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Washington, April 17, 1934.


The White House.

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: The committee appointed by you to consider the water resources of the United States and to make recommendations for the development of 10 river basins submits the enclosed report.

Realizing your desire for an early report, your committee has utilized available information without waiting for the conduct of new investigations or the completion of old ones. Much information was found to be readily accessible, but further studies are necessary for the proper planning of these and other river basins. Pending these studies it may not be desirable to transmit to Congress a selection of specific projects. Any selection of specific projects at this point must necessarily omit many meritorious projects which further analysis may show to be preferable. Your committee believes, however, that the reports of the technical subcommittees will furnish to Congress the basis of a comprehensive plan of development, but a competent coordinating body should reduce the diversified views to practical objectives and supply adequate data which would result in the selection of well-defined projects. The basis of this procedure is referred to on pages 10 and 11 of the attached report.

Sincerely yours,

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A water policy is needed for the full use, development, and enjoyment of the water resources of the United States. The increasing interest of the American public in the possibilities and problems growing out of the uses and abuses of our rivers and streams has been further stimulated through the progress made by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the work of such committees as that now studying the Mississippi Valley. An evidence of this interest is seen in the series of bills introduced into the Congress providing for the more complete development of the water resources of the United States and culminating in the Norris-Wilson resolution passed by the House and Senate on February 2, 1934.

Resolved, That the President be, and he is hereby, requested to send to the Senate (and to the House of Representatives) a comprehensive plan for the improvement and development of the rivers of the United States with a view of giving the Congress information for the guidance of legislation which will provide for the maximum amount of flood control, navigation, irrigation, and development of hydroelectric power.


By appointment of the President, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Labor were constituted a committee to advise on the development of a water policy and on the choice of projects.

In order to develop the known facts about various watersheds and to indicate the basins most favorable for early consideration and action, a series of six technical subcommittees were then appointed on February 20, 1934, and assigned regions as shown on the accompanying map.

A list showing the membership of the committees, which represented the Departments of War, Agriculture, and Interior, is included in the accompanying data. The Federal Power Commission was also represented and the National Planning Board acted as a coordinating


The thoroughness with which the subcommittees covered the subject in the short time allowed is commendable and their intensive effort has furnished valuable material in a form suitable for a broad evaluation of the many water projects that have been proposed and studied at various times through the United States.

1 For example: Bills for the Arkansas and Red Rivers, H.R. 6172, 6224, 6368, 6969, 7339, 7548; Congaree, Santee, etc., H.R. 6483, Skagit, sto... 6528; Cowlitz and Columbia, etc., H.R. 6613, S. 249, B. 886; Missouri, H. R. 6897, 3. 1975, White, H.R. 3113, Mississippi Flood Act, amendments; Platte, S. 602.

These reports of the subcommittees have been studied by a reviewing committee composed of engineers in the Interior Department experienced in water resources studies who have prepared a digest of the more bulky reports and added their own recommendations concerning each project.


The committee has considered the social and economic values of the various projects involving problems of water supply and pollution, irrigation and drainage, soil erosion and forest protection of watersheds, recreation and seenic or inspirational values, power and flood control, and navigation. In each watershed these uses and abuses of the water resources are capable of development or control with differing emphasis on the value of individual uses or combinations of uses.


Various technical, social, and economic considerations entered into the selection. The urgency of water utilization or other problems in the basins, the timeliness of the project, the extent of benefits with respect to the population affected and the gain to the general welfare by the adoption of the project as compared with its omission represent some of the social viewpoints. The Federal aspects considered were the extent of public-land ownership in the basin, the effect of past Federal commitments in the development on the desirability of further Federal participation and interwatershed, interstate and international problems affecting national interests. Account was also taken of the special suitability of the project for the application of land utilization or other important development policies and the comprehensiveness of the project as representing a desirable field for the coordination of various activities.


In spite of the serious lack of information and plans disclosed in the reports of the technical committees, and fully realizing the preliminary and tentative character of any recommendations based on available facts, it is still possible to select the 10 most promising projects or drainage basins for further development when comprehensive plans shall have been prepared.

The 10 selected river basins, in order of priority, are:

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The reasons for the selection of these watersheds, the primary considerations in their development, and the scope of the project in each case are briefly stated as follows:

1. Tennessee Valley. The continuation and further development of the program outlined by the Tennessee Valley Authority stands first in any program for development of river basins, because of the start already made and the necessity for additional steps to secure the desired results already outlined and approved by the Congress.

2. St. Lawrence-Great Lakes Basin.-A comprehensive plan for the utilization of the water resources of this region does not lend itself to division into a number of separate projects, since but one large basin is included within the drainage area. There is, however, a great degree of flexibility allowed in this project by the extent of the work to be done and the total cost would depend upon the amount of harbor and river channel improvements, the size of power developments, and the extent of flood control undertaken. This cost may be estimated as between $100,000,000 and $200,000,000, exclusive of the cost of navigation improvements to provide channels for oceangoing vessels.

The essential parts of the project proposed are as follows: (1) Navigation improvements (a) for the benefit of navigation within the interior of the United States, and (b) to provide for navigation by ocean vessels; (2) power development; (3) protection of municipal and domestic water supplies; (4) investigation and development of ground water supplies; (5) land conservation consisting of (a) rural land-use adjustment and (b) soil-erosion control; (6) forest protection and maintenance; (7) collection of additional basic stream-flow data; (8) increased opportunities for recreation and the promotion of wild life; and (9) protection and regulation of commercial fisheries. 3. Mississippi River (main stem). The region embraced by this project includes the main Mississippi River from the mouth of the Ohio to the "passes" and adjacent lands comprising an area of approximately 53,000 square miles. The flood problems of the lower Mississippi River are matters of common knowledge, especially since the great flood of 1927. Stirred by the catastrophe of 1927, the Government adopted a project May 15, 1928, involving the construction of extensive flood-control works, consisting chiefly of levee, systems and training of the river channel. The authorized project

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