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pressure a loss of the bank occurs. The material thus eroded is carried into the river and furnishes material with which bars are made, and which prevent or obstruct navigation at low water, and render the improvement of the river, by regulation, almost impossible.'
So, it can not be denied that the erosion of the banks, according to all the reports of the engineers that I have read, has interfered with the navigation of the river. They go so far as to say that it renders the improvement of the river by regulation almost impossible. Now, you have got to stop the thing that makes the improvement of the river impossible. That can be done by the protection of the river bank. That is what we want. By extending this work 10 feet higher, you will lessen the amount of erosion, and that certainly is in aid and in the interest of navigation.
Mr. Wingfield has a number of photographs, some of which he has shown you, which show exactly what we want. This picture (indicating) shows the present project, as it stands. This one (indicating] is one showing how we want to extend it.
Do not confuse your mind with the idea that we are asking anything pertaining to the levee. We are here asking that you protect the river bank, which erodes in times of high water, and interferes with commerce and navigation.
The CHAIRMAN. What did you say about this report of the engineer?
Mr. Vinson. Mr. Wingfield said that that report was based upon a condition which existed before the levee was built.
The CHAIRMAN. I mean the last one.
As Mr. Wingfield has said, the danger is now greater than it was before. There is at present no outlet for the water. It needs no engineer to tell me that the danger is now greater than ever before. This protection work may not have been necessary before this levee was built; it may not have been necessary to construct this pavement 25 feet; but when you put on top of the bank 15 to 25 feet more it certainly makes the pressure on the work that the Government has done greater than ever before. Now, I claim that it lies within the province of this committee to protect us from that danger. I think this present work should be protected by carrying this up to the top of the bank.
The CHAIRMAN. We have here, so far as the work is concerned, an adverse report of the engineers.
Mr. VINSON. Yes; I realize that.
The CHAIRMAN. If it had been favorably reported, it would have come under the resolution that we passed the other day excluding your project. The engineers have not made any estimates for this bill. The only way to reach it would be to have the engineer come before us, and ask him about it. If he says that we should protect the work that the Government has already done, we could of course take care of it in this bill.
Mr. Vinson. I contend that the estimate includes the protection of the levee and the protection of the river bank. I am directing my remarks, however, to the protection of the river bank for 10 feet more. Let me read you again what the district officer said in this connection: “The district officer presents the plan for the protection of the
river bank and levee at an estimated cost of $321,000, and states that the work should be done by some agency, leaving the question of who this agency should be with the determination of a higher authority." Now, you could subdivide and ascertain from the Board of Engineers the cost of protecting the bank independently from the levee. They say that the two would cost $321,000. I again submit, if you please, that if we put on this additional 10 feet it will subject the present work to more danger because of obstructions and the velocity of the stream than it has ever been in before.
The CHAIRMAN. It does seem natural
Mr. VINSON (interposing). Why is it not in aid of navigation to prevent that very work they have put there from being washed away; why is it not in the interest of navigation to protect what you have already done?
The CHAIRMAN. The answer to that would be that up to date the engineers upon whom we rely have not told us that any money was necessary.
Mr. Vixson. But I think that the chairman does not need the Board of Engineers to tell him that the danger is now far greater than ever before.
The CHAIRMAN. I said that under our practice in making appropriations, unless the engineers were in favor of them we could not make them. Unless they either recommend them in the Book of Estimates or come before us and tell us that an appropriation is necessary, we do not make them.
Mr. EDWARDS. I would like to make a suggestion. You have two projects there. The one at Augusta is the one that you have referred to; then you have another project on the Savannah River below Augusta. .An annual appropriation of somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 is made for the maintenance of that project 30 miles below Augusta. Now, is it your impression that this maintenance charge on the stretch below Augusta would be materially decreased if this trouble was corrected at Augusta?
Mr. Vinson. It is probably true that it would be, because it would lessen the erosion and would not interfere with commerce so much.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not wish to be understood as saying that I place no reliance whatever upon the statement made by Mr. Wingfield. I know him well, and know that his judgment is excellent.
Mr. Vinsox. With his thorough knowledge of the local conditions, after 18 years' experience in connection with this project, I think that his opinion is worth a great deal. When he comes here before this committee and tells you that the city of Augusta has spent $2,000,000 to build a levee and that ihe work that the Government and the city of Augusta have done jointly is in danger unless it is carried on up to the top of that bank, I think that should have just is much weight before this committee as anything that the Board of Engineers has said.
The CHAIRMAN. That may be true, Mr. Vinson. The trouble is that when we go before the House we have to have the recommendation of the engineers.
Mr. Vinson. But this committee, as I understand it, is not bound. I understand that this committee follows the recommendations, but I am sure this committee is not bound by them.
The CHAIRMAN. We can go beyond the recommendation if we want to, but we have not been doing it for many years. We find it better to be governed by them. If we once get outside of them there is no limit. We have to have some guide, and we will not go beyond the recommendation of the engineer.
Mr. Vinson. But you still have the report of the engineers as to the protection of the work which you have already done.
The CHAIRMAN. If they recommend an amount, we will likely but not necessarily appropriate it.
Mr. Vinson. Their report is subdivided. It says so much to protect the levee and so much for the river banks. You have the jurisdiction to appropriate the amount that they say should be used to protect the river bank. Independently of whether any recommendation is made by them or not they ask that this should be done. They say somebody should do it. They say the question of who should do it is left to a higher power. They do not say it should not be done. They state that the work should be done by some agency. What work? The work of protecting the levee and the river bank. They admit that it should be done by some agency. They say that there is no danger of interference with commerce on account of erosion, and then in another report they say that there have been some 10,800,000 cubic yards washed into the river in the last 18 years because the bank was not protected.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you presented it in that light to the board ? Mr. VINSON. I have.
Now, let us see what was the commerce on that river. In 1913 it amounted to $8,000,000. I think that any stream that can bear that much commerce certainly should not be impaired because of the Government's failure to do the work necessary to protect the river bank.
Mr. EDWARDS. That is the commerce actually carried by the river? Mr. VINSON. I think so. I have not the 1913 report.
Mr. EDWARDS. River improvement at Augusta not only affects the commerce that the river actually carries but it affocts a great deal more than that.
Mr. Vixson. It does. Augusta is the largest inland cotton market in the world. Of course, it would affect the freight rate if they had a better method of getting their cotton and their manufactured goods to the ports. It would affect the rates on incoming freight as well as outgoing freight on the railroads in that whole section. This is not a local project. This is as strong a project as the Mississippi or Missouri or Colorado. There are just as good reasons and grounds for protecting this place as for protecting the cities on those rivers. The only difference, probably, between the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers and the Savannah River is that it has not been incorporated in our party platform and made one of the great principles for the parties to take care of.
The CHAIRMAN. That is a matter that may some time or other be taken up and considered. Up to the present time we have not been in the habit of going beyond work that is in the interest of navigation.
Mr. Vinson. I recognize that, and I tried to show you that the erosion here interferes with navigation. To show you that the Government recognizes the danger of not having this done up to the top of the bank, Mr. Wingfield has here some pictures showing that
the Government in building a road to the wharves and the warehouses did extend the pavement up to the top of the bank, because they knew the quality and character of the soil made it liable to erode from the top.
Mr. SMALL. I would like to say that you and the other gentlemen have presented an argument that is so impressive that even though the committee and Congress can not give you relief, I think the citizens of Augusta should understand that it is not due to a lack of sympathy with your conditions or any desire to relieve them, but owing to a legislative condition which, practically speaking, the committee is powerless to overcome.
The committee, by long custom, have not recommended any practice which has not been recommended by the engineers, as the result of examination or survey theretofore authorized and favorably reported on. Now, the Savannah River, at Augusta, has had two favorable reports. One is House Document 487, Sixty-first Congress, second session, and the act of 1910, making an appropriation carrying out that project, and that has been completed.
Mr. VINSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. SMALL. Then there was a subsequent examination providing for extending the project from Fifth Street to East Boundary Street, at an estimated cost of $124,000. Congress, in the river and harbor act of March, 1913, appropriated $60,000 for that, and Augusta cooperated by appropriating an additional sun of $60,000. When this report was written, it had been nearly completed, and the engineers report that with the amount on hand that project can be entirely completed; and that there is balance enough left to maintain it for the next fiscal year. All the projects which have been favorably recommended by the engineers have been appropriated for, and with the cooperation of the city of Augusta, have been completed. That is the official status of the matter as it appears before the committee. You are now asking that additional work be done, and with a view to that additional work, Congress, in the river and harbor act of 1915, authorized another examination of the survey and a report; and that has been made. You have an advance copy there of the printed report. It is unfavorable and it is adverse, so that from a legislative standpoint you are now asking this committee to make appropriations for some work which is not based upon any previous favorable report from the Chief of Engineers. So, without in the slightest depreciating your argument and the argument of Mr. Wingfield and these other gentlemen, which have been exceedingly strong, but looking at it from a legislative viewpoint, if the committee are unable to make an appropriation, it should be borne in mind that you have done the best you could in presenting this matter, and these gentlemen should know that the committee's unfavorable response to their request is not due to a lack of sympathy, but simply due to a legislative system-a legislative difficulty--which the committee is not able to overcome.
Mr. Vinson. The city of Augusta and the people of Augusta approciate the good will that has been exhibited by the members of this committee toward the numerous projects.
I recognize the fact that the Board of Engineers have made an adverse report; but I take the position before this committee that the Board of Engineers lost sight of a condition which now exists there—a condition which the Board of Engineers did not have in mind when it made this report, because the report does not touch upon that in any way. The Board of Engineers did not take into consideration the danger to the present work because of that new condition which has arisen—the building of the levee. The Board of Engineers report does not refer to the protection of the present 25 feet of improvement work that has been done. Now, I say that a new condition has arisen; a condition that the Government had nothing to do with. The people of the city of Augusta built this levee with money appropriated out of their own coffers. I claim that this endangers the present work and subjects it to destruction unless you extend that work as I have indicated.
The CHAIRMAN. With reference to that, I see by the report of the Chief of Engineers for 1913 that he says: "After due consideration of the above-mentioned reports I fully recognize the very great value and importance to the city of Augusta of thoroughly protecting the river bank to the top of the levee, nevertheless I am forced to concur in the views of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and therefore report that it is not deemed advisable at the present time for the United States to undertake any extension of the floodprotection works on the Savannah River at Augusta in the interests of general commerce and navigation.”
Mr. Vinson. But, you see, Mr. Chairman, that the Board of Engineers has lost sight of the main fact. They lost sight entirely of the new condition, and the effect arising from the creation of that new condition. They lost sight of the building of this levee, which makes it more dangerous than before.
Mr. SMALL. You are making a very strong argument. Looking at it from a legislative viewpoint, it is an argument that should be made before the Board of Engineers and not before this committee or Congress. The remedy, it appears to me, is to rerefer this report to the Board of Engineers and ask them to reconsider. It would be entirely pertinent and appropriate for you to ask them to revise their report to the extent of recommending the work which you think is so necessary for the maintenance and protection of the work that has already been done.
Mr. Vinson. I wish to thank the gentleman from North Carolina for the single ray of hope which his suggestion carries.
Mr. Cohen. I wish to say to you gentlemen of this committee that the city of Augusta is in distress. It is before you asking you for the benefit of a doubt. Now, how are you going to construe that doubt. We would like to have this committee see the conditions as they exist down there. Before you decide on this matter, finally, we would like to have the entire committee or a delegation investigate the conditions. We would invite the entire committee, if we did not appreciate the fact that they would probably be unable to come.
Mr. Vinson. I would like to extend to the entire Rivers and Harbors Committee the invitation to come to the city of Augusta, Ga., as my guests, in order that they may look over this project and become well acquainted with the conditions existing there.
Mr. Cohen. In order to show our confidence in our project, wo endeavor to get Mr. Edwards to have the committee visit us during the fall.