Obama Administration Releases Updated Principles and Guidelines for Federal Investments in Water Resources


March 22, 2013

Obama Administration Releases Updated Principles and Guidelines for Federal Investments in Water Resources

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama Administration today released updated Principles and Guidelines (P&G) for Federal investments in water resources to accelerate project approvals, reduce costs, and support water infrastructure projects with the greatest economic and community benefits.

The modernized P&G, which were developed by Federal agencies and incorporate extensive public comment, will allow agencies to better consider the full range of long-term economic benefits associated with water investments, including protecting communities against future storm damage, promoting recreational opportunities that support local business, and supporting other local priorities, as well as their water delivery, navigation, and flood prevention functions. These updates to the P&G, called for in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act, will align Federal policies with the full-spectrum approach many communities are now taking toward water infrastructure projects, and will help the Federal government reduce bureaucracy and make it quicker and easier to pursue projects that communities support.

“Smart investments in America’s rivers, lakes, wetlands, and coasts are essential to promoting economic growth, ensuring clean drinking water, and building thriving communities,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.  “This much needed update of the 30-year-old Principles and Guidelines will help agencies better evaluate and expedite water projects that grow our economy and are essential for protecting our communities from floods, droughts, and storms.”

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 that made it difficult for agencies to support a range of important projects that communities want, or in some cases precluded support for good projects.  As a result, lack of local support for selected projects has often led to substantial delays, costing taxpayers and leaving communities at risk. 

The updated P&G consist of a final set of Principles and Requirements that lays out broad principles to guide water investments, as well as draft Interagency Guidelines for 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 a 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 draft Guidelines, developed with Federal interagency input, will be available for 60 days of public comment and will incorporate feedback from the public and stakeholders before being finalized. These Guidelines 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 P&G will foster consistency and informed decision-making across all 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.

For more information and to view the updated Principles and Guidelines, please visit: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/PandG