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CONGRESS

BRAZOS RIVER, TEX., OLD WASHINGTON TO WACO.

LETTER

FROM

THE SECRETARY OF WAR,

TRANSMITTING,

WITH A LETTER FROM THE ACTING CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, REPORT ON REEXAMINATION OF BRAZOS RIVER, TEX., FROM OLD WASHINGTON TO WACO.

NOVEMBER 14, 1919.-Referred to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors and

ordered to be printed.

WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington, November 13, 1919. THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, a letter from the Acting Chief of Engineers, United States Army, of 11th instant, together with report of Col. C. S. Riché, Corps of Engineers, dated April 6, 1917, on a reexamination of Brazos River, Tex., from Old Washington to Waco, authorized by the river and harbor act approved March 4, 1915; also report of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors on the subject dated June 10, 1919. Very respectfully,

NEWTON D. BAKER,

Secretary of War.

WAR DEPARTMENT,
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF ENGINEERS,

Washington, November 11, 1919. From: The Acting Chief of Engineers.

recretary of War.

Reexamination of Brazos River, Tex., Old Washington to Waco.

1. There is submitted herewith, for transmission to Congress, report, dated April 6, 1917, by Col. C. S. Riché, Corps of Engineers,

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authorized by section 14 of the river and harbor act approved March 4, 1915, on reexamination of the project for improvement of Brazos River, Tex., from Old Washington to Waco, "with a view to obtaining reports whether the adopted projects shall be modified or the improvement abandoned."

2. The Brazos River rises in the plains of western Texas and eastern New Mexico, flows in a southeasterly direction through the east central portion of Texas, a distance of over 1,200 miles, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles southwest of Galveston. Old Washington is 254 miles above the mouth, and Waco 429 miles above the mouth. The present project for this section of river is based upon an item contained in the river and harbor act approved March 3, 1905, and contemplates securing a navigable depth of 4 feet at ordinary stage of low water for four months, and 31 feet for six months of the year, by constructing eight locks and dams and 103 miles of open channel work, at a total estimated cost of $2,915,000. (Estimate made in 1905.) The project was not adopted as a whole, but Lock and Dam No. 1, at Hidalgo Falls, was authorized by the river and harbor act approved March 2, 1907; Lock and Dam No. 8, by the act approved June 25, 1910; and Locks and Dams Nos. 3 and 6 by the act approved July 25, 1912. Locks and Dams Nos. 1 and 8 are completed, No. 3 is partially constructed, and No. 6 not yet fairly begun. The total expenditures on the present project to June 30, 1918, amounted to $1,397,858.07. Navigation is impracticable except' in the pools above the two completed dams. The section of river below Old Washington has been improved to some extent under a project which provides for the removal of snags and overhanging trees, and for narrowing the river at its shoals by training walls and spur dikes, but there is no commerce or navigation except for a few miles above the mouth. The district engineer is of opinion that the improvement of Brazos River, Tex., from Old Washington to Waco, is worthy of being continued, at least to the extent of making a survey which he recommends. The division engineer is of opinion that, except for the completion and maintenance of the structures already undertaken, the improvements should be held in abeyance for the present and that no survey should be made.

3. This report has been referred, as required by law, to the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and attention is invited to its report herewith, dated June 10, 1919. The board states that while no recent estimate has been made there are sufficient data in hand to show that probably 8 locks and dams in addition to the eight contemplated under the existing plan would be required to completely slackwater the river between Old Washington and Waco, and that to canalize the section below Old Washington, which would be necessary in order to insure even fairly reliable navigation, would require approximately 12 locks and dams. It calls attention to the fact that the locks and dams already constructed have cost about $500,000 each. Even if such a project were carried out continuous navigation would not be provided, as the low-water flow is not sufficient to fill the pools. The chief object sought by those advocating this improvement is lower railroad rates, but the board is of opinion that this result would not follow the improvement owing to the indifferent character of the navigation that would be afforded. The board regards the improvement of the Brazos River as not economically feasible, as it would not

afford useful navigation or control freight rates. It is of opinion that further expenditures on the river between Old Washington and Waco are not justified und recommends that the project be entirely abandoned even to the extent of maintaining existing locks and dams, and if for sanitary or other reasons local interests care to take over and maintain the locks already constructed, it recommends that they be authorized to do so.

4. After due consideration of the above-mentioned reports, I concur in the views of the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, and therefore recommend legislation authorizing the abandonment of the project for the improvement of the Brazos River, Tex., Old Washington to Waco, including the maintenance, care, and operation of the locks and dams already completed.

FREDERIC V. ABBOT, Colonel, Corps of Engineers.

REPORT OF THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS.

[Third indorsement.)

BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR RIVERS AND HARBORS,

June 10, 1919. To the CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, UNITED STATES ARMY.

1. The following is in review of the district engineer's report submitted under authority of section 14 of the river and harbor act of March 4, 1915, on reexamination of Brazos River, Tex., Old Washington to Waco.

2. The Brazos River flows in a southeasterly direction through the State of Texas and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at a point 50 miles southwest of Galveston. From the mouth to Waco in an air line the distance is 207 miles and by water 429 miles. Old Washing, ton is 254 miles above the mouth, and the distance from old Washington to Waco is 175 miles. Below Waco the river flows through a fertile bottom land from 2 to 8 miles wide, much of which is subject to periodical overflow to a depth of from 1 to 10 feet. The bed and the banks are generally composed of unstable material and the channel is subject to frequent changes in location. The height of the banks varies from 25 to 45 feet, and the stage of the river varies about 394 feet at Waco and 52 feet at Old Washington. The stream is very flashy, ranging in discharge from about 3 second-feet at low water to 132,000 second-feet or more at flood stage. Navigation is impossible at low stages and there are no regular periods of high water.

3. The existing project for the section Old Washington to Waco contemplates securing a navigable depth of 4 feet at ordinary stage of water for 4 months and 31 feet for 6 months of the year by constructing 8 locks and dams and 103 miles of open channel work on the intermediate sections, at a total estimated cost of $2,915,000. The project was not adopted as a whole, but Locks and Dams Nos. 1. 8, 3, and 6 have been authorized by river and harbor acts of March 2, 1907, June 25, 1910, and July 25, 1912. Locks and Dams Nos. 1 and 8 have been completed; No. 3 is under construction, and No. 6 not yet fairly commenced. To December 31, 1916, there had been expended on this project, exclusive of operation and care, $1,161,416.95. There is no navigation on this section and in fact there has been practically none on the river above Columbia, 34 miles above the mouth, since the Civil War. It is thought that the completion of the project would provide practically the same facilities for navigation as can be secured between Old Washington and the mouth without the use of locks and dams. The project for the latter reach provides for the removal of snags and overhanging trees and for narrowing the river at its shoals by training walls and spur dikes. On this and previous projects there has been expended about $130,000, resulting in the periodical removal of snags from the river and timber from the banks. No increase in depth has been obtained and no commerce or navigation has resulted.

4. The tonnage to be affected by the improvement between Old Washington and Waco is stated by local interests to amount to about 11,000,000 tons, and it is estimated that the saving on freight rates, had the river been improved, would have amounted to $6,837,783. This estimate is based upon the belief that the improvement would affect rail rates throughout a zone extending 75 miles on either side of the river up to a point 75 miles above Waco. This is the theoretical maximum that could be expected to result from the improvement if the rate on every article of freight from and to this section were reduced to meet the rates that might result from actual and effective navigation. As the improvement would not provide such navigation, as will be shown later on, the estimate is of little or no value. The amount of commerce that would actually be handled by water can not be determined and has not been estimated. The district engineer regards the improvement as worthy of being continued and he recommends a thorough survey. For reasons given at some length the division engineer is of opinion that beyond the completion and maintenance of the structures already undertaken, work should be held in abeyance for the present and that no survey should be made.

5. From the information presented, the board was not convinced of the advisability of continuing the improvement of the Brazos River from Old Washington to Waco, and interested parties were so informed and given an opportunity of presenting their views. A hearing was held at this office on December 3, 1918, which was attended by Hon. Morris Sheppard, United States Senator, Hon. Tom Connally, and Hon. J. J. Mansfield, Members of Congress, and a delegation of citizens from the locality.

6. Senator Sheppard cited as examples of what may be expected from the improved Brazos River a number of rivers and canals in France and Germany that have been successfully improved and which carry a large commerce. The navigable depths that he gave for these rivers, 1.3 feet and up, are not the depths ordinarily available, but the minimum low-water depths that obtain for short periods only. The standard depth adopted in 1879 for most of the waterway improvements in France is 6.6 feet. In the upper reaches of some of the rivers this depth, of course, can not be obtained. The standard boats in France are of 300 tons capacity, 126 feet long, 16-foot beam, and 5.9 feet draft. The dimensions of the waterways

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