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Mr. BANKHEAD, chairman, from the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, submitted the following
[To accompany S. 4429.]
The Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, to whom was referred the bill (S. 4429) to amend the postal laws, having considered the same, report thereon with a recommendation that it pass.
Mr. VARDAMAN (for Mr. RANSDELL), from the Committee on Commerce, submitted the following
[To accompany H. R. 14777.]
The Senate Committee on Commerce, having had under consideration H. R. 14777, "An act to provide for the control of the floods of the Mississippi River, and for other purposes," which passed the House of Representatives May 17, 1916, reports the same back to the Senate without amendment and with the recommendation that the bill do pass.
Very able reports accompanying this bill (H. Doc. 616, 64th Cong., 1st sess.) were presented to the House of Representatives on April 29, 1916, by Representative Humphreys, of Mississippi, chairman of the Committee on Flood Control, and by Representative Curry, of California, a member of the committee. These two reports cover the subject matter of the bill so thoroughly that the Senate Committee on Commerce feels that it can add nothing thereto, and therefore adopts same as its report, which it attaches hereto and makes a part hereof.
[House Report No. 616, Sixty-fourth Congress, first session.]
The bill contains three sections.
The first provides for the control of the floods and the general improvement of the Mississippi River and authorizes the Secretary of War to carry on continuously for that purpose the plans of the Mississippi River Commission, the expenditure not to exceed in the aggregate $45,000,000.
Section 2 provides for the control of the floods, removal of débris, and the general improvement of the Sacramento River, Cal. The Secretary of War for this purpose is authorized to carry on continuously the plans of the California Débris Commission, the expenditure not to exceed in the aggregate $5,600,000.
Section 3 provides machinery under the Secretary of War by which any flood problem, other than the Mississippi and Sacramento, may be examined and reported upon by the Engineers of the Army when authorized hereafter by Congress.
The first paragraph of section 1 provides not only for controlling the floods of the Mississippi River, but also for "continuing its improvement from the Head of the Passes to the mouth of the Ohio River." It was the desire of the committee to confine the bill exclusively to matters relating to flood control, and only after mature consideration and conferences with the Chief of Engineers and his assistants in the War Department and with members of the Mississippi River Commission was the committee forced to the conclusion that it was necessary under the peculiar conditions existing to include also the general improvement of the river. Appropriations have
always been made heretofore in lump sums and the Mississippi River Commission authorized and directed to expend the money so appropriated for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of the act creating the commission, to wit, "to correct, permanently locate, and deepen the channel and protect the banks of the Mississippi River, improve and give safety and ease to the navigation thereof, prevent destructive floods, and promote and facilitate commerce, trade, and the Postal Service." Levees are built for the purpose both of preventing destructive floods and serving the interest of navigation, and the revetment of caving banks is likewise done for this dual purpose. It was found to be practically very inadvisable to provide for the single problem of flood control and omit provision for the general improvement of the river. The following quotations from the testimony of Col. Townsend and of Maj. Markham explain the difficulty fully:
The CHAIRMAN. Just one other question. I would like to get your opinion on this matter. This committee's jurisdiction, as you know, is limited to matters relating to flood control. The Mississippi River Commission has jurisdiction south of the Ohio River, from there to the Head of the Passes, both for all matters relating to the river, touching flood and navigation interests. If we should report the bill here for the control of the floods of the lower river, is it your opinion that we ought to include in the work which is to be carried on by the commission the interests of navigation as well, or do you think that ought to be separated?
Col. TOWNSEND. That is, I think, a question of congressional policy rather than a question of engineering.
The CHAIRMAN. It is; that is true. Here is what was in my mind, Colonel. In doing this work the Government wants to do both things. We do not want to undertake the control of floods anywhere in any manner that would injure the interests of navigation or commerce. That being true, would it not necessarily follow that the same agency that does the work for one purpose ought to be charged with doing the work for all other purposes?
Col. TOWNSEND. I think it would be very desirable that it should be done by the same agency. I do not say it would be absolutely necessary, but I should say you would relieve a good deal of friction if you provided that the same agency should do it in both cases.
The CHAIRMAN. We wanted your opinion as an engineer, of course, primarily in a general way, and then we will probably go into details-if we are to control the floods on the Mississippi River, how shall we proceed?
Maj. MARKHAM. I have more radical opinions about that than I have heard expressed in the last day or two. Assuming it is not objectionable to be radical, I would say that there is no other method that can be devised, within the intelligence of those who have been working on the Mississippi River and thinking about its difficulties, except to build levee structures sufficiently high and to protect them by revetment. That is the sole and only means, in my judgment, of controlling the floods of the lower river, and I state that thus radically, without equivocation, because I believe in it very sincerely.
I think the matter has, perhaps, gotten into a state of confusion for a number of years, due to the fact that both the advocates and the opponents of other methods have merely stated generalities and have never gotten into details, so far as I can see; but I have convinced myself very earnestly that there is no other method of controlling the floods except by levees and revetments.
The CHAIRMAN. Major, there is one question I want to ask you. The United States Government is going to maintain a navigable channel in the Mississippi River from the mouth of the Ohio out into the Gulf for purposes of navigation, without reference to any flood control. If you set to work as an engineer to do that, how would you accomplish it?
Maj. MARKHAM. By the single means of preventing the banks from caving and thus deteriorating the channel. I think there is nothing required to maintain a thoroughly satisfactory navigation there except to prevent the banks from going into the channel. The CHAIRMAN. And that is the way to preserve that channel for navigation? Maj. MARKHAM. The sole way.
Mr. VINSON. What amount of money is now expended for the purpose of dredging to get out those banks that do go into the river?