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(The documents referred to are as follows:)
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C., May 28, 1946. DEAR SIR: As acting chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce and also having in charge hearings on the river and harbor bill, I wish to advise you that it is very probable that our committee will consider the inclusion in the bill of the project known as Cow Bayou, Tex., which will provide for improvement for navigation and flood control by the construction of a channel 13 feet deep and 100 feet wide and about 8 miles long extending from the navigation channel in Sabine River to a point one-half mile above the county highway bridge at Orangefield, Tex., with a turning basin at this locality.
If you are opposed to the authorization of this project, kindly write or appear in person before the subcommittee. Also, please notify all others who you think will be interested in the project that it is proposed to give it consideration.
Hearings are to begin Monday, June 10, and will continue probably 2 or 3 days.
Inasmuch as I have been advised that there is no opposition to this project, it will not be necessary for the proponents either to appear or to submit their views, although there would be no objection to your advising me of your endorsement thereof. Very truly yours,
John H. OVERTON,
United States Senator. Senator Allan Shivers, Port Arthur, Tex. Hon. W. R. Cousins, Jr., Beaumont, Tex. Governor of State of Texas, Austin, Tex. Lieutenant Governor of State of Texas, Austin, Tex. The attorney general, State of Texas, Austin, Tex. Department of Education, Austin, Tex. Board of Water Engineers, State of Texas, Austin, Tex. State Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission, Austin, Tex. State Highway Department, Austin, Tex. State Planning Board, Austin, Tex, State Railroad Commission, Austin, Tex. State Board of Health, Austin, Tex. General Land Office, State of Texas, Austin, Tex. State Department of Agriculture, Austin, Tex. Mr. J. E. Quaid, Texas commissioner, Rio Grande, Austin, Tex. Compact Commission, 316 Caples Building, El Paso, Tex. Dean of engineering, Agricultural and Mechanical College, College Station, Tex. Dean of engineering, University of Texas, Austin, Tex. Texas Prison System, Huntsville, Tex. County judge, Orange County, Orange, Tex. The mayor, Orange, Tex. Orange County Conservation and Reclamation District, Orange, Tex. Orange County Navigation District, Orange, Tex. Intracoastal Canal Association of Louisiana-Texas, 1210 Second National Bank
Building, Houston 2, Tex.
Weaver Shipyards, Orange, Tex.
Senator ROBERTSON. Is there any livestock in that country?
Senator ROBERTSON. I was wondering if in that straight channel you are putting in there you are cutting out quite a lot of watering places, which, in the West, would be a serious matter.
Colonel FERINGA. There is too much water there, Senator. They are anxious to get rid of it.
Senator Hart. I would like to ask a question about this ratio of 1:7. That is based on how many years amortization?
Colonel Feringa. Fifty years, the normal amortization period. Sometimes, principally in Arkansas, we have reduced it to 40 years.
Senator Hart. That is the point I wished to raise. The major part of the transportation will be oil, and of course those oil fields are limited in their life. Should not that cost-to-benefit ratio not be founded upon a very much shorter period of amortization?
Colonel FERINGA. I think there is much point to what you say, Senator Hart. However, when a waterway like this is improved, we have found that after one oil field is exhausted another field is developed.
Senator HART. But those are intangibles and imponderables which you say you never count on.
Colonel FERINGA. They are tangible right now. Oil is being shipped now, and we expect it to be shipped, and we can measure it. We have adopted 50 years as the normal life of the project. For the Arkansas we reduced the amortization period to 40 years because there seemed to be very good reason for doing so. I believe, Senator Hart, that as a waterway is opened up, certainly it has been our experience that other traffic which we cannot measre now will make use of it. For instance, the waterway traffic on the inland waterways of the United States has increased from about 9,000,000,000 tonmiles to over 31,000,000,000 ton-miles. I think there will be commodities such as fertilizer and manufactured products that will make use of this channel eventually. You, however, have a very good point there. I am confident that if we reduced the amortization period the project would still show a favorable benefit-cost ratio.
Senator Hart. It is not a very high cost ratio as it stands, but it evidently should, if anything, be adjusted downward.
Senator OVERTON. Did the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors take that matter under consideration?
Colonel FERINGA. They took it under consideration. We have given it consideration in other projects in the bill, on the Great Lakes connecting channels, for instance, where we went into the amount of iron ore that would make use of the St. Mary's lock on the Soo. I went to the Bureau of Mines and found out that there was certain amount of iron ore tonnage that had been declared, and in northern Michigan we found out that much iron ore was available that had not yet been declared, due to taxation, I believe.
Whether the oil wells will be exhausted in 10 years, I do not know. I doubt it. When I worked down in the Jacksonville district we got the impression that the oil in Texas would hold out another 20 years. It is holding out well. I think that as the local wells are exhausted, other wells will be brought in. I think it would be overconservative to change the 50-year amortization period.
Senator OVERTON. Fifty years may be a long period of time for the operation of an oil field, but certainly 10 years in that area in East Texas is rather a short period?
Colonel FERINGA. Yes; I would say that.
Senator OVERTON. There will be production in large quantities there in all probability for a much longer period than 10 years; probably not as long as 50 years.
Colonel FERINGA. We are faced with two extremes. ponents of projects, especially hydroelectric power plants, want to make the useful life of such projects 100 years, because, they say, after all, how long is the job going to last? You can say it lasts indefinitely. The generating machinery will have to be replaced, of
We have taken 50 years as a matter of long standing experience, and if I were still on the Board I would recommend that we adhere to that.
Senator OVERTON. I can realize that the Board of Engineers and the Chief of Engineers have to deal with a project with reference to the existing facts. If you undertake to probe the future you get into a very problematical discussion. No one can prophesy. We have to content ourselves with taking the situation just as it is, unless it is very apparent that there will be an immediate change in the situation.
(The following additional information is furnished on the question of the amortization used in calculating the justification of the Cow Bayou project; the principal issue being the prospective life of the oil fields. The report discloses that this has been very carefully taken into consideration by the district engineer. In evaluating the benefits he states in his report: "The oil field at Orangefield is estimated to have a remaining life of about 25 years and consideration has been given to this fact in computing the average annual benefits for the 50-year life of the proposed improvements.”)
Colonel FERINGA. To offset that in part, the flood-control benefits would have a tendency to increase as the country develops, rather than to decrease.
Senator OVERTON. Yes; that is true.
Colonel FERINGA. The area around it is subject to inundation, and consequently that adversely affects the town.
Senator OVERTON. Is there any rice production there?
Colonel FERINGA. Not that I know of, although there is rice being produced around that part of Texas. There is agriculture. Whether it includes rice or not I do not know. It would seem to be a logical place for rice, with all that water. I will have to look it up, Mr. Chairman.
Senator OVERTON. Yes; I think that is rather important. I assumed that the report would show the production agriculturally.
Colonel FERINGA. It should, sir. I have it right here. The crops produced include rice, corn, corn sorghums, and vegetables. The rice lands are irregular. They are an extended system of canals fed from the Sabine River.
So your question is answered in the affirmative.
Senator OVERTON. The reports of the Chief of Engineers and the district engineer should be incorporated in the record.
Colonel FERINGA. The district engineer's report, the Board's report, and my remarks would cover the matter.
Senator OVERTON. Which one do you suggest incorporating in the record?
Colonel FERINGA. The Board's report, the Chief's report, and my remarks. I wish to add at this point that the views of the Bureau of the Budget on this project have not yet been received.
Senator OVERTON. Those documents will be made a part of the record.
(The documents referred to are as follows:)
SABINE RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES, TEXAS, IMPROVEMENT OF Cow Bayou, Texas about 7.7 miles long extending from the Sabine River at a point 3,000 feet downstream from the present mouth of Cow Bayou, to a point 0.5 mile above the county, highway bridge at Orangefield, with a turning basin 300 feet wide by 500 feet long and 13 feet deep at Orangefield. This improvement would provide the greatest benefit with respect to cost.
1. Authority.—Mr. Chairman, The report on Sabine River and tributaries, Texas, is an interim report with respect to improvement of Cow Bayou, Tex., and is in response to a resolution adopted March 20, 1945, by the Flood Control Commission, and to an item in the River and Harbor Act approved March 2, 1945, which authorized the preliminary examination and survey of the Sabine River and tributaries, Texas, in the interest of navigation, flood control and other water
A final report in response to these authorities will be submitted at a later date.
2. Description and location.—Cow. Bayou rises in the south-central part of Jasper County in the southeastern corner of Texas, flows 63 miles southeasterly, crossing Orange County, and empties into Sabine River about 5 miles below Orange, Tex., and 372 miles above Sabine Lake. The lower 25 miles of Cow Bayou is tidal, with a mean range of tide at the mouth of about 0.5 foot.
3. Existing project. There is no existing Federal project for the improvement of Cow Bayou.
4. Flood conditions.-Floods resulting from intense rainfall are of frequent occurrence on Cow Bayou at Orangefield and below and have produced stages above mean low tide up to 10.4 feet at Orangefield and 5 feet at the mouth. The flood plain area below the upper limit of the oil field at Orangefield (mile 18) is 6,638 acres, of which 2,613 acres are used for grazing and farming, 150 acres are in Orangefield and the adjacent oil field and the remainder is marshland.
It is estimated that 44 damaging floods occurred in the Orangefield area during the period February 1917 through September 1945, of which the most damaging occurred July 1943, and May 1944. Estimated direct and indirect damages to agricultural, residential, business, oil field, transportation and utility properties by a flood equivalent to that of May 1944 amount to $148,000. Estimated average annual damages amount to $39,000, of which $30,000 is direct and $9,000 is indirect.
5. Population and resources.- Population of the Cow Bayou Basin in 1940 was about 4,800. The lower portion of the basin is devoted principally to farming; raising of livestock, and the production of crude oil. Crops produced include rice, corn, grain sorghums, and vegetables. The ricelands are irrigated from an extensive system of canals fed from Sabine River.
6. Improvement requested.— Local interests unanimously desire protection from floods in Cow Bayou at Orangefield and below.
7. Recommended plan of improvement.-- The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors recommends in the combined interest of flood control and navigation the construction of a channel 100 feet wide and 13 feet deep at mean low tide and
8. Local cooperation.-The improvement is recommended subject to the conditions that no dredging shall be done by the United States within 50 feet of any existing wharf or structure except the State highway bridge at mile 12.5 and the county highway bridge at Orangefield, and that local interests furnish assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will (a) provide free of cost to the United States all rights-of-way and spoil disposal areas for initial construction and subsequent maintenance when and as required; (b) maintain after completion that portion of the project above the proposed turning basin in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of War; (c) make all necessary highway and highway bridge changes and maintain and operate such structures after completion of the project; (d) bear the expense of any necessary alterations of pipe lines and submarine cables at crossings where the improvement occupies the existing channel of Cow Bayou; and (e) hold and save the United States free from damages due to the construction and maintenance of the project.
9. Costs and annual charges.Cost of construction to United States.
$323, 000 Cost to local interests.
Total cost of construction.
Annual cost of maintenance..
5, 000 15, 300
Total annual carrying charges--
20, 300 10. Benefits and savings.-Annual benefits total $34,740, of which $30,400 is for flood damages prevented and $4,700 is for savings in transportation costs. Local interests claim that over 100,000 tons annually would be moved. Since the ratio of estimated annual benefits to costs is 1.71 to 1.00 and additional intangible floodcontrol benefits and unevaluated navigation benefits would be realized the Board concludes that the proposed improvement is economically justified and recommends its construction by the Federal Government.
Washington, May 31, 1946. Subject: Sabine River and tributaries, Texas--Improvement of Cow Bayou, Tex, To: The Chief of Engineers, United States Army.
1. This interim report covering Cow Bayou, Tex, a tributary of Sabine River, is in partial response to the following resolution adopted March 20, 1945:
“Resolved by the Committee on Flood Control, House of Representatives, That the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors created under section 3 of the River and Harbor Act approved June 13, 1902, be, and is hereby requested to review the report on Sabine River, Texas, submitted to Congress on April 5, 1944, with a view to determining whether any modifications of the recommendations contained therein with respect to flood control and the utilization of water for power development are advisable at this time.” It is also in review of an interim report by the district and division engineers on preliminary examination and survey of “Sabine River, and tributaries, Texas, in the interest of navigation, flood control, and other water uses,” authorized by the River and Harbor Act approved March 2, 1945. A final report in response to the above authorities will be submitted at a later date.
2. Cow Bayou rises in the south-central part of Jasper County in the southeastern corner of Texas, flows 63 miles southeasterly crossing Orange County, and empties into Sabine River about 5 miles below Orange, Tex., and 342 miles above Sabine Lake. Sabine River from Orange to Sabine Lake is improved for deepdraft navigation. The lower 25 miles of Cow Bayou is tidal, with a mean range of tide at the mouth of about 0.5 foot. The drainage area of 211 square miles extends from a slightly rolling headwater region having an elevation of about 100 feet above mean sea level, through intermediate marshland to the tidal marsh