the Corps’ work, making the suite of objectives that must be considered larger and more diverse.

These changes are most vividly evident in the context of earlier Corps projects, such as the Missouri River dam and levee system and the Kissimee River restoration, which are now being modified or removed to satisfy a broader suite of objectives than those for which they were originally designed. Increases in the number and complexity of project objectives, and the diverse regulatory and jurisdictional settings in which Corps projects occur, have increased the complexity of project planning and management.

Today there is less public and congressional support for large water projects and increased support for smaller projects and aquatic system restoration. There can be a tension between the construction of smaller water projects and the broader goals of ecosystem restoration and integrated basin planning, which can require evaluation of a range of factors over large scales of space and time that exceed those historically associated with the development of a small water project. The complexity of modern water resources problems and increasing recognition that the impacts of a water project may extend well beyond its immediate boundaries emphasize that effective water resources planning and management require an integrated approach, an approach able to account for a wide range of objectives and consider a wide range of temporal and spatial scales.

Integrated and system-wide water resources project planning in the United States has always suffered from a mismatch between the nature of physically (and naturally) defined watersheds (where the boundary follows a topographic divide) and the dimensions of relevant political jurisdictions. A basic problem confronting integrated water resources planning and management in river basins and coastal systems has been that these are based on scientific, rather than legal concepts. As a result, it can be difficult to achieve integrated objectives through the existing legal and policy framework in which the Corps operates. Thus, efforts to accomplish large-scale, integrated planning at the river basin and coastal system scale must be superimposed on an existing statutory structure and history that often frustrates such efforts. Further, watershed protection efforts must overcome fragmented, incomplete, and shared regulatory frameworks that exist throughout the three levels of government as well as in the existing allocation of water and land entitlements.

Efforts to transcend political and institutional boundaries in developing a rational integrated approach to water resources planning have a long history with mixed success. The concept of integrated river basin development, which arose in the early twentieth century, was intended to

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