United States. Inland Waterways Commission.

Preliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report online

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of the large tributaries are not represented. The greater part of the
area covered lies to the south of the Oliio, wliile surveys of the north-
ern tributaries are somewhat sparse. For tliis reason it has been
necessary to omit from consideration laro;e affluents of the Ohio, like
the Wabash, Green, and Muskingum, while the Scioto and Miami are
practically without representation. The consideration of floods on the
Ohio will proceed without them, and if it can be sliowm that the incom-
plete reservoir system heretofore presented will abate floods in the
Ohio the efficiency of the system and the integrity of the principle
will have been demonstrated.



FLOODS ON THE OHIO



All floods on the Ohio do not have a common origin. At times
they arise in the upper part of the river and by the time they have
reached the lower portion have become so flattened out that they
cause no damage or apprehension. Again, floods sometimes visit



468 REPORT OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS COMMISSION

the region of Evansville and Paducah, which have not caused
alarm in the vicinity of Pittsburg and Wheehng. Of course, it
is true that whenever a flood descends from the upper tributaries
its effect is traceable tliroughout the length of the river, but its
magnitude may not be such as to approach the danger line in the
lower part of the stream. The two great floods during the last
quarter of a century occurred in 1884 and 1907. Those which
occurred in the intervening period, while serious in themselves, are
not important in comparison with the two great floods above men-
tioned. Available records of the flood of 1884 are not satisfactory
except for the main stream at Wheeling and at Paducah. We can
secure from these two series of records a very good idea of the progress
of the flood, but the information concerning the contributary area is
entirely lacking.

Both the floods of 1884 and 1907 were above the danger line at
Wheeling for a period of five days. The greatest height of the
earlier flood was 51.5 feet on the Wheeling gauge, wliile that of the
later flood was 48.9. The difl'erence is so slight that in computing
the effect of storage either might be used as a maximum, but inas-
much as we are fully acquainted with the conditions during the
flood of March, 1907, it will be used to test the efficiency of the
proposed storage system. There will also be included the flood of
January, 1907. These two floods were entirely different in their
effects and progress. The flood of January did the greatest damage
in the lower portion of the river, while that of March arose in the
upper portion of the basin, principally in the Monongahela drainage
area, and did its greatest damage there. They will, therefore, serve
as excellent types upon which to base an opinion of the reservoir
system as a means of preventing floods. We will, therefore, con-
sider these two floods in turn, starting at Pittsburg and ending at
Cairo, for the purpose of showing what would have been the effect
had the reservoir system proposed in previous pages actually been
installed and in operation at that time.

Records show that floods never arise over the entire Ohio basin
at one time. So far, only one-fourth to one-third of the total area
has been involved in any flood. Should all the basin be involved
sinuiltaneously, the damage would be beyond computation, in the
lower Mississippi as well as in the Ohio, and all human efforts at
abatement would be ineffectual. This, of course, is true in any
large basin; our past, present, and future safety lies in the fact that
only small portions of any large basin are in flood simultaneously.
We can provide protection for only these partial floods, but the
partial protection is quite worthy of accomplishment.

At Pittsburg, Pa. — The drainage area of Ohio River above Pitts-
burg, Pa., is 18,800 square miles, while the area studied for conserva-
tion is 4,575 square miles, or about 25 per cent of the entire area.
The courses of the two floods and the computed efl'ect of storage
are given in the following table :



WATER CONSERVATION AND FLOOD PREVENTION



469



Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Pittsburg, Pa.-
Danger line 22 feet, equivalent to flow of 214,000 second-feet



FLOOD OF JANUARY



Day.



Effect without
conservation.



Probable effect with
conservation.



h^etg"h^t. Di-l^rge. Discharge. «-|,«.



Jan. 19.
20.
21.



Second-feet. Second-feet.
21.4 ! 205,000 142,000

23.2 230,000 160,000

18.8 170,000 118,000



16.6
18.0
14.5



FLOOD OF MARCH



Mar. 13


12.7


98,000


71,000


U.O


14


30.8


344,000


249,000


24.5


15


35.1


412,000


298,000


27.7


16


22.8


225,000


163,000


18.2


17


15.7


131,000


95.000


12.5



During the January flood 67 per cent was derived from the Monon-
gahela. It will be noted in the table that this flood would not have
reached the danger line had the storage system been installed. In
the March flood 45 per cent of the water came down the Allegheny,
in which basin, as has alread}^ been explained, surveys showing all
the reservoir possibilities have not been made. Were these surveys
available, the additional reservoir sites that they would reveal would,
if included in the estimate, materially reduce this percentage. The
table shows that, with the storage now identified, the March flood
would have reached a height of 5.7 feet above the danger line, instead
of the 13 feet which actually occurred. It should be recalled that the
reservoirs included in the aibove estimate conserve the torrential flow,
as explained on page 456, so that the method of proportionate estimate
here used does not do justice to the efficiency ot the proposed system.
Again, it should be recalled that the full economical storage capacity
in the Allegheny has not been included in the estimates. Were it
possible to make use of these two important factors it would be demon-
strated that the March flood would not have arisen to the Pittsburg
danger line. The small flow in excess of the danger-line flow would
readily be dispersed with either factor.

At Wheeling, W. Va. — The total drainage area above Wheeling is
23,800 square miles, of which the system heretofore proposed will
absolutely conserve 5,850 square miles, or 24 per cent. The danger
line at Wheeling is 36 feet, which corresponds to a discharge of 287,500
cubic feet per second. Between Pittsburg and Wheeling enters the
Beaver River, with a drainage area of 3,050 square miles. Lack of
suitable surveys has made it impossible to consider storage facilities
in the Beaver basin. Only one reservoir, of a capacity sufficient to
conserve 87 miles of drainage area, has been identified. Therefore
the effect sho^vn at Wheeling will not do justice to the conservancy
plan. It involves the h3^pothesis that this river, which, for ten days
during the March flood, discharged an average of 39,000 cubic feet
per second, must remain entirely unconserved. Of course this is not
true, as could be shown were surveys available. On the minor
streams between Pittsburg and Wheeling there is an area available



470



REPORT OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS COMMISSION



for conservation of 1,189 squaji-e miles. The run-off from the areas
covered by these streams was 13 second-feet per square mile.

The behavior of the floods at Wheeling under free and under con-
served conditions is given in the following table:

Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Wheeling, W. Va. —
Danger line 36 feet, equivalent to flow of 287,500 second-feet

FLOOD OF JANUARY



Day.


Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Gauge
height.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
height.


Jan. 19 V


31.6
36.1
35.9


Second-feet.
240, 100
288, 600
286, 400


Second-feet.
169,000
203,000
201,000


24.5


20


28.0


21


27.8






FLOOD OF MARCH



Mar. 13
14
15

16

17,
18



17.5


107,000


78,000


37.9


308, 700


225,000


47.8


426,400


311,000


48.9


440,200


320,000


38.0


309,800


226,000


27.9


202,200


147,000



14.0
30.2
38.1
38.9
30.2
22.1



The figures show that there would have been an excess of 1.9
feet above the danger line in the March flood if the reservoir sj^s-
tem herein described were installed ; but, recalling the fact that the
computations here made do not take account of three facts : first, the
checking of torrential flow; second, lack of full reservoir development
in the Allegheny; third, lack of same in the Beaver, it is certain that,
had the computations been given the benefit of any one of them it
would be shown that the March flood would not have reached the
danger line.

At Parkershurg, W. Va. — Above Parkorsburg there is a drainage
area of 37,200 square miles, of which 8,100 or about 22 per cent is here
included in conservancy. Between Wlieeling and Parkersburg, the
principal streams entering the river are the Muskingum, drainage
area 7,740 square miles, and the Little Kanawha, wliich enters at
Parkersburg, draining 2,300 square miles. In addition to this, there
are numerous small streams which contribute largely to floods in the
river. We have, on the Muskingum no data showing possible storage
reservoir sites, and therefore the estimates are presented without
considering them. On the Little Kanawha there have been identi-
fied reservoir sites to provide for the absolute conservation of 960
square miles — or 42 per cent of the total. The minor streams enter-
ing the Ohio between Wlieeling and Parkersburg will furnish reservoir
sites for the absolute conservation of 1,231 s(|uare miles. Consider-
ing now the distribution of this flood above Parkersburg, we have
already cited the run-off on the upper tributaries; on the minor
streams between Wheeling and Parkersburg there was a run-off of 10
second-feet per square mile in January and of 12 second-feet in March.
On the Little Kanawha, the run-off was 7 second-feet per square mile
in January and 8 in March, while on the Muskingum, concerning
which we have no reservoir data, there was a run-off of 8.8 second-feet



WATER CONSERVATION AND FLOOD PREVENTION



471



in January and 12 in March. Thus it will be seen that all the storage
reservoirs were effective in both floods and there are no errors in-
volved in extending the proportionate estimate down to this point.
We have, then, two large wild tributaries entering the Ohio above
Parkersburg, neither of which is considered as having storage reser-
voir facilities. The result under such an hypothesis is shown in the
following table:



Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Parkersburg,
W. Va. — Danger line 36 feet, equivalent to a flow of 336,000 second-feet

FLOOD OF JANUARY



Day.


Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Gauge
height.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
height.


Jan. 16


34.4
36.3
38.4
38.0
39.3
39.9
39.1
34.8


Second-feet.
315,000
340,000
370,000
360,000
380,000
385,000
375, 000
320,000


Second-feet.
236,000
255,000
277,000
270,000
285,000
289,000
281,000
240,000


27.6


17


29.3


18


31.1


19


30.5


20


31.8


21


32.2


22


31.5


23


27.9







FLOOD OF MARCH



Mar. 14


37.0
48.1
51.4
50.9
43.6
40.0
35.0


350,000
500,000
550,000
540,000
440,000
390,000
325,000


270, 000
386,000^
425, OOr
418,000
340,000
233,000
252,000


30.6


15


39.8


16


42.7


17


42.1


18


36.1


19


33.1


20


28.9







The flood of March, as shown by the above table, submerged the
danger line for a period of six days, the deepest submergence being
15.4 feet. Reservoirs would have reduced this to a point below the
danger line. Even in the above table the submergence, with only
partial reservoir system considered and taking no account of the
torrential feature explained on p. 14, occurred only three days and
the maximum was 6.7 feet.

At Point Pleasant, W. Va. — The next point of observation is
Point Pleasant, above which there is a total drainage area of 51,500
square miles, of which 14,100, or 27 per cent, is here included in con-
servancy. Between these two points, the only rivers of importance
that enter the Ohio are the Kanawha and Hocking. The former
has a drainage area of 12,000 square miles, of which about 6,000 is
conserved under the plan proposed in previous pages. No con-
servation in the Hocking Valley is considered in present computations.
It should be noted here that the Great Kanawha poured into the
Ohio during the January flood a run-oft' equivalent to 5.5 secontl-
feet per square mile, or over 60,000 cubic feet per second, and during
the March flood a little less. Point Pleasant is an exceedingly
troublesome place during floods, by reason of the fact that the danger
line there is so low. There is no place along the river better suited to
test severely the merits of the conservation scheme than Point
Pleasant. It would seem that if anything like a good showing is



472



EEPOET OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS COMMISSION



made by our system at this point, then, can the scheme be regarded
with confidence.

The danger fine at Point Pleasant is 39 feet on the gauge, equiv-
alent to 332,000 cubic feet per second. It will be significant to con-
trast this with the danger-line capacity at Parkersburg, where the
flow at the danger line is 336,000 cubic feet per second, although
the drainage area is less by 14,300 square miles than at Point Pleas-
ant. The effects of the floods of January and March, 1907, and the
effects that the proposed storage system would have, had it been
installed at the time, are set forth in the following table:

Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Point Pleasant,
W. Va. — Danger line, 39 feet, equivalent to a flow of 332,000 second-feet

FLOOD OF JANUARY



Jan. 15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
. 25.



Day.



Eflect without
conservation.



Gauge
height.



36.8
4.3.2
46.0
50.1
52.0
51.9
50.5
48.7
46.0
42.3
34.5



Discharge.



Second-feet.
305,000
390,000
430,000
485,000
515,000
510, 000
490, 000
465, 000
425, 000
375, 000
275, 000



Probable effect with
conservation.



Discharge.



Second-feet.
219, 000
280,000
309,000
349,000
370,000
367,000
352,000
334, 000
305, 000
270, 000
198, 000



Gauge
height.



29.8
35.0
33.2
40.2
41.7
41.5
40.5
39.2
36.9
.34.0
29.8



FLOOD OF MARCH



Mar. 14

15


34.3
46.4
52.4
54.7
54.8
,52.7
48.7
44.9
42.7
■30.5
36.8


270, 000
430, 000
520,000
550, 000
555,000
525,000
465,000
410, 000
.380,000
350,000
305,000


207, 000
325, 000
393,000
415,000
419, 000
396,000
351,000
309,000
287, 000
264, 000
230,000


29.0
36.5


16


43.5


17

18


45.2
45.5


19

20


43.9
40.5


21

22

23

24


37.1
35.6
33.6
30.6



The above figures show that the danger line would have been sub-
merged in both floods with the storage system here considered; in
the January flood it would have been submerged by 2.7 feet, and in
that of March by 6.5 feet. The result is eminently satisfactory; by
making allowances for unsurveyed areas and check of torrential flow
noted in previous pages, it will be appreciated that no damage would
have arisen at Point Pleasant by reason of either flood had the stor-
age system been installed.

At Huntington, W. Va. — Above Huntington, W. Va., the Ohio River
system is 58,600 square miles in extent, of which 15,500, or 26 per
cent, is here included in conservancy. Between Point Pleasant and
Huntington the i)rincipal tributary" of the Ohio is the Guyandotte,
on which there have been identified reservoirs sufficient to conserve
an area of 1,426 square miles.



WATER CONSERVATION AND FLOOD PREVENTION



473



The danger line at Huntington is 50 feet, equivalent to a discharge
of 432,000 cubic feet per second. Examination of the following
table will show that the reservoir system herein considered would,
without allowances being made for any feature, have reduced the
floods of January and March, 1907, at Huntington below the danger
line, making the maximum gauge height 48.2, or 1.8 feet below said
line.



Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Huntington, W. Va.-
Danger line, 50 feet, equivalent to a fvow of 432,000 second-feet



FLOOD OF .TANUAUY





Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Day.


Gauge
height.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
height.


Jan. 16


46.8
61.0
54.0
57.1
57.8
56.5
54.5
52.0
48.7


Second-feet.
390,000
445,000
485,000
525,000
535,000
520,000
495,000
460,000
415,000


Second-feet.
279,000
318,000
347,000
375,000
383,000
372,000
354,000
329,000
296,000


38.0


17


41.2


18


43.5


19


45.7


20


46.2


21


45.4


22. ...


44.0


23


42.1


24


39.5



FLOOD OF MARCH



Mar. 15 "


48.4
55.2
57.9
58.4
57.2
54.5
50.6
47.7


410,000
500,000
540,000
545,000
530,000
490,000
440,000
400,000


307,000
375,000
405,000
407,000
392,000
367,000
330,000
300,000


40.4


16


45.7


17


47.9


18

19

20


48.2
47.4
45.1


21..


42.1


22


39.8







At Catlettshurg, Ky. — Catlettsburg is 8 miles below Huntington;
above the former there is a drainage area of 59,300 square miles, of
which the present figures provide absolute conservation for 19,100
square miles. The Big Sandy River joins the Ohio at Catlettsburg.
It has a drainage area of 3,950 square miles, of which there are facil-
ities in the drainage area for the conservation of about 90 per cent,
or 3,540 square miles. The records show that the contribution made
by the Big Sandy to the floods of 1907 was 5 and 4 second-feet per
square mile, respectively, or about the same as those of neighboring
drainage areas. Therefore, there is no adjustment to be made in the
method of determining the effect of reservoirs by proportionate run-
off. The following table gives a record of the floods of January and
March, 1907, and the estimated effect of the proposed reservoir sys-
tem. It will be seen that in neither case would the danger line have
been reached, and this on only partial con^^ervation and with no
allowance for the checking of torrential run-off.

31673— S. Doc. 325, 60-1 31



474



REPORT OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS COMMISSION



Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Catlettsburg , Ky. —
Danger line 50 feet, equivalent to a flow of 428,000 second-feet



FLOOD OF JANUARY



Day.


Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Gauge
height.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
height.


Jan. 16


47.8
52.4
55.4
59.0
59.9
58.4
56.4
53.0
50.6
45.0


Second-feet.
400.000
460. OOO
500,000
550,000
560.000
540.000
515, 000
470,000
435,000
365,000


Second-feet.
275,000
317, 000
345. 000
379,000
386,000
372,000
355, 000
324.000
300.000
252,000


38.0


17


41.4


18


43.6


19


46.3


20


46.8


21


45.7


22


44.4


23 ..


42.0


24


40.0


25 .


36.0







FLOOD OF MARCH



Mar. 15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22



49.0


415,000


303,000


57.2


525,000


384,000


59.8


560,000


410,000


60.4


570,000


417,000


59.6


500,000


410,000


56.4


515,000


377,000


52.3


460,000


336,000


49.0


415,000


303,000



40.3
46.6
48.5
49.1
48.5
46.0
42.9
40.3



At Portsmouth, Ohio. — Scioto River, which has a drainage area of
6,400 square miles, enters the Ohio at Portsmouth. The total
drainage area of the Ohio above Portsmouth is 66,300 square miles, of
which 19,519, or about 30 per cent, is here included in conservancy.
Full reservoirs in the Scioto basin would probably increase this pro-
portion, but the present estimate includes only 441 miles. Ports-
mouth has suffered frequently from floods, and especially during the
floods of January and March, 1907. ,The progress of the flood at
Portsmouth during the high stages and the computed effect of the
storage system are given in the following table. It will be seen that
there would have been complete protection in both cases.

Estimated effects of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Portsmouth, Ohio. —
Danger line 50 feet, equivalent to a flow of 407,000 second-feet

FLOOD OF JANUARY



Day.


Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Gauge
heigiit.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
heiglit.


Jan. IC :


48.6
53.4
56.3
59.3
60.9
60.7
59.2
57.5
54.7
50.0


Second-feet.
390.000
450,000
485, OCO
525, 0"0
54.5,000
540.000
525.000
500.000
465.000
407,000


Second-feet.
270,000
311.010
335.000
303.000
377,0''0
373. OCO
363.000
346,000
321,000
281,000


38.4


17


42.1


18


44.1


19

20

21

22

23

24

25


46.4
47.5
47.2
46.4
45.0
43.0
39.6



WATER CONSERVATION AND FLOOD PREVENTION



475



Estimated effects of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Portsmouth, Ohio — ■
Danger line 50 feet, equivalent to a flow of 407,000 second-feet — Continued



FLOOD OF MARCH



Day.


Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Gauge
height.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
height.


Mar. 14. .


39.5
52.2
58.6
60.5
60.8
59.8
58.1
55.6
52.4
51.0
46.8


Second-feet.
280,000
435,000
515,000
540,000
545,000
530,000
510,000
475,000
435,000
4:0,000
365,000


Second-feel.
205,000
318,000
377,000
395,000
399,000
388,000
373, 000
347,000
318,000
307,000
207,000


33


15 ...


42.7


16.


47.5


17.

18.


49.0
49.3


19.

20


48.4
47.3


21


4.5.2


22


42.7


23.


41.8


24.


38.2







At Maysville, Ky. — At Maysville, Ky., 53 miles below Portsmouth,
Ohio, the effect would be similar to that at Portsmouth. During the
flood of January the river was above the danger line of 50 feet for a
period of nine days; the maximum being 60.3 feet, equivalent to a
flow af 620,000 cubic feet per second. The reservoir system here con-
sidered would reduce this entirely below the danger line, making the
maximum gauge height 49.6 feet, or 0.4 foot below the danger line.
During the March flood the river was above the danger line eight days,
the highest submergence thereof being 9.2 feet. The reservoir system
would have reduced tliis to the danger line.

At Cincinnati, Ohio. — We come now to a consideration of floods at
Cincinnati, Ohio, above which there is in the Ohio basin a drainage
area of 73,900 square miles. Of this, the present report proposes to
conserve 20,100 square miles, or 27 per cent of the whole. Licking
River, a tributary basin, 3,870 square miles in extent, enters the Ohio
from the south just above Cincinnati. The present report provides
for the complete conservation of 590 square miles of the Licking
basin. During the floods of 1907, the average run-off from Licking
River was, for a period of ten days in each case, 21,000 cubic feet per
second. The maximum was much higher than this. This unre-
strained discharge on the top of an already gorged channel aggra-
vated the conditions at Cincinnati. The Great Miami, too, was a
factor. Although it enters the Ohio below Cincinnati, its enormous
discharge of water during this flood had a backwater effect, and
caused a higher stage at Cincinnati than would have occurred had the
Miami been properly conserved.

The danger Hue at Cincinnati is 50 feet on the gauge, equivalent to
a flow of 415,000 cubic feetper second. This is a low danger line, rep-
resenting less channel capacity than the danger lines at Maysville and
Catlettsburg on the river above. The effect of the floods on the
river and the effect of storage according to the system proposed
would be as follows:



476



KEPOKT OF THE INLAND WATERWAYS COMMISSION



Estimated effect of storage on floods of January and March, 1907, at Cincinnati, Ohio —
Danger line 50 feet, equivalent to a flow of 415,000 second-feet



FLOOD OF JANUARY



Day.


Effect without
conservation.


Probable effect with
conservation.


Gauge
height.


Discharge.


Discharge.


Gauge
height.


Jan. 15


47.2
51.1
55.7
59.4
61.9


Second-feet.
375,000
430,000
500,000
560,000
595,000
630,000
645,000
640,000
615,000
585,000
540,000
475,000
390,000


Second-feet.
272,000
311,000
362,000
405,000
435,000
456,000
400,000



Online LibraryUnited States. Inland Waterways CommissionPreliminary report of the Inland Waterways Commission. Message from the President transmitting a preliminary report → online text (page 53 of 83)