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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning 2 Federal Water Resources Planning Objectives and Guidance This chapter reviews the historical basis of the federal government’s interest in water resources development. It examines federal laws, policies, and guidance that influence current actions of the Corps in planning water resource projects, and processes and procedures used by the Corps to carry out its mandates. To provide a better understanding of Corps planning, it also describes those organizations and groups that participate in the development of a Corps project. The chapter concludes with some perspectives regarding Corps planning guidance, the planning process for federal water projects, and the current national water policy and organizational landscape. FEDERAL INTERESTS IN WATER RESOURCES Origins of Federal Involvement In the late eighteenth century, water-related problems were the responsibility of state and local governments. As the magnitude of these problems was recognized, federal roles soon emerged. As early as 1824, the Congress envisioned a federal role in addressing water problems and issues when it authorized the Corps to investigate navigation potential on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Interest in alleviating flood problems led to the federal Swamp Lands Acts of 1849 and 1850. In establishing the Mississippi River Commission in 1879, Congress placed the Corps of Engineers in charge of navigation on the Lower Mississippi and gave it primarily advisory responsibilities for assisting with flood problems along the entire Mississippi River. The 1902 Reclamation Act established the U.S. Reclamation Service (renamed the Bureau of Reclamation in 1923) and sought to irrigate arid lands and increase settlement in the arid regions of the western United States. This was followed in 1917
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning by federal assumption of increased responsibilities for managing floods on the Sacramento and Lower Mississippi Rivers. Shortly thereafter, Congress exercised its powers to establish standards for non-federal development of hydroelectric power on navigable waterways. In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt established the federal Tennessee Valley Authority to manage water and related natural resources on a basin-wide scale. Following devastating floods across the country in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1936, which made flood management a federal responsibility. This act also enshrined the practice of weighing a proposed project’s costs against its benefits, in effect subjecting all future Corps of Engineers planning studies to a benefit-cost test. In 1944, Congress passed the Pick-Sloan Plan, which represented a merger of the Corps of Engineers’ “Pick Plan,” which was designed primarily to manage floods on the mainstem Missouri River, and the Bureau of Reclamation’s “Sloan Plan,” which was designed primarily for irrigation. The Pick-Sloan Plan called for the Corps to construct mainstem reservoirs for flood control and navigation enhancement, with the Bureau of Reclamation constructing tributary reservoirs for irrigation and hydroelectric power production. In the two decades following World War II, Congress expanded federal responsibilities in water resources to authorize the Corps to include recreation, hurricane protection, beach protection, and water supply in its projects. In the 1990s, Congress broadened the Corps’ responsibilities to include environmental restoration as a primary Corps project output. In summary, the period from 1850 to 2000 saw the federal role in water resources expand from minimal programs and responsibilities to a central role in water resources project construction, management, and operations, as well as in science-related programs. Emergence of Economics-Based Frameworks Decisions about water resources projects and other public works became more systematic in the late nineteenth century. Despite increased employment of professionals within the federal government and an increasing reliance on experts, Congress was reluctant to cede power regarding water project selection. Although demands for fiscal accountability were limited in this era, advocates for greater efficiency worked to reduce the number of projects that were primarily based on political considerations. In 1902, for example, a Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors (BERH) within the Corps was established and direct to certify
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning that projects were beneficial before they could be recommended to Congress (Porter, 1996). By the 1920s, the BERH expected the benefits of projects it recommended to exceed the costs. With a request from Congress in 1927 to study all major river basins in the United States (the “308 reports”), the Corps civilian work force began to increase and the agency increasingly relied on quantitative methods in its studies to impose discipline (Porter, 1996). The 1936 Flood Control Act is best known for its requirement that “… the Federal Government should improve or participate in improvements … for flood control purposes if the benefits to whomsoever they accrue are in excess of the estimated costs.” This requirement remains in place today and has been a fundamental principle in Corps planning studies over the decades (Chapter 3 of this report examines the use of cost-benefit analysis in Corps planning studies). A 1941 National Resources Planning Board report identified the need for economic analysis in evaluating water projects (but also highlighted the need to consider intangible benefits of the projects; Holmes, 1972). In 1952, the Bureau of the Budget (now the Office of Management and Budget) issued detailed instructions on the form and conduct of such project analyses. These efforts were “… economics centric and established the economic benefit-cost ratio as the principal evaluation tool.” Principles, Standards, and Guidelines The increased focus on economics in water resources project analysis drew the attention of both the Congress and presidential candidate John Kennedy, whose platform included broadening the criteria for water resources project evaluation to include environmental and social benefits. Kennedy’s efforts, as well as those of Congress, resulted in passage of the Water Resources Planning Act in 1965, which culminated decades of efforts toward more centralized water resources planning. The 1965 act had two components: Title I, which established a federal Water Resources Council (WRC), and Title II, which provided the framework for establishing interagency-interstate commissions. The Water Resources Council initially consisted of seven cabinet-level departments: Agriculture, Army, Commerce, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was added in 1970. The Water Resources Council was directed to establish principles and standards to guide justification of federal water projects. In the late
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning 1960s, a WRC Task Force proposed principles and standards that established four accounts against which projects developed by the Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (then, the Soil Conservation Service) should be evaluated. The four accounts were national economic development, environmental quality, regional economic development, and social well-being. The Flood Control Act of 1970 included congressional “intent” that the four objectives be equal. In 1973, the Principles and Standards for Planning Water and Related Land Resources (P&S) document was published in the Federal Register (WRC, 1973). The P&S established environmental quality (EQ) and national economic development (NED) as coequal objectives. These two accounts were to be displayed in project justification along with information on regional economic development and social well-being. Before much experience could be gained with the WRC’s Principles and Standards, President Carter took office and modified the P&S to emphasize the equality of the two principal accounts (EQ and NED). One year after taking office, President Reagan rescinded the P&S and issued in its place the Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies (P&G; WRC, 1983). The P&G document established the single objective of federal water resources development as “to contribute to national economic development consistent with protecting the nation’s environment.” Project analyses could include information on the social and regional accounts, but this information had little influence on planning decisions. Since 1983, the P&G has remained the key planning guidance for federal water projects (of relevant agencies) despite criticisms of the document’s narrow focus and its failure to adequately incorporate nonquantifiable environmental and social impacts into its planning steps. Environmental Legislation The 1965 Water Resources Planning Act brought increased attention to environmental considerations. Additional attention to environmental issues was stimulated by passage of the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the Endangered Species Act (1973), the Clean Water Act (1972, and amended in 1977), and related legislation. These laws significantly modified the process for considering environmental issues in federal water projects. Environmental impact analyses had to be conducted and submitted with project plans. Those plans had to indicate
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning compliance with the other acts and close coordination with relevant agencies, especially the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the end of the 1970s, environmental concerns were firmly established within federal water resources project planning. Since the mid-1980s, Congress has provided considerable legislative direction to the Corps concerning environmental issues in its (roughly) biennial Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA). Examples include the 1986 WRDA, which directed fish habitat improvements, authorized environmental studies to help adjust operations of completed projects (also see Chapter 6), and authorized changes in justification for beach nourishment projects. The 1990 WRDA directed the Secretary of the Army to include environmental protection as a primary Corps mission. The 1996 WRDA authorized the Secretary of the Army to carry out aquatic ecosystem restoration and protection projects and to add environmental protection and restoration as another project purpose (P.L. 104-103). These authorizations, however, have rarely been accompanied by adequate financial support in administration budgets or in funding from congressional appropriations committees. Cost-Sharing Until 1986, the bulk of the construction costs of Corps water projects was borne by the federal government, although some forms of cost-sharing existed since the early twentieth century. In 1986, believing that local governments should play a greater role in water project development, and in seeking local government approval of federally-sponsored projects, President Reagan submitted a proposal to Congress calling for changes to cost-sharing provisions for all Corps projects, with the proposed shares of local cost-sharing responsibilities varying by project purpose. After considerable debate in Congress, the 1986 Water Resources Development Act was passed and signed into law. The cost-sharing arrangements of WRDA 86 resulted in significant changes to then-existing cost-sharing formulas (see Table 2-1). The enactment of more stringent cost-sharing requirements resulted in local sponsors’ understandably requesting a stronger voice in plan formulation. Although a sound principle in many ways, cost-sharing has resulted in the Corps often experiencing tensions between local sponsors calling for a locally-preferred alternative, and the Corps’ obligation to uphold the public interest (NRC, 1999a).
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning TABLE 2-1 Project Cost-Sharing Formulas for Corps of Engineers Projects Purpose Non-federal Share Navigation,harbors 20%: depth < 20 ft. 35%: depth 21-45 ft. 60%: depth > 45 ft. Navigation,inland 50% from fuel tax Flood control Structural min. 35%–max. 50% Nonstructural 25% Hydroelectric power 100% M&I water supply 100% Agricultural water supply 35% Recreation Navigation 50% Other 50% of separable cost Hurricane and storm damage 35% Aquatic plant control 50% SOURCE: Adapted from USACE (2002c). CONTEMPORARY PROJECT PLANNING AND GUIDANCE1 The Study Initiation, Review, and Approval Process Many water resources planning studies begin at the local level with a perceived need or opportunity. This need is typically discussed with the responsible Corps of Engineers district office, which advises the interested parties on actions needed to move their request forward. The given local interest group or community typically requests assistance from its congressional delegation. Through congressional channels, a request is forwarded to the Corps to study the feasibility of a project and to determine if it represents a federal interest. If congressional support exists, the Corps is directed through a resolution from either the Senate or the House authorizing committee or in a Water Resources Development Act, 1 This document addresses the current planning process of the Corps and the documents that support that process. Because many Corps projects are several decades old, documents associated with them may have different names than those discussed in this report (e.g. General Design Memorandum). Their purposes were similar, if not the same, as many present documents.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning to examine the need and report to Congress on the feasibility of a project. For example, a request for the Corps to investigate expansion of navigation on the Great Lakes was part of the Water Resources Development Act of 1999 (P. L. 106-53, Sec. 456, 113 Stat. 269, 1999) and read: In consultation with the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Secretary shall review the Great Lakes Connecting Channels and Harbors Report dated March 1985 to determine the feasibility of undertaking any modification of the recommendations made in the report to improve commercial navigation on the Great Lakes navigation system, including locks, dams, harbors, ports, channels, and other related features. Reconnaissance and Feasibility Studies Before any study can take place, Congress must appropriate funds for the study. If funds are appropriated, the Corps conducts a reconnaissance study to determine the feasibility of a project, to identify a local sponsor for the project, and most importantly, to determine whether a federal interest exists. A reconnaissance study currently is limited to one year and is to cost no more than $100,000. It does not normally involve substantial public input. Reconnaissance studies are conducted by Corps district offices. If a federal interest is identified and if Corps Headquarters approves the study, a district office proceeds to the feasibility stage (as noted in Chapter 1, the large majority of reconnaissance studies do not lead to a feasibility studies). Initiation of a feasibility study requires the administration to approve a budget request by the Corps to conduct the study, the appropriation by Congress of funds to support the feasibility study (costs can range from one million to several million dollars), and an agreement by an approved local sponsor to pay half the costs of the feasibility study. Conduct of a feasibility study ideally takes about three years, but often requires up to five years or more. A 1999 National Research Council committee noted that feasibility studies on average require about 4.5 years to complete (NRC, 1999a). During the study period, the administration must include study funds in the president’s budget and Congress must annually appropriate study funds. The feasibility study also involves preparation of environmental impact statements, significant public involvement, and coordination with state and local officials.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning As noted earlier, the Corps uses several guidance documents in its water resources planning studies. The P&G and the Planning Guidance Notebook have been mentioned. Other important documents include the Corps Digest of Water Resources Policies and Authorities, more than 60 planning guidance letters, 23 economic guidance memoranda, and a series of engineering regulations (ERs) and engineering circulars (ECs; these documents are listed at http://www.usace.army.mil/inet/functions/cw/cecwp/General_guidance/guidance.htm). The planning process described in the Principles and Guidelines includes six steps: Specify problems and opportunities. Inventory and forecast conditions. Formulate alternative plans. Evaluate effects of alternative plans. Compare alternative plans. Select recommended plan. These steps are not intended to be strictly sequential, and there may be iterative feedback among steps as more information is gathered and analyzed during a planning study. The Corps usually begins steps 3 and 4 within the first several months of the feasibility study, but the timing of these activities depends on the scale and complexity of the problem or issue at hand. At this stage, the Corps conducts project design analyses (including engineering and hydrologic studies) and estimates project benefits and costs. When a Corps district office is prepared to present the alternative plans, an alternative formulation briefing (AFB) is usually conducted. This alternative formulation briefing is held to facilitate early Washington-level acceptance of the plan formulation and selection process, of the identified preferred plan, and of proposed federal and non-federal responsibilities. The goal of this briefing is to allow a Corps district office to release a draft report to the public concurrent with Washington-level policy compliance review of the report (see USACE, 2001). Local sponsors and other interested parties, including technical experts, participate, and the public is invited. After the alternative formulation briefing, the Corps district office prepares the draft feasibility report and a related environmental impact statement (which undergoes public review under the parallel National Environmental Policy Act process). When the feasibility study is completed at the district level, and after coordination with other federal agen-
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning cies and state officials, it is submitted (via a Corps division office) to Corps Headquarters for approval. The final step in the formal planning process is approval of the final feasibility study by the Chief of Engineers. This approval is in the form of a short letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) (ASA-CW). Following reviews by the ASA-CW and by the Office of Management and Budget, and with the concurrence of the administration, the study identifies a proposed project. It is then transmitted by the administration to Congress for authorization and for appropriation of funds for implementation.2 All projects forwarded to Congress by the administration must be reviewed and authorized by committees of both Houses. Such action follows testimony from local supporters and opponents and discussion of the project by the Corps. Approximately every two years, Congress prepares a WRDA, part of which authorizes construction of projects by the Corps and authorizes, but does not appropriate, funds for these projects. Project plans may proceed only with this congressional authorization. Summary The time required for a project to move from conception to completion depends on its size and complexity. Factors that affect cost and time requirements include controversies surrounding the project, actions of the administration, Congress, and state and local officials, and the ability of local sponsors to provide their share of the project costs. About 20 years ago, the average project required 25 years to move through this process. In comparison, a non-controversial project today averages 7 to 8 years, with the average of all projects being 15 years (Fred Caver, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, personal communication, 2002). This shortening of the project life cycle has resulted from changes in the planning process, including increased public participation and a reduction in the number of required project reviews. Controversial projects and those without substantial support, however, still require decades to move through the conception-completion cycle, or to reach a point at which they are finally de-authorized. Many projects do not make it through the process and are dropped along the way because they encounter problems, are not justified, are not in the federal interest, or lack local support. At the end of 2002, the Corps reported that only 33 percent of the 543 pro- 2 Congress has been known to bypass the administration and not wait for its (the administration’s) submission.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning jects authorized for construction were actually funded in the fiscal year 2003 budget (Table 2-2). Seventy projects lacked either a sponsor or local support and were inactive. PARTICIPANTS IN WATER RESOURCES DECISION AND POLICY MAKING The Administration Although the Corps of Engineers is a key agency in the federal water project planning and construction process, Congress, the administration, state and local officials, the public, and local sponsors all play significant roles. Congress and the administration have sparred for decades for primacy in the process. President Carter began his administration with a water project review and established new priorities for water project approval. Congress largely stonewalled his efforts. President Reagan made significant changes in water policy rules and made many of them stick, and established a cabinet council on natural resources to develop policy. Much of President Clinton’s water policy was based on initiatives within the Office of the Vice President and the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. The federal Water Resources Council represents an interesting part of the description of administration leadership. It is an interagency group of seven cabinet officers, along with the EPA administrator, who share water-related responsibilities. Established in the 1965 Water Resources Planning Act, the WRC’s principal duties are to (1) assess the adequacy of regional and national water supplies; (2) study regional or river basin plans and programs in relation to larger national regions; (3) assess the adequacy of administrative and statutory means for the coordination of water and related land resources policies and programs of federal agencies; (4) appraise the adequacy of existing and proposed policies and programs to meet these requirements; and (5) make recommendations to the president with respect to federal policies and programs. Although still legislatively authorized (42 U.S.C. Sec. 1962 a-1 to a-4), the WRC has not been funded since 1981. Funding was discontinued in large part because of problems related to the expansive and divergent duties with which it was assigned. It was criticized for doing too little to confront difficult policy issues and interagency conflicts, and for getting too involved in review of individual projects of the basin commissions. Be-
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning TABLE 2–2 Funding Status of Authorized Corps Construction Projects (million dollars ) Number of Projects Projects with FY 2003 Funding Total Cost Total Allocated to Date Funded Amount (FY 2003) Cost to Complete Total projects authorized for construction 543 179 $62,663 $24,571 $1,373 $36,717 Active projects 456 179 $60,063 $24, 056 $1,373 $34,633 Deferred – sponsored or politically supported projects 17 0 $343 $103 $0 $239 Inactive non-sponsored or non-politically supported projects 70 0 $2, 257 $412 $0 $1,845 SOURCE: USACE (2003). cause much of its staff was on detail from federal agencies or had served on agency staff, and because meetings of the council members or their representatives involved high level members of the administration, the WRC staff became a clearinghouse for new ideas as well as problem identification. In 1973, the National Water Commission concluded, “[t]he Council’s potential for leadership in policymaking and in planning activities has not been realized” (NWC, 1973). Despite these alleged failings and criticisms, many experts and study commissions have promoted reinstituting the organization in order to coordinate the growing number of water-related programs and policies. Office of Management and Budget In every administration, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has played a significant role in prioritizing water resources projects. The OMB provides the White House with alternative budget approaches and identifies what might be feasible within fiscal guidelines sought by the president. The OMB translates broad White House guidance into instructions to the Corps (and all federal agencies). It estab-
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning lishes priorities for funding and approves new project starts. The OMB reviews all projects submitted to Congress for compliance with administration policy and, when appropriate, returns them to the Corps for revision. OMB approves all statements made by members of the administration to Congress dealing with policy or funding. OMB is “the eye of the needle” through which federal water resource projects must pass.3 Council on Environmental Quality Established pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has played various roles in water resources development. Throughout the period, the constant has been its statutory responsibility to oversee the NEPA process and to serve as the administration’s voice on contentious environmental impact statements. If another federal agency objects to a project proposed by the Corps, the CEQ serves as an arbiter. The CEQ also reviews projects when the project justification is based on substantial environmental components, such as wetland restoration. The CEQ’s role within federal water development has shifted over time in response to the status of the CEQ chair in the White House. U.S. Congress Each new biennial session of Congress brings changes in terms of committee structure, congressional leadership, and priorities. As a result, Congress’ relationship with Corps activities has varied over time. Individual members can become critics or advocates of Corps activities and, depending on their seniority or leadership position, can significantly influence such activities. However, the most influential components of Congress are the committees charged with authorizing national water policies and Corps projects and programs and the committees that annually appropriate funds for projects and studies. Both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are organized with committees for authorizing projects and committees for appropriating funds for these projects. In the Senate, the Committee on Environment and Public Works and its Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure and Nuclear Safety and, in the House, the Committee on 3 Congress has frequently questioned the OMB’s review role.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning Transportation and Infrastructure and its subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment deal with authorizations. Appropriations committees exist in both bodies and operate though the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development in both the Senate and the House. These four committees are critical to the Corps civil works program but are not the only ones dealing with water and Corps operations. More than 10 congressional committees have responsibility for aspects of water resources development. As with all congressional committees, considerable power is vested in the committee chair and the ranking member (the latter represents the minority party), and with subcommittee chairs and ranking members. In turn, most program evaluation and analysis is handled by professional staff, many of whom have served with the committees for years. Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Most legislation directing the Corps to construct water projects actually directs this task to the Secretary of the Army. To oversee civil works activities, in the Flood Control Act of 1970, Congress established the position of Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA-CW), a political position requiring presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works is charged with policy oversight and general management of civil works duties, as well other U.S. Army civil works responsibilities, and is assisted in carrying out his or her duties by a small staff. The ASA-CW serves as the principal liaison between the White House (including OMB), Congress, and the Army for civil works matters. The ASA-CW is responsible for reviewing all projects submitted to OMB for compliance with administration policy, and thus often becomes the focal point for discussions between members of Congress, project supporters, and the administration on controversial projects. Contrary to popular perception, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works is not the head of the Corps of Engineers. A military officer selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate holds the position of Chief of Engineers and Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The commander operates under the policy guidance of the ASA-CW for civil works matters and the policy guidance of other assistant secretaries for other aspects of the activities of the Corps (military construction, research and development, and military operations).
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning The Corps of Engineers Organizational Structure The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a major command of the U.S. Army. It is the world's largest public engineering, design, and construction management agency, with a variety of missions in the U.S. and overseas. These include responsibility for military construction in support of the Army at bases worldwide, support of select Air Force construction, and research and development in engineering. The Chief of Engineers also serves as the principal engineering adviser to the Chief of Staff of the Army. In the civil works area, the Corps carries out this function in all 50 states and in the Pacific islands (Box 2-1 explains why water resources projects and other civil works functions are under the aegis of the U.S. Army). The Corps is organized into a headquarters in Washington, D.C.; eight Divisions (normally headed by a general officer), and 41 districts (commanded by colonels and lieutenant colonels of the regular Army; see Figure 2-1 and Appendix B). Corps districts and divisions are distributed across the U.S., Europe, and the Pacific. Within the U.S., the Corps’ civil works organizational boundaries normally represent all or part of river basins.4 Although military officers command the divisions and districts, essentially all staff consists of career members of the civil service. As of November 2002, there were 450 military personnel and 34,707 civilian personnel assigned to the divisions and districts. The largest district had 1,362 personnel; the smallest, 157 (Susan Duncan, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Director of Human Resources, personal communication, December 30, 2002). Districts are the Corps’ operating units. Some districts have both civil works and military functions, while others have only military or only civil works functions. Although there is considerable variation in size and capability among district offices, most have regulatory, planning, engineering design, construction, and operations functions. Operations activities include the operations of locks and dams, reservoirs, and other facilities constructed by the Corps. Districts operate under regulations and guidance documents promulgated by the Chief of Engineers, but differences among districts often exist in the implementation and interpretation of guidance documents. 4 Regulatory functions are by state.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning BOX 2-1 Civil Works Functions in the Army The Army Corps of Engineers has been in the middle of national public works activities for nearly two centuries. In the late eighteenth century, to the military was turned to for assistance in developing ports, harbors, and rivers. In 1802, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point became the country’s first engineering school, and remained its only engineering school for more than three decades. As settlement expanded westward, Army engineers led the exploration, helping to build roads and railroads. In 1824, Congress assigned the Corps responsibility for surveying and, eventually, for the development of inland navigation. Over the next 150 years, Congress assigned the Corps with responsibilities in controlling floods, generating hydropower, and providing recreation sites. Congress also assigned the Corps responsibility for regulating activities in navigable waterways and, more recently, activities in wetlands. These civil works functions were matched with the Corps’ responsibilities for providing military construction support to the Army and the Air Force in peace and in war, as well as supporting the activities of other agencies. Synergy between civil works and military construction has resulted in the Corps helping to construct the Panama Canal, restoring European ports following World War II, constructing Cold War facilities around the world, providing assistance in Kuwait following the Gulf War, and assisting peacekeepers in Bosnia and Kosovo. Most recently, Corps civil works personnel were called to Iraq to assist in restoring some essential services and a portion of Iraq’s physical infrastructure. Historically, the Defense Department has supported the Corps’ continuation in civil works for the following reasons: The nationwide civil works organization of the Chief of Engineers provides an existing organization to support rapid mobilization by the nation’s armed forces prior to or in the event of war. This civil works experience provides a means for training engineering leaders in complex, large-scale types of construction and in related logistics efforts encountered in wartime. Having a civil works organization to depend on provides economies and efficiencies for the Army and Air Force military construction programs. The civil works activities of the Army reflect favorably on the Army and enhance the Army’s image at the grassroots level. The civil works organization provides experienced natural disaster recovery capabilities.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning FIGURE 2-1 Corps of Engineers divisions and headquarters in the United States, Pacific, and Europe. SOURCE: Available on-line at http://wwww.usace.army.mil/divdistmap.html, accessed October 7, 2003. The Corps and Local Citizens Corps districts often develop strong relationships with the people that reside in their geographic region or whose organizational activities take place within the districts. Corps civilian staff frequently spend their careers in the same district or division and are members of communities or regions facing water problems. If there are local or regional water-related problems, citizens often turn to the Corps for advice. In addition, the Corps may already be working with local leaders and elected officials on existing projects. Some critics believe that this relationship can create a bias within the Corps; others see this relationship as enhancing responsiveness to local problems.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning Other Federal Agencies In executing its water resources development activities, the Corps must work closely with many federal agencies and departments. Its studies and projects must be coordinated with the Fish and Wildlife Service or with NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries. The Environmental Protection Agency reviews the Corps’ environmental impact statements. In the 17 western states, the Corps coordinates appropriate activities with the Bureau of Reclamation. Its hydropower generation activities are coordinated with the Department of Energy. Ports, harbors, and inland waterways involve close work with the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation. Flood risk management projects must be tied to upstream small projects of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and to mitigation efforts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some programs may require coordination with additional federal agencies and departments. Interagency Coordination Interagency coordination on water resource project development and water resources policy has taken several forms. During the 1930s, various boards established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt operated with water resources elements representing the principal federal agencies with water resources management responsibilities. With the abolition of these boards, the federal agencies established (without any statutory authority) the Federal Interagency River Basin Committee which, in turn, established regional interagency committees to foster basin-wide coordination. The Water Resources Planning Act of 1965 directed the establishment of the Water Resources Council, headed by the Secretary of the Interior with membership of the secretaries of the water resources agencies and the major river basin commissions. In 1981, President Reagan eliminated funding for the WRC and basin commissions.5 Since the early 1980s, there has, thus, in effect been no federal coordinating body. For specific purposes, ad hoc committees have been established to address issues such as the 1993 Mississippi River floods. The Corps has, however, cooperated with other agencies in a “Federal Principals Group” designed to foster interagency communication in connection with the 5 The WRC remains an entity within the federal government under the 1965 Planning Act. Because it receives no funding for personnel or activity, it neither convenes meetings nor issues reports.
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning Corps’ ongoing Upper Mississippi River–Illinois Waterway feasibility study. A similar interagency group is also meeting to oversee wetland restoration activities in coastal Louisiana. State and Local Officials, Project Sponsors, and the Public The evaluation and construction of water projects requires support of state and local officials as well as an officially designated local sponsor. Typically, projects being considered at the local level are coordinated and supported by state governments. Opposition to a project by the legislature or governor of a state would be noted by the Corps in its planning documents and would inevitably lead the Corps to avoid requesting funds for the project.6 Local governments frequently serve as project sponsors, responsible for providing the non-federal share of the costs. In other cases, they support the project sponsors fiscally and with in-kind support (engineering services, data, etc.). Depending on the circumstances, other governmental entities, such as conservation districts and levee boards with an ability to raise funds for the non-federal share of costs, serve as project sponsors. The public, as represented by both interest groups and the citizenry at large, plays an important role in the project development process. At various stages in the movement of a project from conception to completion, the Corps conducts public meetings to obtain local views on the project. Throughout project development, interested parties also provide written comments on aspects of the project to the Corps, state and local officials, and members of Congress and the administration. Projects of regional or national importance draw the attention of national groups. As projects progress from stage to stage, the Corps typically issues press releases that announce its actions on the project and solicit comments. Public comments are addressed formally in the environmental impact process and are noted in project documents. Controversial projects typically attract comments supporting and opposing the project, and the Corps reflects this diversity in its reports, but the Corps ultimately makes its recommendations based on all of the information generated in the study effort. In turn, the administration and Congress must consider the facts of the project report as well as the public comments. 6 When he was Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter objected to construction of Sprewell Bluff Dam. Believing that the Corps had gone ahead with the project over his objections, he raised the issue when he became president, only to learn that the Corps had withdrawn all support once it learned of his opposition (Baldwin, 2000).
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning COMMENTARY The Corps conducts its planning studies in a setting that consists of several layers of government and many other federal agencies, a large body of federal legislation and administration guidance, cosponsors and interest groups, and federal and Corps-specific planning guidance. There is a long history of congressional influence on the Corps program and projects, and the Corps, Congress, and local water project supporters have historically formed a system of mutually reinforcing support (a so-called “Iron Triangle”). These structures have perpetuated the water project authorization-appropriation-construction process over the decades and have proven resilient to challenges from various administrations. Nonetheless, the administration can exert substantial influence on the Corps through executive-level bodies, especially the OMB. Corps projects and planning studies have long been, and continue to be, subjected to influences in the political arena. The Corps also conducts its studies with input and in relation to other federal agencies. There was a period in which the roles and responsibilities of the Corps and other water-related agencies were relatively clear. Over time, however, and with the accumulation of federal legislation and other directives, lines of authority between the nation’s water resources agencies have become blurred. In an earlier era, for example, the Corps paid limited attention to aquatic habitat, leaving such concerns to the Fish and Wildlife Service and to state fish and game agencies. Today, however, environmental implications of the Corps’ program are paramount; there are concerns about environmental impacts of Corps projects, interest groups spar with one another to gain a greater portion of benefits attached to Corps projects (e.g., river flows), and the Corps has been tasked by Congress to construct ecosystem restoration projects. Accordingly, the Corps today conducts its own ecological analyses and employs scores of ecological and biological scientists. The Corps finds itself bumping up against agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey in studies of the effects of its projects on aquatic habitat. The Corps is also obliged to abide by an increasingly complicated body of federal legislation. Limited coordination between federal water-related agencies is not a new problem or observation. The President’s Water Resources Policy Commission (1950), chaired by Morris Cooke, noted that “there is today no single, uniform Federal policy governing comprehensive development of water and land resources.” The commission’s report went on to say, “This Commission is therefore recommending the achievement of the
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning necessary coordination through the unification of policy governing the actions of existing agencies, or of a single agency should such be adopted. This unification of policy should be assured through enactment of a single national water resources policy law …” (President’s Water Resources Policy Commission, 1950). More recently, a report from the National Commission for the Public Service (NCPS, 2003) reviewed the federal government’s structure and explained the phenomenon of expanding agency missions and increasing sophistication and demands: In this technological age, the government’s widening span of interests inevitably leads to complications as organizations need to coordinate policy implementation. But as things stand, it takes too long to get even the clearest policies implemented. There are too many decisionmakers, too much central clearance, too many bases to touch, and too many overseers with conflicting agendas…. The system has evolved not by plan or considered analysis but by accretion over time, politically inspired tinkering, and neglect…governmental reorganization has come to be viewed as a task so daunting, requiring such extensive and excruciating political negotiations, that it takes a national emergency to bring it about. This quote explains well the current situation in federal water policy, as the Corps and several other agencies with water-related responsibilities conduct their respective programs and duties without a high-level body to ensure coordination, efficiency, and clear articulation of lines of authority. Since the Water Resources Council was zero-funded in the early 1980s, administrations have chosen to promote federal water-related programs without a formal coordinating body. Over this period, many analysts and committees, including a previous National Research Council committee that reviewed Corps planning (NRC, 1999a), have recommended the establishment of a federal water coordinating body (or a reinvigorated Water Resources Council). Before then, the value of a body to ensure interagency commission was recognized. The National Water Commission Act of 1968 established a National Water Commission of seven distinguished nongovernmental members. In its 1973 report, the commission identified, in seven thematic areas, water resources issues that were likely to arise as the nation developed its
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Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Project Planning water policy (NWC, 1973).7 The commission analyzed these issues and offered recommendations for action. The commission also recommended strengthening the Water Resources Council by placing it in the Executive Office of the President with an independent full-time chairperson who would also serve other White House staff as a presidential adviser on water resource matters. By making the chairperson independent and with the status of a presidential adviser, the commission indicated that the WRC would have a broader point of view and the chairperson would speak for the president, rather than for one department, in interdepartmental conflicts and controversies. It also noted that other departments and agencies with water-related responsibilities could be included and that with these reforms, land use planning and water resources planning could be better integrated. The proposal received little support. Since the Water Resources Council was zero-funded in the early 1980s, there has been no progress toward invigorating or creating an executive-level body to promote water policy and interagency coordination. During this period, the Corps has found itself in the middle of more water resources controversies that it finds difficult, if not impossible, to successfully resolve. In a context of conflicting legislative and other directives, the methods by which water resources projects are evaluated and selected becomes paramount in allocating federal funds. The guidance in the Principles and Guidelines allows project evaluation procedures to vary somewhat, according to interpretations by individual district offices. Chapter 3 examines the methods used to evaluate economic and environmental approaches of candidate projects. 7 The thematic areas were water demand, the shift from water development to restoration and enhancement of water quality, the tie between land and water planning, water conservation, economic principles for decision-making on projects, examination of laws and legal principles, and governmental development and management of water resources.
Representative terms from entire chapter: