Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1973
Civil Works and Special Functions
The Army has certain civil responsibilities which it is uniquely qualified to carry out. For varying periods of time it has administered the nation's civil works program, the Panama Canal, and a civilian marksmanship program, among other things. The Army has also been heavily involved through the years in emergency and environmental activities.
The Army's civil works responsibility, administered through the Corps of Engineers, dates back a century and a half and today involves nationwide development of water resources, including planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of works for navigation, beach erosion control, flood control, hurricane protection, hydroelectric production, water supply and quality control, recreation, and fish and wildlife enhancement, all as authorized by law.
In fiscal year 1973, $1.95 billion was appropriated for civil works, an increase of $363 million over the previous year's appropriation. All major appropriations were increased. Funds were approved for construction on 272 projects, including 31 new construction starts, and 143 planning projects, 49 of which are planning starts. Projects with the largest construction allocations were Lower Granite Lock and Dam, Washington; Libby Dam-Lake Koocanusa, Montana; Dworshak Dam and Reservoir, Idaho; Smithland Locks and Dam, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky; and New Melones Lake, California.
During the year the Corps of Engineers lost some older missions and acquired some new ones. Public Law 92-500 revised and amended the initial Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Authority to issue permits for the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters of the United States was transferred from the Corps of Engineers to the Environmental Protection Agency (and ultimately to the states) ; however, the corps will still review discharge applications to determine the impact upon navigation and anchorages. The corps retained its regulatory authority with respect to the discharge of dredged or fill material.
In the wake of flood-producing storms, Congress' in 1972 passed the Dam Safety Act, authorizing the Secretary of the Army through the Chief of Engineers to undertake a national program of dam inspection. The corps is preparing an inventory of all the dams in the United States and will formulate a comprehensive national program for the inspection
of the nation's dams and regulation of their design, construction, and operation. The recommendations will include a division of responsibilities between federal, state, and local governments and private interests.
The dam inventory will list the name, location, type, year completed, purposes, height, and impounding capacity of those dams of artificial barrier which are twenty-five feet or more in height or have an impounding capacity of fifty acre-feet or more (including wash water retention dams for coal-mine operations, of the type that collapsed on Buffalo Creek in West Virginia in 1972).
Of great assistance in the inventory are photographs and tapes acquired by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration Earth Resources Technology Satellite No. 1. The black and white near-infrared imagery shows a high contrast between land and water, and water bodies with a surface area of about eight acres or more may be identified. At the Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a computer automatically extracts the approximate surface area and geographic location of water bodies from computer-compatible satellite tapes.
Guidelines are being developed to aid in the determination of whether a dam and its impoundment constitute a danger to human life and property. Results of these activities will be reported to the Congress by 1 July 1974.
Five pilot studies which seek ways of reaching high standards of waste-water quality on a regional basis neared completion during the year. Regions under study were the Merrimack Basin in New England, the Cleveland-Akron area in Ohio, the Chicago metropolitan area, the Detroit metropolitan area, and the San Francisco Bay area. Alternative plans developed through the studies may be used by the involved states and cities as a basis for requesting construction grants from appropriate federal agencies. The plans include three alternative methods or combinations of treatment: chemical, biological, and land. Various alternatives are presented for using these methods singly or in combination. The public would be urged to participate in selecting the appropriate course of action in a given area. The studies show promise for developing for Congress and other public and private groups some sound indications of the cost of cleaning up polluted waters, as well as the cost of not cleaning them up.
In the course of these waste-water management studies, it became clear that in urban areas all water and water-related resource problems must be viewed in a single or systems context. This led to a Corps of Engineers Urban Studies Program to formulate actions to solve urban water problems and help solve related urban problems.
Under this program Corps of Engineers assistance has become available, when authorized by the Congress, to study and solve a wide range of water-connected problems. Areas in which the corps' planning, development, and management capabilities might appropriately be applied include urban flood control and flood plain management; urban water supply; waste-water management planning; regional harbor and waterway needs; bank and channel stabilization; lake, ocean, and estuarine protection; and outdoor recreation and open space recreational planning. When these areas, which the corps has analyzed in individual studies for a number of years, are treated as part of an urban study, many alternative solutions present themselves for achieving regional and local objectives as well as for solving strictly water-oriented problems. In the urban study, the beneficial and detrimental effects of the alternatives are evaluated, but the corps generally refrains from recommending specific courses of action on waste-water management, since responsibility lies with state and local officials. Recommendations are usually confined to those aspects of urban studies pertaining to the corps' civil works responsibility. In fiscal year 1973, sixteen urban studies were funded.
Environmental Protection and Preservation
The Army's responsibility in environmental protection and preservation involves both civil works and military programs. In civil works, passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969 affected Corps of Engineers staff attitudes, broadening them from concern primarily with economic and engineering considerations to a balanced awareness of economic, environmental, social, and other factors of public interest.
To accommodate environmental considerations, the corps modified the designs of about one-third of the 500 projects under construction or about to be constructed. In almost a third of 200 studies of potential projects, alternatives first proposed were changed significantly to minimize the impact on the environment. Of 103 completed projects that were evaluated, operation and maintenance procedures were changed in 43 percent for environmental reasons.
The Corps of Engineers has hired persons trained in environmental, social, and many other nonengineering fields to determine and evaluate the public's interest in environmental matters; the corps also encourages and assists other staff members to attend university courses in environment. Consultants are used widely to study projects and obtain data useful in appraising alternative courses of action.
Because effective planning and project evaluation depend upon accurate and timely environmental information, the corps is exploring approaches for the collection, compilation, and use of comprehensive
information for water resources activities. To this end, the corps has outlined an environmental information system comprising reconnaissance and project inventories, base-line studies, and program monitoring. Four pilot reconnaissance inventories for Vermont, Washington, and North and South Carolina were in progress during fiscal year 1973. These are designed to provide an environmental "early warning system" to identify significant resources and amenities that make up man's physical, biological, and cultural environments and should be preserved, protected, or approached with careful deliberation in the planning, development, and management of water and related land resources. The inventories will provide environmental information for the public and for corps co-ordination with other government agencies. They will be published in atlas form, with features such as game trails, caves, and other geological, ecological, and historical features indicated on the maps.
One of the largest and most significant civil works research and development efforts ever taken on by the Corps of Engineers was in progress under the auspices of the U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station. It is a broad study to determine the impact of one of the corps' oldest and most extensive activitiesdredging the nation's waterways and harbors. The corps is charged with keeping 22,000 miles of waterways and harbors open for navigation, at an annual cost of over $100 million. As a result of natural erosion and poor land conservation practices, river channels accumulate and transport sediment. When an authorized navigation channel becomes too shallow, the corps must deepen it by dredging. The dredged sediment may be deposited in another part of the river away from the channel, on the land, or in special diked disposal areas. Today, dredging presents several problems, among them the high cost of transporting dredged materials and the expense of lessening the undesirable environmental effects of deposited materials, problems that have caused the corps to undertake the dredging study.
The study is a five-year investigation having two primary objectives: to determine the environmental impact of dredging and disposal operations and to develop technically satisfactory, environmentally compatible, and economically feasible dredging and disposal alternatives, including the use of dredged material as a manageable resource. Among the broad areas of research are open-water and land disposal, new disposal concepts, productive uses of dredged materials, the reuse and multiple use of disposal areas, and techniques and equipment for dredging and disposal and for treating dredged materials. Research is undertaken by contract, by interagency agreement, by fund transfer to other Corps of Engineers offices, and within the Waterways Experiment Station. To
maintain a high degree of objectivity, the corps employs technical consultants in many areas.
In military programs, the Army during fiscal year 1973 stressed the objectives of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by undertaking to control air and water pollution at Army installations and by considering the environment in normal planning and decision-making. Until recently the decision-maker weighed primarily the operational and cost factors of various alternatives in selecting a course of action; now the environmental factor is added to the equation and changes are made to lessen environmental impact. During the past year, environmental impact statements were required of eighteen activities, involving complex construction projects, the demilitarization of munitions, and selected research and development projects.
An education and training program has been started to increase the Army's awareness of environmental issues and the Army's responsibility to control pollution and protect the environment. Environmental subjects have been added to the curricula of most officer service schools, information is provided to the soldier through the Command Information Program, and special environmental workshops have been held for managers and engineers.
Air and water pollution at Army installations is gradually being controlled through the construction and modernization of sewage treatment plants, incinerators, and heating plants. Approximately $200 million has been provided or budgeted to meet current standards. Because stricter emission regulations are being imposed by the states, additional dollars will have to be set aside in future budgets.
Pollution controls for mobile equipment, primarily vehicles, are keyed in large measure to what automotive manufacturers can do to produce clean engines. As the year closed, no major problems were foreseen in meeting emission standards in new equipment for the 1973-74 models. The major difficulty is anticipated for 1976, when emissions are to be reduced 90 percent over what they are today. The Army Materiel Command has been working closely with engine manufacturers and investigating new engine designs to obtain improved fuel consumption and lower emissions. Tests are under way to identify the pollutants produced by the older engines and determine what modifications are needed. Testing is also proceeding on the use of low-lead gasoline in military vehicles.
Solid waste disposal for the most part has offered no major problem. The sanitary landfill, which the Army has used for many years, is now regarded as ecologically safe for domestic wastes. On the other hand, the disposal of explosive contaminated wastes, pesticides, and toxic chemicals presents unique problems. More sophisticated and safer pro-
cedures will have to be adopted now that ocean dumping is not considered an ecologically acceptable method.
The other side of solid waste disposal is the requirement to salvage materials that can be returned to the manufacturing process. While current efforts are at modest levels, the Army has sharply increased the use of retreaded tires and rebuilt automotive components. Useful chemicals have also been recovered as a by-product of the extensive munitions demilitarization program.
Some Army posts have established recycling centers similar to those found in civilian communities. Others have co-operated with local community organizations in joint programs. These measures, along with successes recorded under the Army's Domestic Action Program, once again show the Army's interest in protecting the environment.
In the national effort to preserve our historical and cultural heritage, a number of military installations, such as West Point, New York, Fort Monroe, Virginia, and the Presidio of San Francisco, California, have been registered as national historic sites.
While preserving such landmarks, the Army has also attended to post beautificationmaking installations more attractive and progressive. In the multimillion-dollar barracks and family housing program, for example, there has been a deliberate departure from traditional construction. In addition, land and forest management and fish and wildlife programs are being emphasized.
Environmental activities in progress also include research and development related to pollution control. Under examination are packaging material subject to deterioration, vehicle and aircraft emission standards for Army equipment, water and waste-water treatment procedures, and engines with low fuel consumption and low emission, such as the stratified charge engine for the 1/4-ton truck.
In September 1972 the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army was designated as the Army's focal point for environmental matters, and an Army Environmental Council, composed of representatives of general officer and equivalent rank from the Army secretariat and the General Staff, was established. Simultaneously, an Army Environmental Committee to support the council was formed of staff officers from the agencies represented on the council. The council and committee by year's end had prepared environmental assessments and impact statements and an information booklet on the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, formulated a study plan to analyze solid waste procedures and opportunities for waste recycling on Army installations, undertaken a feasibility study of a demonstration project for sludge disposal at Joliet Army Ammunition Plant in co-ordination with
the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago, and developed an over-all Army Environmental Program.
The Army Audit Agency also surveyed pollution control and environmental protection activities at eleven installations, identifying a number of accomplishments as well as deficiencies.
Fiscal year 1973 was marked by the most sustained series of emergencies in many years. Throughout the year one or more of the Engineer districts was on a natural disaster alert, and at least one 24-hour emergency operations center was open and functioning. By 30 June 1973 a major disaster had been declared at least once in thirty-nine of the contiguous forty-eight states, and an earthquake had wrought havoc on the Island of Hawaii. Fifty-six major disasters were declared, one of which was tropical storm Agnes, an emergency that involved the Army extensively through its civil works and military roles.
Occurring in June 1972, Hurricane Agnes took more than a hundred lives and left widespread devastation in six northeastern states: Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. When the hurricane turned inland causing extensive flooding, the Emergency Operations Center of the Office of the Chief of Engineers was activated as the major communications center and situation room. The center stayed in continuous operation from the last week of June until the first week in September 1972. Meanwhile more than four hundred Corps of Engineers disaster fighters were assembled as a provisional district headquarters at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna District was assigned to carry out emergency work directed by the Office of Emergency Preparedness, while the North Atlantic Division Engineer co-ordinated recovery efforts by eight engineer districts along the east coast. The Susquehanna District's work included site preparation for mobile homes, emergency housing repairs, debris removal, demolition of hazardous structures, repair of public utility systems, and construction of temporary bridges.
In early August 1972, the first increment of some forty senior Engineer noncommissioned officers arrived in Wilkes-Barre to assist in contractual arrangements for emergency housing repairs. Through daily contact these engineers established excellent relations with local citizens, and their assistance was widely recognized and appreciated. Joining the engineers in the so-called "mini-repair" program were Navy Seabees, who restored electrical service to flood-damaged homes, and Air Force personnel, who inspected and repaired mobile homes and houses. Corps of Engineers expenditures, under Public Law 91-606, to repair
the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes reached $150 million. In addition, the corps incurred $7 million in administrative costs.
The military role in the Hurricane Agnes emergency was as substantial as the civil works involvement. Active and Reserve Component units of all military services responded. By the afternoon of 22 June 1972, Army National Guard units in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York had been called to state active duty. The First U.S. Army opened a 24-hour emergency operations center at Fort Meade, Maryland, on that day and dispatched officers to the hardest hit areas to co-ordinate with the regional field representatives of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and with local authorities. Anticipating that in the hardest hit regions would be designated as major disaster areas, the Army's Directorate of Military Support conferred with the Office of Emergency Preparedness, which then asked the Army and the Department of Defense for support not available through the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, National Guard units, and other local, state, and federal agencies.
On 23 June 1972 the President declared portions of Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York as major disaster areas. The severest flooding occurred in Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and in Elmira and Corning, New York. These areas received most of the support provided by the Department of Defense. Over 2,000 citizens were rescued by helicopters in the Wilkes-Barre area alone. Active and Reserve forces flew numerous missions over the flood areas to rescue stranded families. Light amphibious reconnaissance boats patrolled swollen streams, and military vehicles surveyed flooded streets and transported disaster victims to Reserve centers, armories, and other relief shelters, where they were provided with food, clothing, bedding, and medical supplies.
Besides evacuating victims, transporting supplies, and assisting store owners to relocate their stocks, military vehicles transported potable water from purification units to distribution points, primarily in Richmond, Elmira, Corning, and Wilkes-Barre. Navy construction battalion personnel and Air Force civil engineers combined forces with the Army engineers to restore power lines to hospitals and shopping centers, repair plumbing, heating, and electrical systems in damaged homes, and establish services in trailer parks constructed to aid flood victims.
Military resources assigned to emergency operations were withdrawn piecemeal beginning early in August and extending until projects were completed or other federal agencies replaced military elements. By 29 December 1972 all military support had ended.
The mild winter of 1972-73 brought unseasonable rains and early run-off from melted snow that produced record water levels in the Great Lakes and the watershed of the Mississippi River. Because the ground
was saturated, each succeeding rainfall flowed off quickly into tributaries, the Mississippi, and the lakes. Lake levels exceeded long-standing record heights, and the Mississippi filled and crested twice along its entire length, setting new records at many localities.
To provide emergency shoreline protection against flooding along the Great Lakes from Chicago to Buffalo, Operation Foresight was started on 15 December 1972. Water levels on the Great Lakes in the fall of 1972 indicated generally that springtime levels would exceed those that had been recorded over a long period of time, and the prospects inspired numerous pleas for assistance from shore property owners. It was predicted that Great Lakes levels would remain above average during the spring of 1973 as a result of excessive rainfall over the basin reaching back to September 1970. Although erosion of the lake shore,occurs during all water stages, it is accelerated during periods of high water and storm.
Under Operation Foresight, while local officials were obtaining permits and rights of entry, preliminary designs for flood protection were developed for specific sites and conditions. Construction was in progress as the year closed, and while costs were estimated to be on the order of $26 million, it was expected that almost $90 million in potential damages would be avoided by the preventive work.
Two problems presented themselves as Operation Foresight proceeded. One, there was a natural reluctance among property owners to have their access to the shore obstructed, and little urgency prevailed in areas that had not yet been touched by rising waters; local authorities, therefore, had difficulty in obtaining releases. Two, even in areas where there was an interest in protection, it was found that temporary measures would be inadequate and could only be made effective as a part of a formal project programed with appropriated funds. Time was critical. If the work was to be fully effective, it would have to be completed by the end of September 1973. As of the end of June, close to half of the eligible projects had been started and many had been completed.
In the Mississippi River basin, flooding started early in the spring of 1973 after several months of abnormal rainfall, extended into the summer, and led to unprecedented water levels that caused over a billion dollars in damage. At the outset engineer divisions and districts moved quickly to activate emergency operation centers and cope with the developing situation. In March 1973, heavy rains over the Yazoo River basin in Mississippi, culminating in a ten-inch rainstorm, produced flash flooding that filled the Sardis, Enid, and Grenada reservoirs and caused water to overflow emergency spillways for the first time since construction.
As the crest of water moved down the Mississippi toward New Orleans, special measures were required to protect the city and its regions. Bonnet Carre spillway, thirty miles above New Orleans, was opened for the fourth time in history to drain off a portion of the high waters. In the second week of April, the overbank drainage structure was opened for the first time since construction, as were ten bays at the Morganza floodway control structure a few days later. Before the water subsided, twenty control bays had been opened. The control system of the Mississippi River and its tributaries did its job, but nonfederal levees were taxed beyond their capabilities and failed. Louisiana National Guard units raised the levees and the floodwall at Morgan City but were called away when strong gulf winds raised tide levels and caused backwater flooding in lower Louisiana. Active Army troops were called in to patrol Morgan City Harbor to remove floating debris, raise the floodwall with flashboards, and build up the front-line levees with mud-box construction and sandbags.
Even as the floodwaters of the lower Mississippi began to fall, severe rains coupled with mild temperatures that melted snow in the upper Mississippi Valley signaled a second emergency. On 28 April 1973 the Mississippi rose to 43.23 feet at St. Louis, Missouri, 13.23 feet above flood stage and an all-time high. At Vicksburg, Mississippi, the river stayed above flood stage for eighty-nine days and set a new record for the average four-month flow. Record stages were set as far downstream as Cape Girardeau, Missouri, but the control system again performed well.
In addition to the National Guard elements from Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, and Arkansas that took part in flood control operations, the 62d Engineer Battalion from Fort Hood, Texas, was engaged in operations. primarily in the Morgan City area. Also, the Fifth U.S. Army provided a tactical raft, buses, tractors and trailers, and other equipment to rescue some 6.882 citizens when the town of Portage Des Sioux, Missouri, was isolated by the floodwaters.
The flood fight was terminated in mid-,Tune 1973, and it was well into the summer before the Mississippi River returned to its banks. Approximately 13,600,000 acres in eight states had been flooded. Damage was estimated at over, a billion dollars, and if Army Engineer flood control structures had not been in place, it is likely that another ten million acres would have been flooded, with damages of more than $15 billion. The emergency fund requirement for the 1973 flood in the Mississippi River basin was close to $50 million.
In March 1973, the Army provided four helicopters and crews to assist the Department of the Interior in a streamflow study in the Hell's Canyon area of the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon boundary.
In July 1972 the Army's Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) concept got its first operational test when severe floods struck Central Luzon in the Philippines. At the request of the Philippine government and the U.S. ambassador, the Security Assistance Force (Asia) (formerly the Special Action Force) became the first to deploy DARTS. Elements from Okinawa comprising 123 persons and 75 pieces of major equipment were deployed by Air Force cargo planes on 21 July 1972. Operations continued to 13 August; seven teams, of twelve men each, were employed to provide area coverage. Over a million pounds of food was distributed, 305,000 inoculations were given, 27,953 patients were treated, 2,933 persons were evacuated, and 36 Filipino military personnel were trained in various skills. The assistance was recognized on 14 August 1972 when President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines presented his nation's Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation to all DART participants.
Promotion of Rifle Practice
The National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice (NBPRP ) was organized in 1903 to encourage rifle practice with military-type weapons for citizens who are not reached through the training programs of the active components of the armed forces. Marksmanship programs sponsored by the board are conducted by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship.
The current civilian marksmanship program is open to boys between the ages of twelve and nineteen. The Army lends .22-caliber rifles to participating clubs, provides .22-caliber ammunition and small-bore targets, and awards qualification badges.
A new marksmanship program was started in fiscal year 1973 to train promising young shooters for possible participation in international shooting activities conducted by the active services. Participants are selected from National Junior Championship matches and Honorary All-American Collegiate teams and train as a team for approximately two weeks.
As in previous years, the NBPRP has authorized the National Rifle Association (NRA) to conduct four of the five National Trophy matches at the Annual NRA National Rifle and Pistol championships. In August 1972, a total of 67 teams, including 37 civilian teams, and 1,000 shooters competed for service rifle and service pistol trophies and medals at the NBPRP National Trophy matches.
Appropriated funds for NBPRP programs were increased in fiscal year 1973 to $159,000, and the increase permitted the Director of Civilian Marksmanship to continue support of civilian marksmanship programs at levels authorized by Army regulations.
Return to Table of Contents
Last updated 9 August 2004