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Well, I could go on to some of the other considerations that we also are going to be involved in. We are very much concerned on this much tighter policy in reference to channel modification, that we have agricultural interests to be concerned with, we have communities subject to potential flood hazard; and we therefore feel that greater effort needs to be made with flood plain management itself-through perhaps expanded Federal laws, definitely through improved State legislation, that will permit a much greater kind of effort on managing flood plains so that we don't permit high risk uses to develop in them.
Part of this could be associated as a beneficial effort to create scenic rivers and river parks in some areas so that we would be accomplishing two objectives: Preserving the environment, enhancing the environment and those values, and likewise gradually preventing the loss of life and damage to property.
We presently have in the State proposed legislation that would require that any proposal for channel modification have a permit from the Director of Natural Resources. This legislation is being hotly contested, but we feel it is one approach to at least permitting a review of applications for channel improvement work. And this would be aimed at all this private channel improvement that I mentioned. We feel that there also needs to be, as I mentioned, a broadening of Public Law 566 so that it can be an effective means of preserving and enhancing the environment, so that it can have the financing that would permit these broader alternative means to be used where stream systems need to be preserved for environmental purposes.
We have also suggested another type of study that would give longer range considerations to these agricultural areas where they have depended so greatly on channel improvement for the enhancement of farming. What is to be the ultimate impact and effect if channelization is to be stopped totally in these kinds of areas? Will this greatly affect agriculture, will it change the type of agriculture, or what?
For our part, in Ohio we feel that there has to be much greater concern about channel improvement or modification work. We are going to be moving ahead on it very cautiously from now on. We would like through Public Law 566 to have broader application opportunities of the law so that we can use it more objectively and not be totally involved on every project in controversy, because we have agricultural interests and environmental interests and all to serve, hopefully, through this law.
It is a tough issue, it is not an easy issue to solve. But I think for our concern, we feel it is necessary. We feel that for us our stream channels in Ohio have so many public benefits, as well as the needs for agriculture, that there has to be a change that is going to permit a greater consideration of alternative actions and some means to assist the private owners and all that might have been benefited, so that this isn't all on their backs.
Thank you very much for this opportunity, Mr. Chairman.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF S. L. FROST, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR WATER, OHIO
The Department of Natural Resources is concerned with the problems of channel modifications in Ohio.
We have a temporary hold on initiation of any new Public Law 566 channel modification projects. Projects which have already been planned are now being reviewed through the Soil Conservation Service and the State of Ohio (in accordance with Soil Conservation Service Watersheds Memorandum 108, February 4, 1971) to determine the environmental impact of each.
We consider that land use is closely tied in with the problem of channel modification in Ohio. Ohio is characterized by large urban areas, intense and productive agriculture lands, and very scenic and beautiful woodlands. These are intermeshed with streams and rivers in various stages of use. Ohio has a population density greater than China. Each year, the equivalent of 100 square miles of farmland is shifted to other uses such as highways, suburban developments, and parks, shopping centers and industrial areas. There are more and more uses for a diminishing amount of land. With the increase in environmental interest, these conflicts have sharpened.
Channelization problems were the subject of a special hearing held by the Ohio Water Commission in December of 1970. We compiled a book of statements and transcript approximately seven inches thick. A total of 183 statements were made at the hearing. The final tally indicated 64 opposed to channelization, 89 for channelization, and 30 charted a middle course somewhere in between. The hearing revealed that under Public Law 566, approximately 69 miles of channel modification has been accomplished to date, an average of four to five miles per year during the 17 years of Public Law 566 programs. In addition, channel modification presently under construction totals 16.5 miles, and there are 342 miles of channel modification proposed in approved work plans. These figures are provided to us by the Soil Conservation Service in Ohio.
It was additionally pointed out that about 175 miles of deep channel modification work is performed each year by private landowners in Ohio. Other channel work is done by highway departments, cities and villages, industries, and special purpose districts. A fair estimate for all private channel work in Ohio would total about 250 miles each year. Work done under Public Law 566 therefore amounts to about two percent of the total done in the State. These figures indicate that Ohio has a great deal of additional concern other than solely Public Law 566 channel modification. We are currently addressing ourselves to this problem.
There are approximately 44,000 miles of stream systems in Ohio. Some of the channel work involves alteration to this natural system and the other type of channel work involves drainage ditches which develop new stream forces. While the comparison of actual channel work to total stream miles seems insignificant, it is important to recognize that a lot of the stream system is in metropolitan areas or treeless farm areas, and therefore channel modification work that involves wooded and beautiful stream sections becomes much more sensitive to public
Alternatives to Channel Modification
There are a number of alternatives to channel modification which might be considered in any project of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) small watershed program. The law and the funds provided to the SCS require projects to be accomplished at the least cost and with the greatest benefits. As a result, programs developed under Public Law 566 have not provided the opportunity for consideration of alternative courses of action. Nevertheless, these are some of the possibilities: 1. Create bypass stream channels which would go through areas where there would be minimal loss to natural growth and stream systems.
2. Buy the affected floodplain and put it in public ownership.
3. Buy the floodplain and lease it back to the owners for low-risk uses.
4. Leave the floodplain as is and pay the owner for flood damages as they occur. 5. Pump the floodwater into a series of upground reservoir storage basins for irrigation, streamflow augmentation to preserve fish habitat, or public water supply-or any combination.
6. Divert the floodwaters into another watershed.
7. Construct an aqueduct to carry floodwaters around sensitive areas. 8. Re-channel and then re-forest.
9. Limit vegetation removal to one side of the stream.
10. Provide for a complete channel rehabilitation program, including acquisition of 50-foot strips to be fenced and revegetated and restocked with game. 11. Design channels providing both flow capacity and habitat improvement. The Northwest Ohio Water Development Plan of the Department of Natural Resources recommended a complete channel replanting, fencing, and wildlife stocking program based on guidelines provided by Federal and State wildlife
agencies. Unfortunately, all agencies involved failed to authorize the total rehabilitation of the fish and wildlife which were destroyed during construction.
This is not intended to be a criticism of one or several agencies alone, but is presented as an example of a general failure to develop an over-all philosophy and policy of complete land use and stream management.
As the result of the hearing and study of channel modification in Ohio, a draft has been prepared which will be considered officially by the Ohio Water Commission in two weeks. We have had a special advisory committee of agricultural engineers, agricultural economists, wildlife and ecology specialists assisting. Our general recommendations suggested the following:
1. Each agency or public entity responsible for channel modifications should immediately undertake an assessment of projects under construction, ready for construction or in planning to evaluate the environmental impacts. Modifications should be made in each project as determined by this assessment.
2. A broad spectrum of interests and agencies should be required to be involved with each public watershed and channel study project from the start, with provision for public hearing which should be a part of the record of the final plan. a. Greater effort should be made to accomplish a true teamwork effort at developing applications and studies, which from the start reflect the input and the concern of local interests with the various federal agencies and the State of Ohio in small watershed programs. It will help in finding workable solutions to a problem in which all interests have concern.
b. This new approach should also provide and call for adequate public hearing on each project, so that the full extent of interest can be brought to the attention of the planners, the implementers, cooperating agencies, and ultimately Congress. A transcript should be kept of every project hearing and this should be made a part of the official record of the work plan which ultimately finds its way to Congress.
3. A coordinated comprehensive statewide land use planning program should be immediately undertaken as a basis for ultimate arrangement of land and stream systems to serve the greatest need.
4. Efforts should be made to get Federal law established which will assure the over-all coordination for this as a national effort, with adequate funds for costsharing with the States, and in turn with local governments to encourage such action.
5. The statewide program of watershed inventories should be expanded to include classification, by priority, of stream systems for present and potential uses for drainage, flood control, fish and wildlife, scenic, forests, recreation, public health protection, and other uses. Uniform criteria and guidelines for such inventory and classification should be adopted and used by all entities. Channel modification projects should be undertaken only in those stream systems which can meet the criteria conditions.
6. Federal laws which authorize channel modification projects should be amended to permit financing of environmental enhancement and alternative projects.
a. Because Public Law 566 is a Federal law and people are using it under the present statute, a large part of the problem could be corrected by a change in Federal policy.
b. An important consideration here is the whole concept of cost-benefit authorization for such projects which deny the opportunity for alternative courses of action. There should be means for federally funding, in part, alternative courses which assure project modification to accomplish the total program which the consideration of the environment and flood protection losses require.
7. Applications for Public Law 566 watershed planning in Ohio should be modified so as to include assessment of environment values.
a. Consideration should be given in such applications for recognition of potential environmental impact in watershed study areas so that sponsors of these projects can be aware of potential conflicts and note these in the application.
b. Greater attention in this respect should be given to the evaluation of environmental impact problems by an adequate review in public hearing by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources prior to approval of the application.
c. It is useless to submit applications for planning studies where obvious conflicts among local interests exist from the start. There is too little money for this program; there are too few people to work on it; and it is unfair to local interests to hold a hope for protection which they cannot hope to attain under a cloud of controversy.
8. A study should be undertaken by agricultural interests to determine the immediate and long-range effects on agriculture if channel modification is stopped. Additional Considerations
The State of Ohio has already taken some steps relating to the problems of channel modification by introduction of legislation which would establish a permit system for channel modification which would be under the direction of the Department of Natural Resources. Legislation has also been submitted to authorize the Department of Natural Resources to share with local entities on removing obstructions from streams as an alternative to channel modification.
The State also has a scenic rivers program which permits the study and identification of reaches of stream systems for preservation. We also have a developing program on floodplain management, and new legislation has been introduced to enlarge on this effort. It is our general conclusion at this time that we will proceed very cautiously on channel modification under Public Law 566 until there is more opportunity to determine the values associated with our particular stream systems and the impacts that might be involved with modification work. We recognize that in some areas the threats of floods to life and communities will require a constant effort to improve flood protection and that we must seek a balance to recognize the various interests.
We do feel that modifications in Public Law 566, the review of the whole costbenefit structure, and the opportunities for enlarging on the Federal funding for developing alternatives to channel modification and mitigation of losses which might occur where it is necessary to carry out these kinds of projects will add great flexibility to the present program.
Mr. REUSS. Thank you, Mr. Frost, and gentlemen.
I have just a couple of questions. First of Mr. Bagley. Mr. Bagley, I take it that it is your general judgment that these Soil Conservation Service channelization projects, completed and planned, are in the public interest.
Mr. BAGLEY. I think generally so. And I think they have been very conscientiously brought into the plan and very well studied. I personally do, yes.
Mr. REUSS. Let me put the following question to you representatives of the various State fish and game commissions: On page 5 of Mr. Bagley's testimony he says, speaking of these channelization applications:
Every Federal, State and local agency or organization with any interest in resource development and conservation has been given every opportunity to participate in development of the plans for these small watershed areas. The applications are prepared locally, reviewed at the local and State levels, and finally submitted to Washington. At least two public hearings are held on every project. All of the agencies are asked to make contributions to each plan as it is developed.
My question is: If this is so, what are you State fish and game commissioners upset about? Mr. Kelley.
Mr. KELLEY. I haven't been one to be brought in at the early stage, and I think probably reference is made to the soil conservation district. We found in Alabama that a great deal of planning, a great deal of effort, starts with SCS; then they go to the local sponsors and present this to the sponsors; then the sponsors come back to SCS and say this is what we want. A lot of minds are made up and a lot of plans are completed before the public gets too much involved-I mean the game and fish people or the people outside the immediate area.
But I would say in all fairness to the situation in Alabama that we are now getting in on it at the early stage. We are making field trips, we are working with them, the initial teams. I think this is very constructive. I think had we done this 15 years ago we probably wouldn't be sitting here today.
Mr. REUSS. What assurance do you have that your views will prevail?
Mr. KELLEY. None.
Mr. REUSS. Mr. Frye.
Mr. FRYE. I think I would agree with Mr. Kelley. But I would make one point-we have commented on practically everything at one stage or another. Our real concern is that our comments didn't receive a heck of a lot of consideration.
Mr. REUSS. Were they rejected?
Mr. FRYE. Well, no, not rejected, They just didn't do it. I would say that the important point here, the whole point, if I may comment just a bit, is that we agree completely with the watershed concept idea of resource management. All we are talking about is a reassessment of values and direction in the light of our present day knowledge and the light of our present day philosophy and apparent governmental policy.
Mr. REUSS. Is the Soil Conservation Service following your wishes in the matter?
Mr. FRYE. Yes, sir, I think so. We are right in the middle now of operating under this SCS policy statement 108, and it looks like we are communicating very well. So I think I can give you a better answer to this after a year.
Mr. REUSS. Do you belong to the International Association of Fish and Game Commissions?
Mr. FRYE. Yes, sir.
Mr. REUSS. They have stated, as you know, that memorandum 108 is of some help, but that it still does not solve the basic problem. Would you agree with that statement?
Mr. FRYE. Yes, sir; I think it is simply a policy statement. Now it may solve it, but it seems to me that it is subject to a change of policy We would like to have it more firm.
Mr. REUSS. There is nothing under that memorandum to prevent the Soil Conservation Service from rejecting the advice of the Florida Division of Game and Fresh Water Fish, is there?
Mr. FRYE. No, sir.
Mr. REUSS. Mr. Turcotte, what is your view on this?
Mr. TURCOTTE. Our view is similar to Mr. Kelley's-that until fairly recently we were not in on these project plans. They were pretty well advanced to the written work plan stage before we had access to them. But we have reviewed most of the work plans as they were prepared in written form by the SCS. Until fairly recently our comments were given very little weight. But we are beginning to have much better working relationships and understandings with them.
I believe the SCS has five wildlife biologists employed in working with our biologists to review these projects in the advancing stages, and the prospects are much better, and they are getting multipurpose structures included in many of the projects where they were given little or no consideration until fairly recently.
Mr. REUSS. Would you agree with Mr. Frye that memorandum 108 by no means assures that the judgments of your fish and game department will in fact be adopted by the Soil Conservation Service? Mr. TURCOTTE. I do. We have no assurance that they will be given any weight whatsoever.