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US Army Corps of Engineers Institute for Water Resources. Step 6: Plan Selection. Leigh Skaggs, CECW-PC, and Erin Wilson, CEIWR Planning for Ecosystem Restoration PROSPECT 2010. Specify Problems & Opportunities. Corps Planning Process: Six Steps. Inventory & Forecast Conditions.

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step 6 plan selection
US Army Corps of Engineers

Institute for Water Resources

Step 6: Plan Selection

Leigh Skaggs, CECW-PC, and Erin Wilson, CEIWR

Planning for Ecosystem Restoration


Specify Problems

& Opportunities




Six Steps

Inventory & Forecast



Alternative Plans

Evaluate Effects of

Alternative Plans


Alternative Plans


Recommended Plan

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • To describe possible plans that may be recommended
  • To explain what is meant by the National Ecosystem Restoration (NER) Plan
  • To explain the criteria and considerations used to designate the NER Plan and Recommended Plan
  • Planning Guidance Notebook

(ER 1105-2-100) - April 2000

    • Chapter 2, Planning Principles
    • Appendix E, Civil Works Missions & Evaluation Procedures
  • Planning Manual

(IWR Report 96-R-21)

    • Chapter 11
  • Collaborative Planning (EC 1105-2-409)
  • Screening is an iterative activity based on criteria
  • Selection of a recommended plan is the final screening activity
  • Different selection criteria will give you different recommendations
  • Plans don’t go away; they’re just not selected
  • Single alternative selected & recommended from all those considered
  • “No Action” is the default recommendation
  • Why is recommended plan preferable to No Action or any other alternative?
    • “Telling your story”
  • P&G: display sufficient number of alternatives; include mitigation; identify R&U
possible plans to recommend
Possible Plans to Recommend
  • No Action
  • National Economic Development (NED)
  • National Ecosystem Restoration (NER)
  • Multipurpose Plan formerly “Combined NED/NER Plan”
  • National Interest Plan – reflect full range of Federal Interest – NED, RED, EQ, and OSE
  • Locally Preferred Plan
ned plan
NED Plan
  • For all project purposes other than ecosystem restoration
  • Reasonably maximizes net national economic benefits (consistent w/ protecting environment)
  • Recommend NED, unless ASA(CW) grants exception
    • locally preferred plan smaller than NED
    • LPP larger but sponsor pays difference
ner plan
NER Plan
  • For ecosystem restoration projects
  • Reasonably maximizes net ecosystem benefits compared to costs
  • Must be cost effective
  • Desired level of incremental output must be justified
    • Is it “worth” it?
Plan Selection – NER Benefits OnlyRULE: Reasonably maximize ecosystem restoration benefits compared to costs
ner plan incremental cost display
NER Plan – Incremental Cost Display

NER Plan = Is it Worth it?




CEA/ ICA Results

Decision Making


Is it worth it?

Is it worth it?

Decision making guidelines:

  • output target
  • output thresholds
  • cost limit
  • breakpoints
  • unintended effects
  • does it make sense?
does it make sense
Does it make sense?

Red facetest


“Idiot” test


ner plan additional considerations
NER Plan - Additional Considerations
  • Meets planning objectives & constraints
  • Passes criteria:
    • significance, acceptability, completeness, effectiveness, efficiency
  • Ecosystem context
    • Restores structure, function, dynamic processes
  • Reasonableness of costs
  • In most cases, should be “best buy” plan
    • ER 1105-2-100 (E-41 c.): Rarely will the NER plan not be among the “best buys”
ner plan additional considerations risk and uncertainty
NER Plan - Additional Considerations: Risk and Uncertainty
  • Required analysis
  • Often poorly done or missing
  • Report should address differences in:
    • Risk and uncertainty of the alternatives (strive to minimize R&U)
    • Potential for failure
    • Certainty of outcome
    • Potential for Adaptive Management
ner plan additional considerations1
NER Plan - Additional Considerations
  • Partnership context
    • Cooperative projects have higher priority
    • Regional or national interagency programs
  • Policy Issues
    • Terrestrial vs Aquatic
    • Real Estate proportion (< 25% costs)
    • Should not require mitigation
    • Recreation may not diminish ecosystem output (cannot increase costs >10%)
budget ec considerations
Budget ECConsiderations
  • While not direct role in selection, affects eventual ability to advance project; these criteria change over time
    • Scarcity
    • Connectivity
    • Special Status Species (provides significant contribution to key life requisite of special status species)
    • Hydrologic character (restoration of natural hydrology)
    • Geomorphic condition (restoration of natural geomorphic processes: erosion, sediment transport, deposition)
    • Plan Recognition (contributes to watershed or basin plans as emphasized in “CW Strategic Plan”)
    • Self-Sustaining / Sustainability
    • Cost per Acre
  • What is the sustainability of the plan?
  • Does it work with natural river / aquatic processes?
  • Can it be sustained in current setting?
  • Is the project working to address key issues associated with sustainability (dredging & sediment reduction)?
  • What are O&M requirements?
multipurpose plan combined ned ner plan
Multipurpose Plan“Combined NED/NER Plan”
  • For projects with NED & ecosystem restoration benefits
  • No alternative has higher excess NED benefits plus NER benefits over total project costs
  • Maximize sum of net NED & NER benefits
    • “Best” balance between objectives
    • Based on B/C analysis, CE/ICA, & trade-off analysis
national interest balanced plan reflect full range of federal interest ned red eq and ose
National Interest (Balanced) Plan – reflect full range of Federal Interest – NED, RED, EQ, and OSE
  • NED – National Economic Development
    • (FDR, Water Supply, Recreation, etc.)
  • RED - Regional Economic Development
    • (construction, employment, etc.)
  • OSE – Other Social Effects
    • (effects on tax base, etc.)
  • EQ – Environmental Quality
    • (ecosystem, water quality, cultural resources, etc.)
locally preferred plan
Locally Preferred Plan
  • May deviate from NED & NER if requested by non-Federal sponsor & approved by ASA(CW)
  • When LPP smaller, usually approved
    • Assist sponsor in identifying others willing & able to participate
    • Must have > net benefits than smaller plans
    • Sufficient number of alternatives analyzed
    • ID tradeoffs & opportunities foregone
    • Complies w/ laws & policies
  • When LPP larger, may be approved
    • Sponsor pays difference
    • NED/NER does not meet local objectives
    • Outputs similar in kind & = or > than Fed plan
    • Complies w/ laws & policies
systematic formulation and plan selection options
Systematic Formulation and Plan Selection Options
  • Formulate small plan that makes sense
  • Add justified increments
  • If Sponsor constraint: Stop.
    • Select LPP  NED / NER / Balanced Plan
  • If no Sponsor constraint: Maximize net benefits.
    • Select NED / NER / Balanced Plan
  • If NED / NER / Balanced Plan does not meet objectives: Add Unjustified Increments.
    • Select LPP > NED / NER / Balanced Plan
elizabeth river ecosystem restoration
Elizabeth River Ecosystem Restoration
  • Planning objectives:
    • Overall, restoration of the Elizabeth River’s aquatic & wetlands ecosystems
    • Specifically:
      • Wetlands restoration
      • Sediment quality restoration
Wetlands & Sediment Sites

Somme Avenue

Sugar Hill

Crawford Bay

sediments clean up outputs
Sediments Clean-Up Outputs
  • Reduced Sediment Toxicity
  • Improved Bottom Community

Health and Diversity

  • Reduced Fish Cancers
  • Improved Sediment Quality
CE/ICA Results for Elizabeth River

A = Sugar Hill G = Woodstock Pk

B = Carolanne Farms H = Lancelot Dr

C = Somme Ave I = Grandy Village

D = Scuffletown J = ODU Drainage

E = NW Jordan Br K = Prtsmth City Pk

F = Crawford Bay













ce ica results for elizabeth river
Second Best Buy Plan: 0.4 Mean ERM Quotient

Total Cost: $890,000 Total Score: 10.29

Incr. Cost: $476,200 Incr. Score: 2.45

Incr. Cost/ Unit: $194,367

First Best Buy Plan: 0.6 Mean ERM Quotient

Total Cost: $413,800 Total Score: 7.84

Incr. Cost: $413,800 Incr. Score: 7.84

Incr. Cost/ Unit: $52,781

CE/ICA Results for Elizabeth River


national ecosystem restoration plan
National Ecosystem Restoration Plan
  • Wetlands:
    • 9 of 11 candidate restoration sites (ranked sites up to & including Portsmouth City Park) - 19.5 acres
    • Cost effective, 9th best buy plan
    • On functional score, sharp breakpoint after P. City Park
    • On HEP score, breakpoint before P. City Park
    • Include P. City Park: only site on Western Branch (completeness), complements city’s plan for site, public access & educational value (acceptability)
  • Sediment Restoration:
    • Medium level clean-up (0.6 SQV)
    • Cost effective, 1st best buy plan - lowest cost per unit of clean-up benefit of any alternative
    • Sharp breakpoint after medium (0.6 SQV) level
    • Substantial benefits include reduced toxicity & contamination, improved benthos & aquatic resources
ner plan additional decision criteria
NER Plan - Additional Decision Criteria
  • Significance - Ches. Bay Agreement - Region of Concern, priority urban area; LOC’s Local Legacies program; Eliz. River Project - Watershed Action Plan to restore river
  • Scarcity - historic wetlands loss, few “available” sites; toxic sediments - scarcity of aquatic life: low diversity, biomass, high cancer rates
  • Acceptability - ERP, Watershed Action Team: clean-up & wetlands #1 & #2 critical areas
  • Non-Federal sponsors - all 4 juris., VA, ERP
  • Effectiveness - addresses 2 greatest problems, large geographic area, interconnected to natural system
  • Efficiency - passes tests of CE/ICA
problems water quantity
Problems: Water Quantity

…too little

…too much

problems timing hydroperiod
Problems: Timing & Hydroperiod

Wrong timing & distribution of flows

Ditched and drained wetland systems

irl s objectives constraints
IRL-S Objectives & Constraints
  • Restore Ecological Values:
  • Re-establish a natural pattern of freshwater flows to the St Lucie Estuary (SLE) & Indian River Lagoon (IRL)
  • Improve water quality in the SLE and IRL
  • Improve habitat for estuarine biota
  • Increase spatial extent & functional quality of watershed wetlands & native upland/wetland mosaic
  • Increase diversity & abundance of native plant & animal species, including threatened & endangered species
  • Improve Economic Values & Social Well-Being:
  • Increase water supply
  • Maintain existing flood protection
  • Improve opportunities for tourism, recreation, & environmental education
  • Improve commercial & recreational fisheries
incremental cost analysis results combined watershed estuary index
Incremental Cost Analysis Results: Combined Watershed & Estuary Index


Alt 4 w/ artificial SAV habitat

Alt 6 w/ artificial SAV habitat

telling the story rationale for irl s alt 6
Telling the Story: Rationale for IRL-S Alt 6
  • Best meets planning objectives:
    • Restoration of estuarine aquatic ecosystem (> all other alts)
    • Increased spatial extent of watershed wetlands & uplands (secondary objective)
  • Reasonably maximizes ecosystem output while passing tests of:
    • Cost effectiveness
    • (Best Buy) Incremental Cost Analysis (Alt 6 w/ artificial SAV)
  • Provides 95% outputs of largest alternative (Alt 4), yet costs $53.4 million less than Alt 4
  • Lowest per unit costs of all alts in production of all outputs (Alt 6 w/ artificial SAV)
  • Why include artificial habitat?
    • Low total cost of artificial habitat increment ($630k aaec)
    • “Jump-start” in benefits provides immediate results
    • Builds public support by demonstrating “restoration” quickly
    • Strong inter-agency/ stakeholder support
who selects the plan
Who Selects the Plan?
  • “Bottom-up” process – project delivery team selects with input from partners
  • Chain-of-command decision-makers (vertical PDT) review & agree or disagree
  • For continuing authorities, review & approval by Division
  • For congressionally authorized projects, ultimate decision makers are ASA(CW), OMB, Congress
  • Bottom line: planners advise; decision-makers decide; good internal and external communication key
why plans don t succeed
Why Plans Don’t Succeed
  • Plan is flawed
    • wrong objectives; incomplete; bad assumptions
  • Circumstances change
    • priorities; policies; people; values
  • Never funded
    • lack of $; priorities
  • Implementation is blocked
    • decision-makers; interest groups; legal action

Watch for the signs & take time to reevaluate!

  • No “NED-like” rule to select single NER plan
  • Rather, NER plan is designated as the plan that:
    • Best meets planning objectives & constraints
    • Reasonably maximizes ecosystem restoration benefits while passing tests of CE/ICA (“worth it?”)
    • Meets significance, acceptability, completeness, effectiveness, & efficiency criteria + R&U