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Chapter 9. Federal Water Agencies. Chapter Headings. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Bureau of Reclamation U.S. Geological Survey U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services National Park Service Bureau of Land Management U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Natural Resources Conservation Service

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chapter 9

Chapter 9

Federal Water Agencies

chapter headings
Chapter Headings
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
chapter headings4
Chapter Headings
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
u s army corps of engineers
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Founded in 1794
  • Early history in removing snags and building levees on the Mississippi
    • Average lifespan of a steamboat in 1800’s was less than 2 years
  • Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927 stimulated federal role in flood control
    • Peak discharge of 2.5 million cfs
    • 200 people killed and 600,000 left homeless
    • Flood Control Acts of 1928 and 1936
    • 1936 law required cost-benefit analysis
u s army corps of engineers9
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Until 1930’s primary activity was flood control and navigation in Eastern States
    • Most navigable rivers are in the East
    • 230 locks
  • Federal government began large western dam-building program during Great Depression
    • Hoover Dam completed in 1935
    • Part of purpose was to provide employment
u s army corps of engineers10
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • COE began to compete with Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) for western dam projects
    • Primary purpose was irrigation
    • Flood control and navigation was secondary
  • Example is Garrison Dam on the Missouri River in North Dakota
    • USBR had determined that it was uneconomical
    • Dam would inundate Fort Berthold Indian Reservation land
    • COE redid cost-benefit analysis and lobbied Congress to approve project
    • Approved in 1944 for construction by COE
u s army corps of engineers12
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Early federal laws encouraged draining of swamps for navigation and disease control
    • Swamp Lands Act of 1850 and 1860
  • Clean Water Act Amendments 1972 provided protection of wetlands (swamps)
    • Section 404 required COE approval of any development that would alter or destroy a wetland
chapter headings13
Chapter Headings
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
u s bureau of reclamation
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • John Wesley Powell (1834-1902)
    • Promoted federal role in irrigation projects
  • Founded by Reclamation Act of 1902
    • Purpose to provide water to promote settlement of arid western states
    • Irrigation water initially limited to farms < 160 acres
    • Construction costs to be repaid by farmers
    • Local irrigation districts set up to control finances
  • Early success in making small projects pay
  • Later large projects catered to corporate farms and special interests
    • Acre limits were ignored and local districts did not collect finances
    • Hoover Dam in 1935 and Grand Coulee Dam in 1941
u s bureau of reclamation15
First to explore the Grand Canyon

Cautioned that allowing inter-basin transfers of water would leave some basins without water

Thought state lines should be drawn along watershed divides to avoid water disputes

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
u s bureau of reclamation18
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • 1960’s to 1970’s heyday of dam building
    • USBR (and COE) allied with strong Congressional committee leaders and agricultural/corporate special interest groups
    • Obtained federal funding for western irrigation projects with questionable cost-benefit analysis
    • Often in direct conflict with Presidents’ wishes
u s bureau of reclamation19
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • Anti-dam era began in 1970’s
    • Ralph Nader’s Damming the West critical of USBR
    • Teton Dam failure in eastern Idaho in 1976
  • Jimmy Carter recommend eliminating funding for 18 USBR dam projects
  • Endangered Species Act passed in 1973
    • Snail darter vs. Tellico dam in 1978-79
  • New mission to manage existing water projects and promote conservation
chapter headings20
Chapter Headings
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
u s fish and wildlife service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats
  • Administers the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA)
    • Protects endangered species and their habitat
  • Oversees National Wildlife Refuges for migratory birds
  • Operates 70 fish hatcheries for game and endangered species of fish
chapter headings22
Chapter Headings
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
national park service
National Park Service
  • First National Park was Yosemite in 1864
  • NPS Founded in 1916
  • Oversees national parks
  • Largest parks are in the west and include sensitive watersheds
  • Early controversy over damming Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite
    • San Francisco wanted a reservoir for water
    • USBR built the dam in 1913
national park service24
National Park Service
  • Lingering ill will over Hetch Hetchy prevented any further dam construction in national parks
  • 1976 Supreme Court ruled that national parks received reserved water rights when a park was created
    • Reserved water could be used to maintain stream flows
chapter headings25
Chapter Headings
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
  • National Park Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
u s epa
U.S. EPA
  • Water Quality Act of 1965
    • Created first water quality standards
    • Limited success
  • U.S. EPA created in 1970
    • Legislative authority to impose fines and jail sentences for violation of environmental laws
  • Filed suit against Detroit, Cleveland, and Atlanta shortly after being created
u s epa27
U.S. EPA
  • Clean Water Act Amendments of 1972
    • Goal of making all waters “fishable and swimable” by 1983
    • Strengthened federal water quality standards
    • Established permit system for point sources (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, NPDES)
    • Over $20 billion spent on municipal sewage plants 1972-1992
    • Section 404 protected wetlands
u s epa28
U.S. EPA
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976
    • Regulation of hazardous wastes
  • Superfund established in 1980
    • For cleaning up hazardous waste sites
snail darter vs tellico dam
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam

Conflict described in Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Dessert

and Chapter 12 of textbook

snail darter vs tellico dam30
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • Jimmy Carter’s first experience with dams was as Governor in Georgia
    • Carter had a degree in engineering from U.S. Naval Academy
  • Dam was proposed on Flint River at Sprewell Bluff by COE
    • Now a state park: http://gastateparks.org/
  • Carter read COE plan
    • Wrote blistering 18-page letter to COE accusing it of “computational manipulation”
    • “The COE lied to me” he told friends
  • Vetoed plans for the dam
snail darter vs tellico dam31
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • Shortly after election as President in 1976 Carter reviewed federal program to manage water resources
    • 19 new water projects were proposed by USBR and COE
  • Concluded “There is no coherent water resources management policy”
  • Later that year Carter vetoed a bill to fund the projects
snail darter vs tellico dam32
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Created during the Great Depression by President Franklin Roosevelt
    • “A corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise”
  • First attempt at “watershed approach” to planning
  • Goal was to aid development in poor rural areas by providing cheap electricity, fertilizers, etc.
  • Did this by developing hydroelectric dams
  • www.tva.gov/sites/sites_ie2.htm
snail darter vs tellico dam33
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • TVA started out with a good approach but then outgrew it’s mission (in Reisner’s view)
  • By 1970’s much of the electric power was being generated by coal-powered plants
    • Strip mining coal was destroying the land
    • Much of the area was still poverty-stricken
    • Coal-powered plants were contributing to acid rain problems in the northeast
snail darter vs tellico dam34
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • Tellico Dam had been proposed by TVA in 1960s
  • Dam would not produce hydropower
    • Would raise the level in the Little Tennessee River so that extra water could be run through a canal to an existing hydroelectric dam
    • Would produce relatively insignificant additional power
    • No flood control benefit
    • Little recreational benefit (many other reservoirs in surrounding area)
  • Approved for construction in 1969
snail darter vs tellico dam35
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • Endangered Species Act passed in 1973
  • In 1973, professor of zoology from University of Tennessee discovered snail darter in Little Tennessee River
  • 1975 USFW classified snail darter as an endangered species
  • Court ordered dam construction halted
  • Decision upheld by Supreme Court in 1978
snail darter vs tellico dam36
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • Congress began considering amendments to ESA that would allow construction of Tellico Dam
    • Passed a law that set up a Cabinet-level committee that would resolve any case where ESA stopped construction of a dam
    • Composed of Secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, Army, EPA and others
    • Called the “God Squad”
snail darter vs tellico dam37
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • In 1978 God Squad reviewed case
  • Unanimously decided against dam construction
    • Based decision on economics, not environmental impact
    • Cost-benefit analysis was faulty and did not justify construction
snail darter vs tellico dam38
Snail Darter vs. Tellico Dam
  • June 1979 Congress approved a little-noticed amendment to House appropriations bill
    • Exempted Tellico Dam from ESA
  • Congress approved appropriations bill
  • Carter could veto bill
    • Needed Congressional support for treaty that would return Panama Canal to Panama
    • Couldn’t afford to alienate key congressmen
  • Tellico Dam was completed in 1980
  • 1984 USFW downgraded snail darter from endangered to threatened
chapter summary
Chapter Summary
  • Principal federal agencies dealing with water resources are
    • Army Corps of Engineers
    • Bureau of Reclamation
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Historical trend has been toward greater federal involvement
  • Water resources development in the west has tended to benefit special interest groups
  • Recent focus is on environment and conservation
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