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Ways We Help

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The following lists Corps missions that can be addressed with individually authorized studies and projects. The Corps can assist sponsors and other interested parties that have water resource problems that fall within these mission areas.

Coastal and Shoreline Erosion

Erosion of coastal shorelines by tides, waves and currents claims extensive shorefront lands and properties every year. Protection against ocean and lake shoreline erosion is typically provided by seawalls, groins, or other structures that reduce waves' destructive effects; by filling and nourishing beaches and dunes to replace and maintain lost areas; and by planting vegetation that will hold and stabilize erodible materials. In certain situations, we may treat river streambank erosion problems using other measures, such as gabions, riprap, and vegetative plantings.

Ecosystem Restoration

Facilities for hydroelectric power are also primarily the responsibility of non-Federal interests. However, we may include hydroelectric power development in multipurpose projects when it complements the major objectives of flood damage reduction or navigation. Power generators and related equipment may be built into dams and reservoirs as integral parts of those projects.

Navigation

The Federal interest in navigation improvements stems from the commerce clause of the Constitution. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions have established that the Federal obligation to regulate navigation includes the right to make necessary improvements in waterways. Navigation in harbors and inland waterways is essential to our nation's transportation system.

The primary objective of navigation improvements is to assist in the development, safety, and conduct of waterborne commerce. This is done by deepening and widening waterways so commercial ships and other watercraft can move efficiently and safely. Other objectives include improvements to promote commercial fishing and recreational boating and provide storm refuge.

Various measures are used to improve navigation. Port and harbor development typically consists of navigation channels that permit safe passage of vessels and any necessary breakwaters or jetties for protection against hazardous wave conditions. Inland waterways include navigation channels and locks. Sponsors or other non-Federal interests are responsible for providing the infrastructure necessary for full harbor and waterway development, including dredging of berthing areas, docks, and landside warehousing and transportation facilities.

Outdoor Recreation

Development of outdoor recreation facilities at Corps projects dates back to the 1944 Flood Control Act. With about 4,400 recreation areas at over 400 projects, there are more than 500 million annual recreation days of public use at our recreation facilities, providing a variety of opportunities for picnicking, camping, swimming, boating, hunting, fishing, hiking, and other pastimes.

Water Quality Control

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended, requires that any Federal agency planning a lake project must consider including water storage for regulation of stream flow andquality improvement. Water storage cannot be provided as a substitute for other means of controlling waste at the source, and the Environmental Protection Agency must determine that there is a need for storage for water quality.

Water Supply

Providing municipal and industrial water supply is primarily the responsibility of non-Federal interests. However, beginning with the Water Supply Act of 1958, we may, at the request of local interests, include water supply storage in new projects and may modify existing projects to provide new or additional storage.

Section 22 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 1974, as amended, provides authority for the Corps of Engineers to assist the States, local governments, and other non-Federal entities, in the preparation of comprehensive plans for the development, utilization, and conservation of water and related land resources. Section 208 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 amended the WRDA of 1974 to include Native American Tribes as equivalent to a State.

Flood Plain Management Services (FPMS)

People that live and work in the flood plain need to know about the flood hazard and the actions that they can take to reduce property damage and to prevent the loss of life caused by flooding.

The Flood Plain Management Services (FPMS) Program was developed by the Corps of Engineers specifically to address this need. The following are details on the program.

Authority Objective and Scope

The program's authority stems from Section 206 of the 1960 Flood Control Act (PL 86-645), as amended. Its objective is to foster public understanding of the options for dealing with flood hazards and to promote prudent use and management of the Nation's flood plains.

Land use adjustments based on proper planning and the employment of techniques for controlling and reducing flood damages provide a rational way to balance the advantages and disadvantages of human settlement on flood plains. These adjustments are the key to sound flood plain management.

Types of Assistance

The FPMS Program provides the full range of technical services and planning guidance that is needed to support effective flood plain management.

  1. General Technical Services. The program develops or interprets site-specific data on obstructions to flood flows, flood formation and timing; flood depths or stages; flood-water velocities; and the extent, duration, and frequency of flooding. It also provides information on natural and cultural flood plain resources of note, and flood loss potentials before and after the use of flood plain management measures.
  2. General Planning Guidance. On a larger scale, the program provides assistance and guidance in the form of "Special Studies" on all aspects of flood plain management planning including the possible impacts of off-flood plain land use changes on the physical, socio-economic, and environmental conditions of the flood plain.

    This can range from helping a community identify present or future flood plain areas and related problems, to a broad assessment of which of the various remedial measures may be effectively used.

    Some of the most common types of Special Studies include:
  • Flood Plain Delineation/Flood Hazard Evaluation Studies
  • Dam Break Analysis Studies
  • Hurricane Evacuation Studies
  • Flood Warning/Preparedness Studies
  • Regulatory Floodway Studies
  • Comprehensive Flood Plain Management Studies
  • Flood Damage Reduction Studies
  • Urbanization Impact Studies
  • Stormwater Management Studies
  • Flood Proofing Studies
  • Inventory of Flood Prone Structures
  1. Guides, Pamphlets, and Supporting Studies. The program enables studies to be conducted to improve methods and procedures for mitigating flood damages. Also, for preparing guides and pamphlets on flood proofing techniques, flood plain regulations, flood plain occupancy, natural flood plain resources, and other related aspects of flood plain management.

Charges for Assistance

Upon request, program services are provided to State, regional, and local governments, Indian Tribes, and other non-Federal public agencies without charge.

Program services also are offered to non-water resource Federal agencies and to the private sector on a 100% cost recovery basis. For most requests, payment is required before services are provided. A schedule of charges is used to recover the cost of services taking up to one day to provide. Letter requests or signed agreements are used to charge for those that take longer.

All requestors are encouraged to furnish available field survey data, maps, historical flood information and the like, to help reduce the cost of services.

How to Request Assistance

Agencies, governments, organizations, and individuals interested in flood-related information or assistance should contact the nearest Corps office for further information concerning this Program.

Information that is readily available will be provided in response to a telephone request. A letter request is required for assistance that involves developing new data, or making a map, or preparing a report.

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Continuing Authorities Program Projects

Program Overview

The Continuing Authorities Program (also called the Small Projects Program) provides the Corps with the authority to respond quickly to water resource problems. Congress has authorized the Corps to construct several different types of small projects within certain funding limits. This saves much time in development and approval of projects. Funding limits for these small projects range from $500,000 to $5 million. Water resource problems within the following nine areas can be addressed by the Corps under authority given by sections of various Water Resources Development Acts (Public Laws).

Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration

(Section 206 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996) — The Corps is authorized to carry out aquatic ecosystem restoration projects that will improve the quality of the environment, are in the public interest, and are cost-effective. Individual projects are limited to $5 million in Federal cost. Non-Federal interests must contribute 35% of the cost of construction and 100% the cost of operation, maintenance, replacement, and rehabilitation. The program has an annual program limit of $25 million. This program is not currently funded.

Beneficial Uses of Dredged Material

(Section 204, Water Resources Development Act of 1992, as amended) — Projects can be authorized for the protection, restoration, and creation of aquatic and ecologically related habitats, including wetlands, in connection with dredging an authorized Federal navigation project. Non-Federal sponsors are responsible for 25% of the project cost and 100% of the cost of operation, maintenance, replacement, and rehabilitation. There is an annual appropriations limit of $15 million. For projects with an estimated Federal cost of less than $5 million, divisions have approval authority. Larger projects are approved by headquarters.

Emergency Streambank & Shoreline Protection Projects

(Section 14, Flood Control Act of 1946, as amended) — The Corps may spend up to $1 million in one locality during any fiscal year for the construction, repair, restoration, and modification of emergency streambank and shoreline protection works designed to protect: highways, bridge approaches, and public works, as well as churches, hospitals, schools, and other nonprofit services endangered by streambank and shoreline erosion.

Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction

The Corps may construct small beach restoration and protection projects not specifically authorized by Congress. The federal share in such projects may not exceed $2 million and the project must not be dependent on additional improvements for successful operation.

Small Flood Control Projects

(Section 205, Flood Control Act of 1948, as amended) — Small flood control projects may be constructed without specific authorization by Congress, when the Chief of Engineers determines that the work is advisable. In addition, the project must constitute a complete solution to the flood problem involved, and not require subsequent improvements to insure effective operation. The federal share may not exceed $5 million.

Small Navigation Projects

(Section 107, River and Harbor Act of 1960, as amended) — The Corps may construct small river and harbor improvement projects not specifically authorized by Congress when they will result in substantial benefits to navigation. The federal share in such projects may not exceed $4 million. Each project must be complete in itself and not commit the United States to any additional improvement to insure successful operation.

Project Modifications for Improvement of the Environment

(Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, as amended) — The Corps is authorized to modify water resources projects constructed by the Corps for the improvement of the environment. Projects that address degradation of the quality of the environment caused by a Corps project may also be undertaken. Non-Federal sponsors are responsible for 25% of the project cost and usually 100% of the operation, maintenance, replacement, and rehabilitation. Up to 80% of the non-Federal share may be provided as work-in-kind. Non-governmental entities may serve as the non-Federal sponsor. The Federal per project limit is $5 million and the annual appropriation limit is $25 million. After initial headquarters approval to initiate a study, projects are usually approved by the division.

Shore Damage Attributable to Federal Navigation Works

(Section 111, River and Harbor Act of 1968, as amended) — The Corps is authorized to investigate, study and construct projects for the prevention or mitigation of shore damage attributable to federal navigation works. Projects where the federal cost is $2 million or less do not require Congressional approval.

Snagging and Clearing for Flood Control

(Section 208, Flood Control Act of 1954, as amended) — For purposes of flood control, the Corps is authorized under this act to allot up to $500,000 on any single tributary during any fiscal year for the removal of accumulated snags and other debris and for the clearing and straightening of stream channels.