demonstrated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Total generation from Corps hydropower projects decreased by 16 percent from 2000 to 2008. By contrast, the TVA increased hydropower generation 34 percent with the same water availability through efficiency improvements in the 1980s and early 1990s (Sale, 2010). This suggests that at least a 20 percent improvement with current water flows is achievable and would provide significant new revenues. Because of its revenue-generating potential, hydropower is in an especially good position to accommodate public-private investments required to increase capacity and reliability. Some modification of operating regulations by the U.S. Congress will be needed to realize this potential.

Systematic Asset Management

An up-to-date, accessible water resources infrastructure inventory, including infrastructure conditions, benefits, and risks, would be useful in helping set priorities among competing Corps water infrastructure OMR needs. The Corps has made progress on implementing a more systematic approach to infrastructure asset management over the past decade, but progress has been slow. There are various asset inventories at the district and division level, and some at the national level, but they are not well coordinated within each mission area.

Increasing strains placed on the Corps today by decaying infrastructure and associated fiscal challenges demand a systematic approach to asset management. To its credit, the Corps has begun an asset management initiative. To further promote these efforts, the Corps should continue to develop more comprehensive, and publicly accessible, inventories of infrastructure assets for each of its core mission areas.

ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES AND FUTURE INVESTMENTS

Future OMR investments should be guided by a more coherent set of principles that include strong reliance on economics of infrastructure investment. A 2003 NRC committee that studied national freight transport



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