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Obama Administration Releases Final Principles, Requirements and Guidelines for Federal Investments in Water Resources

by | Dec 18, 2014 | News & Views

EXECUTIVE
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

COUNCIL ON
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

WASHINGTON,
D.C. 20503

Obama
Administration Releases Final Principles, Requirements and Guidelines for
Federal Investments in Water Resources
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration released final
Principles, Requirements and Guidelines (PR&G) for Federal investments in
water resources on Dec. 17, marking the first update to these important
guidelines in more than three decades. In addition to helping cut costs and
accelerate project approvals, the modernized PR&G guides federal agencies
to support water infrastructure projects with the greatest economic and
community benefits.

By involving local communities and soliciting their input, the
modernized PR&G will make it easier for the federal government to support
water infrastructure projects that communities want, while helping avoid
conflict and project delays by encouraging early, front-end engagement to
address problems before they develop. Federal agencies incorporated extensive
public comment to develop the updated guidelines, which were called for in the
2007 Water Resources Development Act. The updates allow agencies to better
consider the full range of long-term economic benefits associated with water
investments. This includes protecting communities against future storm damage
and promoting recreational opportunities that support local business, as well
as their water delivery, navigation, and flood prevention functions.

“By making smart investments in water infrastructure, the
federal government can save taxpayer money and promote economic growth while
protecting communities against extreme weather and other disasters,” said Mike
Boots, who leads the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “With this
update of the 30-year-old Principles, Requirements and Guidelines, we are
ensuring that communities have a voice in selecting the water projects that
will help them thrive.”

Since 1983, the Principles and Guidelines have provided
direction to federal agencies when evaluating and selecting major water
projects, including projects related to navigation, storm resilience, water
supply, wetland restoration, and flood prevention. The 1983 standards used a
narrow set of parameters to evaluate water investments, making it difficult for
agencies to support a range of important projects that communities want, or in
some cases, precluding support for good projects. Lack of local support for
selected projects can lead to substantial project delays, costing taxpayers and
leaving communities at risk.

The PR&G consist of Principles and Requirements, finalized
in 2013, which lay out broad principles to guide water investments, and Interagency
Guidelines, finalized Dec. 17, which provide direction to agencies on
implementing the Principles and Requirements. Released for public review
and comment in 2009, the Principles and Requirements incorporate extensive
input from the public as well as the National Academy of Sciences. They will
promote responsible taxpayer investments with transparent, inclusive
consideration of the long-term economic and community costs and benefits of projects
and ensure that communities are engaged in designing projects that work for
them. The Guidelines, which were released in draft form for public
comment in 2013, will ensure smart, front-end, collaborative planning among federal
agencies, states, local communities, stakeholders, and the public so that
projects move faster, stay on budget, and support community needs.

The updated PR&G will foster consistency and informed
decision-making across federal agencies engaged in water resources planning,
including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency,
Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, Federal Emergency
Management Agency, and Office of Management and Budget.

To view the updated Principles, Requirements and Guidelines,
click here.

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