Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1985


Civil Works

The Army's civil works mission has largely revolved around water resource development since its beginning in 1824, when Congress authorized the Corps of Engineers to undertake navigation improvements on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and to deepen several harbors. Today the Corps carries out congressionally mandated planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of projects in navigation, flood control, shore and hurricane protection, hydroelectric power, municipal and industrial water supply, recreation and natural resource management, and emergency operations. The Corps of Engineers also regulates construction, dredging, and fill operations done by others in waterways and wetlands, and is the Army's mobilization construction planner.

In addition to providing benefits to the nation through economic development facilitated by its projects, the civil works program supports the responsibility the Corps of Engineers bears for the Army's military construction program by providing a trained, experienced manpower pool in the large-scale engineering and construction management disciplines the Army would need in the early stages of mobilization. In fiscal year 1985 the Corps carried out two mobilization exercises to test the ability of its division and district personnel to shift from peacetime to mobilization roles.

The construction portion of the civil works mission continued to decline from its peak in the 1970s as more ongoing work was completed than new construction started. Included in the civil works projects opened for operation in fiscal year 1985 was the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a 234-mile "shortcut" from the Tennessee River to the existing Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway in Alabama. This project, first conceived by Sieur de Bienville, the French governor of Louisiana in the early 1700s, shortens the distance from the Tennessee Basin to the Gulf of Mexico by 800 miles. The Secretary of the Army dedicated the waterway in June 1985.


The operations and maintenance portion of the civil works program, on the other hand, continued to increase as more projects were put into operation, and existing projects aged and required more extensive maintenance. Fiscal year 1985 marked the second year in a row, and in history, that Congress appropriated more for the Corps to operate and maintain existing civil works projects than to build new ones.

During the past year, the Department of the Army continued to work with congressional leaders and other Executive Branch agencies to develop omnibus legislation that would authorize new civil works projects and specify cost-sharing responsibilities to be borne by nonfederal interests. A breakthrough occurred in July, when OMB and key Senate leaders reached a compromise on cost-sharing provisions. No omnibus bill was passed in Congress this year, but in August a supplemental appropriation was passed that included start-up construction funds for forty-one Corps civil works projects. Twenty of these projects had been authorized in previous omnibus water source legislation but never funded for construction; the remaining twenty-one were included in the omnibus bills pending in Congress at the end of the fiscal year. An important provision in the supplemental appropriation was the requirement for cost-sharing agreements to be executed with local sponsors, following the terms of the OMB-Senate compromise, before any construction could begin.

Other major Corps efforts in the area of civil works involved the Regulatory Program, which continued to seek significant reductions in the time necessary to process permits; the Support for Other Agencies Program, where the Corps pursued memorandums of agreement with several agencies; and the International Activities Program.


On 19 October 1984 the President signed Public Law (PL) 98-501, the Public Works Improvement Act of 1984. This law established a National Council on Public Works Improvement-three members appointed by the President, one by the Senate, and one by the House-and charged them to prepare a series of annual reports to be submitted to Congress and the White House.

Under PL 98-501, the Secretary of the Army was named as chairman of a twelve-member advisory group to the council, the other members being the Secretaries of Agriculture, Hous-


ing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Commerce, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Chairman of the National Governors Association, and the Presidents of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Regional Councils, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The Corps, in turn, was charged to provide administrative support as well as $3.2 million in first-year funding to the council.

On 15 January 1985 the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works authorized the Corps to prepare an annotated bibliography addressing infrastructure issues, and to develop a conceptual framework for accomplishing the reports. The Secretary of the Army hosted the first council meeting on 22 and 23 August 1985.

The regular fiscal year 1985 appropriations for the Corps of Engineers amounted to about $2.85 billion. Appropriations for the Operation and Maintenance, General, account for the second straight year were greater than those for the Construction, General, account. In addition to the regular appropriations, Congress also passed the fiscal year 1985 Supplemental Appropriations Act (PL 99-88), which represented a breakthrough in the stalemate over the authorization and funding of new construction starts. Since fiscal year 1980, only three projects were funded as new construction starts and no authorization bill had been enacted in almost ten years. Public Law 99-88 demonstrated a basic recognition and acceptance that nonfederal interests must absorb an increased share of both the capital and operation and maintenance costs of water resources development projects.

Public Law 99-88 appropriated $48.8 million for 41 new construction starts, 21 of which have not been authorized for construction. The 41 projects had a total implementing cost of almost $4.6 billion. The act provided that no funds could be expended for construction unless a Local Cooperation Agreement (LCA) acceptable to the Secretary of the Army was signed. Public Law 99-88 established a firm deadline of 30 June 1986 by which the LCAs must be executed on the 41 projects and further provided that implementation of the 41 projects would be contingent upon enactment of a Water Resources Development Act and cost sharing legislation. However, if this legislation was not passed by 15 May 1986, implementation could proceed and the 21 unauthorized projects would be considered authorized.


The District Commanders will be responsible for negotiating a draft LCA that is acceptable to the project sponsor and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA/ CW). The negotiations will focus on (1) the phasing of work (engineering and design, as well as construction) to be undertaken initially and long term within the scope of authorization; and (2) terms of financing for work agreed to and scheduled for the initial phase of development. Normally the sponsor would provide all necessary construction funds during the construction period, except when otherwise mandated as an additional repayment after construction (navigation ports only). Work not programmed for immediate development will be carried as unscheduled until it becomes covered by subsequent LCAs or is deauthorized.


In fiscal year 1985 the Corps of Engineers operated and maintained 330 harbors, more than 25,000 miles of channels which formed the inland waterway system, 280 flood control projects, and 72 multipurpose projects which included a major portion of the nation's hydropower facilities. Approximately 250 million cubic yards of material was dredged and almost 20 million kilowatts of electricity was generated-one third of the nation's hydroelectric power production. Two projects were placed in caretaker status during the year because of the lack of commercial tonnage. These were the Savannah River project below Augusta, Georgia, and the Fox River project in Wisconsin. Two other projects became fully operational during the year. These were the flood control project at Skiatook Lake in Oklahoma, and the opening of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Alabama and Mississippi to through navigation.

In another important action, the Corps of Engineers completed the environmental and water quality operations studies research program initiated in fiscal year 1978. The goal of the program is to achieve national environmental quality objectives while simultaneously achieving economic development, energy production, and quality of life improvement goals in Corps projects.


Disaster Relief

The Army helps other government agencies as well as local and state authorities and foreign governments meet human needs in the event of natural disasters and other emergency situations. The focal point for this effort is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which in fiscal year 1985 expended $34.7 million for disaster preparedness activities and emergency operations. The funding enabled the Corps of Engineers to respond to flood emergencies; provide emergency support to other agencies and authorities, particularly the Federal Emergency Management Agency; establish and maintain emergency operations centers required for command and control of responses to disasters; and manage the inspection program for nonfederal flood control projects repaired or eligible for repair under PL 84-99. Activities to support these efforts included the development, review, and update of required response plans; the training of response personnel; the development and participation in exercises to test plans, personnel, and training; the procurement of supplies and equipment necessary to support response efforts; and the overall management of the Disaster Preparedness activities.

As the year progressed, the USACE responded to flood problems on the Mississippi River and its tributaries in February and March 1985; and across the mid-west from the Lower Great Lakes to the Ohio River Valley during the period January-May 1985. The Corps provided technical assistance, flood fighting equipment, and materials to federal, state, and local entities.

In the south and east, the USACE responded to several hurricanes and tropical storms from July to September 1985. Four hurricanes struck the U.S. in fiscal year 1985, killing 13 and doing more than $2 billion in damage. Hurricane Bob moved across Florida as a tropical storm, then hit South Carolina with 75 mile per hour winds on 25 June, killing 1 and causing $20 million in damage. Hurricane Danny hit Louisiana on 15 August with winds of up to 100 miles per hour, and later spawned tornadoes in Alabama. Danny caused more than $50 million in damage and killed 3. Hurricane Elena battered the Gulf coast for several days before hitting Mississippi on 2 September with 125 mile per hour winds. Over 1 1/2 million people were evacuated, 500,000 of them twice. Damages exceeded $1 billion, and 3 were killed. Finally, Hurricane Gloria swept the east coast from North Carolina to Maine on 26-27


September. Nearly 1 million people were evacuated. There were 6 deaths, and damages were more than $1 billion.

On 19 September a major earthquake rocked Mexico City causing widespread damage and burying thousands of people. The Corps of Engineers was asked to provide two types of advisory assistance to the earthquake recovery effort-advice in the use of construction equipment and geotechnical evaluations. With respect to the construction effort, the Corps of Engineers was represented on damage assessment teams organized under the direction of the Secretary of State. The teams assessed the requirements for rubble removal, demolition of damaged structures, and the need for additional U.S. Government resources. In addition to construction advice, the Corps of Engineers participated on a U.S. National Academy of Sciences team evaluating the overall impact of the earthquake.

Regulatory Activities

Since 1890, the Corps of Engineers has had regulatory authority over construction activities by others in the Nation's navigable waterways. This authority was codified in section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, and Corps jurisdiction was greatly expanded by section 404 of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and several court decisions made under the act. The Corps now exercises jurisdiction over discharge of dredge or fill material in the "Waters of the United States," including wetlands.

At the behest of the Task Force on Regulatory Reform, chaired by Vice President Bush, the Corps has, since 1982, undertaken a program to clarify the scope and jurisdiction of the regulatory program, eliminate duplication of effort with other programs, allow more permit decisions to be made at the local level, and reduce processing time for applications. On 5 October 1984 the final regulations resulting from this reform effort were published. Generally, these regulations clarified provisions of the program relating to the consideration of environmental concerns. A new information pamphlet for permit applicants, distributed to about 20,000 permit applicants a year, was completely revised as a result of the regulatory reform effort. By substantially improving guidance on what constitutes a complete application, the new publication should speed permit processing by eliminating the need to contact applicants for further information. Also, the background provided


in the pamphlet on the regulatory program is expected to increase public involvement and cooperation.

Significant litigation involving the Corps' regulatory program, the Riverside Bayview Homes enforcement case, made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in fiscal year 1985. Riverside had begun filling an eighty-acre site in Macomb County, Michigan, in 1976, and was issued a cease and desist order by the Corps' Detroit District. Riverside refused to comply with this order, and the district engineer referred the case to the U.S. Attorney for legal action. In 1979 Riverside was permanently enjoined by the U.S. District Court from discharging further fill at the site without a Corps permit; but in 1984, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the lower court ruling, saying that a wetland must be frequently flooded by water from a navigable waterway to be subject to Corps jurisdiction under section 404. The government appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court, which heard the case on 16 October 1985 and unanimously overruled the appeals court, affirming Corps jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.

Army Support to Other Agencies

The Corps provided reimbursable support to twenty-five federal agencies, several state and local governments, and foreign nations during fiscal year 1985. The work involved the equivalent of nearly 950 man-years, about 90 percent of which was in support of other federal agencies.

Three quarters of the support provided went to three agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency for its sewage treatment plant construction grants program and its "Superfund" toxic waste removal program; the Federal Emergency Management Agency for flood insurance studies, emergency activities, and the key worker blast shelter program; and the Department of Energy for a number of civilian and defense-related programs.

During fiscal year 1985 new agreements were signed with the U.S. Information Agency to support the Voice of America's $1.6 billion radio transmitter modernization program; the Environmental Protection Agency to renew and expand the Corps' role in the "Superfund" program; and the Department of Energy (DOE) to support construction of defense-related and civilian radioactive waste management activities. Among federal agencies receiving real estate support services in fiscal year 1985, DOE continued to receive the largest share, as the


Corps provided planning, land acquisition, and site selection services for several DOE endeavors, including the strategic petroleum reserve, salt repository, and uranium mill tailings radiation control projects. The Corps entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce to assist in the acquisition of seven weather radar sites for the National Weather Service. Land acquisition for the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana was largely completed. A total of 52,506 acres was acquired at a cost of $49,950,000. The acreage will be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior. The Corps also completed leasing arrangements for forty-nine of the fifty-six Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN) sites it is handling for the Air Force. Each site comprises about fifteen acres of land.

In other real estate actions taken during the year, the Corps of Engineers developed new policies and procedures governing local cooperation agreements for the forty-one new construction projects authorized by the fiscal year 1985 Supplemental Appropriations Act (PL 99-88). The new policies provide for changes in cost sharing arrangements and innovative financing requirements associated with the projects. Also, the real estate plan for the Tug Fork Valley, Mingo County, West Virginia, project was approved. The plan breaks new ground in that it calls for entirely nonstructural flood control alternatives, such as flood-proofing and relocating homes and businesses.

During fiscal year 1985 the Corps continued to provide technical assistance to friendly foreign countries on a reimbursable basis and in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives.

In Asia, in accordance with the Protocol on Cooperation in Hydroelectric Power and Related Water Resources Management under the Science and Technology Agreement between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Corps provided a year of on-the-job training for seventeen PRC engineers. At the request of the Vice Premier of the PRC's State Council, the ASA/CW and the Chief of Engineers (COE) hosted a visit to the Rock Island District for the Vice Premier to observe the Corps' navigation and lock operations and management on that portion of the Mississippi River. The Deputy Director of Civil Works also hosted a visit to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway by the Commissioner of the Yangtze Valley Planning Office. As fiscal year 1985 ended, preparations advanced for the Corps to assist with the locks and other navigation aspects of the proposed Three Gorges


Dam project on the Yangtze River, provide expertise on ports and waterborne transportation under a Transportation Protocol between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the PRC Ministry of Communications, and establish technology exchange agreements between the Corps' Waterways Experiment Station (WES) and the Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute and between WES and the East China Technical University of Water Resources for research on muddy coastlines.

The Corps also performed a study for the United Nations on inland water transport in ten Southeast Asian countries and provided preliminary analyses of ways to alleviate the pollution of the Ganges River in India and flooding problems in Bangkok, Thailand.

In the western hemisphere, the Corps advised Peru on solutions to a number of river control problems and on concrete technology for cold regions, such as the high Andes. The Corps also continued its long association with the Panama Canal Commission by assisting in a feasibility study for widening the Gaillard Cut and beginning a five-year study of alternatives to the present canal (a new sea level canal, a third set of locks, transshipment facilities, etc.).

In Africa, work for the Niger Basin Authority, a nine-country organization in West Africa, continued as the Corps proceeded with the development of a mathematical model of the 2,500-mile Niger River. The model will enable planners to evaluate the effects of proposed projects on the river. In Sudan, the Corps completed assistance in recommending and implementing solutions to recurrent debris and sediment blockage of the power plant intakes of a major dam on the Blue Nile. The Corps' Marine Design Center functioned as Sudan's design and contract agent for the procurement of equipment recommended to solve the problem, including a specialized dredge. Finally, in other African countries, the Corps assisted the U.S. Agency for International Development by establishing a computer-aided cost estimating system for construction projects, patterned after the one developed over the past two decades of Corps management assistance to Saudi Arabia.



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Last updated 4 March 2004