recommendations therefore are directed to the U.S. Congress and executive branch, as well as to the Corps of Engineers.
STATUS OF CORPS OF ENGINEERS WATER RESOURCES INFRASTRUCTURE
The national water infrastructure is largely “built out.” Compared to an earlier era, there are fewer opportunities and only a limited number of undeveloped or appropriate sites for new water resources infrastructure. New water projects will be constructed in the future, but the nation’s water resources infrastructure needs increasingly are in the areas of existing project OMR. In some instances, full project replacement may be needed. As new construction has declined since 1980, so too has the Corps civil works budget and hence funds available for OMR. Trends in funding for the Corps over the past three decades make clear this reality.
THE FEDERAL WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT PROCESS
Efficient investment in Corps water infrastructure OMR requires setting of priorities, but existing legislative processes for Corps funding and authorizations do not generally provide such guidance. The Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of the executive branch undertake many water resources planning responsibilities for new projects, but there exists no systematic process or guidelines for setting OMR priorities exist.
The U.S. Congress and the executive branch Office of Management and Budget are the de facto national water resources planners. There is no defined distribution of responsibility between Congress and the executive branch, including the Corps and OMB, for national-level prioritization of OMR needs for existing water infrastructure. Further, neither Congress nor the administration provides clear guiding principles and concepts that the Corps might use in prioritizing OMR needs and investments.