Page images

was canceled because of the flood. There is no other airport site in the city of Omaha, and Omaha is forced to consider the creation of an airport 15 to 20 miles away from the city. We must, therefore, protect our present airport in which the Government, as well as the people of Omaha, have spent millions of dollars.

Although the flood covered our airport with about 6 feet of water, we are still fortunate in that the floodwaters did not reach greater heights or it would have covered the yards of our great Union Pacific Railroad, and the Nebraska Power Co. plant which furnishes not only the light but also the power which turns the wheels of our industry, both civilian and war effort. The great American Smelting & Refining Co. at Omaha might also have suffered, and many other industrial plants of equally great importance.

Now, again, in 1944, we have had and we are having serious flooding above and below Omaha, brought about, as in 1943, by the rapid runoff of the melting snow and ice in the Dakotas and the upper regions of the basin, particularly the spring break-up in the Yellowstone as it meets the Missouri River at about Williston, N. Dak. When the water reached Mobridge, in early April, it was practically coincident with the ice break-up in that locality. This added to the bank-full flow from all tributaries, produced high stages from Mobridge all the way down through South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and so on down to the mouth at St. Louis, where we had almost 600,000 second-feet of water on the Missouri. That is this year.

Due to the expenditure of a half million dollars by the people of Omaha to enlarge their levees, we were saved from another flood this year in these two cities; however, the poor farmers in this area who were not able to get this increased protection, were again inundated.

For instance, a meeting was held just a few days ago at which the farmers in this one little area, Blair, just north of Omaha, asked for advice as to whether or not they dared plant their fields. Mind you, this is pretty late in June. Even though their levees were repaired, they have seen them destroyed year after year, so they are left again to conjecture.

It is my understanding that the floods of 1944, so far this year, have already inundated over a million and a half acres of land and caused over $30,000,000 worth of damage.

I happen to know that the Army engineers in the Missouri River Basin have already started, with their usual promptness of action, to repair the levees that have been destroyed so far this year, under the recent authorization provided by Congress, using a portion of the $12,000,000.

Gentleman, I wish to point out to you that, to use a phrase, this is additional money “down the rat hole. That is no criticism of the fine spirit of Congress, but the repair of existing levees simply will not give the protection we must have. What we need is a permanent, coordinated plan such as the one General Pick and General Reybold have recommended.

In the work around East Omaha in April and May 1943, to protect our city and the district which was flooded, we carefully but hurriedly constructed a dike which we hoped would hold a flood of at least one more foot of river gage than we had in April 1943. Incidentally, in April 1943, we had 221/2 feet, river gage. And we had to

complete it in about 40 days because we have a June rise which always threatens. This was accomplished at a cost to the property owners in the district of about $500,000.

I am a member of the East Omaha drainage district, so that I know we voted to get some bond money.

We dared not wait for a share of the $10,000,000 emergency repair of our levees voted by Congress in July 1943 although we felt somehow this money would be voted by a sympathetic Congress.

I should like to point out here the benefits that have been brought to light as a result of the work that has already been accomplished by the Army engineers. For the very first time in the history of the Missouri, in the remembrance of those living in our territory, the wild and ever meandering Missouri has been harnessed in the path blueprinted by the Army engineers. The channel stabilization work has been successful as proven by the 1943 and 1944 floods, and we thank a Congress for planning with vision, and the Army engineers for careful construction. It is for this reason that we in Omaha are 100 percent for the over-all plan for the Missouri River Basin which we know has been carefully thought over by General Pick and his associates since 1927 to 1944.

It has been my happy experience to know all of the division and district engineers intimately since 1933 to date, and it was my privilege to be present at most all of the Missouri River meetings attended by General Pick, Colonel Freeman, Senators and Congressmen, farmers, businessmen, and other lay people, all of whom discussed thoroughly the plan which was outlined by General Pick, and I heard the encouraging statements of cooperation and united desire for this over-all plan. The Bureau of Reclamation was also a part of each of these public hearings and lent its support.

Senator OVERTON. That is, the local representatives of the Bureau of Reclamation?

Mr. Trustin. No, sir; it was national representation.

As I said before, it will be recalled that last summer, Gen. Lewis A. Pick, then division engineer of the Missouri River division and author of the flood control and development plan now under discussion, took time off from the direction of the greatest construction program in the history of the Middle West to visit each of the affected States and to outline to its people the program for development.

The plan, as outlined by General Pick, was to store all excess water that now is not being utílized for usable purposes and which causes destruction throughout the valley during flood periods, and to put it to usable work for all beneficial purposes within the Missouri River Basin. He did not specify that navigation should have a priority claim to the water in his plan. To the contrary he stated, and I quote (reading]:

In connection with the development of the multiple-purpose projects, these shown for the Missouri River will provide for the maximum practicable storage of water of the main stem. The water to be impounded in these, as well as the other multiple-purpose structures, will be utilized to produce the maximum practicable development of irrigation, 'navigation, power, and other multiplepurposes. However, sufficient storage will be provided in each reservoir to provide for the needs of local flood protection downstream from the reservoir as well as for the needs of the general comprehensive plan for flood control for the Missouri River Basin. To provide for the maximum utilization of the waters stored in the multiple-purpose reservoirs, a plan would be worked out for each structure in collaboration with the various water-use agencies involved. The amount of water to be made available to the Bureau of Reclamation for irrigation would be arrived at after close collaboration with that agency. The development of power potentialities would be determined in cooperation with the Federal Power Commission. Water use for other purposes would be arrived at in a similar manner.

The reactions of the people, especially the upper arid section of the basin, are best reflected in an article prepared by the editor of the Bismarck Tribune, who is also vice chairman of the North Dakota Water Conservation Commission. This article concluded, and I quote [reading]:

Colonel Pick is the first responsible official of the Federal Government to put into words the dream which forward-looking North Dakotans long have entertained. That is, to make the fullest use of the Missouri River, this State's greatest resource. If he fails to make his dream come true, it will not be because North Dakota failed to back him up. If he succeeds, he will become one of the greatest figures in the history of this State and a hero to every North Dakota school child for generations to come.

And Gov. John Moses, of North Dakota, following Colonel Pick on a speaking program at Bismarck last August, in a speech which is printed in a pamphlet issued by the Council of State Governments on the future development of the Missouri River Valley, spoke as follows (reading] :

This is something that is not politics. It is much bigger than party politics. There is room only for citizens of this country, residents of this valley, to get together and work out their problems. It took a man like Colonel Pick, with courage and vision, to bring to us here in North Dakota, as he has done in other States, a valley-wide plan. It takes courage to go before the people of these valley States in his capacity as an Army officer and suggest to the people of the States something that they ought to agree upon. It takes courage to tell them they can get this done if they will agree upon a plan that will serve all the States in the valley. It takes a man of great technical skill and ability to work out and present such a plan.

And I would like to quote from an address of Senator Gerald P. Nye, speaking on this same program with Governor Moses after General Pick had presented the purposes of his plan. Senator Nye said (reading]:

We are going to be able to point to the Missouri River diversion development as a practical, feasible project declared to be so by the great Corps of Army Engineers. The Government is ready for post-war planning activity. A policy will be laid down in the approaching months by Congress. It is all-important that we get those estimates. I do not see how we are going to do so except by getting together with the States and trusting the Army engineers to present a program. I know how long and troublesome it is to get the States together. We are going to be us against a very practical matter.

As a Member of Congress there is not a thing that I can do that I won't do to obtain the authorization and appropriations that we need for this magnificent project.

And Senator Guy M. Gillette of Iowa, speaking at Sioux City, Iowa, at another in this series of meetings before which General Pick had expounded his program, said [reading]:

I have never before been an enthusiast about Missouri River improvement. In the past the efforts seemed to me to be somewhat of a piecemeal approach-a nibbling at the proposition instead of taking the whole bait on a definite plan.

It was sectional; it was local.

Today I heard for the first time a comprehensive, definite plan for the development of the whole Missouri River watershed, not only for the purpose of assisting this area, this great local area, but all of the States comprising that vast section, and as a national project, and not only a national project, but an essential national project.

It isn't to help Council Bluffs. It isn't to help Fort Peck. It isn't to help Bismarck. It isn't to help Sioux City. It is to help the entire area-because that proposal has been made, because it is comprehensive, because it is national in its scope and in its purpose, I am a convert.

W.G. Sloan, of the Bureau of Reclamation, spoke on the same platform with General Pick at each of these eight State meetings last summer and his

address quoted in full in the pamphlet published by the Council of State Governments to which I have referred, concluded with this remark [reading]:

I don't think that depletion (of the river) is going to be as serious as some people think. I am sure all uses can and will be taken care of.

I have taken the time to refer to these reactions of last summer because I think it is very significant in the light of bitter controversy that has since developed. It is significant because this plan of General Pick has not changed or been altered one iota since he expounded its outline and purposes in that tour of last summer. The plan of the Army engineers for flood control and the development of the Missouri River Basin which is before you today is the plan which was received with such enthusiasm up and down the river last summer. As I have said, the plan hasn't changed since last summer, but the plans and ambitions of certain other interests have entered the picture to the dislocation of the unity of purpose, which a year ago so encouraged us all to believe that we of the Missouri River Valley were well on the way to an early start on the solution of our age-old problems of flood and drought.

Today we find ourselves split by diversion of aims and ambitions. As the Omaha World Herald aptly pointed out recently, it would be unfair to leave the impression that our people out there are alone to blame for this dissension. The various sectional interests have been needled shamelessly. Professional planners who, in all the years they have been in office, never before had advanced any workable proposal for river development, suddenly came forward with plans to vie with General Pick's program—and in many ways our people were encouraged to claw at each other's throats.

In my opinion, the controversy has evolved itself, not in an impartial discussion of what is the greatest good for the greatest number in our valley, but rather a fight for empire which involves much more than the Missouri River Basin.

The Pick plan is a framework. It foresaw and provided for the need for changes and the working out of sectional or localized problems in the spirit of common sense and common good will among our peoples out there, if we can be permitted to do that without outside interests that have their own selfish purposes to serve.

The common sense to which I have referred dictates that the impartial plans of the Army engineers, drafted at the request of Congress, be carried out without crippling amendments, and we ask only your committee and the Congress to give us our chance to do just that.

Those who have sought to divide the interests of the valley and to indicate that a choice must be made and sides taken are rendering to all of our eleven and one-half million people a genuine disservice. If we are forced to settle all of our minor differences and to formulate all of our understandings and agreements, before a start is made on the program, my generation will

not live long enough to see any progressive steps accomplished. And, in the meantime, these recurring floods, which last year and already this year have caused damage totaling about $100,000,000, will go on causing untold loss, taking human lives, working incalculable hardships and retarding the development of a great and potentially rich area because nothing will have been done to stop them. We have the plan with which to start. We are ready to go. We ask the Congress to give us our chance.

Senator OVERTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Trustin.

Mr. Trustin. I appreciate your allowing me to come here to talk before this group so often.

Senator CORDON. Mr. Chairman, the witness mentioned the Pick plan, and I have heard references to it a number of other times. As you know, I am new to this committee and to this work, and I do not recognize just what is meant by the Pick plan. I wonder if we can get one of the Army engineers to at least outline roughly what is included within the Pick plan.

Senator Overton. The Army engineers outlined the Pick plan before the Rivers and Harbors Subcommittee. Colonel Reber presented a rather full and comprehensive statement of the Pick plan; and then he also appeared before the Flood Control Committee of the House and presented it rather fully in those hearings. That is correct, is it not, Colonel?

Colonel REBER. Yes, Mr. Chairman; that is correct.

Senator OVERTON. We can, if you desire, at this time have Colonel Reber make a statement in reference to it. It was my thought that since the Pick plan is already in the House bill, we would hear from the opposition and then put the engineers on. I do not know what the opposition is or upon what it is based; that remains to be developed, if there is any opposition. Then we will hear from Colonel Reber and General Robins and other Army engineers in answer to any objections that there may be to the Pick plan.

Senator CORDON. For my information, it would put me in a better position to understand what the objections are if I knew what the plan was to which they were objecting. If it would not take too long I would appreciate just a short statement, enough to cover an outline of the plan. I am sorry that I have not had an opportunity to bring myself up to date on the House hearings.

Senator OVERTON. Certainly, Senator. We will do that now.
General Robins?

General ROBINS. Colonel Reber will make the statement, Mr. Chairman.

Senator CORDON. It does not have to be comprehensive; just to indicate what the plan is, Mr. Chairman.



Colonel REBER. Mr. Chairman, in compliance with a resolution of the Flood Control Committee of the House of Representatives, dated May 13, 1943, calling upon the Corps of Engineers to study previous reports on the Missouri River between Sioux City and the mouth to

« PreviousContinue »