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tv   Hearing Focuses on Dam Infrastructure  CSPAN  March 1, 2017 5:00pm-6:50pm EST

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. >> good morning. president trump has made improving the nation's infrastructure a top priority and this committee is continuing its effort to highlight the nation's infrastructure it is
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critical to the nation's prosperity pie as members of this committee as the driver of the nation's economy this committee has a long history of working together and a bipartisan way and i would continue that tradition. to have sweeping jurisdiction of the nation's infrastructure focusing on the needs of water systems in indonesia this committee's purview. fin other western states are highlighting the name needs to prevent catastrophic flooding earlier this month
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more than 180,000 people were evacuated in california because storms cause serious damage to the oldest and in the united states potential threat concerned of state officials and people living downstream any future severe weather events could make this even more critical ended is raising questions of the readiness of our infrastructure. diem said levy's across the country need to be modernized and maintained to prevent future disasters. i believe any future bill winter weather events are occurring across the west that includes i.c.e. jam flooding in northern wyoming as well as towns located to the south and areas of the
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reservation. the i.c.e. jam floods have damaged over 100 homes of roughly 5,000 people to have a serious and lasting impact . in the past blocks the i.c.e. the size of cars have sat on in front lawns and playgrounds. water treatment plants and public parks with small businesses they are regular occurrences notches wyoming but other states and for these small towns across of cleanup and repair is an enormous burden that takes months to fully recover. flooding could be mitigated by the record to allow more flexibility to take the steps they need to protect their communities. we have jurisdiction over those environmental laws often times in rule states
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federal one-size-fits-all rules can be observed on the ground it could to and make a difference of preventing a catastrophic flood you should have to go through bureaucratic featured to remove retreat while the town floods. peoples lives and property is on the line that is always the case. teams and levies a animals common infrastructure to redress flooding. by new technology can help mitigate the threat including lyceums met with the water resources act we had the army corps pilot program to develop cost-saving technology to address the threat of vice gm's. this committee provided additional authority to upstage them local governments and dam owners
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it is time to implement these authorities. i also like to hear with this committee can do with existing infrastructure to reduce red tape develop life-saving technology and with that i will turn to the ranking member for his statement. >> thinks mr. chairman for bringing this together you have have to be a lot of this different places it is important for you to be here. so talk albee 8020 rules he says the senator from wyoming says as some of the
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most liberal democrats in conservative publications said we agreed 80% and we disagree on 20% and refocus on the 80% especially to invest wisely with infrastructure. so although it was preciously short is easy to figure out what the democratic senator's concerns continue to press forward so working on the bipartisan comprehensive way
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11a believe members of bull's-eyes said the ideal can - - both sides of the aisle can agree on a comprehensive infrastructure plan. by judge any legislation by asine simple question how does this proposal creates a more nurturing environment for job creation? and in addition i also believe that president lincoln would say of the role of government is to do for the people they cannot do for themselves. wise words. those decisions that average citizens can make for themselves with instructions of dams and levees and but the communities on a path so
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to have that predictability and certainty with that type of having a can create so if they feel that kabila loss of life and that is an issue. as we work through that economic devastation with the policy decisions we will struggle with to central points one is the of federal-state vicky's infrastructure concerns but is the government up to the challenge? so the mckenzie vocal institute had a 2013 report that said we need to invest between 180 and $150 billion
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more in infrastructure just to make shut up for the years of under investment from our country from our macro 53 and our safety. and then looking at all components of infrastructure that is applicable to what we're talking about today. the same report found the best value of dollars is to maintain investing in interest structure of whether a bridge iridium we have the responsibility and we continue to serve for their purpose. as in mentioned earlier infrastructure investment
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because fox been the same report found letter the best ways to invest is to maintain existing infrastructure before that is not a surprise to any of you but with the bridge your a damn dumb -- the government has a fundamental responsibility to make sure that they are sound and will serve their purpose protecting their lives better impacted by the bridge you're the diems varied systems. puzzle in infrastructure investment is critical as
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well as the displaced workers they want to work beside the let's turn them loose. for just as important as the lives and the property of these projects clear looking for to hearing from our friends on their experience with the dam and be california's national flood safety control and it is important to learn from each other's experiences and have shared knowledge going forward through the legislative process. been closing the infrastructure is seeking to help our economy continued to grow from the american society of civil engineers from drinking water and waste water infrastructure want but as we hear
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testimony untested been hearing what witnesses think of where the gaps need to be filled in maintaining critical infrastructure the concept of shared responsibility has been part of our conversations and a share will continue. and also fear thoughts on natural for structure protection and finally while traditional forms of flooded pressure jury feel we need more investment along the shorelines and the wetlands but without these protections they significantly increase me and how the federal government can be more efficient from every dollar
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of federal investment into manger -- to be sure maintain those investment assets we do not have a one-size-fits-all approach but encouraged under the leadership of this man level give us consent that the testimony be given. >> without objection. >> senator please introduce your guest. >> mr. chairman i want to thank you as well for holding this important hearing today and thank you for working with me to extend an invitation to a great violin on the panel today. i am great me proud to introduce the mayor of cedar rapids to this committee who has been a working tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of cedar rapids to secure state and local funding to rebuild his
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community after the 2008 flood and what they have done is truly impressive. the assistance from the core is needed to complete the flood risk management project and this is something the mayor has been leading the charge on for years. cedar rapids in communities across my state are in need of army corps assistance but run into hurdles trying to navigate the bureaucracy within the core and omb they just point fingers at each other and it is an issue we try to work through and resolve not just for the people of cedar rapids that many communities across the state of iowa and the nation. we continue working through this event we know this city of delaine also has important levee work and cedar falls is looking and a permit application is still is not approved in addition addition, the system is set to calculate the economic
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benefits of flood control projects places i wins at a disadvantage if prioritizes the buildings and beaches oceanfront property over protecting the people of cedar rapids because of the calculations are based on property value. cedar rapids is the second largest city in iowa and the success is critical to the economic well-being to the state to. they have been deferred to a significant flooding even some 80 years that have cost billions of dollars in devastation and recovery aid. the chorus of discussion made to forgo the assistance even though the community worked with the core to address that flood rest. i look forward to of discussion today. i know you will be detailing for this committee cedar
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rapids very important story and thank you for being here today to see if we can move forward on this. >> senator harris introduce your guest. >> as recent events in my home stay highlight to assist to our local partners to maintain and upgrade the nation's aging infrastructure especially with critical systems that could threaten the public safety of all americans it is my distinct pleasure to introduce the secretary to has over 40 years of experience working in public service from a budget analyst and local elected officials as santa cruz city councilman where he chaired
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the california assembly budget committee have the pleasure of working with him throughout those years and as his attorney general. in his career role of secretary of natural resources and the statewide environmental policies. including the california department of water resources working around the clock to repair the did p.m. and prepare catastrophic flooding. we had a chance to tour the dam together and he had an extraordinary understanding of the infrastructure and also want to comment that was an extraordinary example of agencies coming together
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to meet a crisis in terms of its proportion from the members of the national guard the united states navy california emergency services to came together to meet the challenge in a seamless way. goes without saying that having extensive knowledge and the needs we should consider to sufficiently maintain the infrastructure of this combined with the budgetary experience of all lowell's of government can shed light on how congress can leverage funding streams to redress the aging infrastructure. i know that in california alone there are approximately 1,400 diems in nearly half are designated as high hazard potential dams by state officials for realizing that devastation
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of california has invested $11 billion of lead control management to protect 7 million people and $580 billion worth of assets that include building farmland and crops at risk. the need for improvement is not solely in california. in states like wyoming investing 1.2 billion dollars for infrastructure improvements and water storage and supply projects in wastewater management since 1875 and in addition it is estimated on federally owned dams throughout the nation represent 96 percent of all the $60 billion this is one-third of the cost to
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repair the high hazard dams. this demonstrates the needed is great throughout our nation by greatly appreciate the chairman's willingness to prioritize and afford to working with my colleagues on this committee that is necessary and critical to maintain our infrastructure nationwide. and to address the crucial topic. >> that was a very nice introduction. let me explain where we are today. i have already voted the first time some will be voting and then coming back. with the opening statements
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so be will skip hughes senator and go to the third because he wants to be here during the opening statement . general class. >> general, senator and members of the committee of the thinking for the opportunity to be here today starting the army corps of engineers. one of the primary objectives to maintain the dam and led the infrastructure is reduced risk to the infrastructure. with large management practices to have a range of water resources benefits. with a risk informed approach to be sure it is
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met in a transformed and disciplined manner. water plays a role in every economy and the diversity of the ecosystems. many has experienced what happens with too little water or too much water or water that is not simply fit to consume natural habitat. the decisions we have made as a nation to protect water resources to influence how the nation developed. the of infrastructure includes dams and levees built by the federal government and states and local authorities. sustaining the benefits provide requires appropriate investment of resources and improper management of although often planned many of the nation's dams and levees for of the largest
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water management resource system. it is a small fraction of the dams and levees of our portfolio including 750 dams less than 1% that was identified national inventory of diems. also 2500 miles that is less than 10 percent of the roughly 30,000 miles in the inventory of the court generally constructed dams and levees that it operates for flood risk management benefits we also support hydropower and recreation begin only sustain the intended function with periodic rehabilitation and in addition many external
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factors would complicate factors sistine viability ranging from the frequency to the sizes of of populations with the compounding of decision making so to address these challenges to make informed adjustments the resources are invested in a technically robust manner in for example, the safety program enables the of core that it would provide some or all of the authorized benefits by investing in measures for the dams that the acceptable level coming to levy safety challenges they generally follow project specific authorities for managing infrastructure that the coral and sand operates a also have the
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authorities for participating in the national community of the diem and led the safety. the court considers the public safety and environmental risks the cost of reducing those risk that the proposed improvement would help to provide to society dams and levees are none portion part of the initiative management practices are aimed to be well-positioned with the water resource infrastructure. for the dams and levees the court owns and operates they're looking to balance the cost and responsibilities that guy proper maintenance and proper management the similar free-market --
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framework to engineer solutions to have the competency to do just that. >> we will passover you. >> to the chair member to use senator ernest and the staff members on behalf of the citizens of cedar rapids and those that were carefree day thanks for giving us an opportunity to tell our story today. in june 2008 the cedar river
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in cedar rapids crested more than 10 feet above any previous flood at 31 feet. the unthinkable happened. the flood waters covered 10 square miles which is 14 percent of our city, 6,865 residential properties, 754 commercial industrial properties, 310 city facilities were damaged total more than 5.$4 billion of losses. the flood devastated our residents, of businesses and entire community. but not all is lost. there are two things we did not lose, senators. one, we did not lose any lives things to our response
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and our emergency response team and hundreds of boat rescue's no lives were lost. if you think about it in the various disasters the beach of your respective states and around the country country, often times during the news reports what is included is a death toll with cedar rapids no lives were lost and nine years later to figure we were so successful to save lives.
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. . continue to come
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back and forth at this time i would like to turn to commissioner terry wolf who is chairman of the county commission, wyoming. he is a former member of the wyoming national guard and has a degree in administration of justice from university of wyoming. commissioner has moved back in 1995 to work the oil and gas industry. upon transitioning out of the national guard commissionable friend for a seat on the washakie county commission, was sworn in january 2003. past president of the wyoming county commissioners association. currently vice president of the whaling association of county officers. also serves on the national association of counties public lands given committee and during his 15 years as a county commission given extended the county as a federal cooperation agency on the bighorn national forest plan revision in the bighorn basin. i want to welcome you to the committee, commissionable. i want to thank you for agreeing to testify here today.
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i see you have a number of other commissioners from wyoming who are here to cheer you on nac pete here who is also executive director of the wyoming county commission association. commissionable. >> good morning, chairman, ranking member carper and distinguish members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to speak today. my name is terry wolf, chairman of the board of county commissioners and washakie county. washakie county located in rural northwest wyoming with an annual revenue of only 8 million, the third poorest county in whaling. it's one of four counties in the basin pick you find the map and my renters will pick this. it is well known for its sugar beets that of growth across -- the high-yield agriculture production is dependent upon the bighorn river. unfortunately this same river that brings much like also brings distraction to the communities in the spring went ice blocks the sides of trucks and went up to 300,000 pounds
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dam up and block the flow of the river. the ice jams pushed water over the banks into the communities flooding homes and businesses and threatening sugar processing plants that i already mentioned. mr. chairman, what to direct your attention to the before and after photos of the flooding that occurred on february 11 of this year. in the before photos you can see an island in the middle of the river that was formed from sediment buildup over the course of years. in after photos you get a clear picture of the ice blocks grading a damp at the island and was causing flooding. over the course of the week city, county, and state officials of the wyoming national guard and numerous volunteers worked to protect public and private property and critical infrastructure threatened by the flood. we are still evaluating total cost to our communities and damage cleanup investments will likely exceed 150,000. this blood is heartbreaking by itself what is important for the committee to is what happened more than a couple of weeks ago
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was almost identical to flooding in 2014. that same island gathered and held ice blocks and pushed over the bighorn river costing state and local governments delete 200,000 in recovery costs. rowan county, these costs are difficult to bear. foa ure of the sediment buildup on this island i direct your attention to the next aerial photos that show that when you spent to build on that island. we have a local level must confront this issue exactly, exact, because of the execs and flooding is likely to occur your figure depending on the severity of the winter. followingisland. initial estimates indicated the removal of 1.7 acres every at a depth of at least five feet requiring 1700 truckloads would ensure free flowing passage of ice blocks. a project like this is very small for an agency like the army corps, it is much too large for a community as small as ours to tackle on our own. section 205 of the flood control act of 1948 authorizes the army
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corps of engineers to partner with local and state agencies on a small damage reduction projects not specifically authorized by congress. while we initially pursued section 205 project in 2015 we backed off after we uncovered likelihood of difficult and expensive bureaucratic hurdles at the potential of more stringent and departmental permits to remove sediment. additionally while the federal share of costs associate with these small projects insignificant, we were concerned the local sheriff was still much more than the rural agriculture base county could meet. finally it appeared the army corps since he had not use the section 205 program for ice jams to the extent it had four other more traditional flood damage control measures in other areas of the country and, therefore, may not believe it has a flexibly necessary to deal effectively with the problem. with that in mind we are pleased to see congress include language specific t ice jams and water infrastructure improvement act for the nation passed just two months ago. that language requires the court
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identify and carry out not fewer than 10 projects to demonstrate technologies and designs developed to prevent and mitigate flood damages associated with ice jams. removal of the island appears to be the solution to our flooding but at the local level which are flexible enough to explore other options if the army corps is flexible enough to make use of this new language to research and explore cost-effective technologies to mitigate what is likely to be a repeat a disaster in our area. we remain concerned about the monetary and human capital cost associate with these projects. however, washakie county stands ready to work alongside the army corps of engineers on any viable in a cost effective solution for the production of our community. we hope washakie county and the bighorn river will be among the first of the projects. floods caused by ice jams and a set of island and the bighorn river is something we can control with the assistance of the army corps of engineers.
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i'm here to ask both the core and for your help to ensure that as you afford with funding infrastructure projects of great importance to the nation that you do not forget about the small projects in rural areas that are of critical importance to our local communities. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you so much, commissionable. we look forward to questions. we try not to sector john laird. >> thank you very much, mr. chair. and also ranking member carper, senator harris and members of the committee pick up half of the state of california and governor brown, i thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony before this committee at this particularly vital time on our issues. as you know our nation aging infrastructure is at a a crossroads. one path is characterized by inaction putting human lives, our natural resources and the economy at risk. another pass issued by deliberative policies, meaningful investment, ordination across all levels of government and the incorporation
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of new signs that can provide multiple benefits to, and outcomes. right now california approaches the situation with a sense of urgency. droughts and floods have always driven the evolution and growth of california water policy investment in scientific technical understanding. this year is no different, but after five years of the driest seasons in modern times, california and snap in the midst of what is likely to be the wettest season on record in history of record-keeping in california. this just demonstrates that california has the most variable weather of any state in the nation and often depends on the bounty of just four or five storms per season to support our water system. the number, size and severity of storms this water year has strained the state flood control and water management infrastructure forcing
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evacuations, damaging roads, destroying homes, communities and livelihoods. it's estimated the damage to california's highways alone from the storms this year is $595 million thus far. most dramatically, damage to the main spillway on the oroville dam, the second-largest reservoir in california, and as the chair said, it is the largest dam in the nation, serves as the keystone of the california water project and was observed on february 7 by water managers. damage to the main spillway and rapid erosion of emergency spillway led to the emergency evacuation of nearly 200,000 downstream residents. with crews working around the clock, the danger has since passed and residents have returned home. the reservoir remains right now at least 50 feet below the capacity level and repairs
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continue as dam operators plan for an extended flood season due to an extremely high snowpack. over the last decade alone, over $11 billion has been spent by federal, state and local agencies in california of flood control projects. california's extraordinary response to this years storms was only possible due to local, state and federal cooperation, and significant prior investments. california has the leading dam safety program in the nation as recognized in a peer review by dissociation of state dam safety officials, but we can't and must always do better. this event has drawn much needed attention to the age, condition, maintenance and financial needs of california and the nation split control and water management systems. we should use the opportunity that is presented by the situation to invest in existing infrastructure and find innovative projects that
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leverage sites to meet the challenge of extreme weather and variable precipitation, and accomplish multiple benefits and goals within the investment. while we welcome the partnership, california is not waiting for the federal government alone to meet this urgent need and real opportunity. as a first step last friday, governor brown redirected $50 million from the the states general fund and requested 387 million proposition one appropriation from the state legislature to find near-term flood control and emergency response actions. to complement the immediate actions of our state agencies, as secretary of natural resources, i requested the following actions from our partner federal agencies. that we expand inspection and review of all federally owned dams in california and parallel to california's efforts to update the federal operating manuals turkey california reservoirs. it is imperative to revise these
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manuals to reflect current scientific knowledge. the coordinates to be fully funded to complete these updates or about nonfederal afford to finance the work. we also hope to find in my letter i asked that we find the recently enacted water infrastructure improvements for the nation act which authorizes a program for rehabilitation of high hazard dams at fema. also prioritize the publication of the programs rules to assist california and other states in this rehabilitation effort. so we have an opportunity and we really look forward to working with our federal partners, and i look forward to being able to answer questions spirit thank you for sharing your insights, secretary laird. mr. larson. >> thank you, chair, ranking member carper, and the rest of the committee staff. i've been working in the water
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resources profession for 55 years. in fact my first jump out of the engine in school was to work for the california on the water project which as you know -- [inaudible] i also for 25 years ran the dam safety program and program in the state of wisconsin. the association of state floodplain manager represent 17,000 professionals across the nation, who managed flood risk to reduce flood losses everyday. this includes both structural and unstructured approaches such as land use building permits, community planning, mapping, stormwater management and the rest of we been very concerned about the status of the nations flood lan infrastructure and a light of the ever-increasing rain intensity we get even more wordy. some of our major concerns include this. flood damage to the nation are really unknown. we don't have much lunch costs every year. that's a real problem.
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flood mapping in order for communities and states to effectively manage flood risk, they need flood maps, and good flood maps. of the three enough million miles of rivers and coastlines in the united states, we've mapped about 1.5 of them and only half of that as 100 year flood elevation that they need to regulate properties. the maps are the base flood maps used by almost 22000 communities come all the states and all the federal agency. they may build off of them but they start within. the fib dies a good process for mapping and kidnap all committees in the nation in 12 years if fully funded as authorized. topography is key. usc s has a digital elevation program called three depth. they defined it can do the mapping for the nation in the next eight years. one of the residual risk mapping, or one of the key areas this nation has ignored his
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residual risk. below dams and behind levees. areas that will flood when structures either overtop or fail. however even if a dam failure maps are available, the federal government policy is not release the mouse to the public. we don't quite understand that. no one knows how the risk is, if there even in a risk zone. it is not appropriate that they find that out at two am when law enforcement noxon the door and says you've got to leave. we must did you how to solve that problem. and we must come before we think our national standard we need standards for dams and levees both. you and congress have set up programs to develop levees and develop them standards. neither of those are funded and we must get on with that. add to this the standard the fact that we have met and built like infrastructure to yesterday
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and that gym or slip and i'm pleased to hear i think california is doing more of that overtime and the rest of us need to do that, too. we need to figure out how to keep those low hazard dams from becoming a high hazard dam because it will all occur downstream. there's couple of states that a figure that out and we need to do it nationally. we are pleased to see the congress and the administration looking at the issue of infrastructure but our expense shows incentives are difficult to apply to these projects versus of the kinds of projects. private financing will not suffice it will have to substantial federal investment in this as well as state and local investment. private investors tell us they need national standards to ensure that what their funding or might find is designed constructive operated, maintained to appropriate national standards. investment should look beyond structural flood control, not struck a, storm water management, nature-based
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approaches are appropriate. finding should also serve to build capability. you realize only the states have the authority to oversee private dams and levees. the federal government cannot tell a private dam or love the owner to fix a dam or fix a levy. the states have that authority, if they use it. i've run programs that do that. you set up some process and went to build the capability and dams but that must be funded to get underway. it's a smart investment of taxpayer money. in conclusion, the u.s. is facing a substantial need to repair and upgrade and sometimes remove our flood control structure. if you something appropriate the programs you are to authorize in the flood risk management program, a national levee safety program and the national dam safety program we would take a big step.
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the failure of 80 dams in south carolina in the past two years points out that we've got a public wake-up call. thank you very much. >> thank you. i just notice, it's been called to my attention that senator grassley has come and he stated behind mayor corbett. did you want to be recognized for anything? [inaudible] spilled all right. then don't miss anything up. that's good. >> i want you to understand that iowa is -- [inaudible] >> i didn't tell him that cumberland and i need iowa is where all of my family is born. so we are sensitive to those problems. i'll begin because the chairman is voting out and then go to senator carper. general semonite come in my hometown of tulsa we have nearly 20 miles of levy system those built by the corps of engineers back in the 1940s.
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we have about 10,000 people living within that. we have $2 billion in infrastructure including i i refinery, a very large refinery. 70 years old, their desperate and in need of repairs and upgrades. congress authorized the fees posted expedited feasibility testing last years when act. that was her effort. with a risk assessment taking over a year longer than promised tulsa is concerned about more delays and a lack of the corps prioritizing the project. it's my hope we can get this done. i'm sure that you look at that before in preparing for this hearing, and our concern is these are old. there's not a week that goes by when i backed that this is a call to my attention. what kind any commitment can you make that will get this thing started? >> thanks, senator dick you bring up a good point. when you talk about levees i think right now with about
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15,000 miles of levees that we constructed a of the corps actually has about 2500 of those that we maintain. so we've got to be able to continue to reach out to find out what can we do to assist several people have talked about everybody's got to pull their share and be able to work side-by-side. on this particular one this goes back to the flood risk management study and to be able to get make show we can review this can get this thing done and understand how we are going to be able to come through on that. i don't know exactly the details of where we're at on that. i'd like to have my staff come back to you on that. >> that would be a good idea. i ask you person look at this because it is something that should not have gone as long. it's critical. i'll have one more question. then we'll go to senator carper. that is, general semonite, while i have you here i wanted to raise the concern of mine. congress has made it a priority for the corps to work with either par parties to develop ad
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maintain recreational areas at corps lakes. however, there seems to be an anti-development mentality within the corps, lease within the tulsa district, that i think needs to be overcome. in fact, i'll give you a quote. senior staff member within the tulsa district told my state director, this is a direct quote, if i had my way i would end the lake development altogether, unquote. i would just like to ask you, is this reflect the philosophy within the corps that you're willing to talk about? >> it certainly does not reflect our corps philosophy. we are very aggressive on continued to define many, many different options and recreation. some of these are corps maintained. there are other ones where we have concessions come in and do -- >> that is one option to end all development? >> no, sir. everyone of these projects is different without, i don't know the exact details of what was said but our philosophy is to
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continue to look at how we can continue to partner with the stakeholders and to continue to find a good cover my solution on that. i will find out what's out there and get back with you. >> that's good. thank you, general. senator carper. >> thanks. thanks, mr. chairman. to our friends, welcome. senator grassley, nice to see other in the audience. the back of your mayor there, good work. i just want to ask, before i see anything i just want to say to general semonite how much we in the peninsula appreciate the opportunity to work with the philadelphia regional office and folks there, you've got terrific people. grateful for all the good they do with the life of the avenue of the folks we serve on delaware, eastern shore of virginia so thanks. we sometimes get to work with your folks from the maryland office, baltimore. we're grateful for that. someone mentioned, i don't know, maybe it was mr. larson, someone mentioned the funding i think.
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i understand we have in some cases we have passed legislation authorizing new support for nonfederal rehabilitation efforts got the traditional federal. we have an appropriate the money and i reminded it was, it was called -- something mandates. unfunded mandates law. we basically set standards and said you got to do this but we don't provide the money to do it. i don't know if that's the situation here or not, is it? >> that was what set up the grant program with fema. that has not been funded. the first thing that has to happen when you decided, they need to put together experts nationwide to put together standards for dams, for design anconstruction, operation and maintenance. and then with that in my thick
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and set the criteria for which dams the fun and make sure the work is done appropriately. we need those national standards and the program needs to be funded. that's the one it was just passed in december so this is your first crack at trying to get funded this round of fundi funding. >> back to general semonite. events such as veneer front of the spillways, for the highlight the issues and risk associate with dams near popular areas. although the federal role in dam rehabilitation repair has been always a rehabilitation at federal facilities and support for state dam safety programs. some of our different increase federal role in nonfederal dam safety and rehabilitation. sort o follow up on what i was asking mr. carson, but in particular bracelet pass legislation i alluded to authorize new support for nonfederal dam repair and rehabilitation efforts beyond traditional federal role. extent to which these authorities are find it remains to be seen. we'll get a budget from the
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president will play a couple of weeks and 1 11 opportunity to se what they suggest. yodo hearings and move forward. but general, aside from funny these critical programs what more could the federal government do to address the risks posed by a feeling levy and dam infrastructure? >> that's a great question. this panel today really is the perfect and asked the question because these rivers, these flood management structures are all intertwined. this is a system pic you have some federal, state, local and private, all of it has to work together. anything one of the does will affect the other. clearly we have some federal structures but i think the other thing is we have an awful of expertise. we have 5000 certified dam and flood control experts in the corps that now don't take care of our 715 but are more than available to go to other places. oroville is a great example. we have 50 people out there that been working for the last several weeks side-by-side to continue to make sure we're looking at what we do to mitigate the current risk but
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also make sure what about rebuild and how can we use some of the lessons learned in the federal areas and go back and help the state click same thing. some of the things these gentlemen are doing may be a great opportunity out in the field of how do we wrap those back into learn how to run our federal systems better? it's a shared understanding of the technical confidence to build a make sure we're all working side-by-side. >> i was going to ask a question wouldn't be shared responsibility i think you enter that so i'm going to ask the question may be a first cousin of that but how can states particularly smaller states like delaware coordinate and/or pull resources to help the corps complete bigger and more efficient flood control projects? >> sirrah, some studies if there are some things out there, we have an unbelievable relationship alter the vertical team. our decision or talking to the state and a bed in the states. it are some think we can lean on
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some of the state expertise to help get justification would be able to have better understanding of the return on investment, senator barrasso talked about making sure we're making the taxpayer dollars go further. i don't know if i have an exact answer back in delaware whatever we can team with this federal team to make this whole system more resilient that's what we're really trying to do. >> thanks so much. >> senator capito. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank all of you. i like to ask general semonite a question, just prefacing it by reminding those who are watching it and the general himself might recall last summer west virginia had one in a thousand year flood occurrence that took the lives of i think 23 west virginia's lost their lives. it was very fast, and the corps has been trying to repair these communities and these waterways. my question is, in the we passed
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at the end of last year i was putting this on the back and he kept remind you that the secretary will conduct studies to determine the feasibility of integrating project for flood risk management and ecosystem restoration, navigation water supply recreation and other water resources in the basin which is pretty much fully encompassed in the southern part of west virginia but also virginia and north carolina. i just asking you, general, to make a commitment you are moving fort on the study and what we might expect from that. >> we will certainly do that. you talked about how fast that happen. i think you're 10 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. whether it's climate change or other hydrological events, we've got to be able, the search of some of the flash opportunities is unbelievable and you've got to mitigate that risk that we will have a commitment continue to support. >> that gets me to another question connected without particular incident. howard's creek which is not a large body of water, so small,
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it's a larger creek but it's the one that rose and really took so many life so quickly. so when you're looking at small waterways is, is the best use of your resources of these because are so many you can be everywhere, is to train the local, not just a but even locals to try to take this opportunity to improve howard's creek service that happen again? is that how you move forward from something like this? >> yes send it appear there's a lot of flood fighting that can be done to mitigate this. i think the mayor from cedar rapids made a good point. all lights are just as critical. all property is just as important. wherever you are living. what if you large facility or small facility, a large river or small stream, we are just as committed to park and to make sure we can mitigate those damages that are out the if that's not done through structure of a good discussions, a lot of those other components. how do you get to training, how
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do we make sure with some of the greener aspects to do it whether it's zoning and other things? have a vertical team are represented here can share some of those lessons learned to make sure communities have that capability i think that's an important tool spirit thank you. i think that's good and i'm sure the city of cedar rapids have that rapid rise as well and it was very costly. i want to shift to dams. we live in the amount of state. we have hundreds, i think 700, or 614 dams. most of them have been studied. although several of them high hazard dams have not been rated. rated as in rated. so we can't just know other satisfactory, poor, unsatisfactory or where their rating is. how can we prioritize our projects if we don't have full out rating and accurate information on existing dams that we have throughout the state? >> senator, let me give you at
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least the federal perspective. on our 715 dams, they are rated exactly, we don't suck away there at there are five different coat and db i can tell you exactly where the federal inventory and portfolio are with respect to that. the challenge is that the rating system which is a very robust rating system, how does that get incorporate into states, local, local communities and even private communities so then summer we have the ability to understand how to -- the corps does run the dam safety database. we have 12,000 dams that that are in that database. we've got to go back and look at the standards and if there are some areas where we have had the level of fidelity in the ratings they will go back and do whatever we can to help advise how we can do that better. i'm not necessarily aware there is contingent and i think it's how do we continue to do a better job. >> in all fairness to the state, state has six people working in this area. when you have 700 structures and other issues been dealing with,
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the manpower issue, technical issue. i'm glad you know with your expertise at the corps, and the huntington corps is mostly what we do have some pittsburgh record, want to give them a a st at. they've been very good. we have some baltimore course of their doing well, our state is odd shape. we get good exposure to the corps i will say that and we get lots of water. also for these fast water occurrences which would just had another one again this morning, we need to be able to cope better on the ground. we are great at recovering and helping people but prevention is worth we would really like to be. i appreciate your input. thank you. >> senator whitehouse. >> thank you, chairman. i'm delighted that we are having this issue. i want to take a minute to respond to the point that mr. larson made which i think is incredibly important,
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particularly for us who are here representing coastal states. one of the basic facts about climate change is that the vast majority of the heat that is hit the planet and his tractor as a result of climate change as a result of our carbon emissions is absorbed by the oceans the oceans are a great tester i see the gym nodding. the oceans are great cooling system and excess heat goes into the oceans and there's a basic physics proposition called the laws thermal expansion. when the ocean gets warm it rises. for coastal states we are seeing real problems. we have nine feet of sea level rise projected for this entry along rhode island's shores. nine feet of sea level rise. this shows a place like this. these are summer cottages along our rhode island coast. this is after a recent storm. and the lady who owns about
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house, i remember speaking to her before, she was about maybe 60+ years old and she remembers as a little girl that house had a yard. they could play in the yard. on the other side of the yard was a road that people could drive down to the beach. then there was a little parking area where the cars could park that it come down the road to on the other side of the park in was a beach which showed members was a long run across the beach and the hot sun to good her feet in the cool water from the hot sand of the beach. all of that is gone now and the house is going into the seeker we are seeing this over and over and over again. it's worsening and accelerating. people may want to quarrel about climate change your for a variety of reasons, but this is not funny. along arcos. it is for real. here is downtown newport just after sandy, which missed us by the way.
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this is a very small side effect of the big hit that was nearby and this is not ordinarily kayak, floors filled with the harbor basically. so the problem that we have that i'd like to make sure the general is losing too as well is exactly what mr. larson said. he said that when you're dealing with this problem, you need flood maps and you need good flood maps, and what we are preparing for is yesterdays flood and not tomorrow's flood. i think i quoted you correctly, mr. larson. in rhode island we have done our own independent review of fema's coastal flood mapping, and our coastal resources management agency and our university find that fema maps are frankly just
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dead wrong. they have all sorts of errors. they fall way short of incorporating experienced levels of storm surge. they don't accurately reflect doing protection for the land behind it. they exaggerate dune protection remarked by her amounts that are really astonishing. they rely on their outdated models. the models are so bad that when they run the transect in the model along the beach joint where the harm is going to be, they find a five-foot differential, differentiation at the model line. in some other transects. that is a symptom of a flawed model when you have five-foot differentiations. and the result is that the flood mapping along our shorts and a think a lot of other shores as well is badly erroneous, which
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means a lot of people who are depending on fema flood mapping to assess the risk to their homes are being misinformed. and we really need to get this right. if it's happening in rhode island, it's happening everywhere. a number of the other states that a cross checked what their dad is against fema models show that the fema models are a failure. when we've asked fema to re-create its modeling they can't go back and re-create the models, which is another very strong sign of a failure in the process. so when i forced a look at homes like this going into the water, families in some cases that have for generations, even passed on and on, like i said, this isn't funny. it's bad enough with this body will pay any attention to climate change for reasons that i won't go into here, and it's hitting home this week in my home state, but then went when we have to try to quantify the damage and we don't get information because fema's and has it wrong, that is very significant. my time is expired.
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i want to emphasize mr. larson sport. i thank you, chairman frozen this and like it to bring it forward. in general, is it not your army corps problem. this is a fema problem but to the extent they interact him so much of this coastal stuff i want to make sure you know and take on how badly their mapping fares against a professional assessment done by the affected states. with that i will conclude. i thank you spirit thank you, senator whitehouse. senator rounds. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general semonite, first of all thank you for your service. we appreciate your being here today. we appreciate what you do on a regular basis. i just want to talk a little bit about, i'm from south dakota and we've got the missouri river which comes right down to the middle of our state. we have the main stem dams which provide huge amount benefit and certainly has been a good thing for our state.
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along with all of the states surrounding us. i have becoming concerned of the missouri river flooding of result this year of the snowpack levels and the decrease and available storage capacity in the missouri river reservoirs. the regular communication with the corps of the south dakota department of environment and natural resources, it has come to our attention mountain snowpack levels are about 133% of average between the fort peck and the garrison basins. what is the army corps played to mention water levels in the missouri to prevent flooding along the upper missouri this year? i know right now noaa is predicting above average precipitation in the coming weeks. doesn't the corps have concerned about increased risk of flooding? this is one of the major issues that occurred in 2011 and there's been a lot of folks watching the backward just at the flood level, just at the
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base of the exclusive flood control today. where is the corps at right now and what you just but in terms of your ability to manage what may very well be significant inflows? >> center, great question. the corps is concerned about snowpack across all of the trinity where watching california very closely. through any of the systems, several years ago we had scenarios where if you get too much snow then you can't be able to bring down the flood thoughtful enough to absorb that. we watch at the best we can. this was authorized in wrda 14. the challenge is a ability to do the monitoring and the modeling to do that. right now we don't necessary have appropriated funds to go to the next level to build a model that through higher extreme. we are doing the best we can. we are taking the tools available. the question is are we able to project what that would equate to when it comes back to what would happen to those pools? that's not a good answer but at the bottom line is we are always concerned about snowpack.
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i'm not sure we have the fidelity and the science to be able to understand as much as we would like to know and how that's going to project spirit we had major floods in 2011. the corps did an in-house review and asked for outside folks to come in and help. they recommend your additional monitoring equipment put into the plains area. that was in 2014. you've had 2015, 2016, 2017. now coming up on 2018. this last summer we had field hearings in which reps from the corps knows exactly what you did just now and that was you didn't have the appropriation. i don't think in looking back there's ever been a request but i'd like to know number one is are you planning on putting in a request for it? second of all, if you did since you're not going to have it this year do you have plans to at least attempt to modify by releasing some early flows so we don't have a possible of the flood threat in 2011? >> i've got to get back with you on that to make sure i understand exactly the details
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of what we are prepared to do. i know there some funding challenges. that is not acceptable by the bottom line is we're doing everything we can with the funds available to project what's going to happen. we are concerned and would look at what those projections could be. we clearly have the authority under the water control manuals to bring that water down just based on the analysis we right now. i owe you a better answer of what we can do to be able to fix that. >> is real interest on the part of the upper basin after 2011. a lot of people are concerned right now because they can see the water level is will and they can read the reports. any plans for communication with the local commanders along the way in terms of the review you are doing? last year in 2111 of the biggest concerns was in march, march 3, 2011, 1 of the officials indicated we will be just fine this year, unless it rains. it's not a way to run a major mainstem system. i'm hoping that's not going to be the comment that you that we are relying on lower or less
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than normal rainfall downstream pic if that's the case with got real problems spin yes, sir. to address your issue under collaboration, we were talking every single day back and forth with our hydraulic experts back in the state at the local community. we wanted to be transparent and collaborative to make sure we are learning from you and your learning from us. right now our goal is to continue to be able to bring those capabilities down to be able to absorb whatever we think we project for the snowpack that is coming speed and would you continue to be fried in put provide information on at least a biweekly basis to the local khmer is about where you're at in the flood control? any plans you've got for perhaps more stable early releases to relate some of the float along the missouri speakers i see no reason why we can't do that. most of our stuff is a lot of times posted on the web so it 24/7, everybody can see what we are doing. if it easy to reason why we are not being as collaborative as we should be off except. >> we really want to know,
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whether that you are prepared since flood control is number one priority on lon longer. if we're up to the exclusive flood storage position already legibly we just entered into the first week in march, that you are prepared to begin to take actions to release perhaps some additional flows to mitigate what might be some significant close in a short afraid of time later on? >> senator, i certainly want to try to make that happen at any one of these facilities has specific authorizations, different rule occurs on how they will work out what to make sure they are operating within sight of the authorities and the parameters we have established in the law to make sure we're doing it. we want to meet that intent. i want to make sure we're doing it in the authority of our current water control manuals speak i know my type is expandable one of getting at and with all due respect, flood control is number one priority and i would be above navigation needs or about other types of
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needs, flood control is number one. am i correctly statement? >> life and safety is without a doubt number one spirit thank you. >> senator harris. >> secretary laird, you and i know about the long-standing debates in california about water, a very famous person once at whiskey is a drinking. water is for fighting. and so one place in california the highlights that point is the sacramento san joaquin delta. will you talk a little bit about your observations and analysis of the infrastructure in the delta? it is often the subject of debate about where that precious water goes in terms of the farmers who rely on it and also invite mentalists were concerned rightly about the endangered species that live in the body of water. that seems occupy a lot of the discussion about the delta but i concerned about another point
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which is we may not have that debate if the infrastructure that supports the delta is compromised or is weakening away. if you could address that. >> thank you, senator. that's a very good question. for the uninitiated, all those rivers flow into the one place and then through an estuary to the ocean. there's hundreds and hundreds of miles of levees that have created what are known as the delta islands which are farmed which have been formed in a way that now they've dropped to 20 or 25 feet below sea level. they are protected by levees that were originally constructed to be agricultural levees and not high protection urban levees. we just had a break in the last two weeks in the middle of a storm. the delta ivan flooded and it will be hard to clean up and repair. the challenges are, senator whitehouse minchin sea level
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rise. if there is a one foot sea level rise, it would change a flood event in the western delta from 100 years to 10 years, meaning more frequency. with the subsidence in these islands, if there were major seismic events and a number of these levees failed, salt water would actually from the san francisco bay into the delta and you would have real difficulty recovering farmland that. so the question is it a huge ticket to do all the repair work that might need to be done. the voters in 2006 brought $3 billion to the table. the voters in 2014 brought $7.5 billion to the table for everything, the flood control were talking about, storage and some of these levee improvements. we know we have a lot to do.
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we're trying to do the high priority projects, and it is a complex system and the one other thing is, is some of these islands are not very highly inhabited. so the one where they did the evacuations of the levee breach in the last two weeks, they evacuated 20 homes. you can imagine if that's the base to do the kind of repairs that need to be done, it looks to state and federal and other entities to really help or else you can't complete it. >> and emphasized the significance of it, that body of water is the largest estuary on the west coast, isn't that correct? >> it is spirit and the farmland that body of water supports reduces the 2% of fruits and vegetables consumed by the nation? >> the federal and state water projects together in the central valley provide water to 3 million acres of irrigated agriculture. and so the question is tha there could be an interruption in water supply for that but it
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could be just damaged to farmland itself in the delta without a break spirit how to my colleagues and i support what california needs to do to make sure that the infrastructure around that body of water in addition to the oroville dam is supported, understanding the ramifications are pretty extreme and national in terms of exposure and consequent. >> i think that really we're bringing all this money to the table, and the question is, is within the flexibility of the federal government can you have loan guarantees? only 3% of the dams in california are state dams. and so there's some places where this local districts or there's private entities, utility companies have a number of these dams, that a loan guarantee would make all the difference in terms of then being able to finance the repairs for the upkeep. opposite it doesn't
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infrastructure bank or revolving loan fund for other things, those will be helpful as well. if you look at the central valley of california, it flooded regularly for 80 years from stated until the 1930s, and there were two reasons that they couldn't correctly measure how much water was going by and everything that was designed was not really designed for the capacity. but the federal government stepped in in the 1930s and joined with the state and locals. and with that breadth of economic support that brought the modern flood system with levees and other things that sacramento is second only to new orleans in danger from a catastrophic flood event. and it is that effort that has protected sacramento and other areas in that time. >> thank you. thank you. >> thank you, senator harris. senator ernst spirit mayor corbett, thanks again for being here. mayor, do you believe the safety
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of your citizens and economic security of the region is vulnerable because you have been able to get the critical assistance that we talked about earlier from the corps? and if so, could you explain further on that? >> thank you, senator. yes, our community is vulnerable not just from a light safety standpoint but from an economic standpoint. as i made mention in my opening remarks, the recovery of cedar rapids has been phenomenal as we actually gained population in the last census, and the business community has reinvested in our town. so we do have that momentum in that restored confidence in our community. we haven't sat idly by the last nine years since the flood. we've actually been working locally to incorporate flood mitigation efforts in our town.
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right after the flood, recession hit. for much like our own citizens voted for a sales tax referendum, an increase of 1 penny for 60 months to help provide additional resources to our community. and our state government stepped up and you know it very well. you were there in the state legislature, and approved a funding mechanism when the corps, to the cost-benefit ratio said that they could only even recommend protecting the east side of cedar rapids and not the west side, we rejected that formula that said one side of town was worthy come the other side of town wasn't worthy. our mechanism with the state is going to pay 100% of the west side flood protection. so i'll ask of the federal government is just 65% of the side flood protection, but until there's some changes in the
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cost-benefit ratio, we are going to be compared with other communities around the country that just have higher property values. >> absolutely. quite well put, mayor. and i want to thank you for the hardware that you've done for the community of cedar rapids and for the state of iowa. thank you. general semonite, it is good to see again. thank you for taking the time to sit down with me and go over these tough issues. i wrote to you last fall asking about how human safety is considered in the decision process to budget and found flood risk reduction projects. the corps then sent me a letter back in december stating that these decisions are determined on a case-by-case basis. and then of this was provided to me of the fy 2017 projects that were funded for construction because of the significant risk they pose to human safety. these, they also have low vcrs, very similar to what we
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see in cedar rapids. and i noticed that four out of the five projects were in california. can you explain to me why the lives and livelihoods of californians are worth more than the lives and livelihoods of islands? particularly since california is a very vast state with large amounts of economic resources spirit senator, great question. i think i say when you out every single american come every single property up all the same topic we have to continue to take care of all of the country. one of the things, and cedar rapids has done better than almost anywhere else in figuring how to mitigate this significant challenge. you are aware, give, given authd project in the question is the ability to find funding to do it. the mayor is right. there's a lot of concerns. we are word. we made a significant better investment we came to the authorization of that. there continued to figure out to
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do everything we can to find out how we can now secure the right amount of money to at least start that. the challenge we have and this goes back to what i think why we are all here today is the requirements grossly exceed the amount of money in the federal budget. just the federal dams alone, $24 billion to be able to buy down the worst ones. we are getting funded to capacity and congress has done a good job of taking care of us on the federal ones but when it comes to all of these other areas for flood control, the question is how can we get all these requirements with the best thing we can do is to continue to work with you to dig up are there other parameters or other solutions that we can still be able to take care of the mayor of the. the benefit cost ratio can't be the right answer. like you said, you can't run this country on algorithm. we had to think of the passion oof the people and all the work they've done. right now we continue to try to check in that project the best we can. we will continue to be able to work with you but i think at the end of the day when the administration has to figure out
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how much can we afford, elements like this led to figure out either some of those that you can then take a look at that risk and where can we afford to be able to buy that risk down? >> i appreciate that and i do look forward to working with you on a solution that will not only benefit those that live in more urban areas or urban states but also those that are finding challenges in the rural areas. this is a very important project not just for cedar rapids but for the well-being of the entire state of iowa. i will continue to push for that. i'm glad we can work together. and trento want to thank you for bringing this committee together today to talk about these important issues -- and mr. chairman, -- we struggle with some of the same issues and wyoming, and i'll and nebraska and i look forward to finding that solution with you. thank you very much steeper look forward to continue working with you on this as we discuss in a meeting in your office, the
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critical need for this additional work, so thank you for all your efforts. thank you spirit before i begin my question i'd like to demonstrate the impact that ice jam flooding has had in wyoming. this is the daily news from tuesday the 14th. using this, commissioner wolf. 100 plus homes evacuated. ice jam along big horn river cause a second major flood in three years with pictures of the wyoming national guard leasing sandbags in -- in wyoming. so this is affecting different parts of the country and i just wanted to visit with you if i could, commissioner wolf. because last week many people from big horn county went to greybull to celebrate the life and mourn the death of our fire chief, paul murdoch, was at the gym at the high school was jim.
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people came, fire trucks and already he died after fighting not afar but an ice jam on the big horn river in an effort to prevent flooding in greybull. he left behind a wife, he was 53, left behind two sons, a real tragedy. so can you talk about the other human consequences of the flooding in addition to the abandoned homes and the damage and the property damage? can you go a little bit on that? >> thank you, senator. yes, that was a tragic kind of happened with his passing. a couple of in our courthouse were family and related to him. and then we extend our condolences. when we look at what happened out there on the ground when that flood inundated the homes, local businesses displays of 100 homes that you mentioned, and those families were away from their home for almost i think
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four to five nights. .. where the bridges are. we hit a high of 15 feet and with other ice jams coming down we did want to take the chance on causing injury or loss of life just for people being here. this big chunks of ice are dangerous to be around and as the water recedes. to make in other pictures that you showed, showing the growth
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of the island are striking. the testimony states removal of the island could be a simple and effective solution for ice jam flooding this city of new orleans but as you point out the river was selected as a pilot project to demonstrate innovative solutions for ice jams. i think we could solve this problem. that's maybe the only way given the cost of their car that red tape in the permits that would be required. so, given that you believe that the core should have the good sense to step in to address the situation like this with the safety impact on the lives of the property are so great that the town can afford to proceed on its own but they should step in? >> i do think so mr. chairman that they should step in. i do look at it though as a state and local level that we need to have some skin in the game and work with the core in this project. there is first-hand knowledge that we have that we have seen over the years that i'd be able to add to some solutions to the problem that they may not see an
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not being there in a regular basis. one of the things we have looked at short-term is removal of that island that's out there, the sandbar that's built up over time and reinforce the river bank and then also along with a short-term solution would be to put in place backflow prevention that goes back to the city and storm drains even though some of the areas didn't get hit by the water the water flowed back of the storm drains and fluttered round buildings and some local areas. so that's one thing. in the long term would like to have berms in place to tie in around the northside of new orleans i think we can work together and i've talked with the general today and made progress i believe. >> can you comment on back? do you have the ability to help towns like new orleans and the simple island that causes so much damage each year? or do you believe you don't have the statutory flexibility? >> sir, thanks for the question
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and senator first of all i want to thank you for what you did to be able to get back pilot organized. we have a lot of expertise. i'm from a small town in vermont connecticut river has ice jams all the time. i've seen floating in my own town so i certainly know the perplexity out there. i don't think we have a challenge with authorities and goes back to what you said earlier sir, when it comes to the 205 challenges we want to be able to continue to reach out and do whatever we need to do for this nation and whatever the nation needs. the only reason that we should not be able to do something it's because of lack of funding. it shouldn't be the fact that we just can't afford it in the nation can afford and the best thing we can do is understand the requirement come forward and be able to articulate that in the congress where in fact we think there could be some use of that and put back the administration and the congress feels we should step up obviously is a budgetary decision but i think our hands are tied from an authority
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perspective. >> in terms of authority am going to switch to something in the opening statement i included the water in the water resources development act last congress creating an army corps pilot program develops for cost savings technology to address threats like this by developing this to knowledge in the programs involving consultation of course with the cold regions research and engineering laboratory and the core bringing in familiarity so will you commit to working to implement this program in the next -- in an expeditious manner to develop the technologies to help alleviate these? >> serve the language was clear exactly what the scope of the program less. we have to figure out how we would go ahead and do it. the only challenge would be at some point we don't have funding to be able to execute the follow-on of some of those technologies but it goes back to not only what the court does but how can we continue to learn not only what other areas of america
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do. we have to get innovation and to figure out how to use technology to get to some of this. >> senator cardin. >> thank you mr. chairman and i think you very much rolling this hearing. as to the general concerns we have on dam maintenance. in maryland we have three and 46 dams. i was surprised to learn of that number. two are under the jurisdiction of the army corps and we thank you very much for the attention that's been paid to the two dams in maryland under the army corps supervision the jennings randolph lake which affects maryland and west virginia and one in west virginia. there are a lot of other dams in our state that are highly regulated and to my knowledge are dangerous sources of electricity in the east coast of the united states. but i want to go to the attention of the lesser-known dams that we have in our state
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that are no longer performing the function for which they were constructed originally. we have the floating dam on the pasco in the past the state park i was told it was the first hydroelectric dam in the country. that may be right and it may be wrong but it's an old dam that no longer serves its function and has really no purpose but because of the way dams are maintained and financed at home there is no reserve for their the removal of the dam so that dam is still there. it is a public safety hazard. we have had several drownings because of the state park and individuals like to swim and they swim near the dam and the currents there have caused them to lose their life. it also adversely affects our environment to the water flow affects it in an adverse way.
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my question is there any way that we can figure out how we can either moving forward recognize that there is the lifecycle of the dam and there is a need to remove dams that no longer are useful for their intended purpose? if you have suggestions on that i would appreciate it. general it looks like you have a thought. >> sir, just maybe an observation senator. we have 15 of the worst federal dams equate to probably 20 -- $12 million in repairs to the question is do we use taxpayers money to fix all of those dams or are some of those outliving their point? five of them right now we are working with congress to divest those five. three of them are basically proved and there's another one right now that homestead is replacing so this is actually on one of the rivers. there are times that we have to
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take a good look at it and say is it really worth the return of investment to fix the dam or for all the reasons you stated especially when it comes to environmental safety maybe it's time to take some of those dams out. i don't know the particular dam you are talking about. certainly on our side we are trying to do the same thing because the worst thing we could do is use limited taxpayer dollars to fix the dam that doesn't serve the intended purpose. >> is there any experience in the state? >> yeah thank you senator. i ran a dam safety program in the state of wisconsin. we have the authority to tell the order to fix fix it up or te it out. there may be an senses and this may be the case that you are talking about or we could not. and i case we ask or state legislature to set up a fund to remove the dams. i think the states need to step up and do that. they are not federal dams. these are not federal dams. we have a fund where we moved those dams and they no longer
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served a purpose. >> senator we have removed a high-profile one in monterey county. we have an agreement with interior of the state of oregon to remove four dams on the river. there's one in ventura county that has by 2020 it will have a 0% capacity we will have what was once a 7000-acre foot dam completely with soap behind it. you nailed the problem. we have raised the money from private donors and different public funds to deal with these dam removals because it was finished and it's outlived its usefulness in some of the ratepayers had to contribute but in some of these cases they are on such a small base that the cost for removing the dam is so big that we have to leverage other money. >> we have a responsible party, i understand that and get paid
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to remove the spam and therefore we have to vote for either a public source for some way in which there is a broader base to pay for removal of the dam. in your experience could be very helpful to other states to one of the things i guess i would encourage is that the subject be best practices shared as to how you were able to do this. my state we have been unable to take care of the circumstances. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. senator gillibrand. >> we have quite a lot. newark is particular vulnerable because according to the american society of civil engineers we are eighth in the nation when it comes to high hazard potential dams. the average age of our dams are nearly 70 years old. new york is also vulnerable or
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two major storms and flooding associated with storms surging along our coasts. hurricane irene a tropical storm they resulted in major flooding across new york state and massive damage to homes and businesses. during hurricane irene and topical storm lee new york's failure of three low hazard and one intermediate hazard dam. we are very fortunate that prior to the storms important repairs were made and one particularly after which we have seen far more devastation in the city of schenectady. while new york has a strong dam safety program place we did not know where when the next-door will occur and whether or the more intense than the last. i think we can't have a serious conversation about the safety of dams and levees another flood infrastructure without also addressing the impact of climate change and extreme weather. sea level rise and storm surge threatens infrastructure across our coast.
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increased amounts of precipitation due to hurricanes nor'easter's or other weather events threatens our dams and levees as well. first is the army corps provide any guidance to help with the potential impact of global climate changes into account when carrying out their program collects. >> senator thanks for the question and yes we certainly do provide capability. we have a lot of internal expertise. like i said earlier we have 5000 dam safety experts in the course or even in the new york district we have several districts to work in the state of new york that all of those people are there to provide that capability. we have also found we have to be able to localize some of the high-end experts in regional centers so we have build regional centers. he runs our national dam safety center so not only are we able to help in the state capacity but whatever we can do on any of our technical competence to show lessons learned we are certainly willing to do that.
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we are fixing that dam in iraq right now so the challenge is going to be with the level of support we can give and on a reimbursable basis because that's how the core works but we are more than willing to work with any specific issues you have in new york that i can help you with. >> what steps can actually take to focus on resiliency lacks what can you take to make sure a dam is more resilient to handle extreme weather? >> so i think there's a physical piece first of all. some of the things we have learned on our structures how do we worry about vegetation was making sure the right inspections are done. i think the softer side is another big area. what are we doing and how do you mitigate that, things like federal dams we have water control manual so we know how much water we want to keep the dam where do we see the storm coming and how do we bring that back down. opposite at the balance with the droughts of the more we can do this from technical affiliations
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or relationships and give some advice i think that's one of the things we can offer. it's not necessarily a structural fix but how do we work in a risk informs decision-making process? >> when you're assessing if something is a high hazard dam or not our future climate change impact statement a consideration making a judgment and i'll give an example. in new york we have 7000 dams and 403 of them are hazard dam structures. obviously would more be classified high hazard if you were to take into account future climate change impacts? >> senator with the i met change and sealevel rise. if we are going to build a new structure we put that into the decided the other thing that is the most important is not so much the fact that where the water is going to be but from the other customers today talking about colorado and california right now we are very
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concerned about this pineapple express type scenario for you help a lot of microburst happening at once. it's not the fact of where the water is but how is the water going to come and if it's going to come so fast that the system can pass out water that's when we have a challenge. >> you are analyzing those sets of facts when judging which dams are critical? >> yes, senator exactly right senator exactly right. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. everyone has had one round of questions. i want to thank all of our guests for being here. i think this is very helpful for all of us as we have traveled long distances. i appreciate all the witnesses for being here. at this time ask unanimous consent to place since the record additional testimony received from the association of state dam safety officials and the upper mississippi a low illinois plug plane region. without objection those will be included in the record.
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i also want to note that this record will stay open for the next two weeks and there may be other members of the committee because of foes who had to leave you may submit written questions and we hope you would get back to us quickly with those but otherwise thank you to each and every one of her being here. i'm very grateful for your time and this hearing is adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> our guest, friends and my family and of course our first lady. today a balmy to add my welcome in my best wishes to all the new members of the legislature joining us here today. thank each of you for bringing your life experiences and your unique perspective to our imrt


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