After months of debate, the 1935 Rivers and Harbors Act (Public Law 409) was passed. While many water projects received approval, the House of Representatives insisted on voting separately on Parker and Grand Coulee Dams. Representative Culkin, Republican from New York, claimed the project was "uneconomical either as a reclamation or a power project." Rufus Woods responded by declaring, "Your talk aggravates me so much that I can scarcely write you a decent letter; but if you will come west, I will be glad to give you some much-needed information." Instead, Woods put together an eight-page special telling the "truth" about the Columbia Basin Project and sent it to every member of Congress. In August of 1935, the Seventy-fourth Congress authorized Grand Coulee for the purposes of flood control, navigation, stream flow regulation, storage for and delivery of stored waters, reclamation of public lands and Indian reservations, and for the generation of electrical power to finance those undertakings. Passage of the bill was the most difficult and significant legislative hurdle to construction of the dam. With Congressional approval, Washington became a dam state and Grand Coulee became a national endeavor.

1935 Rivers and Harbors Act


74TH CONGRESS. SESSION 1. CHS. 829-831. AUGUST 30, 1935, [H.R. 6250] [Public, No. 409]


Authorizing the construction, repair, and preservation of certain public works on rivers and harbors, and for other purposes

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the following works of improvement of rivers, harbors, and other waterways are hereby adopted and authorized, to be prosecuted under the direction of the Secretary of War and supervision of the Chief of Engineers, in accordance with the plans recommended in the respective reports hereinafter designated and subject to the conditions set forth in such documents; and that hereafter Federal investigations and improvements of rivers, harbors, and other waterways shall be under the jurisdiction of and shall be prosecuted by the War Department. . .

[ # of pages of listed projects]

[State of Washington projects]

. . . Grays Harbor and Chehalis River, Washington; House Document Numbered 53, Seventy-third Congress, and Rivers and Harbors Committee Document Numbered 2, Seventy-fourth Congress;

Olympia Harbor, Washington; Rivers and Harbors Committee document Numbered 21, Seventy-third Congress;

Tacoma Harbor, Washington; Rivers and Harbors Committee Document Numbered 55, Seventy-second Congress;

Seattle Harbor, Washington; House Document Numbered 211, Seventy-second Congress;

Lake Washington Ship Canal, Washington; House Document Numbered 140, Seventy-second Congress;

Port Gamble Harbor, Washington; House Document Numbered 152, Seventy-second Congress;

Swinomish Slough, Washington; Report of the Chief of Engineers, dated May 24, 1933;

. . . SEC 2. That for the purpose of controlling floods, improving navigation, regulating the flow of the streams of the United States, providing for storage and for the delivery of the stored waters thereof, for the reclamation of public lands and Indian reservations, and other beneficial uses, and for the generation of electric energy as a means of financially aiding and assisting such undertakings, the projects known as "Parker Dam" on the Colorado River and "Grand Coulee Dam" on the Columbia River are hereby authorized and adopted, and all contracts and agreements which have been executed in connection therewith are hereby validated and ratified, and the President, acting through such agents as he may designate, is hereby authorized to construct, operate, and maintain dams, structures, canals, and incidental works necessary to such projects, and in connection therewith to make and enter into any and all necessary contracts including contracts amendatory of or supplemental to those hereby validated and ratified. The construction by the Secretary of the Interior of a dam in and across the Colorado River at or near Head Gate Rock, Arizona, and structures, canals, and incidental works necessary in connection therewith is hereby authorized, and none of the waters, conserved, used, or appropriated under the works hereby authorized shall be charged against the waters allocated to the upper basin by the Colorado River compact, nor shall any priority be established against such upper basin by reason of such conservation, use, or appropriation; nor shall said dam, structures, canals, and works, or any of them, be used as the basis of making any such charge, or establishing any such priority or right, and all contracts between the United States and the users of said water from or by means of said instrumentalities shall provide against the making of any such charge or claim or the establishment of any priority right or claim to any part or share of the water of the Colorado River compact and the Boulder Canyon Project Act.

SEC 3. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized and directed to cause preliminary examinations and surveys to be made at the following-named localities, the cost thereof to be paid from appropriations heretofore or hereafter made for such purposes: Provided, That no preliminary examination, survey, project, or estimate for new works other than those designated in this or some prior Act or joint resolution shall be made: Provided further, That after the regular or formal reports made as required by law on any examination, survey, project, or work under way or proposed are submitted no supplemental or additional report or estimate shall be made unless authorized by law: And provided further, That the Government shall not be deemed to have entered upon any project for the improvement of any waterway or harbor mentioned in this Act until the project for the proposed work shall have been adopted by law:

[list of projects includes many in the Columbia Basin]

. . . Alsea Bay, Oregon.
Yamhill River at Lafayette, Oregon.
Columbia River, Oregon and Washington, from Tongue Point to the sea.
Seaside Harbor, Oregon.
Port Orford, Oregon.
Columbia River, at and near Hammond, Oregon, with a view to preventing erosion caused by the construction of the south jetty, and providing a protected harbor near the mouth of said river.
Willamette River, Oregon, from Eugene to Springfield.
Sandy River, near Troutdale, Oregon.
Trask River, Oregon.
Miami River, Oregon.
Kilchus River, Oregon.
Wilson River, Oregon.
Chetco Cove, Oregon.
Columbia River at Rainier, Oregon.
De Poe Bay, Oregon.
Skipanon Channel, Oregon, with a view to deepening and widening the channel to accommodate all present and prospective traffic.
Skipanon River, Oregon, with a view to modification of the existing project to provide for the needs of navigation above the railroad bridge.
Westport Slough, Oregon.
Coos River and its tributaries, Oregon, with a view to flood control and the prevention of erosion of the banks and the consequent filling of the channel.
Columbia River, Lake River, and Vancouver Lake, near Vancouver, Washington.
Elokomin Slough, or River, Washington.
Chehalis River, from the mouth of Skookumchuck River to the Grays Harbor County Line, Washington.
Shelton Harbor, Washington.
Blaine Harbor, Washington.
Duwamish River, Washington. . .

. . . SEC. 4. That the International Joint Commission created by the treaty between the United States and Great Britain relating to boundary waters between the United States and Canada, signed at Washington January 11, 1909, under the provisions of article 9 of said treaty, is requested to investigate the advisability of the improvement of a waterway from Montreal . . .

SEC. 5. Every report submitted to Congress in pursuance of any provision of law for preliminary examination and survey looking to the improvement of the entrance at the mouth of any river or at any inlet, in addition to other information which the Congress has directed shall be given, shall contain information concerning the configuration of the shore line and the probable effect theron that may be expected to result from the improvement having particular reference to erosion and/or accretion for a distance of not less than ten miles on either side of the said entrance.

SEC. 6. That the surveys authorized pursuant to section 1 of the River and Harbor Act of January 21, 1927, and House Document Numbered 308, Sixty-ninth Congress, first session, shall be supplemented by such additional study or investigation as the Chief of Engineers finds necessary to take into account important changes in economic factors as they occur, and additional stream-flow records, or other factual data.

SEC. 7. That when any land which has been heretofore or may be hereafter purchased or acquired for the improvement of canals, rivers and harbors is no longer needed, or is no longer serviceable, it may be sold in such manner as the Secretary of War may direct, and any moneys received from such sale shall be deposited in the Treasury to the credit of miscellaneous receipts.

SEC. 8. That any amounts collected from defaulting contractors or their sureties under contracts entered into in connection with river and harbor or flood control work prosecuted by the Engineer Department, whether collected in cash or by deduction from amounts otherwise due such contractors, hereafter shall be credited in each case to the appropriation under which the contract was made.

SEC. 9. That all of that portion of the East River, in the county of Brown, State of Wisconsin, extending from Baird Stream, in the City of Green Bay, east and south, be, and the same is hereby, declared to be a nonnavigable stream within the meaning of the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America. That the right of Congress to alter, amend, or repeal this section is hereby expressly reserved.

SEC. 10. That that portion of the West Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River in Cook County, Illinois. . . is hereby declared to be a nonnavigable stream within the meaning of the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The right to alter, amend, or repeal this section is hereby expressly reserved.

SEC. 11. That the Secretary of War is authorized to grant permission, on such terms as he may deem reasonable, to the City of Cascade Locks, Oregon, to make connection with the Government-owned water main at Cascade Locks and take water therefrom for use for fire-protection purposes only.

SEC. 12. That the pier constructed along the west coast of Lake Huron, Michigan. . . be, and the same is hereby, legalized to the same extent and with like effect as to all existing or future laws and regulations of the United States as if the permit required by the existing laws of the United States in such cases made and provided had been regularly obtained prior to the construction of said pier.

That the right to alter, amend, or repeal this section is hereby expressly reserved.

SEC. 13. That the Court of Claims shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine claims for damages to oyster growers upon private or leased lands or bottoms arising from dredging operations and use of other machinery and equipment in making such improvements: Provided, That suites shall be instituted within one year after such operations shall have terminated.

SEC. 14. That the Secretary of War is authorized and directed to have prepared and transmitted to Congress at the earliest practical date after January 3, 1936, a compilation of preliminary examinations, surveys, and appropriations for works or river and harbor improvement similar in general form and subject matter to that which was prepared in accordance with the Act of March 4, 1913, and printed in House Document Numbered 1491, Sixty-third congress, third session: Provided, That the report to be prepared in accordance with this provision shall be a revised edition of the report printed in the document above mentioned, extended to January 1, 1936.

Approved, August 30, 1935