water resources projects if benefits exceed costs. However, Congress stopped short of directing the administration to develop methods for implementing this policy. Following the demise of the National Resources Planning Board, President Roosevelt established the Federal Interagency River Basin Committee (FIARBC) in 1943. One of its tasks was the development of Proposed Practices for Economic Analysis of River Basin Projects, originally issued in 1950 and revised in 1958. The Kennedy Administration, acting on a 1960 recommendation of the Senate Select Committee on Water Resources, further revised guidance for water project planning and evaluation by preparing Policies, Standards and Procedures in the Formulation, Evaluation, and Review of Plans for Use and Development of Water and Related Land Resources, published in 1962 as Senate Document 97, 87th Congress, Second Session.

The Water Resources Planning Act of 1965 implemented a number of recommendations of the Senate Select Committee, including establishment of the Water Resources Council (WRC), a Cabinet-level council of the secretaries of all federal departments involved in water management. One of the charges to the WRC was to promulgate principles and standards for water projects. That was done when the WRC published the Principles and Standards for Planning Water and Related Land Resources September 10, 1973, often referred to as the Principles and Standards, or the P&S (US WRC, 1973).

The Principles and Standards departed from prior policy by establishing a multiple-objective planning framework. Previous policy directed federal agencies to evaluate all inputs and outputs of projects in economic terms to the extent possible and to describe nonmonetary effects as “intangible” benefits and costs. With the publication of the P&S as federal regulations, the WRC established national economic development (NED) and environmental quality (EQ) accounts as co-equal objectives of federal water projects. Federal water management agencies also were directed by the P&S to evaluate beneficial and adverse effects of projects on regional economic development (RED) and other social effects (OSE).

President Carter's administration further modified the P&S to require greater attention to environmental effects of water projects. By making water projects more difficult to justify, President Carter alienated a number of western interests. When the Reagan Administration came to office in 1981, the Water Resources Council and its P&S had become prime political targets. The WRC's budget was zero-funded by the Reagan administration and the WRC convened in 1983 only long enough to repeal the Principles and Standards, replacing it with the Principles and Guidelines (US WRC, 1983).

There was more to that change than simply a modification of the title. A major change was that the Principles and Standards were reduced to the level of guidance, no longer having the legal standing and enforceability of federal regulations.

The Federal Objective

Another modification that appears to represent a significant change from the Principles and Standards to the Principles and Guidelines was the shift in the status of the environmental quality (EQ) objective. In the P&S, NED and EQ were given equal weighting as federal objectives. By contrast, the P&G specified a single objective that stated that water resources projects



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement