Civil Works Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2004-2009
Value to the Nation:
One of the Corps' greatest ongoing challenges is how to balance the often competing social, economic, and environmental goals the Nation has for managing the use of its waters.
In an effort to find the proper balance, the Corps has recently adopted an integrated approach to water resources management focusing on careful planning and coordination among Federal, State, and local agencies, private companies, environmental groups, and other public interest organizations.
The Corps' integrated approach emphasizes regional responses to issues affecting a particular water resource (river, lake, stream, etc.) and the lands and animals nearby. As part of this approach, the Corps is working to create a variety of forums to allow everyone concerned with a water resource the opportunity to have input on decisions affecting it.
Integrated water resources management is one approach to ensure that our Nation's waters are protected and preserved for future generations. Managing water and related resources in ways that balance needs and outcomes for the economy, the environment, and social wellbeing adds Value to the Nation by fulfilling important societal roles. The watershed approach embodies the desire to seek balance across water management goals. Integration becomes a way to do that.
Why a Watershed Perspective is Valuable:
With heightened public awareness of the interrelationships among all uses of water, a wider range of stakeholders is interested in making decisions on water resource planning. As a result, "watershed approaches" that take into account a multitude of water uses over a wide area - as opposed to concentration on a single use at one project site - have been gaining popularity over the past decade.
The concept of watershed planning is not new to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Throughout its history the Corps has incorporated watershed planning into the process by which it manages water resource systems. There is a growing recognition, however, that local problems have regional dimensions and must be addressed in a broader context.
A watershed approach captures management of whole natural systems, including people, critters, and places. We are discovering that watershed-scaled stewardship is very much about building the social and cultural technology to conserve whole systems such as watersheds. The watershed perspective is about developing our understanding of the fit between inhabitants and habitats and about working with those affected to create a sense of ownership for the quality of place. The watershed perspective is about helping the Nation solve problems related to the use and management of water.
A key aspect of the watershed approach is collaboration, particularly between the public and private sectors, to understand the cumulative effects of decisions and activities related to water resources management. The mutual understanding that comes from collaborative partnerships opens the door to a new range of solutions to water problems that no one agency would have developed, or could carry out, by itself.
In the future, this page will offer "white papers" and other critical and provocative perspectives about watershed-based work and what it means for meeting NRM challenges and opportunities. These thought pieces will come from within and across the Corps and from the wide literature that is available about water resources management. Such thought pieces should prove helpful in provoking thinking about water management so as to enhance the community of practice related to watersheds and partnerships.
If you have information or ideas that you believe would be of assistance in developing this page, please offer them by sending an e-mail. You are invited to join and spur a dialogue about watersheds and watershed management in the Corps and in the Nation!