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Mr. Mayor, we thank you for coming here to give us the benefit of your views on legislation which you think would be beneficial to your people. We are very pleased to have you here and I know that your information and advice will be helpful to us.
Mr. EGAN. Thank you.
Mr. SPENCE. If you have a written statement, you may read it without interruption and then subject yourself to interrogation.
Congressman Chamberlain, our able colleague and former member of this committee, will introduce Mayor Egan.
Mr. CHAMBERLAIN. Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, having been a former member of this committee, it is indeed a pleasure for me to be here and present the mayor of Flint, Mich., the Honorable Robert Egan and also Mr. William Kane who is the assistant attorney of Flint.
These gentlemen are both familiar with the problems we are having in the city of Flint at the present time, dealing with unemployment and many other matters and I am certain that the committee will be very pleased and enlightened to have their testimony and their opinions as to what should be done to alleviate the problems in this municipality. I might say that because of the unemployment situation in the automotive industry which is particularly affecting the city of Flint that I urge the committee to give careful consideration to any testimony that they may have with respect to this bill. I regret, Mr. Chairman, that it will not be possible for me to remain here and listen to their testimony because of a prior commitment that I have but it is indeed a pleasure to present these gentlemen to your committee.
Mr. SPENCE. I might say to the mayor of Flint that the Congressman served for a time on this committee and we consider him a very able Congressman who has continuously looked after the interests of his people.
Mr. Egan, you may proceed. STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT J. EGAN, MAYOR, FLINT, MICH.,
REPRESENTING THE AMERICAN MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION Mr. Egan. My name is Robert J. Egan.
I am the mayor of the city of Flint, Mich. I appear before this committee as a representative of the city of Flint and also as a representative of the American Municipal Association.
My purpose in appearing before you is to urge upon this committee, as strongly as I am able to do, the passage of H.R. 5944 as introduced by Representative Spence. It is my firm conviction that if this bill becomes law, communities faced with the problems of constructing needed sewer, water, and hospital facilities may be able to solve these problems, which otherwise defy solution, because of the reasonable interest rates applied to bond issues, which the guarantees of this bill would provide.
The needs of local communities for an adequate supply of good water are not merely local problems; on the contrary, the ability of each community to solve its water problem is of national interest. A A water shortage not only endangers the health of a community, but also strangles the growth of local industry and thereby has serious consequences upon local economies.
In cases where there is not an adequate supply of good water, residents are quite likely to use impure water supplies and the consequent development of disease will spread without regard to local or State borders. There can be no industry unless industry has available large quantities of water, both for cooling of machines and for use in other industrial processes.
Even without expansion of plant facilities, or without increase in the number of employees, and entirely aside from the problems of automation, the use of water by industry has increased by leaps and bounds since World War II. Not only does a local water shortage prevent the development of new industry, but lack of this commodity may force cutbacks in production and, therefore, in employment by existing industry. It is, therefore, in the national interest to aid local communities in their efforts to provide themselves with pure and adequate water supplies.
It is of equal importance to the Nation and to local communities, that communities be enabled to solve their sewage problems. Where the present method of sewage disposal is by the utilization of septic tanks, particularly in high density population areas, there is great danger that the residents of the community are now poisoning, or will in the future, poison their own source of water. This, of course, would cause repetition of the problems of an inadequate supply of good water outlined above. Where the method of disposing of sewage is without treatment of any kind, quite obviously the development and spread of disease is likely and it is obvious again that the spread of disease is not limited to one community or to a State. Many communities have sewage disposal systems which may be regarded as modern in concept and approach, but which were built many years ago and are presently operated at a capacity far in excess of that for which they were designed. Where this occurs, the effluent is dumped into a river or stream with inadequate treatment with the attendant danger of development of disease downstream.
Such practices are, of course, quite likely to result in poisoning the water supply of a community downstream. Solution of sewage treatment problems is also a matter not only of local concern, but of national importance.
The need for adequate hospitals in each community is so obvious that discussion is hardly needed, except to point out the national importance of adequate hospital facilities in all communities. Any one of us may become sick or be injured far from our homes, and adequate hospital facilities in any community would be most important. In the present era, from a civil defense standpoint, hospital facilities are a national concern.
In order to present properly to you the problems of the city of Flint, I would like to give you a brief history of the city of Flint and then relate that history to our sewer and water problems. The city of Flint was created by the State legislature in 1855 and for the first 50 years of its existence was a relatively small community which served first as the headquarters for the lumbering industry, next as a marketing center for the local farm community, and near the turn of the century, as the location of probably the greatest concentration of wagon manufacturers in the country.
Due in great measure to this later development, with the coming of the automobile, Flint, in 1908, became the birthplace of General Motors Corp. From negligible size in 1908, and as a direct result of the formation of this corporation, Flint has grown from a city of less than 20,000 to its present size of slightly in excess of 200,000.
The city of Flint is a one-industry community in that practically its sole product is automobiles and/or automobile parts. The entire Buick Motor Division's productive facilities are located in Flint; a substantial percentage of Chevrolet Motor Division's productive facilities are located here; Fisher Body has major productive facilities in Flint to provide bodies for Chevrolet and Buick; the home office and a major plant installation of A.C. Spark Plug Division is located in Flint and it is uncontested that, in spite of the country and worldwide expansion of General Motors Corp., Flint is still its major plant city. The growth of Flint has consequently followed the growth of the automobile industry, and its economy and population fluctuations parallel the fortunes of this industry.
While I may be mistaken, I believe Flint to be the largest city in the world which has no geographic feature to account for its size, i.e., a city whose growth is due solely to the genius, foresight and the skilled labor of its own citizens originally, and of the new citizens brought here by the advancement of the automobile industry. To point up the parallel of Flint's growth to the development of the automobile industry, the following table shows the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Census, population figures for the city of Flint each 10 years from 1860 through 1950: 1860_ 2, 950|1910--
38, 550 1870_ 5, 386 | 1920
91, 599 1880. 8, 409 1930
156, 492 1890 9, 803 1940
151, 543 1900_ 13, 103 | 1950
163, 143 It is to be noted that the growth of Flint was slow and gradual from 1860 to 1900. The growth from 1900 to 1910 was a clear reflection of the impact on Flint of the early development of the automobile industry. The continuing phenomenal growth from 1910 to 1920 again paralleled the development of the automobile industry.
From 1920 to 1930 the population of the city of Flint skyrocketed at an amazing rate and this again reflected the development of the automobile industry at an equally dizzy pace.
The slight decline in population from 1930 to 1940 was, of course, in large part due to the impact of the depression in the early 1930's. In all probability the reason the 1950 population of the city was not substantially larger than is presented in the table is because of the increasing rate of population moves to suburban areas.
After substantial sampling by approved methods by the University of Michigan Research Council and Ladislas Sego & Associates, who are at the moment in the process of developing a master plan for the city of Flint, it is estimated the present population of the city of Flint is at about 203,000 persons.
As is not uncommon, the city's sewer and water problems are tied together. Our water is taken from the Flint River near the point where the river enters the city of Flint and our treated sewage goes
back into the river near the point where the river leaves the city of Flint. There must be sufficient water left in the river to dilute this sewage.
Even though the city has constructed reservoirs, at the present time, if the industrial use of water in the city of Flint again reaches the peaks of consumption which were reached for an extended period during the manufacture of the 1955 model cars, and if at the same time the water flows in the river were reduced to the flows we have experienced in dry years, in theory at least, not a single drop of water would flow beyond the intake valve at our water treatment plant.
Indeed, in view of the increasing industrial demands which we have noted, and which industry acknowledges, it is probable that if we again permit this extreme consumption our water supply would be inadequate and existing industry would be compelled to curtail its operations. Our sewage treatment plant was constructed years ago with a then rated capacity for treatment of 16 million gallons of sewage per day. At the present time, without enlargement or improvement of any kind, this plant handles 23 million gallons of sewage per day. This is in spite of the fact that in the interim period between construction of the plant and this date, the State water resources commission has stepped up its minimum standards for sewage treatment.
It is obvious to us, and has been for some time, that in order to protect the health of our citizens, as well as to serve existing industry and as a necessary prerequisite to attract new industry, our local sewer and water problems must be solved. The city of Flint has employed a nationally known engineering firm to help us find a solution. Our approach to the problem has been not only to find a solution of the city's problems, but likewise to find a solution to the similar problems of our metropolitan urban area.
This firm suggests that to solve the water supply problem of the city of Flint and of the Flint metropolitan area, it will be necessary to construct an aqueduct over a distance of 70 to 75 miles and obtain raw water from Lake Huron somewhere north of the city of Port Huron. It is estimated that the cost of this improvement, including the cost of some local transmission lines, and possibly the cost of a treatment plant to serve the metropolitan area, will run from $65 to $85 million. The cost of detailed plans for this improvement alone would run to slightly less than $3 million.
We have on record in the city of Flint letters from many smaller municipalities along this transmission line from Lake Huron to the city of Flint who have expressed a desire to have this facility available to their communities.
As a solution to the sewage problems of the metropolitan area, a three-stage construction program has been proposed. The most important stage is the first stage, which would increase the capacity of our sewage treatment plant to 32 million gallons per day.
This capacity would be sufficient to serve the needs of the city alone until approximately 1973, or to serve the needs of the city and its metropolitan area until 1964 or 1965. The city has indicated its willingness to treat the sewage of the urban area outside the city and the governmental units of that area are now endeavoring to determine whether they wish this solution to their problem, or desire to construct their own treatment facilities. If the county area does desire
to come in, eventually there will be a three-stage development of the plan. If the county area develops its own facilities, there will will be a two-stage development of the sewage treatment facilities of the city of Flint for the purpose of treating only city sewage. Whichever program is followed, the first stage is the same and it is estimated that this
construction will cost $7,805,000.
The importance of H.R. 5944 to the city of Flint can best be demonstrated by a comparison. The best fiscal information available to the city of Flint at the moment indicates that bonds sold to finance the above sewer and water improvements would bear an interest rate in the neighborhood of 412 percent. Consequently, during the first year of a bond issue for our water program, at the minimum figure—i.e., $65 million—the interest at 412 percent would be $2,925,000.
Passage of H.R. 5944 would mean an interest rate of less than 3 percent, or that the interest for the first years bonds would be less than $1,950,000, or a saving to the taxpayers of the city of Flint in the first year alone of $975,000. Applying a 4.5 percent interest rate on bonds for the first stage construction of our sewer improvements program, the first year's interest the city would pay on such a bond issue would $351,225. Passage of H.R. 5944 would reduce this cost to less than $234,150 or would result in a savings in excess of $117,000.
The importance of passage of H.R. 5944, not only to the city of Flint but to all communities facing such problems, cannot be overemphasized. The difference in costs outlined in the paragraph above very probably mark the difference between some chance that the community may solve its sewer and water problems and the very great likelihood that such problems will not be solved. Moreover, the great savings to our taxpayers in interest payments would not cost the Government anything because these loans would be repaid to the Government during the life of the bond issue.
In describing the problems of the city of Flint, I have not devoted any time to hospital problems because at the present time our hospital problems are not urgent. Looking to the future, however, because of predicted population growth, it is obvious that development of new hospitals and expansion of existing hospital facilities will become necessary and H.R. 5944, if passed, would insure adequate hospital facilities in communities of all sizes. For the reasons I have described, I most earnestly request this committee to favorably report to the floor of the House H.R. 5944 and to work thereon for passage of this vitally important bill.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to thank you and the members of this committee for the opportunity to express the views of the city of Flint and of the American Municipal Association with regard to this nationally important legislation.
And I, also, would like to submit the statement of Hon. Louis C. Miriani, mayor, city of Detroit, also representing the American Municipal Association to this committee. Mr. SPENCE. That may be inserted in the record. (The statement is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF LOUIS C. MIRIANI, MAYOR, CITY OF DETROIT, REPRESENTING THE
AMERICAN MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for some time, Congress has shown that it is conscious of the problems facing municipal governments and has considered many remedial measures.