A National Restoration Strategy: Basic Elements and Related Recommendations
Although human management of aquatic ecosystems has yielded many benefits, the ability of the nation's rivers, lakes, and wetlands to serve contemporary social objectives has been of increasing public concern. Massive investments in wastewater treatment have made some improvements in water quality. However, there have been declines in fish populations, waterfowl numbers, species diversity, and other indicators of an aquatic ecosystem's sustainability. Indeed, some question the ability to continue to realize the flood protection, water supply, and other benefits aggressively pursued in past decades. Recognition of these trends has made environmental restoration a central concern for the next decade.
Restoration ecology represents an acknowledged shift in what society demands from its aquatic ecosystems: more environmental services are expected. Restoration also is viewed as a way to gain some of the traditional economic services of reduced flood hazard and reliable water supply. Achieving restoration requires planning on an aquatic ecosystem basis and emphasizing the interdependence of hydrologic, biologic, and chemical processes. Restoration management, which seeks to make the structure of an existing aquatic ecosystem better conform with some prior condition, requires taking one or more of the following actions: (1) reestablishing flooding and flow regimes, and restoring wetlands and riparian areas; (2) reducing the delivery of sediments and chemical contaminants, and initiating their
removal from the waters and sediments; and (3) revegetating areas and reintroducing native species. Management may mean manipulation of the structure of the existing aquatic ecosystem, an engineering problem illustrated in the case of the Kissimmee River in Florida (see case study, Appendix A).
It is essential to place physical restoration of lakes, wetlands, and rivers on a par with the current commitments to chemical and biological restoration activities. Physical restoration of aquatic ecosystems is in many cases the most cost-effective strategy for meeting the increasing public demand for certain kinds of services, including clean water without excessive loadings of sediments and nutrients; populations of fish, ducks, wading birds, shorebirds, and other wildlife; contact and noncontact aquatic recreation; and flood control and natural landscape amenities.
However, the current structure of programs and policies is fragmented and may not adequately approach restoration as a challenge requiring management of a whole system. Management responsibilities and disciplinary expertise are separated according to components of the aquatic ecosystem. Agencies and scientists focus separately on wetlands, river hydrology, or wastewater management, or best management practices for nonpoint source control. Rarely is the focus on aquatic ecosystems as a unit.
The focus during the early years of this century on the river basin as a unit of planning needs to be reinvented with new goals and new approaches to make it work more effectively than it did in the past. In making this effort the decline in federal domination of water management must be acknowledged. Indeed, there is no need to reestablish this domination: leadership can now be shared with the states. However, federal programs have been significant determinants of past modifications to aquatic ecosystems, and this past requires a continuing federal presence and further reforms at the federal level as the new era of restoration is approached. In his budget message for 1991, President Bush stated,
[T]oday, a consensus is emerging in our society: investments in maintaining and restoring the health of the environment can now be seen as responsible investments for the future.
This presidential sentiment demands a national, but not solely federal, aquatic ecosystem restoration strategy to meet the changing social demands on aquatic resources. Of course, restoration is not warranted simply because it recreates a historic condition. At the most general level, restoration is justified whenever restored ecosystem processes serve socially desired goals for human or ecologic functions
and services. In some cases these goals may be achieved only by restoration of an aquatic ecosystem's natural processes. In other cases, using the natural processes of aquatic ecosystems may be the least costly way to meet these goals. In specific instances, the justifiable intent of restoration must be discovered through planning processes that define and evaluate restoration alternatives and then execute restoration projects stressing an integrated landscape perspective.
For the next decade, new policies and program approaches are needed to set restoration priorities and to implement that integrated perspective. Such a strategy should be designed to reflect consideration of the definition of restoration explained in Chapter 1, a systems perspective, and the state of the scientific knowledge as reported in Chapters 4 through 6. Of equal importance, organizational approaches to implementation must be consistent with the substantial policy changes already under way and must take into account emerging federal-state relationships and current financial conditions. The challenge is to direct the multiplicity of programs of government and nongovernment entities toward aquatic ecosystem restoration.
The call for a national restoration strategy may imply a call for federal emphasis with large increases in federal spending on a new program. This is not the intent. Of course, restoration of aquatic ecosystems may, in some instances, be very expensive, particularly where fills or dams are to be removed or other major physical alterations are needed as part of the restoration process. In such cases it may be necessary to have federal leadership and a combination of financial resources from all levels of government. However, it also must be recognized that watershed water use and land use activities are under the primary control of private landowners and of local and state governments, not the federal government.
For this reason, many restoration programs will build on the interests, opportunities, and cost-sharing possibilities provided by private landowners, local governments, and states. For example, most lake restoration efforts to date have been undertaken at the initiative of particular citizen groups (e.g., lake improvement districts) or by local or state agencies interested in solving a problem on a particular lake. Most stream restoration efforts to date have been undertaken and financed at least in part by citizen or local stream protection and restoration coalitions. Local groups have also often provided much of the labor. Many wetland restoration efforts have been initiated by duck clubs, land trusts, waterfront renewal organizations, or local or state agencies (see case studies, Appendix A).
In some instances, restoration of a river segment or wetland can be undertaken at relatively modest cost if undertaken "opportunistically" as part of a broader activity. For example, it is often prohibitively expensive to clear a riparian zone of houses and to reestablish natural vegetation and contours if the single goal is restoration of the system. However, restoration may be possible after a severe flood event in which houses have been destroyed or damaged, landowners wish to move from the area, and disaster and flood insurance benefits are available to pay for much if not all of the costs of relocation and restoration. Similarly, it may be prohibitively expensive to restore urban riverine wetlands along a creek if this were undertaken as a separate program, but it might be possible at very low additional cost if undertaken as part of an effort to upgrade sanitary sewers, which are often buried beneath small creeks. Regrading of the entire creek becomes necessary as the sewers are dug out and replaced.
Large restoration projects require the sort of subwatershed-or watershed-level planning of tennot possible for individual, piecemeal projects, as well as a selection process for projects to optimize use of limited funds. The committee recognizes the important and innovative efforts of states across the nation to restore aquatic ecosystems — ranging from the California Coastal Conservancy, to the Reinvest in Minnesota Program, to the coordinated state efforts to restore large systems such as the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. However, because much of the modification to aquatic ecosystems has been directed by federal programs or in response to federal incentives, a federal emphasis has been given to the recommendations that follow.
The central purpose of this chapter is to present options to the federal government to take the lead in stressing this larger context. These options are proposed as building blocks for a national aquatic ecosystem restoration strategy but are developed only to the extent that they provide direction for innovation; details of program design would be developed during implementation. These options have been organized into four elements considered essential to a national restoration strategy:
national restoration goals;
principle for priority setting and decision making;
policy and program redesign for federal agencies; and
innovation in financing and in use of land and water markets.
NATIONAL RESTORATION GOALS
1. A National Restoration Strategy Should Be Directed Toward Broad-Based and Measurable Goals
Although restoration goals should be subject to revision as new knowledge becomes available, the definition of goals does provide a necessary reference point for evaluating policies and programs. A current example of how the statement of a goal can direct policy and programs is the no-net-loss of wetlands goal stated by President Bush and now included in recent legislation — Water Resources Development Act of 1990 (P.L. 99-662). Ideally, goals should be established in relation to aquatic ecosystem processes and to the social and ecological values that are achieved as those processes are restored. However, as a practical matter, goals will be more useful in policy design if they are stated in terms of the aquatic ecosystem components used in this study — lakes, rivers and streams, and wetlands — as is the case with the no-net-loss of wetlands goal.
As stated earlier in this chapter, a call for a national restoration strategy and the ability to reach the recommended goals may, in some instances, be very expensive and include economic impacts, particularly where major physical alterations are needed as part of the restoration process. In such cases it may be necessary to have federal leadership and a combination of financial resources from all levels of government. For each of these aquatic ecosystem components, both near-term and longer-term goals are suggested. The cost of achieving these goals needs to be constantly examined and justified in light of the willingness of society to bear such costs.
Inland and coastal wetlands should be restored at a rate that offsets any further loss of wetlands and contributes to an overall gain of 10 million wetland acres by the year 2010, largely through reconversion of crop-and pastureland and modification of existing watercontrol structures. This represents a tenfold increase in the wetlands restoration target included in the Wetlands Reserve Program of the 1990 Farm Bill. This number represents less than 10 percent of the total number of acres of wetlands lost in the last 200 years. The committee further recommends that this acreage be expanded in the long term to restore more of the approximately 117 million acres of the wetlands that have been lost in the United States over the past 200 years. The 10 million wetland acres specified in the restoration goal might be allocated to ecological regions in proportions equal to those regions'
shares of the nation's original wetland acres. Within regions, restoration efforts should concentrate on areas identified as environmentally sensitive (e.g., floodplain and coastal zones), ecologically critical (e.g., habitat for endangered and threatened species), and socially important (e.g., recreational corridors).
The committee further recommends that a total of 400,000 miles of streams and rivers be restored within the next 20 years. Initial efforts should concentrate on those reaches that can best be protected from future disturbance and therefore need some isolation from point and nonpoint source discharges and from flood control and water supply reservoirs. The recommended magnitude of restoration represents approximately 12 percent of the 3.2 million miles of streams and rivers in the United States, and it is recommended because it is comparable to the miles of streams and rivers affected by point source and urban runoff (EPA, 1990). Although control of point source discharge and nonpoint runoff must be part of this strategy, physical restoration of riparian zones and restoration of river hydrology (fluctuating flows) need to be given priority if successful restoration is to occur. It is highly probable that this will require relaxing the engineering controls on some rivers and reducing the consumptive use of water, primarily in irrigated agriculture, in some cases.
Excluding the Great Lakes, as well as flood control and water supply reservoirs, 1 million acres of lakes should be restored in association with wetland and river restoration by the year 2000, increasing to 2 million acres in the long term. The long-term lake restoration goal includes only one-half of the lake acreage that is now identified in federal reports as being distressed. Because of the high degree of interdependence of these aquatic ecosystem components, the best results can be achieved if restoration efforts are coordinated and linked. The restoration initiative proposed here should be undertaken in accordance with the definition, criteria, and procedures described in Chapters 1 through 7. Thus, the restoration should be undertaken on the appropriate landscape scale and should extend to the management of hydrology, water quality, and the plants and animals in the restored systems.
2. A National Aquatic Ecosystem Assessment Process Should Monitor the Achievement of the Nation' Goals for Wetlands, Rivers, and Lakes
To devise effective physical restoration programs for different kinds of aquatic ecosystems, it would be very useful for Congress, federal
and state agencies, and the public to have up-to-date assessments regarding the physical, chemical, and biological status of the nations' wetlands, rivers, and lakes in different ecoregions. Federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should devise statistical profiles that can provide an up-to-date picture of what is happening chemically, physically, and biologically to aquatic ecosystems in the country. Such environmental monitoring programs have already begun and include the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) and EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). In addition, new remote sensing techniques such as those being developed by NASA's proposed Earth Observing System (EOS) have potential value for precisely the kind of watershed and regional scale restoration programs advocated in this report. Such remote sensing may facilitate the assessment and comparison of environmental quality indicators in wide areas of the country. These assessments may eventually provide a picture of the usefulness and effectiveness of ongoing programs designed to achieve physical restoration and reductions in chemical pollution in aquatic ecosystems.
PRINCIPLES FOR PRIORITY SETTING AND DECISION MAKING
3. Policies and Programs for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Should Emphasize a Landscape Perspective
It is possible to isolate components of the aquatic ecosystem — lakes, rivers, wetlands, and uplands — as this report does, and to describe restoration techniques for these separate components. In addition, it is likely that government agency missions will continue to be organized around components of an ecosystem and that the disciplinary expertise needed for restoration will remain fragmented along similar lines. Finally, many restoration actions will be opportunistic and limited to specific components of the aquatic ecosystem. The technical success of aquatic ecosystem restoration requires integrated consideration of the various structural components of the watershed in order to reestablish the matrix of chemical, hydrologic, and biological processes that have been compromised by human actions. Successful restoration will be achieved only if these individual actions and individual perspectives recognize the system (ecoregion and more immediate landscape) within which the action is taking place. The landscape approach or perspective (see Glossary) to aquatic ecosystem
management is not a new idea. The arguments for watershed, or river basin, planning for water resources have long been made. What is different is the new goals to be met by these planning efforts and the attention to the land, wetlands, and riparian areas as an intergral element for achieving these new goals.
4. Restoration Policies and Individual Restoration Projects Should Be Designed and Executed According to the Principles of Adaptive Planning and Management
Ten years ago Gilbert White of the University of Colorado at Boulder noted (White, 1980),
[T]he sobering prospect is that most of the major public decisions about resource use and environmental management will be made in the face of large uncertainty deriving from ignorance of physical and biological systems and from evolving techniques and social values.
This statement, which is supported by the historical breakdown of expert-based watershed planning processes for water development projects, is truer today. As more is learned about aquatic ecosystems and the social context within they exist, we realize how much more there is to know.
Adaptive planning and management involve a decision-making process based on trial, monitoring, and feedback. Rather than developing a fixed goal and an inflexible plan to achieve the goal, adaptive management recognizes the imperfect knowledge of interdependencies existing within and among natural and social systems, which requires plans to be modified as technical knowledge improves and social preferences change. In effect, adaptive planning and management constitute a learn-by-doing approach to decision making.
Central to the success of adaptive planning and management are surveillance and monitoring of restoration policy, programs, and individual projects. Therefore, more than simply observing a restoration project (surveillance) and measuring the effects of restoration in relation to specific goals (monitoring) is required. For adaptive management to succeed, the knowledge gained must be translated into restoration policy and program redesign over time and must be shared across restoration programs at all levels of government. Also, given that policy and program design is based on more than technical information, surveillance and monitoring of restoration projects would include gathering and interpreting economic and organizational information.
An example of an adaptive management process is the Chesapeake Bay nutrient management strategy. The governments in the region initially established a goal to reduce nutrient loadings to the bay by 40 percent and agreed to an approach to achieve the goal. They also committed themselves to continous study of the goal itself and of the cost and effectiveness of the means employed to attain it. As a result, both goals and approaches are subject to revision over time.
5. Evaluation and Ranking of Restoration Alternatives Should Be Based on an Assessment of Opportunity Cost Rather than on Traditional Benefit-Cost Analysis
The challenge in restoration management is to evaluate trade-offs not only between restoration and the current state of the aquatic ecosystem, but also between alternative approaches to restoration. No computational procedure by itself will establish either how far restoration should proceed or the relative priorities for funding alternative restoration efforts. Plans for a restoration and priorities for alternative restorations will depend on the current condition of a particular aquatic ecosystem, the knowledge base for restoration of that system, and the values gained and lost as a result of the restoration.
Because different structures and functions of an aquatic ecosystem yield different values, choosing whether and how to restore amounts to choosing one set of values over another. The appropriate basis for defining values is a central analytical question. The basis for value may be expressions of individual preferences (the basis for economic value) or expressions of collective preferences (social norms often expressed in multiple forms of collective action). Both these perspectives envision natural systems as having value in relation to human preferences for the environment, the economy, and the society. That is essential, because the decisions on the values that will be served by restoration are ultimately decisions made through human institutions.
Computation of values is often associated with benefit-cost analysis. For the benefit-cost analyst, value is appropriately expressed through individual preferences that are measured in terms of monetary equivalence. Success in such measurement efforts has been achieved in specific instances, but widespread application of the measurement approaches has not occurred. This limited use represents in part the experimental nature of the valuation approaches and in part a lack of agreement on the philosophical bases for assigning
such values. Of even greater concern is that benefit-cost analysis requires a static view of human preferences (for the computations to be accomplished) that conflicts with the adaptive planning and management approach of Recommendation 4.
In lieu of benefit-cost analysis, the committee proposes a decision-making approach based on opportunity cost. Within the opportunity cost framework, the correct answer to the question, How much restoration is enough? emerges from legitimate social choice processes within governments that will determine the degree of restoration desirable. Confronting the decision process with cost information elicits ''values" from that process. Continually questioning the value of restoration by asking whether an action is "worth" its cost is the most practical way to decide how much restoration is enough. Costs include both direct (life cycle) financial outlays by government and individuals, and benefits derived from the existing state of the aquatic ecosystem that would be forgone if the restoration were done. An example of an opportunity cost approach is the one taken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) in determining the extent of justifiable mitigation for environmental damages done by a water development project. The COE mitigation analysis prohibits the use of solely economic measures of environmental values. Instead the process requires the establishment of alternative mitigation goals and approaches to achieve these goals. Costs of the alternative strategies are identified, and a justifiable level of mitigation is chosen in recognition of the incremental costs of increasing mitigation levels and as part of a negotiation process with affected interests and other federal agencies.
Opportunity cost analysis is quite different from traditional benefit-cost analysis, and its implementation may be organizationally complex. Within the ecosystem to be considered are the simultaneous interdependencies among political decision points, social value systems, and the land-water resource complex. An opportunity cost analysis accepts a human-based determination of value but looks to collective action to define values achieved by restoration. It requires continual questioning of the value of a restoration by asking whether an action is "worth" its cost. This is the most practical way to decide how much restoration is enough. The interested parties who participate in these social choice processes must be informed in making the decisions — informed about the effectiveness of the technical options for restoration, the aquatic ecosystem functions that might be restored by the options, and the opportunity costs of different levels and strategies of restoration.
Policy and Program Redesign For Federal Agencies
6. The Definition of Restoration Used Throughout This Report Should Be Incorporated Into All Appropriate Federal Legislation
Restoration is defined as the return of an ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to disturbance. The responsibility for attaining the goals of restoration falls on the multiple agencies of the federal government, as well as on nonfederal governments. Specific legislative language should define restoration uniformly in terms of the landscape and aquatic ecosystem process focus advocated in this report. Emphasis should then be put on how the particular historical mission of the appropriate agencies can serve this concept of restoration. For example, the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and 1990 use terms such as environmental improvement and environmental enhancement, as well as restoration, to describe new missions and authorities for COE. Nowhere are these terms adequately defined to emphasize biological, physical, and chemical processes of aquatic ecosystems. As a result, in its own interpretations of restoration, COE has equated restoration with fish and wildlife habitat, rather than with hydrologic processes — COE's area of expertise. As another example, the Clean Water Act of 1977 includes in its statement of objectives the physical restoration of aquatic ecosystems. However, the act does not give EPA or any other agency the authority to develop a restoration program. The reauthorization of the Clean Water Act of 1977 in this Congress should request that a lead federal agency (see Recommendation 9) prepare a report on major aquatic ecosystems that should be restored, with a description of the national ecological and social benefits of such restoration and an identification of the federal programs that could be retargeted to provide federal financial and technical assistance for such restoration as part of a unified national program for aquatic ecosystem restoration (see Recommendation 8). These examples illustrate the necessity for the mandates of all appropriate federal agencies, including COE and EPA, as well as agencies in the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, to be reviewed and rewritten as needed to match each agency's own programs to the broader national restoration strategy.
7. A National Restoration Strategy Should Allocate Leadership to the Federal Government for Landscape Restorations of National Significance and Should Rely on Nonfederal and Federal Units of Government to Coordinate Restoration Programs in Local Areas
Institutional arrangements should be appropriate to the scale of the restoration action. Successful restoration at the landscape level will depend on program coordination among those responsible for management decisions on the separate aquatic ecosystem components. Major federal leadership in aquatic ecosystem restoration projects is warranted in at least three instances: where such projects are the most cost-effective approach to achieving flood control or other traditional water development missions; where aquatic ecosystems to be restored have regional, national, or even international biological significance; and where federal water development projects have historically been a dominant factor in degradation of an aquatic ecosystem. Otherwise, the states are in the best position to coordinate between local (grass roots) restoration needs and federal programs that may serve those needs. Given the emerging role of the states in water management, it is logical that a significant organizational responsibility for integrating restoration programs at the landscape level fall to the states.
8. The Federal Government Should Initiate an Interagency and Intergovernmental Process to Develop a Unified National Strategy for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
Management responsibilities for the various components of an aquatic ecosystem—the lands, water, and wetlands—are fragmented among multiple governmental organizations and between the public and private sectors. Individuals, groups, and government agencies with an interest in decisions about the use of resources have engaged in bargaining to resolve disagreement and reach decisions within the framework of law, executive order, and administrative regulations. Indeed, the history of river basin planning demonstrates that efforts to establish central control over the programs of independently funded agencies has not worked. Political allegiances, legislative mandates, and budgetary rules are all more powerful influences on the state agencies
of government than are the directives of a central organization, such as a river basin authority.
State and federal governments can more effectively bring about coordination among their agencies by taking actions to improve interagency communication and agreement, a process supported by many of the recommendations made in this chapter. First, establishing common goals and precise legislative language should reduce conflict among agency missions. Second, requiring common decision criteria and analytical processes will help resolve analytical conflict. Third, organizational arrangements specifically developed for resolving agency and program conflicts can be defined in legislation, in executive order, in promulgation of administrative rules, or in mutually established memoranda of agreement or understanding.
Establishment of a "United National Program for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration," modeled after the federal effort to develop a Unified National Program for Floodplain Management, is one approach that could be used to facilitate the needed communication process. Development of such a program for aquatic ecosystem restoration can become the focal point within the federal government for interagency discussion and program reform to take action on the goals and principles described in this chapter. It is particularly important to emphasize the planning and developing of programs that offer consistent, long-term support for restoration efforts.
9. The Development of a Unified National Program for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Should Be Facilitated, and Then Maintained, Under the Leadership of a Single Responsible Organizational Unit
Creation of a unified national program for aquatic ecosystem restoration requires improved interagency communication. Because the federal organizations necessary for an integrated approach to restoration currently are dispersed in numerous agencies, and will remain there, it is desirable to have an organizational unit that can develop a network for communication among agencies and develop guidelines for the identification, evaluation, and financing of restoration projects. Without showing favoritism toward any particular agency, the committee believes that a lead group must be designated with responsibility for achieving the improved communication necessary to the development of a unified national program.
Water resource policy coordinating bodies and authorities established in the past have had limited success. The history of river
basin planning is traced in Chapter 2 of this report. In recent years, coordination was the basic purpose served by the Water Resources Council (WRC) and its reestablishment could be one option as a coordinating unit for restoration efforts. The WRC, which still exists under the Water Resources Planning Act of 1965 (P.L. 89-80), might be renewed and given the task of developing a unified program, but its weaknesses (described in Chapter 2) must be addressed. Another possibility is to reinvigorate and restructure the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), giving it the responsibility to develop a unified national program. The CEQ initially directed successfully the implementation of the National Enviromental Policy Act and executive orders on floodplains and wetlands issued by President Carter. In the late 1970s, CEQ also served as the chair of a federal task force made up of COE, EPA, and the Department of the Interior that, together with the state of Louisiana, designed a nonchannelization water management plan for the Atchafalaya Basin. However, in the recent past, CEQ has not been as effective as envisioned at its creation.
The committee advocates correcting the weaknesses identified in past efforts at coordination. Uncertain budget support and limited authority are potential limitations. The history of the national floodplain management program makes clear that successful coordination can be achieved simply by agencies being willing to work together. However, the institutional and scientific complexity of restoration ecology demands formal designation of responsibility and adequate resources to execute that authority. There should also be a mechanism for nonfederal advisory groups to work with a federal restoration coordinating agency to assist in the overall direction and aid in coordination.
10. Current and Proposed Federal Programs Should Exploit Available Opportunities for Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
Programs of many agencies of the federal government might be enlisted to achieve national aquatic ecosystem restoration goals. Indeed change is now occuring that will contribute to restoration. A comprehensive review of all federal programs, or the changes now under way, is not necessary here. Instead selected programs are described and recommendations for reform within these programs are offered, both as specific suggestions for those programs and as illustrations of the type of change that might be considered for programs that are not discussed.
CLEAN LAKES PROGRAM
The Clean Lakes Program has been a model of federal restoration efforts, especially with regard to its emphasis on causes of lake problems and on local and state financial participation. Although many lakes have been restored or improved as a result of the program, the need and demand for lake restoration far exceed its current resources, and its efforts have been seriously hampered by uneven agency and administration support. The Clean Lakes Program requires local and state sharing of the financial burden of lake restoration, but many agencies at this level do not have expertise in lake restoration.
The committee believes that the Clean Lakes Program should receive stable administrative support within EPA and increased funding from Congress. Its mandate should be broadened to include all aspect of lake ecosystems, including habitat restoration, elimination of undesirable species, and restoration of native species. The program should increase its research and development of effective tools for restoration and its role in guiding states in developing efficient and effective programs. Clean Lakes Program restorations should be coordinated with fisheries improvement programs, waterfowl enhancement programs, and restorations of wetland and stream ecosystems that interact with the target lake.
EPA CONSTRUCTION GRANTS PROGRAM
Current grant-in-aid programs, present throughout the federal government, should encourage aquatic ecosystem restoration. For example, the EPA construction grants program, although now modest by historical standards, might increase its flexibility to finance the restoration of wetlands as a means to accomplish wastewater treatment. Similarly, it may be desirable to allow use of such funds for control of nonpoint source pollution, if it can be demonstrated that nonpoint source controls are more effective and efficient than point source controls for meeting a water quality standard. The concept of making such trades in programs to help finance restoration is further discussed in Recommendation 16. Recent EPA decision emphasizing storm water management should immediately prompt assessment of how storm water flows (both peak and volume) might be reduced by aquatic ecosystem restorations. Any federal funds (or regulations) directed to storm water management should allow for the possibility of using restoration as a method for managing storm water flow.
FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM
The disaster assistance programs that provide subsidized flood insurance premiums and disaster aid might also be used to enhance restoration and its benefits. These federal programs are constantly seeking ways to reduce repetitive flood insurance and disaster claims.
Revisions made to flood insurance and disaster aid programs that will evacuate from the floodplain those activities whose location is subsidized by these programs could help reduce future flood losses and help restore aquatic systems (NRC, 1990). Thus , it will be possible to move toward actuarially sound insurance premiums for the remaining properties and to minimize future disaster assistance payments. A modest increase in funds for such programs could, in many instances, allow the evacuated floodplain to be restored for environmental purposes.
Continued pressure to make flood insurance premiums meet the test of actuarial soundness is a start in this direction. This is a goal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will encourage evacuation from floodplain areas and then make these riparian areas available as sites for aquatic ecosystem restoration. A more proactive program under Section 1362 of the Flood Insurance Act of 1968 allows for acquiring structures with repeated damage and relocating them outside the floodplain. The criteria for this program might be expanded to permit relocations that restore flood storage and conveyance capacity, especially where such hydrologic restoration will contribute to aquatic ecosystem restoration on a larger scale. Indeed, such restoration may financially benefit a community by leading to reduced insurance premiums, because the community's risk rating for flood insurance is improved as high-risk properties are removed and the floodplain is restored. The FEMA "community rating system," which provides communities with lowered insurance premiums when structures are relocated out of the floodplain, is an example of a risk reduction strategy that could help support restoration.
Finally, disaster assistance legislation could be changed to finance restorations while also serving the primary intent of reducing disaster aid payments. At present, 15 percent of disaster funds can be used for public actions to reduce future losses, rather than simply compensate for past losses. Often modest structural or floodproofing actions or floodplain evacuations are undertaken. Authority should be given to allow restoration of upstream floodplain areas to modify peak flows and volumes, as one approach to reducing future losses,
especially if such actions can also be shown to provide broader aquatic ecosystem restoration benefits.
Federal Water Resource Development
Reform of programs in the federal water project construction agencies might also serve aquatic ecosystem restoration. Expanded legislative authority and budget appropriations should be given to the federal water project construction agencies (Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Soil Conservation Service, and Tennessee Valley Authority) for restoration activities. Indeed, there has already been some movement in this direction. The Bureau of Reclamation has been positioning itself to manage natural resources, rather than project construction. The Water Resources Development Acts of 1986 and 1990 have directed COE to raise "environmental protection" to the same status as traditional agency missions. Recent COE budget guidance establishes "restoration" as a priority output. However, the legislative and administrative language is too focused on fish and wildlife. For example, the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990 authorizes COE to undertake fish restoration activities. The role of water resource agencies in restoration needs to be expanded to the hydrologic structure of watersheds, with COE projects oriented to restoring hydrologic conditions, not fisheries or habitat alone.
In addition, the purposes of some federally funded and constructed water development projects may long since have been served, and they are aging. In cases where the economic and environmental costs of maintenance exceed the benefits, the planned phaseout or dismantling of project levees, dams, channel revetments, or other works—through active removal, reduced maintenance, or benign neglect—could provide major opportunities for aquatic ecosystem restoration. Congress should amend the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and other acts, authorizing the federal water development agencies to identify such projects and plan for their deconstruction. Federal development funds that are saved, and other programs such as the Agricultural Wetland Reserve Program, could be used to acquire easements on private lands that could be affected hydrologically by such deconstruction. One possibility for deconstruction could be the locks and dams on the Missouri River. Based on their use for navigation, continued federal maintenance of those structures may not be justified economically, and the long-term environmental benefits of reestablishing major sections of the river to free-flowing status and restoring riparian wetland habitat could be great. The type of restoration
under way for the Kissimmee River (restoring meanders and wetland habitat) is what is necessary, although additional effort is needed to extend the experience gained in that project. Both the construction agencies and other federal, or nonfederal entities should be aggressively seeking new restoration opportunities.
Grant-in-aid and water project construction agency programs are but two vehicles by which aquatic ecosystem restoration might be served within traditional agency missions. Other opportunities may be found within the landholding agencies of the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The list need not stop here; as part of the development of a unified national aquatic ecosystem restoration program, other opportunities will be identified.
NOAA Water Resources Forecasting Services (WARFS)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Water Resources Forecasting Services (WARFS) initiative is being proposed to begin providing water resources and improved flood forecast services on a national basis. The WARFS initiative will provide urgent improvements in NOAA's hydrologic prediction services. The beginning infrastructure for WARFS is the current National Weather Service River Forecast System (NWSRFS). WARFS model and data improvements within NWSRFS will greatly benefit all scales of forecasting, bring badly needed improvements in flood warnings as well as longer-term forecast services.
WARFS will complement, provide support to, and benefit from the major NOAA thrusts in the climate and global change, coastal ocean, and environmental data areas. One of the earliest and most serious impacts from climate change will be on water resources. The operational focus of the WARFS initiative will provide information essential to assessing actual or potential climate change impacts on our nation's rivers and streams. Similarly, information from WARFS may be used to identify the hydrologic component to large-scale atmospheric models and to evaluate the validity of climate analyses and long-term experience and technology needed to enable the country try to manage the consequences of global climate change. Equally strong relationships exist between the WARFS initiative and the Coast Ocean Program, especially as related to estuarine areas. Solutions to better management of estuarine ecosystems, including fisheries management, are critically dependent on accurate assessments of freshwater levels and inflows. In addition, WARFS extended forecasts will enable more accurate assessment of future water balances as
they relate not only to quantities but to salinity and pollutant concentrations.
The advanced models, data integration techniques, and expanded historical and real-time hydrometeorological data bases, which will be implemented through WARFS, will provide a strong technological base for comprehensive water resources information to support the restoration of aquatic ecosystems. The historical and forecast information provided by WARFS will be essential to the planning, design, and operation of restoration projects. The NOAA Hydrologic Services Program, strengthened by WARFS and complemented by the activities of other agencies, is an ideal vehicle to provide national, authoritative, and reliable forecast information to support management of the nation's aquatic ecosystems.
INNOVATION IN FINANCING AND IN USE OF LAND AND WATER MARKETS
11. Congress Should Establish a National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Trust Fund
Perhaps the most significant obstacles to large-scale restoration are the absence of budget incentives for agency cooperation and the absence of adequate funds for executing restoration plans. One mechanism might be establishment of a national restoration trust fund which could reduce these obstacles. The trust fund would be a separate budget account, created by Congress and treated as other trust funds (for example, the Inland Waterways Trust Fund) are in the budget process. The design of a trust fund is complicated and needs to be monitored and reviewed to ensure that it is operating as originally intended. One way to ensure this is to require periodic reauthorization of the program and if the trust fund is not operating properly, it would cease to exist. Although the specific design of such a trust fund will be highly complex, a structural outline can be indicated.
The trust fund could be managed by a board appointed by the President and approved by Congress. This board would be responsible for disbursements from the fund for restoration projects that it approves as part of its restoration program. However, because expenditures for such restoration might be quite high, disbursements over a certain amount should be reviewed by the executive branch and approved by the Congress.
The trust fund, although national in scope, might be partitioned into 8 to 12 regions that cover the nation. The regional boundaries should have similar ecological properties. Projects would be selected
for support within those regions. Applications for funding could be made by any group of federal and state agencies able to demonstrate that the funds would enhance their capacity to better integrate their existing missions and programs to reflect/incorporate the landscape perspective that is required for successful large-scale restoration. The trust fund's board would require a demonstration of the commitment of other resources to the plan before providing supplemental funds to the budgets of federal and state agencies. In this way the trust fund could add needed revenues to restoration efforts and create a budgetary incentive for the interagency cooperation necessary to achieve landscape-scale restoration.
In the current budget environment, the source of funds for a national restoration trust fund must be of concern. One possible source is general federal revenues that might be transferred to the fund. Initially it may be desirable to allocate to the fund an annual amount equal to 0.25 percent of the annual appropriation to all natural resource and environmental programs in the federal budget. This allocation could cease after 10 years as new revenue sources are phased in. These revenues would be distributed equally among the ecoregions.
Other funds could be collected and allocated to the regions in which the funds were raised. Electric power from federally financed hydroelectric dams could be auctioned to private power producers. The proceeds could be contributed to the trust fund to be used to pay for regional aquatic ecosystem restorations. A less drastic action might be to raise slightly the rates on federal power and dedicate the added revenues to restoration within the rate payer's region.
Awards granted as compensation for damage of natural resources are a particularly promising source of revenue for a national trust fund. Increasingly the courts are awarding damages to governments, which act as ''trustees" for the natural resources that may have been damaged. At present, the sums awarded are expected to be sufficient to restore the resource to its predamage condition as well as to compensate users of the resource for the values forgone until the restoration becomes effective.
Finally, it might be possible over time to dedicate certain federal fees to a restoration trust fund. At present, user fees and user taxes, such as outer continental shelf leasing fees and taxes on sporting equipment, have been allocated to particular purposes. As these fees increase or as new fees are instituted (for example, fees for pollution permits might be instituted in the reauthorized Clean Water Act of 1977), it might be desirable to dedicate such fees to a restoration trust fund rather than to the general treasury.
12. There Should be Increased Reliance on Local Environmental Restoration Boards for Program Planning, Synthesis, and Leadership
At the substate level, environmental restoration boards should be formed and supported by trust fund financing under state statutes. These institutions would be created (or could be expansions of existing authorities) under state auspices and would be responsible for the planning process outlined earlier in this chapter, the alternative means of finance, and the use of resulting revenues. As a result, restoration strategies would at least be partially developed and implemented at the substate level. In the past, this special district-based approach has been applied across a range of functions from education to garbage collection to mosquito control to flood control. The federal government could facilitate the success of these institutions by making cash contributions to such districts, providing technical assistance if requested, and agreeing to comply as much as possible with each district's goals—recognizing the responsibilities of higher levels of government (following the example of the coastal zone management program).
13. Congress Should Allow States and Local Governments to Trade Federal Funds Designated for Development, Construction, Maintenance, and Major Repair of Water Projects and to Obtain Instead Funds for Aquatic Restoration Programs
The discussion of Recommendation 11 describes circumstances in which it makes economic sense for federal water development agencies not to maintain, repair, or rebuild a federal project. Yet Congress may be under political pressure to maintain or rebuild an aging project because such work creates jobs in the local community or because certain private lands would experience increased flooding. Without increasing total outlays, Congress could respond to these concerns by allowing states or local interests to receive some portion of the otherwise saved federal funds to pay for active deconstruction, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and where appropriate, purchase of flowage easements.
Consider the Arkansas River levee project. Local interests did not find it economically worthwhile to maintain these levees, and many levee sections were of questionable economic value. If federal water project funds could be dedicated for restoration, the political pressure to rebuild marginal structural projects such as the Arkansas River
levees would be diminished. However, in Section 110 of the 1990 Water Resources Development Act, Congress instructed COE to rebuild the leeves. Even under the new cost-sharing rules the federal government will pay 75 percent of the cost of this rebuilding.
14. Congress Should Authorize Expansion of the Agricultural Wetland Reserve Program with Funds from Farm Program Cost Savings
Under the 1990 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorized to enter into long-term contracts with farmers to take former wetlands in agricultural use out of production and to allow those lands to be restored as wetlands. In exchange, the farmers receive annual payments. The 1990 Farm Bill limits the number of acres eligible for the program to 200,000 per year, with a maximum cap of 1 million acres. However, each acre of cropland taken out of production and restored as wetland will no longer be eligible for USDA program benefits. Congress should request that USDA investigate where and how an expansion of the agricultural Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) would result in savings in USDA farm program expenditures, and the saved funds should be reallocated to expanding the WRP beyond 1 million acres.
In addition, existing short-term agricultural set-aside programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Environmental Easement Program (EEP), and the Wetland Reserve Program of the Food, Agricultural, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624) should be amended to ensure that riparian zones and floodplains of all kinds are eligible for inclusion in these programs along with wetlands.
15. The U.S. Government Should Encourage Water Pollution Credit Trading Programs to Finance Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
Many lakes, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries are suffering from excessive loadings of nutrients. Prime sources of those nutrients may be discharges from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agricultural fertilizers. In some cases it may be cost-effective for municipalities operating sewage treatment plants or for adjacent landowners who would benefit directly from improved water quality to pay farmers to take land out of production, to pay for adoption of best management practices, or to pay to restore wetlands. Restored wetlands can provide important water quality benefits. Former wetlands adjacent to rivers, lakes, or estuaries that are restored as
wetlands can contribute to reducing loadings of inorganic nutrients by recycling those nutrients as organic nutrients. The EPA and the states should allow contributors to point sources of pollution to substitute restoration of wetlands or other land use practices for point source control if it can be demonstrated that nonpoint source controls are less costly for meeting a water quality standard.
16. The Federal Government and State Governments Should Encourage the Trading of Water Rights to Promote Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
Many aquatic ecosystems suffer from inadequate flows of water due to man-made diversions. This is true of both streams and lakes, such as Mono Lake, that depend on water inputs from tributary streams and also of wetland systems throughout the arid West. It is also true of large aquatic ecosystems, such as the Florida Everglades, that have experienced diversions of water for urban and agricultural use. In such areas, aquatic ecosystem restoration will be inhibited unless some of the water now in consumptive use is returned to the streams and lakes. Current users in these regions may be able to reduce their water consumption so that some of the "saved" water can then be rediverted to restoring affected aquatic ecosystems. The committee recommends that watershed planning efforts establish targets for returning water to the aquatic ecosystem, based on the planning principles described in Recommendations 3 to 5, and that these targets be used to stimulate total reductions in consumptive use.
Because of the wide variety of water law doctrines across the 50 states, it is not possible to make a recommendation that will apply in all instances. However, the committee does recommend that careful consideration be given to several points.
In many states, water rights transfers have become a tool used to reallocate water to more highly valued uses, thereby reducing the need to develop new sources (NRC, 1992). The committee encourages increased use of such water transfers as an effective means to avoid increases in diversions from aquatic ecosystems. The premise of such a transfer is that it benefits both the water purchaser and the seller. These combined gains represent a joint economic gain that encourages the transfer. States might consider either a monetary charge or a reservation of water for in—stream flow on these transfers as a means to restore some in-stream flow. For example, for each unit of water sold the state might require some percentage of the transferred water to be returned to in-stream use. Alternatively, an
assessed monetary fee could be used to purchase water rights for restoring in-stream flow within the state. However, caution must be exercised to design a fee program that does not reduce the total or marginal gains from trade to the point that the water transfer is discouraged. Thus, the amount of the fee must be specific to each transfer and not be a uniform requirement.
In some instances it may be possible to obtain overall reductions in water use in a particular region or for a specific economic activity, with the amount saved (or some portion thereof) then returned to in-stream flow (NRC, 1992). In renewal of contracts for water delivery from federal or state water storage projects, it is possible to initiate a negotiation process in advance with all interested parties (see Recommendations 3 to 5) to establish some target for reduced deliveries. Following the model for sulfur oxide reductions now incorporated into the Clean Air Act, there may not need to be requirements for uniform reductions in water consumption among all users. Instead current rights holders could be allocated water consumption allowances that together equal the total water consumption target. These water use allowances would then be tradable to ensure that those who are able to most efficiently reduce water use should do so. In effect, such an approach encourages continued development of markets for water rights, but allows those markets to trade an amount of water that is constrained by a desired in-stream flow.
Where there is a general abundance of water relative to use, as in many humid eastern states, the creation of water markets would not be appropriate because trades would be too infrequent to justify the setup costs and administrative costs of such a market. With the exception of some parts of Florida, where markets may be more developed, this condition describes most eastern states. In these cases, the committee suggests establishment of special administrative procedures that facilitate negotiation over water rights conflicts (usually for urban water supply) and ensure protection of in-stream flows (Collins, 1990). However, the focus should be on protection of future flows.
17. Federal and State Agencies Should Cooperatively Design Landowner-Financed Regional Restoration Projects.
Under the Section 404 program, EPA and COE follow a sequencing procedure that requires permit applicants first to avoid, through alternatives, then to minimize, and finally to compensate for damage permitted to wetlands within aquatic ecosystems. Compensation in this approach typically means that wetland acres and functions that
are destroyed must be compensated for by "equivalent" creation or restoration of comparable wetland acres. At times the replacement ratio exceeds 1 to 1, to account for uncertainties involved in restoration or creation. However, in some cases it may be possible to modify the Section 404 permit program and constraints on development, such as density limits and zoning regulations, to achieve restoration of critical components with the aquatic ecosystem. This restoration could include large numbers of wetlands designated in accordance with a system restoration plan developed cooperatively by a municipality or state, COE, and EPA, and could be paid for through the permit processes.
Consider a case in which degraded wetlands, streams, or lakes are in or adjacent to an urban area. In such areas, the right to fill a wetland or otherwise intrude on a body of water may have enormous economic value to a developer. Under section 404 sequencing procedures, such a developer may not be eligible to obtain a permit to fill that acreage. At the same time there may be other limits on the development, such as density limits in the zoning in the area. However, a public authority such as the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (see Appendix A) or the state of New Jersey could develop a plan for restoring the large aquatic ecosystem of which the wetlands are a part. Under a revised permit approach the developer could receive the permit if there was a requirement that the developer make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the goals of the restoration plan. In one approach the public authority might ask developers to bid for the right to develop on degraded wetlands, for example. The highest monetary bid with the lowest environmental cost would be awarded development rights.
The lowest environmental cost means that the developer does not intrude on parts of the aquatic ecosystem that are not degraded and that minimum added damage to degraded parts of the system is achieved. As part of the bid process, increases in zoning density could be requested to minimize the wetlands affected by the development proposal. With funds from the bid, it would be possible to obtain private financing of a large-scale restoration program at a low cost to the environment. If no acceptable bid were received, no permit would be issued.
Where there are few potential bidders, an auction may not be possible. The public authority would then negotiate with single developers to establish a payment that might be offered in return for granting the permit. Negotiation over development proposals has a long history and is increasingly used in wetland management. The Hartz Mountain Project in Hackensack Meadowlands (see case study Appendix
A) was approved after a negotiation in which the developer's offer to restore a large area of wetlands to high-value marsh was accepted as part of allowing the development to proceed in a small area of low-value marsh.
However, in this and in other cases, the amount, type, and location of restoration initially proposed by the permit applicant are designed to replace only functions lost to development and are not part of the negotiation with the management agency or part of a regionwide restoration plan. Also, unlike the proposal offered in this example, the current permit process still requires avoidance of damage to wetlands as a first consideration and does not explore the possible revenues to be gained from a modified permit system, which can be spent to increase aquatic ecosystem functions. The current approach to planning permits may forgo both high development values and aquatic ecosystem restoration opportunities.
Conditions basic to operation of such a program (whether by auction or negotiation) are the presence of an aquatic ecosystem to be restored (not created), a scientifically sound restoration program approved by EPA and COE, values high enough so that restoration can reasonably be expected to be achieved at low environmental costs, and an organizational arrangement to facilitate the auction or, if needed, a negotiation process. Although this approach may not be applicable in all areas, it should be considered where very high development values are possible and where there are substantial opportunities for wetland restoration that may not be realized in any other way.
The recommendations of this chapter were organized according to four elements that should comprise a national aquatic system restoration strategy: (1) goal setting, (2) priority setting and decision-making principles, (3) redesign of federal policies and programs, and (4) innovation in financing and use of markets. In addition, most of the recommendations suggest changes in federal programs. Even with the attention to federal programs, specific recommendations are not sufficiently comprehensive in detail or in number to define a complete national plan of action.
A central theme of this report is that there is much to learn about the physical, chemical, and biological restoration of aquatic ecosystems. The committee has continually stressed the need for adaptive management as particular aquatic ecosystems are targeted for restoration. Adaptation is as essential for the formulation of policy and programs as it is for the restoration of any specific aquatic ecosystem.
All governments must be willing to try new policy ideas, to assess their outcomes carefully, and to modify those ideas over time.
The recommendations in this chapter should be seen as the beginning of a search for policy innovation. As scientists and citizens learn more about how to put aquatic ecosystems back together—to some extent by trying new approaches—they must simultaneously learn how to make policies and programs to serve such ends.
Clean Water Act of 1977. P.L. 95-217, Dec. 27, 1977, 91 Stat. 1566.
Collins, R. C. 1990. Sharing the pain: Mediating instream flow legislation in Virginia. Rivers 1(2):126–137.
Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990. P.L. 101–537, Nov. 8, 1990, 104 Stat. 2370.
National Research Council (NRC). 1990. Managing Coastal Erosion. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 182 pp.
National Research Council (NRC). 1992. Water Transfers in the West: Efficiency, Equity, and the Environment. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
Water Resources Development Act of 1986. P.L. 99–662, Nov. 17, 1985, 100 Stat. 4082.
Water Resources Development Act of 1990. P.L. 101–640, Nov. 28, 1990, 104 Stat. 4604.
Water Resources Planning Act of 1965. P.L. 89–80.
White, G. F. 1980. Environment. Science 209:183–190.