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STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. AVERY, FARMER AND STOCKMAN,
Mr. AVERY, Mr. Chairman, my name is William H. Avery. I am a farmer and stockman. I represent three different interests.
The CHAIRMAN. You are a farmer and a doctor?
Mr. AVERY. Farmer and stockman. I have to doctor the stock, but that is as far as I go on the professional angle there.
The CHAIRMAN. You represent what interests there!
Mr. AVERY. I have a statement from the Clay County commissioners. I represent the Clay County Farm Bureau and Farmers' Union, and I also represent
The CHAIRMAN. You mean you represent those two organizations. You belong to each of them?
Mr. AVERY. I have a statement from one. I am a member of just one of the organizations.
I represent the Lower Republican Valley Development Association. That is an asociation of persons residing in the proposed Milford Reservoir area that extends from the site of the Milford Dam up the river to a location near Clay Center, Kans.
I would like also to bring to your attention that I am from Wakefield, the little town we brushed off this morning, that nobody knew anything about. Wakefield is a town that is definitely in this reservoir area.
Around Wakefield, we are so confused about the Milford Dam it is a little hard to make any sense at the moment at all. After this famous flood of 1935 that has been mentioned so many times this morning, the valley was surveyed and there was a dam approved at Milford, Kans. We were not very happy about it, but it seemed to be the logical site at that time. So we were resigned to the fact that there was going to be a dam at Milford. Just shortly after that, interests on the river-up the river—thought that they would rather move the dam up the river so they could have some reclamation benefits; also would protect the lower Republican Valley.
The Army engineers were requested to review or resurvey the Republican Valley with that in mind to see if they could move the dam up the river so some reclamation benefits could be derived and also protect the Lower Republican Valley. That was accomplished. The engineers agreed that could be done and they in their recommendations—that is incorporated into House Document 842—have made the following statement in their revised report. They say:
The Harlan County Dam would perfom every function of the Milford Dam and also furnish protection to the Republican Valley below Harlan.
They conclude in this report that the Harlan Dam be built as a substitute for Milford. This report was approved by Congress in 1941 as a part of the comprehensive Pick-Sloan plan.
Mr. JONES. What House Document?
W thought on the basis of the Army engineers' report that Harlan County Dam was supposed to control the Republican River as an integral part of the Pick-Sloan plan. About the time the ink was dry
on the final appropriation bill for the Harlan County Dam, zing! we come up with another Milford dam. That is where we find ourselves today. We have not discovered just exactly what was behind all that. It was out of the picture. Just as Harlan is secure, here we come with Milford again.
I do not want to bore you with a lot of figures. I am not going to. These details are all available to you, if you want to find them out.
The CHAIRMAN. Without interrupting you, Mr. Avery, is Clay County the county in which the dam is located ?
Mr. Avery. The dam site itself is located in Geary City.
The CHAIRMAN. And you represent generally the interests above the dam?
Mr. AVERY. Above the dam, including Riley, Geary, and Clay City.
There are 25,000 square miles in the Republican area and 21,000 of those square miles above this Harlan County Dam, over 85 percent, there is just a little segment down below Lovewell we are going to protect with the proposed Milford Dam. In 45 years of river history, there has only been one flood to originate below the site of the Harlan County Dam. It would have been 145 years, but since there was one before it could have been 245. Nobody knows. The 1903 flood did originate below Harlan. We have had a record of that. The records only go back far enough to show it has been at least 45 years since there has been a flood originating below the site of the Harlan County Dam. Therefore, this proposed dam is going to protect only one flood, up to present records, that occurs once in 45 years; we are going to displace 3,000 people just to accomplish the flood that might be 100 years before it reoccurs.
I will try and hurry along here and not inject a lot of things. I have a copy that I will leave with the committee for their consideration.
I want to emphasize this point: In the original Pick-Sloan plan as it was approved by the Congress in 1944, the Milford Dam was not included. Therefore, by leaving the Milford Dam out at this time, we are not upsetting the balance, the coordination of the Pick-Sloan plan. This hearing we are having today—and we have had several just like them before on the same project—is an extension to the PickSloan plan. It is not upsetting the logistics, the balance, and the coordination of these various projects on the Kaw River or in the Missouri Valley.
Now, to further confuse this thing a little, we have another side injected into the discussion. The. Harlan County Dam is in the construction state. Colonel Potter said this morning it was 25 percent completed. Colonel Berrigan, the district engineer in Kansas City said last fall it was 52 percent completed. I suppose the answer lies somewhere in between.
The CHAIRMAN. What is your judgment about it? Have you noticed it?
Mr. A VERY. Well, it is just such an immense construction project with a lot of concrete and a lot of dirt I would have no independent
judgment of whether it was 50, 75, or 25 percent completed. It is an immense project, of course.
The CHAIRMAN. Go ahead.
Just to refresh our memories, how far is that Harlan County Dam above the confluence of the main river there—before you get above where the dam is located
Mr. JONES. The Kansas River.
Mr. A VERY. The Republican River empties into the Kaw at Junction City. Is that where we are starting from? I don't quite follow you.
The CHAIRMAN. How far are these two dams apart!
Mr. AVERY. To get back to the site of the Harlan County Dam again, last fall Colonel Berrigan had quite a group of dignitaries showing them over the construction project and a tape recording was made of their tour that day. That recording is on file with WIBW Radio Station. We had it replayed to be sure we had this information right. To my knowledge, it is still available. He made several statements that I think bear very directly on this Milford Dam.
He said, for instance:
The 1935 flood could have been completely stored in this reservoir and would have saved land damage below here had it been constructed.
Mr. FORD. That refers to which dam?
Mr. AVERY. The Harlan County Dam. This transcription was made at Harlan County.
He states further:
This dam will be effective flood control for the Republican Basin all the way to its mouth. It will greatly benefit Kansas City, Topeka, although the results will diminish the farther it gets from the dam,
And he concludes:
We will never have another disastrous flood in the Republican Basin after this dam is completed,
Now, gentlemen, when I said I was confused, it is just a little bit hard to reconcile statements like that with a proposal for another dam a few river-miles downstream.
The CHAIRMAN. That is 200 river-miles ?
Mr. AVERY. I would also just like briefly to point out this economic factor of benefit costs; that also enters into this. In examining the engineers' report, they have figured the land cost at $105 an acre. Even in the depths of the depression I don't think land has sold that low. At this time, I would say it was probably double that. The community of Wakefield they write off at approximately $1,000,000. We have a brand new school house there and the public utilities in Wakefield alone would cost approximately $1,000,000 and there is personal property to be considered besides that.
Further, in their diagnosis and report, they gave no credit to the crops that are now being grown on this land in reckoning their benefits and their economic factors. Their economic factor, I believe, is 1.36 to 1. If these figures were corrected that I mentioned, probably the economic factor would be unfavorable.
I would also like to point out and call attention to a new factor in the AAA. This hearing does not bear directly on the AAA program but it certainly does indirectly because everybody is trying to conserve water and prevent floods. The program this year has injected a new type of dam that they are willing to help pay for. They call it a retention dam. They take the place of the old pasture ponds. The engineers always objected to the pasture pond as a measure of flood control, and probably rightly, on the grounds that they were always full in times of surplus moisture so they were not able to hold back any more. This new type is piped and will empty in about 36 hours time and be ready to catch more water.
Now, we do not maintain that those ponds would probably handle the whole flood situation in the Republican River Basin; but in conjunction with the Harlan County Dam we surely feel that they would work with that and would handle any flood problem in the lower reaches of the Republican Valley.
Now, if I may, there were two or three statements made this morning that I would like to amend. Is that in order, Mr. Chairman?
The CHAIRMAN. “Amend?” What do you mean by that?
Mr. Avery. There were several statements made in the testimony this morning that I know from living in the valley are not right. I wondered if we could correct, or at least get my version in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed. Call it whatever you will. You are replying to it and refuting it whether you amend it or not.
Mr. AVERY. The statement that Colonel Potter made this morning about this 1935 flood; and he further stated that it was a flood in 1948 about the same proportions; but because of the increased warning facilities, no lives were lost. Well, gentlemen, I live right down on that river and so help me, there wasn't even 1-inch flood last year. And so I don't want the valley charged up with another flood when we did not have it.
A statement maybe isn't essential, except the fact we are getting too much wheat in the country anyhow, the statement was made the valley was all wheat-producing land. Take my own land, for instance. My ratio of other crops to wheat is about 7 to 1, and I think I am a fairly typical farmer up and down the valley. So, I would not want the land under consideration to get into the record as being wheat-producing area because it is not. It is mostly corn and alfalfa.
The least I think we are entitled to ask for in the Republican Valley is that we can wait until the Harlan Dam is completed and by its performance show itself to be adequate or inadequate to handle any flood problems in the Republican Valley. If it shows itself to be inadequate, there is only one answer, of course, but until that time it seems like the matter of displacing this many people for something that exists only in theory is a pretty serious proposition.
The CHAIRMAN. You desire to file that statement, sir? We are glad to have your statement. And if you care to file any other further amendments or replies, we will be glad to have them, otherwise we will take the next witness.
Mr. AVERY. Just one more thing. The Governor of Kansas had a hearing on this particular project last December. The hearing was conducted by a board of engineers. The engineers were selected from different phases of State government. They heard the testimony and they turned this project down as being economically unfavorable. That report of the Governor's council is attached to my remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. We will have it for the record. It comes under the law of 1944.
Mr. Jones. May I ask him one question ?
What percentage of the land is under cultivation in the taking area of the Milford Reservoir ?
Mr. A VERY. Well, that is an exact figure I do not have. The bottom land is pretty nearly all cultivated land. I would make an honest guess of around 85 or 90 percent. Colonel Potter could give you an exact figure on that, perhaps.
Mr. Jones. You say that land has a value of $200 to $250 an acre !
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. AVERY, WAKEFIELD, Kans. 1. Statement from Clay County commissioners protesting the Milford Dam. 2. Special resolution committee of Farm Bureau and Farmers Union of Clay County instructed me to file a protest with this committee on the proposed Milford Dam.
3. Lower Republican Valley Development Association.
The membership to this organization is made up of all persons, communities, and commercial interests within the affected area of the Milford project.
We certainly are confused in our study and experience that have led to this hearing today. Previous to 1940 we were nearly resigned to a dam on the Republican River at Milford, Kans. In that year the Army engineers resurveyed the valley at the request of interests up the river. Their revised report to Congress states definitely that the Harlan Dam would perform every function of the Milford Dam, and also furnish protection to the Republican Valley below the Harlan location. They conclude in this report that the Harlan Dam be built as a substitute for Milford, and this report was approved by Congress in 1941 as a part of the control plan for the Missouri Basin.
We assumed this completed the Pick-Sloan plan for flood control in the lower Republican Valley.
In January of last year, we were notified by the Board of Army Engineers for Rivers and Harbors that the Pick-Sloan plan was to be expanded to include the Milford Reservoir as strictly a flood-control project. This was inconsistent with all reports released when the Harlan Dam was proposed and when money was sought and appropriated for its construction.
This brings several issues into the picture. Why do the engineers insist on a dam that all other agencies for conservation and reclamation have pronounced impractical and not in the best interest of all the people. If this was a multipurpose dam, we realize, the advantages would doubtlessly outnumber the objections, but as it now stands, relatively only a small group of special interest are to be benefited.
There are approximately 25,000 square miles in the drainage area in the Republican River Basin, of which 21,000 square miles are located above the Harlan Dam. In other words, 80 percent of the valley is controlled by Harlan. The 45year history of the Republican River records only one flood that originated below the Harlan County. One flood in 45 years does not justify condemnation of 56,000 acres of fertile land, displacing 2 communities and 3,000 people. It is quite possible that this one flood would never reoccur now, as there have been miles of terraces built and hundreds of pasture ponds constructed. Every county in the proposed reservoir area has recently organized soil-conservation districts, and work is progressing rapidly to save the soil. Not only would this form of control save the bottom land from inundation, it would make it better by saving it from flash floods. All bottom farmers are in agreement that there is more
1 H. Doc. 842, pars. 151 and 154.