U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   03/31/2004
 
Statement of George C. Grugett
Executive Vice President
Mississippi Valley Flood Association
Collierville, TN
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers role in the nation’s water resource needs in the 21st century

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is George Grugett and I wish to thank each of you for the kind invitation to address the Subcommittee today and speak on the role for the United States Army Corps of Engineers in meeting the water resources needs of the Nation.

I do not appear here today as an expert but only one that has a number of years of experience in Flood Control, Navigation and Major Drainage. I retired from the United States Corps of Engineers in 1980 with 35 years of Federal Service and immediately accepted the position that I hold today. This is my 24th year as Executive Vice President of the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association and when you add those two numbers together it’s easy to see that I’m fast approaching 60 years of experience in water resources. I fought my first flood on the Mississippi River in 1950 and on the Missouri River in 1952 and on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska in 1957.

My years of experience in Water Resources pale next to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which will soon celebrate its 230th year. It was 180 years ago that the Congress in its wisdom gave the Corps of Engineers the responsibility for the Improvements of the Nation’s Rivers and Harbors. Some of the Levee Boards located along the Lower Mississippi River have been in continuous existence and serving the millions of people in the alluvial valley for 140 years. The Mississippi River Commission was authorized by the Congress in June of 1879 and this June will celebrate its 125th Anniversary. Next year the Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association, which I’m privileged to serve, will have 70 years of providing the Agency for all the people of the Mississippi River Valley to speak and act jointly on all water resources needs.

Over these many, many years the Partnership of Corps of Engineers, the United States Congress and the Local People has worked like a well designed and well oiled machine that has played a major role in making the United States the greatest industrial and commercial nation on this planet. With our improved natural resources and productive capability we have saved the World in War and sustained it through many years of troubled peace.

Today this Congress and we are faced with the almost unbelievable fact that there are some that would eliminate the United States Corps of Engineers Civil Works Mission in this country. These individuals and/or groups are either driven by some ulterior motive or they are completely devoid of common sense or lack the ability to reason.

Today, I believe this Subcommittee is meeting not only to hear about the Corps of Engineers role in meeting the Nation’s Water Resources needs but also to consider a Water Resources Development Act that will, when passed, authorize new and additional projects and studies but will also be a wonderful opportunity for the Congress to reject all attempts by the Executive Branch to dictate policy matters pertaining to water resources.

We have addressed to our Senators some of the items the local people would like to see in the Water Resources Development Act and I shall mention only a few of these.

We would desire that the Bill contain proper wording to extend for no less than 10 years the Authorization of Projects that will be de-authorized because no funds have been allocated in a period of years as specified in the WRDA of 1986.

Provide proper wording that would raise the Limitation on the Amount of Funds that can be expended on Continuing Authority Projects and Small Projects Not Specifically Authorized by the Congress in order to better express present day conditions. As a suggestion, these Limitations should be at least doubled.

Omit the words in the House Version (H.R. 2557) under Sec. 2033, Independent Peer Review, (B) Discretionary.

I would like to return to the role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in meeting the nation’s water resources needs. That role of course, was given to the Corps of Engineers by the Congress of the United States. I mentioned earlier that in 1824 the Congress gave to the Corps the authority and the responsibility to improve the Nation’s Rivers and Harbors. That, in general, took care of the Navigation Mission for the Corps. The first authorization for Federal Flood Control took place in 1917 and the landmark Act of 1928 made Flood Control in the Lower Mississippi Valley a Federal Responsibility. In 1936, two Flood Control Acts were passed. The so-called Overton Act expanded Flood Control in the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Copeland Act covered the remainder of the Nation. In 1986 a third mission was added to the Corps’ responsibilities, that of Protection and Restoration of the Natural Environment. The Corps has performed these three missions in an exemplary fashion over these many years and because of them our Inland Waterways, our Flood Control and our Natural Environment are the envy of the rest of the World.

Mr. Chairman, I would again like to express my appreciation for the opportunity to make this Statement a part of the printed record.