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Hornig, Dr. Donald, Director, Office of Science and Technology, Executive
Presidential Reports—Drought in the Northeastern United States:
NORTHEAST WATER CRISIS
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1965
U.S. SENATE, CoMMITTEE on INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRs, Washington, D.C.
The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in room 31.10, New Senate Office Building, Senator Henry M. Jackson (chairman) presiding. - i. Present: Senators Jackson, Church, Moss, Burdick, Nelson, Metcalf, Kuchel, Allott, Jordan of Idaho, Simpson, and Fannin. Also present: Hon. Clifford P. Case, U.S. Senator from the State of New Jersey. -Also present: Jerry T. Verkler, staff director; Stewart French, chief counsel; Roy M. itacre, professional staff member; Ralph W. Johnson, chief water consultant; Frederick O. Frederickson, professional staff member, and Richard N. Little, minority counsel. The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. . . . This is an open hearing, held pursuant to public notice, by the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, on the water supply crisis in the Northeastern part of our country. The committee wants to review what steps currently are being taken to meet this perilous situation, and to obtain information on which to determine whether additional Federal legislation is needed. We also want to insure full and complete cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government and the same cooperation among and between the States and the Government. I use the word “additional” with respect to the need for legislation because this committee and the Congress, with what appears to be most fortunate prescience and foresight, already has established the machinery by which Federal and State action is being taken. I refer to the enactment earlier this year of the Water Resources Planning Act, which is Public Law 89–80, and also to the extension and broadening of the saline water conversion program by Public Law 89–118. I am proud that both of these measures, which promise to be so useful in the present crisis in the Northeast, came out of this committee as a result of substantial hearings. In addition, in 1964 we pioneered in a long-range water research program, established by Public Law 88–379, and this year our committee reported favorably and the Senate approved an extension and broadening of that basic research program into water resources. The Water Resources Planning Act set up the machinery for Federal-State cooperation, authorized river basin planning commissions, and, of most immediate importance, established a Water Resources Council, composed of the very top echelon officials of the
Government, with respect to water resources development and use. They are the Secretaries of Interior; Agriculture; Army, under whom is the Corps of Engineers; Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission.
President Johnson promptly appointed Interior Secretary Udall as Chairman of the Council, and it is in this capacity that we will hear from him today.
Before bringing these opening remarks to a close, it should be pointed out that the present water crisis in the Northeast forcibly demonstrates that water shortage problems are no longer peculiar to the West, but, instead, exist throughout the Nation. The West is not alone in needing help to solve its water problems. Indeed it is surprising to see how closely the water problems of one region of the Nation resemble those of the other regions. We must regard development and utilization of our water resources as a national problem, affecting all of the people of all of the States and make every effort to apply the experience and knowledge of one region to the problems of other regions.
These hearings will be the first held under the new program established by the Water Resources Planning Act. Our first witness this morning, Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall, has been named by President Johnson as Chairman of the Water Resources Council. This afternoon we will resume, and our witnesses will be Mr. Elmer Staats, Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Budget, and Dr. Donald Hornig, Science Adviser to the President.
Secretary Udall, we are delighted to have you with us this morning, and we shall look forward with great interest to your report and your comments on this most serious problem.
STATEMENT OF HON. STEWART L. UDALL, SECRETARY OF THE
INTERIOR; ACCOMPANIED BY RUSSELL MORGAN, CORPS OF ENGINEERS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY; JAMES M. QUIGLEY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE; AND HOLLIS R, WILLIAMS, SOIL CONSERVATION SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Secretary Udall. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I should like to bring with me to the table here representatives of the other departments on the Council, Assistant Secretary of HEW Mr. Quigley, Mr. Morgan of the Corps of Engineers this morning, and Mr. Hollis, Williams, Soil Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture.
The CHAIRMAN. We are delighted to have you gentlemen with us, and we look forward to the opportunity of asking you some questions,
Secretary UDALL. We have worked on this problem as a team, and I think it appropriate that we appear here as a team this morning, because I would like to say, before going into my statement, that I think the Water Resources Planning Act, the pioneering legislation that this committee played a very prominent role in enacting, opens up an opportunity not for new rivalry within the Federal Establishment but for a whole new pattern of cooperation, and when the President put us into the Northeast water crisis situation, General Cassidy and I went together with the other people you see here, and we worked
as a team, and I would say to you we are doing our best to develop new patterns of teamwork. I think this committee has a real opportunity to make a contribution, an additional contribution, in the sense that at least three or four members of this committee also are on the Public Works Committee, and it is a matter of coordinating the overall water effort. Water is a complex subject, as we all know, and I suspect that it is going to get more complex than less before we finish. So that I am making a report here today as Chairman of the Council and not as Secretary of the Interior, and I want to underscore that. I have a prepared statement, Mr. Chairman. I will read some parts of it and try to summarize the highlights. The CHAIRMAN. Proceed in your own way, Mr. Secretary. Secretary UDALL. The present drought in the Northeastern United States is the most intense in the history of that area. Neither weather nor streamflow records of the past century and a half, nor older historical writings, newspapers, nor other old records, show its equal. There is no sign—I want to underscore that, Mr. Chairman—there is no sign at this point of the breaking of the drought. Some of us had rather mixed feelings that we hoped maybe Hurricane Betsy would head for the Northeast. She is headed elsewhere, and yet on the other hand one hurricane does not break a drought. The long-term 30-day forecast for the period we are in right now is for a drier than average period, and that forecast is holding up, so there is no break in sight, and I think everyone should understand this. In early summer the drought was severe from southern Maine to northern Maryland and Delaware. Near or somewhat above normal rainfall occurring in the northern and southern portions of the area in August contracted the severe drought area slightly. But in the central part, and particularly in the service area of the Delaware River Basin, ..i. includes New York City and northern New Jo well as Philadelphia and Camden, the drought remains most critical. New York City took the initial major action in recognition of the developing drought situation. On June 14 it stopped releases from its Delaware River reservoirs, required under the Supreme Court decision of 1954, to supplement natural flows so as to maintain a basic rate of 1,525 cubic feet per second in the river at Montague, N.J. By so doing, and because of reduced runoff generally, riverflow downstream at Montague and Trenton was so reduced that salt water rapidly intruded upstream, posing a water-quality threat in the Philadelphia-Camden area. This action by New York City immediately posed a major problem for Governor Hughes of New Jersey, as present Chairman of the Delaware River Basin Commission and the other members of the Commission. I sit on that Commission pursuant to legislation enacted by Congress 3 or 4 years ago, as a Federal member. The Delaware River Commission is unique in the sense that the Federal Government sits as a member on that Commission. Discussions within the Commission were promptly undertaken. Finally on July 7, under Governor Hughes' leadership, agreement was reached among the parties to the Supreme Court decree and the cooperation of operators of private power utility reservoirs was obtained under a 30-day emergency order of the Commission providing