Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/144

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half mile to a mile. The distance from Cairo to the sea is about 600 miles; there are over 1,700 miles of river in this distance, A meander of the river adds from twelve to twenty-five miles to the length of the river, with but a mile or two of gain in distance towards the sea. The current of the river is directed alternately against the banks of the stream. Scour and caving result and sediment is added to the river. The change of locality of the river current thus engendered must be stopped in order to make the expensive canalization works other than temporary constructions. To stop this scour, dirt levees and brush revetments will not suffice. It means more solid walls on both sides of a very long river. It means an enormous appropriation and years of labor. The width of the river will add to the item of expense. A thoughtful person would deliberate and weigh carefully all the factors bearing upon the problem before advocating such an expenditure as this plan contemplates, even if he were absolutely sure of the ultimate success of it; and success in this canalization project, from our present knowledge, is not so to be rated.

It is comforting to know that procedure in this enterprise is to be slow, and that there will be time and money for a detailed study of the problem, and an opportunity for a thorough consideration of the report of the investigating committee before the country is harnessed to any definite system of regulation. There may be a call for haste as far as the immediate needs of the people of the valley are concerned. However, whatever system is inaugurated can only be begun to-day, will take years for the fulfillment and should endure for a long time. We have the assurance, furthermore, of a thorough agitation of the whole inland waterway question. In compliance with the request of numerous commercial organizations of the Mississippi Valley, the President has appointed an Inland Waterways Commission. This commission is directed to investigate the problems of inland waterways and to report with recommendations upon the problems relating thereto.

There is in the present River and Harbor Bill, in the portion relating to the Mississippi River, and in the appointment by the President a promise that the United States has instituted a more comprehensive plan than has up to this time been possible. Much of the debate on the River and Harbor Bill had back of it the sectional spirit, the demands of a locality upon its representative in congress. There is room for a larger view of river regulation than the satisfying of constituents; and the new Inland Waterways Commission can gain for us no greater boon than to infuse the states with the spirit of cooperation in place of that of rivalry.