3
Trends and Milestones in Corps History

The Corps’ programs of river and coastal project development and the agency’s planning methods have often prompted controversy. As explained in Chapter 2, these discussions have reached high levels of intensity in contemporary debates regarding national water resources management priorities and appropriate roles for the Corps in meeting those priorities. This chapter places these current controversies in the context of important historical trends and events in federal water resources planning and management.

ORIGINS OF THE CORPS

From Forts to Navigation Enhancement

Early influences on the Corps of Engineers can be traced back to eighteenth century Europe, as many initial Corps engineering methods drew on engineering theories developed in France (Shallat, 2000). The Corps’ earliest activities were the construction of Bunker Hill fortifications and of Forts Norfolk and Nelson on Chesapeake Bay in 1774 to 1775. A permanent Corps of Engineers was organized in 1802. During the same year, a military academy at West Point, which the Corps relied heavily upon for many years, was also established. After the War of 1812 the agency began to carve out a civilian role that matured in the late nineteenth century. Prior to the Civil War, the Corps’ roles and activities were shaped largely by great national debates over the federal responsibility for “internal improvements.” There was considerable opposition to the Corps (as a federal agency) becoming involved in road, canal, and navigation improvement projects. However, improving the flow of commerce through harbors and inland rivers (via removal of obstructions) promoted interstate commerce, and such activities thus became accepted as a federal responsibility. In 1866, Congress directed the



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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service 3 Trends and Milestones in Corps History The Corps’ programs of river and coastal project development and the agency’s planning methods have often prompted controversy. As explained in Chapter 2, these discussions have reached high levels of intensity in contemporary debates regarding national water resources management priorities and appropriate roles for the Corps in meeting those priorities. This chapter places these current controversies in the context of important historical trends and events in federal water resources planning and management. ORIGINS OF THE CORPS From Forts to Navigation Enhancement Early influences on the Corps of Engineers can be traced back to eighteenth century Europe, as many initial Corps engineering methods drew on engineering theories developed in France (Shallat, 2000). The Corps’ earliest activities were the construction of Bunker Hill fortifications and of Forts Norfolk and Nelson on Chesapeake Bay in 1774 to 1775. A permanent Corps of Engineers was organized in 1802. During the same year, a military academy at West Point, which the Corps relied heavily upon for many years, was also established. After the War of 1812 the agency began to carve out a civilian role that matured in the late nineteenth century. Prior to the Civil War, the Corps’ roles and activities were shaped largely by great national debates over the federal responsibility for “internal improvements.” There was considerable opposition to the Corps (as a federal agency) becoming involved in road, canal, and navigation improvement projects. However, improving the flow of commerce through harbors and inland rivers (via removal of obstructions) promoted interstate commerce, and such activities thus became accepted as a federal responsibility. In 1866, Congress directed the

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service Corps to begin dredging, snagging, removing sunken vessels, and clearing overhanging trees on the Upper Mississippi River (Anfinson, 1993). In the same period, the Corps removed thousands of snags on the Upper Missouri River, where snags and other navigation hazards and impediments claimed almost 1,000 steamers, ferries, and snag boats before the railroads supplanted navigation there (Schneiders, 1999). Today, the Corps’ water transportation missions extend to the nation’s coastlines and inland rivers. Engineering in the interests of promoting water transportation has moved far beyond removing naturally occurring obstacles in rivers and harbors. To support modern ocean-going shipping, continuous dredging is necessary at coastal ports to maintain approach channels and berthing facilities. On inland rivers and waterways, continuous dredging and the operation and maintenance of water control structures of locks and dams maintain a minimum 9-foot channel throughout the nation’s inland water transportation network. The Corps has also promoted efforts to be responsive to the needs of ecosystems, as in its efforts to fluctuate the levels of navigation pools on the Upper Mississippi River so as to increase hydrologic variability and ecosystem vitality (see USACE, 2004a). From Navigation to Flood Control The Corps’ navigation mission to support commerce led to the agency’s involvement in flood control. Congress appropriated money to the Corps as early as 1850 to survey the Mississippi River in the interests of reducing flood damages. The Corps came to view floods as natural events that could be predicted with reasonable accuracy and that could thereby be controlled through engineering practice and investment. Flood control would allow lands unsuited for agriculture to be made productive and would allow cites to grow up along the river transportation system. Flood control was deemed essential to national economic prosperity. The Corps’ early flood control program focused on levees; only later were channel and dam projects integrated into the control of flood waters. In 1879, Congress created the Mississippi River Commission. The commission promoted a “levees-only” policy for managing Mississippi River floods. This policy was based on the premise that levees were sufficient for the control of floods, as it was believed that by constricting a river’s flow and increasing the speed of its current, levees would create a self-scouring process that would allow a river to dredge its own bottom. The levees-only policy remained the basis of Corps

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service flood control program policies despite continued major floods and associated damages, and despite the successes with some flood control dams, such as those built by the Miami Conservancy District in Ohio in the early twentieth century (http://www.miamiconservancy.org/Who_We_Are/MCD_History/MCDs_Founders.htm; last accessed April 28, 2004). Professional debates regarding the agency’s levees-only approach to flood control promoted increased understanding in the hydrologic sciences. For example, engineer Charles Ellet, Jr., published a report (Ellet, 1852) that dismissed the levees-only theory, describing it as “a delusive hope” (quoted in Barry, 1997). Ellet felt that in order to control Mississippi River floods, a comprehensive approach that included levees, natural outlets, and artificial outlets and reservoirs was required. An 1861 report by General Andrew Humphreys and Henry Abbott represented a milestone in hydraulic studies of the river and “became the single most influential document ever written about the Mississippi River” (Barry, 1997). In that document, Humphreys and Abbot dismissed most of Ellet’s theories, stating that Mississippi River floods could be controlled through the construction of levees alone. Over the ensuing years, elements of Ellet’s and Humphreys’ flood control theories became part of federal and Corps approaches to flood hazard management. Alternative views of the primacy of engineering structures in controlling floods emerged in the early twentieth century, as arguments for changing the patterns of human occupancy of floodplains and coastal areas were offered (e.g., White, 1945). In fact, the 1938 Flood Control Act authorized the Chief of Engineers to propose floodplain evacuation projects as a flood risk management strategy. Until relatively recently, however, the Corps has emphasized flood risk minimization through water control projects, with other agencies (e.g., the Federal Emergency Management Agency) implementing programs related to human occupancy of floodplains. WATER RESOURCES PLANNING The Corps and Progressive Conservation The Progressive Conservation Era (1890-1920) saw the origin of the ideals of “rational” and “efficient” uses of water that continue to exert a powerful influence on approaches to water resources planning and management. This era coincided with the rise of the modern university system and with humanities, sciences, and professional schools. Engineer-

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service ing was a prestigious profession that reflected the period’s optimism of using technology and scientific methods to promote material and social progress (Hays, 1959). For the first time in the United States, a holistic vision of river basins as integrated natural and social systems was articulated. The idea that hydrologic processes did not respect political boundaries, which the Supreme Court had earlier endorsed in its definitions of navigability, eventually formed the basis for what one author called the “pure doctrine of river basin management” (Wengert, 1981): federal construction and management of comprehensively planned and related water control dams, levees, channels, and other works that would serve multiple purposes including navigation, flood control, hydropower generation, and water supply storage. All projects would be planned with river basins as the planning area and constructed to promote national and regional economic prosperity (ibid.). States, with few exceptions, invested little in such projects. Private investment was limited to places in which power production could be profitable, extending the logic that supported the widespread development of mill dams decades earlier. Gilbert White observed that three key ideas are central to the concept of river basin development: the multiple-purpose storage reservoir, the basin-wide program, and comprehensive regional development (White, 1957). Although the first two elements were realized in many parts of the United States, the notion of comprehensive regional development as part of unified basin management “has not been fully realized in any part of the earth” (ibid.). Some officials in the newly-organized Bureau of Reclamation, created to administer the Reclamation Act of 1902, enthusiastically endorsed the river basin planning concept, but in the end, influential members of Congress never embraced the implication that executive branch expert planners would select the projects to be built and the purposes to be served. At the same time, the Corps found that an emphasis on local levees, river clearing, and channel projects to serve regional interests in flood control and navigation, protected its autonomy and maintained its support in Congress (Hays, 1959; Pisani, 2002). The Corps adopted the notion of multiple-purpose planning in the twentieth century. The Great Mississippi flood of 1927 was a monumental event in both U.S. political history and national water policy (Barry, 1997). President Coolidge’s characterization of the flood as an act of God and his refusal to support federal flood relief were consistent with early twentieth century thinking, but that viewpoint was soon under-mined by the emerging progressive vision of scientific management of water resources (Hays, 1959). Prior to the Mississippi River floods,

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service Congress had authorized studies to address multiple-purpose river basin planning (largely for hydropower generation), which were published in 1927 in House Document No. 308. The belief that the federal government was responsible for supplementing the levee program (originally designed to benefit navigation) with programs designed to protect the valley from future floods, became a pillar of water management policy after the 1927 flood. In 1936, the Corps was instructed to plan for and build dams, along with other water control infrastructure, to serve multiple purposes that included navigation and flood control, as well as water supply, hydropower, and recreation. The Flood Control Act of 1936 expanded the Corps’ planning roles and remains the current foundation for the agency’s current efforts to apply engineering, physical, and social sciences in project planning. The Corps had always planned in the sense that it studied a structure’s technical feasibility, as well as its cost justification. With an increase in the size and scope of its mission, Corps activities became more controversial. Cost overruns were a persistent problem, and in 1936, Congress instructed the Corps to propose projects only when “… the benefits to whomsoever they may accrue are in excess of the costs and the lives and social security of the people will be otherwise affected.” These words are often cited as the modern origin of water resources planning practice. Rational Planning The expansion of the Corps’ missions required more formal project planning processes. The development of many of the Corps’ analytical means and methods in the middle of the twentieth century can be characterized as a search for more “rational” planning. So-called rational planning would provide an objective process for identifying the best projects. Experts would draw from the full range of physical and social sciences in this rational process. Rational planning was seen as a scientific alternative to an unfiltered and politicized project planning and funding process. This ideal of rational planning was advocated for more than water resources decision making. Urban planning, for example, evolved from a purely architectural or engineering discipline into a scientific process of information assembly and problem solving (Scott, 1971). In the early twentieth century, water resources planning was expected to maximize hydrologic control, not maximize net benefits. The rational plan was one in which an integrated set of water projects would eliminate the “waste” of water and control the vagaries of nature. The

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service founding of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1879 was important because the USGS initiated a shift of hydrological research from a diffuse private sector to the government. Under leadership of pioneers such as Robert E. Horton, the focus of hydrology was on “the conservation of water mass at the scale of the river basin” (NRC, 1991), which supported the concept of large-scale, integrated, technical planning. By 1934, the National Resources Planning Board stated the challenge of water management as follows: “In the interests of national welfare there must be maximum control of water resources, from the desert trickle that might make and acre or two productive to the raging flood waters of the Mississippi.” The Truman administration’s 1950 report, Water in America’s Future, included a sketch of a well-managed watershed of the era. In the watershed’s broad upper reaches, land treatment and reforestation programs slow runoff. In some upstream areas, water detention projects have been constructed. Multiple-purpose storage projects and mainline levees and channels control (remove the variability in) the river system’s hydrologic regime. In the estuary and along the coastlines, a river transportation network feeds freight to a bustling commercial port. Technically sound project designs would draw on an understanding of the hydrologic connections within river basins. These projects were expected to serve multiple purposes such as drinking water, recreation, hydroelectric power, and navigation. Were these benefits, however, warranted by the costs incurred in securing them? This question, as embodied in the 1936 Flood Control Act, was the foundation for a different understanding of rational water planning. In fact, the Corps had long conducted different forms of benefit and cost analysis as a basis for selecting projects for funding, predating the 1936 act (Porter, 1995). Also, beginning shortly after World War II, the executive branch issued a series of guidance documents for the conduct of benefit—cost analysis. From the end of World War II through the early 1960s however, criticisms of the justification for the continuing construction of new water projects grew (Holmes, 1979). In response, water resources planning became an important academic subject (Maass et al., 1962). In 1955, the Rockefeller Foundation funded the Harvard Water Program, a water resources system design seminar located in the Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration (Maass et al., 1962). The Harvard team, led by Arthur Maass and Maynard Hufschmidt, published Design of Water Resources Systems (ibid.), which created the foundation for the 1972 federal Principles and Standards. Professor Maass was also well-known for his landmark book Muddy Waters (Maass, 1951), in

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service which he was sharply critical of the Corps of Engineers and its relationship to Congress. Maass’ book was the prototype for succeeding generations of criticisms of the Corps and its civil works projects (e.g., Reisner, 1986). The Harvard program was for both graduate students and government personnel, and the Corps provided support to the program from 1961 to 1965 (Kneese and Smith, 1966). The Harvard Water Program combined engineering, systems analysis, and economics into a planning framework that was expected to rationally guide identification and construction of only those projects that would serve the national interest, as described by the language of the 1936 Flood Control Act. In 1965 the Congress passed the Water Resources Planning Act, which represented a commitment by both the executive and congressional branches to rational water resources planning. That act created a three-part planning approach to national water resources management to be administered by a federal Water Resources Council (WRC) and by regional river basin commissions. Water projects were to serve and be evaluated according to multiple criteria set forth by the WRC. Federal objectives for water management were to be equally balanced between national economic development (NED) and environmental quality (EQ), although considerations of regional economic effects and other social effects could be evaluated and reported in a planning document. The principles for benefit-cost analysis in the National Economic Development account were drawn from economic theory and literature on efficiency analysis. The grounding of formal benefit-cost analysis procedures in the principles of contemporary economic theory represented a significant shift in planning requirements, which can be attributed to economists and other students of river basin development and their questions about the Corps’ technical methods used to compute costs and benefits. More generally, the assumption that economic development was advanced by water project construction was being challenged (the meaning and measure of EQ outcomes did not receive a similar degree of intellectual and professional attention). The Water Resources Council was zero-funded in 1981, and the federal objective for water projects has since been redefined to be to maximize NED benefits (net benefits) subject to compliance with all relevant environmental laws, but the ideas that it adopted form the bases of contemporary Corps planning. The economic evaluation principles articulated by the Harvard Water Program and other economists remain the foundation of NED analysis. Environmental considerations are defined as legal constraints, however, not as objectives to be achieved. Furthermore, the operational meaning of “environmental quality” in the context

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service of the Corps program and planning model remains ill-defined. Through these periods and regardless of the theoretical foundations for benefit and cost measurement, the assumptions and calculations in Corps planning studies were increasingly questioned. Today, the public and Congress no longer necessarily defer to the Corps as the preeminent expert on all water resources planning matters. CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES Changing Visions of Water Management During the twentieth century, rivers came to be viewed by many of the nation’s citizens, elected leaders, and federal agency heads as objects of an imperfect nature to be improved and managed for human progress through science and engineering applications. Opposition to projects that controlled hydrologic and geomorphic processes in the nation’s rivers and coastlines increased after the 1960s, however, and in so doing challenged the fundamental premise of water management and the Corps program. The “environmental argument” against water projects was led by environmentalists such as David Brower. It arose from a longing to preserve a vanishing wilderness, but in the trenches of public debate, economic arguments (e.g., Krutilla and Eckstein, 1958) were increasingly enlisted to slow the construction programs of the Corps and other federal agencies. These interests were often allied with those who also opposed these programs, but for other reasons (e.g., railroads, private power companies). The initial motivation for critics of large-scale water development was aimed at preserving natural environments, with opposition to the proposed Echo Park Dam in Dinosaur National Monument in the 1950s representing one of the early national-level “dams-versus-the-environment” controversies. One legislative victory for water project opponents was passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968. This act was followed by a series of laws that in one way or another were designed to limit development in some areas and to protect plant and animal species from dams, other water projects, and various stresses. Opponents of water projects soon could rely on new laws and agencies empowered to apply those laws, as well as their growing political influence, to oppose water project construction. Passage of the 1972 Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amend-

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service ments offered a vision for water management that was focused not on protection and preservation, but instead on restoring what had been lost. The act’s goal was stated as “… restoring the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nations waters.” It was not certain then (NCWQ, 1976) or even today (Adler, 2003) what the act itself or what its authors specifically meant by the term “restoration.” However, as the restoration concept was studied and advanced in the 1990s (NRC, 1992), aquatic ecosystem restoration has emerged as a vision for modern water management. Instead of controlling hydrologic and geomorphic process in rivers and coastal areas, restoration seeks to relax some of the controls that have been put in place by 200 years of water development activities. The scientific, social, and ethical arguments for restoration are complex. Many people today view rivers as integral parts of a natural landscape that can provide socially valued services. Others, however, see restoration as a search to reclaim part of our wilderness heritage, in which rivers are natural ribbons of awe and grandeur to be enjoyed in their natural state. Because Corps projects have modified so many of the nation’s rivers and coastlines, aquatic ecosystem restoration has brought past Corps project development activities, as well as proposals for new projects, to the center of the national debate over water management. In 1986, Congress directed the Corps to consider how operations of existing projects might be altered to achieve environmental purposes. Subsequent special legislative provisions and omnibus rivers and harbors development acts have authorized environmental projects to mitigate past damages and to restore areas that had been degraded in the past. As one example, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-646) authorized the Corps to cooperate with other agencies and the State of Louisiana to identify and construct wetlands projects. “Ecosystem protection and restoration” is a relevant element in Corps watershed and river basin assessments (33 U.S.C.Section 2267a(a)), and the agency may “carry out an ecosystem restoration and protection project if it will improve the quality of the environment and will be cost effective” (33 U.S.C.Section 2330). Meshing the traditional Corps water management approach with a restoration vision that, in some ways, contradicts the foundation of 200 years of national water management policies is a challenge only now being recognized. The values to be served by restoration and the redistribution of benefits and costs that may be required make restoration far more than a scientific or engineering challenge. It is a planning challenge that usually involves fundamental differences in values and per-

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service spectives that must now be faced by the nation and the Corps, while the agency continues to heed its continuing responsibilities to provide flood protection and water transportation. Competing Visions, Competing Decision Authorities The Corps has sought to respond to its critics while still accommodating traditional constituencies. The agency has added more environmental analysis to its planning studies (as required by many laws), and it has opened up the planning process to more interagency comment. The Corps has been at the forefront of engaging citizens in its planning process. (Mazmanian and Nienaber, 1979). The Corps recently introduced a planning objectives called “national environmental restoration” (NER) to complement its NED economic accounting process (USACE, 2000). In the end, however, all Corps activities are place specific and focuss on projects and project operations. In any locale, it is difficult to make decisions that simultaneously serve traditional constituencies and placate critics who may prefer no project at all or who favor ecological restoration rather than water control. Meanwhile, executive branch budget authorities maintain long-held skepticism toward the justification offered for projects conceived and planned by the Corps. Critics see recommendations for actions that are not to their liking and charge that the agency’s planning and decision-making processes remain insular and unresponsive. Criticisms extend to planning procedures that derive from the rational planning model, and there are calls for new and “more modern” procedures. Creation of the NER objective is a step in that direction. Others are concerned about the technical quality of analytical practices, and thus call for independent review of study reports (calls for independent review of studies have been made on a recurring basis at least since the mid-twentieth century). At the same time, supporters of traditional Corps project have been frustrated by what they see as inordinate delays in the construction or maintenance of important infrastructure. These supporters generally want to streamline the Corps’ planning and decision-making process and want to agency to have increased authority to make decisions (after perspectives of other agencies and the public are considered). Although the Corps has been inclined to move toward a new mission and approach to water management, other forces have operated to maintain the agency’s focus on local and individual water control and harbor projects. As one example, the Corps can find itself being asked by local

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service communities to provide flood protection at the “100-year protection level” because these levels are just adequate to relieve the communities from having to comply with the land-use control and insurance purchase provisions of the National Flood Insurance Program (NRC, 1995, 2000). The results of a benefit-cost (NED) study may suggest that higher levels of protection are economically warranted, but because of cost-sharing requirements, local communities resist the NED plan. The Corps has argued that the cost-sharing requirements attached to its planning since 1986 make it imperative that local sponsors concerns be paramount in the planning and decision process. Non-federal beneficiaries of Corps projects had long borne some of the costs on an ad hoc basis, primarily in the form of land and easement transfers and dredged material disposal areas. Leading up to 1986, a coalition of fiscal conservatives and environmentalists agreed that increasing local sponsor cost-sharing responsibilities was desirable because it would eliminate projects of marginal value. The 1986 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorized more stringent cost-sharing requirements that increased financial responsibilities of local sponsors. More stringent cost-sharing requirements altered the demand for large projects (Shabman and Dickey, 1986). On the other hand, the Corps has argued that cost-sharing requirements, especially for studies (versus projects), have increased the power of local sponsors and their congressional representatives to limit the scope of what is studied and to influence project selection. The contemporary setting of U.S. water management is one in which the Corps alone cannot always resolve contrasting visions of what is appropriate. Today, a welter of environmental laws passed in the later part of the 1960s and 1970s, in combination with incremental additions to the Corps’ own authorities, have created multiple and highly specific planning goals and constraints (e.g., protection of a particular fish or plant species listed under the Endangered Species Act). These laws, added to the existing milieu, define multiple and often-conflicting goals that must be evaluated against one another as decisions are made. Authority for executing the intent of these laws, however, is assigned to different agencies that use different planning models and different decision criteria. Even within the Corps itself, its mission and its evaluation framework differ from what applies to its permitting authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). At a general level, the traditional planning process aims to create decisions to be governed by a rule to maximize net benefits. Under such a rule, a wetlands fill permit would be issued whenever an analysis showed that benefits of permitting the fill

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service exceeded costs. The Section 404 program goal, however, is an extension of the logic of the Clean Water Act—to prevent to the maximum extent possible the discharge of pollutants to U.S. waters. There is little room for the application of benefit-cost analysis in the Clean Water Act and hence in a wetlands permit decision (Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Costle, 590 F.2d 1001, D.C. Cir. 1978). Instead, the decision logic is that unless costs are deemed unreasonable, the permit should be denied as being inconsistent with the goals of the act. As the Corps, other agencies, environmental groups, and the general public seek to independently exercise their powers and authorities, persistent conflict may ensue (Stakhiv, 2003). Interestingly, the term “watershed management” has been revived as another way to describe a decision process that will accommodate the diffusion of goals and of water governance authorities. Although justifications for a revival of interest in watershed management often are scientific in origin, watershed management is also understood as a new way to make decisions. The call is for collaborative processes in which power is shared among agencies and the stakeholders they represent. These collaborative processes range from information sharing forums to those designed to solve specific physical and regulatory problems (NRLC, 2000) and rely upon stakeholder consensus to create plans that will secure the approval of all parties to a collaboration. However described, the current national water governance system begs for more effective collaboration and cooperation. In this setting, the Corps and the nation should reconsider the role of the rational planning practices and procedures that were designed to serve a more hierarchically structured and federally focused decision process. Looking to the Future Planning for and funding of water control is a job that the nation has given to the Corps. Over time, the purposes planned for have changed and the kinds of projects have changed, as well. In addition, there have always been struggles over what branch of government will set spending priorities for the program, and critics of how projects are selected and funded have existed for decades (Maass, 1951). If there has been a constant (at least until recently), it was that projects were expected to control hydrologic and geomorphic process in the nation’s rivers and along its coastlines. The future national water policy landscape may hold important

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service changes from today’s conditions, but these prospective future changes were discussed by some water policy analysts and scholars years ago. For example, a 1973 report from the (former) National Water Commission (NWC), Water Policies for the Future: Final Report to the President and to the Congress of the United States (lost in the furor over the Watergate scandal) presciently described many of subsequent major developments in water policy. For example, in a finding that remains relevant today (and which is emphasized in this report), it was noted that “federal water planning today is now oriented toward construction of water resources projects, an orientation that made sense 50 years ago but that does not relate to today’s water problems” (NWC, 1973). The NWC could not have foreseen: the relatively rapid collapse of political consensus for continued water development; the rise of the ecosystem restoration “movement”; the redirection of federal fiscal policy from domestic spending to budget reduction, and; a diffusion of federal authority in setting water policy. The 1973 NWC report assumed that federal water resources project development would continue at a lesser rate than post-World War II activity, but would continue to be the primary federal water resources function, and thus, there was a need to continue to refine project planning and selection techniques. Water Policies for the Future contained additional foresight regarding water resources decision making. It addressed the problem of competition and duplication among agency functions and called for a centralized data collection agency. The NWC stopped short of calling for a Department of Natural Resources because it forecast the Bureau of Reclamation’s long-term role as resource manager rather than project construction agency and saw a similar role for the Corps of Engineers. The NWC called for careful review of all federal projects and for the creation of “an independent review board … to keep a check on the project evaluation biases of the Federal construction agencies.” The significance of the NWC report is not that it predicted future conditions or that its recommendations should be adopted today. The point is that the commission’s sense that an ebbing of water development programs and a shrinking of agency budgets and staff was likely came to pass (and underpins today’s national water management policies and decisions). In the following chapters, the current status of the Corps’ program and its planning capability is reviewed, and recommendations for reinvigorating and reorienting the program are presented. The nation needed an agency of government to do what the Corps did in the past. Water resources planning and management remain important challenges, and there will continue to be federal roles in addressing them. This re-

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning: A New Opportunity for Service port examines ways in which the Corps of Engineers might best contribute to the nation’s water resources needs in the twenty-first century. The following chapter discusses ways in which the Corps’ planning functions might be reoriented to tailor them to existing and future conditions and needs.