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1 The Corps of Engineers and the Upper Mississippi River- I llinois Waterway INTRODUCTION The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been involved in navigation enhancement activities on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers since the early nineteenth century, when it was charged to remove snags and overhanging trees that impeded navigation. In 1878, Congress authorized the Corps to construct a 4.5-foot navigation channel project on the Upper Mississippi River. In 1907, congressional authority was granted to the Corps to construct a 6-foot navigation channel, and in the 1930 Rivers and Harbors Act the Corps was requested to construct a 9-foot navigation channel project. The 1930 authorization "represented a turning point" (NRC, 2001) in Upper Mississippi River history, because it resulted in the construction of 26 locks and dams that impounded many stretches of the river, creating a series of navigation pools and a 9-foot navigation channel. Completed in 1940, the project supported increases in commercial towboat traffic and initiated changes in ecological structure and processes that con- tinue to affect river ecology and system dynamics. Upon completion of the lock and dam project and the 9-foot channel, commercial traffic on the river increased steadily. In the year 2000, the Up- per Mississippi River carried 122 tons of commercial cargo (USAGE, 2002~. 6
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The Coops of Engineers and the Upper M'ssiss~ppi River-Illino's Gateway With increasing waterway traffic, congestion became a problem at some locks on the lower portion of the Upper Mississippi (just north of St. Louis). One factor contributing to the congestion is that the length of tows on the river has increased over time. Most of the locks in the Upper Mis- sissippi River-Illinois Waterway (UMR-IWW) are 600 feet (their original length), while most tows today push multiple barges that can be nearly 1000 feet. Tows must thus de-couple their barges and transit through the locks in "double lockages," which delays transit times. Congestion at these locks induced the Corps of Engineers to initiate studies to evaluate the alterna- tives for reducing waterway congestion. The Corps began its investigations with separate studies of the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois Waterway in the late 1980s, combining them into a single feasibility study in 1993. The study's analytical complexi- ties slowed its progress. These complexities also led the Department of Defense (DOD) to enlist the National Academies and its research arm, the National Research Council (NRC), to provide an independent review of drafts of the feasibility study. NRC Committees to Review the UMR-IWW Feasibility Study In February 2000, the Department of Defense requested that the Na- tional Research Council convene a committee to review the Corps' feasibil- ity study. That committee ("Phase I" committee) completed its study in early 2001 (NRC, 2001~. That committee was requested to focus its review on the Corps' economic analysis of proposed navigation system improve- ments, but also to comment on other relevant water resources planning issues. The Corps subsequently "restructured" its feasibility study, with an important milestone being marked by the issuance of a [uly 2002 interim report (USAGE, 2002~. According to the Corps' current schedule for the feasibility study, the agency plans to issue its final report and recommenda- tion in a "Chief's Report" in November 2004. In March 2003, the Corps requested the National Research Council to convene another committee ("Phase II" committee) to review the Corps' progress with its restructured feasibility study. This review was to focus on the Corps' 2002 interim report, as well as various supporting documents
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8 Upper Mississippi-Illinois ~aterlYay Restretched Feasibility Study: Interim Report produced by the Corps and some of its consultants. The statement of task for the Phase II committee follows: . . The committee will review the Corps' Restructured Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway System Naviga- tion Feasibility Study. The committee will review several Corps documents that explain the analysis within the fea- sibility study, including the Corps' July 2002 Interim Re- port for the study. A key document for the committee's review will be a summary of the feasibility study that the Corps will provide to the committee before its first meet- ing. Since the 2001 NRC report, the nature of the Corps' feasibility study has broadened beyond the need for trans- portation improvements; the restructured feasibility study has taken a more holistic approach toward considering the relations between environment, navigation, and the flood- plain. Given the emphasis on comprehensive river system planning in the restructured study, the committee will pro- vide a comprehensive review of all aspects of the feasibil- ity study, including economic evaluation, environmental analysis, design and engineering, and plan formulation fo- cusing on key study assumptions. The committee will focus its review on the key study issues, assumptions, and areas of controversy. Although the committee will have discretion to determine appropri- ate topics for its review, it is expected that the review will include several topics that the prior committee commented upon and for which the Corps has proposed responses in the restructured study plan. These topics include the Corps' decision to replace the ESSENCE model with its Tow Cost Model; the appropriateness of the scenario- based forecasts of barge demand by commodity and how these varied scenarios will be incorporated into the subse- quent analyses; how the restructured plan should incorpo- rate the nonstructural alternatives (pricing, scheduling, etc.) into the feasibility analysis; the potential effectiveness of the proposed environmental restoration, its costs, and how
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The Corps of Engineers and the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway the cost should be apportioned among the involved parties (federal, state, local, and private); and broad matters related to water resources systems planning and decision analysis. 9 The Corps requested that this NRC Phase II committee produce three documents: (1) a report of the committee's initial impressions of the re- structured interim report, (2) a more comprehensive and detailed report, and (3) a final summary report. The Corps provided several documents to this committee and met with the committee in Washington, D.C., on Sep- tember 8, 2003, to present and discuss the study. This document is the Phase II committee's initial report, and it provides the committee's initial impressions of the Corps' restructured feasibility study. It is based on re- view of and deliberations regarding documents and other information pro- vided by the Corps during or prior to the September 2003 meeting. The Corps provided other background documents after the meeting, which the committee has not discussed as a group or discussed with the report au- thors. Although some of these documents are referred to in this report, the committee reserves judgment about them. Chapter 1 of this report is descriptive and provides background material related to information needs in inland water system planning. Chapter 2 presents the committee's f~nd- ings and recommendations. The relationship between the Phase I and Phase II committees merits a brief explanation. The Phase II committee is a distinct activity from the Phase I committee. Its statement of task is different and it is reviewing different (in some cases revised) Corps documents. Membership of these committees is different: the Phase II committee includes only one member who served on the Phase I committee. It should be emphasized that this Phase II committee is not obliged to concur with any of the Phase I com- mittee report's recommendations. In many cases, the Phase II committee uses recommendations from the Phase I committee as starting points for discussion, and there are instances in which this Phase II committee agrees with findings and recommendations from the NRC (2001) report (which are noted explicitly herein). However, this report comes from a distinctly different committee and does not imply full endorsement of all recommen- dations in the Phase I committee's report. Having said this, the Phase I committee's report (NRC, 2001) is prominent in the Corps' refinements to
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10 Upper M'ssissippi-Illino's Waterway Restretched Feasibility Soda: Interim Reporl its feasibility study, and this Phase II committee has thus carefully studied the 2001 document. The following section highlights a few key issues, f~nd- ings, and recommendations from the Phase I committee report. Phase I Committee Report National economic issues such as waterway traffic costs, levels of wa- terway traffic, forecasts of future grain exports, assumptions regarding ports of grain export, and the ability of shippers to use alternative modes of transportation (e.g., railways) as waterway shipping costs vary, figure prominently in the Corps' feasibility study. To help understand these issues, the Corps developed a spatial equilibrium model for use in the feasibility study. The Corps also developed an "ESSENCE" model used to calculate equilibrium values for barge traffic and economic benefits associated with relieving waterway congestion. The Phase I committee report noted that these models represented conceptual advances over previous Corps efforts in this realm but found that they were characterized by "flawed assumptions and data." Its report concluded that the Corps' "current (September 2000) results . . . should not be used in the feasibility study" (NRC, 2001, p. 3~. Another key conclusion of the Phase I committee was that the UMR- IWW system of locks is not being used efficiently. There is no formal wa- terway traffic management or scheduling system, and the lack thereof con- tributes to occasional and random delays. The report noted, "If barge traf- f~c was distributed more evenly, congestion would decrease and shipping costs would fall" (NRC, 2001, p. 3~. The Phase I committee also concluded that the feasibility study had framed the issues of waterway traffic narrowly and that critical topics such as environmental impacts and restoration had received inadequate consid- eration. This led to a recommendation for "a more comprehensive and integrated assessment of the navigation system's effects on the environ- ment in the UMR-IWW" (NRC, 2001, p. 4~. Other important outcomes of the Phase I committee's study included a recommendation to include inde- pendent review within the feasibility study, a statement concerning the value of conducting the study and managing the system with an adaptive man- agement approach, and a finding that a contingency figure for the costs of extending locks likely had been underestimated.
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The Coops of Engineers and the Upper M'ssiss~ppi River-Illino's Gateway INFORMATION NEEDS FOR THE UMR-IWW FEASIBILITY STUDY 11 This study is using some of the findings and recommendations from the NRC (2001) report as criteria for evaluating the analysis within the Corps' restructured feasibility study. This approach is appropriate given that the restructuring has been conducted primarily in response to the Phase I committee report. In documentation provided to this Phase II committee, the Corps noted instances in which it has chosen not to imple- ment recommendations from the Phase I report (USAGE, 2003a). This committee is not evaluating the feasibility study based solely on the extent to which it has adopted the Phase I committee's recommendations. Rather, the feasibility study will be judged by the criterion of whether it is likely to be useful as a basis for well-informed and credible decisions. Many issues addressed in the feasibility study will contain uncertainties despite the best analytical efforts to reduce them. Given the existence of irreducible eco- nomic, ecological, and other uncertainties, investment and management decisions cannot be delayed indefinitely in a never-ending search for more information. Comprehensive, sound analysis, however, can highlight key uncertainties, reduce uncertainties in some cases, and provide probabilities of different outcomes, all of which are valuable to planners and decision makers. Navigation Economics Forecasting Future Waterway Traffic on the UMR-IWW Good decisions regarding investments in large civil works projects such as lock extensions on the Upper Mississippi River require some considera- tion of the future demands for those projects. Corps of Engineers locks and dams are intended to have a useful life of many decades. Planners must thus forecast future demands for these projects' services over dec- ades-long time spans. Such long-term forecasts inherently contain large uncertainties. Creating long-term forecasts that are plausible enough to support long-term decisions is an analytical challenge. Also, although dis-
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12 Upper Mississippi-Illinois ~aierlYay Resir~c~red Feasibility Study: Interim Report count rates may diminish the importance of forecasts as one goes farther into the future, credible long-term forecasts are nonetheless essential to sound planning. Flawed forecasts may result in useful projects' not being constructed in a timely fashion or in the construction of projects for which subsequent demand "falls short of" forecast levels and thus fails to justify the investment. A spatial price model is one means for gauging how future levels of traffic on the UMR-IWW might change in response to a variety of factors such as changes in shipping rates; the availability of alternative transport modes and ports of export; trends in grain processing; and shifts in re- gional, national, and global patterns of grain supply and demand. The model also would gauge the degree to which grain shipments increase, de- crease, or move to alternative transportation modes with changes in the cost of waterway transport, a phenomenon described as the "elasticity" of waterway traffic demand. Spatial models represent an appropriate method for examining lock congestion on inland waterways. Increases in traffic and lock congestion on the UMR-IWW would be expected to increase waterway shipping rates that link supply regions (e.g., central Iowa) and Gulf of Mexico ports. These increases could be reflected in a spatial grain model, which could make up- ward adjustments in waterway shipping rates that link various Upper Missis- sippi River elevator sites to Lower Mississippi River ports. Increases in wa- terway shipping rates would provide an incentive for shippers to examine alternative markets (e.g., regional corn or soybean processors; poultry and livestock producers) and alternative transportation routes (e.g., rail to the Gulf of Mexico or to the Pacific Northwest). Subsequent analyses could estimate the likely reduction in barge shipping rates that would result from improved lock infrastructure (e.g., mooring, lock extension, lock rehabilita- tion). The reduced waterway shipping rates could be incorporated into the spatial models and the models solved to determine increases in river grain flow and increases in economic welfare resulting from these investments. Eventually, the Corps would likely wish to develop spatial price models that featured several crops, land resource constraints, and a longer time perspec- tive. Regardless, these types of models represent an analytical building block that could be augmented within the feasibility study (Appendix A provides more details regarding examples of spatial equilibrium models and their applications to the U.S. grain sector).
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The Coops of Engineers and the Upper M'ssiss~ppi River-Illino's Gateway The Tout Cost Model and ESSENCE 13 The Corps of Engineers traditionally has estimated waterway traffic levels using a Tow Cost Model (TCM). Documents and briefings provided to the NRC Phase I committee indicated that the Corps had developed a "spatial equilibrium" (ESSENCE) model to explain changes in grain ship- ping modes and export levels with different levels of waterway traffic costs and congestion. The Phase I committee commended the Corps for this development, noting that it represented important conceptual progress be- yond earlier models, such as the TCM: "This system model represents a major advance over previous economics models used by the Corps to fore- cast barge traffic" (NRC, 2001~. The Phase I committee also noted, how- ever, that implementation of the ESSENCE model was inadequate: "The ESSENCE model does not, however, adequately use the more important concepts of the spatial equilibrium model that were advocated in the draft feasibility study" (NRC, 2001~. The Corps has continued its efforts to develop a realistic and reliable spatial price model. The model is not yet completed however, and Corps staff implied that it may be years until it is. Until the model is developed, the Corps has elected to apply both the Tow Cost Model and the ES- SENCE model, the latter of which contains two values of a coefficient that characterizes the shape of the demand curve for waterway traffic. One of these values is described as a lower bound and one as an upper bound value. Both of these parameter values are based on the judgment of Corps staff; no data are provided to estimate this critical parameter or justify the values chosen. After the Phase I report was issued, a federal interagency "Principals Group" was created to guide the development of the Corps' feasibility study. Members of the Principals Group include representatives from the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. This Principals Group was cited as recommending the use of the TCM to give a common metric to allow the UMR-IWW study to be compared to previous Corps studies: "The Federal Principals Group en- dorsed the use of existing and accepted economic models while research and development on improved models moves forward . . ." (USAGE,
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14 Upper Mississippi-Illinois ~aterlYay Restretched Feasibility Study: Interim Report 2003a, p. 8~. Although this Phase II committee did not review the Tow Cost Model in detail, the decision to use the Tow Cost Model in the feasi- bility study prompts two observations. One is that it is the committee's understanding that the federal Principals Group was not created to provide advice on technical issues, but rather to provide broad policy guidance. A Corps of Engineers web site, for example, describes the Principals Group as follows: "The National Federal Senior Principals Task Force was estab- lished by the Corps of Engineers to provide national-level balance and guidance on important economic and environmental issues to assist in bringing this study to completion" (~_~ _; accessed November 6, 2003~. It is not clear that the Principals Group clearly understood the technical details in- volved in model selection. A second observation regards the claim that the Tow Cost Model represents an "accepted" economic model. Although this committee has not yet been provided details of the TCM, the Corps apparently concluded years ago that the TCM was inappropriate for the feasibility study and spent considerable time and resources on developing an alternative. The commit- tee has not been presented with information to suggest that the TCM has been adjusted so that it can provide reliable estimates of the benefits of lock extensions on the UMR-IWW. More information regarding the TCM and the decision to use it in the feasibility study will be presented and re- viewed later in the course of this study. The Phase I committee noted several limitations of the ESSENCE model. The model represents a significant simplification of the spatial equilibrium concept in that it incorrectly assumes that the cost of transport is always proportional to distance. The Phase I report (NRC, 2001) rec- ommended that that the ESSENCE model be recast to remove this and other limitations in order to make it more amenable to use with a spatial equilibrium model, recommending that the Corps should "revise the ES- SENCE model, eliminating assumptions that shipment costs are propor- tional to distance . . ." (NRC, 2001, p. 3~. The Phase I committee also rec- ommended that the revised ESSENCE model be implemented by having parameters estimated using empirical data from the UMR-IWW, stating that the Corps should "estimate demand and supply sensitivities to price from studies of current data . . ." (NRC, 2001, p. 3~. Price responsiveness is so important to estimating the benefits of waterway improvements that in-
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The Coops of Engineers and the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Gateway 15 formed judgments about the merit of such improvements cannot be made without careful study of these demand and supply elasticities. The values of these elasticities should be based on empirical demand and supply data for the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway. It is unlikely, however, that these empirical data can be gathered and adequately evaluated within the schedule the Corps has set for the feasibility study. Furthermore, the present specification of the ESSENCE model does not allow for an inde- pendent choice of demand elasticity, whether or not it is empirically deter- mined. Demand Forecasting It is not possible to predict grain movements on the UMR-IWW 50 years into the future with anything approaching a high degree of conf~- dence. Nonetheless, some estimates of future conditions are necessary for a project of the scale being evaluated by the Corps. One way to address the problems inherent in this forecasting is to create multiple scenarios of a range of plausible future conditions. The Phase I committee recommended scenario analysis as an option for the Corps, and the present committee commends the Corps for developing this approach for the feasibility study. If plausible projections for future waterway traffic levels are to be pro- duced, the fundamental structural factors, or "drivers," that affect regional and global patterns of production, consumption, and trade must be identi- f~ed and explained. A valid approach for scenario analysis would include an explanation of key drivers (e.g., changes in technology, consumer prefer- ences, global climate, trade policy, population growth), as well as significant candidate drivers that may have been omitted from the analysis. A valid approach also would include a reasonable range of plausible futures, sup- ported by explanations for projected changes in key drivers. A set of sce- narios that all reflect essentially the same future trend should be cause for suspicion. This would not necessarily imply that all the scenarios are inva- lid, but it should induce the analysts to seek clear explanations behind the assumptions of the driving forces upon which the scenarios are based. The credibility of the explanations for the drivers would depend largely on their consistency with expert opinions about trends and futures in national and
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16 Upper M'ssissippi-Illinois ~aterlYay Restretched Feasibility Study: Interim Report global grain markets. Thorough review by independent experts would help ensure the validity of key drivers and the credibility of the resulting scenar- ios. Such scenarios will always contain a degree of uncertainty, and uncer- tainly alone should not justify the delay of investment decisions. However, the magnitude and the potential effects of investments being considered in the feasibility study require scenarios that are consistent with key drivers in global and national grain markets, that are supported by credible model re- sults, and that are consistent with the knowledge of credible and independ- ent experts. The credibility of models used to create waterway traffic demand fore- casts for the UMR-IWW feasibility study should be validated by their ability to reproduce actual historical patterns of waterway traffic. If the applica- tion of past values for the selected drivers could reasonably reconstruct patterns of waterway traffic from 1980 to 2003, for example, the modeling approach and the scenarios developed from it would gain credibility. On the other hand, if the approach cannot reasonably recreate past historical patterns, it should be reexamined for key assumptions, data, and algorithms. Testing for ability to successfully "backcast" is the conventional method for validating models for use in generating forecasts or scenarios. Managing Congestion The Corps is to be commended for considering the Phase I commit- tee's recommendation to examine the use of one or more tolls to help man- age waterway traffic congestion. Even if the proposed lock replacement and extension construction were started today, a decade would pass before its completion. In contrast, there are other forms of nonstructural water- way traffic management options. A congestion toll, for example, requires no construction and could provide immediate benefits. Indeed, during the decade-long construction period, the effective capacity of the waterways will be reduced, resulting in even greater benefits from a congestion toll. The committee inference from the Corps' 2002 Interim Report is that the Corps has evaluated a congestion toll in terms of a lockage fee that would be constant over time. The congestion toll should be a contingent fee, however, and should vary with varying levels of congestion: "One market- based system is a congestion toll, where each tow pays for the cost of the
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The Coops of Engineers and the Upper M'ssiss~ppi River-Illinois Gateway 17 delays imposed on other tows" (NRC, 2001, p. 69). Thus, if a tow were willing to wait until there was a vacant lock for its passage, it would have a zero congestion toll. This responsive congestion toll would generate higher benefits than a constant toll of similar magnitude. An aspect of congestion tolls not addressed by the Corps' report is the financial impact of conges- tion tolls on towboat operators. It is possible to employ deposit-refund schemes to return most toll revenues to the industry, preserving the incre- mental incentives provided by the toll while reducing the average financial impact on operators and shippers. Other nonstructural traffic management alternatives that could also be evaluated include tradable arrival slots, indus- try self-help, and the use of switchboats. Principles and Guidelines: Nonstructural Alternatives The congestion toll described above is one of several nonstructural al- ternatives that could be used in conjunction with or as a substitute for structural improvements. Before undertaking a billion dollar construction project that will affect river traffic for a decade and have large-scale effects on the environment and river ecology, it should be determined that the level of construction is appropriate to the level of demand. Traffic on the UMR-IW~t is served largely on a f~rst-come, f~rst-serve basis, and there is no scheduling or other management system that attempts to smooth wa- terway traffic flows. The system is thus not being used efficiently, which led the Phase I committee to note that ". . . it is not clear how the benefits of lock extensions can be evaluated adequately without first managing water- way traffic more efficiently on the existing system, (NRC, 2001, p. 4~." The committee further concluded that "the benefits and costs of lock exten- sions should not be calculated until nonstructural measures for waterway traffic management have been carefully assessed" (NRC, 2001, p.4~. A contingent congestion toll would internalize an important externality, providing incentives to low-value traffic to pass through the locks at less congested periods and to high-value traffic to minimize the time that others are made to wait. The extent to which investment in other nonstructural measures (e.g., "helper boats") likewise would help relieve congestion should also be evaluated.
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18 Upper Mississippi-Illirlois Waterway Restructured Feasihility Study: Inter Report The greatest benefit to the nation would be achieved by first imple- menting cost-effective, nonstructural alternatives and subsequently evaluat- ing the benefits and costs of lock extensions once new traffic patterns have been established. Although implementing such measures may obviate the need for immediate lock extensions, they would not necessarily preclude eventual construction. Current laws, however, do not permit necessarily Corps to implement charges such as a congestion toll. UMR-IWW Ecosystem A thorough assessment of the ecological implications of the proposed lock extensions and additional towboat traffic will require a better under- standing of the river's ecological system dynamics than currently exists. In particular, information regarding the effects of the existing system of locks, dams, navigation pools, and towboat traffic on river-floodplain ecology is essential. To improve scientific knowledge of Upper Mississippi River ecology, the Corps, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish and Wild- life Service have been cooperating in the Environmental Management Pro- gram (EMP) on the Upper Mississippi River since 1986. The EMP is con- ducted through the Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and is viewed by many as the nation's premier river monitoring program (see also _~b~; accessed September 16, 2003~. The EMP has gathered and synthesized a large amount of scientific data and has issued many reports on river ecology (see, for example, USGS, 1999, 2000~. Important gaps remain in scientific un- derstanding of Mississippi and Illinois River ecology, however, and the Phase I committee recommended additional studies to help fill these gaps: "Gaps in current scientific understanding make it very difficult to accurately understand how additional changes will affect the river.... Systemwide re- search should be conducted on . . . cumulative effects of the existing navi- gation system on river ecology" (NRC, 2001, p. 6~. Despite the need for additional data and studies, the complexities of an ecosystem on the scale of the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers must be recognized, as must the limited ability of scientific inquiry to reduce uncer- tainties in the understanding of ecosystem dynamics. Some degree of un- certainty will always be present in ecological knowledge of a system such as
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The Corps of Engineers and the Upper M'ssiss~ppi River-Illinois Waterway 19 the UMR-IWW. Additional investigations are merited, but scientists and managers should not become caught up in a quest for certainty. At some point, scientists and managers must decide that existing data are sufficient to allow management actions to be implemented. Outcomes from man- agement actions should be monitored, with findings being used to adjust future management actions. Recognizing uncertainties and the limits of knowledge, acting in the face of uncertainties, and monitoring management actions are tenets of an "adaptive management" approach that the Corps is discussing with regard to the UMR-IW~ Integrated Waterway Systems Planning The Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and their floodplains support a variety of activities in addition to commercial navigation, including boat- ing, recreational and commercial fishing, hunting, camping, and sightseeing. These activities are important to both the economics and the quality of life in dozens of communities along the rivers, including several cities. Studies of future UMR-IWW navigation thus require multidisciplinary perspectives. The Corps has conducted many river ecology studies, but it has been chal- lenged to integrate them into the larger feasibility study. This prompted the Phase I committee to conclude, "The Corps should aim toward a more comprehensive and integrated assessment of the navigation system's effects on the environment in the UMR-IW~T" (NRC, 2001, p. 4~. Integration also would entail the consideration of social and cultural issues. Although some of these issues may go beyond the Corps' ability to address within its ana- lytical framework, the Corps has conducted many meetings along the river in which it has discussed the feasibility study with members of the public. Considerable effort has gone into broadening the scope of the study to identify and address not only the ecological impacts of the navigation im- provements, but also the ecological impacts of the baseline operations of the navigation system. Alternatives are being developed to address these impacts. At the same time as this study is being carried out, the Corps (in collaboration with several other federal agencies) is developing an Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan. This plan was authorized in Section 459 of the 1999 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and is being con-
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20 Upper Mississippi-Illinois ~aterlYay Restretched Feasibility Study: Interim Report ducted to create a systematic, integrated strategy for managing flood risks, nutrients and sediment (including bank erosion), environmental steward- ship, and river-related recreation needs and expectations on the Upper Mis- sissippi River. Although the Comprehensive Plan surely will use information gener- ated by the restructured feasibility study, there is no indication that it will address the potential to deal concurrently with navigation and ecosystem restoration. For example, extensive levees in the lower section of the Up- per Mississippi affect navigation pools and river-floodplain ecology. A navigation solution that does not consider restoring some connectivity be- tween the river and the floodplains behind levees for environmental pur- poses will have missed an opportunity. Similarly, there appears to be little in the study dealing with opportunities to improve water quality of the Upper Mississippi River. The Corps has adopted a more holistic approach to the feasibility study since the NRC (2001) Phase I report, and this committee commends its efforts to broaden the investigations. In reality, the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway region is one system, with human society interacting with natural systems. An integrated, or holistic, water management ap- proach recognizes this and seeks to explain the relations between ecology, economics, and people, both quantitatively and qualitatively. In a large, complex system with as many users and uses as the UMR- IWW, activities in different sectors often impinge on one another. For ex- ample, deepening of the navigation channel and expansion of the naviga- tion system over past decades have had effects on other sectors and users, especially river ecology. The interface and the trade-offs between these two r ~ . ~ i, sectors are at the center ot many cl~terences ot opinion about how the river should be managed and developed in the future. The divergent opin- ions that the committee heard in briefings by representatives of several in- terest groups at the September 2003 meetings indicate the difficulties that the Corps faces in managing this complicated system. Future decisions re- garding UMR-IWW navigation system management are likely to have sig- nif~cant effects on river ecology, communities, and related human activities. The feasibility study should recognize the near inevitability of trade-offs between sectors and explain clearly how those trade-offs will be considered. A note on the roles of the U.S. Congress in helping make decisions about trade-offs also is in order. With its many publicly owned locks and
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The Corps of Engineers and the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway 21 dams, wildlife refuges, and other lands, the UMR-IW~t is both an interstate and a federal resource. Appropriate allocation of this system's benefits for navigation, environmental services and values, and flood control is thus ultimately a decision for Congress. Although the Corps of Engineers can help reduce uncertainties in the feasibility study, decisions regarding priori- ties for uses of this public resource are beyond the agency's purview. The Corps should conduct credible technical analyses, but when the agency must decide on trade-offs between different users, clear direction from Congress would be useful. In 1986, Congress passed an Unner Mississinni River Management Act (P.L. 99-662) that stated, It is hereby declared to be the intent of Congress to rec- . . . .. .. . . ~ 1 1 1 1 ogre that system as a nationally slgm~lcant ecosystem and a national significant commercial navigation system. Congress further recognizes that the system provides a diversity of opportunities and experiences. The system shall be regulated and administered in recognition of its several purposes. Although the act recognizes the multiple purposes of the river, it provides no guidance to the Corps on how to balance competing uses and inevitable trade-offs between sectors. Chapter 2 contains findings and recommenda- tions and concludes this committee's first report to the Corps.
Representative terms from entire chapter: