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January 14 and 15, 1926. The delegates, some 300 in number, represented the States of Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Wisconsin, the Dominion of Canada, and over 80 Lake cities, including every large city on the Great Lakes.
PREAMBLE AND PROTEST
With an astounding disregard for the rights of her neighbors, and in defiance of all precepts of law and justice, under the pretext that the sanitary welfare of that city has made the dilution system of sewage disposal necessary, Chicago has. for nearly 30 years, been abstracting the waters of the Great Lakes in colossal quantities.
This abstraction of water has, on the one hand, caused the lowering of the levels of the Lakes to the injury of commerce thereon, and on the other, the raising of the levels of the Illinois River to the injury of the landowners of that region. The sewage, which Chicago by virtue of its sanitation system is thus carrying into the Illinois River, is polluting the waters of that stream to an alarming degree. Thus in order to gain an advantage for a single community a towfold injury is inflicted, which affects a wide area and millions of people.
The dilution system of sewage disposal now employed by Chicago which, at the time of its introduction, nearly 30 years ago, was deemed both expedient and practical, must to-day be regarded as the most gigantic engineering blunder of its time. Its early projectors erred in that they failed to anticipate the ultimate result of an indiscriminate raid upon the waters of the Great Lakes and the transmission of huge quantities of sewage to the inland streams. They erred further in that they ignored the rights of their neighbors and the law of the land.
Chicago now, however, presents the brazen spectacle of undertaking to induce the National Congress to sanctify a bold theft into an honest act. To commit a blunder is no sin, but to defend a blunder and seek to compel its perpetuation, at the expense of others, is unpardonable, more particularly so when such blunder involves a gross injustice as well. To defend such a blunder is to to defend injustice. And that exactly what Chicago has been and is now doing.
When the defenders of the Chicago water diversion realized that the paramount question at issue was one of navigation, and navigation only, they immediately maintained that the 10,000 cubic second-feet, formerly demanded for sanitation, is now necessary for the operation of a proposed 9-foot barge canal, across the State of Illinois. The War Department has repeatedly and consistently held that anything in excess of 1,000 feet is unnecessary for channel navigation, and that such a large volume of water will create currents that will render navigation on the said channel both difficult and dangerous. Moreover, to hold that this volume of water is necessary to render the Mississippi River navigable during the months of low-water stage is even less tenable. It raises the question whether, in order to help the Mississippi River navigation a few months, the Great Lakes shall be robbed for 12 months in the year. Nor is it clear that the colossal flow of water that will be an aid in the dry season will not be a curse during the flood season.
The levels of the Great Lakes are at a lower stage to-day than they have been since such levels have been officially recorded. It is beyond dispute that the Chicago abstraction has contributed greatly to that lowering.
We point out that the United States Supreme Court, in its recent decision, has held that any abstraction of water from the Great Lakes "affecting the natural level or flow of boundary waters is expressly provided against by the International Treaty with Great Britain, of January 11, 1909 without the approval of the International Joint Commission and without the consent of Canada, as well as the United States, within their jurisdiction."
We further call attention to the fact that seven great States of this Union have formally agreed to present, and there is now pending before said tribunal, the question of whether Congress has any power to grant or give away any great natural resource for the benefit of one section of this country to the injury of another section.
We hold firmly to the belief that the waters of the Great Lakes are primarily dedicated to the use of navigation and, while they may properly be used for ordinary domestic purposes, they can not be diverted or abstracted either for sanitation or power purposes to such a degree as to injure the navigation integrity of the same; that this Chicago diversion, up to the present, has contributed nothing to navigation; on the contrary, it has caused great injury on the Great Lakes.
In line with the foregoing statement, we submit the following resolutions. Be it resolved :
That we strenuously protest against any legislation at the hands of the Congress of the United States that may sanction the diversion or abstraction of waters likely to lower the levels of the Great Lakes and thus impair the commerce thereon-a commerce which serves not only single communities and States, but serves the Nation as a whole.
That we appeal to the Congress of the United States to provide legislation which shall protect the Great Lakes as a navigation highway, against the repetition of the blunder committed by a former Secretary of War in granting a water-diversion permit, to the city of Chicago, which has proved a great public injury, and to make it a duty of the present and succeeding Secretaries of War to correct this blunder to the end that the inland seas may serve the primary purpose for which nature designed them, namely, for navigation.
WM. GEORGE BRUCE, President.
RAYMOND H. WEINS, Secretary. Mr. MORGAN. I would like to ask what the date of the first diversion was?
The CHAIRMAN. Secretary Taft made the original order, did he not?
Mr. BRUCE. No; the orginal permit was made by Secretary of War Alger.
The CHAIRMAN. When was that?
Mr. MORGAN. What was the date of the international treaty between the United States and Canada?
Mr. CHALMERS. That is the Washington treaty creating the International Joint Commission.
Mr. BRUCE. The original permit was modified by Secretary Root a year or two after it was granted, and that was fixed at 4,167 cubic feet per second.
Mr. MORGAN. The amount of the diversion granted by Secretary Root was known at the time of the treaty, was it not?
Mr. BRUCE. It was known, but it was not mentioned.
Mr. O'CONNOR. Do I correctly understand that the protestants allege that a diversion of 1,000 feet will serve the purposes of navigation?
Mr. BRUCE. We believe that will be sufficient.
Mr. McDUFFIE. I would like to ask General Taylor a few questions along this line.
General TAYLOR. We have under preparation now a report called for by committee resolution, which discusses that question of the amount of diversion necessary, the necessary diversions. That report is in course of preparation, and so I would prefer not to discuss it at the present time. In fact I have not the data here to discuss it.
The CHAIRMAN. May I say to the committee this: That I believe this committee will approach the discussion in consideration of General Taylor's report with fully frank and open minds, with the determination solely to do that which is best under all the circumstances. I do not believe we are going to enter upon a discussion or a consideration with any desire to punish anybody for what has occurred in the past or with any sort of animosity, or with any feeling except one of friendship and a desire to reach a fair understanding here as to what is best to be done. I am sure that is my feeling, and I believe it is the feeling of all the members of the committee.
Mr. CHALMERS. You undoubtedly will hold a hearing on this subject in due course, at the proper time?
The CHAIRMAN. At the time when the report comes in; yes.
Mr. CHALMERS. Now, the appearance of this commission may be entered as a part of the hearing, as I understand it?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Mr. CHALMERS. I would like to say to my colleague from Ohio, that while the treaty of Washington, creating the International Joint Commission, was accepted and ratified by the respective governments in 1909, it took no notice whatever of this Chicago situation, and, of course, whatever may have preceded that was all in the nature of hearsay. So that would not in any way, I think, affect the obligations of the treaty made between this country and Great Britain.
Mr. MORGAN. That was important.
Mr. DEAL. I understand Mr. Chalmers to say that the treaty took no cognizance whatever of the diversions at Chicago. Mr. CHALMERS. I think that is a fact. Is that true, Mr. Bruce? Mr. BRUCE. Yes, sir. The treaty is silent on that subject.
Mr. DEAL. It does make some reference to the diversion of 10,000 cubic feet somewhere.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is one which might be almost endless if we go into a discussion of it generally. We had about three months of hearings. I had the pleasure of being present during every moment of those hearings except for the last two days, 48 hours, and I have a very feeling recollection of all that occurred, and I know that there are so many questions and such strongly contested questions involved here that if we start a discussion we could not complete it.
Mr. NEWTON. I think when we get the War Department's report we will probably want to take some additional testimony. We can examine the treaty then, examine the evidence, and then we can come to some conclusion about it.
The CHAIRMAN. Of course every one of the members who sau during that hearing is very familiar with that subject and with every angle of it. There will be additional evidence in this report which will bring us down to the present date. I think there is some cases also likely to come before the Supreme Court
Mr. NEWTON. There is a case up there now involving some questions; but when did the diversion begin? When was the first water diverted ?
General TAYLOR. About 1900.
The CHAIRMAN. I should suppose that the report of the Chief of Engineers when it comes in will prove to be a summary of all that has occurred up to the present time. I think that as far as I can learn the engineers are dealing satisfactorily with the sanitary question. I think that is getting along very well, and I think the question we will have here is the question of navigation.
Mr. O'CONNOR. You mean the municipal engineers of Chicago are dealing with the sanitary question?
The CHAIRMAN. I mean the United States engineers; I mean the question of their expediting the work of substituting modern methods for the present system of dilution. I think the question we will have before us here is a narrower question, the question of a g-foot channel from the Chicago to the Mississippi.
Mr. McDUFFIE. General, is your report going to deal with the possibilities of power development?
General TAYLOR. There is no power development possible on the section of the river which is being improved by the United States. The section that is being improved by the United States is from Utica to the mouth. The section from Utica to Lockport has power developed, or the possibility of it; but that section is being improved by the State. They have under consideration now a number of locks and dams, and at all of those dams power development is provided for; so that for the State, for its power development program, considerable flow of water is desirable.
Mr. McDUFFIE. Then there are power possibilities on both sides power on the Canadian side and power on the American side.
General TAYLOR. Yes; but the power on the Illinois River is only a small part of that on the Canadian side, because the slope from Utica down is very small, and of course it goes all the way
around to the Gulf.
Mr. McDUFFIE. Yes; but there is some below that, some possible power below the work that the Government proposes to do?
General TAYLOR. No; above.
Mr. McDUFFIE. The amount of power that will be developed will depend of course upon the amount of water they get. Mr. Newton. What is the fall from Chicago to Utica ?
. General TAYLOR. As I recollect it, it is 190 feet.
Mr. CHALMERS. Would it be in order to introduce the other distinguished members of this commission?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; we will be glad to see them.
Mr. CHALMERS. You know Mr. Bruce, who is president of the Great Lakes Harbor Association.
Let me introduce Mr. Raymond H. Weins, secretary of the Great Lakes Harbor Association, of Milwaukee; Mr. George E. Hardy, of Toledo; Mr. Mason Buller, of Harrisburg, Pa.; Mr. W. S. McCormick, of Duluth; and Capt. John Stephenson. Mr. Stephenson is a member of the city council of Detroit.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we are very pleased to meet you, and we will be very glad when the time comes to take up the consideration of General Taylor's report and file your resolutions, and consider them in connection with that report. We are very much obliged to you.
Mr. O'CONNOR. Mr. Chairman, do you propose to take up the New York State route at the same time you take up the report referred to ?
The CHAIRMAN. Of course, they will be considered separately; but all the reports that come in will be considered at this Congress, I think, in succession as they come in. (Thereupon the committee adjourned.)
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Tuesday, March 30, 1926. The committee met at 10.45 o'clock a. m., Hon. S. Wallace Dempsey (chairman) presiding.
Mr. DEMPSEY. This morning we will take up the report of the engineers on the Illinois River, and we will hear former Secretary Baker first.
STATEMENT OF HON. NEWTON D. BAKER, GENERAL COUNSEL
FOR THE LAKE CARRIERS' ASSOCIATION AND SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OHIO
Mr. BAKER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I am in the unhappy situation of not having read through this report.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me state, for the benefit of the committee, the substance of the report, as I understand it. The
report, in substance, is this: It does not deal with the matter of diversion at all. It simply says this, that it is important that the Illinois River be given presently and as long as it can reasonably be done, a navigable depth of nine feet; that to that end certain work be done, and that work consists of the removal of two State dams and the initial alterations of two Federal dams in the Illinois River, at a cost of $1,350,000, with an annual maintenance charge of $126,000. All I have stated so far is all the recommendation there is in that report.
Then they recite these facts: That at the present time there is being diverted 8,250 cubic feet, and that the water should be utilized—they say they do not intend to and do not lay down any quantity as the best quantity of water which can be used for a nine foot channel—that the policy of the War Department as to the diversion at Chicago is indicated in the letter of Secretary Weeks of March 3, 1925. They say that the improvement proposed can be as well used with any lessening or diminution of the amount of diversion from time to time, as the lessening or diminution is made, as with the present flow, so the work will not be in any sense lost, and can be utilized in that way.
That, I understand, is the substance of the report, both of the board and of the Chief of Engineers. The Chief of Engineers concurs in the recommendations of the board.
Mr. BAKER. I shall probably say, as to the details, in reciting what I understand to be the report of the Board, after this clear statement by the chairman--because it is a long document-and after glancing over some of its pages, certain things which struck my eye, and they may not relate themselves to the full text of the report.
In the first place, I think it is wise for me to state into the record why I am here and whom I represent.
I am general counsel for the Lake Carriers' Association and appear in that relation. In addition to that, I am authorized by the attorney general of Ohio, General Craft, to say I represent him as special assistant to the attorney general of Ohio.