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History of SA Channel Improvements Projects (SACIP)

The Corps of Engineers Project Report

On March 5, 1951, the office of the Southwestern Division Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in Dallas, Texas, announced the completion of the interim Report on the Survey of Guadalupe and San Antonio Rivers and Tributaries, Texas for Flood Control and Allied Purposes (excepting navigation). The announcement advised that as a result of the survey of the San Antonio River two projects would be included in the recommended plan of improvement, as follows:

  1. A local flood control project in the City of San Antonio involving 31 miles of improvements on the San Antonio River and its tributaries, San Pedro, Apache, Alazan, and Martinez Creeks, as well as San Pedro Creek Tunnel and San Antonio River Tunnel (find more tunnel information under SARA History/Past Projects); and
  2. Channelization of about 2.1 miles of Escondido Creek in the City of Kenedy.

Colonel Tuttle immediately employed the San Antonio firm of V.L. Beavers and Associates, Consulting Engineers, to examine the survey report at the District Engineer’s office in Fort Worth, Texas.

The firm reviewed the entire report and furnished the Conservancy District with pertinent information from it about the flood control projects planned for the cities of San Antonio and Kenedy. The consulting firm made an unqualified recommendation on March 15, 1951 that the Board of Directors of the San Antonio River Canal and Conservancy District accept the findings of the Corps of Engineers for both projects and work to obtain Congressional approval for them. Recognizing the necessity for demonstrating to the Corps of Engineers and the Congress the ability to carry to completion all local responsibilities associated with these two flood control projects, the San Antonio River Canal and Conservancy District commenced a comprehensive effort to assign necessary responsibilities and insure necessary local funding.

Flood Control Projects Authorized

Learning in March 1952 that the Fort Worth District was short on funds for necessary additional planning and development work on the San Antonio River flood control plan, the Directors of the Conservancy District offered to fund this work by the Corps of Engineers. Records show that four months later the District Engineer turned down the offer of financial assistance but the planning continued. In San Antonio, on November 7, 1952, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson talked to Colonel Tuttle about President Harry Truman’s lame-duck support for that part of the national budget which would fund the beginning of the San Antonio River flood control projects. Colonel Tuttle’s notes presented this part of the conversation as follows:

“He said that President Truman might have something to say in the matter, and I asked him to remind President Truman that I had handled the arrangements for his visit in San Antonio about three years ago, and that I now requested the President’s assistance in getting the project through.”

Bexar County, the City of San Antonio and many businesses, organizations and private citizens joined with the District in the efforts to secure Congressional approval of the flood control project for San Antonio. The district received especially valuable assistance from Congressmen John E. Lyle, Jr. and Paul J. Kilday and Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. Colonel Tuttle, General Henry Hutchings, Jr., engineer-consultant to the recently renamed San Antonio River Authority, and Major John English Thames of Kenedy, Texas testified in support of the San Antonio River flood control projects on June 1, 1954, in Washington, D.C. before the National Rivers and Harbors Sub Committee of the House of Representatives. Both the San Antonio Channel Improvement Project and the Kenedy Flood Control Project became authorized future construction projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when the 83rd United States Congress passed the Flood Control Act of September 3, 1954.

Local Responsibilities for Authorized Federal Flood Control Projects

When the San Antonio and Kenedy flood control projects emerged from the Corps of Engineers report in 1951 the Conservancy District had confirmation that except for federal design and construction of the floodways, all other responsibilities had to be carried out by the District. These included the acquisition of rights-of-way, relocation of utilities, and construction of bridges and dams so that vehicular traffic over the new floodway could be accommodated and necessary water surface elevation control in the floodways could be maintained.