now, that second option really does not exist for most communities because of the way the Corps calculates costs and benefits.
The BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Larson, let me ask you, I listened with great interest to your proposal about the sliding cost-share, and I guess Mr. Conrad said the same. My question is, how do we protect low income communities? How do we ensure that they don't, because of a lack of resources, lose some Federal sharing, Federal funding?
Mr. LARSON. I have a sheet which we have developed which kind of lists a series of low-cost steps that communities could take. We too have this concern; that if you say, well, you are going to reward those communities who set up a $10 million fund to acquire their floodplains, you are surely going to, as you say, discriminate against those low-income, poorer communities.
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But there are a series of things that communities can do which lead them toward steps which help reduce flood losses in the long term; things like identifying and inventorying what their community flood problems are. Many communities don't even know if you ask them. They don't even have an inventory of where their flooding problems are, let alone how they might start to attack them. And that is always the first step. So if they agree to do that, we are on the road to the step.
They can put in some efforts to preserve open space use through their planning. They can plan density developments in their development patterns. Many communities do that now. Those kinds of things set aside those floodplains and, in turn, allow higher development in the nonrisk areas.
Those are not necessarily cost things at all, but things that they can do that will help us reduce future flood costs: information and education of their people; warning and preparedness systems; retrofitting of at-risk structures using other programs.
HUD's CDBG programs are available to all communities and they use them for upgrading housing and that sort of thing. Often those monies can be directed toward upgrading housing in flood-prone areas, either elevating those structures or in some cases relocating; in other words, using available resources to help themselves, but have a plan to do it. Get that locally developed community plan, which every community needs, that addresses those flood needs.
So we think there are a series of things they can do that are low cost.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BORSKI. Have you provided a document to the subcommittee; and, if not, could you? Because I do think it would be very helpful.
Mr. LARSON. I have a copy here and would be glad to share it with the subcommittee.
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Conrad, did you want to comment on that?
Mr. CONRAD. I concur with what Larry has said. A lot of nonstructural-type activities are not that expensive, and if communities implement those kinds of activities, they should be rewarded with a higher Federal share and lower non-Federal share.
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Faber, I want to first thank you for your support of the Upper Mississippi River Environmental Management Program. That program is critical to the environment of five States. Could you please tell the subcommittee why it is important to extend the authorization of the program in the 1998 bill and not wait until the authorization expires?
Mr. FABER. I would be glad to. The timing is critically important because projects tend to take 3 or 4 years in order to plan, just plan the project in order to make sure there are no impacts on the navigation channel or adjacent floodplain landowners. If we waited until 2002 to reauthorize the program, there would be a 4-year period during which no new projects would be built. The Corps would have to then spend the time from 2002 to 2006 planning new projects and then beginning construction of new projects in 2006.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, because of the sunset provision, the Corps has begun to slow down the planning of new projects and will only now complete projects that are now in the pipeline between now and 2002. That is critically important because, despite the Corps' ingenuity and best efforts, we are continuing to lose our side channels, sloughs, and backwaters because of the ongoing impacts of silt and sedimentation.
And even today, at current spending levels, we are unable to guarantee that the upper Mississippi River will continue to be a biologically productive resource 10, 20, or 50 years from now. In fact, the prognosis is just the opposite; that because side channels and sloughs are filling in with sediment, we will soon see a shift to less desirable fish species and fewer areas able to support migratory waterfowl, and that will have a devastating impact on hundreds of riverside communities.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Johnson.
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, though, I don't know if you knew, I used to be a TV anchor, and a story has just been handed to me. We have received word the U.S. court has ruled on the Harbor Maintenance Tax Fund 9-to-nothing against the export portion of the tax. So what a timely hearing.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That is right, and I handed it to you.
Mr. JOHNSON. That is right.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. I am your editor.
Mr. JOHNSON. Very good. So this is a timely hearing.
A couple of questions, Mr. Beyke. You were cautioning that the further increase in the local cost-share for flood control projects may jeopardize the local participation in such projects. I wonder if you can give us a sense of the extent of such problems.
Mr. BEYKE. Yes, sir. We have in our particular jurisdiction a lot of other responsibilities other than just stormwater and flood control. I think that priorities of any organization are going to stretch the agency thin, and if you are accustomed or have planned for use of Federal dollars in handling these programs and then all of a sudden those programs no longer exist, then you have to take a smaller pot of money and spread it into all of those priorities.
Mr. BEYKE. So, in essence, what you are doing is, if they are still priorities, if they continue to be the top priorities, then the time has to be extended in order to solve those problems because the dollars are the same.
In fact, as they indicated earlier when you were talking about the ports authorities, what you do is you actually increase the cost because you spread it over a longer period of time.
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Larson, you seemed to indicate you would prefer this sliding cost-share formula to lower the Federal cost-share for flood controls as the incentive for active and responsible local flood mitigation efforts; is that correct?
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Mr. LARSON. Correct.
Mr. JOHNSON. Any suggestions on this sliding formula? Do you have one worked out?
Mr. LARSON. Not necessarily. We have talked with the Corps about some of this. I think the formula is one that this Congress needs to set, but as a starting point of discussion, I believe David's suggestion of a 50-50 for everyone, with an incentive to go back up to the 65-25 is a good one. And I don't think you want to set that threshold terribly onerous. You want communities to strive to go for it, not say that it is unachievable, we cannot do it. But you do want to encourage that.
The point is you need some kind of incentive system so that States and locals take better action. I have personal knowledge that since 1993, which all of you are fully aware has been a major flooding period in this Nation, I have seen legislatures and governors of four to six States take action to actually reduce their commitment to floodplain management; to gut their laws, which were better than the Federal laws; to move backwards, because there was no consequences for doing so. They are saying to themselves, what difference does it make; we are going to get the same Federal cost-share no matter what we do.
So the point is, there needs to be some incentive with a base level for everyone. I am not saying you don't help those that are doing little, but you have a base share for everyone and then the more they do, the more we reward them.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JOHNSON. You are saying the current laws are a disincentive to local and State planning?
Mr. LARSON. Exactly. They work just the opposite.
Mr. JOHNSON. I wonder if you can help reconcile what Mr. Beyke talked about; that the higher local share may be the limiting factor in local participation in flood control projects.
Mr. LARSON. And I think it is. But I also want to point out that I believe we can develop a series of incentives where communities are taking the appropriate steps and packaging programs that already exist in a way that will help them reduce those costs.
I think communities make choices now. If you are a local community and you have a choice of do we take steps to spend money to reduce our flood risk by making that brick bridge larger when we build it, or do we spend money to fix the potholes and pick up the garbage, as long as you think the Feds after a disaster will help you rebuild the bridge, you will say let us spend today's money to fix the potholes and pick up the garbage. Those are the choices we all make. We make those in our daily budget.
John is correct when he says it is priorities. You need to set priorities. But if our incentive system encourages the selection of priorities that hurt us in the long run, perhaps those are the things we can work with.
Mr. JOHNSON. I liked your idea of the suggestions of the low-cost things that communities can do. Is there any standard right now, or formula for communities to set up an assessment of what their potential flood problems are?
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Mr. LARSON. There is a small incentive program within the national flood insurance program that you may or may not be familiar with, and it is called the Community Rating System. Under that program a community undertakes a certain number of activities. There are a series of activities, like a local comprehensive flood mitigation plan. You get so many points for that. You get so many points for making sure your citizens are given annually, with their tax bill, a statement saying you live in a floodplain, you ought to buy flood insurance. If a community does a whole series of those, all the people in that community who must buy flood insurance get 5, 10, 15it is a stepped-down reduction in their premium.
And there are a series of things in there that talk about how that can be done and it sets standards. There is a handbook on what you do to meet that condition, and that element, and that element, and so on. So there are some of those things that already exist, and I think we can develop more that lead toward this whole process.
JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much and thank all of you for serving as resources. Really appreciate it. Take care.
Our third and final panelists consist of Mr. Tony MacDonald, Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization, and Mr. Howard Marlowe, President of the American Coastal Coalition.
I would ask each of you to summarize your statement in 5 minutes or less to allow time for questioning. Your statements will appear in the record in their entirety. You are veterans, so you know that. We welcome you here.
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Mr. MacDonald, you are first up.
TESTIMONY OF ANTHONY B. MACDONALD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COASTAL STATES ORGANIZATION, INC., WASHINGTON, DC; AND HOWARD MARLOWE, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN COASTAL COALITION, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. MACDONALD. Thank you very much, sir. Good morning, my name is Tony MacDonald, Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization, or CSO. Since 1970, Coastal States has represented coastal States, including the Great Lakes, Commonwealths, and territories on issues related to improved management of coastal development and protection of coastal resources. I want to thank Chairman Boehlert and Representative Borski and this subcommittee for the opportunity to testify today. My comments will focus primarily on shoreline policy, or rather what is the lack of a consistent national shoreline policy.
At a time when this administration is heralding mitigation planning as an essential tool for developing sustainable communities and reducing the cost of post hazard response, warning of the threat of sea level rise, and proposing increased funding for a multiagency disaster reduction initiative, it is incongruous that the administration has virtually abandoned its partnership with the States and the Federal commitment to shore protection projects.
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By way of contrast, and I think this was illustrated in comments earlier today, we spend billions of dollars to construct transportation corridors to enable people to get to the shore and populated coastal areas. Yet to spend a few million to protect the shoreline and the natural resources and economic values which justify the transit projects is characterized by some as extravagant.
Particular issues of concern to the States include reinforcing the Federal commitment to share with the States in shore protection projects; maximizing the beneficial uses of dredged material; providing comprehensive mitigation for impacts associated with Corps projects; providing more flexibility for local sponsors to implement projects efficiently; ensuring that the needs of navigational access to small harbors are maintained; and providing secure and predictable funding levels for both project construction and operation and maintenance. And I need to amend my remarks, including replacement of the Harbor Maintenance Tax, given the Supreme Court decision that the tax in its current form is unconstitutional.
I wanted to dispel a myth, before I get into some details, which too often distorts the debate over shore protection projects. Shore protection projects do not simply wash away into the sea. Although some sand is lost, the project design profile which provides the protection benefits remain in place. It is important to realize that nourishment projects are preferable to hard structures, which would undermine the natural protective features of the shoreline and be less environmentally acceptable.
With the growth of the Nation's population along the coast and the increased economic importance of coastal activities, the Federal interest and activities along the coast has expanded. Yet the administration's current policies propose limiting participation in shore protection projects and limits the consideration of the full range of benefits: the economic stimulus, tax revenues, environmental protection, as well as life and property protection derived from Federal investment in shore protection projects.
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For example, States with comprehensive planning limiting improper development along the shore and banning sea walls have difficulty meeting the benefit thresholds for renourishment assistance, since under the current Corps cost-benefit analysis they don't consider ecological and natural resource protection values. So, in fact, we were hearing earlier about the flood protection message being sent to many coastal States, where they are trying to develop comprehensive plans in some areas, but they cannot qualify for shore protection assistance because they cannot meet the Corps' threshold.
WRDA 1998 presents an opportunity improve the Corps' civil project programs. The Corps' management of coastal infrastructure needs to take a broader systems-based approach which reflects both fiscal coastal processes and human needs. We need to improve the institutional and legal constraints which deter better and more comprehensive shoreline management.
For example, there are opportunities for project savings by simplifying Corps project reviews and allowing local sponsors to take the lead in planning and implementing projects. In some cases, States have clearly identified priorities and plans. Unfortunately, current Corps budget limitations require that project life be expanded at the expense of innovation, project efficiency, and long-term savings.
In addition, it is the Federal responsibility to mitigate damages resulting from civil works projects. Yet current Corps policies only support mitigation of damages directly induced by the project and do not give priority to a comprehensive solution to overall shore protection problems.
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Congress should establish a national policy which mandates a preferred alternative to keep sand within the littoral system, rather than the ''least cost'' Federal standard. If a beneficial use is reasonably available, it should be incorporated into the original project design.
The Corps should be required to comply with enforceable requirements of federally-approved coastal zone management plans. Currently in Texas there is a dispute, despite a clear policy and an agreement by the Corps that they will seek to maximize beneficial use of dredged material where the cost is ''reasonably comparable'' to traditional open-water disposal methods. The Corps is balking at expending any additional money.
WRDA should require regionally-based reports to Congress on recommendations for comprehensive plan and strategy for our Nation's coastal infrastructure. The reports would compile findings and recommendations developed at regional levels with the participation of States and other local project sponsors. The reports should include a profile of physical systems reflecting local conditions and long-term and immediate strategies for addressing problems on a regional and system basis.
WRDA should also require the development of a multiagency research and assessment strategy. As I mentioned at the outset of my testimony, our Nation lacks a consistent national shoreline policy. In the earlier panels, we heard the concerns about some of the interfaces between some of the flood protection and FEMA policies with the Corps and flood protection policies. As a step in the development of such a policy, Congress should require the Corps, FEMA, NOAA, USGS and other interested Federal agencies to develop, in consultation with the States, a multiagency research and assessment strategy for coastal hazards and their mitigation.
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A final issue which needs the attention of Congress is the proposed fees for use of sand and gravel from lands on the Outer Continental Shelf. Pursuant to the 1995 amendments to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Department of Interior has published a draft fee schedule for the use of sand and gravel for the Outer Continental Shelf. We request the Congress address the issue so that States are not charged fees for the use of OCS for best use projects.
I look forward to continuing the dialogue on improving the Nation's coastal water resources. Again, on behalf of CSO, thanks for the opportunity to present our testimony today.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. MARLOWE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. My name is Howard Marlowe and I am President of the American Coastal Coalition, which is an organization composed primarily of local government officials, property owners, residents, and businesspeople who live and work in coastal communities throughout the country.
We believe that sandy beaches are a critical and integral part of the Nation's coastal infrastructure, providing the first line of defense against storm waves and forming the basis for economic vitality in many coastal communities and regions and States.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We believe that the Federal, State and local investments in beach and erosion control and the proper management of beaches and shorelines are returned many times over in revenues generated by tourism and commerce, by tax increases inspired by higher property values and incomes, by mitigation of storm wave damage to property and infrastructure, and by the elevation of the quality of life for coastal residents and visitors. Sand replenishment has been shown time and time again to be an effective method of shore protection based on engineering and fiscal criteria.
Most important to your hearing today, I would like to reiterate the fact we believe the Federal role in shore protection and beach erosion control is clearly proscribed by current law, including section 227 of WRDA 1996, which is otherwise known as the Shore Protection Act.
The Shore Protection Act is very significant to our organization, and this is my first opportunity in public to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank this subcommittee and the full committee for the support it gave to that legislation. It basically was an attempt to state to the administration that they are to restate the policy of Congress; that the Federal Government should have an active role in shore protection. That was a response to the administration's policy which was announced in 1995 to terminate the Federal role in shore protection policy programs.
We believe that that policy, announced by the administration, is already harming the Nation's sandy beaches. Not only in the Shore Protection Act but other legislation as were. Congress has repeatedly rejected that policy. However, the administration has persisted in its efforts to enforce its policy and, I might say, to some extent it is succeeding, much to my chagrin.
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Contrary to section 227 of WRDA 1996, for example, the Corps of Engineers is not, on its own initiative, conducting reconnaissance studies of new shoreline protection projects. It is not on its own initiative conducting feasibility studies of such projects, nor is it recommending to Congress the authorization of new shoreline protection projects. What work it is doing is either completing its contractual responsibilities with regard to the dwindling number of shoreline protection projects or in response to the congressional directives to proceed with the studies.
As of this date, there is not one new shoreline protection project which is under construction in the Nation using a single dollar of Federal funds. The American Coastal Coalition calls on this subcommittee to insist, as part of WRDA 1998, that the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Army Corps of Engineers implement the letter and the spirit of the Shore Protection Act of 1996 and the vast body of other Federal laws which clearly establish a Federal role and responsibility to participate in the repair and maintenance of sandy beaches.
Recently, Mr. Chairman, there was a meeting held by the Office of Management and Budget which some of your staff attended. It was a meeting of people from throughout the country to discuss, at OMB's request, enhancements to the national shoreline protection policy. We welcome that discussion, but we believe it is the first responsibility of Congress to see that existing law is implemented and that OMB and the Corps follow the policy which has already been established by Congress with regard to shore protection.
If the administration believes that changes in the national shoreline protection program need to be made, it should lay its proposals before Congress. Until that time, Mr. Chairman, the bickering on this subject between the administration and Congress has to end. It is not serving the administration's professed goal of achieving fiscal restraint and is not promoting responsible management of America's coastal resources.
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While we await any proposals that may be forthcoming from the administration, we have some suggestions which I am going to quickly go over here today.
We urge Congress to direct, by statute, that shoreline protection is one of the Corps' primary missions. Currently, the Corps' shoreline protection is an outgrowth of its storm protection, flood control and environmental restoration missions. Shoreline protection should not be the Corps' stepchild.
Second, Congress should direct the Corps to conduct its benefit-cost analysis with respect to shoreline protection projects by assessing the regional and national impact of the proposed project. This regional economic benefit analysis was included in the Shore Protection Act as it was passed by the House in 1996 but it was dropped in conference.
We recommend the establishment of a national shoreline and shore erosion data bank. Basically this is an opportunity for all of the data collected by various Federal agencies and by State agencies, as well as by private sources, to be put into one data bank where it can be used to plan for the management of our shoreline resources.
We call on Congress to authorize in WRDA 1998 a new national shoreline studyI believe the last one was completed around 1970to assess the regional and national economic impact of beaches and to take a complete inventory of the condition of the Nation's sandy beaches.
Mr. Chairman, the Federal Government has a statutory and moral responsibility to mitigate the damage it has caused to beaches by constructing dams, dredging channels and other similar actions. Language should be included in WRDA 1998 which ensures this mitigation responsibility can be used as the basis for Federal participation in a shore protection project.
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And one immediate change in policy we also recommend very strongly would direct the Corps to place beach quality sand dredged from channels on adjacent beaches, regardless of whether it is the ''least cost option.'' On many occasions, dredged material is disposed in the ocean because placement. On the nearby public beach is not deemed by the Corps to be the ''least cost option.'' Subsequently, taxpayers pay for pumping that sand right back onto the beach as part of a shore protection project. And, clearly, that does not result in the ''least cost'' approach.
In some areas of the country, near-shore sources of sand for beach nourishment are becoming scarce. Recognizing this fact, Congress adopted legislation making it possible for the Minerals Management Service to enter into agreements with the Federal Government as well as non-Federal sponsors of beach nourishment projects to acquire sand from the Outer Continental Shelf. As has been proposed by two other witnesses speaking before this subcommittee today, we propose that the Minerals Management Service not be permitted to charge non-Federal sponsors of a federally-authorized shore protection project for the use of that sand.
While this issue is technically not within the jurisdiction of this committee, we believe that the jurisdictional issue can be overcome and this problem can be rectified in WRDA 1998.
Among the other changes we recommend for your consideration is a requirement that the Corps implement a systems approach to sediment management using projects already in the pipeline, as well as new projects in different parts of the country, and to analyze and report to Congress by a date certain on the effectiveness of that approach.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, we urge the Congress to require the Corps to approach shoreline protection in navigation projects on a programmatic basis rather than a project-by-project basis. Logic says that a programmatic approach to the planning of these two types of projects provides Congress with the information it needs to make better decisions about project funding. Now, that may not be the case in all parts of the country and, therefore, we hope WRDA 1998 will be used to direct the Corps to implement a programmatic approach and report to Congress on its effectiveness by a date certain.
We urge this subcommittee to make it clear that the implementation of this and the other new shoreline protection initiatives that we have recommended today not be used in any way to defer action on existing or new shoreline protection projects.
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for this opportunity to lay before the subcommittee today some of the most pressing shore protection policy issues. We hope that your efforts will bring a swift end to the impasse between Congress and the administration so that the Nation's coastal and fiscal resources will be better managed.
Thanks again very much for the opportunity to appear before you today.
Mr. THUNE [presiding.] Thank you.
Mr. MacDonald, in your testimony, you argued for the Corps using a systems approach to coastal infrastructure planning development. Can you articulate how that would work?
Mr. MACDONALD. I think it is intended to differentiate from the traditional view, which has been a project-by-project approach. I think what has happened, again, is WRDA is an interesting group of laws that builds up on each other over time that authorizes individual projects. As a result, what has happened, I think in many cases, they have taken just an individual project approach based on the benefits of that specific project and the impacts.
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Since that time, and partly as a result of some actions by the Congress in implementing broader missions for the Corps and environmental restoration in floodplain management and other issues, I think there is a concern that those broader missions have not been applied into the individual project itself. So, for example, if we are considering, I think, some things that Mr. Marlowe related to, if we are considering the use of sediment within a navigation channel, are we maximizing the use of that sediment? In taking it out of the system, what are we doing in terms of starving the system and its general natural resource for the use of that sand? Where would it flow in general? How are we properly mitigating for downstream impacts of that project over time?
There has been some consideration of that. I think the Corps is trying to do this, but they can do a much better job. Are we making sure we put it in the right place, such that it funnels back into the system? Sand has a life of its own, to some extent, so we need to make sure the impacts of that are managed in a more comprehensive fashion.
So what we are suggesting is that we look at more regionally- and locally-based inlet management plans to determine the impacts of some of these historically project-by-project, to look to see whether we are maximizing the opportunities to lessen the impacts of the individual projects. And, hopefully, in the process, we will identify opportunities also for some cost savings. As Mr. Marlowe suggested, there may be opportunities to actually reuse some of the material in dredging projects in a way that over time would be more cost effective, even though on that individual project it may result in some short-term increase in cost.
So those are the sorts of things. And, again, it is a more ecologically systems-based model to determine the impacts of the various projects.
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Mr. THUNE. Thank you.
Mr. Marlowe, in your testimony you suggest that we should explicitly include shoreline protection as a primary mission of the Corps. This is the question: What impact do you believe this will have on the treatment of shoreline projects in future budgets? And then, as a follow-up, what would you suggest become the secondary mission of the Corps?
Mr. MARLOWE. Well, clearly, I don't think that shoreline protection should be the primaryI think it should be a primary mission of the Corps; that is, at the moment, if we were to be briefed by the Assistant Secretary or by General Ballard or General Furman on what the Corps' program is for fiscal year 1999, we would see nowhere in their discussion the words ''shoreline protection.'' It is not a mission.
I also think, incidentally, one of the best places to look for information about the Corps as an agency, which, parenthetically, it sort of operates somewhat in the dark from the public, and I think not intentionally so, just it is part of its nature, but some of the best places to look is on the Internet. You can look on the Internet and you would have to search very hard to find out it has a shoreline protection mission.
Now, to answer your question, what impact will that have? The impact it will have will be to create priorities within the Corps in terms of how it allocates its personnel resources, how it plans its own program and, therefore, I think, giving the Nation's shore needs the kind of attention that they deserve to have.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am not saying the Corps gives short shrift. I am saying that the Corps responds to the mandates that it believes that it has from Congress in order to do its work. And I think if they have a very clear direction from Congress that one of their mandates is, as I saya primary mandate is to do shoreline protection, that they will spend more time and more attention on that.
Right now, let's face it, the administration has said it is a low-budget priority item. We disagree with them on the philosophical item, but on the issue of the Corps, once you have determined it is also not one of their missions, therefore, it has a low programmatic priority as well. And, therefore, people can be cut.
We are losing coastal engineers in the Corps. We need them badly. Coastal engineering is not a large profession. It is actually a fairly new profession in the history of the world, let alone the United States. We are losing coastal engineers who are going off doing other things that have nothing to do with engineering in the private sector or anywhere else. We are losing that expertise. We need them to place an emphasis on that.
Mr. THUNE. Thank you.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In my district in Texas, from the Texas-Louisiana border down about 85 or 90 miles to the southwestern end of Galveston Island and back up and along that stretch, we have some significant problems. We are threatened with the potential loss of about 85,000 acres of federally-owned wetlands, the national wildlife refuge, McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge.
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We have other problems. For example, the cut in Bolivar Peninsula, where there is suspicion that it has added to considerable erosion and even some filling in of part of Galveston Bay. So we are having problems that are affecting houses. They are literally falling into the Gulf of Mexico. We are losing highways, as has happened. We have lost a 9-mile stretch of Highway 87, Texas Highway 87, that has acted not itself as a barrier but given us access to the beaches, somewhat protecting the McFaddin Wildlife Refuge that is below sea level area and that is, in my opinion, such a great asset.
The way it sits, it is in between the very edge of the gulf waters and the intracoastal canal, intracoastal waterway. We are pushing this ridge further and further back as the erosion occurs. At some point in time, as happened at Sargent's Beach in Galveston, we will be at the edge of the intracoastal canal and end up spending potentially tens of millions of dollars to begin to address a totally different kind of problem and will have lost the national asset that we at one time thought enough of to spend millions of dollars on to purchase.
So with all of that being said, I would like to ask a couple of questions now, and particularly of Mr. Marlowe. You say that the public beaches are suffering because of the administration's problems. Will you tell me how they are being harmed?
Mr. MARLOWE. Thank you, Congressman. They are being harmed in several ways. One, the only way that most communities can possibly get their beaches renourished is with Federal assistance. Most communities do not have the financial resources or the technical resources. And I think we have to understand the Federal Government's role is not only one of handing out dollars but providing technical assistance in the planning of projects. You remove that assistance, then what you have done is you have said to local communities and to States, you have to do this on your own.
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The financial resources are not there, in all except the wealthiest communities, to be able to repair eroded beaches. And most of those communities have already sunk their money into their beaches already and, quite frankly, there is no public access to those beaches. Wherever you have public access, you are dealing with communities who need to have Federal assistance.
Also, we have the issue here of research and development. The administration has basically placed no emphasis on research and development. And in times of scarce resources, what you have is, obviously, Congress is putting money into specific projects but not necessarily into collecting the data which enables us to track what is happening along the areas that you just described. If we cannot track that, we cannot set up plans and work with the States and work with local communities in order to implement some plan for managing those resources.
And the fact of the matter is that the R&D budget has been cut so badly that both the Federal institutions and the Corps of Engineers which do that, and the private institutions, including I believe Texas A&M which has work they are doing in this area; that is being cut badly. All of that suffers and, therefore, the end result is coastal erosion.
Perhaps Mr. MacDonaldwe both had the pleasure of being very recently in your district and in attending the Texas General Land Office conference, so we had a chance to see firsthand some of the problems that are occurring in that area. Perhaps he has something to add.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MACDONALD. No, but I think, again, you sort of answered the earlier question about the need for a systems-based approach to this issue. They are being harmed largely because we are trying to address these issues one at a time in a very narrow framework.
So I think they are being harmed by the fact what we are getting now is an administration policy that does not recommend funding, and then what we get is Congress coming back with its priority, which may or may not be based on adequate study and science as to where the money should be spent in these areas. So, again, I think it is just not a good baseline for addressing these issues.
Mr. LAMPSON. Are you all hopeful that the administration has heard the concerns of Congress and that it may change its opposition to the Federal support for shore protection?
Mr. MACDONALD. I think they have heard. I am not sure I am so optimistic that they are going to get to a point where they actually get to what I would consider to be a broad-based policy to address the issue. The discussions we have had to date have been largely focused on moving around the deck the chairs, so to speak.
So they are concerned about essentially just some basic number lines. It is an entirely budget-driven policy in terms of meeting budget goals and not really looking at what I consider to be the fundamental crosscutting issues. So I am hopeful that they want to address the issue; I am just a little concerned they might not be looking at a broad enough picture.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MARLOWE. I join with that feeling. So long as you keep the political pressure up, quite frankly, there is some hope that they will respond at least to the immediate concerns, and I think that is important. We need them to get the Federal program back on track before we can actually even effectively explore some of the major changes that need to be made.
At the same time, I think there needs to beand both of us have discussed recommendations in terms of the systems approacha programmatic approach which will make those directives by this committee in WRDA 1998 will make major changes. It is not that the Corps is not doing it, as Mr. MacDonald has said, it is just we are lucky it is being done to the extent it is being done. But we have to make sure it is getting done and Congress needs to say we need this approach to be taken. We need to know how it is functioning and we need to know it not 10 years or 15 years from now, we need to know it 5 years from now.
Mr. LAMPSON. Rules for determining what projects are going to be included. Will you make some comments about that? Are we having the door shut to the point where we will not be able to address them, even if policy is changed?
Mr. MARLOWE. I think my major concern, as I have traveled the countryand our organization represents people in all parts of the countryclearly the major beneficiaries of the Federal program have been along the East Coast. That is largely for a variety of factors, but one is the rules also benefit many of the communities along the East Coast. Being a resident of the East Coast, not only now but historically, I am not going to knock that fact. However, we have shoreline protection needs on all coasts, including the Great Lakes, and there is no reason why we should not be adjusting our benefit-cost analysis so that basically when we take a look at the Galveston area, and we take a look at repairs to a beach, what we need to be able to do is to say, okay, here is the cost of doing that project.
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That we already are doing. What is the benefit that comes, not just in terms of the immediate upland property owners but to the community, to the region and to the Nation as a whole? We can flow those economic benefits that come. What is the benefit that comes compared to not doing anything? Because there is a cost always of not doing something.
And when you do those rather simple economic analyses that can be done, and when Congress directs the Corps to do that analysis, you have a far more inclusive program. You will get more of the Texas areas eligible for consideration for Federal participation; you will get more of the California areas eligible for participation; two major areas of our country with significant miles of beach, and neither one of them has an active Federal shore protection program going on right now at all.
Mr. LAMPSON. Well, thank you. We do have problems.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman, I probably overused my time, so I appreciate your indulgence. We will look forward to working with you more.
Mr. THUNE. I want to thank the panel for the excellent testimony. This concludes the first of what will be, I think, a series of hearings on this subject, and we appreciate very much your assistance and participation.
With that, this hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:30 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
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PROPOSALS FOR A WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1998
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:05 p.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. BOEHLERT. The subcommittee will come to order. Welcome to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. Today, Earth Day, we are honored to receive testimony from our colleagues on the vast needs of our Nation's water resources infrastructure and the role of the Corps of Engineers in managing our Nation's water resources.
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Today's water resources hearing is the second in a series of hearings that we are holding before the introduction of the Water Resources Development Act of 1998. Next week representatives of the administration will be testifying before the subcommittee to outline the administration's objectives in WRDA 1998. Over the years the leadership of this subcommittee has worked on a bipartisan basis to produce water resources bills that have enjoyed the unanimous support of this committee and the overwhelming support of our colleagues in the House of Representatives. I expect WRDA 1998 to enjoy comparable bipartisan support.
Chairman Shuster, Congressman Oberstar and the Ranking Member of this subcommittee, Congressman Borski, have repeatedly expressed their interest in having a WRDA bill on the President's desk this year. That is our commitment.
On that note, I would like to again welcome my colleagues from both sides of the aisle who will be sharing with us their insights on America's water resource needs.
I would now like to recognize Congressman Johnson, Ranking Minority Member, for any opening remarks he may have.
Mr. JOHNSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased that this subcommittee is continuing its series of hearings toward the development and enactment of water resource development legislation this year.
Those of us who are from the Great Lakes area very often recognize the importance of Federal programs to advance traditional purposes such as navigation and flood control; however, the value of the Corps to our area now extends to protection and remediation of the environment as well.
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In my area we have a particular need for assistance related to contaminated sediments in our harbors and streams, and I hope to work with you in this legislation to address these and other issues of critical importance to the well-being of our Nation.
I am also pleased we have received today the administration proposal for legislation. I look forward to reviewing it and discussing it with Dr. Zirschky next week, but an early review indicates a movement on the part of the Corps towards further enhancement of the environment, particularly through a more holistic approach to floodplains and their ecosystem.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and look forward to today's witnesses.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
It is my understanding that Mr. Kim, in lieu of testifying, would like to have an opening statement.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for yielding. Again, thank you for calling this hearing today so that we can begin to reauthorize our Nation's flood control law. It is important that our committee pass this bill this year so that we can address critical flooding problems like I have in my district at the Chino dairy preserve in Southern California.
As the committee knows from last month's hearing on the Federal cost of disaster assistance, Southern California is devastated by El Nino storms. Floodwaters caused the deaths of over 10,000 cows and caused great economic hardship for the hard-working dairy farmers in the area. In addition, the runoff from the preserve has washed into the Santa Ana River, which supplies nearby Orange County with much of its drinking water. This runoff will severely compromise the Santa Ana River as a source of clean drinking water for Orange County and is slowly contaminating the groundwater table in the area.
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Clearly this is a problem which our committee can and should help solve. Last week, I brought all the principal players together in one room. In attendance were representatives from the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Orange County, San Bernardino County, water quality boards, sanitation districts, water authorities, dairy farmers, State disaster and water officials, the Fish and Wildlife Service, FEMA and USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, all these people together. These participants agreed to work with us to develop a comprehensive solution in the coming months.
Mr. Chairman, I believe the Water Resources Development Act, WRDA 1998, is a perfect legislative vehicle to provide this much needed relief for the people of California. Let me assure you that a solution to the flood control and runoff problem in the Chino dairy preserve will further this committee's emphasis on environmental protection.
Also, I believe that this situation is exactly the type of problem the administration would like to address with its Challenge 21 initiative.
In closing, I look forward to working with you and the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a comprehensive solution to this problem. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Continuing on the West Coast, the Chair is pleased to recognize Ms. Tauscher.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for the opportunity to briefly highlight my priorities for the Water Resources and Development Act of 1998, and I am pleased to welcome my newest colleague from the Bay area, the Honorable Barbara Lee of Oakland, who will be on panel four.
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Mr. Chairman, as we begin testimony in the important process of drafting a Water Resources Development Act, I believe it is important that we provide the tools to the Corps of Engineers to tackle some of the key water resources issues confronting our country. As we in the arid West seek to manage and develop our water resources, we must do so with an eye toward balancing the needs of our citizens while protecting our natural resources.
When we think of developing our water resources, we must remember the importance of water reuse. Some of the general areas of uses include groundwater recharge, environmental restoration and wetlands mitigation, landscape irrigation, and industrial and commercial cooling operations. I intend to pursue authorization under WRDA for a water reuse program, the San Ramon Valley water reuse project, which will serve the southwestern portion of my district. The project will save high-quality drinking water while reducing the amount of waste which ends up in the bay.
My district lies adjacent to the Port of Oakland, which is nearing completion of a dredging project to deepen the port's channels to 42 feet. However, due to the larger ships that are beginning to use the port, that depth is now inadequate, and I will seek a WRDA 1998 authorization to have their channels dredged to 50 feet.
Another issue of critical importance to ports throughout the country concerns the cost-sharing provisions of WRDA. As you are aware, Mr. Chairman, the cost-sharing provisions of WRDA 1986 may prove insufficient in light of the larger vessels and increased costs incurred by our ports.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I understand that the American Association of Port Authorities has recently adopted a position which favors extending the 75-25 formula down to a depth of 53 feet, which more accurately reflects requirements of today's larger vessels and more equitably distributes costs associated with the Federal navigation projects. I am anxious for this committee to examine this proposal in more detail.
A third item I would like to include in WRDA is an authorization for the Contra Costa County Community College district's partnership with the Delta Science Center. The district and the Delta Science Center will implement a program of education, interpretation and access for one of California's most important natural resources, the California bay delta. The Delta Science Center research projects will demonstrate how restoration efforts will apply science, technology and public input to habitat restoration and enhanced ecosystem health.
When the committee reauthorized the Lake Superior Center in section 542 of WRDA 1996, it set an intelligent precedent for strengthening restoration efforts through public involvement. A similar authorization will permit the district and the center to contribute to the larger restoration goals by including all Delta ecosystem stakeholders; government, industry, farmers, educators, and environmentalists, to name just a few.
As this committee develops WRDA legislation, I will seek a $1 million authorization for the Corps to provide technical support and expertise, to examine opportunities for wetlands restoration, habitat, recreation and structural design.
As we begin the process of developing the next WRDA, I intend to offer language that will address my concerns, and I hope we will be able to reach a consensus on these important priorities. In short, enactment of the Water Resources Development Act of 1998 is of critical importance to northern California.
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I thank the Chairman and the committee for the consideration of my interests. Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a longer statement that I ask be included for the record, I will abbreviate it. This way I can move things along.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection it will be placed in the record in its entirety.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Enactment of the 1998 Water Resources Development Act is clearly important to the Nation, and it is important to my congressional district as well the northern New Jersey region and the Northeastern United States.
There are several important issues to raise during the subcommittee's consideration of the 1998 WRDA. I believe the issues that I will be raising all conform to the guidelines that you, Mr. Chairman, have sought to convey in the 1998 WRDA, optimizing national economic benefits while protecting the environment.
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If the ports on America's eastern seaboard are to compete with those such as Halifax in Canada, then we have to maintain their infrastructure while meeting the needs for new navigation investment in channel deepening and widening necessitated by the arrival of a new generation of ocean-carrying vehicles. These are navigation investments not only in the ports of the eastern seaboard, but in the future trade policy of the Nation.
We have an opportunity to address these ongoing trends in shipping and trade in this WRDA bill. I particularly note the importance of dredging-related issues for New York Harbor and adjacent channels. These include increasing the funding authorization cap for deepening Port Jersey and the Arthur Kill Channel, the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, extending the sediments decontamination program, revising the Federal cost-sharing formula, and providing an alternative to the harbor maintenance tax. The issues before us in the area of maritime commerce are enormous, and the impact will affect every one of our citizens.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working with you. We are fortunate to have you as the Chairman on this subcommittee. You know what the issues are in the Northeast and in New York Harbor. It is important to our respective States. And what is at stake here is over $20 billion of economic activity, 180,000 jobs in our region, which should grow in the context of trade policies, but which are stifled if we don't do the right things in this WRDA bill. I look forward to working with you and appreciate your courtesy.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I want to thank you for those kind words.
[Mr. Menendez's prepared statement follows:]
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Mr. BOEHLERT. The Chair recognizes Mr. Boswell.
Mr. BOSWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no prepared statement, but I would like to make a comment.
I have been talking with the engineers along the mighty Mississippi. It is a national treasure for many reasons, as you know from your long-time appreciation of all of our different rivers and water projects, and it affects, I don't know, about 35 or 36 of our Members; 12 States involved.
A number of things will be coming to you, I don't think you would call them big dollar items, but reviews of the channel, some of the review for the locks and dams, bank erosions, drainage areas, also levee districts, things that affect the whole stream and the health of it, and we will be sharing that with you in the near future and appreciate the effort you are making.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Look forward to your input, which I know will be considerable and will be welcomed. Mr. Lampson.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am delighted that the subcommittee is holding these hearings on this particularly important issue of our Nation's water resources. Today's hearings, focusing on testimony from Members of Congress, will highlight the need for sensible water development projects throughout the United States.
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We must not fail to act reasonably to protect our Nation's water resources. The issues encompassing shoreline protection, coastal erosion, navigation, flood control, environmental restoration and protection, disaster response and recovery, and water supply are central to the quality of American life and have a profound effect on the economic development, tourism, trade and commerce in the United States, not to mention the most important impact of all, that of human safety and life.
In the 9th Congressional District of Texas, we are facing some of the worst coastal erosion in the Nation. Because of the effects of coastal erosion, we are in danger of losing one of our Nation's wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico along the coast of Texas. The McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge will be significantly impacted by the intrusion of salts water if we do not act to protect the coast and shield this refuge from imminent destruction.
Coastal erosion has had a major impact on the potential safety of the residents of Jefferson County in Texas due to the loss of Highway 87, Texas Highway 87, one of the two major evacuation routes along the coast of Texas. Lives are in danger of being lost in the event of a major storm. Highway 87 serves a major lifeline for the residents of the area and for workers in two very significantly large petrochemical plants located adjacent to the coastline. We can act now to lessen the impact on lives that a major storm can induce and mitigate the horrible losses associated with national disasters.
Additionally, there are considerable environmental concerns that are associated with the problem of coastal erosion in Texas. In the event of a major storm, exposed oil and gas pipelines in the Gulf are in jeopardy of erupting due to the results of coastal erosion. This is an environmental tragedy that we can prevent if we act now.
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Other States have been quite successful in protecting their shorelines. In Florida, innovative solutions are being tested and used to control their erosion problem. And last November I received a tour and a briefing on the problem that the State of Florida is having with its coast washing away, and I was quite pleased to see there are creative ways to getting a handle on this persistent problem. I hope to see some of these innovations at work in Texas and other areas along the Gulf Coast.
During the recess I held a meeting in my own district to address the loss of shoreline in Texas, and I am quite confident that reasonable solutions can be achieved to protect our coast. Short-range and long-term solutions have been implemented throughout the United States in dealing with these problems that we are having in Texas.
So, Mr. Chairman, the testimony given during the committee's last hearing was most informative, and I certainly look forward to today's testimony and working with the committee on this much needed piece of legislation.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, and I would say to all my colleagues that your statements or any additional statements you might care to submit for the record will be inserted at this point.
I would also like to observe that some of the finest talent in America will appear before us today; people who enjoy the confidence of their constituencies. Six hundred thousand or so have elected you to come to Washington and to represent their best interests, and in line with that responsibility, I am pleased to welcome our first panel, our very distinguished panel, consisting of Congressman Robert Matsui, Congressman John Doolittle, Congressman Peter Visclosky, Congressman Earl Pomeroy, and Congressman Wally Herger.
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Mr. Herger, we were glad to accommodate your request to be included here.
I would tell all my colleagues that your statements will appear in the record in their entirety. We would ask, as is the custom, that you try to summarize it in 5 minutes or less, and we will go in the order that we introduced the panel, senior member first, Mr. Matsui
TESTIMONY OF HON. ROBERT T. MATSUI, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. MATSUI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and Mr. Johnson and other members of the subcommittee as well.
I appreciate this opportunity to testify before you today regarding the water resources legislation that you will be considering. I come today requesting assistance on an issue that is all too familiar with members of the subcommittee, and that issue, of course, is Sacramento flood control needs.
No other city this size is as defenseless to flooding as Sacramento County. In a study completed by the Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento ranked last among the most flood-prone areas in cities of America. Cities such as Kansas City, New Orleans, Santa Ana, Omaha, St. Louis, many of which have smaller populations than Sacramento, were found to have much greater levels of flood protection.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I ask you to consider the catastrophic consequences of a flood to be posed to Sacramento County and the metropolitan area and all of northern California. The flood zone contains more than $37 billion in property, including the California State Capitol, six major hospitals, 26 nursing facilities, over 100 schools, and approximately 160,000 homes and apartments.
Recent developments have created a new sense of urgency for additional flood protection. In January, the Corps of Engineers downgraded Sacramento's level of protection from a mere 100 years to only 77 years as a result of last winter's storm, triggering higher flood insurance rates and burdensome restrictions with respect to the floodplains. That means that if somebody is born today and has a natural life span, it is certain that we would have a catastrophic flood if somebody lived to the age of 77.
Given this obvious risk of flooding, I have introduced legislation along with Congressman Vic Fazio to substantially improve the level of flood protection for Sacramento County. I ask the subcommittee to include the legislation in the 1998 water bill.
The centerpiece of the proposal would correct original design deficiencies of Folsom Dam and raise the levees along the lower American River. These additions to our current system would double Sacramento's level of flood protection from 77 to approximately 160 years at an estimated cost of $450 million, of which the Federal share would be $293 million.
With this plan, dam operators could optimize Folsom Dam performance by releasing more water faster and earlier during storms and would use the amount of temporary storage space needed to anticipate bad weather. Additionally, the corresponding levee improvements allow for much greater volumes of water to be carried downstream safely for longer periods of time and would increase the dam's emergency spillways from 160 cubic feet per second to 180,000 cubic feet per second.
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As you listen to testimony in preparing this legislation in the coming months, you will undoubtedly hear arguments from those who oppose either levee modifications based on safety-related concerns or object to the proposals and program altogether. First, I might mention to the subcommittee that safety concerns surrounding the levees were addressed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1996 in its supplemental information report on the American River watershed project. The report recognizes that raising and strengthening American River levees in this capacity is feasible and can provide the attendant level of protection.
The subcommittee also recognizes, I would hope, that opposition against this proposal simply represents a strategy to gain support for the Auburn Dam, a proposal that was strongly turned down by the committee 2 years ago on a 35 to 28 vote. I might add that I, Congressmen Fazio, Doolittle, Herger, and also Congressman Pombo supported the Auburn Dam; nevertheless, with all five of us, it was turned down in a 35 to 28 vote.
I am confident this subcommittee will recognize Sacramento's flood control crisis and ask that it not become influenced by those who are willing to hold the lives and safety of the people of Sacramento hostage. Realizing that every attempt has been made in the past to secure a flood control facility at Auburn, this year we must look forward to a solution that has previously been considered off limits.
For these reasons, this plan provides the best solution for Sacramento's immediate flood control concerns. The administration endorses this proposal and intends fully to authorize the entire project in the WRDA language, and I ask at this time unanimous consent that the subcommittee Chair submit the correspondence from the OMB gentleman, T.J. Glauthier, who supports the position I am announcing.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered.
Mr. MATSUI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In addition, this plan has the strong support of the city of Sacramento, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, the flood control partner that would join the Federal Government in any flood control efforts. I have provided for the committee's testimony from SAFCA and ask for your review of its support.
I believe this course of action is an extremely sound and necessary step toward averting a catastrophic flood in Sacramento, and I look forward to working with members of the subcommittee to address any concerns that Members might have, and I certainly seek your support.
I might conclude by making one final observation. Some might think that a flood in Sacramento would not affect the rest of northern California. But Yuma, El Dorado, Sutter all these other northern counties would be adversely affected, both personally and economically, if we have a catastrophic flood, with 63 percent of the population in northern California, and it will affect everyone. As a result of that, it should not be considered under any circumstances as leverage to try to get the Auburn Dam.
I still support the Auburn Dam, but we cannot wait for a structure at Auburn. We need at this moment adequate protection for a city the size that Sacramento County is at this time. I thank the Chair and members of the subcommittee.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Matsui.
For every rule there is an exception, and we are going to make an exception to the rule today. I said we were going to proceed in order of seniority, but I would like to hear from the northern California contingent as a unit, because this is a very important topic in northern California.
So with that in mind, I will recognize Mr. Doolittle.
TESTIMONY OF HON. JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I think my colleague from Sacramento correctly outlined the dire threat of flooding that we do face in Sacramento in the floodplain there. That cannot be overstressed. And one of these charts that is going up should show you what has happened since the time we came to appear before you in unity in 1996.
I can't see that chart, but if it is the one that shows how our flood protection has dwindled as a result of ever larger storms manifesting themselves, there is aI am sorry, I went out of order for youbut it is that line right there that shows you that when we appeared in 1996, we had a level of 100-year flood protection. And then in 1997 we had the greatest storm in recorded history in northern California, and as a result of that the level of flood protection was ascertained not to be 100-year but to be 77-year. So you can see going back to 1986 when we had a huge storm, it was 120. So it has been a steady declining path.
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While I agree with my colleague from Sacramento that we are in grave risk of flooding, I guess it is the solution that seems to me totally unacceptable. And that really has nothing to do with leverage with the Auburn Dam or anything else. Unfortunately, we knew then and know now the Auburn Dam is the only solution for this region that protects us against what the experts, the Corps of Engineers and others, have said is a catastrophic flood. That becomes even more apparent as a result of the downgrading of our present level of flood protection.
In 1996, the plan that is now being advanced by SAFCA, and that Mr. Matsui referred to, was discussed in testimony before this committee. It was advanced, and no one supported it except what I will call the extreme environmental portion of the community, which used it as a way to try to defeat the Auburn Dam. Everyone else opposed it. Look at the statements that even they made. Butch Hodgkins, the executive director of the Sacramento Flood Control Agency, the sponsor of this plan, testified, quote, ''The Stepped Release Plan would 'red line' the flood control system.'' We all know driving in a red line ruins the engine.
David Kennedy, director of the California Department of Water Resources, testified, quote, ''The Stepped Release Plan's deeper and faster river flows would increase the problem of levee failure,'' end of quote.
Joe Countryman, the engineer who was directed to design the plan, said, quote, ''By putting more water through the system, the Stepped Release Plan pushes the existing system to its limits. Many experienced flood operators are very concerned that the 100-year-old flood system would not be able to withstand the planned 56 percent increase in flood flows.''
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And lastly, and perhaps most significantly, our version of The Washington Post, the Sacramento Bee, which is the dominant newspaper in the region, wrote in its editorial, quote, ''The Stepped Release Plan is the most dangerous of all the flood plans under review, posing major risks both for public safety and the environment. It is also, by far, the most expensive in terms of the local costs it would impose because it fails nearly all the tests for justifying Federal investment,'' end of quote.
Since January 1997, the following events have occurred: In that year the County of Sacramento issued a voluntary evacuation order. Over 50 levees broke across the State, causing $2 billion in damage. Massive levee breaks occurred directly to the north and south of Sacramento, killing 17, destroying 30,000 homes and 2,000 businesses, leaving standing water for weeks.
Mr. Chairman and Members, I do not represent the floodplain. I represent the upland areas that Mr. Matsui referred to. I agree with him, flooding of Sacramento would devastate our region, much of the area that I represent, not because we are in the floodplain, but because Sacramento is the economic center of this region. The testimony is that it would take at least 5 years for our region to recover from such a devastating event.
I suppose in a few minutes you will see some pictures from Mr. Pomeroy of Grand Forks, North Dakota. That could well be Sacramento in the future if we don't learn from what has happened to others to protect ourselves. We need flood control, but we need flood control against the flood that we know we are going to have, which is at least, again, a 200-year event, not spending hundreds of millions of dollars for a totally inadequate solution that will indeed increase the risk to the people who live in the floodplain.
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Thank you, very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
TESTIMONY OF HON. WALLY HERGER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. HERGER. Mr. Chairman and Members of the subcommittee, I appreciate this opportunity to testify today on behalf of my constituents in northern California. In the past 12 years, California has suffered three 100-plus-year-level floods. In 1986, flooding caused $400 million worth of damage. Fortunately, no lives were lost. In 1995, however, 28 people were killed, and more than $1.8 billion worth of damage was caused by early and late winter floods. In 1997, nine people were killed, and more than $2.6 billion in damage occurred when warm winter rains melted an unusually high snow pack, forcing water into California's overburdened flood control system.
Mr. Chairman, for quite some time I have felt that the most effective flood control policy for California is to place the highest value on human life and to allow preventive maintenance procedures as a priority over post-disaster repairs. It is important to pursue all possible solutions to ensure the best level flood policy for California. These efforts should include an aggressive approach to flood control that stresses improved levee systems and increased off-stream water storage facilities. Without a combination of measures, levees, by themselves, provide only limited protection and provide no guarantee that they will not fail.
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In fact, it has been said that over time there are only two types of levees, those that have failed and those that are going to fail. When we get warm rains on top of heavy snow levels in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, as we did prior to the flood of 1997, nothing short of increased water storage can prevent catastrophic flooding. California has an absolute need to develop aggressive flood prevention programs and to increase its off-stream water storage. Our flood control system has failed four times in the past 12 years. We cannot, therefore, implement any program that would weaken California's flood control system.
In particular, I have serious concerns about the flood control plan advanced by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, SAFCA. This plan, which calls for modifications to Folsom Dam and nearly $400 million in levee improvements along the American River, is seriously flawed.
My strong opposition to the plan centers largely on two issues: First, the plan fails to provide adequate flood protection. For example, during the 1996 congressional debate on this issue, representatives of every aspect of northern California, including environmentalists, testified that any flood control plan for Sacramento must protect at minimum against a 200-year flood event. The proposal currently provided by SAFCA is not only extremely expensive, costing taxpayers a half billion dollars, but it offers approximately only 150-year protection.
Secondly, the plan puts the levees of 400,000 floodplain residents in serious danger. Again, during the 1996 debates, northern California residents opposed a plan nearly identical to that which was passed by SAFCA this year as dangerous and unworkable. At that time SAFCA's own testimony said the plan would, quote, red line the system, leaving little room for error. California's water resources director David Kennedy argued, quote, ''deeper and faster river flows would increase the probability of levee failure,'' end quote. And in a stunning critique, the very engineer who designed the plan testified that, quote, by putting more water through the system, the plan pushes the existing system to its limits. Many experienced flood operators are very concerned that the hundred-year-old flood system would not be able to withstand the increased river flows called for under the plan, end of quote.
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Mr. Chairman, I am not opposed to providing flood protection to Sacramento. However, the plan adopted by SAFCA is critically inadequate and dangerous. As such, I strongly oppose the plan in Congress and ask the members of this subcommittee to oppose the plan as well.
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for your time.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Herger.
TESTIMONY OF HON. PETER J. VISCLOSKY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM INDIANA
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As a former member of the committee, I appreciate being back, and I want to thank the Chairman, Mr. Borski, and all of the members of the subcommittee for your past complete consideration and the full cooperation of the staff as far as past legislation.
I am here today in my written testimony to emphasize a number of projects that are very important to the people and the community I represent as far as environmental restoration, safety and commercial development. As the subcommittee moves to markup, I will look forward to cooperating again with you and your staffs in the final draft of the legislation and do appreciate everyone's full consideration of my proposals.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you.
TESTIMONY OF HON. EARL POMEROY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM NORTH DAKOTA
Mr. POMEROY. Mr. Chairman, 1 year ago today the Red River crested down on the streets of Grand Forks, North Dakota. I think you can trace the recovery of Grand Forks to the day when the water at last began to go down. It is, therefore, very fitting that you are holding this hearing, giving us the chance to address in a permanent fashion the recovery of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
I am seeking two projects for the 1998 WRDA bill, the Grand Forks Flood Control Project and one also proposed for a community just a little north of Grand Forks, and because the Red River flows north, it is downstream from Grand Forks, the Grafton, North Dakota project.
The Red Riverand we are going to pass around some photographs. There is a wonderful exhibit at the museum over in Alexandria, or Arlington, with pictures from the flooding events. Having driven down the streets of Grand Forks, a community I know very, very well, in a boat, I can just tell you it was an experience that really could perhaps best be described as surreal. Flood stage is 28 feet. The river crested at 54 feet, 5 feet over the emergency dikes that had been constructed over several weeks with the heroic local effort. The loss, a city of 50,000 being inundated, the loss is in the billions; the Federal funds spent to help pull us back a bit in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And so it is with a great deal of enthusiasm we are looking at a way to permanently address this threat.
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I am pleased to tell you that Grand Forks has gone from underwater to under construction. The commitment from the businesses and the families there to rebuild their community is really something to see. You can't help but have a lot of admiration at the grit of these good folks. Their permanent recovery, though, depends upon permanently addressing this exposure, and they have worked very closely with the Corps of Engineers in developing a flood plan that has been approved by Grand Forks and the community across the river, East Grand Forks. This is one project that has actually got both States' interest at stake, and both States are very much in agreement on the design of this project.
It would involve, as you can see from this chart, a series of flood walls and levees that would offer permanent protection to the level of the 1997 flood, which was the flood of record. In fact, the Corps of Engineers tell us it is the 500-year flood that we experienced 1 year ago. It has a very positive benefit-to-cost ratio, and the total cost of the project, $300.6 million, with a 50-50 local cost share. The State governments of North Dakota and Minnesota, as I mentioned, highly support the project and are committed to full participation with the local communities in terms of meeting that cost share.
This plan has the administration's support, and with your inclusion of this plan in the bill and the enactment of this bill this year, we can get after this in 1999. And once El Nino is no longer with us, we are very worried about the wet weather cycle we were locked in. We want to get after this construction because we think that this threat is simply continuing to be with us. After rebuilding, we certainly don't want to go back in the drink again.
The next project, the Grafton, North Dakota project, is to address a very similar issue. Up where I am from, it is cold a lot of the year, and to have a river flow north gives you all kinds of problems because it thaws south and starts flowing, and it flows into ice north. So this is just a problem all the way up. And Grafton has a flood management program that actually was authorized in the 1976 WRDA bill. They didn't flood for many years, and come 1991 the city says, well, I guess we don't need this, we can deauthorize the project. After 1997, they have thought once again about this, and they want it reauthorized again.
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Nothing has changed about the circumstances of the feasibility of the project. It has a positive cost-benefit ratio. One thing is clear: We desperately do need this project, and the cost of the Grafton95 percent of Grafton, I should tell you, lies within the 100-year floodplain. And as this community continues to develop, you can see what a devastating cloud hangs over that city until they can permanently address their flooding and exposure. Cost of this one is $27.3 million with a 65-35 cost share. And, again, the local cost share commitment is in place.
So the pictures tell it all. One year ago we started coming back. This committee can help us complete the journey. Thank you for your consideration.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, and I want to thank all of my colleagues for their excellent testimony. It is very helpful to us in connection with our deliberations.
Do any of my subcommittee members have any questions of any of our colleagues?
I guess not.
Oh, Mr. Blumenauer.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I was curious of my friends from northern California if there wasI believe, Mr. Doolittle, you referenced a 56 percent increase in flood flows. Could you comment on what was transpiring? What caused that increase?
Mr. DOOLITTLE. No, the plan being advanced by my colleague from Sacramento and by our flood control agency, its purpose is to allow an increase of 56 percent in the flood flows down this lower American River channel. That means deeper water, faster running water, much greater mass and bigger levees to contain it.
But the levees, as you heard in the testimony, do breach. And when it breaches, you will have an even bigger tidal wave sweeping over the homes of 400,000 people in the floodplain.
Mr. MATSUI. May I comment on that, in view of the fact I started first?
What Mr. Doolittle and Mr. Herger are saying is that levees are inherently dangerous. You put more water than levees can hold, and the levees will break. And right now we have a levee system in which we can only take 115,00 cubic feet per second, and that means a 77-year occurrence. We want to get up to 160 so that we can take a hit if the cubic feet per second is 180,000 cubic feet per second. And the real danger is we could go on forever like this, but eventually we are going to hit a flood.
My problem is that the Auburn Dam isn't anywhere in sight. We are talking now about maybe transferring the land up at Auburn to the State. But the State hasn't said they want it; and, secondly, the State hasn't figured out how they are going to finance it. So we can sit here and talk about the Auburn Dam, but you are not going to vote for it. And when I saw you, the committee and the entire Congress, the Senate certainly isn't going to vote for it. In the meantime, Sacramento County has less than 100-year protection.
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Now, if we say levees are inherently unsafe, we should just eliminate the levee systems throughout the United States. But the reality is that this is our best solution, second to none. If you want an Auburn Dam, we can get an Auburn Dam, but we have to pay for it, and we have to finance it.
So what we are really talking about here is the best level of protection Sacramento County can get. It will not be great. It is not 200 years, it is 160 years. But it will be adequate, at least until we can come up with a permanent solution, maybe 10, 20, perhaps 30 years away, but we have to get something at this moment.
Mr. DOOLITTLE. Would you like to hear one response to that? It is not for the purpose of debate, but you just heard from Grand Forks, North Dakota, they are going to get protection from a 500-year event. That is what Sacramento can experience, up to that, the experts have said. Instead, you are being asked to approve a half-a-billion-dollar project that gives us protection against 160-year events.
If this levee enlargement actually protected us against the storm they say we are going to get, that would be one thing. But it is clear that it falls far short of that despite the expenditure of half a billion dollars. The first time we flood, it is $7 billion minimum in damages, and then the bill will be presented to the Federal Government, and no doubt it will be in the supplemental appropriation, and then you will be asked to spend further money to accomplish the solution my colleague referenced.
Mr. MATSUI. I might just say, the Corps of Engineers supports this project, and I assume they are the experts that many of us look to for leadership in scientific advice in this institution.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
The second panel consists of Congressman Clay Shaw, Congresswoman Tillie Fowler, Congressman John Mica, and Congressman Dave Weldon, all from the great State of Florida; and we have invited Congressman Ken Calvert of the State of California to be on the second panel.
I am looking around the room to see who of my colleagues are here.
Mrs. Fowler and Mr. Weldon, we welcome you.
My colleagues, the usual ground rules prevail. Your statements will appear in their entirety in the record. We would ask that you summarize in 5 minutes or less. I can assure you that your words of wisdom will be listened to attentively, and we will read very carefully your full statements.
Mr. Shaw, you have the seniority, and you are up first.
TESTIMONY OF HON. E. CLAY SHAW, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA
Mr. SHAW. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is nice to be back in this committee. The Members didn't come out quite this far when I sat on this committee some years ago.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. You served prior to BESTEA.
Mr. SHAW. I think I sat next to you, within a seat or two.
I would like to ask my full statement be placed in the record, and I will summarize.
As co-Chair of the House Coastal Caucus, which I co-chair along with Mr. Pallone, who, I understand, will be part of the next panel, we have been working with our colleagues of 117 Members to preserve the beach restoration function of the Federal Government. Right now, the Federal Government pays about 60 percent of beach restoration, and it has for many, many years. The Federal Government has taken responsibility for the coastal areas, whether it be inlets and setbacks and various other things which have a great deal to do with beach erosion, paying 60 percent of it. Of course, the State takes the other 40 percent.
As of now, we do not have the technology to hold these beaches in place, and it is an ongoing project. The administration has now, for a couple of years, zeroed this out in their particular budgets, but we have been successful in not only retaining the support of this committee, but also of the Appropriations Committee, to continue this funding.
One of the things that has happened, though, just recently, which has been of great concern to us in the coastal areas, is that the Army Corps of Engineers has been holding back on the design phase that is required for the coastal renourishment. In doing so, it has placed a burden upon the municipalities and counties that are involved in these particular projects. They are taking the position the project had to be completed before the funding would be received. This does not make a lot of sense if the money is out there and has been appropriated, and we would very much appreciate this committee addressing that important issue as well.
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I have some projects which are in my testimony. I will not take the time of the committee in going over those. It will be part of the record, and your staff will be reviewing them and bringing them to your attention. They are all up and down my district, which includes Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade County, so we have some big projects in those three county areas.
And I might say, with regard to Dade County, that they are running out of sand, and it is getting to be a huge problem down there. And I think it is important, too, for the committee to realize the tremendous amount of tax revenue that is derived from coastal areas all around the United States. I would suggest that just in a small portion of, a fraction of, one of my beaches, that enough revenue is generated by the Federal Government through the collection of taxes to take care of the entire coastal project for the entire United States.
Currently, in switching gears here, we are requesting authorization for a feasibility study to determine the Federal interest in participating in a sand bypass at Port Everglades. That is the port that serves the Ft. Lauderdale area. We are also, in regard to Everglades restoration, and this is something that the entire Florida delegation has been involved in, as you know, WRDA 1996 included a 3-year authorization for critical projects related to Everglades restoration. Unfortunately there was no appropriation for 1997, which delayed the projected schedule. Therefore, I am requesting an extension of the critical project authority for fiscal years 2000 and 2001, as well as an increasing authorization level of funding. I am hoping these adjustments will provide the Corps with enough time to complete these critical projects.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
I would remind my colleague that this is a committee that is very interested in our coastal areas, as you well know, and we are also very sensitive to the importance of the Everglades.
Mr. Calvert, we will go with the Florida delegation, if you don't mind, and I would next call on our good friend, Mrs. Fowler
TESTIMONY OF HON. TILLIE K. FOWLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA
Mrs. FOWLER. Thank you. Mr. Calvert reminded me that even though we outnumber him today, he really outnumbers us overall.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your hearing us today. As a Representative of a district that goes from the Georgia line to Daytona Beach, with 150 miles of coastline, I share the concerns expressed by Mr. Shaw, and I know this subcommittee has been involved for years in helping us with the protection of our coastlines. I have several worthy projects that I am requesting be included in the Water Resources Development Act this year, and I will just briefly summarize my written testimony that I have submitted for the record.
First, the St. Augustine Shore Protection project addresses shoreline erosion, which is due in part to the construction of jetties and the navigational channel in the St. Augustine inlet. The project was originally authorized in the 1990 WRDA, and the Corps completed its general reevaluation report in August of 1997.
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The current authorization needs to be modified pursuant to this GRR to encompass 2.5 miles of shoreline at a total initiation cost of approximately $16.9 million, of which approximately $13 million will be paid by the Federal Government and $3.9 million by the non-Federal sponsor.
I am also requesting authorization for deepening Jacksonville Harbor. The Jacksonville Harbor, which is one of the Southeast's most efficient ports, is ideally located and enjoys the region's best rail and highway intermodal connections. The Army Corps of Engineers is completing the feasibility report, which is expected to recommend deepening 14 miles of the channel, the current Federal channel, from 38 to 41 feet. The Federal share of the construction cost is expected to be approximately $20 million.
Activity and development in Jacksonville continues to grow, setting records every year and bringing significant economic development and strength to the area and Nation, and so to continue this requires that the Federal channel be deep enough so we can serve international ocean carriers and the shipping industry. It is essential that the project receive congressional authorization this year so that the Port of Jacksonville can achieve its full economic potential.
I am also seeking your assistance with a project at Little Talbot Island, which has been proceeding under the continuing authority's program as a shore protection study. The recommended plan to prevent coastal flooding and storm wave damage problems would construct a 3,300-foot-long riprap revetment along an existing side of the bridge.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Florida Department of Transportation believes that the project has outgrown the continuing authority's program and that it needs to be considered now for congressional authorization, so we are submitting more information for that for the record.
Another important project in my district is the Nassau County Shore Protection Project. Nassau County has experienced severe erosion, due in part to the navigational dredging to accommodate vessels that access Kings Bay Submarine Base and Fernandina Harbor. I am requesting a modification of the current authorization to reflect the increase in the estimated project cost to $75.28 million.
In addition, the State of Florida has requested the Jacksonville district of the Corps evaluate solutions for providing storm damage protection around the historic area of Fort Clinch. And because this requires shoreline protection and is adjacent to Nassau County, it probably makes good sense to coordinate these two projects. We might have to have an authorization modification in that case.
Now, also, Mr. Chairman, I want to offer my strong support for a program I know you are interested in, too, which is an alternative water source initiative proposed in H.R. 3243. As you know, the Bureau of Reclamation runs a program similar to the one proposed in this bill, but only the 17 Western States are eligible for funding under that program. Today, several Eastern States are facing water supply challenges similar to those in the West, and this legislation would provide equity by creating a grant program through the EPA to cover the East.
There is a problem of water quantity we are experiencing in Florida, New York, Georgia and Louisiana, a lot of other States east of the Mississippi. We have been attacking the problem head on in Florida for decades with a variety of conservation efforts, but, unfortunately, conservation alone is not going to preserve an adequate water supply for many States in the East. So this brings us to the need to develop these alternative water sources.
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Funding under the program would be directed to those States with a demonstrated need where projects are in place with a 50 percent match. So there would have to be sufficient local match to meet this. H.R. 3243, which I am cosponsoring with Karen Thurman, reflects a strong commitment to addressing our concerns. We are, however, flexible in developing the appropriate means to achieve the goal of 3243. I know there have been some discussions as to what would be the best avenue to achieve this.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I want to commend you and the members of the subcommittee for their efforts to fulfill this difficult task that faces you and continue each year protecting our Nation's vital water resources, and I look forward to working with you on the legislation this year.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Weldon. Now we will hear from Mr. Weldon.
TESTIMONY OF HON. DAVE WELDON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM FLORIDA
Mr. WELDON. Thank you Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to be here to testify on behalf of a number of important projects for the people of my congressional district. I would like to request that the committee include in WRDA 98 several items:
Number one, a cost-sharing adjustment for the Brevard County Shoreline Protection Project.
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Secondly, an extension of the authorization of the Indian River County Shoreline Protection Project, an authorization of $5 million for restoration of one of the Nation's critical estuaries, and language directing the administration to restore our Nation's traditional role in shoreline protection projects.
Let me say I am pleased to have here in the room with me today Brevard County Commissioner Randy O'Brien and Canaveral Port Authority Director Mac McClouth, both of them strong supporters and participants in the Brevard Beach Project. Two years ago this committee included in WRDA 96 my request authorizing the Brevard County Shoreline Protection Project.
As you may recall, at that time I described how houses that once stood 400 yards from the breaking waves are now falling into the ocean, due in large part to erosion caused by the Federal inlet at Port Canaveral.
At that time I showed this photograph, which I think displays this very clearly. This is a man-made inlet. It was created to support the Navy's ballistic missile project and the Air Force ballistic missile project back in the fifties. This beach was even across that inlet. After this inlet was created, and it shows very dramatically in this little photo up here, the beach south of the jetties began to erode dramatically and sand began to accumulate dramatically north of the jetty. This is a critical issue not only for the home owners and businesses and hotels south of the inlet, it is also an environmental issue. Brevard County beaches are home to the largest concentration of the endangered sea turtles so this is not only a tourism issue, it is not only an issue for the homeowners, it is also an environmental issue.
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me add that the chiefs' report for the Brevard County Project that was issued December of 1996 has a very significant flaw. It fails to take into account the erosion caused by the Federal inlet, the Federal inlet at Canaveral. The inlet's significant contributions to erosion of the beaches is indisputable. Indeed the Army Corps of Engineers recognized shortly after they created this inlet in 1953, the year I was born, their responsibility for the erosion south of the inlet. By failing to include this factor in their report, the Corps put the cost-sharing arrangement at 53 percent Federal and 47 percent non-Federal.
Mr. Chairman, this is wrong. If the Federal Government caused the problem, the Federal Government should mitigate the damage that it has caused. We do not ask other communities to pick up such costs and it is unfair for Brevard residents to do this. The Federal cost-sharing percentage for the Brevard project is considerably lower than virtually all other similar storm damage prevention projects involving mitigation due to Federal navigation inlets. Included in my testimony is a table that demonstrates this. A Federal cost-share of 75.7 percent Federal/24.3 percent non-Federal would be consistent with similar projects, and I ask the committee to include language in WRDA 98 setting the cost-sharing at this level. This is equitable and fair for my constituents and fairness is the right thing to do.
Let me just add a couple more items quickly. I would like to ask the committee to extend the authorization for the Indian River County Shore Protection Project for an additional 4 years. This project was first authorized in WRDA 86. Since an obligation of funds has not been made for this project in the last 7 years, it is eligible to be included in the Corps' next list for deauthorization and this extension is necessary.
Additionally, Mr. Chairman, the Indian River Lagoon, an estuary of national significance, is in serious need of Federal funding to match local funds to improve its health. The lagoon is North America's most diverse estuary and it is home to more than 4,000 plants and animal species, including a large number of the world's endangered manatees. The local water management district is moving forward with a project to redivert the flow of fresh water from the lagoon into the St. Johns River Basin. C-1 rediversion would help restore the traditional salinity levels and reduce the flow of the sediment into the lagoon. This improved water quality would help restore grass beds and plant and animal life. The total cost for construction is $24 million, with 12.5 million already committed.
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I ask the committee to include in WRDA 98 language authorizing $5 million in the section 206 program for the C-1 rediversion project.
Finally, I ask the committee to include in WRDA 98 provisions to ensure that the administration become a partner in shoreline protection rather than an adversary. Please include strong language directing the administration to follow the intent of the Congress with respect to shoreline protection projects along the lines of what was submitted to the committee by the American Coastal Coalition in their recent testimony. We must begin to follow the traditional year-to-year seamless funding that was followed by the Corps prior to the Clinton administration's ill-conceived policy.
I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and I appreciate again what you did and what the ranking member does on behalf of the people of my district.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Mr. Calvert.
TESTIMONY OF HON. KEN CALVERT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. CALVERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the subcommittee for giving me the opportunity to testify in support of a priority project for inclusion in fiscal year 1999 Water Resources Development Act.
Over the last 25 years the riparian forests along the lower Santa Ana River have become infested with a non-native invasive weed species known as Arundo donax and tamarisk. These exotic weeds have significantly altered the river's natural capacity to transport water and sediment efficiently, maintain native habitat, or provide water for human use. Public and private agencies with ownership and/or management responsibilities along the river share common concerns over wildfires, loss of habitat, excessive transpiration of water, and obstruction of the floodway due to these non-native invasive plants.
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Arundo was first introduced to southern California well over 100 years ago by Spanish settlers who used the plant for many purposes. Some of the known uses were erosion control on ditches, food sources for pigs and goats, and thatch roofing for homes. It is unknown when the plant first entered the Santa Ana River watershed. Local residents remembered only patches of it 20 years ago, especially down in the lower reaches of the main stem river. Since that time, fire and other impacts have favored the fast-growing giant reed over native riparian vegetation. The transportation of sediments carrying root parts, either by flood events or human activity, coupled with the depletion of native plant habitat has allowed this non-native invasive plant to spread in epidemic proportions.
Today over 8,000 acres along the river are infected by just this one non-native invasive species. Some of the major problems that non-native giant reed and other invasive plants cause in the river system are, one, loss of water quantity, since the exotic giant reed uses approximately three times as much water as native species; it is a fire threat when this exotic reed catches fire, because it has a much denser biomass which becomes extremely dry during the summer months and fall and burns like crazy; infrastructure damage when the exotic giant reed is easily dislodged during flood events and dams up behind other structures such as bridges and overpasses, causing expensive damage and increased mitigation pressure from loss of habitat. Habitat for listed endangered species including the Bell's vireo and the southwestern willow flycatcher is being destroyed by infestation of non-native invasive plants. Non-native invasive plants have displaced an estimated 8,000 acres of natural habitat in the Santa Ana River watershed, destroying developed mitigation for the Santa Ana Mainstem Project and other projects.
To effectively control non-native giant reed and other invasive plants in the Santa Ana River, a long-term program funded at $15 million would protect this watershed into perpetuity. The funds would initiate the first treatment and follow-up treatments, allowing the cooperate operating parties to work on developing internal funding mechanisms for long-term maintenance.
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Mr. Chairman, I respectfully request your consideration of this funding request of $15 million. An investment in an efficient watershed-wide program today would empower local communities to control non-native invasive plant problems, reduce the costs of damage, and increase the potential domestic water supply. This request has the broad support of groups such as the Orange County Water District, the Nature Conservancy, the Resource Conservation Districts, the Riverside County Regional Parks and Open Space District, and the local county councils and, I may add, most of the environmental organizations. They have endorsed my goal to obtain $15 million for this project. I would like to submit their letters of support for the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection.
Mr. CALVERT. Again, thank you Mr. Chairman and the rest of the committee for allowing me to testify on this very important project which will provide long-term protection against reinfestation and will result in a dramatic restoration of the watershed. And I might point out Disney Corporation presents an award to elementary schools that become involved in various environmental projects, and Disney Corporation has awarded a local elementary school in my district with their environmental challenge statewide contest. There were 1600 schools participating in this competition. Their winning project studied the effects of Arundo, and so it is certainly a good thing and I hope we can have some help from your good offices.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much and congratulate them on a job well done.
I want to thank all of my colleagues for serving as resources and for submitting their statements. They are very appreciated, and thank you.
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The next panel consists of a distinguished colleague from the State of Texas, Mr. Martin Frost; Mr. Cal Dooley from California; Rosa DeLauro from Rhode IslandI'm sorry, Connecticut; and Ron Kind. I tell all of my colleagues that their statements will appear in the record. We would askas Mr. Weller joins the panelthat you summarize in 5 minutes or less, and we will go in the order introduced. Mr. Frost, you are up first.
TESTIMONY OF HON. MARTIN FROST, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM TEXAS
Mr. FROST. Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much, and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to testify today in support of including the locally preferred plan of the Johnson Creek Project in Arlington, Texas, a project for flood damage reduction, environmental restoration, and recreation in the Water Resources Development Act.
Over the years, I have been heavily involved with the Johnson Creek Project. The Army Corps of Engineers' original plan was to construct a deep concrete and rock-lined channel along the creek. The channel would have given the creek a 30-foot concrete bottom. However, in 1995 the city of Arlington chose to examine other options for flood control along Johnson Creek and chose a plan which incorporated environmental and recreational uses.
The estimated total cost of the project is $19.860 million with an estimated Federal cost of $12.485 million and an estimated non-Federal cost of $7.375 million. The city is requesting that the Corps cost-share in the locally preferred plan in the same percentage as the national economic development plan.
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Johnson Creek, which drains 20.7 square miles, is a tributary of the west fork of the Trinity River that flows through the cities of Arlington and Grand Prairie. Floods along Johnson Creek have resulted in significant property damages since the 1940s. In 1977, the flood inundated about 70 homes, and 65 families were evacuated and one life was lost. The flood of May 1989 damaged approximately 175 structures in Arlington.
The project is a separate element of the ongoing Upper Trinity River feasibility study which was authorized by Congress in 1990. The Johnson Creek interim feasibility study is scheduled to be completed in July 1998. Preconstruction engineering and design is scheduled to be initiated in January 1999 and completed in January 2000.
The locally preferred plan would consist of the acquisition and removal of a total of 109 structures. The recreation features would include 1,406 linear feet of concrete trail, to include hike and biking trails, in addition to three footbridges. Environmental restoration measures would include acquisition of approximately 195 acres of currently undeveloped areas within the corridor.
I want to submit for the record a letter of support from the Mayor of Arlington, Mayor Elzie Odom.
Mr. FROST. The city of Arlington is ready to go forward with this project and I respectfully request your consideration of this project and again, I appreciate the opportunity to testify here today.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, this is an extraordinary development. The Corps of Engineers was ready to pour concrete a few years ago basically to concrete a good portion of this creek to accomplish flood control, and the citizens decided they didn't want a concrete solution, they wanted an environmental solution. And so the city council rejected the money to pour concrete from the Corps of Engineers and opted for developing an environmental approach or acquiring property and making various environmental improvements to the area to let the creek flow more naturally, and that is in fact what the local city council is now asking for, authorized by this committee, and I would urge that this committee agree to their request.
Mr. BOEHLERT. It is very appropriate that you advance that request on earth day.
TESTIMONY OF HON. ROSA L. DeLAURO, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CONNECTICUT
Ms. DELAURO. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to discuss the Milford Point Beach Flood Control Project. I hope to convince you to include an authorizing cap increase of $600,000 through the Water Resources Development Act which would enable this flood control project to proceed. Milford Point Beach is located in Milford, Connecticut, which is situated in my congressional district. The Army Corps of Engineers describes the flood control project as follows: ''The city of Milford is located in south central Connecticut along the northern shore of Long Island Sound. Point Beach is a residential subdivision located in Milford about 75 miles northeast of New York City and 10 miles southwest of New Haven, Connecticut. The proposed project involves raising the first floor of 58 shorefront and backshore residential structures above the estimated 100-year flood elevation.''
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Milford Point Beach is subject to a high probability of flooding during any given 5-year period. That is why this project holds such great urgency and why it should be advanced as part of the reauthorization of the next Water Resources Development Act.
The Army Corps of Engineers has twice attempted to bid out this project under its existing $2 million authorizing cap. This authorization was provided under section 103 of the 1962 River and Harbor Act. Both bid cycles significantly exceeded the cap. Following the first bid cycle, I sought an authorizing cap increase. This request was declined by this authorizing committee in order to ensure that the Army Corps of Engineers sought other remedies to remain within the authorizing cap.
However, when the Corps reduced the scope of the project from raising all 59 houses out of the floodplain to just 6 houses, bids came in even higher than the original bids. The smaller construction companies bidding on these projects bid high because they required more capital for making modifications such as adding new staircases to the house porches. These bids would have increased the per-household assessment for the local cost share from about $16,000 to about $19,000.
I am seeking your consent to the inclusion of a measure in WRDA that would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to accept a flood control project bid that is $600,000 above its currently-authorized level. The project at Point Beach, Milford, Connecticut, received higher than expected bids and needs this authorization in order to bid out a new contract. The project provides for 65 percent Federal, 35 percent State/local cost share. Milford is a small community that in fact cannot afford a higher cost share. If the project is bid out at about $4 million as expected, the Federal share will be $2.6 million and the State and local share will be $1.4 million. Under this agreement, the Corps exceeds its existing cap even with a cost of living adjustment and other adjustments under existing law.
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I wish to include a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Michael Pratt, District Engineer from the Army Corps of Engineers, describing the current status of the Milford Point Beach Project. His letter describes the financial burden that would be placed on individual households if the authorizing cap is not raised.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the committee for your consideration of this request.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
TESTIMONY OF HON. CAL DOOLEY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Mr. DOOLEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for allowing me to testify today. I also want to thank you and compliment you on the leadership that you are providing in trying to fund a Superfund reform measure this year.
Mr. BOEHLERT. And I am negligent in not thanking you for the leadership that you are providing, too. It is a very important issue and this subcommittee has jurisdiction, as you know, and we are trying to reach a bipartisan consensus, and I appreciate all of the time and effort that you have expended to help us arrive at that objective.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DOOLEY. Thank you. And I certainly commend the committee, too, for moving forward with WRDA 98. I think it is important that we try to find ways in which we can authorize projects, projects which have significant benefits to districts and areas throughout the country.
My congressional district lies in the southern portion of California Central Valley, and the Central Valley Project has made the valley the most productive agricultural region in the world, providing a stable, abundant supply of quality food and fiber for the entire Nation. The CVP also includes features that control flooding, reduce serious overdrafts of groundwater, and provide water and environmentally clean hydroelectrical power for cities and industries.
We are still faced with, almost every year winter, storms that bring renewed and severe, and occasionally deadly, flooding to a small number of communities within the Central Valley, and for a number of years the Congress has agreed to fund a number of projects that examine flooding problems in the valley in order that we might find permanent solutions to these very serious problems. Two of the studies are now near completion and are ready for consideration by this subcommittee.
The first of these projects is a study on the Arroyo Pasajero which is located in southwestern Fresno County near the communities of Coalinga and Huron. The Army Corps and the California Department of Water Resources are rapidly approaching the conclusion of a 4-year feasibility study.
The draft feasibility study report is expected this summer and will identify two plans, both estimated to cost roughly $250 million, that determine and support a Federal interest in flood control at Arroyo Pasajero. Because the completion of the study and ensuing report will just miss WRDA 98 authorization schedules, a conditional authorization is justified for this critically-needed flood control project, and this conditional authorization is also being pursued by California State Water Commission as well as the State Water Project Contractors, as well as both Senators from California.
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The reason why I think it is justified is that we have a situation which is causing a great deal of economic and human threat to California. It was just in 1995 that seven people died when the Arroyo Pasajero flooded and wiped out two bridges on Interstate 5.
The other thing that is most important to finding a solution to the flooding of Arroyo Pasajero is not only because of the damage it can provide to Interstate 5 but also because of the potential to breach the California aqueduct which supplies water to nearly 20 million people in the Los Angeles area in southern California. So therefore I think this project is one that is most needed and justified.
The last project I would like to touch on is one which would elevate the dam on the Success Reservoir on the Tule River. This is a simple and relatively inexpensive project that will protect the homes and businesses of more than 30,000 San Joaquin residents, including the city of Porterville in Tulare County, and downstream agricultural lands.
Let me just point out that last year we had 40,000 acres that were under water of productive farmland, and this year we are going to be approaching almost half that amount because of our inability to retain some water. So this is another project which I think is meriting again a conditional authorization because the Joint Task Feasibility Report will not be included until this summer.
This request for a conditional authorization is also an effort in which I am being joined by my colleague, Congressman Bill Thomas, who also represents Tulare County.
Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Mr. Weller.
TESTIMONY OF HON. JERRY WELLER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM ILLINOIS
Mr. WELLER. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is always good to be in the confines of the Transportation Committee. Having spent the first 2 years on this committee with you, it is good to be back and be here.
I want to thank you, the committee, and Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to testify. I would like to, of course, summarize my statement. I can submit my main statement for the record and summarize the points that I would like to share with you, but to testify in support of my request.
What I am requesting here today, Mr. Chairman, is a simple transfer of congressional authority for an as-yet unconstructed portion of the Chicagoland Underflow Plan Project in Thornton, Illinois, which is in my district as well as in the south suburbs of Chicago, from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to the Army Corps of Engineers.
Let me just quickly give a brief history of why this is necessary. The Water Resources Development Act of 1988 authorized the Thornton Reservoir Project as part of the Chicagoland Underflow Plan. CUP is a flood protection plan designed to reduce basement and street flooding as well as to help Chicago implement the Clean Water Act. Over 500,000 housing structures are potentially subject to basement flooding, with more than 100,000 in my district alone.
Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Federal taxpayers since 1995 have invested $55.1 million in this project so far. And, as authorized, the solution to the flooding problem lies with the Thornton Reservoir, the Calumet system portion to be designed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which would be combined with a congressionally authorized but unconstructed U.S. Soil Conservation Service, now the Natural Resources Conservation Service Reservoir in the Thornton Quarry.
The purpose of the NRCS Reservoir is to reduce overbank flooding in the Little Calumet River Basin, south suburbs; and combining the two reservoir projects at one site in Thornton will produce an estimated cost savings to the taxpayers of $16 million as compared to constructing two separate reservoirs at separate locations.
The bottom line is that we save money in the long run while solving flood control problems.
I might note that in the last several years, Chicago's south suburban communities have been hit with heavy storms. However, because of the local level of funds appropriated to the NRCS small watershed program, the NRCS portion of this key project could not proceed on any realistic schedule. While we would like to keep the NRCS involved, because they do have a successful record in our area, our communities of course cannot wait 10 to 15 years for them to put together the funds to construct this project. So we ask that directing the Corps of Engineers to construct the NRCS portion of this project makes good sense for a number of reasons.
First, Congress has already authorized the work and the NRCS plan is currently tied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan, and flood control capacity remains the same under this approach; and, most importantly, significant recent floods in the area require timely flood protection. The Corps' work on Thornton is currently underway and can proceed quicker for the overall reservoir than an NRCS effort.
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Finally, Federal and non-Federal costs will be kept limited under this approach due to a timely completion schedule.
Of course, the construction of the NRCS portion would be in accordance with the NRCS Little Calumet River watershed plan and environmental impact statement and the cost-sharing for this work shall be in keeping with the congressionally authorized cost-sharing for Corps of Engineers flood control projects.
Mr. Chairman, this is an important environmental initiative as well as an important flood control project with 131,000 homeowners in south Chicago suburbs, and I do want to thank the committee for your consideration regarding this project which is important to a lot of good folks back home.
Again, I would be happy to answer any questions and thank you for the opportunity to testify.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Mr. Kind.
TESTIMONY OF HON. RON KIND, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM WISCONSIN
Mr. KIND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the subcommittee for allowing me to testify before you today.
Page 159 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I am here to testify in support of the reauthorization of the vitally-important Environmental Management Program which affects the entire Mississippi River and, in fact, I have a more detailed written statement that I would like to submit for the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection.
Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I speak as one of four co-chairmen of the bipartisan Upper Mississippi River Congressional Task Force. That task force was formed this year in order to draw a little more attention and a little more focus on Mississippi River issues before the United States Congress.
This task force is comprised of 16 members of Congress from the five Upper Mississippi River States of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. The task force fully supports permanent reauthorization of the Upper Mississippi River System Environmental Management Program better known as EMP. We also believe that it should be reauthorized for $33.17 million annually to account for inflation since EMP was originally authorized back in 1986.
EMP is a cooperative effort among the Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Geological Service and the five Upper Mississippi River Basin States. The program supports the economic and environmental values of the river. It helps us to better manage and maintain the river as both a major artery in our country's navigation infrastructure, and as a diverse ecosystem. This benefits fish and wildlife and bolsters local economies through recreational opportunities for local communities and tourism.
Page 160 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When Congress established the EMP program in 1986, it recognized the Mississippi River as a nationally significant ecosystem and a nationally significant navigation system.
My predecessor, Steve Gunderson, was instrumental in originally drafting and then passing the EMP program back in 1986. EMP was created in direct response to the realization of the Corps that the Corps had no data or ability to evaluate the effect of expansion of the commercial navigational system on the Mississippi River.
EMP guides the balanced development and use of the Mississippi River, but perhaps most importantly, Mr. Chairman, EMP has always enjoyed wide bipartisan support in Congress and back in the States that effect it. The support is once again evidenced by the equal representation on the River Task Force; the five Upper Mississippi River State conservation agencies are also active participants in the program because it has also enjoyed bipartisan support from the State Governors.
Maintaining the proper balance between economic growth and environmental protection is essential to the health of the Mississippi River and the communities within its watershed. EMP achieves this balance through cooperative efforts of Federal, State and local interests.
EMP has made significant accomplishments since it began in 1986. By developing a concept of the ecosystem health of the river, it has supplied unique information for maintaining the river's multiple uses in a more ecologically friendly way.
Page 161 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC EMP investigates and documents the adverse effects of commercial navigation on the river's ecosystems. This knowledge has helped EMP restore habitats and improve fish and wildlife populations on the Mississippi River. It also contributed a significant amount of information to the Corps of Engineers' navigation feasibility study which addresses the future needs of commercial navigation on the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois waterway. This study will include recommendations on lock and dam expansions and infrastructure needs for the river.
EMP is also vital to the economic well-being of the Upper Mississippi River area. Navigation in this area supports 400,000 full and part-time jobs which produce about $4 billion of individual income. Recreational use attracts 12 million visitors each year, which generate about $1.2 billion of direct and indirect spending. As barge traffic and recreational demand increases, so will the importance of monitoring and balancing the ecological health of the river.
The Upper Mississippi River Task Force supports reports the recommendations made in the EMP report to Congress which was submitted by the Corps of Engineers in December of this year. We would specifically like to emphasize the importance of permanent reauthorization as well as increased funding that the Corps is recommending.
Permanent reauthorization is important for the long-term success of the program. EMP projects require several years of planning and engineering and construction. They have a fairly long project implementation pipeline. If EMP is not reauthorized as a current authorization sunsets, EMP administrators will be forced to ramp down activities on current contracts and avoid entering new contracts. Permanent reauthorization will prevent this problem and allow the program to run seamlessly and effectively.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Increasing the authorized funding level of EMP is also critical to its success into the 21st century. The effects of inflation will continue to erode the effectiveness of EMP in a dramatic fashion. As recommended by the Corps, the task force supports authorizing funding for EMP at $33.17 million, a level equivalent to the original authorization amount back in 1986, adjusted for inflation.
The unique bipartisan multistate support EMP receives and the strong level of cooperation among Federal, State and local entities is a model for all government resource programs.
Mr. Chairman, on a personal note, as a kid who grew up in a river city in western Wisconsin called La Crosse, I remember many times during the sixties and the seventies when I would go down to my favorite swimming beaches, only to find those beaches closed because of the high bacteria count. Or throwing my fishing rod over my shoulder and heading down to my favorite fishing holes on the Mississippi, only to read signs posted warning us not to eat the fish we caught because of the high mercury content in those fish.
That largely has been cleaned up, in large part due to the success and the cooperation that programs EMP have brought to the region, so I would hope that this subcommittee would join the Upper Mississippi River Task Force in support of reauthorization of the Environmental Management Program.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much for the excellent statement. We really appreciate it.
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We saved the best for last.
Our newest colleague, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, welcome.
I would assume that this is your first testimony.
Ms. LEE. It is.
Mr. BOEHLERT. But I would point out that the best Members of Congress are former staff members because we appreciate what it is all about. I would suggest that you probably submitted many statements in somebody else's name that you had prepared. I was heartened when I heard your moving speech yesterday, your maiden speech on the floor.
You mentioned the environmental and infrastructure in almost the same sentence because the two are not incompatible. If we use our heads and we respond, we can move forward with both.
It is a pleasure to welcome you here as a colleague and I would suggest that you have as much time that you want and we would ask that you try to keep it under 5 minutes.
TESTIMONY OF HON. BARBARA LEE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM CALIFORNIA
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members. I certainly do appreciate your very warm welcome, and given the fact that I am a former staff member, I know the importance of succinct and concise testimony, so I hope that I will be brief.
I have been involved in these issues relating to the Port of Oakland and to dredging for many years, and I appreciate very much being able to be here.
With regard to the fact that Congressman Ron Dellums, my predecessor, worked very diligently on these issues, he really had left me one of the most important issues, to continue to ensure that the Port of Oakland maintains its economic viability. It will enable it to serve as an important and necessary gateway for international trade, also building the local, regional and national economy.
As you are aware, container ships that sail the ocean sealanes are now drafting depths of 46 and 47 feet. This requires a total of 50 feet of channel depth in order to accommodate the next generation of container ships. Currently the Port of Oakland is completing a dredging project originally authorized in WRDA 86 that has taken the channel down to 42 feet. Already, as you can see, advances in ship technology have pushed beyond what was, an adequate depth.
This difficulty will mean that as the Asia-Pacific maritime trade grows, the United States will face a potentially critical shortage of port capacity unless all gateway ports are optimized to handle this growing requirement.
Such a moment is near enough that it is critical to actually begin the modernization of the Port of Oakland facilities at the earliest possible moment. Without 50 feet of channel depth and the many other modernization improvements scheduled by the Port and its facilities, the United States will be left with a critical shortage of infrastructure in the early years of the next century.
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In response to this reality, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Port have embarked upon an expedited process of assessing the feasibility of Port dredging and consideration of the various disposal options available using authority granted in WRDA 86.
While our final disposal option needs to be selected, the feasibility study will be complete in mid-May and we look forward to a chief's report to be completed by mid-July. The Port is very proud to have pursued a variety of disposal options that could optimize the use of dredging material to construct valuable habitat in the San Francisco estuary.
Included in these options is a potential restoration of shallow water habitat in the harbor of closing naval baseexcuse me, of the closing of our naval base at Oakland, as well as for wetland restoration projects at the former Hamilton Army Airfield and the privately owned Montezuma Wetlands Project.
Mr. Chairman and members, as a State legislator, as I mentioned earlier, I was very involved in trying to secure and facilitate the beneficial reuse of dredged material, so it gives me great pleasure to appear before you today and to urge you to adopt the subcommittee support for inclusion of the Port of Oakland Dredging Project in the 1998 Water Resources and Development Act Reauthorization. And I have submitted a lengthier statement for the record which I would like to ask for its adoption.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection. And let me say you done good; 46 seconds to go, and you completed it in a timely fashion.
Page 166 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We welcome you not only to this subcommittee but to the Congress, and we wish you luck and many successes.
Ms. LEE. Thank you very much. It is very good to be here.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I see we have our colleague, Mr. Matt Salmon.
Mr. Salmon, welcome to the witness table, and proceed as you wish. We would ask that you keep your statement to 5 minutes or less. Your entire statement will appear in the record.
TESTIMONY OF HON. MATT SALMON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM ARIZONA
Mr. SALMON. So, like if I keep it way under 5, are my chances better; is that what you're saying?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Wellyou can follow your colleague's example, and she did very well.
Mr. SALMON. I can just quote from the Jerry Maguire movie, Show Me the Money.
Mr. BOEHLERT. It got him an Academy Award.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SALMON. That is right. Show me the money.
Okay, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify before your subcommittee today concerning the Rio Salado Environmental Restoration Project located in my district in Arizona. If authorized, this partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the cities of Phoenix and Tempe would restore riparian areas in a desert habitat. The Rio Salado Projectand we would love to have you come down, it is a pretty exciting thing all of the way aroundwas initiated early in 1995.
The Army Corps of Engineers will complete its feasibility studies in June, at which time the cities of Phoenix and Tempe would like to proceed with the design phase of the project, beginning the construction phase in 1999. This will require authorizing language from this committee in the Water Resources Development Act of 1998.
I am confident that this project can be advanced while we implement the first balanced budget in a generation. In addition, the Corps has consistently supported the project which will restore a portion of valuable lost wetland habitat along the dry riverbed of the Salt River. The Rio Salado project will provide national environmental benefits and encourage community development in the areas surrounding the project.
In addition to the Corps, the project has broad bipartisan support by the members of the Arizona delegation, and when I say broad support, there are five Republicans and one Democrat, and the Democrat does support it, and so that is broad support.
I know Congressman Hayworth is going to join me today in providing his testimony in support of what I am saying also. Further, the local communities and environmental groups in my district are promoting the project. This plan to restore the Salt River has proven to be sound both physically and environmentally, and will have a positive economic impact on my district, the State, and particularly the Phoenix metro area.
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I am submitting copies of my testimony from Mayor Skip Rimsza from Phoenix providing a detailed description of the project and a delegation letter to the Corps for your review, and thank you for your consideration.
How did I do?
Mr. BOEHLERT. You did very well. Your chances are improving by the minute.
Mr. SALMON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Our final witness for the day is my colleague from New Jersey, Congressman Frank Pallone.
TESTIMONY OF HON. FRANK PALLONE, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM NEW JERSEY
Mr. PALLONE. Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
I wanted to first of allif I could, I will summarize my statement.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I would suggest it would serve to your advantage because this room has to be cleared in preparation for a conference.
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Mr. PALLONE. I wanted to say that your support has really been invaluable on the shore protection and beach erosion and flood control, and I co-chair the Congressional Coastal Caucus with Congressman Clay Shaw of Florida, and I was originally to testify with him but he was here earlier, I noticed.
There are three issues that I want to address today with regard to WRDA: One is a strong and continued Federal role in shore protection; second is dredged material management alternatives for the Port of New York and New Jersey; and lastly, authorization for construction of the Port Monmouth and Cliffwood Beach Shore Protection projects in my district.
As far as shore protection policy is concerned, you know that many of us, particularly in the caucus and certainly in this subcommittee and the full committee, have basically been unwavering in their support of continued strong Federal role in shore protection; and, of course, we have had to go back and forth to the administration, which has not supported many of these things, and despite that, despite the administration and OMB's opposition, we have managed every year to get these projects authorized and to get funding for them.
I guess my concern this year is that the situation is even more bleak in that the President's budget slashed by 79 percent from appropriated levels the amount of money that would be made available for shore protection. I guess I am also concerned that at some point the administration could come before this subcommittee and suggest that you make changes in WRDA so that there wouldn't be as strong a Federal role in shore protection, and so I'm basically asking that that not happen; that you reject the administration's policies, whether it be the lump sum and full upfront funding policies, and some of the other ways that the OMB has tried to put suggestions together to cut back the Federal role in shore protection.
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I was also asking if you could include in WRDA what we are calling the National Shoreline Erosion Control Development and Demonstration Program which involves innovative shoreline control devices. I would like to look at new techniques to deal with shore protection other than just placing the sand, and perhaps you could include that in the bill.
The other thing I guess I would ask, and if I can move away from the shore protection issue because I know that you have supported this in the past, is this whole dredge material management plan for the Port of New York and New Jersey.
You know that in the Port we have had a situation where as of January 1st, pursuant to the agreement that was worked out on a bipartisan basis with the administration, that there is no longer dumping of contaminated dredge material in the ocean, not only off my district but in the whole Port area.
It is even more important that we move ahead with this decontamination demonstration project than ever before. You have been very supportive of that. You have authorized it in previous WRDA bills. We have had funding, I think over $10 million has been appropriated. It has moved forward. It clearly indicates, pursuant to the demonstration project which has been done for the last 5 or 10 years, that this technology is out there, the decontamination or taking the toxins out of the dredge material so that it can be reused in a very beneficial way.
What I would like to ask is that the subcommittee reauthorize section 405 of WRDA 92, which is this Decontamination Technology Demonstration Project.
Page 171 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What we are trying to do now basically is couple the sediment decontamination with beneficial reuse; in other words, find ways to make these technologies and the by-product marketable. And there is probably going to be a private sector/public sector component to build some kind of major decontamination facility in the Port area, and that is the next step, but it won't happen unless you reauthorize the program.
I don't know exactly what kind of language you are going to put in there, Mr. Chairman. I obviously have to talk to the Port of New York and New Jersey delegation, but it would basically be a continuation of what you authorized before.
The second way of trying to deal with this dredge material that I would like to see authorized is the Pennsylvania Mine Site Demonstration Project.
Pennsylvania is very interested in using this dredge material to remediate abandoned mine sites in the State. They have already put some money forward to move in that direction. If we could get that authorized, it would be very helpful in terms of trying to accomplish that.
Lastly, if I could, because I know the time is over here, I wanted to talk about moving ahead with some local projects if I could. One is that many of my shore protection projects are now at the stage where the feasibility studies are almost completed and if it is not authorized in this bill, we won't be able to go to the next step and actually do construction.
One of them is Port Monmouth in the Raritan Bay and the other is the Cliffwood Beach, and the details are in my written testimony so I am not going to give you more information about it, but I would like to get those authorized.
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And the last thing is in the overall Sandy Hook to Barnegat Inlet Beach Erosion Project; this is along the Atlantic coast. This is the one that Congressman Jim Howard started when he was first elected to Congress, and it actually started to bethe construction began when I was elected so we are very proud of the progress that has been made in that project.
But last year when we were moving into certain areas in Monmouth County which I represent, we had to tear down the Long Branch Pier and also provide local monies to extend the Ocean Row Fishing Pier because they were essentially in the way of the project and we weren't going to be able to put the beach replenishment in place unless we made certain changes with regard to these piers. The locals paid for it up front, and in the appropriations bill last year we had some report language asking that this be Federal cost-shared, but it couldn't be done because it wasn't authorized, and so I am asking that you authorize those projects as part of that ongoing shore protection project so that we can have a Federal component with those two piers as part of the overall shore protection project.
Again, I want to thank you for all your support because without the subcommittee support most of the worknot only the shore protection projects in my district but the ones nationallywe would never be able to continue to move forward, and I know you have been out front in opposing what the administration has been trying to do and I want to commend you for that.
Mr. BOEHLERT. We will continue to be very sensitive for the need for shoreline protection, and I also am personally involved with the Port of New York and the problem there.
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I thank you very much for your testimony.
The next hearing of this subcommittee
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Blumenauer.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. May I just ask a brief question?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Sure.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate what you are saying in terms of the very real concerns of coastal communities, but by the same token, the history of the behavior of coastal communities is not particularly exemplary in terms of what local governments and State governments have allowed to have happen in terms of people being put in harm's way. You are aware that there are real concerns that we are just simply, in many cases throwing money at problems and just shifting erosion to other places along the coast.
I am curious if somewhere between the interest that you have as a very ardent supporter of the environment, very keenly interested in protecting tax dollars and the practical implications of coastal communitiesand I appreciate that those are difficultbut I am curious if there aren't some things that we can start doing to have greater responsibility exercised by States and coastal communities so we are not in a situation of trying to work against Mother Nature in a losing battle and continue to have more people put in harm's way.
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Isn't there something good that can be taken from some of the administrative proposals that have come along so that we can get ourselves out of this box that we find over time?
Mr. PALLONE. I will try to be brief in my response, but I have to warn you that this is the great debate that I deal with in my congressional district. This is the debate that goes on and on every day in newspapers over the last 20, 30, I don't know how many years.
I think that I would say that my approach has been that every time I have looked at shore protection and seen what the alternatives are, I find from a cost-benefit analysis it makes more sense to do the beach replenishment than not, because we are talking about very high-density areas where the beaches, the beachfront is already very, very developed and there really isn't much land available, you know, that is open, if you will.
New Jersey has very strict laws with regard to construction, new construction in the coastal zone, all the way down to single family homes, okay. But thethat is for new construction.
The problem when you talk about beach replenishment is that basically these are older, densely-populated areas, where if you don't do the beach replenishment, what happens is the storm comes in and causes tremendous damage, and then we have to declare a national emergency and get FEMA funds and all these other things to, you know, cure, if you will, the damage that has been caused.
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So if you look at it from a cost analysis, what you see is if you put the sand in place, even though it may be very costly, in the long run it saves the Federal Government money, as well as the State and local government money, because it is preventive, and preventive action is always better than having the damage that comes from the destructive storm and the cost that is ultimately incurred by the Federal Government.
So I guess I make a distinction between an area where there isn't anything, an area where you can be very strict about the type of construction, as opposed to the need for beach replenishment to protect what is already there.
I would say that I think that so far, the administration hasn't been very helpful because they don't bring up the issues that you are raising. They are just saying yes, we should do the beach replenishment, but the Federal Government can't afford it so let the State and local governments. They don't question whether or not it should be done; they just say that we don't want to pay for it. And, to me, that is not legitimate because these towns in the State really can't afford the cost of it. In other words, if they had to pay 100 percent, they wouldn't be able to do it, and we would have the problems that we face.
The other thing that I would say, and this is one of the things that I mentioned, I think we should start looking at innovative ways other than just placing sand.
I have no problem, and I think I mentioned the demonstration project, to look at other techniques that might be utilized to try to protect the shoreline and having the Army Corps invest in those kinds of techniques as an alternative to shore protection. The Corps has been very much opposed to those kinds of structural approaches. All they want to do is place sand. Right now it is important to place sand, and that is what I would speak to you to do, but I think it is not a bad idea to look at some of these other alternatives in terms of capturing the sand and trying to keep it in place.
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I know that is a lot, and I can talk forever.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the feedback. I guess what this committee has been looking at in conjunction with FEMA, in areas I think are somewhat analogous, is that we are not going to continue to rebuild communities that have been flooded out, for instance, in the Midwest where God doesn't want them, and we are starting to look again. Not pulling the rug out from underneath people overnight, but over time coming up with approaches that are more sustainable.
New technologies are one thing, but I think also having a balance of this where peoplewhere we don't continue to rebuild, replenish, restore. And maybe there are some signals where we have to start moving, where the Federal Government helps the States and local governments do that. If not then local governments need to do that on their own.
I don't know that the Federal taxpayer needs to continually bail out everybody who is in harm's way, and I think we need to be thinking of this in much the same way that we are looking at some of the flood control.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That's a very useful comment, and I appreciate your response. We have to constantly be looking at new and better ways to do things that we have always done one way. The way that we have always done it doesn't necessarily reflect the best way for the future.
I appreciate your testimony and I appreciate your commentary. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be Tuesday the 28th of April at 2:00 in this room.
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This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:50 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
PROPOSALS FOR A WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 1998
TUESDAY, APRIL 28, 1998
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2 p.m., in Room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Welcome to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.
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We meet today to receive testimony from the Administration on its proposed Water Resources Development Act of 1998, and on programs and policies of the Army Corps of Engineers.
One of this subcommittee's highest priorities this year is enactment of a Water Resources Development Act. Therefore, I am pleased that after much anticipation the Administration has sent up its bill. In addition, in its letter of transmittal, and accompanying report language, the Administration indicated the importance of Congress moving a 1998 bill so as to keep faith with the 2-year authorization process and to define the focus and direction of the program. These are all good signs of the cooperation and bipartisanship that must be present in order to meet our objective.
The Corps' proposal itself embodies some important themes in priorities. There seems to be an emphasis on environmental restoration, flood damage reduction, and partnership with the private sector. As always, there will be broad support for these concepts. However, the debate will be over how specifically to enhance current and evolving responsibilities.
Along those lines, I'm sure the subcommittee will take a close look at what the Administration is calling the centerpiece of its bill, The Flood Hazard Mitigation and Riverine Ecosystem Restoration Program, or Challenge 21.
Right now, the Congress is taking a close look at what some are calling ''Challenge 21 percent,'' a reference to the fact that the Corps' Fiscal Year 1999 budget request is a 21 percent reduction over amounts Congress appropriated last year. We can't walk away from our existing commitments and programs involving the heart and soul of our Nation's water infrastructure, such as ports, locks, and dams, navigation channels, flood control facilities, shore protection, and storm damage reduction measures, and multi-purpose reservoirs. All of us, including the Administration, need to keep in mind the existing commitments and priorities before shifting funds or priorities into different directions.
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I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure enactment of a 1998 bill that is responsive to environmental, water, and transportation infrastructure needs and is also fiscally responsible.
We are honored to have as witnesses today representatives of the Army, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, and Corps of Engineers. A representative of the Department of Treasury is also present to provide additional insight on the particular issues associated with the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the harbor maintenance tax.
Let me now turn to my distinguished colleague, the Ranking Democrat of the subcommittee, Mr. Borski, for any remarks that he might care to make.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to join you in welcoming the Administration to today's hearings on water resources legislation for 1998. I am pleased that the Administration acknowledges the importance of enacting water resources legislation on a regular 2-year cycle. This is clearly one of the priorities of this subcommittee in each Congress, and I intend to work with you, Mr. Chairman, to make it happen.
At our previous hearings, we heard criticisms of the budget request for the civil works program, and we will hear those criticisms today. I do not support the reductions in spending within the budget. I believe that the cost to the Nation for lack of investment will be greater in the long-term than any short-term savings can justify.
When we began these hearings a month ago, I stated that it was simply not responsible to lead the American people to believe that cuts in discretionary programs in the magnitude being discussed would not lead to some pain. Well, the pain is now arriving. Furthermore, The Washington Post reports that the Budget Committee Chairman is completing work on a budget plan to cut domesticto cut domestic funding by an additional $154 billion over the next 5 years. If the cuts seem untenable now, imagine the additional cuts under such a proposal. Instead of a mindless adherence to reduce spending, we should recognize the greater need to invest wisely in the Nation's water infrastructure and its environment.
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Mr. Chairman, I believe that the Administration's proposal for the Challenge 21 program could be such a wise investment. It calls for a more comprehensive approach to reducing the damage from flooding, or restoring and protecting the aquatic environment. In addition, it sounds consistent with the subcommittee's review of policies related to mitigation for disasters and post-disaster response.
I look forward to hearing more about these and other proposals from our witnesses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Mascara follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. You'll notice the similarity in the opening statements. Let me ask, Mr. Horn, do you have anything you'd care to add? All right, fine. Well, here we go. We have one panel today that's a very distinguished panel returning in a very familiar role as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army is Dr. John Zirschky, accompanied by Mr. Michael Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for policy and legislation; and Major General Russell Fuhrman, Director of Civil Works for the Army Corps of Engineers; and we also have from the Department of the Treasury, Mr. John Parcell, Associate Tax Legislative Counsel, the Office of Tax Policy.
Page 181 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Gentlemen, you may proceed in any manner you deem appropriate, and we're not going to have unrealistic time constraints. Do what you have to do, and we'll do what we have to do in response. Dr. Zirschky?
TESTIMONY OF DR. JOHN H. ZIRSCHKY, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, CIVIL WORKS, ACCOMPANIED BY MICHAEL DAVIS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR POLICY AND LEGISLATION, AND MAJOR GENERAL RUSSELL L. FUHRMAN, DIRECTOR OF CIVIL WORKS, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER; AND JOHN H. PARCELL, ASSOCIATE TAX LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL, OFFICE OF TAX POLICY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. For the past 4 years, I've been proud to have been associated with the Army and its Corps of Engineers. I anticipate that with the confirmation of a new assistant secretary that this may be the last time I testify before you for a while, and I want to thank you all for all the courtesy you've shown me since 1994.
Accompanying me today, as you mentioned, sir, are Major General Russel Fuhrman, and Mr. Michael Davis. I'd briefly like to cover three issues today: briefly, our performance, a little on the budget and, as you both noted, the Administration's authorization bill.
At the last hearing, Mr. Chairman, you asked for a brief review of our performance. Included in the written statement is a synopsis of our overall performance. Performance has decreased slightly from our record levels of a few years ago, but so far this year we're doing much better, and I want to commend Major General Fuhrman and his staff for these improvements.
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I'd like to show you several charts, if I might, Mr. Chairman, about how long it takes projects to get through the study process which has been a longstanding concern of you and your fellow committee members. The first chart shows that we've reduced the average time for study, beginning when the project is funded, through the completion of the feasibility study from 8 years in Fiscal Year 1993 to a little under 6 years in the last Fiscal Year of 1997. Unfortunately, sir, with some of the budget issues that you raised, everything that we have saved in reducing our study time has been eaten up in delays due to construction funding slippage.
The next chart, sir, shows how long it takes small construction projects, or continuing authority projects to get through the system. And basically what this chart shows is that, using 1993 as a baseline, we've cut roughly the times for those in half. It has not always been a consistent decrease but so far we've cut the time to get a small project through the system in half. But, again, we're running into construction funding problems as well there.
The last chart, Mr. Chairman, is on our wetlands permits. You've consistently asked us to keep track of how many of our permits are over two or 3 years old. The first time that I was acting, you raised this to my attention in July of 1994 when we had over 200 permits that were over 2 years old. We've since cut that by about 90 percent. In recent months, it has increased slightly but we're working to get that number back down again.
Performance improvement is a key part of our strategic plan. I only briefly mention this in my written testimony. Our GPRA strategic plan was submitted to this committee last Fall, and, unfortunately, did not fair very well in the review. But we feel our second draft, is much improved, and hope it receives a favorable review by the committee. But we stand ready to work with you in correcting any deficiencies in our strategic plan that you see fit.
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Next, the budget, sir, has been an issue of considerable concern. I bring this up only in this context because the Administration would like to try to limit the water bill to an amount which we can reasonably execute in light of the current budget situation. There's already a significant backlog of projects that are already in the pipeline. There may be ways to address some of these projects but ultimately we believe that the Administration and the Congress must reach some agreement on funding levels, and we're hopeful that these discussions can begin soon. It's very difficult, sir, for the Army to try to plan a program when there's such a wide disagreement between the executive branch and the legislative branch on the future of our program.
For its part, the Administration has submitted a very modest authorization request indicating that the Administration does want to continue to invest in new water resources programs, including new flood damage reduction projects. For example, this bill would authorize a desperately needed flood protection project for the Sacramento, California area. The citizens of this area are at high risk for flooding. The combination of dam modifications and levee raising will give the citizens more than 150 year level of protection. Currently, sir, they're well below 100 years which we believe is an unacceptable risk.
From a policy standpoint, there are two major elements of this bill. The first is shore protection. The Administration has submitted a proposal to put shore protection on an equal footing with other types of projects. The committee has asked for such a position for some time, and the Army is pleased that there's been progress made on this front. The Administration's proposal is for the Army to pay for 65 percent of the first costs, and to have the project sponsors pay 65 percent for the follow-on ''renourishment'' costs.
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Secondly, sir, the Administration has responded to a growing request for a new type of flood damage reduction project, one in which communities are protected and the natural values of the floodplain are protected. Many of your constituents and organizations, such as the National Association of Flood and Storm Water Management Agencies, have endorsed this proposal. This is an issue that the Army developed and which we hope that you will support.
Last, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to call your attention to an important centennial. In the background information for my testimony, we provided an excerpt from an 1899 piece of legislation that your predecessors, sir, put the Army in the environmental protection business with the Refuse Act of 1899. We would like to work with the committee to commemorate this historic event when we start our 101st year on March 3, 1999, and think that the committee and Congress should take credit for their foresight of 100 years ago in protecting our Nation's water resources.
I'll be happy to brief the committee, or any Member, on this bill or any other issues. And with that, Mr. Chairman, I conclude my statement, and that after the testimony of the gentleman from Treasury, we'll be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, and I would note that your charts, the movement is in the correct direction. And, General, I want to thank you for the good work you're doing. It's not easy. I know it. It's easy from this end to do all the complaining. It's hard from your end to do all the implementing but we'll have some discussion about that. Mr. Parcell?
Page 185 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PARCELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the committee. I'm pleased to be here today to present the views of the Treasury Department on future collections for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and any disbursements that may be required because of the recent Supreme Court
Mr. BOEHLERT. Could you pull the microphone a little bit closer?
Mr. PARCELL. and disbursement that be required because of the recent Supreme Court decision in United States Shoe Corporation.
The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was created in 1986 to provide for the operation and maintenance of channels and harbors. Since its creation, the Fund has been supported by the harbor maintenance tax. This is an ad valorem tax on any use of U.S. ports. The Code currently provides for a tax rate of .125 percent of the value of commercial cargo, loaded or unloaded, in U.S. ports.
In U.S. Shoe, the Supreme Court held that the harbor maintenance tax, as applied to exports, violates the Export Clause of the Constitution, which provides ''no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State.'' The Court noted that the decision does not mean that exporters are exempt from any and all user fees designed to defray the cost of harbor development and maintenance. However, such a fee must fairly match the exporter's use of port services and facilities. The Court concluded that the harbor maintenance fee did not satisfy this test.
Page 186 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the Court's view, the value of export cargo does not correlate reliably with Federal harbor services used or usable by the exporter. Instead, the extent and manner of port use depends on factors such as the size and tonnage of a vessel, the length of time it spends in port, and the service it requires.
As a result of the decision in U.S. Shoe, the harbor maintenance tax is no longer being collected on goods in export transit. Under existing law, the tax continues to be collected on imports, domestic cargo, and on passenger transportation. In Fiscal Year 1999, the first full year in which tax will not be imposed on exports, collections will total approximately $600 million. Collections are expected to increase thereafter to $765 million in Fiscal Year 2003. My written testimony includes a chart that shows estimated tax collections for each of the Fiscal Years from 1998 through 2003.
Until procedures to implement a refund process are developed, it's premature to speculate on the effect of refunds on Trust Fund balances. Representatives of the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Management and Budget are currently developing those procedures and will prepare a report on their conclusions for the Court of International Trade. When the report is complete, its preparers would be pleased to meet with the subcommittee, or its staff, to discuss their conclusions.
In assessing the effects of the Supreme Court decision, three other factors should be considered. The first is the current balance of the Trust Fund. At the beginning of the Fiscal Year, the balance was approximately $1.1 billion. The second factor is the level of planned expenditures from the Fund to support the Corps of Engineers activities. The President's budget for Fiscal Year 1999 projects expenditures from the Trust Fund ranging from $478 million for Fiscal Year 1999 to $709 million for Fiscal Year 2003. My written testimony also provides projected expenditures for each of the Fiscal Years from 1999 through 2003.
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The final factor affecting Trust Fund balances is the amount of interest credited to the Fund. This, of course, will vary depending on the extent to which refunds offset Trust Fund balances. My written testimony provides a table summarizing the effect of the Supreme Court's decision, other than effects relating to refunds on Trust Fund balances from Fiscal Year 1998 through Fiscal Year 2003. In general, the table shows that if refunds are not taken into account, the balance will increase from approximately $1.1 billion to over $1.9 billion during this period. As I noted previously, however, it's premature to speculate on the extent to which refunds will affect the Trust Fund balance.
I'd also note that there is an inter-agency working group led by the Office of Management and Budget, and including the Treasury Department, the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Transportation, the Justice Department, and other affected agencies, to develop recommendations for alternative funding sources. As part of this process, we're also considering the merits of complaints by some of our trading partners that the harbor maintenance tax, as it applies to imports, may be inconsistent with our international obligations. The Administration is using this opportunity to take a comprehensive look at this problem. When this analysis is complete, the Administration expects to submit to Congress a legislative proposal that will provide adequate support for harbor maintenance programs in an equitable and constitutional manner.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks, but I'm alsoI would also be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Well, thank you. Since you have the microphone, we'll go right to you. Your testimony states that it's premature to determine the impact of refunds on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. However, do you have some estimate of the range of the potential refunds, how large would they be?
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Mr. PARCELL. No, sir, we don't have an estimate at this time. I would say that in recent years we estimate that exporters have been paying taxes in the range of $200 million per year.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Is it possible that we would have to pay the refunds out of the Trust Fund?
Mr. PARCELL. The sourcing of the refunds is one of the issues that's under consideration by the OMB, Justice Department, Treasury group that
Mr. BOEHLERT. So in all fairness, it's kind of early to really get some specifics on the range and where itall right. Thank you.
Dr. Zirschky, permit me for being a little parochial at the outset, but in 1996 in a water bill we authorized $22 million for the New York City Watershed Project. And the Appropriations Committee last year included $5 million for the project. Yet I'm told by the State of New York, the City of New York, and the watershed towns that I happen to represent that not a nickel of the money has yet been spent. Now it's a pretty important issue. It involves the drinking water supply for nine million people, and I have to believe that all over the country people are looking at what we're doing in this the largest watershed in America, pretty important segment. What are we doing, and why aren't we doing it sooner?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. There's a couple of issues, sir. One is that the New York District is busy coordinating with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Part of the problem is, I just learned, that we have an agreement, currently under review by the Army's General Counsel, that we need to get approved. It's a guidance and model agreement that will allow us to proceed with some of the work. So I needwhen I get back, sir, to immediately call our lawyer and ask him where it is.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Do you have any feelI mean, the lawyers are looking at it now, and lawyers can look at things forever?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Generally, the Army General Counsel, particularly when I come back and tell them that I was specifically queried on by the Chairman, responds very quickly.
[The information follows:]
Army General Counsel has approved the model agreement for design services. The model has been provided New York District for preparation and coordination of a formal agreement between the New York Department of Environmental Services and the Corps to proceed with the design aspects of the New York City Watershed program .
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. That's heartening, I'm sure those are words of encouragement to all my colleagues but this is a pretty important matter. And I think you would agree that it's sort of a test case and a model for the rest of the Nation, and I think this committee on a bipartisan basis is most anxious to deal with issues on a watershed basis. So, therefore, it has a very high priority in terms of my personal agenda, as an individual representative, but in terms of my capacity as the Chairman of what I like to think is a very important subcommittee dealing with very important matters.
Let me ask both you and General Fuhrman, what role do you think the authorizing committee should play in review of strategic plans and performance plans?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I'll go first, I believe the
Mr. BOEHLERT. I know you probably would prefer that we sort of stand back and let you do your thing, but I think we have some responsibility. I'd like to know what you think about it, the General too.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I believe it's very important for the Congress and its committees to be well aware of what we're doing. I believe that the GPRA Act, the Government Performance and Results Act, that you passed is a very important means for Congress to exercise its oversight responsibilities to make sure that we're delivering the kind of performance that we should. And as a former staff member for the authorizing committee, I believe you should play a strong role in that process.
Mr. BOEHLERT. How about you, General, do you have some words of wisdom to share with us on that one?
General FUHRMAN. From my perspective I think it's important first of all, as you take a look at it, to assure we do a better job of measuring or trying to identify outputs that are positive and holistic for the Nation, and the second piece of it is the accountability piece. This is where members of the committee can take a look at it and hold us accountable for how our performance has been over a period of time.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Just let me say, from my own experience, and this is the third year in this capacity, I like the interaction we have and I welcome your comments and your guidance. There's a lot that I have to learn in my capacity as Chairman of this subcommittee, and I think we rely very heavily on the expertise you're able to bring to bear on a given subject, but when all is said and done, we have a responsibility to help shape responsible public policy, and we can only do it, I think, in a successful way if we do it together.
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Let me ask, Dr. Zirschky, it appears that the Congress would have no approval authority on the projects developed under your the Challenge 21 program, other than maybe a mere 21-day review period. Is there any similar program in the Corps where there is a continuing authority to construct projects of this size and scope without congressional review?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. The program that we have that is most similar is the small flood control project, that limit is $40 million for the total program. So, no, sir, this would be somewhat new, but we believe that, with a good working relationship, in 21 days we could determine if this was in the interest of your committee.
Mr. BOEHLERT. One final question because I'm going to adhere to the 5-minute rule for the Chair, as well as my colleagues, and, if necessary, we'll go to a second round. But you've been Acting Assistant Secretary for quite some time and in and out of that position, are there any special observations you'd like to share with this subcommittee?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Now that is an open invitation, talk about a softball.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Depending on what I share, I may be acting a lot less time.
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There's been some good things and bad things. I believe that the Corps are the Nation's problem solvers, and have been very important for this country. I wish that the American public and some, even within the legislative and executive branches, knew what we offer the country. I'm pleased with the performance improvements, and proud of some of the things that have been accomplished while I've been here. Probably my greatest shortcoming would be, I think we need a, more of a customer service focus, and more of a focus on urgency in getting our work done than perhaps we have. It's tough, and this is an apology, it's tough to get that done when there's such uncertainty about our budget and nobody knows where a project is going, but I wish I had the ability to accomplish more of that, and perhaps have had more ability to interact with the Administration to help some see the contributions of the program in a better light than they do.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I appreciate those comments, and I see Mr. Borski nodding his head yes. You have proven time and time again to be a very valuable resource for this committee and subcommittee, and I especially appreciate the openness that you and your team have evidenced as we've had discussions. Much of what you said we would agree with. I wish a lot more people would realize, particularly in the preparation of a budget, how important the work you are about is to the Nation. And I would add, as a final thought, before turning to Mr. Borski, that you talk with some degree of pride about some of the improvements that have been made, some of the progress that's been evident, and I would say in large measure, it's a tribute to you and your tenacity so I would like to congratulate and thank you for your fine work.
Page 193 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BORSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I want to completely associate myself with your remarks. I think the progress that's been made is obviously a direct credit to you, Dr. Zirschky.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I wish my mom were here.
Mr. BORSKI. You need somebody in the room who would believe what we're saying is that right?
Let me ask you, and everybody, and everyone in the port community is concerned about the recent Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the harbor maintenance tax, do you see any reduction in operation and maintenance as a result of this decision?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir, not if we're able to resolve this situation in the next few years, I don't.
Mr. BORSKI. So nothing to worry about in the near term?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir.
Page 194 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BORSKI. Is there any compelling reason why the Administration and the Congress would have to enact a new O&M funding mechanism this year?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir, not beforeno, sir, not in 1998.
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Parcell, I'm sorry, concur with that?
Mr. PARCELL. Not that I'm aware of but I cannot speak for the Administration.
Mr. BORSKI. It seems to me we should be careful and make sure we get it right when we are about to do it and that could take a little more deliberation to make sure that we do get it right, and if there is no compelling reason to get it done this year, perhaps we should be very careful with how we proceed.
Dr. Zirschky, could you provide for the subcommittee, please, a breakdown of the cost of the Administration's legislative proposal section by section?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. BORSKI. For the record, you don't need to do that now.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Oh, okay.
Mr. BORSKI. That might take a little[Laughter.]more than what we're interested in, but if you have that there and could provide it to us, we'd appreciate it very much.
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes.
[The information follows:]
Mr. BORSKI. The Corps construction budget has taken quite a reduction, how do you justify Challenge 21 when other products already underway will have completion delayed?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Well, sir, they'reI guess we were encouraged by the fact that this program got funded and made it through the Administration review process because we think it shows a commitment to continuing our flood damage reduction program, and it's sort of a new product that we're offering. So we were, quite frankly, pleased to see the Administration support new efforts in flood damage reduction projects. But we do have a significant problem in our budget. The signal that we're trying to send is that the Administration does want to continue to fund new types of projects, new types of programs, but what is lacking, and what makes our job extremely difficult, is the big disagreement between the two branches of Government on how much that level should be. The signal that we're trying to send is that we would like to work with Congress, and continue to fund new investments.
Mr. BORSKI. I understand the gentleman from Minnesota would like me to yield to him at this point, is that accurate? I'd be happy to.
Page 196 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OBERSTAR. At the end of your question.
Mr. BORSKI. I have one more question, if I
Mr. OBERSTAR. Then why don't you proceed.
Mr. BORSKI. Can you tell us how many projects, how many projects would you expect to undertake under Challenge 21 program, do you have any specific candidates?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Our estimate, currently, depending on the size, is somewhere between 10 to 15 projects. We put out feelers within the organization, amongst our districts, for about how many sponsors they thought were interested. And our initial inquiry resulted in 70 potential projects across the Nation, but our best guess for what would finally get understand would be somewhere between 10 to 15.
Mr. BORSKI. Okay, thank you, sir.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I appreciate the opportunity to say a few things here. I join with my colleague from Pennsylvania, the Ranking Member on the subcommittee, in urging caution on moving ahead on the harbor maintenance tax. There's plenty of time to work that out. The tax took in $736 million in the last Fiscal Year, about $209 million of that was a tax on exports and there's sufficient collection in the Fund now to support all the necessary projects sustained by that Fund. I would rather we take our time, work out a reasonable response to the challenge presented to us by the court case, than to jump into something we may not, that may not be well crafted. There's plenty of time to do that. We'll have a nearly $1.5 billion surplus at the end of this fiscal year in the Trust Fund.
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I want to commend the Corps and the Administration on the Challenge 21 proposal, restoration of the riverine ecosystems and flood hazard mitigation. It's really a fancy new term for an old practice that has long been used, and we call it a ''non-structural means.'' And we have a project in Minnesota, Zumbro River, protection of Rochester, Minnesota that had the non-structural part not been done, all the Corps did in the channelization within the City of Rochester would have been to no avail, but the two together have worked very successfully and saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
The final point that I wanted to make, and I'd ask that unanimous consent that a statement that I prepared be included in the record?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Oberstar follows:]
Mr. OBERSTAR. And that is the environmental management plan for the Upper Mississippi River. I'm really disappointed that there's no reference in the Corps' program. We've talked about this for years, and I've expressed my strong support for it, discussed this. There are a number of projects that have no Chief's report, like the Grand Forks, North Dakota, East Grand Forks Flood Damage Reduction Project, the Lower Mississippi Aquatic Restoration, but, you know, those are in the plan but what is not in, is the environmental management plan, the overallwe've been working on this for 20 years. I don't understand it. May I have a moment for a brief response, Mr. Chairman?
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Yes, go to it.
General FUHRMAN. Let me take that one, Congressman Oberstar. We continue to strongly support that program and are in the process of developing the chief's report now. In fact, I spent about an hour reviewing it the other day, and we're trying to make certain aspects of it more streamlined and stronger, and we're looking for the draft report to be completed by the end of May.
Mr. OBERSTAR. And you'll submit that to the committee?
General FUHRMAN. Yes, and it'll go out to the Governors for review then, it will be submitted to the ASA's Office by the end of May.
Mr. OBERSTAR. This is one of the greatest river systems in the world, there are a couple that rival the Mississippi, but this EMP is so important. It had bipartisan support going back to, my good colleague from Minnesota, Al Quie, who with me crafted the original legislation, and he keeps asking me, every time I see him, what's happening with it? I say, ''the Corps is working on it.'' We're at an end of patience with that, we'd like to see it move ahead. Thank you very much for that report.
General FUHRMAN. We agree.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you.
Page 199 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you. You have some more time, I've started the clock anew with you. Out of deference to your distinguished position as Ranking Member, you have some additional time, if you would like.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I would welcome the additional time, Mr. Chairman, but I have to get over to the renewed conference on BESTEA, and I have a few constituents to see.
Mr. BOEHLERT. As do the Ranking Member and the Chair. We will be departing shortly. Thank you. Mr. Horn?
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and Secretary Zirschky, and General Fuhrman, Secretary Davis, Mr. Parcell, we appreciate all you're doing in a tight situation. Let me ask you about a couple of projects in southern California. Dr. Zirschky, you're well aware of the El Nino flooding that went on this time, as the Corps is, and the drainage area protection projects that will relate to the LA River with levees moving upstream need to continue. Now we've had a real delay in this in the sense that the President's recommendation of $11 million last year, we doubled that in Congress. The Corps has said they have a capacity to accommodate $60 million in contracts on this project. And I think with 500,000 people affected in that floodplain, more than any other area in the United States, I think it's tremendously important that we proceed on this.
And I'm just curious, I believe, Dr. Secretary Zirschky, you asked FEMA's Director, James Lee Witt, to consider using some of the $130 million in new mandated LACTA flood insurance revenue to help pay the bills so the Corps of Engineers can proceed and get the job done, and we can go on to other things. The President's budget, as I suggested, falls really very short of what's needed, and what has Director Witt told you up to this point?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. So far, sir, I've not heard from Director Witt. It's been a very busy Spring for FEMA across the country with tornadoes and flooding. We would like to pursue that idea to see if it has merit to use flood insurance premiums as part of the flood insurance programs to, perhaps, conduct a loss reduction effort so that we can use some of those premiums not for insurance companies but to build the kind of projects, get communities to hundred year level protection to get the projects done. Right now I assume Los Angeles is going to pay almost $2 billion in flood insurance premiums before we get that project done. And I think we can finish the project for $200 million.
Mr. HORN. That's exactly correct, and I'd be glad to work with you in any way and the other half dozen Members of Congress whose districts on either side of either the Rio Juando, the San Gabriel, or the Los Angeles River would be willing to help you also so let us know because that is a common sense solution to get the job done and get on with it.
Let me ask you this, on the ocean entrance to the Port of Long Beach, it's never been fully completed to the authorized level, $16 million is needed for that work, and then you know the story on international trade and the clean air levels, and the shipping deficiencies, and the efficiencies and all that. But the President didn't recommend any, even one dollar this year, and this is the number one port in the Nation and I hope we can appropriate on the appropriator's side $10.6 million to solve that problem but one never knows. They've got their problems too. As an example, how can we ensure that the entrance to this largest sea port in the country is completed without further delay, do you have any thoughts on that, Dr. Zirschky?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. To the best of my knowledge, the only issue on that project that presents a huge hurdle is funding, but basically a consistent stream of funding would be what it would take to get the project done in a timely fashion.
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Mr. HORN. To what degree would the harbor maintenance tax help solve the problem?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I believe this is construction of a new channel so that would have to be funded separately. The harbor maintenance tax is used to maintain existing channels.
Mr. HORN. Well, if there was an existing channel and you're simply going down a few feet more, I take it that would come under the harbor maintenance tax?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir, generally if it's going down to that depth for the first time, it's done as a new construction project. However, there are times when we can do something called ''advanced dredging,'' or advanced maintenance, for example, to dig a channel deeper but its still official depth is the previous depth, that could be done with maintenance.
Mr. HORN. Let me move to California as a whole. I think you're familiar with the California Marine Affairs Navigation Conference, you've attended those meetings that General Fuhrman has, and that what they've documented was that we've got a $41 billion contribution to the Gross Domestic Product coming out of all these different harbors that stretch from Arcada, Eureka, down to San Diego, and if you laid us against the East Coast, it's Boston to Georgia to give you an idea of what we're talking about. And another $8 billion is sent back to Customs, to the Treasury annually. Now the study that I'd like, Mr. Chairman, to put in the record at this point, it's less than 40 pages, demonstrates the committee's authorization to support these kinds of economic engines for our Nation, and what do you need in legislative authority to ensure that such a marine infrastructure is properly maintained and developed?
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Do you need any other authority?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir. The issue is funding.
Mr. HORN. Just funding?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir. And that's one of the things I wish I would have been able to do a better job of communicating the importance of some of the infrastructure we maintain. We're not as visible as highways, because people don't normally go down to the port, but that coastal infrastructure is vitally important to our Nation's economic well-being.
Mr. HORN. I think you are aware of the 11 recommendations they made. Did some of those make sense to you, and when might we get some pursuit of those, and, maybe, closure on it?
I can furnish them to you if you don't have them with you
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I don't have them with me.
Mr. HORN. things like ensuring full Civil Works mission, execution, $100,000 recon limit, and so forth. Can we furnish them to you and if you could answer for the record we'd be most grateful.
Page 203 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. HORN. Thank you.
[The information follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Horn. Mr. Boswell?
Mr. BOSWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I guess, for a moment, if I could, address the General. The Mississippi River is under one command now, and I compliment you for that; that was a good decision. I didn't want it at first but, you know, we all kind of resist change and there was a lot of good sense to it and I compliment you for placement of General Anderson on that. He's doing a great job.
There are about 35 of us, I think, that border the river, Members of the House of Representatives, and so I guess there are 12 States; I guess we have 24 Senators. And just reviewing it, that is truly a national treasure in many respects, for its commerce, for its tourism. We learn something, that I had no idea; there's more people visit the Mississippi in a year than go to Yellowstone Park. That sounds a little bit preposterous at first, but when you think about all the different sights along the Mississippi, I'm thinking of one, like Eagle Point, that's not in my district, but near Dubuque, and many others, is just fascinating.
It's a great thing, it goes from Minnesota all the way to New Orleans and carries a half million tons of freight a year, and on and on it goes. It has some needs and I say this, Mr. Chairman, to you, because we hope you will comewe haven't invited you yet, but this is a kind of heads up. We are going to be inviting you to come to our Mississippi River caucus to share with us some of your insights, how we might get there, but the Mississippi projects, the Upper Mississippi Comprehensive Management Study, I'm wondering, General Fuhrman, if you have an idea or thoughts to share on that, the environmental management program, you know flood control, and different things. It runs through my mind we need about $1 million or $2 million to get that started, and I understand requests from us processes back to the Corps now for whatever. But do you see that from your perspective getting into this round of projects?
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Provided I just caught you totally off guard here; I could have.
General FUHRMAN. Well, let me provide that for the record. I don't know enough of the details right now to answer that quickly.
[The information follows:]
After the Great Flood of 1993 resulted in catastrophic damages to large portions of the Upper Mississippi River and tributaries, citizens of the area desired a comprehensive plan, much like the Mississippi river and Tributaries project on the Lower Mississippi. If the Federal Government is to embark on such a plan, it should not be simply a large flood control project designed for a standard flood but should also address other important water and related land resources objectives, such as soil erosion and resultant sedimentation, and point and non-point pollution. Such an ambitious undertaking goes far beyond the missions and authorities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and requires that the States and other Federal agencies bring their authorities and financial resources to the table and work together in a collaborative partnership.
The Corps is prepared to play two important roles in this collaborative partnership. First, we are willing to provide the leadership to convene the many parties and seek their agreement to participate as full partners in the effort. Second, concurrently, the Corps will budget to conduct a reconnaissance study to identify opportunities to use the Corps flood control and ecosystem restoration authorities and will consult with the States to determine whether they are willing to cost share in a feasibility study to develop those features, either independently or as part of the comprehensive plan.
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Mr. BOSWELL. Okay. It's just something that I think needs some attention and we have to do these studies before we start getting the work done, otherwise we just don't get started. That's step one, phase one, whatever you want to call it, and so I think it's something we're hearing more about; up and down that river this comprehensive study seems like it is a very high priority and to initiate the beginning of this probably $20 million worth of projects is the first $1 million or $2 million to get the study done, so would you get back to us on that, or to me?
Mr. Chairman, seriously, I haven't had a chance to warn you and we hope that you will be amenable and available to come to our caucus sometime in the not-too-distant future and share with us some of your expertise on how we may go about protecting this Mississippi River?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Continuing an opening dialogue.
Mr. BOSWELL. Okay. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Kim.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to reiterate my colleague, Mr. Horn, mentioned a while ago about the Port of Long Beach project. As you noted, Long Beach is our Nation's No. 1 container port. And we just passed the Alameda Corridor project which will accommodate 160 full trains each day to handle this skyrocketing international trade through Long Beach. Why I am surprised to find out that our committee have authorized years ago toon this 76-feet operating depth entrance to port, and I don't understand why the U.S. Engineers has not submitted, has not recommended funding to complete this last little project which will cost about $10 million.
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We're talking about the last section of this project which will cost $10 million. What do you want us to do, stop it at 95 percent completion? I don't know why you have not recommended and completed this particular project.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Sir, the construction budget for Fiscal Year 1999 was very constrained and there was, within our allowable budget authority, not room to start many new projects that weren't needed primarily for safety or other reasons.
Mr. KIM. Well, I think you should look into the projects that are ongoing projects, requires a last section to be completed. That's why we have so many buildings out there, 90 percent completed and sitting there, collecting dust. This is another example. We have got to complete this project.
You cannot abandon this project to save the last section of $10 million. That is ridiculous in my opinion.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir. We were asked at another recent hearing what the economic impacts of our current budget situation was as far as lost benefits to the economy and, do you remember what it was, exact number, it was hundreds of millions of dollars, actually billions of dollars, of lost economic activity because of the stretch-out in our construction program, made up of all of the projects such as the Long Beach that couldn't be funded.
Mr. KIM. Mr. Parcell, you mentioned that maybe some innovative financing would be recommended to Congress. Do you have some idea how you are going to accommodate problems like this, the last segment of the project to complete? To me it's
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Mr. PARCELL. I expect our recommendations will probably be directed more at the source of the revenue rather than expenditures.
Mr. THUNE. [presiding] Mr. Johnson.
Mr. KIM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, it's nice to see a freshman taking over a top post here. How quickly you've moved up.
I want to ask a few questions again about the Harbor Maintenance Fund. Mr. Parcell, some folks have suggested that the programs right now, like dredging supported by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, can continue unabated and unaffected at least for a while until the issues concerning GATT are resolved because the revenue that is generated from the import side under the harbor maintenance tax is more than enough to fund the programs, and the chart, which you included in your testimony, shows the increasing balance in this Trust Fund. It seems to support this.
Does that mean, and do you mean by that, that we don't have to, or shouldn't have to, do anything regarding the Trust Fund in this year's WRDA legislation?
Mr. PARCELL. Well, the first comment I would make is that the chart does not reflect any potential effect from refund, which I noted in my testimony is premature to speculate on at this point.
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I would also say that the Office of Management and Budget has organized a working group to develop replacement fees for the harbor maintenance tax, particularly the unconstitutional portion of the harbor maintenance tax, and we expect to forward those to Congress as a legislative proposal.
Now, as to whether there is an emergency that requires immediate action, I think the figures in the chart indicate that, for the time being, revenues into the Harbor Maintenance Fund are sufficient to cover expenditures.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. So, we're generally in pretty good shape there. What's the timetable you said for the special group that is meeting to resolve this situation? Or is there a timetable yet, or is that too early?
Mr. PARCELL. Meetings have been ongoing for some time now. I can't predict at this time when we are going to reach resolution.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. What about the issue of funding maintenance dredging out of general revenues. Is this a viable option? And was this done before 1986?
Mr. PARCELL. I believe it was done before 1986, however, I am not the person to respond as to whether it is a viable option; I think we would have to have an opinion from OMB.
Page 209 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. I see. Someone ready to answer? Yes, Doctor.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, it was funded out of general revenues before 1986.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Any opinion on whether you think this is a viable option for the future? It was done in the past, is this a viable option for the future?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Well, sir. We haven't had, to my knowledge, specific discussions, but I believe the Administration and OMB would prefer to continue to find a means to fund that maintenance dredging program rather than to use general tax revenues.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Might either of you talk about some of the options that are under consideration by this interagency task force. What are some of the options you are looking at?
Mr. PARCELL. Well, obviously, a lot of the options relate to items discussed in the Supreme Court opinion as permissible bases for assessing a user fee on vessels engaged in the export trade. The Supreme Court mentioned tonnage, vessel draft, time spent in port, and we are looking at the possibility of constructing a fee based on factors such as those.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Tonnage might be one of them?
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Mr. PARCELL. That was one of the factors specifically mentioned by the Supreme Court as the basis for a permissible user fee, yes, sir.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. I just know that sometimes what we get into the Port of Green Bay, a ton of salt, or a ton of rocks, might not have the same value as, say, a ton of computers. Tonnage might be different value.
Just a quick final question, I see my time is almost up.
Can an ad valorem tax that is used to fund a wider array of projects or services, do you think something like that would survive a constitutional challenge?
Since you're from Treasury, you get to answer.
Mr. PARCELL. Actually I think probably Justice is the department that gets to answer that question. My guess is there would be very serious questions about an ad valorem tax, given the Supreme Court opinion.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. All right. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. Fossella.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Questions for Dr. Zirschky. I hope I'm pronouncing it correctly. With respect to the flood control plan for Sacramento, the questions regarding the levee improvements. Can you tell us how old the existing levees are? And any information you do not have, you can provide me for the record, please.
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And I guess, are you able to answer questions about the step-release plan at this point?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir. I sorry I don't know the age of the existing levees there.
[The information follows:]
Most levees surrounding the Sacramento urban area were first constructed around the turn of the century to protect farmland. As the greater Sacramento area grew in size, the existing levees have been continually enlarged and upgraded and new levees constructed. Between 1916 and 1958 the levees were integrated into the federally authorized Sacramento River Flood Control Project.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Okay. Do you have any concern over how the levee system would perform under conditions proposed in the step-release plan?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir. Let me make sureI believe the concern that you are referring to is the velocity of the water and the flow of the water and the impact it might have on levees downstream. Sir, we believe we could design levees to adequately and safely protect the people of the Sacramento area, that the high-flow rates are not a significant issue. We will design them so they work.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Okay. Are you familiar with the Galloway Report?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. FOSSELLA. It recommends that major metropolitan areas should not rely on levees as their primary means of flood control. Do you dispute what is in the Galloway Report?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir. The Administration, however, has never endorsed the Galloway Report.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Can you tell, this committee, what the City of Sacramento, relying on levees for its primary means of flood protection could expect?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Well, we're not proposing just levees, it's also modifications to Folsom Dam, but we believe that would give us a level of protection in excess of 150 years.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Do you think Sacramento is ignoring the recommendations of the Galloway Report by advocating construction of a step-release plan?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Sir, I prefer not to comment on what the City of Sacramento may or may not have done. I know that they recently voted, and I believe the proposalor at least SAFCA votedand I believe the proposal that we put in our bill is in line with what they voted on.
Page 213 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FOSSELLA. The next three questions, pertain directly to the Folsom Dam modification. Would Sacramento actually have a lower level of flood protection during the time the gates are being replaced? I'm talking specifically about the impact of replacing the gates.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I'm sorry, sir, I don't know the answer to that question. I'd have to respond for the record.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Would the replacing of the gates require a dry construction environment? And, if so, at what elevation does the Corps envision keeping the reservoir in order to make these modifications?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Sir, I'm afraid that's again a level of detail I don't have on that specific project, sir.
Mr. FOSSELLA. And, finally, what impacts can be expected as a result of low water levels, impacts on current reclamation operations, impacts on the cold water pool, and impacts on providing cold water to endangered or threatened fish species downstream.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Sir, I don't know. I know the proposed legislation requires us to work closely with the Secretary of the Interior who is responsible for the Bureau of Reclamation and for the Fish and Wildlife Service to make sure we address those concerns.
Mr. FOSSELLA. So specifically you'll be able to provide us with details to the questions that I just asked?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. The first two, yes, sir, I'm certain of. The third one might require some further study because I believe we are authorizing ourselves toI'm trying to think of the right wordimprove upon the current plan, go back and look at some of the economics and make that everything is okay.
Mr. FOSSELLA. So, before you can provide the answers, you have to perform a study?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir. The first two, we believe we know how we would construct, within reasonable construction techniques. The third one, I don't know what impacts, I haven't reviewed any environmental impact statements, for example, on the effects of fish or water temperature. Those are issues I know we would work closely on with the Secretary of Interior, as noted in the bill.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Thank you.
[The information follows:]
Concerning the question on whether work on the gates at Folsom Dam will lower the level of protection, the plan of construction envisioned in the Stepped Release Plan of the 1996 Supplemental Information Report for Folsom Dam modifications would result in a reduction in the level of protection for the first two years. The potential structural modification of Folsom Dam would involve lowering the main spillway bays, replacing the tainter gates, and enlarging the existing outlets. The main spillway bays would be lowered one per construction season to minimize the impact on the level of flood protection. During the first two years of construction, there would be a reduction in the amount of water that could be released out of the spillways which would result in a reduction in the level of flood protection.
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Concerning the question on the need for dry construction, it is anticipated that the Folsom Dam modification work could be accomplished without restrictions on the level of the lake. Therefore, there is no anticipated affect on the level of conservation storage.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome our panel. I've had a chance, I think, to meet all of you at one time or another.
A couple of requests. No. 1, the Bayou Portage project in Harrison County, Mississippi, is in the schedule but seems to be taking forever. If you could give me at some point an update on that.
[The information follows:]
The General Design Memorandum for the Wolf and Jordan Rivers, Bayou Portage Harbor Project, Mississippi was forwarded to Headquarters for policy review on June 5, 1998. Based on the review of this decision document, a determination will be made on whether the project will be included as a potential new start in the FY 2000 budget.
Mr. TAYLOR. Second, if you could tell me at some point, either today or at another time, about the Mississippi-Louisiana combined estuarine project at Bonne Carre, at the Bonne Carre Spillway, whether it is dead on arrival because of the environmental lawsuits or what's the status of that.
Page 216 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The information follows:]
The Mississippi-Louisiana Estuarine Areas project provides for a proposed freshwater diversion structure at the Bonnet Carre Spillway. The purpose of the project is to reduce the deterioration of the marshes and to enhance fish and wildlife resources in the project area. At present, the project cannot move forward until the States of Louisiana and Mississippi have identified a mutually agreeable plan. These states are the co-sponsors of the project with the Corps and the concurrence of all parties is required before a cost sharing agreement can be executed. At present there are no environmental lawsuits concerning this project. A recent lawsuit against the Corps that questioned the criteria for opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway during last year's flood event was dismissed in Federal Court. That lawsuit was not related to the proposed diversion project.
Mr. TAYLOR. Third is, Mr. Davis, you recently issued a moratorium on the issuance of permits on gaming casinos in my Congressional District. I'm the one elected official who did not denounce you. I have no problem with you taking a look at it. I think it is important that we take a look at the overall consequences. I would also ask you though, and encourage the Corps, to get as excited about enhancing and restoring the environment as to stop things from getting worse. I have asked the Corps on a numberin fact our Chairman last year was kind enough to work with me and others to include in the Water Resources bill language that called for the beneficial use of dredge spoils.
I have not seen it done anywhere and I think we have some golden opportunities off the Mississippi Gulf Coast to make up for the marshes that have washed away naturally, the coastal barrier islands that's washing away naturally. You've got to go right past them to dredge some of those channels, and I happen to think, as the wetlands are disappearing at a nickel and dime rate, a quarter of an acre here, a third of an acre there, the cumulative effect is rather substantial and I think we as a Nation need to be taking some substantial steps to create wetlands.
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The State of Mississippi owns all of the water bottoms out to three miles. I think we would find them a very willing partner in creating some marshes on those water bottoms. And I think we could do a lot of good.
And I deal with your Mobile Corps on this, I don't find them very excited about the idea. It's almost like pulling teeth and I've been in touch with them as recently as last Friday. We have some natural opportunities because the Pascagoula Channel has to be dredged periodically, the Gulfport Channel has to be dredge periodically, the Back Bay of Biloxi has to be dredge periodically, and I've asked them a long time ago to come up with a master plan to locate dredge disposal sites, where instead of just dumping it either way the heck out in the Gulf of Mexico or dumping it inland, we start building some marshes with it.
I'm really not pleased at all with the response I've gotten from them and I'm trying to say this as a gentlemen. So you can multiply that by a factor of ten with my displeasure.
But I'd like for you to comment on that because I really would love to see the Corps of Engineers shift gears and go one step beyond just trying to keep things from getting worse and actively start trying to make things better as a part of your typical dredging projects, even it was just small marshes at the outlets, since nonpoint pollution is such a big problem, wherever a natural drainage outlet hits the Gulf of Mexico, or a river, just something to help filter that water before it gets into the major waterways.
Mr. DAVIS. Congressman, we support unequivocally your support for our environmental restoration program. That is, in fact, a big part of the Corps' overall mission now, and we're trying to more aggressively move all of our districts in that direction.
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We are also big advocates of the beneficial use program and we'll certainly taking a look at what is going on in Mobile, along with General Fuhrman and others, to see if we can help move that program along there where it is appropriate.
Tomorrow, I'm actually going up on the Anacostia River and looking at the Kennelworth Marsh restoration project which is a beneficial use project that the Corps did to the Baltimore District.
We are very interested in restoring wetlands through beneficial uses and other means. The Administration has a goal now of restoring 100,000 acres of wetlands a year, beginning in the year 2005 and I think the Corps will play a very active part in that and so we would hope that part of that will occur in Mississippi.
Mr. TAYLOR. Again, if I could be specific, I would hope thatI had hoped to include in this year's Water Resources Development Act language dealing with wetlands restoration on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I asked for the language I believe in December from the Mobile Corps. They said they would supply it to me. It's now almost May. And again, that's ayou're the Government agency I brag on the most as far as the quality of work you do. And that's not up to your standards, and I want to express that as well as I can.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Sir, if I might, I can promise you much better service on legislative drafting services if you will, for example, call my office. Sometimes districts try to be helpful and provide language that ends up not doing the job they think it does, and if you want to make sure that the Corps gives you language that we'll stand behind, I would request that you please ask us or General Fuhrman for legislative drafting services. We will not take your request and we will respond quickly to that. But it's much easier for us, since legislation is done here, if you refer your requests to Corps headquarters in Washington. With due respect to Michael, I think he's gotten some unfair criticism over the issues in Mississippi. I am responsible for everything that comes out of my office, so I believe that I should be the one that gets the blame for any problems caused down in Mississippi over directions in casinos and wetlands permits.
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Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, if I may just very quickly. Again, I do not have a criticism. I think it is important that we take a look at the cumulative impact to date. I helped legalize that as a state legislator. I can tell you no one expected it would be as big as it is, and especially since you've more or less let those people who had a permit in the pipeline go ahead and get theirs, no one can say that they're being harmed economically. So I don't have a problem with that. I do have a problem that I just don't see the kind of cooperation on wetlands enhancement that I think is typical of your agency.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. THUNE. Dr. Zirschky, if I mightin the context of this whole discussion, the Flood Control Act of 1944, the Pick Sloan Project, has permanently changed life for people in my State of South Dakota, up and down the Missouri River. There are spots along the way, in Vermillion and other places, that are seeing some problems of late. But probably the most acute situation is right around the Pierre, Fort Pierre area. And there is a proposal in this particular piece of legislation which would do a buy-out for folks in southeast Pierre, and we're going to work with the Corps on that to address what I think are the short-term issues. But what I'm interested in knowing today as well as with respect to the long-term issue, how does the Corps propose, both now and in the future to address the fact that we've got three and one-quarter tons of siltation coming in from the Bad River every year. And the sedimentation and so forth is really affecting the coursechanging the course of the river there. And it's creating more and more problems. And each year, when the pool level's high, when the releases are at high levels, we've got some very serious problems which need not only the short-term fix, but also something in thealong the lines of a long-term solution. And it's something that we're going to have to, I think, make a part of this legislation; and something that I'm very interested in addressing, not only with respect with, again, to the immediate situation, and that is what we do about the people in southeast Pierre, but how do we fix this in the long-term?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. The legislation, as you noted, addresses a short-term solution near Pierre to try to deal with the flooding that occurs in the winter and our means to control it.
To be honest, this is just my personal opinion, I don't think we've done enough to take a long-term look at the siltation not only near our damns, but behind them. For example, Lake Sakakawea, in North Dakota, where we're having to pay money to a small community, near Williston, North Dakota, a Buford-Trenton Irrigation District, because of the belief on some people's part that the accretion of sediment at the top end of a reservoir is raising water levels and causing flooding. The Missouri River is well known for transporting sediment. And right now, we don't really have as effective a way and an economical way to control that sediment. Congress passed a section 33I'm trying to remember what year that wasto deal with thethat problem. And we've had a difficult time finding economic means to protect the property in that area, because often times the protective measures cost more on a short-term basis than the value of the land they're protecting. I don't know if we're looking adequately at the long-term costs of what happens if our reservoirs fill up with dirt, and we lose storage capacity there. There is such a huge scale that that's probably 200 or 300 years away from happening. I don't believe that we've taken an adequatethis is my own personal opinionan adequate look at that issue.
Mr. THUNE. General, anything you want to add? General Fuhrman, on that?
General FUHRMAN. Sediment transport and determining the long-term impacts on it is a very complex issue. And from an engineering technical perspective, you almost have to look project by project to determine if you have a problem and if there's an economically viable solution to that problem. And again, the challenge, as you're well aware, in the Missouri River is that, by its very nature, it transports large amounts of sediment; and with the changing velocities, large amounts of sediment get deposited.
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Mr. THUNE. Well, let me just again say that, again, I think that this gives us an opportunity in this reauthorization legislation to look at what we can do, not only in the short-term, which is an immediate issue, but I think it takes all of us off the hook if we address that issue in terms of a buy-out. But we don't do anything about the longer-term issue. And it does continually accumulate over time and at a much faster rate now than it has in the past, and I know certainly that that's something the people of my State, those who live alongand I'm sure other States as wellwho border the Missouri.
Let me shift gears just a moment here quickly if I might. I want to come back to the flood protection plan for Sacramentothe levee aspect of that plan. In this plan, are you repairing levees which are in disrepair or simply building them up to accommodate greater flows?
General FUHRMAN. There are a couple of things that are taking place out there. Under the project, those levees will be built up or increased. But as a result of the 1996 flood out there, there are portions of that levee system that we are currently repairing and bringing back to the original standards.
Mr. THUNE. Could you tell me what percentage of greater flood flows this plan anticipates?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I can get that, sir, I believe for the record for you, but the project, as envisioned, will bring up protection for the Sacramento area from somewhere around 80 yearsless than 80 yearsto about a 160-year level of protection.
Page 222 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The information follows:]
The Stepped Release Plan as presented in the 1996 SIR would involve increasing the objective release from Folsom Dam from the current 115,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 145,000 cfs and then to 180,000 cfs, depending on the magnitude of the flood event. The proposed operation would be to increase the outflows from Folsom Dam until a 145,000 cfs objective release is reached. This 145,000 cfs release would then be maintained until a combination of reservoir level and inflow into Folsom Lake forces the step to the 180,000 cfs objective release.
Mr. THUNE. Are you confident that this plan would be able to withstand the magnitude of the flood flows that we're talking about here?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. THUNE. Are you familiar with a former Corps employee and designer of this plan, a guy named Joe Countryman? Does that ring a bell?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Not personally, sir.
General FUHRMAN. I'm not familiar with that individual either, sir.
Mr. THUNE. Okay. Then you probablyare you familiar with the testimony that he has submitted to this committee in which he questions the reliability of the Step Release Plan. Have you seen any of that?
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Okay, then I guess I won'tnext questionprobably another. The other follow-up question was, are his concerns justified? You probably wouldn't be able to answer that one, either? Okay. Very good. I've got asome questions here that the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Ney, submitted as follow ups to this, which I'd like to give you to answer for the record. And also I've got a statement of my own that I will submit without objection.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Thune follows:]
I believe the next questioner is Mr. Menendez.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, let me first of all thank you and the Corps in the New York District for working with us to dramatically improve what that chart would have shown a couple of years ago in terms of the backlog on permits and really make a big difference in the New York District. And I'd like to turn your attention to what is the largest port on the east coast, which is the New York-New Jersey port. I've got three quick questions that hopefully you can shed some light on.
The Kill Van Kull Channel, in the Newark Bay, serves the largest port on the east coast. The deepening project, to 45 feet, is forecasted to be completed in 2008. My understanding is that both the State of New Jersey and the Port Authority has offered alternatives to the Corps that would both save money and expedite the timetable. Do you have any sense of the Corps position on those alternatives and is the 2008 timetable one that can be moved up?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, sir. But we would be delighted to work with the Port of New York and the States to do anything we could to move those projects up. The 2008 timetable depends on our current projections of follow-on funding, which are very uncertain at this time. Funding will be a significant issue in how fast that project gets done. It's a key Administration priority, and we were able to fund $10 million of it this year; but that's far short of what the project could use.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Could you get back to usmaybe checking with the district as to what, in fact, their position on the alternatives that are being offered because we certainly would like to see the timetable move up. We're all interested in saving the Government money. And ultimately we have serious decisions being made by corporations in that areain shipping. And you know, as it is, we are under tremendous competition from places like Halifax. We want to keep them in America.
Second, when we had the Vice President make an agreement to move the projects in the New York Harbor in 1996, he said that the Corps would complete its 2-year 50-foot feasibility study of the harbor in 2 years. Is that feasibility study going to be completed in 1999?
General FUHRMAN. Yes, that's scheduled and on schedule to be completed in December 1999.
Mr. MENENDEZ. In December 1999? Okay.
Page 225 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And lastly, when do you expect the Dredge Material Management Plan for the Port of New York and New Jersey to be completed?
This is a major issue for us here as we consider the 1998 WRDA. You know, we have difficulties with questions of contaminated sediments and the ability of keeping this port open and vibrant.
General FUHRMAN. I don't have that date here. I'd like to provide that for the record.
[The information follows:]
The Dredged Material Management Plan for the Ports of New York and New Jersey is scheduled for completion in December 1999.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Would you be so kind as to get that to us? It's rather important. We'd like to know the timetable.
At this time, I have no further questions, but I know my colleague from Texas yielded his turn out of order so that I could move, and I'd be happy to yield to him at this time if he wishes to.
Mr. THUNE. The gentleman has a minute and 30 seconds left on the clock.
Page 226 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LAMPSON. I could certainly use that extra minute. If I could add that to my five in a few minutes, so thank you very much for yielding.
First, I'd like to ask that a statement that I prepared to be delivered a while ago be submitted for the record. I was delayed in getting here, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Lampson follows:]
Let me go ahead and ask. One of the things that I wanted to talk about in that statement was our failure to look at a whole system of what might happen in a particular area. I believe that we have done things along certain areas of the coast that didn't take into consideration that an adverse effect would happen elsewhere when we did act. Does the Corps have a program to help us understand what cumulative effects Federal navigation works are having on our shorelines? And how do we know or how do we find out whether Federal navigation works are causing or contributing to a particular erosion problem?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Our Waterways Experiment Station, combined with the research facility we have in Duck, North Carolina, monitor coastal erosion processes. No, I don't believe we have a overall nationwide look at what navigation projectstheir impacts are in terms of erosion. We've typically done it on a case by case basis. For example, Port Canaveral, we took a look at what the jetties there were doing to sand movement and coastal erosion. Most recently, Assateague Island was another case where we did a specific study to identify what the impact of a jetty was at Ocean City. So generally, we've done it project by project.
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Mr. LAMPSON. Okay. I believe my time is up, so I'll wait a few minutes and come back with some other questions.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FOSSELLA. [presiding.] Mr. Blumenauer?
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to express my appreciation for what you folks are doing. I mean, you are seeing a massive change in philosophy, in science. It isI don't want to mix my metaphors and say it's a sea change. But you are doing something at a time of declining resources, and you're swimming upstream in terms of people who have banked on technologies that may be sub-optimal, but they are nonetheless technologies and mechanisms that people have invested in. And I really appreciate how the Corps is trying to make some adjustments, and I'm very, very impressed with that. Particularly, Dr. Zirschky, your reference in your written comments about the Willamette River and the potential of a Challenge 21 Project. I'm sorry you didn't have a chance to elaborate on it, but I think that the Corps is really moving in the right direction.
I'd like to just posit items for your response.
One is a modestly parochial interest for the Pacific Northwest. The Corps is set to release this summer, we are told, a minimum dredge fleet policy. Earlier, you came up with something that I think our northwest delegation was united in thinking was somewhat superficial in terms of really laying out issues of cost, capacity, responsiveness, and competition, which having your own fleet in the Columbia River system and the Mississippi seemed to speak to. Are you going to see a little more analysis, in depth, before this puppy gets launched publicly?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I'm going to let General Fuhrman comment on that in just a moment. But that's an extremely controversial issue, and an issue that we're going to have to work on closely with Justice, given some concerns about the adequacy of competition. We are required I believe by WRDA 96 to get back to Congress by September 28 or 30 of this year on a recommendation for whether or not we're going to want to put any more of our dredges into a ready reserve status. So, yes, you will be seeing a report sometime this summer, but this is a very difficult issue, and personally, competition and the availability of competition within the industry is a key issue and should be in our decisions.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Well, I guess I'm just curious whether we're going to see a little more in-depth analysis for precisely the reasons that you've mentioned.
General FUHRMAN. I am the proud owner of four Corps Hopper dredges, two of which are stationed out in your part of the country, and having been the Division Engineer for the North Pacific Division, I am familiar with those two vessels and their capabilities. From my perspective, as the operator that has to execute the dredging operation and maintain the waterways and the ports of this great Nation, the challenge is to find the balance between the government-owned fleet, the private fleet; and at the same point in time, make the maritime industry and the ports very comfortable that they're going to have the channels with the right capacities out there, and do it the most economic and efficient way. And we're working hard right now trying to partner with those four parties, myself being one of them. Where we can find economic analysis to justify it, we'll use that and lay that out for all parties. One of the challenges is that because of the different modes of operation and the different types of vessels and the uniquenesses of each, it's hard to make really valid comparisons. But we are absolutely committed that in the end, there needs to be a government fleet on all three coasts to assume the risk of uncertainty, and I believe you'll find that the dredging industry also fully supports and agrees with that. So it's just a matter of finding that right mix.
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Mr. BLUMENAUER. I guess we'd be interested as much as possible to get the sense of what the items of analysis are, so they could be circulated amongst the dozens of Congresspeople who have an interest in this, to avoid having the report come up against a deadline and find that people feel that the analysis has been wanting.
Mr. Chairman, I would just hope that there would be a timeand I've made this request when we had our friends from FEMA here, who are doing terrific work with Project Impact, similar to what are friends at the Corps are doing with Challenge 21I think it would be an interesting panel for this subcommittee to be able to have arrayed before us the various elements of the agencies that are moving in the same general direction. They could interact to tell us how the programs complement, and how they reinforce each other, where there are any differences, but most importantly, how they're coordinated, so that we can send the same signals to the constituents who are trying to grapple with the change in philosophy and approach in times of scarce dollars. I think these separate discussions are interesting, but at some point having a half dozen different Federal agencies that are moving in basically the same direction, I think, would be illustrative for us and might be helpful for them in terms of how we put these pieces together.
Mr. FOSSELLA. I will certainly pass on your concern and suggestions to Mr. Boehlert.
I want to thank you. And Representative Emerson, who's been waiting patiently and thank you for your patience.
Page 230 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. EMERSON. Am I last? But not least, right. No, Nick's after me. Sorry, Nick.
Thank you. Request permission to submit my statement for the record, excuse me.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Without objection, so ordered.
[The prepared statement of Mrs. Emerson follows:]
Mr. FOSSELLA.First of all, let me thank all of you and particularly those of you with the Corps for doing such a good job. You know, the whole eastern part of my district is bordered by the Mississippi River, and the Corps does a really tremendous job in protecting lives and property and making a difference in the lives of many in our communities along the river. So I want to commend you for all of that work.
But because I was late, Dr. Zirschky, I didn't hearand I'm wondering if you were askedabout the decrease in the amount of money that you all requested for Corps construction.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, ma'am. I seem to get asked that question almost everywhere I go these days.
Page 231 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. EMERSON. I guess it's not too popular?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, ma'am.
Mrs. EMERSON. All right. Can you explain to mewhat kind of cuts did the Corps make to the Army, for example, and then perhapsI mean, to thedid the Corps, your office, make recommendations to the Department of the Army, who then, in turn, made recommendations to OMB? I mean how did you come up with cutting that budget in half is what I'm trying to get at?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. The Army recommended a much different level for the construction program, but the implementation by the Administration of the Balance Budget Agreement and their desire to keep outlays for the construction program, at roughly the $1 billion level, forced our construction program to be reduced to $784 million.
Mrs. EMERSON. And what werewhat is the estimated cost for construction that will spent this year?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. $1.5 billion, isn't it?
Mrs. EMERSON. $1.5 billion. But yet, we're still working under a balanced budget if that is correct?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Well, there was a considerable discussion within the Administration when the Fiscal Year 1998 Appropriations bill passed, particularly in the context of the line item veto. We had tried to work with the Administration to encourage an approach other than large use of the line item veto and to encourage the Administration to begin talks with Congress on funding levels for the Fiscal Year 1999 budget. Unfortunately, for reasons I'm not entire sure of, that did not happen before the budget was submitted to Congress. But Director Raines has asked this Congress if they will sit down and meet with him to see if we can come up with a long-term agreement on funding levels for the Corps.
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Mrs. EMERSON. But yet, you cutokay, your proposal is basically cut in half by the construction budget, but, yet, you've designated this year $25 million for the Riverine Ecosystem Challenge 21 Program. Tell me exactly how this is going tofrom everything I've read about itI can't envision how you're going to reduce flooding with non-structural means.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. There's a number of ways to reduce flooding with non-structural means, but I think your question is in two parts: why did we request a new program, given our constrained budget? And then, how will the program work?
The proposal for Challenge 21 actually came from the Army. It was not an Administration request. There has been a lot of debate about what's the right kind of flood control program. And we put forth a proposal hoping for Administration's support to show that, you know, we're willing to try some new things. And OMB blessed it, and we got it in the budget. So we saw it as a good thing because there was a commitment by the Administration to fund flood damage reduction projects, which from our standpoint is good. We like flood damage reduction projects, and would hope Congress would approve this request. That was a signal that I believe the Administration also wanted to send is that they're willing to work with Congress to fund new things. But they would like to get some overall agreement on the future funding levels of the Corps. Right now, OMB has projected a funding level of us for $3 billion. And to fully fund all of the projects we currently have going will take $5 billion, so there's about at $2 billion difference between the two branches of government, which is not making our lives very easy right now.
Page 233 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The signal that the Army hopes you will take is, this is something that we want to do. It's a program that the Administration will support. We hope you'll approve it, and then we can still continue the discussions on the other aspects of the construction budget. In other words, we've got something here we like, can we please have it while we try and work out the other disagreements that are frankly above the general and my pay grade.
Mrs. EMERSON. What portion of thoseof the $25 million is going to go to buying people out from their land along theon floodplains?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. I don't anticipate that the Army will spend any money buying people out. Real estate is a local sponsor issue, so the local citizens will have to address, you know, whether they want to deal with willing sellers or not. But in our program, the local sponsor's responsible for acquiring the real estate. They get credit for that towards the overall cost share.
Mrs. EMERSON. But basically, the thrust is to move people off a floodplain or communities to some extent?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. There is some of that, but not to force them. Our desirethe Army's desire has never been to force people to move. We prefer to work with willing sellers. In fact, one of the provisions in here regarding South Dakota, we specifically say acquire land from willing sellers.
We would like toit does make sense in some cases to get people out of the floodway. There are also projects we can do that would reduce the amount of runoff into streams, help keep the water from contributing to floods as well as to put back some of the habitat along the rivers. Frankly, many of our flood protection projectsthe greatest economic development that we'reor value that we're getting out of the flood protection projects is combining them with recreation, opening the rivers to the public. And, for example, some of our flood protection projects return, say, $2 for every $1 we invest. The associated recreation facilities and public access return $4, $5, $8, $10 for every $1 we spend.
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Mrs. EMERSON. Well, the fact is that General Anderson and others have indicated many times that the flood control work that you all do returns anywhere from 10 to 2010 to 1, 20 to 1 costs benefit ratio. So, I would say that that's a little better than even what you recommend on this.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, but that's looking at our entire inventory of projects, many projects built years ago. We have protected much of the countryprovided flood damage reduction projects for much of the country. It's the newer projects that are having lower benefit-cost ratios. For example, the Mississippi River and tributaries system, a lot of that is built. We've gotten a lot of that benefit. And each year, that system saves the countryI think last year it was $40 billion in prevented damages from our existing system. What I'm comparing is the new investments. I think overall we get $8 to $1 for our existing flood control infrastructure.
Mrs. EMERSON. But ifwell, if you're trying to work with half the dollars that you had, I'd perhaps recommend that we just use all the dollars for at least ongoing projects and try to finish them up before we start new programs.
Let me ask you, since I know that other agencies are also going to be involved in the Challenge 21, do you know whatcan you reasonably estimate, you know, the total amount of money that's going to be spent on this from all agencies for Fiscal Year 1999?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, ma'am. I don't have a good indication of that. A lot would depend on what Congress provides. We think $25 million for us is a rather modest amount for Fiscal Year 1999. I think the overall program is in the neighborhood of $400 million.
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Mrs. EMERSON. Just for thisfor Fiscal Year 1999?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. over the entire 6-year period for a maximum Federal share of project costs of $75 million per project. We think, frankly, it would benefit a lot of the smaller communities. I'm from Parkville, Missourithose kind of size communities.
Mrs. EMERSON. How much did you say? Did you say $70 million?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Yes, ma'am. $75 million per project.
Mrs. EMERSON. Would you explain what you mean by per project?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Per flood damage reduction project that we would build.
[The information follows:]
The maximum amount that the Corps of Engineers can spend on one project would be $75 million, but since projects are cost shared and other Federal programs may be applicable, the overall project can have a much higher cost.
Mrs. EMERSON. Okay, I see. Each individual project, notokay, that's fine.
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Now, let me ask you just one more question about this. It appears that Congress wouldn't have any approval authority on projects developed under the program except for a 21-day review period. Do you allyou know, as familiar as I am with many of the programs that you all have, I'm not aware of any other Corps programs that work under this same sort of 21-day review limit, and if there are, would you just tell me what they are, please?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. No, ma'am. We have what we call our continuing authorities program, which the committee is authorized where we can identify projects without specific authorization and go build them. And the largest program, we have in that regard is a $40 million small flood control project program. Because this is a larger program, of up to $75 million per project, we propose to work with the Congress by letting the members now that we have a potential project that we would like to go forward with, and giving you time to consider it. The Army wants to work very closely with Congress and does not intend to ride roughshod over any member. But if there is another mechanism that you could suggest, that was our effort to signal to you that we wanted to work with you all on the projects that got picked.
Mrs. EMERSON. Yes, I mean, I think a 21-day review period is way too short considering the fact that, you know, it would be incumbent upon us to meet with constituents who might be impacted by something, in all fairness to them. That's far too short. I think that often times many of our agenciesand that's not justthat's not you all specificallyallow too contracted a time period for any kind of review of plans and that sort of thing.
Well, I think I'm not going to ask you all any more questions, but I would like to say that while I think that you do terrific work, I think it was shortsighted not to ask for more money in the construction budget. And I'm hopeful that we're smart enough to put it back in. I think it would also make your jobs a lot easier so that you could complete those ongoing projects which you've got. And I reserve judgement on to other things, but I don't necessarily believe that it ishow do I want to say itnecessarily cost effective to divert money that we so desperately need on ongoing projects for something new like Challenge 21 and would prefer that you postpone that for another time once we complete those ongoing projects that do protect lives and property.
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Mr. FOSSELLA. Thank you, Representative Emerson. Representative Lampson.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We had talked a little while ago about the effect of one project perhaps on another or on another area. And we've also been talking about, well, projectslet me just go back to myI guess what is affecting my particular area. I live in an area along the Gulf Coast where there is a significant amount of erosion, and we believe that that is, partially, affected by the lack of sediment that continues to be made available. Whathow much knowledge is there about what effects there have been with the construction of levees, jetties, channelization of the Mississippi River or perhaps even other rivers or streams as it brings that sediment down? Whathow much knowledge is there that you might have access to?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. We have a great deal of information on that subject. In fact, I think we have some of the world's experts in sediment transport and coastal dynamics. We have a coastal engineering research center, for example, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, as part of the Waterways Experiment Station. Probably the easiest way, sir, I would be delighted to arrange for a briefing of your staff of all the information that we have on that subject.
Mr. LAMPSON. Well, I think that's going to certainly be important. Can you pretty much assume that the reduction in that sediment flow is probably what's helping to cause erosion even beyond just the beaches and perhaps causing us to the loss of wetlands?
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Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Is there a specific site you have in mind, sir?
Mr. LAMPSON. Well, one would be the National McFadden Wildlife Refuge, which is about 80,000 acres. But there are significant areas along the coast, not just in the State of Texas but in Louisiana and perhaps in other States as well where that's happening.
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. Let me reply more fully for the record, but there are a number of issues. It is not only our navigation projects that have an impact, but subsidence of land from both drinking water withdrawal and withdrawal of oil, for example, can cause the land to subside and cause more water to come in and cause more erosion. The sea level rise is another factor. Even adverse extremes in weather that we seem to be in a cycle, for example, with El Nino, can exacerbate the situation. So, it's not just our navigation projects or flood control projects. There are a number of different factors.
[The information follows:]
Mr. LAMPSON. Some of the studies that I've been aware of probably indicate that there have been 40 to 50 percent reduction, though, in the amount of sediment that's carried downstream by these rivers, and that's bound to have an effect. And again, it just adds to what my request earlier was about us taking a look at the whole coast as a system so that when we actwhen we build one project that the effect that happens down the coastline from it is taking into consideration before we create that other problem and have to go down there and spend tons more money.
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As I understand it, the Corps has three primary civil works missions that are probably equally important: navigation, flood control, and ecosystem restoration. There are those areas, like I said, in my districtthatwhere we have problems with those. And in some of these areas, the missions overlap. For example, there are two vast marshes that are vanishing into the sea because their sediment supply has been cut off. Now, these seems to be prime candidates for ecosystem restoration. And on the other hand, we're spending millions of dollars each year to dredge and dispose of sediment that clogs Federal navigation channels. What I'd like to find out is how the Corps handles cases where those missions overlap? Can you do something that might help change that?
Dr. ZIRSCHKY. We do have programs such as the Beneficial Reuse, Section 204, the Beneficial Reuse of Dredge Material Program, where we're actually building wetlands. For example, in Sonoma Bay. What the Sonoma Bay runsin San Francisco Bay in California. We would be delighted to see what opportunities might exist in Texas to do similar kinds of work. We do need to make more effective use of dredge material, and under WRDA 96, we propose to equalize the cost sharing, so there would no longer be an incentive, frankly, to dump good, clean sand or other useful materials out into the ocean; that we could begin to use those for other uses.
Mr. LAMPSON. If we have enough local interest, what would be the process we would follow to try to justify such an effort? How would go about justifying it? How can wewhat's the process that we would go throughthat I would go through in getting you all's involvementgetting the Corps involvement and support? And not just involvement, but support.
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Mr. DAVIS. As we indicated to Congressman Taylor, we are very interested in the beneficial use program. I think it's got off to a little bit of a slow start in some places. In others, we've used it very effectively. One of the provisions in our water resources proposal that we submitted last week calls for a change in the law that will allow non-profit entities to cost share these beneficial use projects, so that's going to broaden the universe of potential project proponents. And we think that will help stimulate and motivate some additional activity.
Mr. LAMPSON. We've had considerable difficulty, as Mr. Blumenauer was saying, working with all of the different agencies. And perhaps it might be worthwhile to make an example of my district and one of the projects that we've been working on so diligently and bring all of the myriad State and Federal agencies who have been working on this project for over a year just to get an application for a permit put into place. And I'd certainly offer that, Mr. Chairman, if you could pass that on to the powers that be, I would appreciate that.
Mr. FOSSELLA. You bet.
Mr. LAMPSON. Thanks.
Mr. THUNE. Okay, thank you very much, Representative Lampson. Representative Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I do want to thank you all for sticking around for so long. An observation I would like to make to you as someone who has defended the 404 permit process. In many instances when you are telling someone or making them aware of the potential problems in developing an area, I've noticed that the corps in particular and the State agencies have followed their lead of usingof overusing the term wetland. In my district and the gentleman from Texas' district, we tend to think of wetlands as coastal marshes and nothing else. The phone calls that I get are, how can it be a wetland? I'm 26 feet above sea level. They can't visualize that.
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I think the Corps would be well served, and the Nation, in turn, would be well served, if you would start differentiating the difference between wetlands and floodplains. The American people are pretty smart. You can have a hell of a hard time telling them something that is only wet a few days out of the year is a wetland. They do understand the floodplain. And I have found in a number of instances where I'll actually have a staffer go walk a plot of land with a citizen and say, well, you're right, it's not a wetland. But look what's going to happen when it rains, particularly with the weather problems. I think it would serve you well because, as you know, there is a growing chorus of Members of Congress who want to do away with the entire 404 program. And I do think it's worthwhile. I think the goal of what you're trying to do is worthwhile, particularly, I would remind my colleagues, when we are the Nation's largest insurer through the Federal Flood Insurance Program. And I think, like any other insurer, we do have the right to pick and chose where we write insurance, and also we do have the right to try to minimize the losses to the taxpayers by making people aware that if they build in certain sites, at a certain level, and don't raise it up or don't take some preventative steps, that, yes, there's going to be a problem, and, yes, they're probably going to file a claim against us the taxpayers.
The second thing isI'm sorry the gentleman from Texas leftbut again, I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I really think that there are some things that Democratic Administrations do a little better than Republican, some things that Republicans do better than Democrats. And as a Democrat, I've got to tell you, I have been disappointed at the lack of progress in trying to enhance the environment. It's not enough to slow down the degradation. That's a losing battle. When we have an opportunity to make things better, particularly as a result of a normal dredging project anyway, we ought to do it. And, you know, we're not given this gift forever. We're not given the gift of having a Democratic Administration forever. And I would hope that the Corps, which normally moves very methodicallythat is to say, slowlybut does good work could be enhanced to encourage to not only move methodically but actually move a little bit faster along this program becauseI wish the gentleman had stuck aroundDavis Pond is a perfect example; the Caernarvon Project off the Mississippi River. Two good examples of where you have enhanced the environment, but, again, both of those projects took almost 20 years to implement. Bonnet Carrie is on hold again. Again, I hope at some point, I could get a briefing where it stands, because it would affect my Congressional District, and I do think in a beneficial way. But I think it's very important that we strike while the iron's hot, and I think it's also very important that the American people, who want to see some progress, that at the end year, we can say, yes, we created x number of acres of marsh to make up for the fact that we're losing it in other places; that we have enhanced the environment; that we've slowed down the rate of attrition to the environment. And we've hopefully mitigated some of the pollution that's coming out of the coastal streams and rivers.
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Mr. DAVIS. You know I would never argue with you. We share your concerns about the pace at which we make decisions, not only in the regulatory program but the study program and the implementation program for our civil works projects. And as Dr. Zirschky, I think, has pointed out that we're going in the right direction. The progress has been made in this Administration. General Fuhrman and his team, with the districts, have done a good job of implementing, so I think we're going in the right direction. No, it's not perfect; and yes, we can continue to make changes and should. And we will do that.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Thank you very much, Representative Taylor. Let me just add, I know some of my colleagues touched upon this issue before. But yesterday, I had a meeting with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers in Staten Island. And by the year 2005, the Port of New York, Port of New Jersey is facing a obligation just for maintenance dredging of more than 14 million cubic yards of material. That's not taking into account the deepening of the channel that's expected to take place. And we've identified about 6 million cubic yards for disposal. That means we have to come up with about 8 million cubicfind a place for 8 million cubic yards of material. So, my question and statementI'm not going to ask any questionshas been asked before about the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. But clearly, it's critical to the Port of New York and Port of New Jersey. And, I guess, I am going to ask a question about what are we doingwhat the consequences of waiting a year or two before we address the future of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund?
General FUHRMAN. From my perspective as the operator, we have got the money that we need in 1998 and in the 1999 budget, so the real issue that comes as you formulate the 2000 budgetand for me, it's a budget authority issue on how much I have to operateit's more of a Treasury-OMB issue on how that money is reimbursed.
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Mr. FOSSELLA. I guess so there is nothingand I missed it earlierthere is nothing on the table or being discussed as to what would replace the formula for collecting the revenue?
Mr. PARCELL. Well, as I mentioned in my testimony, OMB has organized a working group to develop funding sourcesalternative funding sources to the existing harbor maintenance tax or the prior harbor maintenance tax and exports. We don't have any proposals at this time, but we do expect to be submitting a proposal to Congress.
Mr. FOSSELLA. Let me just reiterate, then, my desire to see that process expedited as quickly as possible. We've seen often how crisis management becomes the way of life, and if we can anticipate the problem, and we'll be working closely, not just with this subcommittee and other members, but indeed with staff. So, with that, thank you.
The witnesses, you can expect I guess additional written questions as the subcommittee moves forward with the Water Resources Development Act of 1998.
Mr. FOSSELLA. The subcommittee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 3:51 p.m. the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]