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be a moratorium on further channelization by the Soil Conservation Service. When I say channelization, I, of course, don't refer to other generally approved activities of the Soil Conservation Service, but a moratorium on channelization for 1 year while efforts are made to repair the criticisms made of CSC channelization policies under Public Law 566.
Mr. Yancey, do you agree with such a proposal?
Mr. YANCEY. Of course, as I stated earlier, Mr. Chairman, our legislature has more or less declared a permanent moratorium on channelization of some 31 rivers, creeks, and bayous in Louisiana; and we feel that before planning is initiated to channelize any additional natural streams that are productive of fish and wildlife, a lot more thought should go into it than has gone into it in the past because of some of the staggering losses that we have had that have been unnecessary in the past.
Now, there may be some isolated circumstances that would not make it possible to close this program down for 1 year. We have got some areas that are filled in as a result of manmade causes, from industry and from siltation leading into some of these channels. The removal of that material would be desirable, and we would have no objection to that. It should be done in connection with some of these projects. But as far as a blanket 100-percent moratorium for 1 year on all work associated with the removal of material from channels, I don't know that we would be in a position to endorse that at this point.
Mr. Reuss. Let me put it another way. Do you endorse the continued practice of the Soil Conservation Service in stream channelization?
Mr. YANCEY. No sir; not at all. As I said, we have received a tremendous amount of unnecessary damage from some of the work that has been done and is planned to be done in the future. We think that where possible that we should adopt this for 1 year. Let's stop, look, and evaluate before we go ahead with the channelization of any of these natural streams. However, there may be circumstances right now that would not make it possible to stop all channelization in a blanket fashion in an entire State or a region.
Mr. Reuss. The Director of the Water Resources Council, Mr. W. Don Maughan, testified Friday that there ought to be a complete moratorium for a year except where the Governor of the State involved and the Water Resources Council agreed that an exception should be made.
Mr. YANCEY. Well, of course, this would certainly be agreeable, and this would be along the lines that I am expressing myself here.
Now, yesterday I made a talk at the National Watershed Congress meeting in Tampa. I mean I was there with the watershed planners and the implementers and all that, and I made about 10 recommendations. One was that plans should be made to phase out programs such as channelization of productive publicly owned natural streams, since this is extremely destructive of fish and wildlife habitat, and I want to confess that this was not met with any round of applause or anything like that. But I made essentially the same recommendations there that we presented here this morning. We think the program of dredging natural streams and draining woodlands should be phased out. But whether it is possible for us, let's say, tomorrow to stop all channelization and be practical about it, I do not know.
But we think certain types of channelization should definitely be phased out and other approaches used along the lines that were outlined here by Mr. Murphy, from Missouri. There are other approaches to accommodating and taking care of surplus water problems without destroying the few remaining natural streams that we have.
Mr. Reuss. Well, then would you favor the immediate phasing out of the 566 channelization program?
Mr. YANCEY. Yes; As it has to do with natural streams and draining of woodlands.
Mr. REUSS. Mr. Warvel.
Mr. WARVEL. Yes, I think we would be for the moratorium. We would hope that flood control would be achieved through some means other than channelization. And as you have indicated, we are cer-. tainly in support of the other objectives of 566. It is the channelization we oppose.
Mr. Reuss. Mr. Murphy.
Mr. Murphy. I believe our department would favor the moratorium. As we said here, we believe that there are many other alternatives to channelization that should be considered.
Mr. REUSS. Mr. Crockford.
Mr. CROCKFORD. Yes, sir; we would favor the moratorium with the understanding that an in-depth study be made of the entire program.
Mr. REUSS. Mr. Jantzen.
Mr. JANTZEN. We can't comment on the SCS channelization program in Arizona. We have never had a channelization program with the SCS.
Mr. REUSS. All right.
And, Mr. Gettinger, your testimony has been that you would not favor such a moratorium.
Mr. GETTINGER. We would not favor it. It would be putting us back 20 years if you do this to us.
Mr. Reuss. Mr. Yancey, in your paper on page 2, I believe, you describe how the Soil Conservation Service pays 50 percent cost sharing to dry uplands and make them suitable for agriculture production at the same time that the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation pays 50 percent cost sharing to farmers or others to preserve wetlands as wildlife habitat. What would you have to say on the economy and efficiency of a Government that operates in that manner?
Mr. YANCEY. I believe that description speaks for itself. It is very inconsistent, and it certainly doesn't appear to be in the interest of good planning or good financing to have one agency spending money to accelerate the loss of a resource and another Federal agency spending money to protect it. It just doesn't really make good sense.
But nevertheless, we are appreciative of the fact that we do have a Federal agency here that is trying to do some of the things that we are interested in doing, just as the other interests have Federal agencies that are working in their direction.
Mr. Reuss. Mr. Warvel, while you did not have occasion to mention it in your testimony here this morning, there has been earlier testimony before this subcommittee concerning fish in Pickwick Lake, which I believe occurs largely in Tennessee, and the point has been made that there is a considerable mercury accumulation in those fish. I am
just not familiar with it. Has the State of Tennessee issued any regulations or suggestions about that, such as don't eat those fish more than once a week—a rule such as we have, I am ashamed to say, in my State of Wisconsin?
Mr. WARVEL. Yes, sir. As a matter of fact, Pickwick Reservoir involves three States, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Commercial fishing has been closed in all of them, and sport fishing in Mississippi and Alabama I believe has been allowed, but they have been warned against overuse. In Tennessee we have prohibited possessionnow they can fish for sport fish, but they can't possess.
Now we are encountering a problem in Kentucky Lake immediately below Pickwick, and it is being approached a little more along the line you just mentioned, where if you don't eat them more than twice a week it is all right. But this problem is increasing in the Kentucky Lake area to the point that we are quite apprehensive.
Mr. Reuss. As one who has camped by and fished in Pickwick Lake, this is very distressing news-though I certainly can't fault the Tennessee Fish and Game Commission for safeguarding the health of citizens as it has done.
What is your evaluation of this mercury buildup in the fish? Obviously they must get this from the water. What is happening?
Mr. WARVEL. Well, what we think is happening, of course, is that from the Shamrock-a chlorine plant in Alabama-at one time mercury either escaped or was deliberately discharged some way. At any rate, the aquatic organisms have picked this up, and there has been a conversion to methyl mercury, which is the damaging form, and this has been picked up by the fish eating the aquatic organisms.
Mr. Reuss. By aquatic organisms you mean the algae, the pond weed, whatever?
Mr. WARVEL. Well, the zooplankton, this sort of thing, to the point that fish are turning up with an excess of one, one and a half parts per million, and, of course, the Food and Drug Administration sets a limit of 0.5.
Mr. Reuss. So it is more than double the safe range?
Mr. WARVEL. In some cases, yes. Well, we have been advised by studies made in Finland and other places like that that there is no end in sight really. This may go on for 50 or 100 years. We don't know really.
Mr. Reuss. And it appears in the water and it is associated with algal plant life?
Mr. WARVEL. Apparently it is picked up by these organisms from the bottom, and that in turn operates on the food chain and accumulates in the flesh of the fish.
Mr. Reuss. The statement was made-I forget by whom-that the trouble with the waters of Pickwick Lake and the Tennessee River is the mercury, not in the waters, but in the fish. That would seem to be at best a naive, at worst a misleading, account of what is happening; would it not be?
Mr. WARVEL. Well, they do contend that the waters themselveshere again it is the form of mercury--that the waters themselves are perfectly safe for swimming, all sorts of water sports. And even as a source of water supply with treatment, normal treatment you don't get this methyl mercury except through the food chain, in which case they convert the mercury which is in some other form to methyl mercury in the process; and this is the form that is picked up by the fish.
Mr. Reuss. But the zooplankton gets a good start on the conversion, does it not?
Mr. WARVEL. Yes. But in using the water to swim in or fish-I mean sport, water skiing, what have you—you are really not accumulating this form. You don't eat the aquatic organisms, and the fish do-and this is how the damage occurs.
Mr. Reuss. But, of course, with regard to the danger of mercury in water to which this country has become alerted in the last couple of years-originating I believe in studies over in Sweden-nobody has suggested that the danger occurred because you fell in while you are water skiing. The danger is in the fact that man is the highest element in the food chain; is that not so?
Mr. WARVEL. That is correct.
Mr. Reuss. And the eating of fish or other marine life that have eaten the zooplankton, which started the process of converting mercury into methyl mercury, is dangerous to human beings, is it not? Isn't that why you stopped the eating of fish in Pickwick Lake?
Mr. Warvel. Yes. Well, so long as they maintain their limit of 0.5 parts per million in fish flesh for consumption-particularly with reference to interstate shipment-it has to be prohibited. Now, if they were to make some adjustment where you could consume amounts periodically—where you could have two meals a week or three meals a week or something of this kind; but until there is some change in their limitations, obviously there is going to have to be a prohibition in the use of these fish that have this high mercury content.
Mr. Reuss. Just to wrap up your testimony on this point. A man eats fish from Pickwick Lake which contain in excess level of more than 0.5 parts per million of the mercury tolerance. He gets sick so people are prohibited by the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission from eating the fish. This is because some mercury got spilled into the Tennessee River upstream in Alabama, and that mercury was converted by zooplankton and other forms of botanical life in the river into methyl mercury. Then, as that toxic substance went upward through fish and other forms of marine life into the food chain—the ultimate of which is man-it presented a danger. Isn't that a fair statement?
Mr. WARVEL. That is correct. Now it may be that the conversion is more in the animal life than in the plant life; but basically this is correct, yes.
Mr. Reuss. So it would be misleading to say there is nothing wrong with the waters of Pickwick Lake, that there is just something wrong with the fish? There is something wrong with the fish that come to us, there was something wrong with the waters, and that something wrong with the waters was and is mercury?
Mr. WARVEL. Mercury, right. Yes, sir.
Mr. Chairman, at this time I have a statement that I would like to offer for the record. It is from a witness who was asked to appear and couldn't appear. It is just a one page statement, if I might read it. Mr. Reuss. Surely. Would you identify it?
Mr. STEIGER. This is from Andrew L. Bettwy, who is the Arizona State land commissioner, and he had received an invitation to testify at these hearings.
Mr. Reuss. Without objection, his full statement will be admitted in the record.
Mr. STEIGER. It is dated June 8, 1971, and it reads:
DEAR CONGRESSMAN STEIGER: Thank you for the time of our talk today and your willingness to take valuable time to read the following to the appropriate committee:
“As State land commissioner, I was most courteously invited by the Honorable Henry S. Reuss to appear before the House Conservation and Natural Resources Subcommittee to present the views of the Arizona State Land Department concerning modification and channelization of rivers and streams.
"Our Governor, Jack Williams, has asked for a recommended position statement for our State from its game and fish, highway, water, parks, recreation, economic development and land agencies acting as his council on environment. That council has not yet prepared such a recommendation and the State land department, a multiple-responsibility agency for management of 9.5 million acres of land and statewide surface water appropriations, ground water, soil conservation, and forestry duties, believes its most responsible conduct is to wait for the issuance of such position statement by the Governor for our State.
“Accordingly, this office respectfully declines to comment other than to say that a wholesale stagnation of all presently officially recommended projects doesn't reflect the interest and duty we would hope for to have each project considered on its merits and advanced as the facts and community desires reflect. I would like to reassure you that the multiple duties of this office require it to consider the broad social impact of its acts and policies and doesn't permit it the license of disregarding the total scope, which license it might descend to enjoy if it were single purpose in nature.”
(Signed) ANDREW L. BETTWY,
Arizona State Land Commissioner. Mr. Reuss. Thank you, Mr. Steiger, I would appreciate it if you would convey our gratitude to Mr. Bettwy for his statement. He was scheduled to testify in person tomorrow.
Mr. STEIGER. Mr. Chairman, I have just a few questions of the witnesses.
Mr. Yancey, actually you answered my question in your response to the chairman's question. No; I guess it was Mr. Gettinger. Mr. Gettinger answered for you in essence. I was concerned that you felt that your experience in Louisiana was typical of the national experience in channelization--that you felt that that which was true in Louisiana was necessarily true in the other 49 States. Would you care to comment on that? In other words, that the effects of channelization in other areas are necessarily the same as in Louisiana.
Mr. YANCEY. No; actually the effect of channelization varies from region to region within Louisiana, and certainly between States. It depends on the type of stream—whether you are in river flood plain or upland area or marsh area. The impact is different in each one of these areas. And the point that I emphasized, I believe, is that the impact of channelization in the river flood plains has been much greater, and also in certain parts of our coast and marsh, than it has been elsewhere in Louisiana. But fishery losses have been at the 90-percent level in our river flood plain bayous. Those will ultimately result in probably a 90-percent loss in wildlife resources, because of the conversion of the bottom-land hardwoods-type habitat into a very open mechanized, highly efficient farming operation that leaves no fence rows or edge cover for wildlife production.