A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy

By Juliet Christian-Smith; Peter H. Gleick et al. | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
Key Pieces of Federal Legislation

WATER RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT ACTS

The Water Resources Development Acts are a set of omnibus legislation that include Flood Control Acts, Rivers and Harbors Acts, and Water Resources Development Acts. Typically passed biennially, these acts collectively give the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) their mandate, and fund and authorize USACE projects. Together, these acts give the USACE jurisdiction over a wide range of water management activities.

Passed in the early 1800s the Rivers and Harbors Acts were the first water-related federal legislation. These acts authorized USACE to survey and improve the navigability of rivers and harbors. Regulatory authority over obstructions to navigation (including physical obstruction by dams, dikes, the dumping of dredged or other materials, or hazards created from dumping contaminants) was given to USACE under section 13 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (also known as the Refuse Act). Enforcement of the Refuse Act was strengthened in 1971 when President Nixon issued Executive Order 11574, calling for a permit program under this act to regulate the discharge of refuse, including pollutants, into navigable waters. The statute is still in effect today, but sections 402 and 405 of the Clean Water Act shifted the authority to grant permits that allow discharges into waters to the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and to states.

Flood control came under the jurisdiction of the USACE in 1917 when the first Flood Control Act was passed. The USACE’s authority was expanded again when the Flood Control Act of 1944 set a new precedent for multipurpose dam projects that provided for irrigation, municipal water supply, hydropower, and recreation, in addition to navigation and flood control. By this time, the Bureau of Reclamation was already building dams in the western United States primarily

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A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • List of Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction- the Soft Path for Water xv
  • 1 - The Water of the United States 3
  • 2 - Legal and Institutional Framework of Water Management 23
  • 3 - Water and Environmental Justice 52
  • 4 - Tribes and Water 90
  • 5 - Water Quality 109
  • 6 - Protecting Freshwater Ecosystems 142
  • 7 - Municipal Water Use 167
  • 8 - Water and Agriculture 195
  • 9 - Water and Energy 221
  • 10 - Water and Climate 244
  • 11 - United States International Water Policy 263
  • 12 - Conclusions and Recommendations 288
  • Appendix - Key Pieces of Federal Legislation 305
  • Notes 313
  • About the Authors 317
  • Index 319
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