Water Resources PeopIe and Issues
I accepted an invitation to go back to the University of Chicago and join the
faculty, by which time I had received my Ph.D.
Q: We missed something here along the line. Let's get back to your dissertation.
A: I had decided the problem of floodplain occupance was one that deserved
attention. It certainly captured my curiosity and I had worked on it on
weekends and nights.
Q: In Philadelphia?
A: No, in Washington, in the late thirties, early forties. It was a problem which
I had very much in mind and that I could frequently discuss with colleagues
in the Geological Survey or the Corps or Soil Conservation Service. And so
when Pearl Harbor occurred--I remember walking into the Executive Office
that Sunday morning when word came from Pearl Harbor--one of my early
reactions was, I'll have to finish up that dissertation mighty quick.
Q: Well, your dissertation must have been influenced by what you discovered in
Washington working with these various committees.
A: Oh, yes, it was. Very much so.
Q: Can you sort of outline in brief the most significant ways it was affected by
your work in Washington?
A: One of the first jobs I had with the Mississippi Valley Committee was looking
at the proposals for flood control in the Missouri Basin and the lower
Mississippi, and one of the haunting questions that came up was what will be
the effect of doing this work, if it is now financed by PWA, when the
bulldozers start moving in the next few years? That question continued to
Along with it was the question of how to compare the social desirability, in
terms of the local community or in terms of the nation, of making funds
available for a new irrigation project on the Loup River in Nebraska or for