gressional and judicial involvement in Corps decision making is the case of water allocation in Lake Lanier, Georgia (see Box 2-1).
Congress changed its approach to water project funding in 1974 with passage of the first WRDA. Prior to 1974, Corps of Engineers projects were authorized in federal Rivers and Harbors Acts and in Flood Control Acts. Since 1974, the Corps has relied on WRDA bills to provide authorizations for specific projects. In the context of this report, it is important to note that the WRDA process and resultant legislation provide no prioritization for construction of new projects for the nation as a whole, nor does it identify project maintenance and rehabilitation priorities.
EXISTING CORPS AUTHORITIES AND CHANGING WATER DEMAND: THE CASE OF LAKE LANIER AND ATLANTA
Lake Lanier is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir on the Chattahoochee River in north-central Georgia. It is impounded by Buford Dam, and is operated along with the four other federal projects in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River system to achieve multiple purposes authorized by Congress, including flood damage reduction, hydroelectric power generation, navigation, fish and wildlife conservation, recreation, water quality, and water supply. Buford Dam and the ACF system of projects regulate flows on the Chattahoochee River that affect numerous downstream uses, including water supply and water quality in the Atlanta metropolitan area and, farther downstream, threatened and endangered species conservation in the Apalachicola River. The ACF river basin is shared by Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and empties into Apalachicola Bay.
Disagreements among the states and other entities over the use of these waters and the Corps’ operations of the federal ACF system resulted in multiple lawsuits beginning in the 1990s. Despite years of negotiations, including a congressionally-approved interstate compact, the three states have been unable to agree on an apportionment of waters that could have led to a resolution of the tri-state dispute. In the early 2000s, the region was in the midst of a multiyear drought, and the Corps of Engineers, Georgia, water supply providers, and the Southeastern Federal Power Customers (SeFPC) agreed to a settlement that could have resulted in a reallocation of water storage in Lake Lanier to accommodate water supply needs of the Atlanta metropolitan area. The settlement agreement contemplated that the Southeastern Power Administration would apply a credit to the hydropower rates