The new flood-control and water projects legislation contains $86 million to current problems caused by previous water projects, a coalition of environmental critics charged yesterday.
And that is not all, The Coalition for Water Project Review is so disgusted with the biennial merry-go-round of congressional dams and dredging that members launched a weekly "Profile in Pork" report to denounce it.
"These are neither the largest nor the smallest projects in the bill," said coalition coordinator Edward R. Osann as he outlined three choice pork morsels. "Rather, they typify the array of special deals and political favors that characterize this legislation."
The omnibus water development bill would authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in an estimated 100 congressional districts, The Army figures it could cost $4.1 billion, but environmentalists say there is no cost ceiling in the legislation. "It's a blank check," said Osann.
David Conrad of the American Rivers Conservation Council, one of 24 groups on the coaliton's letterhead, said 27 projects totaling at least $86 million involve road relocations, bridge replacements, sediment removal or land stabilization made necessary by previous Corps of Engineers efforts.
"And that doesn't include future obligations for operations and maintenance picked up in the bill by Uncle Sam that could double or triple that figure," Conrad said.
When the corps relocated the town of Niobrara, Neb., amid much publicity a few years ago because of drainage problems from the corps Gavins Point Dam, it neglected to move a nearby road. Relocating part of State Highway 14 would cost $1.6 million in the new bill.
The 30-year-old King Harbor project in Redondo Beach, Calif., never provided funds for maintenance. And the Markham Dam on the Ohio River has caused such erosion in Boone County, Ky., that the coprs hopes to spend $6.3 million to fix it.
The "profiles in Pork" single out projects planned for Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Kentucky. One would have the corps spend $84.4 million for two public water supply systems in the districts of Reps. William H. Harsha (R-Ohio) and Ray Roberts (D-Tex.), ranking Republican and chairman, respectively, of the House Public Works Committee.
Another would dredge Gulfport Harbor, Miss., for $48 million but would reap only "phantom benefits" for the district of Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the coalition said. And the third, a shoring-up project in Burkshire Terrace, Ky., would bail out a housing developer who built homes on an unstable clifftop in the district of Rep. Gene Snyder (R-Ky.), according to the coaliton.
Members of Congress boosting these projects routinely maintain that the work is necessary and provides jobs and money for their areas.