The Report to Congress on Future Water Resources Development
Since 2015, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)) has transmitted to Congress an annual Report on Future Water Resources Development. The Report identifies feasibility studies and water resources projects that Congress may consider for authorization. This Report is a requirement of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA), Section 7001, and is sometimes known as the “7001 Report.”
The Path to a Civil Works Water Resources Project
Civil Works project delivery is a multi-step, multi-year process. The first step is a feasibility study to examine specific water resources problems within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works primary mission areas: flood risk management; navigation; and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
Before a feasibility study begins, it requires congressional authorization, congressionally appropriated funds, and a non-Federal study sponsor to partner with the Corps and share the total study cost. The feasibility study documents the formulation and evaluation of alternatives and provides the groundwork for the Report of the Chief of Engineers (Chief’s Report). The Chief’s Report documents the final recommendation by Chief of Engineers. The signed Chief’s Report is provided to the ASA(CW). After Administration review, the Assistant Secretary transmits the Chief’s Report to Congress.
By the completion of the detailed design for a project, and before construction begins, the water resources project must be congressionally authorized and funding appropriated. Once constructed, the water resources project transitions to ongoing operations and maintenance.
The Annual Report to Congress and Congressional Authorization
The annual Report on Future Water Resources Development provides an opportunity for communities to inform Congress about their interest in congressional authorization for specific Civil Works water resources studies or projects. The Report provides congressional authorizing committees with a list of potential studies and projects to newly authorize, and existing study and project authorities to modify. Congress generally authorizes new Corps site-specific activities, both studies and projects, in an omnibus authorization bill, typically called the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
Developing the Report to Congress
The Report to Congress on Future Water Resources Development is based, in part, on proposals submitted by non-Federal interests for: (1) proposed feasibility studies that need congressional authorization; (2) proposed modifications to authorized studies; and (3) proposed modifications to authorized projects.
The Report to Congress also includes projects for potential authorization based on the Chief’s Reports that have been completed since the previous Report. Each Chief’s Report is based on a completed feasibility study and recommends a specific project to be cost-shared between the Corps and a non-Federal sponsor.
The Corps annually publishes a Federal Register Notice, notifying non-Federal interests that they may submit proposals for consideration in the next Report to Congress within 120 days. The Report to Congress is to be transmitted to Congress by ASA(CW) by 1 February of the following year.
The ASA(CW) certifies that each proposal in the Main Report is:
- Related to the missions and authorities of the Corps. The Corps’ primary missions are navigation, flood risk management, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Proposals for recreation, hydropower, and/or water supply studies or projects are considered to meet this criterion when performed in conjunction with one or more of the primary missions.
- A study or project which requires specific congressional authorization.
- A study or project which has not already been congressionally authorized. New studies of existing authorized projects, for example, generally do not need additional congressional authorization.
- A study or project which has not been included in the main table of a previous Report to Congress on Future Water Resources Development.
- A study or project which, if authorized, could be carried out by the Corps.
If a proposal for a new study or modification to an existing study or project does not meet one or more of the criteria, that proposal is included in the Report’s appendix, citing the specific criteria unmet in the proposal to ensure transparency.
Many of the Nation’s major watersheds already have broad study authority, so additional authorization may not be necessary. The Corps also has multiple general authorities to undertake some studies, small projects, technical assistance, and emergency actions.
Proposals included in the Report are not prioritized or ranked; they are presented in alphabetical order by state to ensure that all proposals are considered equally. The purpose of this report is to identify proposals that require congressional authorization; it is not a recommendation for congressional authorization or appropriation. Inclusion in the Report to Congress alone does not provide authorization or appropriation for a study or project.
Developing a Proposal for the Report on Future Water Resources Development
The required information for submitting a proposal is based on the information that Congress has requested, as well as what is required to evaluate the proposal based on the five evaluation criteria.
Detailed proposal requirements are included in the annual Federal Register notice, but in general, each proposal is expected to include:
- The name of all non-Federal interests planning to act as the study or project sponsor;
- The specific purpose(s) of the proposed study or project;
- An estimate, to the extent practicable, of the total cost, and the Federal and non-Federal share of those costs, of the proposed study or project;
- An estimate, to the extent practicable, of the anticipated monetary and nonmonetary benefits of the proposal;
- Confirmation of the financial ability to provide the required cost share; and
- A letter or statement of support from each associated non-Federal interest.
For More Information
For communities interested in partnering with the Corps for a water resources project, the first step is to reach out to your local Corps District office. For more information on the Report to Congress on Future Water Resources Development, please visit our website, http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/ProjectPlanning.aspx