the U.S. Congress, the administration, Corps project co-sponsors, and the many other entities that are affected by Corps projects and interact with the agency. The report will serve as a foundational document to be referenced in the committee’s future reports.
The report’s findings are as follows:
• In an earlier era of national water development, Corps of Engineers civil works projects focused on construction of dams, levees, navigation channels, and other infrastructure. Over time, Congress has greatly broadened the Corps’ work program and responsibilities. Future Corps water resources activities will be less dedicated to construction of major new civil works, and more heavily focused on (1) operating, maintaining, rehabilitating, and upgrading existing infrastructure, (2) re-allocating reservoir storage and releases among changing water resources demands and users, and (3) providing some degree of ecosystem restoration and ecological services in heavily altered riparian and aquatic ecosystems.
• There has been a declining level of investment in the civil works infrastructure owned and operated by the Corps of Engineers. Deferred costs for maintaining the nation’s infrastructure for flood and hurricane protection, and for commercial navigation, are considerable.
• Despite decreasing emphasis on new construction, Congress and the nation will continue to rely upon the Corps for emergency response activities and for periodic upgrades to civil works infrastructure.
• Despite declining investment levels and numbers of Corps personnel, the nation expects the Corps to provide a number of services, including flood risk management, water-based recreation, commercial navigation, ecosystem restoration, hydropower production, water supply, and coastal and beach protection. This situation leads to expectations that the Corps of Engineers and its civil works construction program cannot meet consistently.
• The backlog of authorized federal water resources projects that have not yet received appropriations, or which have begun some level of planning or construction and await additional funds for completion, is considerable. There is also a considerable backlog of existing water project and infrastructure maintenance. The collective backlog of unfinished work leads to projects being delayed, conducted in a stop-start manner, and to overall inefficient project delivery.
• The modern context for water resources management involves smaller budgets, cost sharing, an expanded range of objectives, and inclusion of more public and private stakeholders in management decisions. Two important implications of these conditions are (1) given current budget realities, the nation may have to consider more flexible,