Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

POLLUTION OF NAVIGABLE WATERS

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24, 1937

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON RIVERS AND HARBORS,

Washington, D. C. The committee, at 4 p. m., proceeded to the consideration of stream pollution, Hon. Joseph J. Mansfield (chairman) presiding. STATEMENT OF CLEVELAND A. NEWTON, GENERAL COUNSEL OF

THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY ASSOCIATION Mr. NEWTON. Floodwaters are the chief carriers of pollution deposits into our navigable waters. Pollution is becoming a serious menace to navigation in our harbors and upon our navigable rivers. In places it endangers the health of those who work in docks and upon barges and boats in harbors and upon our rivers. In places it does great injury to river equipment. On the Ohio, for instance, acids from factories and mines are destroying the metal parts of locks and dams and are menacing the hulls and machinery of boats and barges. These are matters of deep concern to the Army engineers, who have charge of this work. We believe, however, that an amendment should be added to section 2, paragraph (a), of the Vinson bill, substantially as follows: Paragraph (a) Section 7, sets up your board of five in the Public Health Department.

The CHAIRMAN. Sanitary engineers.

Mr. NEWTON. Yes; three of them experienced. That is section 7. Section 2 provides the functions of this Board. Now we have no idea to ask to interfere with the Board itself; but that the Chief of Engineers be consulted in the perforrnance of the functions; you recall this section provides:

The Division shall, after careful investigation, and in cooperation with the agencies of the several States authorized by law or duly designated to deal with water pollution, and in cooperation with the municipalities and industries involved, prepare comprehensive plans for eliminating or reducing the pollution and improve ing the sanitary condition of the navigable waters of the United States and streams tributary thereto. In the development of such comprehensive plans due regard shall be given to the improvements which are necessary to conserve such waters and promote their use for public water supplies, propagation of fish and aquatic life, recreational purposes, agricultural, industrial, and other legitimate uses, and for this purpose the Division is authorized to make joint investigations with the aforesaid agencies of any State or States of the condition of any waters of the United States, either navigable or otherwise, and the discharges of any seweage, industrial wastes, or substances which may deleteriously affect such waters.

Now we are asking you to consider the question of adding to that section the following:

The Division shall consult the Chief of Engineers, War Department, to determine the effect of these plans on the navigable waters of the United States or on proposed flood control measures. The Division shall also obtain the concurrent 139603-37—-19

281

approval of the Chief of Engineers on any comprehensive plans for stream pollution which it may prepare, to signify that these plans conform in general with requirements for navigation and food control.

The Engineer Department has made an extensive study of the pollution of our navigable waters. It has an abundance of material dealing with the subject; and since the pollution problem affects flood control and navigation, it seems proper that the Engineers should be consulted.

A question already has been raised with some of the people with whom I have discussed this matter that it might be well to suggest to the committee the advisability of amending section 7 and adding to the five members of the Board in the Department one member from the Board of Engineers and one member from the Fishery Department, because those three departments are all affected. But we think that if the Engineers are brought into a consulting position and not made part of the Board, it would serve the purpose.

The Chairman. Can you give us offhand a statement, approximately, of how much money has been expended on the Mississippi River and its tributaries for flood control and navigation?

Mr. NEWTON. I know there are about $150,000,000 expended on the Ohio alone, and I know this pollution problem is a problem that is of serious concern to the Engineers as affecting navigation on the Ohio.

NOTE.—The Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, for 1936, shows that the expenditures on the Mississippi River system have been $693,420,041, exclusive of the amounts expended for plant used in the prosecution of navigation and flood-control projects.

The CHAIRMAN. And all that money has been expended under the Corps of Engineers?

Mr. NEWTON. Absolutely. I remember very well, as a member of this committee, when we had a good many days of hearings on this question of pollution. We recognized then something was needed to be done, but it is very important in working out the plan that the work be developed in a way not to destroy commerce and industry.

There is no doubt but what that pollution in the Ohio is a great damage to navigation. Then we have problems of pollution at places on the rivers where the pollution is so bad that you cannot work on the docks or on barges and towboats.

Mr. PARSONS. And pollution, so far as it affects navigation, is purely a function of the Corps of Engineers, is it not?

Mr. NEWTON. Yes; and furthermore, I remember in years back the Engineers have been the leading factor in investigating this pollution question, and I think they have a lot of information from those years of study that will be helpful to any Board of the Government in trying to solve the problem.

I take it this Board has to start more or less anew, and I think whatever cooperation the Board may get the benefit of will be of material assistance to it, and certainly navigation and flood-control matters necessarily are involved in this kind of legislation.

On the idea of changing the bill, I think, generally, that is a bad thing, as it might start amendments that would be destructive of the original purpose; but if the committee thinks it wise to enlarge the functions here and it is done by the committee, I do not think there can be any objection to it. I think it is highly important that in a matter of this kind, in a problem so complicated as this and so long

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

of solution, the Board that undertakes its solution ought to be able to call to its assistance the best and most competent agencies of the Government; and I am sure the one agency that is ready and equipped to start giving real assistance at first, from 25 or more years of experience, is the Board of Army Engineers.

Mr. PARSONS. Mr. Chairman, I am going to venture a guess on the amount of expenditure on this Ohio and Mississippi River and their tributaries. General Pillsbury will probbaly look up the correct figures and give those; but I think it is about $652,000,000, all told, for rivers and harbors and flood control of every kind and nature, since the beginning of the improvement of the Mississippi Valley system and its tributaries, and the Ohio.

Mr. NEWTON. I think you are a little low.
The CHAIRMAN. That does not include T. and G.?
Mr. PARSONS. No; that comes into it in kind of a subtle way.
The CHAIRMAN. It is more than that.

Mr. GREEN. It is more than that if you count flood-control legislation.

Mr. PARSONS. I am only counting expenditures up to a year or so ago.

Mr. CULKIN. I checked up the authorizations at one time and with the amount expended and the funds required to complete all projects I estimated about a billion dollars.

Mr. PARSONS. You are taking in all rivers and harbors.

Mr. Culkin. Everything that has been recommended and put through on the Mississippi and its tributaries.

Mr. PARSONS. We have subsidized the rivers and harbors, coastal and otherwise, to the same extent we have subsidized the railroads. That is about a little over a billion dollars.

Mr. Culkin. Including the Missouri and taking in all rivers. Mr. PARSONS. Now, getting back to Mr. Newton's proposal, Mr. Chairman, I am going to propose, when we take up this Vinson bill for amendment in executive session, and I want to serve notice to the members of the committee now I do expect to offer an amendment making the Chief of Engineers ex officio a member of this board. Because, after all, they know more about this business than anybody else in the United States at the present time, certainly, and the Army engineers should not be left off.

I also expect to move, in accordance with the testimony we had the other day from the Bureau of Fisheries, that some member of their Bureau also be made ex officio a member of this board.

Now there are five members of the Division. They are all, at the present time, being paid by the Federal Government. Whoever goes on that board, if the legislation is passed, now and in the future, will already have had their salaries paid by the Federal Government; so that it does not cost any extra money. It is a matter of making them ex-officio members. I propose for no other reason to raise that number from five to seven, in order to have a member from the Bureau of Fisheries upon it, and also a member from the Engineering Staff.

I want to serve that notice to the chairman of the committee at the present time.

Mr. NEWTON. And now, Mr. Chairman, with those extemporaneous preliminary remarks I desire to proceed with a brief statement which I prepared before coming here. I appear as general counsel for the Mississippi Valley association.

The steadily increasing pollution of our rivers and harbors during the past 20 years has resulted in an ever-increasing demand for a solution. Cities and municipalities throughout the country pour their raw sewage into our rivers and their tributaries, thus contaminating our domestic water supply. Factories, shops, industries, mines, oil fields, and refineries are pouring their waste into our harbors and fresh-water streams, destroying our fish life, oyster beds, and rendering our waters unfit for bathing and recreational purposes.

Legislation providing for the development of a solution for this problem is inevitable. It is imperative that such legislation be wise and sane and that it be the result of careful study and experimentation. Those responsible for the pollution of our waters recognize the seriousness of this pollution and evidence an earnest desire to cooperate in finding a solution.

A number of bills have been introduced in Congress dealing with the pollution problem. These bills are now being considered by your committee. The Pfeifer bill (H. R. 3419) is typical of the more drastic legislation proposed. That bill provides in paragraph C, section 1, as follows:

(C) The term "refuse matter or waste” means refuse matter and waste of every kind or character, including oil or oil sludge, raw untreated sewage, coal-mining washery waste, acid mine drainage, coal-distillation waste, pickling, cleaning, or planting waste, pulp or paper manufacture waste, tanning waste, and washing, bleaching, or dyeing waste.

It is difficult to conceive of any effluence or waste, industrial or domestic, not covered by this definition, and section 2 of the Pfeifer bill further provides:

Sec. 2. It shall be unlawful for any person to deposit, or cause to be deposited, any refuse matter or waste in any navigable water of the United States, or in any place from which, in the ordinary course of events, any such refuse matter or waste would flow, float, seep, or be washed into any such navigable water.

The enforcement of this provision would stop the operation of every factory, refinery, industry, and mine in the country, and practically every city, municipality, and town in the land would be forced to violate the law if it continued to exist.

The Vinson-Barkley bill (H. R. 2711 and S. 702) provides for a careful study of the problem of pollution and is designed to find ways and means of correcting the evil without injury to industry and commerce. It provides for the creation of a division of water pollution control in the United States Public Health Service. The VinsonBarkley bill contains the following provisions:

SEC. 2 (a). The Division shall, after careful investigation, and in cooperation with the agencies of the several States authorized by law or duly designated to deal with water pollution, and in cooperation with the municipalities and industries involved, prepare comprehensive plans for eliminating or reducing the pollution and improving the sanitary condition of the navigable waters of the United States and streams tributary thereto. In the development of such comprehensive plans due regard shall be given to the improvements which are necessary to conserve such waters and promote their use for public water supplies, propagation of fish and aquatic life, recreational purposes, agricultural, industrial, and other legitimate uses, and for this purpose the Division is authorized to make joint investigations with the aforesaid agencies of any State or States of the condition of any waters of the United States, either navigable or otherwise, and the discharges of any sewage, industrial waste, or substances which may deleteriously affect such waters.

The Vinson-Barkley bill seems well designed to deal with the problem of pollution of our navigable waters, without unnecessary injury

1

to commerce and industry, and without undue hardship upon our cities, municipalities, and towns, and since the public interest seems to demand legislation dealing with this subject we feel that we should cooperate in the enactment of the necessary legislation. Leading mine, oil, chemical and paper interests, as well as industries generally throughout the country are supporting the Vinson-Barkley bill.

Flood waters are the chief carriers of pollution deposits into our navigable waters. Pollution is becoming a serious menace to navigation in our harbors and upon our navigable rivers. In places it endangers the health of those who work in docks and upon barges and boats in harbors and upon our rivers. In places it does great injury to river equipment. On the Ohio, for instance, acids from factories and mines are destroying the metal parts of locks and dams and are menacing the hulls and machinery of boats and barges. These are matters of deep concern to the Army engineers.

We believe, however, that an amendment should be added to section 2, paragraph (a), above quoted, of the Vinson-Barkley bill, substantially as follows:

The division shall consult the Chief of Engineers, War Department, to determine the effect of these plans on the navigable waters of the United States or on proposed flood control measures. The division shall also obtain the concurrent approval of the Chief of Engineers on any comprehensive plans for the solution of stream pollution which it may prepare, to signify that these plans conform in general with requirements for navigation and flood control.

The Engineer Department has made an extensive study of the pollution of our navigable waters. It has an abundance of material dealing with the subject, and since the pollution problem afl'ects flood control and navigation, it seems proper that the engineers should be consulted.

(The committee thereupon went into executive session, at the conclusion of which an adjournment was taken until tomorrow, Thursday, Mar. 25, 1937, at 10:30 a. m., to meet in executive session.)

(At the direction of the committee, the following statements, communications, and official reports were ordered printed in the record:)

STATEMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE ALFRED N. PHILLIPS, JR., ON THE BILL

H. R. 6076, APRIL 1, 1937

I have today introduced into the House an antipollution bill, which is identical, with a few exceptions, with S. 13, prepared and introduced by Senator Augustine Lonergan, of Connecticut, into the Senate. In other words, it is Senator Lonergan's bill, with the following addition:

I include in the bill provision for the construction of garbage and rubbish disposal plants in addition to Senator Lonergan's provision arranging Government loans for the construction of sewage disposal plants and plants or works for the treatment of trade wastes. I have made this addition to Senator Lonergan's bill because the waters near our part of the country—the metropolitan area of New York--- have also been polluted by the dumping of garbage and rubbish therein.

I introduced Senator Lonergan's bill to prevent pollution of our waterways for the following reasons:

1. I have long been interested in ending pollution of our waterways.

2. I believe that Senator Lonergan's bill is comprehensive and adequate.

« ForrigeFortsett »