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Four major floods occurred since the levees were built with the Memphis gage readings as follows:
Feet 45. 3 46.5 45.8 48. 6
1912 1913 1927 1937
It can readily be seen that the major floods since the building of the levees have flooded the lands in the backwater area with from 10 to 14 feet of additional water, and that lands that were free from overflow are now subject to inundation by several feet of water.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean the building of the levees along the main line of the Mississippi River?
Mr. Houck. Yes, sir; the main Mississippi levees.
The CHAIRMAN. That is right; we know that. Everything you say we know like a book.
Mr. HOUCK. It has increased the water in that area from 10 to 14 feet where I live. It has just gone up.
Mr. DONDERO. You mean that the levees built on the Mississippi have increased the water in your country?
Mr. Houck. Yes, sir.
Mr. DONDERO. How does our distinguished chairman explain that to you?
Ühe CHAIRMAN. That is true not only on the St. Francis River but it is true on all the tributaries of the Mississippi River. In the very nature of the case when you raise the main-line Mississippi levees and you have rivers that come in it, when you get down to the mouths of those rivers the water will go up those rivers. That is true in every tributary in the United States.
Mr. DONDERO. Do the people of Arkansas protest the building of those levees? Do you protest the pouring of this water down on you?
Mr. Houck. Yes, sir; we have coming up here protesting for years and years. Mr. Whittington has been hearing us for 30 years almost.
The CHAIRMAN. I think Mr. Dondero is fair in bringing that out. Recognizing that fact, the main Mississippi River project adopted in 1920 also provided for the construction of levees up these tributaries and they never have been built.
Mr. DONDERO. I am glad there is only one Arkansas in the country. Mr. HOUCK. That is the reason I wanted 10 minutes.
I will at this time state the following figures showing the recurrence of the floods in various years. The St. Francis levee system--that is, the front-line levee—was built
The CHAIRMAN. You will have a hard time to improve on what you said. You gave us the flood's height in 1937, and this committee knows that the highest flood that ever occurred on the Mississippi River north of Helena occurred in 1937.
Mr. Houck. The St. Francis front-line levee was built in 1893 to 1897, and it will be noted that the floods occurred with greater frequency since the building of the levees. I have it arranged here in 10year periods. For the first 10-year period (1872 to 1881) the gage at Memphis did not exceed 35 feet in any of those 10 years. In fact, it never, until the levee was built, exceeded 35 feet at Nemphis.
The second period (1882 to 1891), three times; the third period (1892 to 1901), four times; the fourth period (1902 to 1911), seven times; the fifth period (1912 to 1921), seven times; the sixth period (1922 to 1931), five times; the seventh period (1932 to 1941), six times; and the eighth period, which is an incomplete period, four times.
The floods that occur in the backwater area and from the waters of the Mississippi River are of long duration. I am submitting herewith a table to show the number of days in various years that the water has been above 35 feet on the Memphis gage, which is flood stage. In our area, in this backwater area, this lower area there, when the water gets to 35 feet on the Memphis gage it comes out of the river and out of the bayous and starts to overflow the land. Here are the number of days the land was flooded. The gage was above 35 feet at Memphis, as follows:
56 1933 1913.
54 1935. 1916_
49 | 1936. 1917
31 | 1937 1920. 48 1939.
50 1922 55 1943
15 1927. 105 | 1944.
21 1929 89 | 1945
34 In the period from 1912 to 1946, inclusive, there have been 21 years when the flood exceeded 35 feet on the Memphis gage. During this period the water remained above 35 feet on the Memphis gage a total of 788 days, or a total of 2 years and 53 days.
I should like to state to the committee the effect of the floods in the backwater area as it affected the farming interests in the 3 years, 1927, 1928, and 1929, when for 3 consecutive years little or nothing was produced or harvested.
In 1927, the year of the "great flood," the water came in February and again in March, April, and May, and a third time in June, the gage being above the flood stage at Memphis for a period of 105 days. Crops were planted late in June and early in July, but nothing of consequence was harvested.
In the year 1928 the flood came in June and July, and the water was above the flood mark on the Memphis gage for 14 days. Crops had been planted and worked out when the flood came, and on all the lands that were flooded all crops were completely destroyed. On account of the late date nothing could be planted after the waters receded. It was estimated that there were inundated by this flood approximately 100,000 acres of land, 65 percent of which was in cultivation.
In 1929 the flood came in March and did not recede until the 10th day of June. The water was above the flood stage on the Memphis gage for 89 days.
Mr. DONDERO. I do not want the witness to be subjected to violence, but the chairman has rapped you down twice; your time has expired.
Mr. Davis. You took 15 minutes. It was all very worth while, and you have gotten your part over. Do not think you have not.
Mr. GATHINGS. Mr. Chairman, I have one more witness from Arkansas. I should like to present at this time Mr. John Meyer, of Wilson, Ark., who is secretary of the East Arkansas Flood Control Association.
STATEMENT OF JOHN MEYER, SECRETARY OF THE EAST ARKANSAS
FLOOD CONTROL ASSOCIATION, WILSON, ARK. Mr. MEYER. The people of the St. Francis Basin have done much to try to take care of their own drainage problem. The chairman, Mr. Barn, said that there are 30 districts in their area which are cooperating with the East Arkansas Drainage and Flood Control Association and working with us toward the end of getting this further work. Actually, there are over 50 drainage districts in that area.
In that entire basin of 1,500,000 acres the people in the organized drainage districts over a period of 30 years in the past have spent approximately $50,000,000. Now when I say spent I mean they floated bonds and obligated themselves to pay for that work. In many districts there is still a great outstanding indebtedness.
I am commissioner of drainage district 17 near Blytheville, Ark. In that district we have approximately 120,000 acres. We still hold about $1,112,000 in that district.
Now in those organized drainage districts we have dug several thousand miles of ditches. In the Heagler report he is more definite about the exact amount. Now those ditches gave us what we thought was a major drainage outlet but we had to supplement that drainage with many miles of additional ditches. In other words, we would probably have a mile of large ditch close to a section of land. We would have to dig additional ditches to drain each tract of land or farm. We have spent in the St. Francis Basin around $11,000,000 in addition to that $50,000,000 already spent.
Our drainage district needed unity. We did not have that. A small district would be organized in a certain place, selecting the highest ground, and they would dump the water on the neighbors below them and so on. You gentlemen know the story. If this program is approved, it will give us that unity that we need throughout the St. Francis Basin. The money already spent by the local interests in the organized drainage district and the work supplemented by the individual farmers will all be sufficient with this added work. Unless that is done, our land will stay inundated.
Now pictures have been given you. We could have gotten a lot more. In addition to that, this floodwater of our ditches overflowing causes great damage to highways and railroads. Our bridges sometimes wash out due to drift floating down those ditches. If this work is completed, there will be an area of 1,500,000 acres that will have the drainage outlet that we need.
Gentlemen, that is all I have to say except that I have a statement here of our attorney, Mr. Daggett. It is just a very short statement and I should like to read it to you.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the point he makes in that statement?
Mr. MEYER. If you please, sir, there are three items in there that I want to bring out right now in the event you want to ask some questions about it. It is a short statement.
The people of the lower St. Francis River Valley are heartily in favor of the project recommended by the Corps of Engineers which looks toward control of head and back waters in that particular basin. To comply with the require. ments of Federal law and in order to provide a local responsible agency
(1) to acquire land, rights-of-way and easements;
interested landowners and citizens obtain passage by the 1949 session of the Arkansas Legislature of the necessary legislation. In brief, it permits the St. Francis levee district of Arkansas to act as the local responsible agency. That district was organized in 1893 and has a long, honorable and eminently satisfactory career of close cooperation with the United States Corps of Engineers. It might be of interest to the committee to know that Act 249 passed the Arkansas Legislature without a dissenting vote. We trust that the recommendations of the Corps of Engineers regarding the proposed St. Francis Basin project will be approved.
I want to bring out the point that we are ready to carry on if you will give us this project.
Mr. GATHINGS. Now we come to the Missouri end of it. Mr. Jones is not here. He had to leave. We have Mr. Bradley and Mr. Oliver, both attorneys. Mr. Bradley is from Kennett and Mr. Oliver is from Cape Girardeau.
STATEMENT OF LAWRENCE L. BRADLEY, SECRETARY AND TREAS
URER, ELK CHUTE DRAINAGE DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
Mr. BRADLEY. I want to point out what this porgram will do for the district I represent which is the Elk Chute drainage district just above the district line. You can see from our location that all the water from Cape Girardeau south must come by our front door.
We are interested particularly in the bypass around Big Lake. We want some place for the water to go. Right now there is a drainage system from the Cape to the State line and then there is a drainage system from the south end of Big Lake to the Mississippi River. There is really no connection between them except that afforded through Big Lake, which is very poor so far as the connection is concerned.
Now, this bypass ditch, if completed, will put in cultivation in the Elk Chute district about 6,500 acres of land which is not now cultivated, which will produce annually a half million dollars worth of crops. It will prevent future breaks of our levee, the most recent of which was in 1945 that I expect caused us a loss of at least $1,500,000 in crops in the Elk Chute drainage district alone.
I will not touch on the rest of it because that concerns Mr. Oliver and that completes my statement. However, I do have a written statement which I should like to file.
Mr. Davis. All right. (The statement referred to is as follows:) The Elk Chute drainage district of Missouri is a circuit court organization. It was created in 1918 by a judgment in the circuit court of Dunklin County, Mo. Its affairs are in charge of a five-member board of supervisors, elected by the landowners. The present members of said board are Judge John H. Bradley, of Kennett and Jefferson City, Mo., president; Russell Phillips, Blytheville, Ark., vice president; J. E. Jones, of Steele, Mo.; Alvin Huffman, of Blytheville. Ark., and 0. L. Leathers, of Rives, Mo. In addition to the board, Col. Charles C. Redman, Jr., of Kennett, is engineer; Elbert L. Ford, of Kennett, is attorney, and Lawrence L. Bradley, of Kennett, is secretary and treasurer.
The district contains approximately 50,000 acres of land; is located in the southern parts of Dunklin and Pemiscot Counties of Missouri, and its south boundary line is also the State line between Missouri and Arkansas. About 4,000 acres lie in Pemiscot County and 46,000 acres are in Dunklin County.
All this land is in a high state of cultivation except for approximately 3,500 acres in the extreme southern part of the district. The crops generally grown are cotton, soybeans, and corn, and the annual value estimated conservatively is $4,500,000. The current market value of this land is between $150 and $200
per acre, depending on the improvements and location in relation to roads. At least 5,000 people live in the area.
The district is completely surrounded by protective levees. The attached map, prepared by its engineer, graphically illustrates the district's location in relation to the whole Little River watershed, showing this land to be located at the bottom end thereof on the east bank of old Little River where the present outlet for the Little River drainage district system which begins at Cape Girardeau, 130 miles to the north, discharges into the Big Lake wildlife preserve. In addition to being the discharge point for Little River drainage district water, Big Lake is also the discharge point for the waters of the north half of Pemiscot. County and the southern part of New Madrid County, which comes down the ditch which parallels the western boundary of Elk Chute district. It also is the discharge point for the waters of the south half of Pemiscot County, which come down Belle Fountain ditch which forms the southern boundary of Elk Chute. It also is the discharge point for Elk Chute water and water from the northeast part of Mississippi County, Ark., which comes in through the State line ditch, which lies just to the south of Belle Fountain ditch.
In other words all the water from Cape Girardeau, Mo., south to the State line and part of the water from northeast Arkansas is discharged into Big Lake (an area of some 12,000 acres), right at the front doorstep of Elk Chute drainage district. Thus water from five sources is brought to the head of Big Lake by the various ditch systems and there dumped. These five sources drain 1,208,000 acres of land, an area of 1,888 square miles.
The spring floodwater from this large area cannot swiftly pass through Big Lake and on into the channel of Little River below said lake due to installations placed in said lake to impede the flow of water and retain the same for wildlife purposes. As a consequence the floodwater has several times broken the west levee of Elk Chute district, flooding almost the entire area. The most recent break was in June of 1945. Crop losses alone that year in the Elk Chute area were $1,500,000, not to count livestock losses and damage to buildings and roadways. The levees of the district are threatened several times each spring and a patrol must be maintained to watch for weak spots.
Elk Chute drainage district is vitally interested, along with all other districts in the Missouri area, in that part of the plan before the Congress which provides for a large bypass ditch to the east of Big Lake on past the lake and into the channel of Little River below. This ditch, if constructed, will relieve the congestion at the head of Big Lake and bypass three of the above-mentioned sources of water around the lake. These are the waters from Elk Chute, northeast Arkansas and the south half of Pemiscot County. Splitting this outlet will help in several ways. The pressure on the Elk Chute west levee will be lessened. The water from the Little River drainage system and the north half of Pemiscot County and the south part of New Madrid County can pass faster through Big Lake, without having to compete with the other three water sources. The water of the other three sources having a new unimpeded outlet can swiftly flow to the south and a pile-up will be avoided.
Internally the lands in Elk Chute district will be benefited. The internal water of Elk Chute drains through three floodgates and one open ditch into Belle Fountaine ditch on its south boundary. During most of the spring months these gates must remain closed because the water in Belle Fountaine (which drains the south half of Pemiscot County) is higher than the water in the Elk Chute ditches. As a result the Elk Chute internal water piles up in the lower 24 to 3 miles of the district, at times 6 to 8 feet deep, and remains there until Bell Fountaine can trickle out through Big Lake in competition with the four other water sources. This condition keeps the 3,500 acres of uncleared land from being put into cultivation and also seriously hampers farming operations on 3,000 acres of cleared and cultivated land. In fact, those farming in the pool area lose about two out of every five crops they plant. The bypass ditch will permit this 6,500 acres of land to be brought to a high state of cultivation, which, when under such cultivation, will produce annually crops having a value in excess of $500,000.
At present there is in existence a system of drainage and flood control for Old Little River from Cape Girardeau, Mo., to the State line at the head of Big Lake. There is also in existence a system of drainage and flood control for this same river from the foot of Big Lake into the St. Francis River, and thence into the Mississippi at Helena, Ark. From the head of Big Lake, to its foot, a distance of some 14 miles, there is nothing which resembles a connection, except that afforded