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A study of this watershed led the committee to conclude in April of 1953 that if all economically sound control measures were installed, it still would be impossible to reduce peaks of major floods, such as the 1938 New England hurricane, below about 4,500 cubic feet per second at the gaging point. The 1955 floods have not changed this conclusion to any important degree.
Some existing structures on the flood plain of this stream are flooded during flows of less than 4,500 cubic feet per second. One of these, a drive-in theater, is damaged at a level as low as 1,200 cubic feet per second.
The committee has no magic formula for the relief of such situations. The committee is, however, much concerned over future development of presently unoccupied lands lying below this 4,500 cubic foot level. If this development is permitted, there will be a future increase in dollar damage caused by floods, particularly if flood insurance at less than true cost is available.
In 1953 the water conservation committee therefore recommended to the board of supervisors that it be their policy to discourage, by some form of advisory zoning, the erection of new structures below the level reached at flows of 4,500 cubic feet per second. The board deserves congratulations for their courage and forethought in endorsing in principle their Resolution No. 61, adopted on May 11, 1953, the idea of advisory flood zoning.
Without publicity, the principle was tested in 1953 by conferences with owners of some of these lowlands. It proved that the committee and the board were ahead of the times, as the landowners were almost 100 percent unready to accept informal advisories, let alone actual ordinances. The project was therefore regretfully laid on the shelf at that time.
In terms of reconstruction and future construction, we are still convinced that flood zoning is the cheapest way to prevent much flood damage. Its implications on a flood-insurance program are tremendous. It is in practice in some areas of our country, though not in the Northeast.
With this in mind, on behalf of the Dutchess County Water Conservation Committee, I request that your committee give full consideration to the matter of flood zoning, and that you specifically study existing ordinances and application thereof in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
If I could add to that prepared statement, I would like to say one thing in comment on some of the testimony that I have heard today. and that is everything in the mid-Hudson Valley, particularly since the October flood, people are uneasy in some cases to the point of demoralization every time there is a moderately heavy rain. In response to that condition, we have in Dutchess County set up a flood forecast committee which receives all available data and issues fore. casts at any time there is a heavy rain, evaluating the flood possibil. ities. That has, I believe, been a great help to the peace of mind of the people of our county.
Also I would like to say that there are some exhibits attached to the copy of my statement.
Senator LEILAX. Thank you very much for this statement. I think it is very clear that much of the damage could be avoided if
there was zoning so as to prevent the construction of new buildings in the low-lying areas.
Do you know-is there any State law or local ordinance that would permit or prevent zoning on the basis of flood damage, prespective flood damage?
Mr. WARTHIN. I was advised by our county attorney, when this came up in 1953, that while it might be possible under the existing laws of New York State, that he regarded it as legally unsound that is, it would have to be tested extensively through the courtsand he thought at the moment it was politically impractical.
Senator LEHMAN. I am not a lawyer, and certainly not a constitutional lawyer, but I doubt very much whether the Federal Government would have the right to pass legislation of that sort affecting States or localities within the States. I think it is sound advice. Don't misunderstand me. But I doubt very much whether we in the Congress would have that authority.
Mr. WARThin. The best thinking I have been able to get on that point is that if the Federal Government were to issue flood insurance in some form or other, that it might be done on a basis whereby the towns that did have flood-zoning ordinance either would qualify or would qualify under more favorable terms.
Senator LEHMAN. I think that probably would be within the authority of the administrator, under the bill that is now before the committee.
(The material attached to Mr. Warthin's statement follows:)
STATEMENT OF A. SCOTT WARTHIN ON BEHALF OF THE DUTCHESS COUNTY WATER
CONSERVATION COMMITTEE My name is A. Scott Warthin Jr. I am chairman of the department of geology, Vassar College, president of the Paleontological Society of America, and chairman of the Dutchess County (New York) Water Conservation Committee. The last-named committee was organized by the Board of Supervisors of Dutchess County in 1950, to advise that board in matters relating to water conservation and control. The committee has no powers other than advisory.
With the full cooperation of the Water Resources Branch, United States Geological Survey, the Soil Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture and other organizations, the committee has studied since 1950 the problems along Wappinger Creek in Dutchess County. On August 19 and October 16 of this year, the highest and the third highest flood flows since gaging began in 1928, were recorded. These were about 20,000 and 8,000 cubic feet per second, respectively.
Study of this watershed led the committee to conclude in April 1953 that if all economically sound control measures were installed, it still would be impossible to reduce peaks of major floods (e. g., the 1938 New England hurricane) below about 4,500 cubic feet per second at the gaging point. The 1955 floods have not changed this conclusion in any important degree.
Some existing structures on the flood plain of this stream are flooded during flows of less than 4,500 cubic feet per second. One is damaged at a level as low as 1.200 cubic feet per second. The committee has no magic formula for relief of such a situation.
The committee is, however, much concerned over future development of presently unoccupied lands lying below this 4,500 cubic feet per second level. If this is permitted, there will be a future increase in dollar damage caused by foods, particularly if food insurance at less than true cost is available.
In 1953 the committee, therefore, recommended to the board of supervisors that it be their policy to discourage by some form of advisory zoning the erection of new structures below the level reached at flows of 4,500 cubic feet per second. The board deserve congratulations for their courage and forethought in endorsing in principle through their Resolution No. 64, adopted on May 11, 1953, the idea of adrisory flood zoning.
Without publicity, the principle was tested in 1953 by conferences with owners of some of these lowlands. It proved that the committee and the board were ahead of the times, as the landowners were almost 100 percent unready to accept informal advisories, let alone actual ordinances. The project was, therefore, regretfully laid on the shelf at that time.
In terms of reconstruction and future construction, we are still convinced that flood zoning is the cheapest way to prevent much flood damage. Its implications on a flood-insurance program are tremendous. It is in practice in some areas of our country, though not in the Northeast. With this in mind, on behalf of the Dutchess County Water Conservation Committee, I request that your committee give full consideration to the matter of flood zoning, and that you specifically study existing ordinances and application thereof in the Los Angeles metropolitan
RESOLUTION No. 64, 1953, BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, COUNTY OF DUTCHESS, X. 1.,
RE WATER CONTROL
Whereas the Dutchess County Water Conservation Committee heretofore appointed to study, report, and make recommendations relating to water conservation and control in Dutchess County, has made a report which is submitted herewith, and in which it advises against changes which might cause a relocation of the course of the stream, or the erection of buildings or other structures within the channel of the Wappingers Creek, or upon, along or near the bank of the creek within areas which are subject to flood in times of excess water; and
Whereas the committee has made a study of the flow of the stream and resulting conditions in the times of excess water, which information is being reduced to pamphlet form and will be made available through the office of the clerk of this board, and further the members of the committee have expressed their willingness to furnish on request, such other data and information as contained in the committee files which the committee believes will be of benefit to owners and lessees of lands bordering the Wappingers Creek who contemplate improvements in or near the channel of the creek: It is
Resolved, That the report of the Dutchess County Water Conservation Committee be and the same is hereby accepted and placed on file; and it is further
Resolved, That the recommendations of the committee be and the same hereby are endorsed and approved ; and it is further
Resolved, That copies of the report and other data compiled by the committee be forwarded the respective town boards of tahe townships through which the Wappingers Creek flows, together with a copy of this resolution, and the boards of said townships are hereby requested to urge the owners and lessees of lands abutting the Wappingers Creek in their respective townships to avail theme selves of the information and data as compiled by the committee before undertaking any contemplated improvements on their lands which abut or border upon the Wappingers Creek, and further that those townships where zoning is in existence, or may be hereafter adopted, that consideration be given to those features of water conservation and control, if any, that may be regulated by zoning ordinances insofar as the same may affect the waters of Wappingers ('reek in said townships. STATE OF NEW YORK,
County of Dutche88, 88: This is to certify that I, the undersigned, clerk of the board of supervisors of the county of Dutchess, have compared the foregoing copy of resolution with the original resolution now on file in the office of said clerk, and which was adopted by said board of supervisors on May 11, 1953, and that the same is a true and correct transcript of said original resolution and of the whole thereof.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal of said board of supervisors this — day of 1954,
Clerk of the Board of Supervisors.
REPORT TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y., FROM THE
DUTCHESS COUNTY WATER CONSERVATION COMMITTEE The committee met on April 1, 1935, to consider reports on the flood situation in Wappinger Creek. Data were presented on height of floods, their frequency, amounts of water involved, and means of forecasting time and height of peaks of floods. The data also indicated that partial control of floods could be achieved most cheaply by reforestation and soil-conservation practices in farming. In addition to these, supplemental control by reservoirs will be necessary. Specific recommendations regarding these reservoirs await the publication of the watershed management report being prepared by the Soil Conservation Service (probably available in midsummer).
Studies completed demonstrate that the capacity of Wappinger Creek to handle large flows of water has been materially reduced by unwisely placed man-made structures, built within the waterway that must be reserved for handling large runoffs. Such structures are not only likely to suffer damage during times of high water, but by their presence may shift the flow to damage lands and structures which would otherwise not be affected. Their construction is against public interest.
The committee agreed that channel space sufficient to handle flows which reach 4,500 cubic feet per second at the Red Oaks Mill gage should be left free of buildings, embankments, and other man-made obstructions. While it is not proposed to remove any such obstructions as already exist, the committee makes the following recommendations to the board of supervisors:
Recommended : That the board of supervisors assert that it is against the best interests of the people of Dutchess County for anyone to construct buildings, embankments, or similar obstructions within that part of the channel of Wappinger Creek and its tributaries which is filled with water when the flow of Wappinger Creek reaches 4,500 cubic feet per second at the United States Geological Survey gage at Red Oaks Mill.
Recommended : That the board of supervisors communicate the above decision to the town boards and zoning offi Ils within the towns concerned. It should be pointed out that if these recommendations are adopted : 1. The term “obstructions” does not refer to farm crops.
2. The figure of 4,500 cubic feet per second carries no official implication that floods in Wappinger Creek will be held to that level.
3. The county water conservation committee will assist landowners in determining what part, if any, of their land lies below the 4,500 cubic feet limit. Neither the committee nor the board of supervisors, however, will assume any responsibility for accuracy of such determinations.
The committee also briefly discussed several cases of stream obstruction recently noted in the county, where landowners made changes which proved detrimental to their neighbors. This illegal practice is common in the county, but the only effective relief is in a suit for damages against the offender, a course most people are unwilling to undertake. The committee deplores the situation, but at this time is unable to bring an effective recommendation in the matter to the board of supervisors.
Present: Members Bahret, Brockway, Burke, Cross, DuBois, Mahar, Petrovits, Scoralick, Warthin; conferees without vote, Harold Klingaman, Harold Wright. Respectfully submitted,
A. S. WARTHIN, Jr., Chairman. Is there anyone else who wishes to be heard ?
STATEMENT OF CHARLES VAN ALST AND HENRY MERTZ,
WALLKILL VALLEY, N. Y.
Mr. VAN ALST. My name is Charles Van Alst and this is Henry Mertz. We are from the Wallkill Valley. There were quite a few people caught in the flood in the Wallkill Valley. We had to get a boat and take them out in boats in the Springtown area.
We are farmers there. We don't have any representative here. Myself, I had a large loss of crops. I own the old Arbuckle farm. I lost 120 acres of corn in the August flood there. I estimate that it was worth about $15,000. We planted 100 acres of wheat and winter grain. Now that is practically lost.
Senator LEHMAX. Was that the August flood ?
Mr. Van Alst. Yes; that is when we lost the corn, but not the wheat we put in later. We are used to the floods, as far as that goes. But the point is now it seems to me that the water stays up so long it seems to kill the crops. If it stays up over 4 days, the crops die. We lost about 35 acres of hay; I did. If there was some way we could make this water go down quicker, it would be a great saving to us. If this keeps up this way, we are going to have to look for a new business.
Senator LEHMAN. Have you, or your board of supervisors, who are undoubtedly interested in your plight and the plight of other farmers, made any application to the Corps of Engineers?
Mr. Van Alst. Not yet that we know of. Well, I'll tell you one thing: The farmers in the Springtown area and myself are kind of used to it in the sense that it comes up and goes down, and it doesn't give us trouble. But it seems as though there is an awful bottleneck toward Tilson and Rosendale, down near Mr. Mulenauser. If that was opened up some way—the central Hudson has a big dam-if that was opened up some way so it would make it wider, it would help. Also the throughway has gone through there, and I don't think the bridge there helps the matter any.
Senator LEHMAN. Have you taken it up with any of the State agencies? Mr. MERTZ. We don't know who to go to.
Senator LEHMAN. I would suggest you do. I cannot advise you at this moment just who to take it up with. But I would think in the Federal Government you would have to take it up with the Corps of Engineers, and in the State, with the public works department.
I mentioned this this morning, but I want to point out again that all these flood-control undertakings must receive the approval of the Corps of Engineers. If they approve, there is a chance of getting an appropriation for it from the Congress, although there is no certainty, because they have a very long list. If it is not approved, there is virtually no chance of the Appropriations Committee acting favorably. So I would suggest that through your regular channels this matter be taken up with the Corps of Engineers in Washington, and also with the public works department in Albany.
Mr. MERTZ. If this continues, the foods during the harvest season, our land will be valueless, because there won't be any resale value under present conditions.
Senator LEHMAN. I realize that. And I want to help you as much as I can. But after all, to undertake one of these things will require some governmental action. I do not know of any other way except through the Corps of Engineers.
Mr. MERTZ. I'm a dairy farmer. I had to move my cows out of the barn to get them out of the water. I lost two-thirds of my hay fields and 2 acres of corn.
I reseeded it, but that may be gone, too, with this last flood. So the effects will only be felt in another year.
Senator LEIMAN. Have you had these flood conditions before?