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through the bank and create a new channel down Twelve Mile Bayou it would make an island out of the city of Shreveport.
The local contribution is a very heavy one. It is 50 percent of the total cost. Now, it has been the policy of this committee not to approve a project unless it has been recommended by the Chief of Engineers. On the other hand, I conceive it the question of the amount of the local contributions to a project is one that rests in the discretion of the Congress. As a rule we have followed the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers in that regard but there have been signal departures from that policy.
For instance, when we recognized flood control as a national obligation in the lower Mississippi River, the Congress took upon itself to relieve the lower Mississippi Valley from all local contribution except providing for rights-of-way, for levees on the main stem and maintenance of the levees after construction. Then later on, as you know, Congress relieved the local interests of providing rightsof-way on the main stem and for levee contribution. Now, another conspicuous example is in reference to channel rectification. In 1936 the Congress provided that local interests should supply the rightsof-way for channel rectification. In 1938, in respect to the projects authorized by that act of Congress, local interests were relieved of providing rights-of-way in the cases of channel rectification. In 1941, the Congress then went back to the former policy of requiring local interests to supply rights-of-way. Also in 1936 we had the legislation on flood control providing a local contribution of land and easements for the construction of reservoirs. That was fund by the Congress to be rather impractical, because frequently the reservoirs constructed in one State are of benefit exclusively or largely for States lower down on the stream. Therefore the flood control benefits from reservoirs are not local, so far as the State is concerned, but are downstream in other States. Therefore the Congress relieved for that reason mainly and possibly other reasons-relieved local interests from contributing lands and easements for dams and reservoirs.
Perhaps other examples may occur to you, but what I wanted to find out from you is your opinion as to whether or not the question of local contribution falls within the policy of this committee to follow the recommendations of the Chief of Engineers, or whether it is a question that addresses itself to the sound discretion of the Congress.
STATEMENT OF MAJ. GEN. EUGENE REYBOLD, CHIEF OF ENGI.
NEERS, UNITED STATES ARMY, WASHINGTON, D. C. General REYBOLD. It remains with the Congress, to decide such questions.
Senator OVERTON. So that in any particular case or in reference to all projects, if we in any particular case desire to either increase the local contribution or decrease the local contribution, you feel that that is a matter that addresses itself to the sound discretion of the Congress after the facts have been presented and also that it is within the discretion of the Congress to alter the rule generally of local contribution in reference to all projects of any particular character?
that local contributie in any partiny particular
s a matter that decrease the foce desire to either in
General REYBOLD. Yes, sir. In investigating and making a report, we of course attempt to pass on to the Congress our best judgment in those matters, but I agree with you wholly that the fixing of local cooperation is a matter for Congress to decide. It is a matter of policy, and insofar as we as an investigating and reporting agency are concerned, we find it filled with complexities. For that reason the Congress must consider each one of its cases on its own merits and judge for itself the amount of contribution that shall be made by the local interests.
I think you have very clearly outlined the history of local cooperation as adopted from time to time by the Congress. As the matter now stands the Federal Government has assumed responsibility for the securing of all lands, easements, and right-of-way in connection with reservoir construction, for the very reason you have stated. Reservoirs in connection with flood control become national in character, because of the benefits accruing to two or more States. For example, reservoirs built in Pennsylvania have great local benefit insofar as the cities or the State in concerned, but the damaging flood waters extend on down through the Ohio, and into the Mississippi River, thereby benefiting a number of States. When it comes to levees and flood walls for local protection, then the policy of applying local cooperation is not so difficult, and that is the way the law stands today. The Flood Control Act of 1936, as modified, from time to time, provides in connection with walls, levees, and drainage, the so-called, (a), (b), (c) provisions, which I believe are wholly sound at the moment, but of course it rests with the Congress to add to or subtract from those provisions as it sees fit.
Senator OVERTON. I quite thoroughly agree with you that the (a), (b), (c) provisions in reference both to the channel rectification and to the construction of the levees and walls and dikes are very sound. Personally I believe in local contribution wherever it is practical, within reasonable limits. I think, if the local contribution is excessive and out of proportion to the total cost, either it ought to be reduced if it is a meritorious project, or the project itself ought to be rejected.
In a letter which Colonel Goethals has just read to the committee, the Bureau of the Budget declares:
A principle with respect to multiple-purpose projects, already accepted by the Corps of Engineers, House Document No. 762, Seventy-seventh Congress, would limit the allocation to flood control of an amount no greater than the capitalized annual flood-control benefits. In the absence of any justification for deviation from this principle it would seem to me that it should be followed.
Will you state whether there is such a principle, and, if so, explain it in a little more detail than is contained in the letter.
General REYBOLD. I believe this is a sound principle, Mr. Chairman, for general application and we follow it with, of course, certain deviations therefrom to meet special conditions such as in cases where other Federal interests than flood control appear in large amount. In connection with multiple-purpose projects such as projects which are dominant irrigation but include also some flood control as an element of the project in determining the value of the flood-control features, which are nonreimbursable, this principle is used. Is that correct, General Robins?
General ROBINS. Yes.
Senator BURTON. May I ask a question of the General? I appreciated your response to the chairman's inquiry about local contribution. As I take it, you are emphasizing the fact that the question as to the size of the local contribution is not so much an engineering question as it is who shall pay for it. General REYBOLD. Yes, sir; that is true.
Senator BURTON. And therefore that would ordinarily be a question of general congressional policy, because the engineering problem would be the same whether the Federal Government paid for it or whether the local agency paid for it.
General REYBOLD. That is correct, sir. · Senator BURTON. Yet in making your original statement and recommendation as to the allocation, you have a wide experience with other projects and therefore you take into consideration the policy that has been followed in other allocations elsewhere, and if I would suppose there would be some instance where the problem would be very unique and there would be little guidance as to what the contribution should be in their case, there would be many others like it, and if Congress should upset the policy that had been followed on the whole group we also in fairness would have to upset a good many others along with ii, and therefore there must be some cases in which there is a really broader opportunity and greater freedom of discretion for the exercise of the judgment of Congress than in others, because of its uniqueness in that particular case, isn't that so?
General REYBOLD. That is quite so, Senator; and wherever there have been precedents, we try to follow it and attempt to advise the Congress in making its decision.
Senator BURTON. Then could I ask you that on this Red River project and in the neighborhood of Shreveport, La., in which there are these much larger local contributions than have come to our attention during these hearings, whether that can be regarded as a somewhat unique situation down there, or does it involve the readjustment of many other comparable ones, with the readjustment of that local allocation?
General REÝBOLD. That one is somewhat unusual. Another matter that has been applied in fixing local cooperations is exemplified by the main steam of the lower Mississippi River. The levee districts, and the people in that vast community spent millions of dollars in the construction of levees for the protection of their lands prior to the expenditure of any Federal funds; so much so that when the basic Mississippi River project was adopted, Congress, in considering those facts assumed responsibility for the entire capital cost of the further construction of the levee system, leaving in the future to local interests only the furnishing of all lands, easements, rights-of-way, and an agreement that they will take over, maintain, and operate the levees once they be completed at Federal expense.
The Mississippi Valley has adopted that principle, and it has worked very well. It is applied, as you know, under the (a), (b), (c) references to the General Flood Control Act of 1936, and where levees and flood walls have been constructed under that general Food Control Act, the people, too, throughout the country have accepted those conditions of local cooperation willingly. So I would say, as furnishing precedents, that the (a), (b), (c) provisions are sound for local cooperation in connection with levees and flood walls.
Senator BURTON. That would lay a foundation for rather liberal treatment on the part of the Federal Government and the lowering of the local contribution, would it not? But here we have in this Red River and Shreveport case a rather high local contribution, which I think would be out of line rather than in line with that general previous history.
General REYBOLD. Yes, sir; but the case at Shreveport is principally bank protection, and there are instances where in fixing upon cash contributions credit has been given for expeditures already made by the local people. .
Senator OVERTON. At that point may I interrupt you to point out that when the Commerce Committee was considering the river and harbor bill the other day there came up a project of the Josias River in Maine, and there it was shown that there had been considerable local contributions; in fact I think the local contribution is as much as that recommended by the engineers, which was rather heavy. So we took it upon ourselves to amend the bill, providing that after authorizing the project, by inserting this provision :
Except that the useful work done on the project by local interests shall be accepted toward fulfillment of the requirements of local cooperation.
In other words, this committee recommended that they be given credit for the local contributions previously made in respect to the project.
I just offer that as an example of what you are now stating; and there are other cases.
General REYBOLD. It is along the line that I cited a moment ago. When the Federal Government entered the lower Mississippi Valley and was able to recognize the expenditures that the local people had made in the past in their attempt to defend against damaging flood waters in that great valley, those expenditures were accepted as sufficient cash contribution for the future.
Senator OVERTON. Yes, but also in reference to particularly isolated projects, the Congress has changed the amount of local contribution. General REYBOLD. Yes, sir.
Senator OVERTON. As, for instance, in connection with this Josias River in Maine; and it was a navigation project, but the principle is the same.
I did not want to interrupt you, Senator Burton.
Senator CORDON, General, there was testimony here Monday with reference to the Shreveport project, that that was unique in that it was the first project where the work consisted wholly in bank protection, and that therefore there was no precedent for allocation of costs; is that your understanding of it too?
General REYBOLD. Yes, sir. Of course, the damage that accrues to the community of Shreveport is a result of flood waters, because an erosive effect takes place at the higher stages when the greater discharge is flowing by.
Senator CORDON. Do you have in mind the basis upon which that contribution was determined—the reasons that actuated your board in determining that the local interests should contribute substantially half of the cost ?
General REYBOLD. That is merely the best judgment that the president of the Mississippi River Commission could offer.
Senator CORDON. It seems so much out of line, is the reason I was asking you.
General REYBOLD. Sometimes the ability and the willingness of the people to contribute to a project of that nature becomes involved, and should be considered.
Senator CORDON. In other words, to some extent at least the fact that the people affected by the project feel that its urgency is so great that they are willing to assume this heavier load was one of the factors used by the Corps of Engineers in reaching its conclusion that it would be proper for them to contribute that?
General REYBOLD. Yes, sir; it is just a matter of judgment. You must realize that the local people in connection with that particular project have in the past expended large sums and have made a determined effort to correct the trouble. The Congress may wish to give additional credit to that fact.
Senator CORDON. That would appear to me to be a reason to reduce the participation rather than increase it.
General REYBOLD. It depends upon whether you view the improvement as purely a Federal project, with the local people making a contribution, or whether it be a local project with the Federal Government making a contribution.
Senator CORDON. Has it such a status as you suggest here, that is different from the status in these several other cases where you have a project of flood control? In other words, is there anything to differentiate the Shreveport project from any of the other projects that we have where the contribution has not been so large?
General REYBOLD. I believe if you took into consideration the ability and the willingness of the people to contribute as related to a strictly agricultural stretch of river where the people may be willing to pay but unable to pay, there would be a difference; but that still remains for the Congress to determine.
Senator CORDON. I would gather from what you tell me that the chief reason for the contribution which has been recommended by the engineers is the willingness of the people to assume that share of the cost.
General REYBOLD. They have so indicated, insofar as their financial ability goes in the matter.
Senator CORDON. Then you feel that if the Congress upon examination of your report and all the evidence feels that their necessities are such that they are willing to contribute to that, if the Congress feels that they should not be called upon to go to that extent, it would be altogether proper to modify the report to the extent of calling for a less contribution, and that such action would still be in accord with the general policy?
General REYBOLD. Yes, sir; and one that rests wholly with Congress.
Senator BURTON. May I just ask, just at that point-if such a policy were adopted and the more liberal attitude were taken by the Congress than is taken by the engineer's report on this matter, would that open up a large field of comparable instances of the Federal contributions, or is this unique enough so that it would be confined pretty much to this one? Are there many others like it?
General REYBOLD. Now, Senator, you are getting into the complexities of this problem.