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Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (Volume 81) online

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pensation of men engaged in other kinds of professional work. Its
inquiries have not produced any definite results, and, so far as the
Committee can learn, no data as complete as are herewith presented
have been secured with respect to them. From such meager infor-
mation as was obtainable, the Committee is convinced that the com-
pensation for engineering work compares favorably with that received
by men of any other profession. Engineers, like other professional




VOL. LXXXI, No. 1399.





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appear cynical or pessimistic have been made by men who would
probably have been failures in any occupation or profession, men
who do not possess adaptability or even a fair degree of industry, and
who attribute their failure to their unfortunate selection of a pro-
fession. These comments should not be given much weight. Perhaps
there are too many engineers, but the eagerness of young men to adopt
this profession is doubtless due to the indisputable fact that young
graduates of engineering schools reach a self-sustaining basis, where
they are at least able to support themselves, more quickly than do
those of other professions. Much has been said lately about the
general decrease in the registration at engineering schools, and this
has apparently been viewed with alarm by their faculties. Your
Committee does not consider it a bad omen for the profession. There
is a need of better trained engineers rather than of more engineers, a
need more particularly of men who are better grounded in the fiinda-
mentals of the engineering sciences and who have at the same time
acquired some knowledge of the economic or business aspects of
engineering work, rather than of men who may have the greatest
earning capacity on the day of their graduation.

The subject assigned to this Committee for investigation includes
not only the compensation, but "the conditions of employment" of
engineers. The information collected and herewith presented may be
thought to relate only to compensation and not to conditions of employ-
ment, except to the extent that the latter may be the cause of, or
may result from, the former. Judging from the replies received by
the Committee and the extended comments accompanying some of
them, conditions of employment are believed to be capable of expres-
sion chiefly, if not wholly, in terms of compensation. The Com-
mittee has repeatedly discussed the meaning of "conditions of employ-
ment" and what was the probable intent of the Society in the inclu-
sion of these words in the title of the Committee. To give it the
broadest interpretation to which it is susceptible and to follow the lead
indicated by such interpretation would have led the Committee into
a more or less controversial discussion of social conditions, and might
have resulted in a report of greater length, but of no more value. That
there lately has been a more general appreciation of the importance
and dignity of the Engineering Profession cannot be denied, and the
part which engineers are now taking, on the invitation of the Federal
Government, in the investigation of the resources of this country and
their prompt and effective utilization for national defense or in any
other crisis, together with the more cordial co-operation between men
in different branches of the Engineering Profession, will do much to
increase further this estimate of the value of engineering service.


The Committee wishes to express its grateful appreciation of the
co-operation which it has received from members of the Society and
others, and for the valuable advice and assistance extended to it by
the Secretary of the Society and members of his staff. It asks that
this be accepted as its final report, and that it be discharged.

Respectfully submitted,

JSTelson p. Lewis,



John A. Bensel,
S. L. F. Deyo,
DuGALD C. Jackson,
William V. Judson,
Nelson P. Lewis,
c. f. loweth,
George W. Tillson.

November 15tii, 1916.



Mr. H. S. Schick,* Assoc. M. Am. Soc. C. E. (by letter).— This Com-

■ mittee has performed a valuable service in a matter which is of first

importance in the work of the Society. The diagrams accompanying

the report are interesting, and their scope and limitations have been

fully discussed by the Committee.

An important principle brought out in the report should receive
further attention, for the purpose of emphasizing the helpfulness of
the Society in promoting effectually the feeling of reciprocal useful-
ness, the spirit of co-operation between members, and, at the same
time, perform a service of especially practical value to the profession.

The writer refers to the principle that the compensation of every
engineer, aside from his return on physical capital invested, depends
entirely on his own efficiency — both his teclm^ical and his selling
efficiency. All know, on the one hand, as stated clearly by the Com-
mittee, that engineers frequently receive a lower compensation than
their services should demand, and, on the other hand, that the search
for the proper man to perform a given service is always attended with
some difficxilty and much loss of time. This difficulty may be charged
to the fact that, in marketing their services, engineers are not always
good salesmen, and have not the most ready means to acquire reliable
disinterested information regarding the demand for their work. For
a number of years, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has
maintained a bureau for the purpose of gathering and publishing, in
several ways, just such data for the use of its members, at a cost
which is surprisingly low, and with highly gratifying results.

This matter is brought to the attention of the members of this
Society, now, for the purpose of eliciting discussion, and perhaps ulti-
mately turning the valuable contribution of this Committee toward
the accomplishment of a practical end which will be of much satis-
faction to all.

Mr. Lewis A. JoNES,t Assoc. M. Am. Soc. C. E. (by letter). — There is
''°"^^' one point in this report to which the writer desires to call attention.
In Diagram 4, giving the average yearly compensation grouped with
reference to nature of service, the curve for employees of the National
Government is shown to increase in a fairly regular manner, with
an average yearly compensation of $2 899. Attention Js called to the
fact that no distinction is made between army and ' ^j^-^-^ineer officers
and civilian employees. It is a well-known fact that engineer officers
in the Government service receive practically twice as much as civilian
employees, counting the allowances for quarters, etc., and, as a result,

* Wheeling, W. Va.
t Montgomery, Ala.


the curve, in its present shape, does the civilian employees an injustice. Mr.
Could not a separate curve be made for each? The writer believes '^°^^^'
that the results would show the engineer officers' curve following closely
the curve labeled "Private Companies", and that for the civilian engi-
neers well below the one labeled "States and Counties".

E. S. Wise,* Assoc. M. Am. Soc. C. E. (by letter). — This report is Mr.
very complete and interesting, so far as it relates to the civil engineer, '*^"
and the Committee deserves a great deal of credit for its work.

The writer is sure that a great many of our members would like
to see a committee appointed to investigate and find ways and means
of regulating the fees which the municipal engineer and surveyor should
get for his services. As it is now, there is no schedule of fees on which
such a man may base his charges.

On account of keen competition, he must base his charges on local
rates, which in most cases have been established for many years; but,
if rates were established, clients would not go shopping to see which
surveyor would do his work the cheapest.

There should be fixed rates for establishing grades, cross-sections,
and calculations of quantities on street work, for giving lines and
grades for curbing, guttering, flagging, macadamizing, etc. Minimum
rates for staking out lots, based on the size of the lot, for surveying
and mapping out land, based on the location; one rate for the fire or
congested district and another for the rural section.

There should be some understanding as to Court charges, not
strictly for professional work, but for the surveyor's knowledge as to
certain lines, maps, etc. In the district arotmd Passaic, N. J., it has
been the habit of some lawyers to employ the surveyor to locate certain
properties, and later to subpoena him, often keeping him in Court two
or three days, breaking up his field party, and not paying him for
his time in Court.

* Passaic, N. J.




This Society is not responsible for any statement made or opinion expressed
in its publications.

Paper No. 1400




With Discussion by Messrs. H. M. Eakin, John W. Hill, M. O.
Leighton, Cyrus C. Babb, Kenneth C. Grant, B. F. Groat.
H. M. Chittenden, Myron L. Fuller, Gerard H. Matthes,
H. K. Barrows^ N. C. Grover, E. C. La Rue, Farley Gannett,
C. E. Grunsky, C. McD. Townsend, and Morris Knowles.

General. — With the growth of the United States, the question of
flood control is daily assuming greater importance, but as yet has not
received the attention which it merits. When a country is a wilder-
ness, a flood occasions little damage, and is rarely recorded, but as
the valleys are cleared and the farmer attempts to utilize them, the
injurious effects of floods begin to be felt. With the growth of cities
and villages, there arises a still greater demand for protection against
overflow. While there is no conclusive evidence that great floods
have increased in frequency or volume in recent years, with the growth
and development of the country, the damage which is caused has been
greatly intensified, and the obstruction of the flood plain by the works
of man has in many cases largely increased flood heights for the same
volume of discharge.

It is only in recent years that the property losses during floods
have been reported, but these are rapidly increasing and becoming
a serious burden on the resources of the country. Nor are they con-
fined to any particular section. Floods of great intensity are liable
to occur in semi-arid regions where the mean annual rainfall is less
than 20 in., though possibly with less frequency than in regions
having an average rainfall of over 60 in.; and a mountain stream
with a slope of 6 ft. to the mile, is as liable to overflow its banks as

* Presented to the Annual Meeting, January 19th, 1916.


an alluvial river with a slope of 6 in. per mile. In fact, the greatest
loss of life from floods usually occurs on the minor streams, whose
waters rise with great rapidity and flow with great velocity.

Data Deficient. — On most streams the physical data collected have
been for other purposes than flood control, and are therefore deficient
in the specific information necessary for such an investigation. In a
river which is being improved for navigation, the essential element
requiring consideration is the low-water flow.

When a stream is to be utilized for water-power, again the first
consideration is the low-water flow. If it is proposed to increase the
low-water discharge by means of reservoirs, the engineer is interested
in average conditions, and if he discusses those of extreme floods, it
is only to provide a sufficient capacity for flood discharge without
danger. Similarly, in determining the water-supply for a city, it is
the low and mean flow of the stream which receives special con-

In discussing flood control, low and average conditions are of little
value. A great flood is caused by an exceptional combination of most
adverse conditions. A mean rain falling on a soil having a mean
percolation and mean run-oif, with a mean evaporation and other aver-
age conditions, produces about a mid-stage flow in a river. The extreme
flood stage occurs when a maximum precipitation falls on a soil which
because of frost or previous saturation has a minimum percolation
and a maximum run-off, with a minimum evaporation. Such com-
binations are comparatively rare, and unless some one is specially
delegated to investigate them, generally escape observation.

It is not only the causes of extreme flood discharge, however, on
which additional data and further study are required. There is a
large field for investigation in the influence of the works of man on
the regimen of streams, and in the evaluation of all the little-understood
factors that determine the flood height obtained from any given

Suggested Methods. — The methods of flood control which have been
suggested may be summarized as follows:

(o) Methods of reducing extreme variations in rainfall and in-
creasing the soil absorption of water, so as to diminish the
run-oif; reforestation, soil drainage, variations in methods
of plowing, the construction of small dikes in agricultural
areas, which will retain on the soil a large portion of the
rainfall imtil there is time to absorb it.

(h) Eeservoir and detention basins which will retain the crests
of the run-ofl and discharge them at lower stages.

(c) Barriers thrown across mountain streams to prevent erosion
and the transportation of debris.


(d) Channel improvement, cut-offs, and the construction of auxil-
iary channels.

(e) Levees vphich will confine the flood waters to the channel.

(/) Outlets for the purpose of facilitating the discharge of the

Present Knowledge. — There is nothing to indicate that man can
modify either the intensity or distribution of precipitation. To
utilize the forces of Nature, which will reduce the effects of excessive
precipitation or increase the absorptive power of soils, necessitates
an intimate knowledge of the intensity and distribution of the rain-
fall over the drainage area to be considered, of the character of its
vegetation, of the permeability and depth of the overlying soil, and
of the capacity of subterranean fissures and conduits to carry off the
water which may penetrate to the underlying formations — subjects
on which but a limited amount of information is at present available
to the engineer.

The Weather Bureau has established stations for observing the
precipitation, and the results are published in its monthly bulletins.
Most of these observations, however, extend over a relatively short
period of time, and it is improbable that the maximum precipitation
that may occur at a given locality has yet been recorded. Moreover,
they are generally taken in cities on high buildings where the gauges
are not protected from wind, or in villages located in the valleys, and
the relation of the precipitation over a built-up territory to that of
the surrounding country and upon the uplands and divides has not
been well determined.

The series of studies made by the United States Geological Survey
on the surface water supply of the United States are necessarily
based on comparatively few observations frequently taken at less
than flood stages. With such an extensive field to cover, the observers
cannot wait for extreme conditions on each stream, but must pass
from stream to stream measuring the discharge which happens to
exist when the observer is present. In 1914 the Geological Survey
made stream-flow measurements at 3 400 points and maintained 1 480
gauges in conjunction with co-operating parties ; many more are needed.

Care must be exercised in the use of discharge curves or rating
tables. They may represent only average conditions, and when applied
to a particular case may lead to large errors. Their extension above
a bank-full stage cannot be depended upon for accurate results. With
sedimentary streams in particular, both the slope and the area of
cross-section are subject to abrupt changes, and floating debris may
land against a pier or otherwise obstruct the flow in such a manner
as to entirely change the relations which exist at lower stages.

At every town subject to overflow from a neighboring stream,
there is urgent need of co-operation, not only to extend the discharge


curves to extreme stages, but also to investigate the variations which
may occur. On rivers which are being improved for navigation, such
co-operation may be afforded by those engaged in the work of river
improvement, and even though not strictly required for the develop-
ment of a navigable channel, should, if necessary, receive Congressional
authorization. On other streams, State commissions and private
agencies are at present collecting data, all of which should be co-
ordinated, studied, and published by some National agency.

Eut in considering flood control, the amount and character of
the sediment carried is next in importance to the discharge of the
stream. The advisability of reservoir and barrier construction, the
practicability of enlarging the stream section, of affording relief by
auxiliary channels, and of levee control, will be influenced by this
factor. In streams carrying a large amount of sediment, the checking
of the normal velocity by reservoir construction will cause its deposit;
a sudden enlargement of the section of a stream will similarly reduce
velocities and cause deposits, and this deposit is liable to occur during
low stages, filling the channel on which reliance is placed for relief
from flood discharge. If an auxiliary channel is built, a difference
in velocity in the two channels is accompanied by a tendency of one
or both to fill.

An extensive series of observations on the flow of sediment in
the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers has been made by officers of
the Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, and the Mississippi River Com-
mission, from 1879 to 1884. The Geological Survey has also published,
in Water Supply Papers 236 and 274, investigations of the flow of
sediment in other rivers.

Similar data on many other streams requiring flood control are
lacking, and should be supplied.

A knowledge of the topography of tlie country, which is essential
• before plans for flood control can be formulated, is also lacking. In
. the Thirty-Fourth Annual Report of the Geological Survey it is
stated that about 38.9% of the United States had been surveyed, and
these surveys are generally plotted on maps of a scale of 1 : 62 500
and 1 : 125 000 (about 1 in. to 1 and 2 miles, respectively) with contours
20 and 50 ft. apart. Such surveying and mapping, even in greater
detail, should be prosecuted with vigor and co-operative action by the
General Government and the various States until the entire country
has been covered.

For the large rivers the present maps give but few contours at wide
intervals in the valleys, and the usefulness of such data in a study
of flood control is therefore limited to purposes of reconnaissance.
With the exception of those of the Mississippi, Missoiiri, and Illinois
Rivers, the surveys for the improvement of navigation have been gen-

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