tv Hearing Focuses on Dam Infrastructure CSPAN March 6, 2017 2:40am-4:27am EST
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announcer: next, a senate hearing on dm safety after a recent event that caused flooding. u.s. army corps of engineers testified alongside state officials about the situation and be resources used for flood control management. this is just under two hours. >> good morning. i call this meeting to order. 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 critical to the nation's
prosperity. i have met with members of this committee, both sides of the aisle and i will tell you that infrastructure is always listed as a top priority because it is a driver of the nation's economy and it impacts every committee. this committee has a long history of working together in a bipartisan way. i want to continue that tradition. we have sweeping jurisdiction over the nations infrastructure. our last committee meeting on this. natural weather events in the last month in california and other western states are highlighting the need to focus levees andon on our other structures that catastrophic flooding. earlier this month more than 180,000 people were evacuated in california because storms cause
to the oroville dam, the oldest dam in the states. the potential threat concerned of state officials and people of oroville.ream any future severe weather events could make this even more critical ended is raising questions of the readiness of our infrastructure. dams and levees across the country need to be modernized to prevent future disasters. anylieve that infrastructure bill this committee develops should consider the need to maintain structures.e these winter weather events aren't california but are occurring throughout the and, hitting towns big small, including ice jam wyoming, asnorthern well as towns located to the south like river to know, hudson, and areas of the wind reservation. this past month, the ice jam
over 100ve damaged homes in a city of roughly 5,000 people. floods have serious and lasting impacts. blocks of ice the size of cars have sat on front weeks.nd playgrounds for water treatment plants and public parks with small businesses. jams are regular occurrences harming small towns not just in wyoming but in parts states from the dakotas to upstate new york. for these small towns, the cost of cleanup and repair is an enormous burden from which it recover.ths to fully in certain instances, flooding be mitigated by the army corps providing more flexibility and allowing towns to take steps protect their communities. we have jurisdiction over those law that is impact the jurisdiction of infrastructure. oftentimes in rural states federal one-size-fits-all rules
can have absurd effects on the ground. the town shouldn't have to go bureaucraticgthy, process to remove issues while the town floods. bureaucratic red tape should be cut when people's lives are on the line. levees are the most common infrastructure to address flooding. however, new technology can mitigate the threat of flooding, including ice jams. i include language in title one resourceser development act this committee enacted last congress creating program tops pilot develop innovative and cost saving technology to address the jams. of ice the program needs to be implemented. i also like to note that in the thistwo water bills, committee provided additional femarity to the corps and to help states, local address levees and
dams. to hear what this committee and the army corps can infrastructure, address red tape and provide life saving materials to prevent flooding. to turn to ranking member carpa for his statement. >> thanks mr. chairman, thanks very much for bringing us together. all of you, and are glad you are here. you could be a lot of different places but it's important that you be here. we look forward to testimonies and to the opportunity to ask goodions, have a conversation. the chairman and i talk a lot about mike enzi's 80-20 rule. mike enzi is a senator from wyoming and he talks about the 80-20 rule is something that he and ted kennedy used to lead a committee called health labor pension committee and i would say to him how does the most liberal and conservative republicans get so much done, provide leadership to the
we believend he said in the 80-20 rule. agree on 20%nd i of the stuff and disagree on 20% 80% where weon the agree. senator baraso agree on a lot, need to investhe wisely in infrastructure. it's not an especially partisan issue as we heard last night in the president's state-of-the-union address. although it was preciously short on how to pay for stuff which is payys a challenge, how to for stuff. it's easy to figure out how to spend the money but not so easy areigure out how to pay if it but democratic senators continue to press on consensus on the issue of infrastructure and it appears to me we are one of the few senate committees here really talking about bipartisana bill and comprehensive way and intend on doing that and i applaud our leadershipr his there. i believe that members on both sides of the aisle are feeling urgent need to report on a
infrastructure package in a thoughtful way and rather than kick the can down the road, something we're pretty here, as a recovering governor, i judge any legislation that makes these by asking a simple question, that question is this, how does this proposal, whatever the proposal of the day is, how does it help create a more nurturing environment for job and job preservation. that's what i ask. and in addition to answering also believe as lincoln used to say when asked a long time ago what is the role he repliednt and famously the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do for themselves. wise words. flood control investments are not ones that average citizens as youe for themselves know and not only do the construction of dams and levees create jobs but these investments can also support local economies, help drive commerce and put communities on a path to civility. one of the things that businesses need most is predictability and certainty, and havoc need floods
that creates for their communities and businesses so important we make investments because when dams and levees fail, they can result loss of life and economic destabilization and even devastation. through thisk hearing and another overnight infrastructure, oversight and decisions, i think we will struggle with maybe two central points and one is what role of federal, state and local government in these infrastructure concerns and also, are the three levels of government up to the challenge. are the three levels of government up to the challenge. the mckenzieled goebbel institute put out a 2013 report that you may be familiar with, said that we need to $180t between $150 and billion a year more in makestructure just to make up for years of under-investment
our country in a multitude of levels. this comprehensive report which -- commend for your reading looks at all components of but this message of drastic need is applicable to what we're talking about today, control. the same report found that one of the best ways to invest and dollarsmost out of our is to maintain existing infrastructure, probably not as a surprise to any of you. whether it's a bridge or dam, our government has a fundamental responsibility to those structures are sound and continue to serve for their intended purpose, including protecting the lives impacted by the bridge or a dam's very existence. earlier,ioned infrastructure investment is critical for our economy in part jobs we create from the construction and restoration work as well as displaced workers we can bring work force.r they want to work. they can actually do this work, them loose but just as important are the lives and property protected by these
projects. toticularly looking forward hearing from our friends from california, the secretary of laird, resources, john on his experience with the dam and oroville california's nationally recognized flood safety program. critically important we learn from each other's take that shared knowledge forward through the legislative process. the critical infrastructure in our country is aging and in need of significant investment to to continue toy card gave us at d as in dog to roads, drinking water, waste water infrastructure and waterways, a d-minus,ived ports, a c, bridges, c-plus. testimony, i'm particularly interested in hearing how our witnesses think about the roles of different where therevernment are gaps that need to be filled as it relates to protecting, investing in and maintaining
infrastructure such as levees and dams. the concept of shared anponsibility has been overarching theme and many of our conversations, i'm sure we'll continue that conversation and i hope to hear thoughts on concept of natural infrastructure protection as it to flood safety. finally, while traditional platforms of infrastructure like roads and ports are essential to our feel we need more investment to protect natural infrastructure such as shore wetland aqua systems. riskst these protections, to man-made infrastructure significantly increase and can become unmanageable. i'm interested in how the federal government can be more with our current funding streams and get the most out of every dollar of federal to knownt and i want to how to make sure we're most criticalhe investments and maintaining the assets we have first before building new assets that we
can't afford. no 1 size fits all approach to these programs. mr. chairman, i consent the of american rivers be submitted for the record. >> without objection. we have a number of guests here. senator ernst, can i invite you guest to theyour committee? >> thank you, mr. chair and you thank you, as well, for holding hearing today and thank you for working with me to extend an invitation to a great iowan on the panel today. i am pleased to introduce the cedar rapids, mr. ron corbett, to this committee. been working has tirelessly on behalf of the cedar rapids securing state and local funding to rebuild his community after the 2008 flood and what they have done is truly impressive. but critical assistance from the corps is also needed to complete
flood risks management project and this is something mayor corbett has been yearsg the charge on for now. cedar rapids and communities ofoss my state are in need corps assistance but have run into hurdles trying to navigate the corpscracy within and o.m.b. they point fingers at each other and it's an issue we're trying to work through and resolve, not just for the people of cedar rapids, for many communities across the state of iowa and the nation. so we continue working through this. we also note that the city of des moines also has important levee work that needs to be done been workingls has on a 408 permit application that still isn't approved. in addition, how the current system is set up to calculate the economic benefits of flood projects places iowans at a disadvantage. metrics that the corps and administration use prioritizing building beaches in front of multi-million dollar
oceanfront homes over protecting the people of cedar rapids because the calculations are based on property value. iowa's seconds largest city and its success is economicto the wellbeing of the entire state. they have endured two events int flooding eight years that have cost billions of dollars in devastation and recovery aid. the corps has some discretion to help and have simply made the decision to forego assistance even though the community worked the corps to develop a project to address the flood risk and worked with congress to get it authorized. so i look forward to the discussion today and mayor you, i know you will be detailing for this very,tee cedar rapids' very important story. i'm also eager to continue my conversation with you, general sem night. thank you for being here today, to see if we can move forward on
this. thank you very much. invite to harris, i you introduce your guest. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and ranking member carper for this important hearing as recent events in my home state highlight the necessity of congress' support our state and local partners to maintain, repair and upgrade our nation's aging especiallyure and when it comes to critical systems that could threaten the public safety of all americans. is my distinct pleasure to introduce the secretary of the resources natural agency, john laird. secretary laird has over 40 working inperience public service, ranging from a u.s.t analyst for then representative jerome waldie. asocal elected official santa cruz city councilman and mayor and as a state legislator he chaired the california assembly budget committee and i withhe pleasure of working him throughout those years, both
as district attorney of san francisco and as attorney general. in his current role he manages andfornia's ecological cultural resources, water reserves and supplies and statewide environmental policies. within his agency, he oversees 30 sub departments including the waterrnia department of resources, which is the lead agency working around the clock to repair oroville dam and catastrophic flooding. last week secretary laird and i had a chance to tour the dam together and he had an extraordinary understanding of the technical needs of the dam and levee infrastructure and aslso want to comment that he and i both noticed, it was an extraordinary example at the dam and local, state agencies coming together to meet quite that was really large in terms of proportion. we saw folks that ranged from members of the national guard, states navy, fema, and california emergency services, together with the
local sheriff, butte county sheriff, who came together to meet the challenge and the need did it in a seamless way and it goes without saying has secretary laird extensive knowledge of the needs of our nation and the needs we should consider when it comes to sufficiently maintaining our infrastructure and flood management systems. this, combined with his budgetary experience, at all levels of government, can shed shouldn how congress leverage funding streams to help address our aging infrastructure. california alone, there are approximately 1,400 of thosenearly half highesignated as, quote, hazard potential dams by state officials. devastation that could be caused by an aging dam infrastructure, california has approximately $11 billion in flood control management in the past decade to protect nearly seven million people and $580 billion worth of
assets, which include buildings, farmland and crops that are at risk. for improvements aren't solely in california. likexample, in states wyoming we have invested more than $1.2 billion of their for waternding infrastructure improvements, water storage and supply recycled and waste water management and treatment and drought and emergency relief since 1975.ms in addition, according to the dam safety of state officials, it is estimated that nonfederaly owned dams throughout our nation represent 96% of all dams in the united need more thand billion to sufficiently repair, a third of the cost that thergently needed to repair high-hazard dams identified by the association. this demonstrates that the need is great across our nation and that is why i greatly appreciate the chairman's willingness to thisnue prioritizing
conversation and i look forward to working with my colleagues on to continueee federal support that is necessary and yet critical to maintain our infrastructure nationwide. forward to hearing from you, mr. secretary. welcome, and i appreciate all the members of the committee and other witnesses for being here to discuss this crucial topic. thank you. senator harris. that was a very nice introduction. >> thank you. let me explain to everyone where we are today. we have -- i am alone. we have votes going on, i've already voted the first time. others will be voting and coming back. thatld say this, though, there is staff from each member here today. we're going to start with startingtatements, semanit and ifal senator brasso is not back, to skip you, to the next witness, and go to the third, because he wants to be
here during your opening statement. on.ral, you're >> thank you, members of the committee. sea nit,enant todd thank you for the opportunity to to discuss the role of the united states army corps of engineers in dam and levee safety. one of the corps' primary objectives in constructing, damating and maintaining and levee infrastructure is to reduce risk to public safety. our efforts in this area are part of a larger array of aimed tot practices ensure our nation is postured to safely enjoy a range of water resources benefits. thedam and levee safety, corps uses a risk informed approach to ensure these are met in a transparent and disciplined matter. water plays a central role in economy,gth of our health of our community and -- ecosystems.ho
many of our nation has experienced what happens when we too little water, too much water, or water unfit to sustain habitat. in many ways, the decisions we've made as a nation in developing, managing and water resources have the nationout developed and where people now live. the water infrastructure builtes dams and levees by the federal government, states, local authorities and the priority sector. thesening the benefits of structures provide requires only the appropriate investment of proper management of the risks that come with those benefits. afternoon -- often planned as constructed as thevidual projects, many of nation's dams and levees operate opponents of a larger water management resource system. the corps operates only a small fraction of the dams and levees in the nation. dams,rtfolio includes 715
less than 1% of over 90,000 thectures identified in 2016 national inventory of dams. andcorps also operates maintains roughly 2500 miles of 10% ofwhich is less than the roughly 30,000 miles now in the national levee inventory. from a functional perspective, the corps generally constructed the dams and levees it owns and operates to provide navigation or flood risk management benefits. theser, many of structures also support other uses such as hydropower, water supply and recreation. over time, these facilities have and deteriorated and can only sustain their intended function with regular periodicce and rehabilitation. in addition, many external effortswill complicate to sustain the viability of this infrastructure. variables ranging from the frequency and intensity of natural hide logic and seismic
events to the sizes of populations living and working the infrastructure compound the difficulty in decision making. the corps' addressing these challenges in a risk-informed manner. we make informed adjustments to ensure resources are invested in an efficient and technically robust manner. for example, our dam safety enables the corps to extend the period that a project of itsvide some or all authorized are benefits. by investing in measures that the principal safety risk at our dams to an acceptable level. our it comes to addressing nation's dam and levee safety challenges, the corps' generallylities follow project specific authorities for managing infrastructure that the corps owns and operates. programmatico has authorities while participating in the national community of dam levee safety. in making decisions on safety
measures, the corps considers the public safety, economic and environmental risk posed by the cost ofucture, the reducing those risks and the authorized project benefits that a proposed safety improvement would enable the project to provide to safely society. in summary, dams and levees are important part of the nation's water resource initiative. management practices are aimed wellsure our nation is positioned to safely water and manage water resource infrastructure. levees that our corps owns and operates, we are working to balance the cost, risk andilities, benefits in order to inform our decisions that guide the safe operation, proper maintenance and effective management of risk. of riskr framework informed management may also objectives forthese decisions on the safety of other dams and levees across the nation. lead the united states army corps of engineers
and appreciate the opportunity and looky today forward to answering your questions. senator carper asked, is the government up to this challenge? the corps of engineers is up to this challenge. the vision of the corps is to be to engineer solutions for the nation's most critical challenges. theave the capacity and competency to do just that. thank you, sir. semonite.ou, general will go to mayor corbett. >> thank you, chairman brasso ranking member carper, senator ernst, senators and staff members. the citizens of cedar rapids and people of eastern iowa that work every day in cedar rapids, thanks for giving us an opportunity to tell story today. rivere of 2008, the cedar in cedar rapids crested more above any previous thed at 31 feet,
unthinkable happened. the flood waters covered 10 square miles, which is 14% of our city. residential properties, commercial, industrial properties, 310 city facilities were damaged, totaling more than in losses.n the flood devastated our businesses, our entire community. lost.t all was there are two things we didn't lose, senators. one, we didn't lose any lives. response,our emergency response team, and the rescues, noboat lives were lost in our community. it, inyou think about
the various disasters and each of your respective states and the country, oftentimes during the news reports of the disaster, included in those inorts is the death toll and cedar rapids, no lives were lost and in some bizarre way today, we feel, nine years later, the fact that we were so successful in saving lives, that that is maybe goes against us. and the second thing that wasn't our will to rebuild our city stronger and better than was before the flood. as damaging and catastrophic, our recovery is by any impressive standard. with your help, through fema,
hud, the justice department, along with the state and local --ernment, the priority private sector, non-profit sector, the faith community, we the journey to rebuild cedar rapids, building by by house,house neighborhood by neighborhood. our infrastructure of water and sewer. quite remarkable. but as we were rebuilding, we futurehad one eye on the and that future meant a permanent flood protection in cedar rapids. that confidence that our and our community had residents had to reinvest and the momentum that we have gained has all been based on having long-term flood protection. so from the beginning we have been working with the corps and we were so anxious when the to reveal their plan for cedar rapids, only to
plan that protected the river.de of imagine being a mayor or whenent of a community you're told you're allowed to protect one side but the other side isn't. how do you say that lives on one worthy,your river are but lives on the other side of the river are not worthy. asked why and they said it's benefit-coste ratio, a formula, some algorithm. we don't govern cedar rapids based on an algorithm. we rejected the benefit-cost ratio and worked with the state funding mechanism to protect the west side. so here we are nine years later finding ourselves, again, disadvantaged by the benefit-cost ratio. it's based on value of property.
when cedar rapids is compared to other communities country, we come up a little shorter because the our community, or smaller midwestern states, just the value in to the larger communities. past september, we had another event. we were able to win this time river so we've evened the score. the river one, community now one. but now we know it's not a question of if it will flood again, but when. and we need to have that long-term flood protection for our community. senators, we seek your help. thank you. much, mayor very corbett. you may have noticed people are coming and going. votesin the middle of two so we'll continue to come back and forth. at this time i would like to wolf,o commissioner terry chairman of the wash key county
commission, wyoming. former member of the wyoming national guard, has a degree in administration of justice from the university of wyoming. commissioner wolf has moved back in 1995 to work in the oil and gas industry. upon transitioning out of the guard, commissioner wolf ran for a seat in the commission and was sworn into office january 2003. past president of the wyoming county commissioner's currently vice president of the wyoming association of county officers. the nationaln association of counties, public lands steering committee and years as a county commissioner, has represented the county as a federal cooperating agency on the big horn national forest plan horn basin, big management plan revision. i welcome you to the committee, wolf, i thank you for agreeing to testify here today. i see you have a number of other commissioners from the state of are here to cheer obermeyer i see peter
here. commissioner wolf. >> good morning, chairman brasso, ranking member carper and distinguished members of the committee. wolf, chairmany of the board of county commissioners in wash key county, wyoming. is located iny northwest wyoming with an annual revenue of $8 million. of four counties in the big horn basin. you can find a map in appendix a in my written testimony. this area is known for sugar processed ford u.s. sugar for consumption. the high yield of agricultural production is dependent on the also brings destruction to communities in the spring when ice blocks the size of trucks, weighing up to 300,000 pounds jam up and block the flow of the river. water overs push the the dams into the communities,
homes and businesses and threatening the sugar processing plant. direct your attention to the before and after photos floodingsel of the that occurred on february 11 of this year. in the before photos, in the foreground, you see an island in the middle of the river formed the sediment buildup over course of years. in the after photos, you get a clear picture of the ice blocks creating a dam at that island and causing flootion. over the course of the week, officials,the, state the wyoming national guard and tirelessly toked protect property and critical infrastructure. still evaluating damage but estimates will likely exceed 150,000. while this flood is heartbreaking, what is important is the committee to know what happened is almost identical to flooding in 2014. that same island gathered and blocks and pushed over the big horn river, costing state and local governments
nearly $200,000 in recovery costs. for a rural county, these costs difficult to bear. for a clear picture of the sediment buildup on this island, the nextattention to aerial photos that show the buildup. we at the local level must confront the issue because the same flooding is likely to occur year after year, depending on the severity of the winter. following the 2014 flood, we pursued the possibility of removing the island. timeal estimates at the indicated that the removal of 1.7 acres of area at a depth of at least five feet requiring 1700 truck loads would ensure flowing passage of ice blocks. a project hike -- like this is like the an agency army corps, it is too large for our community to tackle. section 205 of the flood control act of 1948 authorizes the army corps of engineers to partner onh local and state agencies small damage reduction projects not specifically authorized by
congress. initially pursued a section 205 project in 2015, we inquiries after uncovered the likelihood of difficult and expensive hurdles and potential of more environmental the sediment.ove while the cost associated with projects were significant we were concerned that the local share was much more than than meet.unty could finally it appeared that the army corps hadn't used the jamson 205 program for ice to the extent it had for other more traditional flood damage control areas in other areas of the country and may not have believed it had the flexibility necessary to deal effectively with the problem. that in mind, we are pleased to see congress include to ice jams inic the water infrastructure improvement act for the nation decembero months ago, 2016. that language requires that the identify and carry out not fewer than 10 projects to demonstrate technologies and
to prevent anded mitigate flood damage associated with ice jams. removal of the island appears to our floodingon to in warland but at the local level, we are flexible enough to explore other options if the army corps is flexible enough to toe use of this new language research and explore cost effective technologies to mitigate what is likely to be a area. of disaster in our we remain concerned about the monetary and human capital costs associated with these projects, however, we stand ready to work alongside the army corps of viable and cost effective solution for the protection of our community. bigope that our county and horn river will be among the first of the cold region pilot projects. seasonal runoff or unique weather events are things over which we have no control but floods caused by ice jams and sediment is something we can control with the assistance of corps of engineers. i'm here to ask both the corps and for your help to ensure that move forward with funding infrastructure projects of great importance to the nation that you do not forget about these
in rural areas that are of critical importance to our local communities. mr. chairman. >> thank you, so much, commissioner wolf. we look forward to questions. turn now to secretary john laird. >> thank you very much, mr. chair. and also ranking member carper, and members of the committee, on behalf of the state of california and governor brown, i thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony at thishis committee particularly vital time on our issues. aging know, our nation's infrastructure is at a crossroads. one path is characterized by inaction, putting human lives, our natural resources and the economy at risk. is shaped by delivering of policies, investment, coordination across all levels of government and incorporation of new science to provide multiple benefits to common outcomes. right now, california approaches
with a sense of urgency. droughts and floods have always evolution and growth of california water policy, investment and scientific technical understanding. this year is no different. of theer five years driest seasons in modern times, california is now in the midst of what is likely to be the theest 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 theon and often depends on bounty of just four or five storms per season to support our system. the number, size and severity of storms this water year has state's flood control and water management infrastructure, forcing damaging roads, destroying homes, communities and livelihoods. estimated the damage to california's highways alone from year is $595is
far.on thus most dramatically, damage to the the oroville on dam, the second largest reservoir in california, and as in his opening comments, the largest dam in the nation, serves as the keystone california water project and it was observed on managers, by water damage to the main spillway and rapid erosion of the emergency the emergencyo evacuation of nearly 200,000 downstream residents in yuba, sutter and butte counties. with crews working around the clock, the danger has since passed and residents have returned home. reservoir remains, right now, at at least 50 feet below capacity level and repairs continue as dam operators plan an extended flood season due to an extremely high snow pack.
decade alone, over 11 billion dollars has been federal, state and local agencies in california on flood control projects. california's extraordinary response to this year's storms local,y possible due to state and federal cooperation and significant prior investments. california has the leading dam safety program in the nation, as review by in a peer the association of state dam safety officials but we can and must always do better. this event has drawn much needed age, condition, maintenance and financial needs of california and the nation's control and water management systems. we should use the opportunity presented by this situation to invest in existing infrastructure and fund projects that leverage science to meet the challenge of extreme weather and variable precipitation and accomplish multiple benefits and
investment. the while we welcome the partnership, california's not waiting for the federal alone to meet this urgent need and real opportunity. step, last friday, governor brown redirected $50 generalfrom the state's fund and requested a $385 oneion proposition appropriation from the state legislature to fund near-term control and emergencies response actions. the immediate actions of our state agencies, as secretary of natural requested thee following actions from our partner federal agencies, that and reviewnspection of all federally owned dams in toifornia and parallel california's efforts to update the federal operating manels -- manuals for key california reservoirs, it is imperative to to reflecte manuals current scientific knowledge. the corps needs to be fully
updateso complete these or allow non-federal authorities to finance the work. to fund, in my letter, asked that we fund the recently enacted water infrastructure improvements for the nation act which authorizes ofrogram for rehabilitation high-hazard dams at fema, also the publication of the program's rules to assist inifornia and other states this rehabilitation effort. so we have an opportunity and we workingook forward to with our federal partners and i look forward to being able to answer questions. thank you very much for being with us and sharing your insights, secretary laird. mr. larson? you, chair baraso, ranking member carper and the staff. the committee i have been working in the water resources profession for 55 fact, my first job out of engineering school was to
ddr onr the california the state water project which oroville dam is the key. i also was for 25 years ran the floodfety program and the management program in the state of wisconsin. floodsociation of state plain managers represents 17,000 professionals across the nation manage flood risks to reduce flood losses every day. structurales both and nonstructural approaches use, community planning, mapping and the rest. we have been concerned about the status of the nation's flood management infrastructure and in light of the ever-increasing rainfall we get even more worried. some of our major concerns include this. nation arees in the unknown. we don't know how much floods cost us every year. that's a real problem. flood mapping, in order for communities and states to risk,ively manage flood they need flood maps and good flood maps.
the 3 1/2 million miles of rivers and coast lines in the hased states, the nfip mapped about 1.5 of them and only half of that has 100-year they needation that to regulate properties. maps are the base flood maps used by all those 22,000 communities, all the states and the federal agencies. they may build off of them but they start with them. nfip now has a good process for mapping and could map all communities in the nation in 12 fully funded as authorized. the topography is also key. usgs has a digital elevation program called three-depth and they, if funded, can do the mapping for the nation in the years.ght one of the residual risk mapping -- one of the key areas this nation has ignored is residual risk, below dams, levees, areas that will flood when structures over-top or fail.
dam failuren if a maps are available, federal toernment policy is not release the maps to the public. i don't understand that. knows how the risk is, that they're even in a risk zone. appropriate that they find that out at 2:00 a.m. when law enforcement knocks on their and says you got to leave. we must figure out how to solve must, beram and we forward thinking on national standards. we need standards for dams and levees both. you and congress have set up to develop the corps levee standards and fema to develop dam standards. neither of those are funded, however, and we must get on with that. this, the low standard, the fact that we have mapped and tolt flood infrastructure yesterday's flood, not tomorrow's flood. i'm pleased to hear that i think california is doing more of that time and the rest of us need to do that, too. we need to figure out how to
those low-hazard dams from becoming high-hazard dams development occurs downstream. there are a couple of states that have figured it out and we need to do it nationally. pleased to see the congress and administration looking at the issue of infrastructure but our experience shows that if natural incentives are difficult to these projects, versus projects.s of private financing will not suffice, we need substantial federal investment as well as investing.ocal national standards are needed to funded ist is designed, constructed, maintained to appropriate national standards. investment should look beyond structural flood control, not structural projects, storm water management, green infrastructure based approaches are appropriate. funding should also serve to
build safety building. you realize that only the states have the authority to oversee and levees. the federal government cannot tell a private dam or levee fix ato fix a dam or levee. the states have that authority if they use it. do have programs that that. up some process when to capability in dams but that must be funded to get underway. investment in taxpayer money. in conclusion, the u.s. is facing a substantial need to upgrade and sometimes remove our flood control structure. appropriated the programs you've already authorized in the flood risk management program, the three-depth, the national levee safety program, the national dam bigty program, we'd take a step. the threats of oroville dam and 80 dams inure of south carolina in the past two years points out that we've got a public wake-up call.
much.you very >> thank you. called toiced, it's my attention that senator grassley has come and seated corbett.yor did you want to be recognized anything? [indiscernible] up.on't mess anything that's good. [indiscernible] >> i didn't tell him that wyoming is where all of my family is born so we're sensitive to those problems. i'll begin, because the chairman govoting now and then we'll to senator carper. homeal semonite, in my town, we have nearly 20 miles of levee, a system built by the corps of engineers back in the 1940's. people about 10,000 living within that. we have $2 billion of
infrastructure, including a refinery, a very large refinery. old, they are desperate and in need of repairs and upgrades. congress authorized a feasibility study and expedited budget consideration in last year's win act. that was our effort. the risk assessment taking over a year longer than promised, tulsa is concerned about more delays and the lack of the corps prioritizing the project. thismy hope we can get done. now, i'm sure that you looked at that before, in preparing for this hearing, and our concern is, these are old. not a week that goes by when i'm back that this isn't called to my attention. a commitment can you make that we're going to get started?g >> thanks, senator. you bring up a good point. when you talk about levees, i we've got goow 15,000 miles of levees that we corps only but the 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 here have talked about everybody's got to pull their share to work side by side. thisis particular one, goes back to the flood risk management study and to be able to make sure that we can review get this thing done and understand how we're going to be to come through on that. i don't know exactly the details on that andre at i'd like to have my staff come back to you on it. >> it would be a good idea. ask you that personally look at this because it's something that should not have gone this long. it's critical. then secondly, i only have one more question and we'll go to senator carper. that is general semonite, while i have you here, i want to raise a concern of mine. congress is authorizing, in fact, made it a priority, for the corps to work with private partners to develop and maintain recreational areas at corps lakes. there seems to be an anti-development mentality
least the corps, at within the tulsa district, that i think needs to be overcome. give you ad we'll quote. a senior staff member within the statedistrict told my director, this is a direct quote. he said, if i had my way, i the lake development altogether, unquote. aski just would like to you, does this reflect a corps thatwithin the you're willing to talk about? >> sir, it certainly does not our corps philosophy. we are very aggressive on options ony recreation. some of these are corps owned and corps maintained. others where we have concessions to come in. >> is one option to end all development? sir., i think every one of these projects is different. i don't know the exact details what was said but our philosophy is to continue to look at how we can continue to partner with stakeholders and continue to find a good compromise solution on that. so i will find out what's out
with you, ok,back sir. >> that's good. thank you, general. senator carper? thanks, mr. chairman, to our to senatorlcome grassley, nice to see you in the audience. your mayor, good work. i want to say to general semonite how much we in delmarva peninsula appreciate the with thety to work regional office. we appreciate all the good they do with their lives on behalf of folks we serve in delaware, eastern shore, virginia, so and we sometimes get to work with you folks from the maryland office, baltimore office, we're grateful for that, too. someone mentioned, i don't know -- maybe it was someone mentioned the funding. we have passed legislation
authorizing new support efforts on the traditional federal. we have not appropriated the money. mandates. unfunded mandates. they basically set standards and so you have to do this. know if that is the situation here or not. >> 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
andconstruction, operation and maintenance. and then with that in my thick 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 funding 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 of 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 will a budget from the president will play a couple of weeks and 11 11 opportunity to see what they suggest. youdo 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 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 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 wean 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 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 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,, show less text navigation water supply 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 -- with that particular incident. howard's creek which is not a large body of water, so small, 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. whether it is a large facility or a 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 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. >> 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 a mountainous 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 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 incorporated 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, 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 shot 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, 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 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 -- the sea. 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 our coasts. it is for real. here is downtown newport just after sandy, which missed us by the way. 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 -- is listening to 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 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 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. i want to emphasize mr. larson point. 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 home how badly their mapping fares against a professional assessment done by the affected states. with that i will conclude. i thank you. >> 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. 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
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? >> senator, 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. 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 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 than normal rainfall downstream because 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. >> i think we would be doing it now. 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 i will fix that. >> we really want to know, whether that you are prepared since flood control is number
one priority on long 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 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. >> i know my time is getting low. with all due respect, flood control is number one priority and i would be above navigation needs or about other types of 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 said 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 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 mentioned sea level 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. there might be an interruption of water supply. 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. 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 tax 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? and the farmland that body of water supports produces 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 that there could be an interruption in water supply for that but it could be just damaged to farmland itself in the delta with how the brakes happened. >> how can 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 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 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 statehood 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. it is that effort that has protected sacramento and other areas in that time. >> thank you. thank you. >> thank you, senator harris. senator ernst. >> mayor corbett, thanks again for being here. mayor, do you believe the safety 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. 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 is some changes in the 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 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 . >> 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, given, given authorized 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 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
ofof 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 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. >> 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 critical need for this additional work, so thank you for all your efforts. 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. 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 a wife, 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 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 of the island are striking. it runs at 10.5 feet. we had 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 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 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 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 north side 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 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 complexity that is 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 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 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 346 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
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 it is on a 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. 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. 15 of the worst federal dams equates to probably $12 billion in repairs. the question is do we use taxpayers money to fix all of those dams or are some of those outliving their point? of the 15, 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 olmsted is actually replacing. there are times that we have to 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 owner either fix it up or take it out. 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. these are not federal dams. we have a fund where we moved those dams and they no longer 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 silt 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 fish, it was safety it outlived its usefulness. 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 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 in new york state. new york 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 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. 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 -- there safety programs. >> senator thanks for the question and yes we certainly do provide capability. we have a lot of regional 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. we are in muzzle, iraq fixing that dam -- mosul, iraq 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 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 -- we look at climate change and sea level 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 concerned about this pineapple express type scenario for you -- where you could have a lot of