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Army Corps of Engineers: Additional Steps Needed for Review and Revision of Water Control Manuals

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Technical Report

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U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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The Corps owns and operates water resource projects, including more than 700 dams and their associated reservoirs across the country, for such purposes as flood control, hydropower, and water supply. To manage and operate each project, the Corps districts use water control manuals to guide project operations. These manuals include water control plans that describe the policies and procedures for deciding how much water to release from reservoirs. However, many of the Corps projects were built more than 50 years ago, and stakeholders have raised concerns that these manuals have not been revised to account for changing conditions. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 included a provision for GAO to study the Corps reviews of project operations, including whether practices could better prepare the agency for extreme weather. This report 1 examines the extent to which the Corps has reviewed or revised selected water control manuals and 2 describes the Corps efforts to improve its ability to respond to extreme weather. GAO reviewed the Corps guidance on project operations examined agency practices and interviewed Corps officials from headquarters, all 8 divisions, and 15 districtsselected, in part, on regional differences in weather conditions. GAO recommends that the Corps develop guidance on what constitutes a water control manuals review and how to document it and track which manuals need revision. The agency concurred with the recommendations.

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