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In 1932, comprehensive plans were presented in the 308 reports on the Columbia Basin, including the Snake River. Since that time, the dam, navigation locks, and power plant at Bonneville were built by the Corps of Engineers, the great power plant at Grand Coulee has been placed in operation by the Bureau of Reclamation, and progress has been made on irrigation of a vast area in central Washington, important multiple-purpose projects have been developed in the Willamette, numerous smaller projects for all purposes have been completed. There are 600 water-use projects, large and small, in operation in the basin. Additional projects, such as McNary Dam, Chief Joseph Dam, Lucky Peak Dam, and the Snake River navigation project are under construction or authorized.
Although a large amount of work has been done, the Pacific Northwest has been developing at an appreciably higher rate than the average for the Nation. Its needs for water-resources development are great and its potential is fortunately greater.
Since 1943, at the request of Congress, the Corps of Engineers has been reviewing the original comprehensive plan and bringing it up to date in the light of the tremendous strides of recent years toward full economic utilization of the vast potential of the region. Our report on this comprehensive review is now before the governors of the Columbia Basin States and the Federal agencies concerned, for comment prior to formal transmission to Congress. An interim report on the Albeni Falls projects is now before the Congress.
This 308 review report has been prepared through continuous consultation and in close harmony with all interested and affected agencies, Federal, State, and local. More than 30 public hearings were held in areas covering the entire basin. Four hearings were held in the basin by the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to obtain views on the completed plan. The needs and views of the many conflicting interests involved in a comprehensive river-basin plan have been so well correlated that there is universal approval of the report in all major respects.
Our comprehensive plan calls for a system of major reservoirs for the main control plan, and subbasin plans, notably the Willamette, which provide for reservoirs for all purposes and for local flood-protection works, including levee protection for the lower Columbia main stem. The estimated cost of this phase of the plan is $1,570,000,000. These works have been integrated with the related programs of other agencies for irrigation, power transmission, soil and forest conservation and development, fish and wildlife improvements, recreation and other purposes.
For flood control, the need for which was emphasized dramatically and tragically in 1948, the plan provides positive control of flows of the greatest magnitude known on the lower Columbia and major tributaries and a high degree of control on all tributaries to the extent justified.
Power generation capabilities will be increased by approximately 6,000,000 kilowatts as required to meet the demands foreseeable by Federal agencies and public and private utilities in the area.
Navigation will be extended inland to Lewiston, Idaho, on the Snake and to Harrisburg, Oreg., on the Willamette.
The irrigation program of the Department of the Interior providing new or supplemental water supplies for a million acres of land is correlated with the recommended projects.
Other purposes, such as the improvement of fisheries, necessary power transmission facilities, pollution abatement, drainage, recreational development, and soil and forest conservation and development are provided for in the recommended projects or in the correlated programs of other agencies.
The proposed plan is a sound framework for long-range development. The early accomplishment of the work provided for in this plan will prevent damaging floods and permit a realization of untold benefits in this great river basin.
Col. Theron D. Weaver, the division engineer, North Pacific division, who prepared the basic plan and Col. William Whipple, district engineer from Walla Walla, one of his key assistants, as well as my own assistants and deputies, will be available to the committee here to explain this important comprehensive plan.
In conclusion, I want to thank the committee for the opportunity of appearing before it, and to assure its members that we will cooperate in every way to assist in discharging our mutual responsibilities for the national flood-control program. Colonel Gee, who will testify specifically on the individual projects and basins, and other members of my staff, will be available to answer any questions and to assist the committee. I will be available to the committee whenever it desires.
Mr. Chairman, that completes my official statement.
Mr. Davis. General Pick, let me thank you for a very comprehensive and exhaustive and splendid statement.
Mr. Larcade, do you have any questions to ask the General at this time?
Mr. LARCADE. I think the general made a very fine statement, Mr. Chairman, and with your permission, I would like to ask one question.
General, in your statement, you give a picture of the present floodcontrol program and quoted figures on the status of various projects that were either complete or under construction or not yet started. That figure of $7,503,000,000, I presume, relates entirely to flood control; is that not correct?
General Pick. Yes, sir, flood control and multiple-purpose developments.
Mr. LARCADE. That is aside from the picture with respect to rivers and harbors projects.
General Pick. That is correct, sir.
Mr. LARCADE. And as I recall, is it not a fact that there is a backlog of approximately $5,000,000,000 worth of rivers and harbors projects in addition to the amount that you have stated with respect to flood control?
General Pick. That is correct, sir.
Mr. ANGELL. Mr. Chairman, I, too, want to commend the General for this very fine, factual and comprehensive report. I regret you are not going to be here on Friday when our Columbia Basin project comes up. However, I am glad that you have, in view of that, given your own views on the project so that the committee may have them in their consideration of it.
I, naturally, am very much interested in that particular project in this over-all plan by reason of the fact that my district is in the Pacific Northwest. I can say that our Governor will be here on Friday to testify and other prominent officials of the far West who are deeply interested in this whole program.
It has been brought forcibly to the forefront, as you have outlined in your report, by reason of the very heavy damage we sustained there in the great flood we had in the Columbia River last year. As you have stated, over a hundred million dollars in property values alone, in addition to the loss of life, were lost, and in view of the heavy snowfall last winter, we were threatened with a like occurrence this year.
Now, General, as I understand it, your over-all program for the development of the Columbia Basin area and its tributaries calls for the construction of works throughout the area that will tend to at least mitigate, if not overcome, much of the damage caused by these floods; is that true?
General PICK. The works which we have planned out there will eliminate floods on the lower Columbia and damaging floods on the Columbia will practically be eliminated. Floods will be controlled on the main tributaries where we have found feasible projects that could be built with a favorable economic ratio. There will be some streams left in the basin on which we will not have projects, but they are small streams.
Mr. ANGELL. Do I understand from your report, General, that, notwithstanding the fact that we suffered a loss of over $100,000,000 in just this one flood last year, additional damage aggregating $42,000,000 or more would have been sustained if the protective works that have already been built had not been constructed
General PICK. That is correct, sir.
Mr. ANGELL. So the fact is, General, that as a result of the effort of the Corps of Army Engineers and the other agencies in constructing flood control works in the area heretofore the damage from this great flood last year was mitigated by approximately a third?
Mr. ANGELL. Will you state for the benefit of the committee, general, under what authorization this comprehensive plan was made?
General PICK. I didn't understand that, sir. Mr. ANGELL. Under what authorization was this comprehensive plan made by your division?
General Pick. It was as a result of a resolution by both committees of Congress, the House and the Senate, for a review of our 308 report.
Mr. ANGELL. In fact, there were several authorizations by the Congress itself directing you to make this study and submit this comprehensive program.
General PICK. That is correct, sir. Mr. ANGELL. Was there also a letter from President Truman directly after the flood in the Columbia last year, requesting that an additional study be made ?
General PICK. Yes, sir. There were two letters since the flood last year from the President urging the Corps of Engineers and other Federal agencies concerned to push their plans through and get them completed as soon as possible in order to determine what should be done out there to eliminate these great destructive forces, and for the development of the area.
Mr. ANGELL. So that this report on plan 308, this comprehensive plan, made by the Corps of Army Engineers is not only in response to the resolutions passed by the committees of the Congress, but also in response to the urgent appeal of the President that this study be made?
General Pick. Yes, sir.
Mr. ANGELL. General, am I correct in understanding from your statement to the committee that all of the various agencies concerned in the development of the natural resources of the Columbia River area are in accord on this program that is being submitted ?
General Pick. That is correct, sir. We have worked out an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation and other agencies of the Department of the Interior. Some of the Federal agencies now have the report under consideration and are going over it very carefully, but that has been worked out and we don't expect any adverse reports from Federal agencies that have not already reported. The main agencies have already concurred in the report.
Mr. ANGELL. Is it true that, notwithstanding the fact there are programs and legislation pending in the Congress for the establishment of a Columbia Valley Authority, that that does not in any way run counter, or interfere with this comprehensive plan that you are submitting to the Congress?
General Pick. No, sir. This is an engineering plan and it could be carried out by any administrative set-up that might be put in charge of it. We have done the engineering work. We have assembled the engineering data. We have the factual data necessary for providing a comprehensive plan for a large river basin system, and that is what this report is. It has been thoroughly studied and the data has been collected, which would allow the work to be undertaken just as soon as funds could be made available for carrying it out.
Mr. ANGELL. And it does not conflict in any way with any organization that might be set up, any agency that might be set up, under legislation under the so-called Columbia Valley Authority? General Pick. No, sir.
Mr. ANGELL. It is separate and distinct, then; as a matter of fact, these studies were begun long before the pending legislation in Congress.
General Pick. That is correct, sir.
Mr. McDONOUGH. General, in the latter part of your remarks, you referred to water conservation and related matters and you indicated hydroelectric power is one and reservoir management for recreation and other purposes is another. I would like to ask if there have been any surveys, plans, or any thought on the part of the Army engineers in the conserving of water in the arid sections in the West, where we channelize rivers and provide every means possible for running the flood waters off to the ocean, then we find ourselves in a drought condition, where many millions of gallons of water that could otherwise be saved has been run off to the ocean. Now I am thinking especially of southern California and Los Angeles County.
As you know, we have had extensive development of the Los Angeles River and the San Gabriel River for the purpose of protecting life and property in running the water off to the ocean. We also have a floodcontrol district there which assumes considerable responsibility in maintaining the works put in by the Army engineers.
I don't know of any local plans, but I think it would be wise for the Army engineers to look into the possibility of gathering that water in a series of basins down the valley so that it might get into the underground water supply and be used in the event of drought of domestic and industrial water supply from the Morro Basin and the Colorado River. Has the Corps of Engineers given any thought to that or is there any such plan in mind!
General PICK. Well, of course, you know the project that is set up now, and they are working on it out there around Los Angeles. As I understand it, one of the objectives in this project is to get the water safely to the ocean as quickly as possible without damage. I also know that you do have a water shortage problem out there. Most of the water from—well, 60 percent of the water from that area for domestic purposes comes from underground. The project we are working on out there now is to straighten the streams and checking the water and taking it safely, as you say, to the ocean. Perhaps a few years like the last two or three will change that around and we would be doing exactly what you suggest, sir.
Mr. McDonough. Of course, over the years, there has been all sorts of programs for upstream development back in the mountains and laying out basins for the purpose of gathering that water into the underground stream, but on account of the disastrous floods that we have, the “flash" floods, the type of floods that we have, the emphasis has all been on delivering that water to the ocean and away from property and industrial plants as fast as possible. So we have, as you know, set up these concrete channels. There is no absorption whatsoever in the bottom of those channels and only in one instance, as I recall, was there a collection of a certain amount of that water in the Long Beach area. If no such study has been made, I certainly think that it would be a very timely thing not only in Los Angeles County, but southern California as a whole and parts of Arizona and New Mexico, where water is run off into the main streams for the purpose of trying to prevent loss of life and then finding ourselves short of water when we need it the most.
General Pick. I think, sir, there in Los Angeles County, if I remember correctly, the mountains are to the north and east of the city, and the prevailing winds cause heavy precipitation on that side of the mountain. The open country from the mountains back down to the coast is very heavly populated, and although I don't know the actual conditions there, I doubt whether it would be feasible to impound much of that water in the foothill areas. Much of the drainage area lies all below the mountains. They have a pretty lively committee out there in the county. I expect that they have studied that and have had to give it up because of the thickly populated section and the cost and damages involved.
Mr. McDONOUGH. Well, the Hansen Dam provides a certain amount of underground absorption and the Sepulveda Dam provides a certain amount, but in spite of that, there still are millions and millions of gallons of water that run off in the heavy rainy season and we lose it.